"All roads lead to London, my dear." Elizabeth had heard those words dozens of times in the summers of her childhood, when she had spent time with her grandmother in her pretty London home. Victoria Weir, widowed years before her granddaughter's birth, had always been something of an eccentric. Immensely proud of the fact that she'd been born, raised, and married within the British capital, she was also certain that she would die there. She had also never understood her son's desire to leave and live in the U.S. To her, everything anyone could possibly want was to be found right there in London.
As a child, those words had merely been the words of an aging matriarch, something to be nodded at and outwardly agreed upon, but forgotten soon after. It was not until Elizabeth found herself as one of the Ascended that she remembered the words spoken in her grandmother's velvet tones.
It was strange, being Ascended. So much was clearer now, things made much more sense than they ever did before. She understood the Wraith far better than she ever could have hoped to before, as well as the many mistakes the Ancients had made that had resulted in the loss of their foothold in Pegasus, and many other things. Was this how Daniel Jackson had felt?
Still, greater understanding of important matters did not make her completely content. Knowledge could only carry a person so far. Even if all the knowledge and secrets of the universe had been laid at her feet for her to spend all eternity sorting through, Elizabeth never would have been completely at ease with her lot. Something would still be missing.
That feeling of emptiness was only eased when she had an unobstructed view of one particular ocean, feeling a certain comfortable breeze sifting through her hair. As she stood on the balcony overlooking Atlantis, Elizabeth found that she finally understood her grandmother's words.
For her, all roads led to Atlantis.
"Yet again, I find you here, my friend."
Elizabeth did not turn her gaze away from the waves to look at the one who had joined her, but she did smile fondly. Meeting Janus had been perhaps one of the most... intriguing experiences she had experienced since her ascension. He clearly recalled her double's sudden appearance in the final days of the old Wraith war, and finding himself faced with the same woman, yet different, had made their initial meeting intriguing, to say the least. But now, Elizabeth understood the fondness that had shone in the other woman's eyes when she had spoken of this particular Ancient. He was a true gem.
None of the Others ever approached her when she came to Atlantis, which, she admitted freely, was becoming more and more often. Homesickness was plaguing her and coming to the city eased it somewhat, though not completely.
"You don't sound surprised," she replied at last.
She could hear the smile in his voice. "Should I be? Atlantis sings when you visit her. Even some of your people here are aware of it, though they know not its true meaning." He moved to stand beside her, looking out at the ocean. After a deliberate pause, he said, "When she first came to us, I remember the city seemed to change slightly. She did not know what to make of the woman from the future in the beginning, but quickly began to see her for the wonderful woman she was. I imagine the city recognized you when you first came here."
Elizabeth shrugged. "I don't know if she did or not. I never had the gene required to interface with the city. The only time she contacted me..." She trailed off, her meaning clear to them both.
"Well," Janus said after a moment, "Atlantis recognizes you now and she rejoices even now that you are here. She also grows sad when you leave."
"As do I."
Such a simple sentence, but it meant so much. The two of them stood in a companionable silence, just staring down at the smaller spires of the city or out at the waves that crashed into the piers. After some time, Janus broke the silence again.
"You are leaving us, aren't you?"
At first, Elizabeth did not answer. The Others still watched her fairly closely, even after all she had done to prove that she was abiding by the letter of their laws. She may have bent or tweaked them on occasion, as she had done for John during one of his many incarcerations, but she still did not outright break them. She had been making plans for some time, but did not yet want the Others to become aware of them.
Still, as she had noted earlier, none of them ever came close to her while she was in Atlantis. Point in fact, they avoided Atlantis as much as they possibly could. If there was any place where she was safe from surveillance, it was here.
After a long silence, Elizabeth nodded. "Not now, but soon."
Now she looked at him. "I'm sorry to leave you here alone, Janus," she said earnestly. She truly meant that. In him she had found a special friend, one she was not keen to lose. "But my place is here in Atlantis, with them." She nodded her head towards the closed door that led to the control room.
Janus looked at her, his grey eyes twinkling slightly in the evening sun. "Them? Or him?"
Elizabeth could feel a slight heat crawling up her neck and she looked away. She heard Janus laugh. "I do not fault you for such a choice, Elizabeth. He is a good man and cares for you greatly, as much as you care for him." He sobered after a moment. "I shall still miss you. It is not often that someone is daring enough to question the Others so boldly."
Grateful for the change of subject, she replied. "Someone has to make them see that turning a blind eye to the events on this plane will not absolve them of responsibility. Humans are their children, the children they abandoned to the mercy of various unscrupulous aliens. The Wraith, the Goa'uld, others. They still say that the other three races of the Great Alliance were there to help, but the Asgard, the Furlings, and the Nox were not, and still are not, here to serve as nannies." Elizabeth stopped and shook her head. "If the Milky Way falls to the Ori and Pegasus to the Wraith, then the Others will be next. The Wraith may not be able to touch them, but the Ori have that power. They won't stop until their thirst for revenge has been quenched."
She sighed and leaned against the railing, her gaze landing on one of the buildings below. "The knowledge I have now will be indispensable to everyone, both here in Atlantis and on Earth. I will have much to show Doctor Jackson when I return."
"Elizabeth, how -"
She quickly cut him off. "No, do not ask me how, Janus. It's better if you don't know." She looked at him and offered him a small, teasing smile. "You'll just have to wait and see, like everyone else."
He looked at her searchingly for several long moments, but finally conceded. "Very well, then," he acknowledged. "I shall leave you to your thoughts and schemes then." Slowly, he reached out and touched her cheek briefly. "Until we meet again, Elizabeth."
Her whispered response echoed on the empty balcony.
Elizabeth was not alone for long when she heard the door open. Whirling, she instinctively stepped back into the shadows, even though no one could see her as she was now. Piercing emotion blossomed in her heart when she saw John step outside. He moved over to the railing and looked out, his face pinched with concentration and stress.
This was why she was going back. He was growing weary and, though Elizabeth knew it sounded arrogant, John needed her. All those who stood at the shatter points of time needed someone. SG-1 had always stood at the bridge between order and chaos, and although they each had their own respective tasks, they had always relied heavily on each other and the people who chose to stand with them. O'Neill and Carter had relied on one another for years; Teal'c took comfort in the presence of Bra'tac, his son, and the woman called Ishta, and whether Daniel Jackson admitted it or not, Vala Mal Doran had quickly become indispensable to him. Mitchell was the only one who seemed to stand alone for the moment, but fate would deal with that in its own time.
Just as all of these people had others to rely on to share the burden, John needed that as well. The majority of his task still lay before him and he could not walk that path by himself. That way lay only madness and despair. And Elizabeth had known even as she Ascended and left Atlantis behind that she would walk with him.
She watched silently as he stared out at the ocean, standing in the exact spot Janus had stood only moments before. The sadness and pain she sensed coming from him surrounded him like an aura. She knew she could easily look into his thoughts and discover what pained him so, but she did not. Instead, she offered him comfort in the only way she could possibly think of.
Slowly, she stepped closer to him and, even though Elizabeth knew he couldn't consciously feel or sense her presence, she wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, resting her cheek on his shoulder blade. For a moment, she closed her eyes, willing all the comfort and warmth she could possibly spare to seep into him and bolster his weary spirit.
I'm here, John. You are not alone.
She would have loved to just stay there, melded comfortably against his back, but Elizabeth soon felt a stirring in the back of her mind. The Others were summoning her. Sighing, she turned her head and brushed her lips lightly against the spot where her cheek had rested before she finally pulled away.
I'll see you soon, she thought before she closed her eyes and vanished from Atlantis.
There had been a breeze all day, from what John had seen on the weather monitors in the control room. Nothing overly huge that would indicate an approaching storm, just something light and airy.
But standing there as it swept through his hair and across the skin of his face, he could almost feel the wind change. It became something more... and as quickly as it changed, it did so again, becoming again what it had been all day.
He wasn't imagining things out of exhaustion. That wasn't something that could be imagined that easily, could it?
John looked around warily, taking in his surroundings. He appeared to be alone. So if it wasn't someone else joining him, what was it?
The wind picked up again, a little heavier and cooler than what it had been, signifying the approaching evening. But with that wind, came a distinct sound, the wind chime-like thing he had found a few months ago at a market off-world. He'd liked the sound of it and had after trading a few MREs for it, John had found a place for it out here. It reminded him of...
John's head shot up and he looked around wildly.