Rating: PG - 13
Summary: The conclusion of the longest Sparky fic I've ever written. omg! *diez*
Disclaimer: Don't own SGA, except on DVD. Don't profit from it, except in the expansion of imagination. And even though she's dead, Mary Shelley owns The Modern Prometheus and all of it's first EVAR sci-fi glory.
A/N: Most gracious thanks to alianne, who places all my commas and makes sure my words is right and grood... I mean great. And good. Sorry this took so long to finish, I give that honour to RL and the muse being fickle.
The 'already done' parts:
Recuperation had been a long and slow process. She didn’t however mind that. It took a while for her to soak in that she was home and not doped up on some drug that made her think she was. The information Michael and Kolya must have extracted from her would have been significant.
Apprising reports came in to her from all over the city, probably allowed by Colonel Carter, since all of them were several months old and only informational. Atlantis being under military control could have been much worse under different leadership. Then again Sam Carter wasn’t the typical military type. She had kept relations with established allies well and open. Even with the Genii.
What she really wanted to know was where that son of a bitch Kolya had been put. She’d like to get her hands on him for a few minutes. She planned what she would say and how she’d repay his interrogations. Vengeance was a powerful thing, burning deep and bright in her as a residual effect of her connection to Michael. It had been strong and insightful.
Elizabeth had seen and felt the pain of her enemy as real as her own. It was a lot different from her experience with Phoebus. She was privy to Michael’s motivation and desire to have favour shown upon him once more. The only way he could have done so was to capture the foes greatest asset, Atlantis. He was planning on hand delivering it to his Queen by double crossing Kolya. The plan was to serve a cocktail of the ATA gene along with what had been done to her into Kolya’s system. It would give Michael sole command of the city.
Ronon had made sure none of that happened. The reality of the situation left her at an impasse. She had been the one to put Michael in that predicament in the first place. She had become a Doctor Frankenstein of sorts. She had created a monster by combining her old world knowledge with ground breaking modern science. And like Frankenstein, she was the living irony of their temporary victory.
Michael would never understand the things she had allowed to be done to him or why. She was the cause of his rejection and hurt. The damage was preventable if she had only said no to Carson’s retrovirus. She had done Michael wrong and paid her dues out of a moral obligation to right.
Rendering her actions null and void, he had no trouble overcoming any moral standing the Wraith may have had regarding the treatment of their adversaries. His rage blinded him to her contrition. He took liberty with her life, body and mind. The monster had insinuated himself into every conceivable part of her. He felt every hope and worry, every thought and emotion. There was nothing in place to protect her from all his demons. His violation was complete.
But no, she deserved her retribution, or so she tried to convince herself. No one had the right to govern a life the way she had, even if he was the enemy. The reconciliation of her decisions would never complete themselves. Her relief and sorrow were given the battlefield. Guilt was a human thing she would have to carry. War was a grim business.
Tonight Keller was releasing her from the infirmary and John was to escort her back to quarters. She suspected they wanted to keep it quiet to spare her the most likely impromptu welcome back party.
John was unusually silent. He also set a brisk pace she had trouble keeping up with. Save for his leading an off world mission with her in tow, he normally walked with her. To see his retreating back gave her the impression that he was running away. From her trailing point of view the tension in his shoulders played through the fabric of his shirt. He was brooding and not entirely well at hiding it.
“John,” she asked tentatively.
The question had not decreased the strain in his back nor did it slow his stride.
“John,” she tried again.
She halted her progress down the corridor and it took a few seconds for him to recognise her absence. He snapped his head around expecting to find her collapsed on the floor.
“What are you doing?” He asked tersely as he walked back to her.
“Getting your attention.”
“Well, for one you’re walking a little too fast for me to keep up.”
“Sorry,” sincerity was in his apology when he realised he was moving too fast.
“It’s alright,” she said.
After standing in the hallway like a pair of teenagers making a social faux pas following a school dance, she decided to break the awkward silence.
“Hey,” she was hesitant. “Are you okay?”
His demeanor was unchanged by her question. He stared at his boots in an effort to hide his eyes from her.
“I’m fine.” He was such a bad liar.
It was no wonder his team had the lowest success rate in negotiations. Fortunately wrestling information out of people was something she had perfected over the years with a look of intent and silence.
The strain of the last year made him look older than she remembered.
He could feel her scrutiny and was afraid she would find that there was more than one thing crawling under his skin at the moment.
He was angry.
He was angry that Elizabeth knew she would win this standoff, which made him remember that he was angry that Teyla had beaten him in sparring, again. That brought to mind that he was mad that Rodney had been the first to the last turkey sandwich at lunch, which made him think of the Wraith who fed upon his people or did worse. And that led him back to the fact that he was angry with Elizabeth for being so willing to give her life in place of others, which made him livid at himself for letting her talk him into the trade in the first place.
Consciously he knew it was unreasonable to be angry with her for doing the right thing. But she had gone. She left them, him, to deal with the aftermath of her absence and it left him falling to himself. John was good at masking that he didn’t hold himself in high esteem. All the same, Elizabeth had seen through it and changed most of what he thought. She let him see that weakness could lead to strength unforeseen and belief could lead to trust and friendship. So without her, he was in the dark.
He couldn’t tell her that without questioning what those feelings implied. There would be serious consequences to an admission of any sort. So he carried it with him to spare anyone else the corollary. Today he had forgotten to put it away. Now she was calling him on it.
“It’s nothing,” he denied
He knew she didn’t believe him but hoped she would drop it. The conflict worked against him in the quiet. He was unsure if she would push him to bear its cause but her own caution was palpable to him. Regardless of the time, they were still in the middle of a hallway. It wasn’t exactly an ideal spot for the sort of conversation this was leading up to.
“Okay,” she accepted.
“Shall we?” he asked motioning down the passageway.
As they resumed their walk, he took his usual place beside her and some of his annoyance subsided.
“Thanks,” she smiled. “For taking me back and for making it during the city’s most uneventful hour.”
He only grinned in return. The silence made room for the rest of his ire to cool. When he had succeeded in boxing it neatly away, he decided to talk shop.
“I don’t know if you’ve been briefed on this yet,” he paused. “But Colonel Carter wants to hand Kolya over to the Genii. She thinks it might be a good faith gesture if we return their most wanted and not collect on the reward.”
The abhorrence was difficult to keep out of her voice. “And you think it’s a bad idea.”
“Something like that. I might be able to sleep a little easier if I knew where he was at all times.”
“When does the handover take place?”
“When you sign off on it.” He spared a glimpse to measure her reaction. “It’s against ethics but Carter wants your input.”
A suspicious mind would have been led to believe this was a test of competence.
“I take it they’ve already solicited your opinion about this,” she asked.
“I told them I’d kill the bastard first,” the violence leaked through his tone.
John’s honesty sent a chill of revulsion down her spine making her unsteady on her feet. He was there to stop her from crashing to the floor. The concern on his face bore through the emotional tide overwhelming her.
“It’s nothing,” she tried to shake it off. “I’m fine.”
Now she was the one lying and it was his turn to wait for an explanation. She straightened in his arms.
“I have some residual effects from Michael’s connection. He heightened uncharacteristic traits...”
She didn’t continue when she noticed the stress working in his jaw. It started the wheels in her head.
“That’s what you’re upset about,” she stated.
The non-question forced his brow to crease deeper. He looked away once more.
“It should have been me,” he admitted quietly. “You should’ve let it be me.”
Elizabeth sensed the blame lacing the immobility of his body.
“And if they had gotten what they wanted,” she posed a theoretical scenario. “Where would we be?”
Dead, he thought. And he would have been the cause of it. She was always thinking five steps ahead of him. She knew he couldn’t live with the annihilation of his people. To save him from himself she took the force of the blow.
“I had to John.”
Her voice wavered with fault though she was steady in his hold.
“I had to see it through.”
He heard the anger. She began to tremble from it in his arms. Her shaking brought his eyes back up to hers. He should have known better. Her confidence hung precariously in the balance and he could do nothing to still her fears.
It stoked his fury.
How naïve of him to think the disgrace and self-loathing sway hold upon him exclusively. He knew life in a foreign world called for compromise but they had faltered. Claiming victory would not happen in this battle. Peace of mind was nowhere to be found. It was a pointless struggle.
So he let go.
If they were going to carry on from here, there was no room for doubt or mutual self-hatred. They walked a path lonely but never alone. He did the only thing they both needed. He pulled her into him and enveloped her. She held on.
It was the beginning of solace.