prowler_pilot: (Liz green)
[personal profile] prowler_pilot
This is the first fic I've written for Sparktober. I have a WIP that I wonder whether I'll be able to finish, and another idea for my BSG/SGA verse. Damn you plotbunnies!!


Title: New Angles
Rating: PG
Pairing: Sparky
Summary: After being rescued from the Asurans, Elizabeth is back on Atlantis and waiting for the IOA to decide on her fate. John tries to make her feel at home as she struggles with her new part human, part replicator identity. Pre-ship, mild UST. A tiny bit of Angst. Set in an alternate S4.


John watches incredulously as Elizabeth piles a stack of lukewarm pancakes on her plate and showers them with chocolate syrup, her eyes already on the bacon tray as she sets the syrup back down on the buffet table- It’s her first public appearance in the mess-hall after they rescued her from the Asurans, and John is aware that the eyes of the few people there – marines working the graveyard shift and insomniac scientists - keep drifting towards their former leader.
“You look hungrier than usual.” He says, offering a smile, as she sits back down and sets her overflowing plate in front of her. He’s known her for the better part of four years and he’s never seen her so enthusiastic about the bland food on Atlantis. Or food in general.
The light in her eyes dims a bit, and he almost regrets his quip. “It’s the nanites,” she says, her voice low. “Keller says my body needs more fuel to feed the nanites. They burn a lot more calories than my…” she pauses, fishing for the right word, “original cells”.
He nods in understanding as she attacks her breakfast with an apologetic look. He sits silently, picking at his own food, while she wolfs down half the contents of her plate in record time, thinking that he used to have to bring her food to her office – Sam’s office now – or bribe her to come to the mess hall to make sure she would put something in her stomach.
“I’m kind of glad it worked out that way” she shrugs, talking between forkfuls. The urge to eat gone, she has slowed enough to resume conversation as she works through the rest of her food. “It’s a familiar feeling, being hungry, enjoying food.” She chews pensively on a piece of bacon. “It’s very human.”
The implications of that word, human, hangs heavy within them. John holds her gaze, reading the uncertainty in Elizabeth’s green eyes that he’s sure is mirrored in his own. He’s been by her side every step of the way, defending her right to stay in the Pegasus Galaxy, pestering General O’Neill and Colonel Carter until they, too, were convinced that keeping Elizabeth in Atlantis would be the safest option for everyone involved. When he really thinks about it, when he sees what she can do – when she connects with their systems, sticks her hand in a person’s forehead effortlessly – it awes him, and scares him at the same time.
But this is Elizabeth Weir, and he can’t recall a time when he didn’t feel like that about her. He’d once told her he trusted her, and it would take a lot more than a bunch of nanites for him to take his words back.
“You are nothing but.” He offers, his voice warm, and he’s relieved when he sees her expression soften a bit.
“Some things–” she presses her lips together, as if unsure whether this is something she wants to share. He knows most of what there is to know – as the military commander of the expedition, he was required to read the full reports – but Keller had chosen to keep some things private, for Elizabeth’s sake.
What isn’t a potential risk for the city is not for him to know.

Elizabeth runs her tongue along her lower lip “some things are not. I hardly feel the need to sleep anymore.” That he had noticed. The fact that they were having breakfast at 5 in the morning was an obvious sign. That she’s breezed through all the books he’d brought her during her quarantine was another. He marked down in his mind that he’d have to get her a Kindle for her next birthday.
“I rest. Close my eyes, get lost in the sound of the waves.” He smiles at that, because that is so unequivocally Elizabeth.
“But I’m out for two, three hours, tops. There’s no process of waking up, no grogginess, nothing. I regain consciousness when I’m…recharged.” She hesitates on her words again, grimacing as if they leave a bad taste in her mouth. The common metaphor has taken a literal meaning for her that she does not seem to have accepted fully yet. Maybe she never will.
“Do you ever dream?” The words leave his mouth before he can keep his curiosity in check. He kicks himself mentally as he sees her eyes widen at his question.
He shakes his head. “Sorry, forget about that, you don’t have to answer if---”
“Yes,” she interrupts. “Yes, I do dream.” She nods, more to herself than to him. He feels bad for being relieved at her answer, glad that he can still form a connection over shared experiences, glad that Elizabeth’s brain doesn’t go into stand-by like a computer, but keeps working and processing memories and sensory information.
“That is also very human.” He comments, his voice barely above a whisper.
He notices Elizabeth has stopped eating, her fork abandoned sideways on the remnants of pancakes and bacon, and he gestures towards her plate.
“Are you done with that?” He asks.
“Yes, I’m full.” She pushes the plate away from her to emphasize her point. He takes a couple more mouthfuls of his own pancakes then pushes his chair back and stands up.
“Let’s go then. I want to show you something.” Elizabeth looks hesitant, but eventually she stands up and follow him.

***

She falls into step beside him as they walk across the semi-desert gate room, as they’ve done a million times before, and she’s grateful for this little moment of familiarity. He walks on eggshells around her as, but he’s not as obvious as the others. Besides Teyla and Kate Heightmeyer, he’s the only one who doesn’t treat her as if she’s become Frankenstein’s monster, half human, half machine for their insane, desperate attempt at saving a body damaged beyond repair.
He made that call and, to be fair, he is owning up to it. She sees him falter at times, but he’s doing the best he can to show his support. Sometimes she thinks he’s more confident about this whole thing than she is. Provided it is true that her nanites have been permanently and irreversibly disconnected from the replicator mainframe, it will be a long time coming before she feels comfortable in this body. She’s Elizabeth Weir, and yet she is not.

Where they would normally turn to climb the stairs to the control room and what was formerly Elizabeth’s office, this time they keep walking straight towards a corridor that leads to a series of rooms they’ve been using as storage units for lab equipment. Her eyes shift upwards to the glass walls of the office, recognizing the furniture but not seeing any of the knick-knacks that had made it hers.
There’s nobody up there yet at this time. The city is not under immediate threat and no teams are due back for the next few hours as far as she knows, so there’s no need for Colonel Carter to be up so early. John must notice her lingering look, because a warm hand is suddenly at her elbow, gently steering her away.
“This way.” He tells her, and the hand drops to the small of her back. It’s a light brush of fingers that she can barely feel through her t-shirt, but it’s enough to anchor her to the here-and-now.
“John, where are you taking me exactly?” she asks, suspicion seeping into her voice, when John stops them in front of a storage room they’d been using for lab equipment. He waves the door open and ushers her in, lights coming on as they walk through stacks of boxes. They come to another door, half hidden behind a large box, and it wooshes open when they step into its sensor’s range.

The pinkish-orange glow of sunrise spills into the room, and the early morning breeze fills Elizabeth’s nostrils with the salty tang of Lantean air.
“It’s a balcony.” She says, surprised, and takes a step forward, drawn by the smells and sounds of the ocean. “It’s not like your balcony off the control room,” he starts, following her outside, “but this one has a pretty beautiful view, too.” And indeed, this balcony is smaller, and not as high as the one in the control room, so the view is not like the one she often retreated to, but it’s close enough.
She leans forward, elbows resting on the railing, allowing the breeze to brush her face and play with her hair after weeks of being cooped up in an Asuran prison first and the infirmary later. This is as close to normal as she’s felt since she woke up a goddamn cyborg, and she feels tears pricking at the corners of her eyes.
She squeezes them shut, trying to fight the tears, and stills, letting her other senses come alive. She knows John is somewhere behind her, giving her a little privacy.
“Thank you,” she says when she’s ready. He appears at her side then, mimicking her position on the railing, shoulders touching. They’ve stood like this so many times, looking at the ocean, talking quietly or not talking at all, that with a little effort Elizabeth can pretend nothing has changed. She tries not to think back to the weeks she spent in captivity in an Asuran holding cell, trains her mind on Carson and his staff, on the endless poking and prodding she was subjected to as they made sure she isn’t just a sophisticated Trojan horse.
A violent wave of nostalgia washes over her, and she shivers against John.
“You cold?” he asks gently, and presses closer to her as if to shield her from the wind. She shakes her head. “I haven’t been cold in a while.” She explains. She keeps it vague, but she is sure he understands. She may not feel the early morning chill, but still she welcomes the contact, rubs her shoulder affectionately against his arm. There’s comfort in John’s proximity, a warmth that starts from her arm and spreads throughout her body, regardless of the nanites working to keep her temperature ideal at all times. She doesn’t really know where they stand right now, but this is not unfamiliar for them, and she appreciates that he is trying to make her feel that this place can still be her home.

“Thank you,” she repeats, and she means it. “for helping me adjust. It’s hard, being here in…a, uh…” she fishes for words, “different capacity.
He doesn’t move, eyes wandering along the horizon, but she sees well enough in the dark and to notice the corners of his eyes crinkle as a hint of a smile find its way on his lips.
“I’m glad the IOA gave you permission to hang with me while things are quiet in the city.” The assumption that he had asked to be on her detail rather than being assigned to the task is a big one, but she still has some friends in the city, and she learned from Teyla that he’d pestered Carter until she would back him with Woolsey. She feels a rush of heat flood her from where they’re touching, and she’s aware his pulse has quickened in mild embarrassment. She finds it amusing, and so very John-like, that he would move mountains for the people he holds dear and not want them to know.
He finally turns to meet her gaze. “You shouldn’t be treated like a stranger in your own home.” He says, anger seeping into his voice “I didn’t want you to be left with a guard fresh off the Daedalus. You deserve more than that. I would have taken that permission myself.” He states, his eyes dark.
She smiles at his choice of words. Her bond with the city has never been a secret, and if anything, it feels stronger now, the thrum of electricity running through her body like the breathing of a giant leviathan. It is not an entirely unpleasant feeling, and knowing that this whole ordeal has at least strengthened her connection to Atlantis helps her deal with the darker thoughts.
“John,” she warns, her smile fading, and she turns her body more fully towards him. The warmth against her side disappears for a moment, but then she takes his elbow, squeezes gently as if to bring him back to reality. “I’m out of command now, and god knows what will happen to me, don’t give them reasons to replace you with a puppet of theirs. We’re safe while Carter’s here, but—I no longer have any standing power. I can’t fight for you, and this expedition needs you.” She sees him mulling her point, but he doesn’t relent.
“This city needs you.” He retorts, his voice lowering even though it was just the two of them out there. “I mean, Carter’s fine and all, but she doesn’t fight the IOA the way you used to. They interfere with every--“ “You shouldn’t even tell me this,” she interrupts him, shaking her head. “Please be careful.” She squeezes his elbow again, her thumb rubbing the outside of his arm. “Don’t give them any reasons to think you’re still loyal to me. Play it safe.”  He nods, and she hopes he can manage not to get himself into trouble, because she doubts the IOA will be as lenient with his pig-headedness as she used to be.
“No IOA here now, though.” He smiles at her, and she wishes she could see herself through his eyes, because he’s trusted her without falter since the moment they rescued her from the Asura and she doesn’t even know who the hell she is.
She attempts a little smile of her own. “No. No IOA.”

The sun is almost up now, and she doesn’t need her improved eyesight to see uncertainty flash briefly in his eyes and his tongue come out to wet his lower lip before he lifts a tentative hand to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. His thumb brushes over her cheek as he does so, and she responds viscerally to the touch, turning her head to nuzzle his palm.
She might be able to keep her heart rate and breathing in check, but she chooses not to. Not now that her body is reacting in ways she had forgotten.
“This also feels very human.” She mumbles into his skin. They had been in the very same position, albeit on ‘her’ balcony, mere days before her accident. She had chickened out before it could get out of hand, blamed their moment of weakness on tiredness and frustration and told herself it couldn’t happen again.
Her objections and excuses feel moot now that she’s in one hell of a mess and his free hand is on her hip, tugging her closer and setting her nerve endings on fire with anticipation.
Just then, John’s earpiece crackles to life, startling them both out of the moment. She hears John swear quietly through gritted teeth. She tries to take a step back but his hand tightens on her hip, keeps her close as his other hand leaves her cheek and opens the communication channel on the earpiece.
If she strains a bit, she can hear Rodney’s voice on the other side.
We’ve received communication that an IOA delegation will be coming through soon. Carter will want to brief you and Elizabeth as soon as possible. Thought I would give you a head start.
“Got that. Ok, thank you Rodney. Sheppard out.” He presses his lips together as he shoots a worried look at the door of the storage room, as if Woolsey could barge in at any moment. She feels his fingers flex on her hip.
“We should go.” She says with a sigh, giving a last glance at the horizon. He nods and lets his arm fall limp at his side.  Her hand follows him, touches his fingers briefly.
“We’ll come back.” He states, but they both know it’s a wish more than a promise. If the IOA decides to send her to rot on a godforsaken planet without a Stargate to mull on the definition of humanity for eternity, there’s little anybody can do about it.
And yet she squares her shoulder and smiles at him. “We will.”
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