But this fic is none of the above and has nothing to do with S10. LOL. This fic is different for me. It's SGA and it's Daniel/Elizabeth. I have no idea where it came from, though I do blame some conversations I've had with certain people. But hey, I was feeling different so here it is. When a plot bunny hits, what can you except but write it?
Title: While I Wait
Season: Season One
Category: Drama, Angst, New Romance
Spoilers: Reckoning and Threads (SG-1), Before I Sleep (SGA)
Summary: When Elizabeth gets an unexpected visitor as she awaits the ancient Atlanteans' decision on her fate, an unlikely romance develops that not only spans galaxies, but time itself.
Warnings: non-sexual nudity
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me. I'm not making a profit, but playing in the sandbox.
Here, in the middle of Atlantis, stood Doctor Daniel Jackson, fully in the nude.
Elizabeth's initial reaction was to stare with disbelief. She was stranded in time, an outsider among the people who would become the Ancients, with little hope of finding a place to belong. Now, she was gazing upon the first familiar face she had seen in days. His presence brought with it newfound hope.
Her secondary reaction was to consider the fact she was insane. Daniel couldn't be here. Daniel hadn't even been a part of the team. Her friends, her companions, and her newly formed expedition team – all were dead, lost to a city that had succumbed to its own greatness. Now, she was staring at a vestige of that life she'd left behind and wanted back so dearly.
Slowly, Elizabeth rose from her bed, grabbing with her one of her sheets, as she crossed the room that Janus had provided for her. As she approached Daniel, she felt a shiver, distressed with the lack of movement or recognition in his face. He remained standing in front of her, his body quivering, while staying silent.
Elizabeth reached out to touch his arm.
Flesh. Real. He was real.
"Oh, thank God," she said, wrapping the sheet around his waist and tying it snuggly around his hips, before drawing him into a hug. "I thought I would be alone."
She squeezed him tight, holding him close, feeling relief wash through her. She wouldn't be left alone. The why or how he was here didn't matter, but she took it as a sign nonetheless. She and Daniel could figure out a way to get back to Earth, get back to their future timeline, and warn both the SGC and the Atlantis Expedition.
But her excitement and relief started to fade as apprehension rose to take their place. Daniel neither spoke to her nor did he move to reciprocate the hug. All she felt was his cold, dead weight in her arms.
Elizabeth withdrew, taking a step back to evaluate him. He was still shivering, but not as greatly, and his eyes were lucid, his nervous gaze jumping all over the room. Elizabeth thought he might be in shock.
"Do…do you know who I am?" Elizabeth asked.
"Doctor Weir?" he asked, finally focusing on her.
She let out an uneasy laugh. "Yes. Doctor—"
"Why am I here?" he asked suddenly. Whatever shock he was experiencing before twisted into full out confusion as he started to study the room more intently. "Where is here?"
"You're in Atlantis," she said, keeping her words slow and deliberate, but blunt and honest.
"What?" he asked, exasperated. He turned his back to her and started to further explore the room. Finally, he stopped in one of the corners, keeping what Elizabeth thought was as much distance between them as possible. "No," he said. "No."
"It's the truth," she told him. She laughed, not even knowing how to broach the subject. "I know it's hard to believe, but we're submerged under water."
"But I'm dead."
Now it was Elizabeth's turn to be confused. "Excuse me?"
"I died," he said. "The replicators. There was Oma and Anubis."
His mumbles weren't making any sense. But during her brief stint as head of the SGC, Elizabeth had read his files. She knew that anything could happen. She knew that Daniel Jackson had a way of triumphing over adversity. She knew he had a tendency to come back from the dead.
Yet, she had touched him. He was real. Unless, again, this was some trick of the mind, some way for her to cope with her losses.
"I thought they were sending me back to the SGC," he said, slumping into one of the chairs in her room.
"The Others." He dipped his head, closed his eyes, and rubbed his face with his hands. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice muffled through his hands. "It's obvious you don't know what I'm talking about."
"I'd like to understand," she said, grabbing an extra chair and sliding it over to sit across from him. "It's not like I'm going anywhere."
"Yeah, uh, you said that you're alone?" he asked, rubbing his forehead, his eyes now open and focused on her. "Where's Major Sheppard, Doctor McKay, Colonel Sumner…?"
"They're dead," she said, the memories of all she'd lost rushing back to her. If only the Atlanteans would allow her to go back and warn them. She shook off the regret. "The expedition was a failure." When he raised his head in surprise, she nodded. "I don't know how to say this, but we're ten thousand years in the past."
Daniel's face turned white, his mouth gaping open as he stared at her.
She sighed. "Let me explain."
Elizabeth filled him in on all the terrible details. As she told him the horrors of the city flooding, her expedition members drowning, and the last desperate attempts made by John Sheppard and Radek Zelenka, he listened quietly, reaching out to hold her hand. The gentle touch did nothing to quell the anxiety and grief she felt for people she had worked with for weeks in Antarctica, but his presence and comfort were enough to help her get through the pain she was feeling right now.
Finally, she was done recounting her story. Daniel gave her one last gentle squeeze, but the puzzlement never left his face.
"What is it?" she asked him.
"I think I've been sent here for a reason," he said.
Elizabeth wasn't going to disagree with him. The sheer fact that a man that should be in another galaxy altogether was sitting with her, living and breathing when apparently he should be dead, was enough to convince her that there was more going on than she knew or could control. If some higher power had a hand in this, then so be it. Elizabeth was ready to take a chance on anything.
"That's the only explanation. Why else would the Ancients send me here?"
"The Ancients?" Elizabeth asked. She knew she was missing large gaps in this story, but she didn't want to pressure him. "I thought you told me once that the Ancients didn't get involved in human affairs."
"They don't," he said, and it was obvious that his own suggestion puzzled him. Wearing a befuddled yet enlightened look, he leaned forward, scooting a little closer to her. "Maybe this is a loophole." He blinked. "Maybe I'm a loophole."
"Doctor Jackson…" she started, reaching for his other hand.
Daniel shook his head, but allowed her to take his hand. "You don't understand. It's over. Anubis is gone. I think the Jaffa might be free."
"You think?" she asked.
"I've been dead," he said, shrugging his shoulders almost apologetically. "And my head…it's cloudy, muddled. I feel like I'm…" He shook his head. "Nevermind. The important thing is that we're okay. There must be a reason why we're here."
She nodded, though she was concerned about his continued confusion. She figured the whole situation was bizarre and crazy enough that it could contribute to his bewilderment, but she couldn't help but think there was more. She hoped that she was just being overcautious.
"Ten thousand years?" he asked. "That's…incredible."
Normally, Elizabeth would agree, but getting back to her timeline was her most pressing problem right now. She didn't have the time, ironically, or the luxury to ponder the nature of the city or her impact on the future. All she cared about was making sure she could save the lives that were lost.
"I'll tell Janus that you're here, and we can explain what happened," she said, standing. She knew that the sensors on the city might have already picked up on his vitals, but getting to Janus might stave off any alarm or fear of invasion. Her own arrival had been quite the shock. "Having once been Ascended, maybe you can convince them to help send me back so that we can warn the teams."
"Maybe you can get me some clothes," he added sheepishly.
Elizabeth blushed. "Of course." She went to touch his bare shoulder, but shirked away, offering her best diplomatic smile. "I'll get Janus. Wait right here, and I'll see what we can do."
"And you say he was once Ascended?" Janus asked, carrying the supplies as they hurried back to Elizabeth's temporary quarters.
"Yes, he believes that your kind have sent him back for a purpose."
Janus seemed to barely be able to contain his excitement. "If that is true…there is so much he can tell me," Janus said with a bright smile. He urged Elizabeth to walk faster. "I would love to meet him."
Elizabeth nodded, starting to feel more revitalized. She and Janus were having difficulty in convincing Melia and Moros to allow her a way back to the future. While they had been kind to offer her a place in their society, Elizabeth knew she didn't belong with them. And if Daniel had been sent here with her, then there must be some kind of purpose for them.
She continued to tell herself so. She didn't want to consider any other alternatives.
Elizabeth entered her small suite, the joyful Janus bounding ahead of her. When he reached the inside, he stopped, nearly dropping the set of clothing and food he'd brought with him.
Janus frowned, searching the empty room. "Where is he?"
Elizabeth didn't have an answer. The room was indeed empty. The only trace that Daniel had once been with her was the crumpled sheet lying next to her chair in the corner.
"No, he was here," she said, jogging over to the lone sheet. She picked it up, positive she could still smell faint traces of his scent on the cloth. She held up her prize as if it were positive proof. "He must have joined the Ascended again."
Janus didn't say anything at first, but the sadness in his eyes told her all she needed to know. Elizabeth dropped the sheet and folded her arms. "You don't believe me."
"You have been under a lot of stress," he said softly, placing the clothing, food, and blankets on the side of her bed. "It is natural for you to –"
"No," she said. "He was here. I saw him here."
He nodded, but the sadness persisted, as well as some discomfort. Quietly, he stepped away from her before heading back to the door. Elizabeth knew a dismissal when she saw one.
Just because they – the people of Earth – had evolved from the Ancients did not mean they could be regarded as mere children. They had come too far to be set aside so easily.
"Rest," he said. "I will come back for you later so that we can try to argue your case before Melia again. Perhaps she can convince Moros otherwise." He forced a soft smile before he bid her a restful night and closed the door.
Elizabeth sunk down into her bed as she watched him leave. They were all gone. All of them. She had been left alone again.
That night, Elizabeth had fitful dreams of Atlantis, of the Antarctic outpost, of the SGC, and of Simon. They all merged together with past treaties and negotiations she'd overseen earlier in her career. On one side, she could hear Rodney, arguing about the fairness and unfairness of those who lived and died. Simon appealed to her sense of duty, asking for closure she couldn't give him, asking why, why, why…She saw General O'Neill's disapproving glare, silently telling her how she'd failed, how she should have worked harder, how she should have left no one behind. She waited and waited, listening to their voices as they jumbled into a storm of condemnations, all tearing at her for answers.
Elizabeth tried to call for order, to soothe them long enough to keep them quiet so that she could answer them all in turn. But when she went to speak, the room they were standing in was flooded with the violent waters of Atlantis, her voice silenced by the deafening waves.
"No!" she cried, jerking awake.
She was back in that room, that damn awful room, alone, and without resolution.
Elizabeth sighed and threw herself back onto the bed, tossing her arm over her eyes. She knew that she was running out of time.
Accomplishment after accomplishment. All her life, she had been a successful negotiator. That didn't mean she was perfect. But she'd succeeded far more than she'd failed.
The fact that she seemed to be at a standstill with the Atlanteans, the very people whom her team had sought to meet, grated at her every nerve.
"It'll be okay," she heard him say.
Elizabeth frowned, scrambled to sit and put the light on. She blinked, shocked as Daniel once again stood in her room.
"I don't generally go that far on the first date," she found herself joking, trying for any kind of outlet through the awkwardness.
"Technically, it's the second," he said, taking her lead. "But then again Jack always said I was a cheap date."
She laughed. "I don't think I want to know the answer to that one."
"Probably not." He grimaced, gazing longingly at the sheets. "You wouldn't mind sharing?"
"I can do better." Elizabeth tossed aside the sheets, throwing them in Daniel's general direction. She slid off the bed and stopped by the small table in her room, picking through some of the supplies Janus had left for her. "Here," she said, throwing a handful of clothing at him. "Janus left a few sets of clothes behind when he came to meet you." She turned away as he started to dress, but that didn't stop her from wondering. "By the way, just where were you, Doctor?"
She heard the shuffling of clothes behind her. "Uh, yeah. About that…Sorry." She heard more shuffling. "All right," he said.
She turned around and kept her arms crossed. "Well?" she asked, arching her eyebrows.
He answered her with a sigh as he slumped onto her bed. "I think I have a problem."
Elizabeth dropped her teasing and came to sit beside him. She placed a supportive hand on his thigh, knowing full well the gesture was personal, but she needed the comfort of knowing he was real. "What kind of problem?" she asked, stroking his leg gently.
"I think I'm still dead."
Elizabeth snatched her hand back. "I'm sorry?"
He winced and tilted his head. She understood that to be one of his thinking gestures. "No, I don't mean dead dead."
She slammed her hands down with frustration. "Doctor –"
"Daniel." She breathed out, remembering it was she that had asked them to stay informal from the very start. "Daniel, please…I don't have much time."
"Apparently, neither do I." He rolled his eyes when she glared at him. "I think I'm stuck in between planes of existence." He held up his hand when she went to speak. "I know, it sounds crazy, but we are sitting here ten thousand years into the past."
"Point," she conceded. "But?"
"But…yeah. I feel different, Elizabeth. I feel like I'm…" He struggled for the word, thrusting his hand toward the center of the room. "Like I'm here, but I'm not."
"You feel real to me," she said with a nervous laugh.
"I know. But there's something different. It's not like what happened to Anubis. And I can retain my form. Sometimes. But I feel like someone else is in control."
"The Ancients?" she asked.
"I have no idea." He reached over and grabbed her hand. "I am real. And I am here. I'm here with you," he said. "But I'm not quite here at the same time."
"What are you trying to tell me?" she said, keeping her lips tight.
He sighed and bowed his head. "I'm not sure how long I'll be able to stay."
She knew what he was trying to tell her. And he knew he was trying to allow her to save face. Elizabeth appreciated the gesture, but she didn't need it. Whatever he was offering her was enough.
"Well, if Janus and I are successful in convincing the Council, you won't have to worry about it."
He nodded, but said nothing more. She knew that Daniel wanted to do more.
"Just stay with me. Stay with me tonight as long as you can."
Again, he nodded and this time, he moved in a little closer. They sat there, together, holding each other and exchanging not a single word, until some time that night, she fell back asleep. When she awoke, she wasn't surprised to find his rumpled clothing sitting in a heap on her bed.
The next couple of days followed suit. Daniel would appear and disappear, showing up when she was alone and feeling her worst. She began to seriously consider that he was just a figment of her imagination – the grief, stress, and trauma over what had happened to her and her people having manifest itself in the form of Daniel, someone she had equated in her mind as a figure that could overcome any form of adversity. Logically, it made more sense than for him to be traveling over planes of existence just to keep her hopes high.
But there he was again.
"You know, I'd feel much better if you'd appear when Janus was around," she said with a half smile.
"I'd love to, believe me," he muttered. He seemed a little embarrassed with his continued nudity, but he wasn't taking great lengths to hide it anymore. "Can I…?"
Elizabeth laughed, throwing him the clothes that Janus had left behind. Daniel nodded his thanks, and quickly dressed before coming to the bed to sit beside her.
"So?" he asked.
"So." She shook her head. "Nothing will sway the Council."
"I wish I could talk to them," he said with frustration. "I wish I could stay here long enough for someone to see me!"
"I wish that as well. But maybe that's not why you're here."
He narrowed his eyes. "You and Janus have a plan."
She looked away. She had come to except the fact that the Council would not hear her pleas. Time travel was dangerous. It wasn't that she couldn't appreciate their point of view. But she couldn't just sit back and allow time to take away the lives of so many men and women, not when she was in a position to do something about it.
Janus had thought of something that might work. It held a terrible price.
"I can't let you do that," Daniel said firmly, rising to his feet. "There has to be another way."
"It's the only option left," she told him. She lowered her voice. "I think I knew it would come down to this from the very start."
Daniel shook his head, angry, refusing to look at her. Elizabeth sighed. She watched him pace the room, appearing as helpless as she'd initially felt when she'd first found herself here. But she felt remarkably calm now. A tremendous burden had been lifted off her shoulders, even if a new, more personal one had come to take its place.
"I think you're here to listen," she said softly. "Will you listen?"
After a moment's worth of glaring at her with an angry, unsettled look, he finally sighed and nodded, making his way back to the bed to sit with her. He grabbed at the plate that Janus had left for her, picking at the sharp metal edges while refusing to look at her. She waited patiently for him to find the strength to speak.
"Do you have any doubts?" he finally asked.
She couldn't say that she did. She knew she was doing what needed to be done. Negotiations were about opening a dialogue and making sacrifices. She realized this wasn't much different, in the end.
Except she did have one doubt. Just one of an unexpected sort. One that wouldn't have been there if not for him.
When she gazed upon his pained face, that's when she knew that he knew.
And that he felt the same.
Elizabeth leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, and brought him close. As she went to brush her lips against his, she felt him tense and withdraw, but his gaze remained on her, more lucid than ever.
"I'm probably not going to remember…in the end," he said, his voice a mix of disappointment and shame.
"That's not important," she said. "It's right now that's important."
The present. The past. The future. They were all the same now, intertwined as one. Elizabeth had to make the most of the time that she had left – the time they had left.
She could see the understanding in his eyes. He nodded just once before he leaned in to kiss her. And for the moment, Elizabeth put aside all her troubles and lost herself in the happy memory she determined to hold for eternity.
The next time he appeared, Elizabeth knew it would be his last.
When he materialized in her room, she said nothing, tapping her fingers against the palm of her hand as she fixated on the metal tray that rested on her table.
"You've decided," he said simply.
She nodded. The time had come.
"It's the right thing to do," she said.
She turned to him and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him tightly. It didn't matter if he was nude or if he could vanish at any time. This was her moment, her last moment, and she wasn't going to let go.
Unlike the first time she had held him, when he had stood there shaking, mute, and shocked, he reciprocated her embrace, holding her close as he stroked her hair. She knew there was so much that needed to be said between them, but it wasn't time for that right now. There would never be time for it.
Finally, she withdrew, moving quickly for the door before Daniel could talk her out of it. Though, she knew he wouldn't. He understood. He had been there himself.
Elizabeth choked back a sob, and summoned the strength she had been building for days. There was no turning back. She knew her duty. All she wanted was one last look.
Pausing at the door, Elizabeth gazed back him, sending one last longing look in his direction, forever capturing his sad but supportive face. She licked her lips and nodded to him once more before she closed the door and left that room – and Daniel – behind her.
He had told her the sleep would be dreamless.
Had he lied?
Elizabeth stirred within the stasis chamber. She felt foggy, almost sleepy, but not quite awake, either. Had over three thousand years passed already? She could not believe that so much time could have passed. She felt as if she had just been placed within the chamber.
That is when she saw a blinking and heard something that sounded like a low whine.
The stasis chamber was failing.
No, she thought. She needed to last long enough to rotate the ZPM's. She needed this to work.
She had watched Janus program the stasis chamber. Something must have gone wrong. Maybe the chamber was faulty. Maybe his plan wouldn't work after all.
She couldn't fail. She had to find a way.
As she struggled to break out of her semi-suspended state, she saw a flash of light fill the room. Perplexed, she froze, watching the light take shape.
She tried to speak, but she was still too subdued by the stasis chamber. Elizabeth felt powerless as she could only sit numbly and watch Daniel pace around the room, struggling to figure out how to save her. When he came to the glass and peered inside, mouthing to her, she could do nothing. But she saw it in his eyes. She knew that he was there not only because Atlantis needed her, but also because he needed her.
"The stasis," she tried to say.
He frowned, leaning closer as he tried to read her lips before he went about his mad hunt around the chamber. In a horrible moment that culminated in thoughts of failure, Elizabeth thought she saw him vanish completely, just a shadow merging into the darkness, to leave her to rot away slowly over time.
Then, he was there, moving quickly throughout the room, checking consoles that she believed were gauges and controls, maybe even ones that accessed her chamber.
She heard a beep and a hiss. Suddenly, everything just fell into place.
Elizabeth felt herself drifting, falling into oblivion. As the last vestiges of this time, this place, and this world filled her vision, she saw him, watching her. He managed a soft, sad yet proud smile, as he pressed his hand to the stasis chamber.
She knew that though she could not return the gesture, he understood that she felt the same. And with that last mournful yet determined look they exchanged, Elizabeth saw his form blink out in a dazzling display of shimmering white light before she closed her eyes and dreamed a dreamless sleep.
Elizabeth sat in her office, staring into nothing. Meeting herself had been a surreal experience, to say the least. She could not thank that other her enough for all she had done and all that she had sacrificed. Elizabeth could only hope that she could become half the person that her alternative self had become.
But Elizabeth couldn't shake the feeling that her alternative self had died before she had been able to tell her everything, to confide in her something important that pertained to her and her alone.
Elizabeth knew herself well. And now that secret had died with her.
She turned in her seat, surprised to hear Rodney's anxious voice. "What is it, Rodney?"
He gasped as he caught his breath. "We found something in one of the newly explored parts of the city."
Elizabeth jumped from her seat, following Rodney out into the city. She listened to him go on and on about what they'd found, finding herself just as excited to see with her own eyes. Elizabeth was always eager to find the new discoveries that awaited them in Atlantis. Some were sad and some were terrifying, but some were hopeful. And it was in that hope, that they could dream of a new tomorrow.
After a few wrong turns that Rodney insisted weren't his own, they arrived at the stop in question. It was just a plain wall, like many of the other walls of the city, except for the scratch marks that had been etched into the metal. She frowned, walking in a little closer. Teyla, Aiden Ford, and John Sheppard moved to allow her better access.
"It looks to be a form of writing," Teyla said.
"More like graffiti," Sheppard mumbled.
Ford snickered. "We're placing bets on whether it's sports or –" He cut himself off, clearing his throat before he looked away.
Elizabeth arched her eyebrows. Just based on Teyla's patient, yet strained face, she realized that she didn't want to know.
"Oh, please. Can you act any more immature?" Rodney said in a huff.
"Did you not enter the pool yourself, Doctor McKay?" Teyla asked with a smile.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said.
Elizabeth had long tuned out the bickering and teasing between Rodney and the rest of the team, having become engrossed in the rough markings. She thought they almost looked like they had been scratched into the wall, like someone had taken a sharp metal object and scraped it over the surface.
She touched the grooves.
It was Ancient. Whoever had defaced the wall, had done so in a hurry, leaving the glyphs in their crudest form. She could barely make out what it said.
"Can you read that?" Sheppard asked.
She stared at the writing, looking long and hard at the markings. "No," she said. Before anyone could question her, she shook her head. "It's just nonsense."
While they didn't seem convinced, they did back off, leaving Elizabeth with the opportunity to gaze at the scrawl a moment longer. She placed her palm on the mysterious writing, knowing that it wasn't mysterious at all.
Forever in time, Elizabeth, it read. And then in hastily scribbled bits it was signed DJ.
She continued to stare.
And she wondered…about what could have been.