Angelic Paranoia

Paranoidangel's Fanfic

Stargate Atlantis/Stargate SG-1

The Atlantis Sacrifice

Rating: PG
Beta: Tanaqui
American-picker: hhertzof
Pairing: Jack/Elizabeth
Spoilers: Atlantis season 5.
Summary: After recent events Jack and Elizabeth are both keen to resolve Atlantis's fate. Jack thinks Elizabeth's ascension should make that an easy task. Not only is he wrong, but they still have to deal with the IOA as well.
Notes: The art for this was created by sexycazzy and can be found here.

"Gah!" Jack O'Neill had been trained not to react to surprises, but none of his experiences had prepared him for the sight of the ghost of Elizabeth Weir sitting at the end of his bed. As his eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness of his bedside light he could see she looked just as he remembered. Even though her shirt seemed fancy it was more casual than he'd seen her dress. He didn't know if that said more about the number of times they'd met outside of work or about how she liked to dress.

"Now I know I'm going crazy. I'm imagining there's a dead woman in my bedroom." He ran a hand over his face and tried not to yawn. He hadn't been sleeping well; that would explain the vision.

Elizabeth smiled and shook her head. "I'm not dead. I've ascended."

"You're a hallucination. You would say that." He reached out for the t-shirt he'd casually thrown on a chair and pulled it over his head. After all, he was half-naked with a woman in his bedroom, even if there was no way she was really here.

"I am real, Jack." Her gaze followed his movements and he began to have serious doubts about his ability to fantasize women in his bedroom. Not that he wasn't so tired he couldn't imagine a naked woman, especially one he'd seen a couple times.

She had a pleading look in her eye that he'd never been very good at resisting. He wondered if she knew that. He sighed and leaned back against the headboard. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" Although he was still withholding judgement on that point and it showed in his voice.

She gave a small smile, before folding her hands in her lap. Her expression turned serious. "I'm worried about you. You've been stressed lately."

"Because being head of Homeworld Security is not a stressful job." He laced his words with sarcasm, remembering back to this morning's argument with the IOA and the afternoon meetings about Destiny that he'd been trying to forget.

She leaned forward. "I'm serious, Jack."

"So am I." Okay, so he wasn't always a serious kind of guy, but he meant what he said.

"I don't want to see you end up like General Hammond."

Despite her concerned expression he sat up straight. That was a low blow. General Hammond's heart attack hadn't necessarily been caused by stress. Not when he'd been retired for four years before. "Maybe I don't appreciate you coming in here, watching me sleep."

Elizabeth looked contrite at that. "I'm sorry." Her fingers traced along the duvet by his leg. As Jack watched he could see that sometimes they hovered above it and sometimes dipped below it without him feeling a thing. "There's just so much I can't do now and I thought this would be the one thing I could do to help."

Now he felt guilty. Maybe she did care - he was pretty sure she had once - but she wasn't going the right way about it. "You can help."

Her hand stopped moving and her interested gaze met his eyes.

"You can convince the IOA to let Atlantis go back to Pegasus and find a way for Destiny to dial home." He counted his two biggest problems right now off on his fingers.

She sighed. "I wish I could."

He believed her - she looked sincere and he did have some experience of trying to convince ascended beings to do something they didn't want to. Or wouldn't: he was never sure which of those was true. He let it go for now: he was too tired to come up with any good arguments. "Ascension's not all it's cracked up to be, huh?"

"No." She smiled. "But it's better than being dead."

"I don't know about that." He didn't think he'd last five minutes if he was ascended and couldn't do anything.

She frowned. "You'd rather die?"

He winced. "Can we talk about something a little less morbid?"

"I'm sorry." Her shoulders slumped, but she didn't come up with another topic.

Jack wasn't sure what there was to talk about when they didn't have the Stargate program in common any more. He stared at her while she self-consciously straightened her shirt. "I'm going to watch hockey," he decided. It wasn't as if he was going to get to sleep any time soon and he was sure there was a re-run of a game on ESPN at this time of night.

Elizabeth just nodded and stayed where she was while he got up and put his pants on. He wasn't sure what her plans were, but when he reached the living room she was already sitting on the couch. He sat beside her and switched the TV on. He already knew the result of the game, but he didn't think he'd be able to concentrate on it anyway.

"If you want someone to talk to, I'm not going to tell anyone."

He glanced over at her. Tempting as her offer was, it wasn't talking that would solve his problems. Or rather it would, but it wasn't Elizabeth he needed to be talking to. "Let's just watch the game," he said.

She nodded and kept quiet after that.

He only half concentrated on the game, thinking while he watched it of methods he could use to persuade Elizabeth to do what he wanted her to. He still hadn't thought of anything guaranteed to work by the time he fell asleep. When he woke up, his back protesting, the game had finished and Elizabeth had gone.


Jack was beginning to wonder if it was déjà vu when, for the second night in a row, he had a feeling of being watched while he was unsuccessfully trying to sleep. He lay on his back, breathed deeply and listened to the distant sounds of traffic and sirens that told him not everyone in the city was asleep. Although it wasn't comforting to know that. Clearing his mind only reminded him of yet another IOA meeting he'd had today in which Copley had again refused to bend at all about Atlantis. Thinking of him made Jack wonder if last night's visit from Elizabeth had been a hallucination or a dream and if tonight it would be Copley at the end of his bed.

He couldn't stand the prickling feeling on the back of his neck for another minute, so he reached out and switched on the bedside lamp. As he shaded his eyes from the light, he could see Elizabeth sitting at the end of his bed, looking unaffected by the sudden brightness and more awake than she had last night. Ascension clearly agreed with her.

"Hello, Jack," she said, smiling. She showed no signs of being uncomfortable at being in his bedroom again. Perhaps she had no reason to be, but he did.

This was officially creepy now. "What're you doing?" His tiredness made his question sound more long-suffering than the slightly pissed he was going for.

"Nothing." Although he thought she looked a little guilty and her refusing to meet his gaze confirmed that she was lying.

He rolled his eyes. "Is watching me sleep really that interesting?" He might not have minded if there had been sex first, but he hadn't slept with Elizabeth in years and theirs hadn't been that sort of relationship in the first place.

"But you weren't sleeping, Jack." Now she sounded concerned.

He sighed. It wasn't that he was unhappy to see her, but she could pick her moments better. Like the daytime, for example. "Can I expect you to appear in my bedroom every night?"

She shrugged. "That depends on whether you sleep. I think it's the stress that's keeping you awake."

As if he didn't know that. "You know what would relieve some of that stress?" He left the question open, because they'd already had this discussion last night.

She shook her head. "I can't help you with Atlantis or Destiny."

He sighed. "Can't or won't?"

"I wish I could."

Her expression and tone were pleading, so he dropped it. For now. But if she continued to refuse do anything to help Atlantis or Destiny, he probably wasn't going to be catching up on his sleep any time soon. He certainly had no intentions of discussing his feelings with her, even if that would help. He tried to skirt around the subject instead. Besides, he was curious. "How'd you come to ascend? Last I heard, you were a Replicator."

"I was," she whispered, and turned her head away to look at the patterns on the drapes caused by the headlamps of passing cars.

When he sat up, lack of clothing be damned, he could see she had a haunted look on her face and he felt guilty for bringing up painful memories. He reached out a hand to touch her on the arm before he remembered he couldn't. "It can't have been easy," he said softly.

She turned back to smile at him. "Given the choice I wouldn't have chosen that life. For a while I hoped for rescue, but I couldn't sit by and do nothing, so in the end I found my own path."

He gave her a small smile. In her position he didn't know what he would have done. But from what he'd heard, Elizabeth had been fairly well adjusted, considering. More than he'd expected, but that was one of Elizabeth's strengths, to be able to live anywhere. "So you ascended?"

She nodded.

"How did you come to be unfrozen?" That was the part he still didn't understand. He was pretty sure you had to have some part of your brain working to be able to ascend.

"I can't tell you that," she said quickly and in a tone that suggested she wouldn't welcome any further discussion on the subject. She stood up and he found he was looking at her back, which was a far less welcome sight.

"Right." He lay back down. "What can you do?"

She said nothing for a minute, but the distant expression on what he could see of her face told him she was thinking about the question. He was starting to wonder if she was going to answer at all when she turned round to face him again. "I can tell you that you need to convince the IOA to let Atlantis go back to Pegasus."

As if he didn't have most of the personnel in Atlantis telling him that on a daily basis. Woolsey at least was quiet on that front, but he was sure Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay had some sort of tag team annoying going on. "And how you do propose I do that?" She was the negotiator, not he. So far he'd been unable to get the IOA to do anything they didn't want to do. They were a law unto themselves, with Copley the most unbending of all of them.

"We woke the Wraith up." She clenched her fists and took a step toward him. "We made the Pegasus Galaxy more unsafe than it was before. It's our duty to look after the people in it." Her face was more animated by this speech than it had been about anything she'd said so far tonight.

Despite everything, he couldn't help but smile. It was the most passionate thing he'd heard her say in the past two days. He'd forgotten how well she could sway him on the strength of her convictions if he let her. If only she could say it to the IOA - they were the ones who couldn't understand the expedition's position. But he didn't think the IOA would be so accepting of an ascended person, even if Elizabeth agreed to talk to them, which he was fairly sure she wouldn't. "But what about this galaxy?" It wasn't that he disagreed with her; he just needed to hear her answer to the IOA's arguments, which were also pretty convincing. The Milky Way was important too.

She took a step forward, arms out. "You have ships. The only technologically advanced societies we've met in Pegasus are all out for their own gain."

He shook his head. If only they still had the chair, this argument would have been solved long ago. "That's nothing I haven't said to the IOA already. I need a better reason."

She lifted her chin. "You can't keep a city the size of Atlantis hidden on Earth forever."

He frowned at her, wondering if she knew that was his biggest source of stress at the moment. She looked innocent enough, but that didn't tell him anything. "Just because something's hard work doesn't mean it's wrong. We can always go public about the Stargate." It had been discussed before.

"Many people will be hurt if Atlantis stays here." She sounded as if she really believed that.

He raised his eyebrows to invite her to continue, but she just bit her lip and looked away from him again. There was more there - a lot more - but getting her to reveal it would be hard. He wondered if he could catch her off guard, but to do that he'd have to give her a chance to forget this conversation first, so he got up. This time when he reached the living room she wasn't there and he was disappointed she'd walked out on him. However, after a minute of a mind-numbing hockey re-run, he saw something move out of the corner of his eye.

He glanced over at her. She appeared to be watching the TV with more enthusiasm than he was. "I thought you didn't like hockey."

"I'm willing to learn." She didn't look away from the screen.

He raised his eyebrows, surprised.

She turned to him and smiled. "I know the aim is to hit the ball in the goal, but that's about it."

"Puck," he corrected her. "It's called a puck."

She nodded. Then after a minute of watching the game she asked, "Are they fighting?"

He laughed. She really didn't know anything about hockey. But he ended up having a pleasant night explaining the rules to her, completely forgetting his hidden agenda, before he fell asleep on the sofa again.


Despite his tiredness, Jack hadn't rushed to go to bed tonight. After the past two nights he'd been hoping Elizabeth would make an appearance before he went. He'd enjoyed her company and he wanted more answers, but he wished she wouldn't wait until he was trying to sleep. So tonight he stayed up watching late night TV. Having flicked through all the channels and found nothing interesting on any of them he'd ended up watching hockey again, but after last night it didn't feel the same without Elizabeth beside him to share the excitement with. It wasn't helping to keep him awake either and he was nearly falling asleep on the couch by the time he gave up and went to bed. Where he suddenly felt awake because the universe hated him. So he lay in the dark staring up at the ceiling, wondering if she was going to turn up.

Even if she didn't tell him anything useful again, he still wanted to see her. They'd been friends once, even if they'd spent most of that time in different galaxies. He'd thought she understood him. He'd understood her once, although he was less sure now.

Since he was getting nowhere, he turned on the light, just to see if it would make her appear. She wasn't at the end of his bed, but when he slumped back against the pillows, more disappointed than he'd expected, he found she was lying next to him, in red cotton pajamas. They suited her, he thought, then had to remind himself she was ascended. "What's all that about?" he waved a hand in her general direction.

She looked down at herself. "It's night time."

"You could come in the day, you know," he said, in a tone that suggested that was an obvious solution.

She shook her head. "I have other people to see."

He raised himself up on one elbow. For someone who refused to take any action, she was sure doing a lot. "Anyone I know?" he asked casually.

She hesitated before she answered. "I shouldn't say."

He raised his eyebrows. "Forbidden, is it?" he asked, his tone making it clear he knew it was. When Daniel had visited him in Ba'al's prison, he'd told Jack he wasn't allowed to be there.

She looked over to the door. "I'm not doing anything. Just talking."

He stared over at the door, frowning. There wasn't anyone there. The shadows didn't move and he wondered if she was answering him or someone he couldn't see.

"So how's work?" she asked, turning back to him before he could ask what was going on.

"It's been better." He decided to go along with her and let her comment go. "I could use some help."

"I'm sorry, Jack."

She looked guilty and then he felt guilty for making her feel guilty. And talking about work wasn't going to help him get to sleep, unless she came up with some information he could use, which was unlikely. "Let's watch hockey," he suggested, getting up. Tonight, in anticipation, he'd worn sweats and a t-shirt to bed.

She nodded and this time she followed him silently to the living room. He put the TV on and was flicking through the channels, looking for ESPN, when she said, "Oh, can we watch curling?" It had flashed up on the screen for a moment as he'd worked through the channels.

Surely she could go and watch any curling game she wanted any time she liked. But she looked so excited at the prospect that he left the curling on and put the remote control on the coffee table. "You like curling?" He was surprised she'd be interested in a sport like that.

"I rarely get to see it, but it's exciting." She turned from him to the TV, sitting forward in her seat.

He tried to work out what she saw in it, but the TV was showing four men in checked trousers standing in a huddle, talking. Jack had seen some curling, but he'd rarely paid much attention to it. He knew roughly what the goal of the game was, but not how the players went about it. Which he supposed was a lot like Elizabeth's knowledge of hockey before last night. "Really exciting," he said sarcastically.

"But it is." She got up and went over to the TV, which was now showing an overhead image of red and yellow stones clustered around concentric circles. "It's red's last stone and in order to win this end they're either going to have to get their stone in here" -she pointed to the middle of the circles- "and hope yellow misses with their last stone. Or they can try and block yellow's route in, but it means going around this stone here and not hitting this one on the way round." She indicated the route and the problem stone, her finger nearly touching the screen. "And even then that would only get them two points."

"Huh." He sat forward and listened intently to her analysis, which was pretty good for only a couple minutes of looking at the screen. "Hoping your opponent will screw up isn't a good idea." He never bet on that outcome.

She nodded. "It depends on how well their skip has been throwing so far, and we haven't seen enough of the game to know that." She came back to sit beside him as they watched the red skip throw his stone. Once it was halfway down the ice Jack could tell he'd gone for the second shot Elizabeth had suggested. He was a tiny bit off, but it made all the difference to where the stones ended up. "Now they have to hope yellow miss too," she said, "and perhaps they'll scrape two points from this end."

"I think I get why you like it," he said, as the yellow skip played his shot perfectly and his team went up by four points.

She smiled. "I'm surprised you haven't watched more of it before. It's about strategy as much as skill."

He shrugged. "I don't usually have time to watch much TV." This wasn't getting him any more sleep either, but it was more interesting than any other channel he'd tried tonight. Besides, if he slept, Elizabeth would probably leave and he much preferred the idea of discussing curling tactics with her.


Jack rubbed his forehead and drained the last drop of his beer before putting the empty bottle on the coffee table beside its twin. The beer hadn't helped with the headache he'd gotten after spending most of the day talking to members of Destiny's crew, meeting with people about Destiny and the daily argument with the IOA over Atlantis. Then just when he thought the day couldn't get any worse, the SGC had nearly been taken over when a negotiation went wrong and he'd had to deal with the fall out from that. It had all turned out to be a misunderstanding about grapes, which was just peachy.

He resisted the urge to have another beer. Partly because it would mean getting off the couch and going into the kitchen, but mostly because he'd already had a few worried comments today about looking tired. Being hungover tomorrow wouldn't help. The Simpsons episode he was watching to try and take his mind off things in Elizabeth's absence was a re-run, but didn't matter because he wasn't concentrating on it anyway.

It was uncanny how thinking about Elizabeth gave him that sensation of being watched. Then he saw a shadow move out of the corner of his eye and when he looked away from the TV she was sitting next to him - fully dressed this time. "Are you reading my mind?" he asked, disturbed by the idea that she might be able to.

She shook her head. "Even ascended beings can't do that."

"Good," he said, in a tone that suggested it should stay that way.

She frowned at the empty beer bottles and he prepared himself for that line of questioning. He was surprised when she asked instead, "What are you watching?"

She looked genuinely interested in the answer, so although he couldn't work out how she didn't know, he said, "The Simpsons."


She sounded like it was a revelation, so he looked over at her. Surely everyone had seen enough of The Simpsons to recognize it when they saw it. "Not a fan?"

She shook her head. "I've never really had time to watch much TV."

He shrugged. "Neither do I." Despite the amount of late night TV he'd been watching recently. His life wasn't usually like this. Including the visits from an ascended Elizabeth Weir.

But she clearly wasn't a fan, because after a few minutes, she got up and wandered around his living room. He kept one eye on her, but it wasn't as if she could touch anything and he didn't have any secrets on display.

"Do you play?" she asked, when she stopped by the chess board he'd set up a while ago and left to gather dust in a corner of the table not filled with the bills he'd been meaning to do something with for months.

"Not for a while." The last time had been with General Landry when he'd first taken over at the SGC. It was hard to find good partners to play with.

"I haven't either." The wistful tone in her voice told him that she found chess more interesting than The Simpsons.

He didn't feel up to thinking too hard at this time of night after a couple of beers, but he didn't want to refuse a simple request from Elizabeth. So he said, "All right." He left the TV on in the background as he went over and pushed the pieces back to their correct positions. "But I'm not going easy on you," he warned her.

She smiled and sat down at the table. "In that case, I promise not to go easy on you either."

He gave her a suspicious look, wondering just how good she was. Or how good she thought he was. He offered her white anyway, then moved the pawn she pointed to. "You been to Destiny at all?" He countered with one of his pawns.

She waved her hand through the pieces to show where she wanted her king's knight to move to. The lack of thought beforehand told him that she at least knew a few opening moves. "I have."

He looked up at her, still holding the knight. When she didn't elaborate he raised his eyebrows. "And?"

"It's an interesting ship," she said casually.

He rolled his eyes and wondered just what she meant by 'interesting'. "With some interesting people on it, who may be in danger."

"Oh, come on Jack. I know you've talked to them using the Ancient communication stones. It's not like the first year we went to Atlantis when we had no way of communicating with Earth."

He placed the knight down with more force than necessary. "Talking is all very well. A way of getting them supplies would be better."

"I can't help with that." She didn't sound nearly sorry enough about it to appease him. All she'd told him so far was what she couldn't do and he was tired of hearing it.

"But you can." He stood up. "You can dial the ninth chevron. You could even wipe out the Wraith if you wanted."

She shook her head. "I don't want to. The Wraith aren't all bad. Look how they've helped us in the past."

He folded his arms. "And they eat humans."

She sighed and said in a conciliatory tone, "Why don't you sit down and play?"

He wasn't going to stand for that. "You don't want to, that's your problem." He pointed his finger at her. "You have all this power and all you do is sit by and watch people die."

"Now that's not fair." She stood up too, anger in her eyes. "I can't do anything and you know it."

"Oh, really?" He leaned forward to intimidate her, but she just folded her arms and stood her ground. "It didn't stop Daniel."

She took a deep breath and stepped away from the table. When she spoke she sounded calmer. "I came to help you, Jack."

"No, you came to spy on me and refuse to do anything to help."

She looked away, but not before he could see the hurt in her eyes. He refused to feel guilty about it. "If that's what you think, I should go."

"Good. Leave me in peace."

She vanished, leaving the chess game half-played. He was angry at the empty space she'd left for a minute, before he sat down hard on the seat she'd vacated and ran his hands over his face. After a minute he gave up waiting for her to return and went back to the couch. By the time The Simpsons marathon had finished she still hadn't come back. He didn't regret what he'd said, but he did regret the way he'd said it. He really wanted to speak to her again and clear the air.

When he eventually went to bed their argument ran through his head and he thought of all the things he should have done differently. Not that it made any difference without her to tell them to, He tried turning the light off and on, since that had worked the past few nights, but nothing happened tonight. He ended up having even more of a sleepless night than usual.

Once he woke up, he found himself hoping she would turn up during the day instead. Maybe she would have, but the IOA scientists had come up with a plan he didn't understand to get the crew of Destiny home, and the day had involved one meeting after another and he didn't get five minutes alone. Copley had even followed him into the bathroom on one occasion, but Jack was damned if he was holding a meeting in there. In the end it turned out the scientists' plans weren't going to work. They looked scared when Jack snapped at them for wasting his time, but he was tired and unrepentant.

By the time he reached home it was late and he desperately wanted to see Elizabeth, not just to apologise, but also because he'd liked her company. Neither the hockey nor the curling proved enough to distract him. He wandered over to the chess board and figured out his next half dozen moves, but that was useless without someone to play with.

It occurred to him that she could be there, but not visible. He looked around and, feeling self-conscious, said, "Elizabeth, I'm sorry. Please come back." Nothing happened. There wasn't even any sign to suggest she might be there. He sighed, went to bed alone again and had another sleepless night without her.


Jack yawned. He'd already had one cup of coffee this morning, but it wasn't helping. He'd need to get another one before he tackled the reports on his desk, otherwise he might end up sleeping on them. It was a big enough stack to use as a pillow and he wondered if anyone would notice. With his luck, he'd be discovered by Copley, which he was sure would just make the arguments worse. Jack knew he was going to have to do something about his tiredness before he made a mistake, but at the moment the only thing that had worked was Elizabeth's presence - and she was not someone he could conjure up at will, as he'd demonstrated.

When the phone rang he welcomed it as a distraction. Even if it was someone announcing the end of the world; it would keep him awake and get him out of today's National Security Briefing, which he struggled to stay alert in at the best of times. The idea that it might be the President calling him never crossed his mind until the person on the other end announced who it was. Jack stood to attention out of habit.

"General, you're taking a few days vacation. That's an order."

Even if it was the President, it didn't mean Jack was going to blindly follow orders he didn't like. "I am?"

"That or a heart attack. It's your choice." The President sounded entirely too cheerful about the rock and hard place choices he was offering.

Jack's heartbeat sped up as he worried about what the President might have been told. This might not be Jack's favorite job in the world, but he still wanted it. He wasn't ready to retire yet. "Mr. President, I swear I'm not going to have a heart attack."

The President laughed. "I've been speaking to a very insistent young lady who told me that was precisely what was going to happen unless you took a vacation."

Jack quickly did a mental inventory of everyone he knew who might go to the President and came up with two. Since one of them was on the Hammond, and he doubted she would go that far over his head for something so insignificant, that only left one. "You spoke to Elizabeth Weir?" Even if his tally meant it had to be her, he still couldn't believe she would go that far, especially since she couldn't have made an appointment to do it.

"Yes, I did. She was very concerned about you."

That was good. It probably meant she didn't hate him, but it did make him worried over how much she knew about his future. "There's nothing for her to be concerned about."

"I said that too, but I thought I ought to check her story. I spoke to some people who said said you've been looking tired lately."

Jack slumped. He had a feeling he wasn't going to win this one. It was hard to get away with ignoring the President.

"No one's indispensable, Jack," he said kindly. "A few days away with no one bothering you about work might be just the thing you need. And you know, if it isn't, you can come and complain to me personally. How about that?"

There was no way he could disagree with that. "Yes, Mr. President."


Although Jack was on vacation, it didn't stop him from worrying about what was going on at work in his absence. He had plenty of time to imagine scenarios while sitting by a lake for half a day with nothing but fish and beer to keep him company. Elizabeth hadn't put in an appearance, but he'd given up expecting her to.

A run, on the other hand, meant that all he could afford to think about was putting one foot in front of the other and keeping an eye on where he was going. By the time he returned to his cabin, he was too tired to think about anything except a hot shower. The desk job had allowed him to get more unfit than he would have liked. If nothing else, this vacation would remind him why he couldn't allow that to continue.

As he rounded the last corner and his cabin came into view he discovered a shower wasn't going to be his top priority after all because there was a Honda Civic parked outside that he didn't recognize. He slowed as he reached it, not sure he wanted the bad news. Once he could see no one was inside he peered into it. There was nothing on display to indicate who had driven it, so it was either a very tidy person or a hire car, which didn't narrow it down.

Although he'd locked the cabin door, anyone could get in around back. Jack followed that path, steeling himself for the worst. Just because the President had said no one was allowed to disturb him didn't mean they wouldn't if something terrible happened. He relaxed as he recognized the figure standing on the edge of the deck, looking out over the lake.

"Daniel," Jack called out, jogging up to him.

Daniel turned and smiled. "Hello, Jack. You were out so I thought I'd wait for you out here."

Jack waved a hand. He didn't mind, if it was Daniel. Even if something awful had happened, Daniel wouldn't be the person the Air Force would send. "I went for a run."

Daniel gave him a knowing look. "I can see that."

Jack glanced down at himself and noticed the sweat marks on his t-shirt. "I'll go shower. Make yourself at home." Daniel looked calm enough that he couldn't be here for anything urgent, but Jack didn't linger over his shower because he really wanted to know what Daniel was doing here.

By the time he returned he found Daniel had taken his suggestion literally and had covered his living room with papers and books. "Daniel," he said in a warning tone. "What are you doing?"

Daniel had heard that tone too often to be intimidated by it. "Tricky translation," he said, making a note in his notepad. "I've been working on it all week and I still can't work it out."

Jack raised his eyebrows. "And you're doing this here because...?"

Daniel hesitated before he put his pen down and looked up. "I had a visit from Elizabeth Weir last night." He made it sound like it was something Jack wouldn't want to hear.

"Seems like she's doing the rounds," Jack said casually, although it bugged him to find out she had recently visited both the President and Daniel, but not him. Especially as it sounded like he'd been the main topic of conversation with both of them.

Daniel had known him too long to take Jack's statement at face value and he frowned, before standing up and clearing the couch. "You knew she was ascended," he said, realization dawning as he set some of his papers carefully down on the floor, then sat on the now-clear couch.

Jack should have known he couldn't get anything past Daniel. "Yeah." He sat too, because hovering in the doorway was getting him nowhere and his legs still ached. "She wanted me to convince the IOA to let Atlantis go back to Pegasus."

"It should," Daniel said, apparently without considering the reasons why it shouldn't. Even Daniel had taken the opportunity to spend time in Atlantis while it was on Earth.

Jack sighed. "You try telling the IOA something they don't want to hear."

Daniel made a face and shook his head. "Anyway, she thought you might like some company and I thought a change of scenery might help with the translation."

"She did?" Jack asked suspiciously, although he wouldn't put it past her at this point. If she had the nerve to go to the President, speaking to Daniel would be easy in comparison.

"Yes." Daniel shifted in his seat and gave him a piercing look. "What's going on between the two of you?"

"Nothing," Jack replied quickly. He stood up and peered out at the weather. It was perfect for fishing, he decided.

"Really." Daniel's tone told Jack that he didn't believe that for a minute.

He turned back to face Daniel. "Oh, for crying out loud. She's ascended. She doesn't have a body."

Daniel put his hands up. "All right I was only asking."

Jack regretted his over-reaction and softened his tone, trying not to sound needy. "I haven't spoken to her for a couple days. You know better than I do what she's been up to."

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "If you say so."

If there was one thing Jack didn't want, it was to antagonize an old friend. "Let's have a beer and do some fishing. You can tell me about your translation and I'll pretend to listen."

Daniel smiled and stood up. "It'll be just like old times."

Jack smiled too. He did miss some of those old times.

Part 2 »