Spoilers: Season 1, and a few references to S2 Intruder rumours.
Summary:5 unexpected snippets of Elizabeth with a view into her life.
Notes: Written for the Weir ficathon and roothekittykat who asked for a scene from Elizabeth's childhood. I didn't quite get that and had promised this in conjunction with another fic. Sadly due to real life stuff, and unexpected house guests and a few other things like that I've not got the second one or my other request finished today. So sorry for the delay, other two should be up soon. Betaread by Fanwoman, though this last version hasn't been gone over, so any bits wrong or odd are my additions since the last beta.
All she had were words, but she knew exactly how to use them. She knew the importance of tone, the nuances and the inflection, how she needed to manipulate them to get what she wanted, and what she wanted wasn't selfish by any means. She had a power, but she used it to make things better, to get things done. Words were her control, and he plowed right through her city, ignoring all her carefully constructed replies, seeing through her lies, even deflecting any pleas of sensibility or humanity. He ripped it all away from her. She tried as hard as she could, but this time words didn't make any difference, not from her lips. Instead it Rodney who persuaded, his disorganised ramblings on her behalf caught Kolya's attention in a way her own rational, reasoned responses did not.
Even afterwards, with Kolya gone and Atlantis back in their hands, she felt a chill at the thought that there was nothing she could say to change his mind. No amount of diplomacy or negotiation would work on that man – he reacted to emotions, to action, seeing his chance for power in the failings of others. That was what he'd done with her, taking away her stability, making her weak in front of him – her whole world turned around.
As a child, she'd only really equated war with physical violence, and she'd been driven to effect a change, to make peace somehow. Yet she'd never made peace with her own experiences until she'd realised what it was that haunted her. Her parents‘ spats, the hours she'd heard where they'd tear into each other emotionally, that was just another war she'd wanted to stop but hadn't been able to. And it had left a will to set the world right, to rid it of such hate, using words. Because sometimes you need to fight fire with fire, and if words could cause such pain, they could surely mend it, and take back all that was said in haste. Wasn't that why she valued words so vehemently – because she remembered all the hurt they could cause, how fighting wasn't just with guns? Often the cause was also part of the solution.
So she cherished her carefully mastered skill over language and the ability it gave her to make a difference. That was what he'd taken from her; he'd seen that weakness from the start. She didn't know how, but it shocked her, scared her that that man could see the scars from her past effortlessly. A man who could not be reasoned with into her way of thinking, a situation that mirrored how she'd never managed to quell her parents arguments with her self taught diplomacy, and just as then with her parents she had no control over Kolya's actions. All she had been able to do was stand there and wait for it to blow over, the same way she'd had to cope with the period of living with her parents. This time there'd been someone else to intervene but back then there had been no one. Just the neverending torrent of feuds in the place she reluctantly called her home.
There was a small part of her, remaining childlike, that was distraught that her new home, Atlantis, could be broken like that. For months it had been her safehaven, away from all the dangers and realities of living in another galaxy but now that perception had been shattered, harking back to her past and all the hurt it had contained. Today she'd learnt Atlantis was no different, and ultimately that life wasn't any safer in any one place – whether home or a technologically advanced city. Thankfully words sometimes came through and they didn't have to hers, didn't have to be planned and practiced. What mattered was she'd survived, and next time she'd be stronger.
“My father never...”
She trailed off, eyes diverting to look outside to the blue oceans, every part of her wishing she was somewhere else. She had work to do, but she knew she couldn't get out of this. Everyone had been ordered to attend at least one session a month, and there were no exceptions. The only way she could get Rodney or John to agree to come along was if everyone else had to, and God knew both of them needed to talk about what happened out there on missions. She hadn't, however, expected to need these sessions herself – to even have had anything in particular to talk about other than grief over the deaths of those under her command.
She found it difficult to go on. Despite Kate's gentle prompting, the thoughts surrounding such far flung memories were fragmented, and the words stuck in her throat painfully. It had been a long time since she'd last considered what effect her father had had on her, but recently feelings of shame and doubt had plagued her and this was what had emerged from her psyche with the psychologist‘s help.
“He never thought I was doing the right thing with my life.”
Kate rather predictably cocked her head at the admittance, eyes watching her but trying not to appear too eager, though her pen was poised, ready to take notes.
“What, exactly, did he think you should have been doing?”
“He...” She paused to swallow, gathering the nerve to say aloud what had bothered her immensely for over a decade, “He thought I was giving in, betraying my principles for a slim chance I might make a small difference working inside the system. He was always so supportive of whatever I wanted to do professionally until I wanted to join 'them' as he referred to the government.”
“He didn't approve of your choice?” Kate asked softly, non-judgmentally, unlike the person they spoke of.
It was simple like that. He hadn't approved then; he wouldn't approve now. He wasn't here now, but that voice inside, the one that sounded suspiciously like him, still was. In the back of her mind, she heard the disapproval, she felt the stare, the presence behind her and could imagine what he'd say and picture his expression perfectly as he said it. He wasn't here; he simply wasn't anymore. He'd died two years ago, and she'd not been there because she'd been working and he hadn't seen fit to send for her, his dissapointing daughter. Then he'd been gone, and there'd been no way to make peace with him.
Instead, she made peace with others and hoped, maybe, if he'd known, he'd have changed his mind. It was just that here, in Atlantis, there had been so many things she should have done differently and things she should never have done at all. She'd broken protocols , international laws, moral codes and not for peace either – for survival, in a place humans should probably have never ventured to. In the beginning it had been simple and she'd been sure, but no longer. The decisions got harder and the consequences tougher. There had been a time when she might have felt proud, despite her fathers opinion of her, but that time was long gone, just like him.
She moved her hands over the surface, the rising level of excitement making her lean in closer and breathe that smell in deeply. She smiled at the familiarity of it all. The rough and the smooth under the pads of her fingers as she traced meaningless patterns over and over just for the feel. It was so rare to experience this here on Atlantis that she felt like pinching herself to prove it was real, not that that would prove anything at all other than she felt giddy.
It was new book! Well, not precisely a new book, just new to her. She’d let go of a much read favorite she’d snuck along as an extra item, a leader’s perk, in trade for a classic she’d always intended to read. Most of the books that had been brought to the city were paperbacks, which had become well worn as they’d been passed from reader to reader. But to her surprise and delight, this one was leather bound. The rarity of that attribute made the pleasure of it all the more satisfying.
Funny how now, when every day was filled with the opportunity to achieve accomplishments that could only have been dreamed of on Earth, simple pleasures had become all the more precious. When aspirations were met with insurmountable obstacles and danger seemed to lurk around every other corner, the quiet time between crises was treasured. For her, she indulged in these gem-like moments by reading.
Sometimes reading was a commitment, if there wasn’t time, you had to make some. A few minutes here and there, half your lunch break spent on it with every bite taken between the pages. This was why tonight was so special. There was no impending doom, apart from the Wraith in general; there was just her and her book and all the privacy she could wish for. Which was why she took her time to take in the reality of it, to feel the cover and smell the paper, flick through the pages. You could read almost every book you could wish for on the database, if you happened to like manuals, how-to’s, survival guides and what not. You could even acquire some not so legitimate ebooks from a helpful member of the staff, if you were lucky and had something to barter
But neither could compare to reading a book in the flesh by the soft light of your room.
That was why, after reading the synopsis, Elizabeth sank back into the blankets with a glorious smile on her face and with great ceremony opened the book at page #1, ready to savor everything written within.
She felt blank as she spoke to them. She'd done exactly this before, except then it had been well rehearsed and in front on an audience of one. And back then, as she'd faced Ford and the video camera, she'd felt responsible, she'd felt guilt, but now she didn't feel that. She knew she was just as responsible for the deaths of these peoples‘ son as she had been for any of the first she'd sent condolences to, and she knew she was guilty. But today she was in front of those who were affected. She watched their reactions, feeling sympathy of a sort, but mostly she didn't feel anything except empty. There were facts to it, words that she recited to them, policies she had to follow – unable to tell them how, which made it all the more difficult to explain what it was their son had died for.
She could say he was a hero, like she'd told so many families on her tape back to the SGC. She could say he died doing his duty, that he'd saved lives, but she couldn't even say he'd helped save Earth because that was too much information, too odd a thing to comment on. So she sat and watched a family break apart, a grown man weep for his only son as his wife stared out the window to the backyard, trying to compose herself as she watched her teenage daughter playing outside with friends, unaware of the devastating news a somber, professional-looking woman had brought to their home.
There were no questions, and all she could do was round off with her speech about how proud she was of the work Dr. Evans had achieved in his time with the project and hand over the small box with her colleagues personal effects, minus anything that could giveaway the fact they'd been stationed in another galaxy. It was a shame, really, because one of Evans’ most prized possessions was a game he’d acquired through trading with the Athosians. He’d spent many hours in the mess hall playing anyone who was up to the challenge.
She'd had a game or two with him, herself. It was from those small pockets of free time playing Helkeu that she'd gotten to know the man, but that one item, the most personal item he'd owned on Atlantis, she wasn't permitted to give to his grieving relatives. Like everything else about this, that seemed wrong, but then there was no fairness to death or war.
Dr. Weir walked out of that house, accepting their polite thank you for her time and grateful goodbyes. She walked out as blank as she'd walked into the place, and she got into her chaffuered government car as it continued on towards its next destination.
It was several weeks later that Elizabeth Weir sat down in her own room back on Atlantis, in the one true minute of spare time she'd had since the siege had been over, and opened the game that had belonged to Steven Evans. For the first time, she noticed his name very intricately, time consumingly, hand-carved into the top of the lid that was normally folded out flat against the table where none would see the feature.. Seeing that, she finally felt the pricks of tears that had been missing throughout her time on Earth. Like the stone or metal instruments that had carved into the almost-smooth lid, her experiences had been too hard and sharp to allow her to remain completely blank.
He called her Lizzie. No one called her Lizzie, not since when she was 12 and an older girl had moved in next door. She introduced herself as Missy, and she expected every one who called themself a teenager to have nickname. That was when Melissa had declared Elizabeths new name to be Lizzie. And Melissa had called out for 'Lizzie' through her window many times, and any other window too, when she wanted her to come out to play. In fact, she remembered hearing her new friend calling it out from the neighbouring house as she ate dinner, her parents‘ faces puzzled as she'd tried to smother a giggle.
Melissa James had been a decent friend, if a little old for her and somewhat fair-weather. Still, she'd been something else compared to everyone she knew, and Elizabeth Weir had let her get away with the name she despised because, quite frankly, Missy could nearly get away with murder. Not that that made much difference, because that lighthearted evening was the last time she'd heard that nickname.
The girl’s name had been plastered allover, milk cartoons and the whole shebang, but no one ever knew what had happened to her. Her adventure, without Lizzie, had been her last – with no clues from anyone where Melissa had wandered off to or who she might have met. There had been a furied investigation in the community, in which Elizabeth had been questioned but nothing ever came of it. There was just the fact Melissa had gone off alone one evening, near dusk, and never come home.
The nickname had always reminded her of Melissa; it was why she wouldn't let anyone use it. Who wanted to stir up bad memories? She hadn't heard anyone say it in years, and she figured he didn't know better. But as she looked at the cheeky smirk on his face, she thought maybe it was time to let it pass, to let go of that personal irritation
Because when she had been Lizzie, she had been a different person, the kind of person she needed to be right now. All day, everyday, she was Elizabeth Weir, and maybe tonight, to him, she'd be just Lizzie – ready for what may come.