"Oh my God," said Elizabeth, the words dragging out from her in a low voice. She stopped in the middle of the airport, drawing rude looks from people walking past, and stared over at the gaggle of stewardesses slipping through the doors and walking onto the plane. "John, we can't take this flight.
"What do you mean, we can't take this flight? We have to take this flight. We have to get to Rome and find the artifact on time or we'll miss our window to Atlantis." John leaned in, his breath on her neck. He tried his best not to smirk at the way she shivered.
He'd failed, judging by the pissy look Elizabeth was giving him. "That's my mother walking onto that plane, not to mention my aunt. We can't interfere in our own timelines; you know that."
"There's no other flight to Italy for a week," said John. He looked back over at the gaggle. One of them was her mother? And her aunt? Shit. "Tell me your mom isn't the hot redhead. Please?"
"You didn't just call my mother 'the hot redhead.'" Elizabeth took a deep breath, counted silently to ten in Ancient - it took longer - and then raised one eyebrow at him. "Fine. We're taking this flight. We're going to Rome. We're making our way to the catacombs and we're finding the artifact so we can get back to Atlantis. But we are not speaking to my mother."
Two Days Later
It only took two days of spilled drinks, scheduling mishaps, and accidental camera switches before Elizabeth had realized that her mother had never been this klutzy. Her entire childhood, her mother had glided through their house with grace and poise. Her mother also reassured Elizabeth during her coltish teenage years that she would grow out of it, that Kate had also had tripped over everything during her teenage years, had spilled drinks and taken wrong turns, but that she'd passed that phase by twenty.
"Everything after that," her mother had told her with a mischievous wink, "was on purpose. How do you think I met your father?"
Which was why Elizabeth had her eyes narrowed at Kate Cameron, someday Kate Weir, who was laughing at herself and looking embarrassed about taking a wrong turn in the catacombs of Rome.
At the time, Elizabeth had chalked her parents' meeting up to an accidental-on-purpose spill so that her mother could meet an attractive man. That was, of course, before Elizabeth and John had travelled backwards in time and space thanks to Oberon's last ditch, desperate attempt to keep her from returning to Atlantis.
"You're following us," said Elizabeth. She had to remember not to call Kate 'Mother' by accident.
"Of course not!" exclaimed Kate. "I'm a tourist. Why would I be following anyone? Though, now that you mention it, I did think that you were going the right way and I was hoping you could show me how to get out of here."
Elizabeth and John shared a look. They'd slipped away and kept it subtle enough that only someone who was looking for them would have noticed.
"You're working for the CIA. Or the FBI." Probably the CIA; if anyone knew their espionage and investigative agencies, it was Elizabeth. "Which one?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said Kate.
She was good. If there was anyone on Earth who could out-bluff Elizabeth - Teyla didn't count, she wasn't on Earth - it was her parents. On the other hand, by the time Elizabeth had reached her teenage years and gotten caught sneaking out of the house, they'd had more time to practice. At the moment, Elizabeth had experience on her side.
Elizabeth was going to need a couple of strong drinks when they got back to Atlantis.
"We don't have time for this, Elizabeth," said John. He jerked his head in the direction of the Ancient tomb hidden in the catacombs. "Remember?"
"That's not the name on your passport," said Kate, crossing her arms and glaring at them. "I should know." She'd checked the passenger manifest as they'd come on board; Elizabeth and John had false identities and travelled as VIPs in first class.
"I'll look you up in 2011 if we make it through this one," said Elizabeth, grinning at her mother. She grabbed John's hand and started running, memories of her teenage years flooding her.
There was no way Kate could keep up. Elizabeth was wearing pants, comfortable ones, and a pair of pumps. Kate was wearing garters and a tight slip, all the clothing she'd complained about when she was having Pan Am reunions with her old friends. Elizabeth remembered Aunt Laura and Colette and Maggie's stories from her childhood, especially Maggie's constant uniform infractions and the red marks they'd all get from the elastic in their undergarments.
"At least we don't have to avoid SG-1 on top of all your relatives," muttered John. "Hell of a time for a family reunion."
Two Hours Later, 2011
The soft lighting of Atlantis' control tower gleamed around them. Elizabeth sagged into John's arms, not letting go of her grip on the Ancient device they'd found in Janus' burial chamber. There'd been no body; Elizabeth was certain he'd Ascended with the others.
Marines surrounded them, weapons at the ready. Colonel Carter and Major Lorne stood behind them, stunned silent by their appearance.
"So, about that trade mission we went on with Teyla--" started John.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes at the same time as Colonel Carter.
"The rest of your team was debriefed two weeks ago, Lieutenant Colonel," said Colonel Carter. The smile dancing around the edges of her mouth was proof that she wasn't as mad as she acted, or so Elizabeth hoped. "Dr. Weir, you were presumed dead several years ago."
"As you can see, you presumed wrong," said Elizabeth. She straightened up and smoothed down the front of her shirt. "It's a long story."
"I can tell." Colonel Carter shook her head. "Major Lorne, would you mind escorting Dr. Weir and Colonel Sheppard to the infirmary? We'll debrief after Dr. Beckett clears them medically."
"Carson's alive?" Elizabeth glanced at John, stunned.
"That's a long story too," said John. He grinned at her, then kissed her in full view of at least half of Atlantis.
Oh, the hell with it. She'd been away too long to waste any time now that she had him back. Elizabeth wrapped her arms around John's neck and held him tight, parting her lips and putting everything into her kiss that she'd never put into words.
"We've got time," said John, pulling away and looking a little breathless. "Welcome home."