Spoilers: Can't think of any...
Summary: A glimpse of angsty Weir backstory, with a dash of McKay/Weir friendship too.
A/N: Betaread by Fanwoman, Ellex and LittleKnux. The result of a ponderings upon Weir's (lack of) nickname.
She'd always been Elizabeth. Her father insisted on calling her that, and she never had much tolerance for being referred to as Lizzie by patronising adults. But there was one nickname she liked.
He hadn't actually said it. It was just that he was tucked in under a console and the first half had been mumbled. Still, she was surprised to hear that name. He often slurred the beginning of her name into a fairly pleasant “'lizabeth”, but this was new. And yet it was familiar, old. Her mother had called her Beth affectionately, despite her father's dislike for shortening her name, but that had been a long time ago. It had been the last word out of her mother's mouth before she'd died.
From then on, she'd only answered to Elizabeth, as her father wished. Beth had been the girl who'd had fun playing in the yard with friends and made cookies with mother. Beth had *had* a mother; Elizabeth hadn't. Elizabeth had a father, and her brothers after that. Elizabeth had been raised under the guidance of men, with the need to prove herself as good as them – to live up to their expectations. Her life had become about competition and improvement. She'd been top of her class, gone on to a prestigious college and graduated with honors, and Beth had gotten lost in all that.
Rodney emerged, wondering why she hadn’t replied, and she hadn't realised it'd been long enough that he'd notice. It had been decades since she was last called Beth; she really should have gotten over it. But hearing that name set off a reaction she didn't know still existed. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. Then she remembered the second reason why she insisted on Elizabeth. She’d always made sure everyone knew that was who she was, that there was no alternative. She didn't want to be Lizzie or Liz, but most of all she didn't want to be called Beth – she didn't want to be her mother’s girl again, because it was too much to handle after all this time. If she'd carried on being Beth to begin with she might have been a different kind of woman. Apparently she’d never gotten over the fact that she didn’t want to be Beth, and avoiding the possibility had only made it worse. She couldn't stop the tears and turned away, but not quickly enough that Rodney didn't see them. Standing to comfort her, it was clear he didn’t know what to do.
He couldn’t understand. Perhaps he presumed it was a feminine issue or that he'd done something to cause it. No wonder he didn’t know what to say or where to place his hands. It almost seemed like he was going to hug her for a split second, but instead his hand wrapped around her shoulders for a few moments as he briefly rubbed her back comfortingly. He must have been bothered if he was attempting that. She smiled wryly at the thought, even though the tears still streamed down her face. He looked further confused, and she thought maybe it was worth enlightening him.
“You called me 'Beth',” she said quietly and simply. She didn’t really want to reveal more than that.
“I did?... Oh... Right, err - I take it back!” He declared it like it would fix everything.
It didn’t, of course, but then nothing really could. She was the only person who could sort it out, and it was about time she dealt with this. Her mother was dead, but her mother's daughter wasn’t.
“No, that's fine. It doesn't bother me.”
It was a blatant lie, and he narrowed his eyes, asking, “Are you sure?”
She looked him in the eye and said, “Yes”, because she planned to be fine someday. She planned to be Beth again someday, too, because maybe she needed to be Beth, and that was what had been missing since the day her mother died. She had stopped being herself, denied what her mother loved her for. She'd stopped believing in herself somehow, instead believing in what her father, her brothers and everyone else thought important. Elizabeth had gotten her this far, and she was still Elizabeth. But she'd always be Beth, too, and she was finally ready to face up to that long lost girl.