Author’s Note: Written for Noelle (naushika) for my twelve days of Christmas meme, who requested: “Weir and maybe something to do with New Year’s? 🙂 Rebirth, rejuvenation, that sort of theme.” Rebirth (and by extension, resurrection) is apparently the word I got stuck on. *g* Hey, if Daniel and McKay can do it, why can’t Elizabeth? 😛 Title is taken completely out of context (from the New Testament).
Elizabeth stood in her office, overlooking Atlantis. Only it wasn’t Atlantis as she last remembered seeing it, a moment before blackness claimed her–torn apart by fire and the awful, awesome destructive power of the Replicators–but rather Atlantis as it must’ve been thousands of years ago, when the city thrived and never had to worry about power.
She would’ve thought she’d traveled back in time, except that sunlight streamed in through the myriad windows, casting its light in a rainbow of shades on a city that was entirely deserted. And while she knew that the city had, in fact, been deserted, it had been under two miles of water at the time. And on the ocean’s floor, what sunlight there was had a long way to travel. It certainly wouldn’t be spilling all over everything with such brightness that it was almost blinding.
She turned away from the window and was surprised to find herself dressed in a simple white linen gown, much like the one her older self had been wearing when they’d found her. And contrary to her prior belief, she wasn’t entirely alone either: a man stood across from her, dressed also in the style of the Ancients. He looked to be only a little older than her, tall and slender with brown curly hair and a face that was at once kind and proud. Oddly, he reminded her of Rodney, though there was no physical resemblance between them beyond the superficial similarity of being male.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” the man greeted her, and she was surprised to discover that his voice sounded British–when the Stargate translated languages for those who stepped through it, they usually heard not only their own tongue but their own accent as well.
Elizabeth Weir frowned, taking a step away from the window and towards her desk. “Do I know you?”
He smiled. “Another you once did. My name is Janus.”
The name sent a thrill through her, stirring memories of a story that “other her” had told. “You…you saved the city!”
Janus shook his head in disagreement, but an affectionate smile never left his lips. “No, dear lady, you did that. I merely provided the means. Without your vigilance, Atlantis still would have drowned.” Now his face sobered. “Just as without your leadership, the city would have died many times over since you arrived to reclaim it.”
“You’ve been watching me,” she deduced astutely.
Janus inclined his head. “I have.”
“But…how? That was over ten thousand years ago. You’d have to have–” There she stopped, suddenly. “You ascended.”
He nodded again, almost smirking (she’d somehow never thought that Ancients could smirk). “As did many of my kind.”
“But your people hadn’t mastered ascension when Atlantis was abandoned,” Elizabeth pointed out. “We know that from the records you left behind.”
“True,” Janus admitted. “However, it was not long after returning to Earth that the first of us did, indeed, achieve it. You remember Moros?” Elizabeth just stared at him blankly, and he waved a dismissive hand. “Of course you don’t. I forget sometimes that you’re not the Elizabeth I met here in this city, all those centuries ago. He was the leader of the Council: stuffy and self-important and the greatest obstacle to seeing through the plans you and I–or the other you and I, rather–set in motion. You might know him by another name, though: Myrddin.”
“Merlin?” Elizabeth echoed, disbelieving. “The same Merlin who gave up ascension to advise Arthur, and build a weapon capable of destroying the Ori?”
“The very same,” Janus agreed, brown eyes twinkling. “Remarkable, isn’t it? How a few thousand years on a higher plane of existence will change a man. But I didn’t come here to discuss Moros, or Merlin, or whatever you wish to call him.”
“Why did you come here, then?” Elizabeth asked. She looked around her and continued, “and where is ‘here’? I thought it was Atlantis, but it can’t be. My Atlantis was a lot more damaged the last time I saw it.”
All the playfulness went out of Janus’ expression then. “I came for you. As for where we are…well, where do you think?”
Elizabeth turned slowly around in a circle, examining every corner of the room, and the city that lay beyond it. She was startled to discover how much her eyes could see, details that she always noticed up close but even with nearly perfect vision couldn’t normally see from the other side of the central tower. She noticed other details, too–how, though her office still had the same décor, it seemed…more settled, somehow, more comfortable. The things she’d placed in the room to make it her own felt as though they’d been there longer than three short years, and here and there she began to notice other personal items, belongings that were among her most treasured possessions but that, for a variety of reasons, she’d never brought to Atlantis.
This office, even more strongly than the one she spent at least part of every day in, felt like home.
Casting her thoughts back, now, she turned over in her mind her last memory before finding herself in this place: an explosion, blinding fire bellowing around and over her. She remembered flying through the air, not under her own power but by the force of the blast. She remembered pain…and then nothing.
Realization crept over her with cold, tingling footprints. “I’m dead, aren’t I?”
Much to her relief, Janus shook his head. “No, not yet.” That relief vanished with his next words. “But you are very, very close, I’m afraid. Your body is in the infirmary, and your team is doing everything in their power to save you. They may yet succeed…but I’m not sure you’ll quite approve of their solution.”
A knot tightened in her belly, even though she realized now that this body, this room, everything but this conversation with Janus, was an illusion. “What did they do?”
“Your Doctor McKay…” His lip curled upwards a bit at this, and she wondered suddenly if he’d heard her earlier thought about how they were alike. “…and Doctor Keller have a plan to save you by reactivating the nanites in your system.”
Elizabeth took a step back. “No.”
Janus grimaced. “I rather thought you might feel that way. So does Colonel Sheppard–he’s been fighting them every step of the way, for all that he wants you saved as badly.”
She closed her eyes, unable to help a small smile. Bless John–as much as Rodney cared about her, and she knew he did, he was incapable of seeing past his own brilliance to realize that just because he could save her didn’t necessarily mean she would want to be saved. Not like that.
“Can you stop them?”
He shook his head. “I can’t, but you can. But…while I might disagree with their methods, I can’t help but agree with their reasons: I don’t particularly want to see the universe go on without you just yet either. That’s why I’m here.”
Finally, she understood. She should have realized it long ago, probably when she first found herself in this beautiful echo. “I thought your kind weren’t supposed to help lower species ascend. I know of at least one Ancient who was banished for doing just that.”
He shrugged nonexistent shoulders. “They can hardly fault me just one, when the one is you.” Brown eyes regarded her with the warmth of a friendship and memories she had never experienced, at least not in this world. “The way I remember it, it was for helping a particularly undeserving party to ascend that she was truly punished.”
“And what if you’re wrong?”
Janus stepped to her side, and even though she knew neither of them really had bodies in this place, she felt the light touch of his fingers as he traced the side of her face. “Then the consequences will have been well worth it. Besides, if you know my story, Elizabeth, then you know I’ve never been one for blindly following the rules.”
As she considered what he was offering, a quiet peace settled over Elizabeth’s heart. Oh, she knew what it would mean–the rules against interfering in the lives of those she’d loved, rules that Dr. Jackson had been unable to obey. He had made the choice because he hadn’t really understood, but Elizabeth wouldn’t walk into this blindly. She knew that while she would be allowed to watch over Atlantis, she couldn’t take any action to save it, or the lives of her team.
Unlike Rodney, if she made this choice, she had no intention of doing so only long enough to save her life and then resuming physical form again; no, when Elizabeth committed herself to an idea, as she’d done when she committed herself to this city, she did so with her entire being.
But she also knew that her people had rarely needed her to save them. They would still have John, who understood war in a way she never would. They would still have Rodney, who might complain but would always come through with the solution in the end. They would have Ronon and Teyla to continue to guide them through this strange new galaxy that they’d chosen to make their home, and at their backs Laura and Kate and Evan and Radek and Jennifer…there was not a single person in Atlantis who didn’t love the city as much as she did, who wouldn’t fight for it as fiercely. She trusted them enough to leave them in each other’s hands.
As for the rest…though she knew it would be blasphemy to her mother’s ears, Elizabeth would happily forswear heaven itself to stay in Atlantis; it had been all the heaven she ever needed since the day she first set foot through the Stargate, even when war came to their doorstep and turned it into a hell.
The decision shining in her eyes, she turned back to Janus. “What do I need to do?”