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Title: The First Year
By Atri/ Chiara Crawford



CATEGORY: introspection

ARCHIVES: ff.net, Command Dynamics

SPOILERS: Season One: Before I Sleep

SUMMARY: A strange birthday.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).

“Not quite the birthday you imagined,” the voice behind her says. She turns and smiles at Kate, beckoning her to come closer. Elizabeth isn’t surprised to see her here. John and his team are out on a mission and she has no meetings for the rest of the day. Practically all of Atlantis has heard about their departed guest from ages past.

Kate walks up to her and joins her in staring into the distance. It is now late afternoon. The sun is shining and its warmth caresses her face. The past few hours, meeting an alternate self, seem like a dream. Nevertheless, she knows it to be real. Kate doesn’t say anything and Elizabeth knows that the psychologist won’t be the one to start the discussion. It is a typical strategy, both for diplomats and for psychologists. Normally, she wouldn’t even contemplate baring her thoughts or feelings. It is in her nature; being a deeply private person. She doesn’t ever talk about what is truly bothering her. In this, she thinks, both she and John are the same. Still, this isn’t a normal day.

“No,” Elizabeth’s grin is both rueful and slightly sad, “meeting an alternate version of myself that is thousands of years old and then seeing her die is not the way I had imagined the day to go at all.”

“It must have been…different…seeing yourself like this.” Kate doesn’t seem to know how to express herself today. Elizabeth doesn’t blame her. The situation is quite unique.

“Hmm…” she muses, ”it was…frightening. I have never been confronted with my own mortality like this. When Kolya had taken Atlantis, there was a real chance that I would die, but I had other things on my mind: how to get Atlantis back, whether we would survive the storm, my people, John…This slow, inevitable decline…the waiting…”

Kate nods in understanding, then asks:
“You think she regretted it, in the end?”

Did she? For all intents and purposes, the alternate Elizabeth had been herself. Would she have done the same?

“No and I would have done it too.” Saving Atlantis, this glorious city, the one hope of Pegasus to defeat the Wraith. It is a dream worth saving, worth sacrificing one’s life for. It doesn’t mean that she wants to die, if there’s another option. The unhesitating, unbreakable notion that, of course, she would give her life if it means keeping her people and Atlantis safe, is, at once, terrifying and exhilarating both. She never imagined herself capable of that before. There is bravery in that concept; a bravery she never thought she could possess.

Strangely enough, she feels better now, freer. She smiles at Kate and sees the well-hidden concern in the psychologist’s eyes ease a little. They continue talking about inconsequential things. Later that evening, when John and his team come back from their mission, she drags him to the little nightclub that some people have organized – not that he minds. The music is lively and she relaxes, laughing wildly and unreservedly.

She is breathing. She is living. She doesn’t know any place she’d rather be. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad birthday, after all.

He grins at her and they dance the night away.

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