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Author's Chapter Notes: Memories

Elizabeth wandered around her stark quarters. It was disorientating, seeing the bare shelves and walls. She supposed it would be the same tomorrow, when she met Carter in her office and sat on the wrong side of the table. She had walked through there earlier, on the way to the balcony but she hadn't really seen it.

But could see this. She opened a drawer, expecting to see it empty but received a suprise when she found clothes in there instead. She reached in, lifting out a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a jumper.... Another drawer contained lingerie and nightwear, all wrapped in new packs, either donated by members of the expedition who hadn't opened items yet or shipped from Earth, she wasn't sure which, she wasn't sure how often Atlantis could reach Earth now and vice versa.

Either way, it was thoughtful and she wondered if it had been Carter or Keller, or even Teyla who had co-ordinated this. She turned to look at the desk, placed under the window. A laptop sat there, piles of folders nearby and, suprisingly, a couple of photo frames. One was a picture of herself, with her mother and Sedgewick. The other was a team shot- Ronan hulked in the background, Teyla was sitting next to Carson and the two of them were practicaly laughing into the camera. Rodney looked bored but was plastering on a polite smile, sitting next to her, Weir, in the middle with Sheppard on the other side. The camera had snapped them a moment before or after the pose and they were looking at each other, smiling, relaxed for one of those rare moments when the world hadn't appeared to weigh on them.

She hadn't seen this one before. A similar photo, but not this one and she wondered where it had come from. The other photo too... from what she had been told, she thought all of her belongings would have been long gone. When she slid open the drawers in the desk, she found a pad of paper, pens, pencils and her father's watch.

Lifting it out, Elizabeth examined it closely. It was her father's pocket watch alright. But it was cleaner than she remembered, polished by a professional hand. When she pressed the button and it sprang open, she second hand leapt forwad, ticking away the seconds.... but it hadn't worked in years! Wrapping the chain around her fingers, she opened the laptop and went to her email, scanning down the long list of missives and greetings that had dropped into her newly revived inbox in the past seven days.

She hadn't really gotten any work done at all by the time six o'clock came. She had left her quarter only once and it had taken her over an hour to greet everyone who had met her, have lunch and make her way back. Teyla had seen her and drawn her immediately into a hug. Her warm golden eyes had glowed with pleasure and confirmed her invitation to dinner that evening.

'Colonel Carter has told the crew to leave you alone for a few days to acclimatise. But you may expect plenty of visitors when those days are up, Elizabeth. Enjoy the time to yourself. We are so glad to have you back among us; John most of all. He carried much guilt and sadness when we lost you.'

Elizabeth had nodded. 'I know, Teyla. I've already spoken to him.''

Teyla had smiled at that. 'I am glad. It was not good for him. When he came to rescue me, he disobeyed his superiors and put himself in harm's way. He was like a man possessed, as if by saving me, he could ease the pain he felt at losing you.'

'He's airforce, Teyla, leaving anyone behind is an anaethma to them. And he cares a great deal about you, I've no doubt he would move heaven and earth to make sure you were safe, especially since you carrying Torren.'

Teyla sobered at that. 'I was very foolish, but it is in the past and all those I love are safe. There is a lot to grateful for, Elizabeth, and you are not the least of those blessings.'

Weir had smiled at that and hugged her, promising to make it to dinner that evening. She had gone back to her quarters reassured and happier. When the clock softly chimed six, she put down the papers she had been reading and headed for the shower.

Sheppard arrived promptly at 1900 hours. The door chimed and a voice inside called out "come in" followed by the door sliding open. Low lights reflected the early twilight outside and he stopped short in the doorway, watching Elizabeth as she stacked the scattered papers on her desk and turned.

She was wearing jeans and a red shirt, the civvie style button up blouse kind of shirt. He was aware some clothes had been donated, others gathered from stores, he wasn't sure what she had been given, Teyla had organised it with Keller's help. Obviously, Keller and Teyla both had good taste and were aware of Elizabeth's dress size.

A silver chain hung across a couple of her belt loops and the slight bump in her pocket indicated she carried the watch he had given to Teyla to place in her desk. Her mother had insisted he keep it and he had had it restored. When she came back, it was only right she had it, along with the photos he had kept, hidden away in the chest in his quarters.

Her hair gleamed in the low light, chestnut curls tucked partly in her collar. She looked happier, more relaxed, than he had seen her for months before she- he stopped the thought there and swallowed hard at the memory.

'John?' Her light voice reached out to him from across the room, concern lacing her tone. 'John, are you alright?'

He broke the moment with that cocky, flyboy smile and nodded. 'Yeah. You ready to go? You look... terrific, by the way.'

Her smile was bright as she thanked him, and they fell into step together as they left her quarters. It felt natural walking the halls of Atlantis together in the evening, the lights low, most of the crew settling down for the evening. They talked of small things, minor, humourous events and kept the conversation light. Elizabeth was still unsure of her status on Atlantis and here only on Carter's sufferance at the moment, so they avoided the bigger picture and concentrated on their team, their crew and Atlantis herself.

She was laughing by the time Teyla's door slid open and seeing McKay sitting there already, looking impatient with this team bonding exercise only made her laugh harder. Teyla smiled, inviting them in and Elizabeth found her composure enough to greet McKay and Ronan. Moments later Teyla reappeared with Kanaan behind her and Torren in her arms.

Elizabeth rose from her chair with a smile, catching her breath as Teyla passed over her son. 'Oh Teyla, he's beautiful. You must both be so proud.'

Kanaan grinned and Teyla nodded with a soft smile, running a gentle hand over her son's hair as he caught one of Elizabeth's curls in one hand and reached up to explore the new face before him with the other. He squealed in delight, and Elizabeth sat back down with him, the infant catching sight of his honorary uncle, John Sheppard and throwing his chunky little body in his direction.

'Is that someone you know, huh? Want to go to play with Uncle John?' Elizabeth murmured softly, passing over the child before he wriggled out of her grasp completely.

John took him with a 'hey little guy' and bounced the baby on his knee. Elizabeth leaned over to stroke the small, soft cheek and the baby turned his face to give her a wide, toothless grin. Across the room, Teyla smothered a grin as she watched them interact and pulled Kanaan out of the room to finish preparing the meal. It was rare they had time alone together.

By the time they returned to the main living space, Ronan had poured drinks for everyone and McKay sat, watching Elizabeth play with Torren with a half-terrified, half-amused look on his face. Ronan and John stood, talking but Sheppard was only half in on the conversation, his eyes on the tableau on the floor. When Teyla walked in, Ronan glanced at her, rolled his eyes and moved in on Kanaan for a little more coherent conversation than he had gotten out of Sheppard. Teyla stepped over to John's side.

'It is a blessing to have her back with us, is it not, John?'

'Yeah,' he smiled, his eyes still on Elizabeth and Torren. 'I'm not sure I believe it.'

'It is true,' Teyla reassured him. 'Why don't you go sit with her?' He finally raised his eyes to look at her. 'I am not blind, John. You missed her and you care for her a great deal. When you came to rescue me, you did it for her; you never thought she would forgive you if I and Torren were lost too.'

'I came after you because I didn't want to lose you too, Teyla.'

'Too,' Teyla repeated, a little smugly, her eyes turning to Elizabeth once more. 'Go, John, talk to her. She is back, for a time at least. You should enjoy it.'

'What do you mean? "For a time"?'

'She is no longer the leader of Atlantis, John, and this base is still under Earth jurisdiction. Who knows where the Airforce will choose to send her next?'

John nodded grimly, what Teyla said was true, unthinkable but true. But where else did Elizabeth Weir belong, if not on Atlantis?

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