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Four People Elizabeth Didn't Say Goodbye To (and One She Did)

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1. Simon Wallis

She was so busy spinning the lie about an overseas mission that she forgot. She had never been good at leaving people, or letting them leave, so she was concentrating so hard on pretending that this was an almost-normal trip that she left the apartment without saying goodbye.

The president was reluctant to give Simon clearance to know where she was really going ("I swear he's trustworthy—" "Dr. Weir, if we gave security clearance to even just every legally-wedded spouse of someone involved in highly classified work, how long do you think it would be before the first leak?"), so she was recording a message in case he decided later.

She'd finished it before she realized she hadn't said goodbye in person.

She deleted it and started over. She could have added it in at the end, but it would have been a clear skip, as obviously an afterthought as it had been. Simon deserved better.

The third time she recorded the message (she'd started crying the second time, a thin leak of tears and a painful tightness in her throat), she went straight from her reassurance that she loved him in spite of the fact that she was leaving to a proper goodbye.

Then she recorded a second message, one where she didn't say anything classified, just made a joke out of her absentmindedness. "And so I don't know when I'll see you again, Simon, but I didn't want you to forget that I love you. Goodbye. Or, uh, I guess I should say au revoir, huh." She held her smile until she stopped recording. If something happened to her, he'd have a visual memory if he wanted one.

She had the files burned to separate DVDs, and marked each one's envelope clearly. Then she left them with the SGC, and left.

2. Aiden Ford

She didn't know he was going to leave.

She was still shaking from all the crises that had built and broken over them, worn out from weeks of pretending everything was going to be all right and weak with the hope it would, when he stole the jumper and fled. And even then, as it was happening, her only thought was to stop him—and, when that failed, to fear the Wraith would notice them.

Sometimes she wondered, later, whether she would have said goodbye if it had occurred to her. Whether it would have given either of them—she waiting in Atlantis, trying to hold everything together; he wandering the galaxy, falling apart—closure, or strength, or anything.

She still doesn't believe he's dead.

3. Radek Zelenka

The problem with reeling from crisis to crisis meant that you had no time to evaluate risks. Once she was over the Replicator homeworld, Elizabeth had finally realized that her odds of coming back were terrible, and getting worse with every minute.

She still hadn't been able to bring herself to say goodbye to—were they her team, for this?—before she headed down onto the planet. It meant quitting.

But she'd pulled off the chain that held her tags, and dropped it on the pilot's seat. If she came back, she could pick them up and nobody'd be the wiser. If she didn't—her will was in her quarters. Someone would bring them to Radek.

She'd left all of Atlantis without a farewell. She'd forced her team off without being able to say goodbye, all her will focused on the Replicators and on John's stupid unbelievable stubborn gallantry.

As the nanites whirred through her body—as Oberoth wove himself through her mind—as she felt her humanity ebb, the goodbye she hadn't said that haunted her most was the one that she hadn't said to Radek.

She hadn't even left him a video.

4. Rodney McKay

They brought her android body back from the space between stars and did something with wires and an Ancient device she didn't even pretend to understand. The body she found herself in felt impossibly new, eerie, empty. Wrong.

"Where's Rodney?" she asked when John and Ronon returned without him.

"Earth," John said. "With Keller."

"I see," said Elizabeth, looking from one of them to the other. She would not get proper explanations here.

"He will be back in a few days," Radek said, "if you can wait that long."

"No," she said regretfully. Already she could feel a faint and distant music trembling through her cells, drawing them apart and beyond. "I'll be gone by then."

"And Woolsey will likely be better by then," said Radek, not without regret, "so, after all, it may be for the best that—"

He broke off and turned away.

Her sorrow was distant, muted, but still real; ascension had begun before she ever re-entered a body that could allow it, and it dropped a heavy veil across the minutiae of life. Emotions were as if she learned of them secondhand. Physical sensation was a bothersome distraction.

When she felt herself balance on the edge of transcendence, drowning in deep calm, she realized—again, always—that there were things undone. In a second that stretched on forever, she had a whole list of things to say, and only that one second to say them in for human ears. She could say goodbye to Rodney, the chance she hadn't had. Or—

"I'm sorry," she whispered—or maybe shouted.

And then there was light.

 

1. Aurelia

"You have interfered with non-Ascended beings," says the woman. Elizabeth finds herself in what looks like a courtroom as the woman speaks, old-fashioned and stagey.

She is in the defendant's box, and the jury facing her is a blank white wall, warm and caring as marble. They are dressed in white, their hair and skin colorless and glowing. Only their eyes have color, dark and searing.

The woman is where the judge would be. Her skin has color—though not much; it is paler than Elizabeth's, smooth and unfreckled—and she wears a curled white wig. If her robe were black instead of white, she could have passed for a human judge.

The courtroom has the same luminous pallor as everything else. Elizabeth finds herself wearing ragged charcoal-brown. She feels small and dirty.

"Do you have anything to say in your defense?"

Everyone else in the courtroom is beautiful and ageless, clean and shining. She feels all her mortal years weigh on her again.

"They would have died," Elizabeth says. "If I hadn't done something, the drive would have—"

"You have changed the fate of much."

Ascension, being ascended, is peaceful, tranquil, soothing. Elizabeth feels a hot flare of anger burn through her. "Yes."

"You are young. If you apologize with sincerity, and never do anything like this again, even such an act may be forgiven."

"And if I don't?" She is reckless with the rush of real emotion.

"You will be banished from our dimension, lest you spread your ignorance and arrogance among us. Think carefully. You gained something that many have spent their whole lives seeking in vain. Are you not grateful?"

Elizabeth considers it. "No. You escaped death by becoming dead in every way except the physical. You don't decay only because you're frozen. I wish I hadn't come here, and if you're going to make me leave, I say goodbye and good ridda—"

"Remember what you have lost," says the woman.

Rebirth is in fire, red-gold and burning. Elizabeth finds herself standing naked in Greenhouse B. "Hello, Atlantis," she whispers. "It's good to be home."