Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: Elizabeth Weir/Steven Caldwell
Spoilers: Big one for Critical Mass. Maybe a bit for The Intruder? Let's just say everything until Critical Mass.
Summary: Steven realizes just how important his arguments with Elizabeth really are.
Author's Notes: The actual text of the prompt is at the end. This may or may not be quite what you were looking for, but it kind of came up and bit me, too, so don’t feel bad. It's a bit late and I really hope it's not considered a default, but I forgot to friend the comm (yeah, I feel dumb) and then lost my prompt (really dumb). Plus, I just finished my last final of undergrad life, so things have been hectic. Thanks to my awesome beta, Barbara.
When Steven first heard about Elizabeth Weir, his mind had immediately labeled her as a politician and someone to never, ever be trusted. The first time he met her was in the middle of battle. He was surprised that she handled herself as well as she did and internally thought she was being coached, despite the evidence to the contrary. She seemed to genuinely care for the people under her command and wanted Atlantis to survive as much for them as for herself. She did not clamor to get home or be taken to a safer location, instead taking all the hits in the centre of command.
Once the fighting was over, he was surprised how eager he was to get to Atlantis and meet the woman face to face and have a chance to have a real conversation. Of course, the last part would have to wait as they still had work to do. Even then, however, she remained calmly in command. She took suggestions from her team, evaluated them on their merits and made a decision. She may have started out as a politician, but command of Atlantis had apparently taught her military strategy as well.
Their brief introduction and his apparent interest in her didn't stop him from pushing for her removal, however. It was during those meetings that his opinion of her changed for both the better and the worse. The first few days of meetings were the most tedious. While he enjoyed hearing about the goings on in the Pegasus Galaxy, he grew more and more concerned about some of the decisions she had made. When questioned, she answered logically and left no doubt that she felt that everything had happened with the best possible outcome.
"You of all people are aware of the rules set forth by the Geneva Convention concerning experimentation on prisoners of war," said one of the IOA representatives.
Her face remained impassive as she turned to her latest interrogator. "Yes, Mr. Woolsey, I am. I can quote you chapter and verse if you would like. However, as Major Sheppard so eloquently put it at the time, had the Wraith attended the Geneva Convention, they would have fed upon all of the attendees. When dealing with a race like the Wraith, extraordinary methodologies must be considered. At the time, I felt that this was our best opportunity to test the Hoffan drug. In clinical trials, are there not some who are adversely affected, even die, by the new drug?"
"Yes, but you were testing the drug with the express purpose of killing the Wraith in custody. And it worked."
"Yes, we were. If you can't understand why we did what we did, why I allowed the testing to continue… Merell was terminally ill and knew that his end would probably not be pleasant. But he did what he did because he believed it would help us in the long run."
Another representative interrupted. He couldn't remember her name, but he knew she was French. "Yes, this," she paused and checked her notes. "Merell. Even though he was ill, to feed him to this creature, how is that humane? How do you know he was not forced into the decision?"
"The same way that I know a soldier isn't forced to jump on a grenade to save his comrades. There are some things you just do to save the ones you love." She met the eyes of every one at the table and he felt a tingle travel up his spine and across his scalp. He knew he would see gooseflesh covering his arms if he looked down. In that instant, he mentally relabeled her a diplomat instead of a politician. Where a politician would sacrifice the lives of others for the sake of what they felt they deserved, a diplomat would do whatever it took to find the best solution for every person involved and grieve for those who lost.
When others of the command staff were called in for their own testimonies and to explain events in a group setting, he watched how easily they fell into a team rhythm like a well honed unit in battle. And to them, he supposed, this probably was a battle. He knew how much he hated it when any of his decisions were called into question and to have every decision made in the last year analyzed in the finest detail possible, some things that they may not even remember all that clearly, he felt sympathy toward their plight. It didn't, however, make him any easier on them.
"As for the Genii, Colonel Sheppard. How is it that a people as apparently technologically inferior as they are, could find their way aboard Atlantis, take over the base and nearly keep her crew from returning?"
As much as the question was for Sheppard, he was aware of Weir's face. While she wasn't glaring at him, she did seem to be taking his intelligence into question. He took a moment to meet her gaze, challenging whatever assumptions she was making on her own. Amazingly, she seemed disappointed. He firmly told himself that he did not feel smaller for that.
"How was SG-1 able to board a Goa'uld mother ship and destroy it from the inside out, despite far superior technology and numbers? They had good intelligence, a good team and the element of surprise. The Genii were the same. We’ve tightened security because of it, but I'll be the first to admit we're not impenetrable. No one truly can be."
"Dr. Weir? Is there anything else you'd like to add?" asked Mr. Woolsey.
She continued to watch Steven for a moment, searching his face for something unknown. He was skilled at remaining blankly impassive and did the same now. She sighed to herself and leaned back, turning to Woolsey. "No."
During the breaks in meetings, he watched her carefully, noting the way she talked to everyone, even the ones who hounded her hardest, making polite conversation where she could. But where she really came alive was when Jack O'Neill made a brief appearance to check on the proceedings. He knew the official history and wondered how they had managed to become such apparent friends. He turned away when he realized he was feeling the beginnings of jealousy at their bond.
He was glad when the interrogations wound down and discussions on the future of Atlantis began to come around. This was the real reason he was here. He had assurances that Dr. Weir would be removed from command, probably to some cushy ambassadorial assignment and he put in her place. Sheppard, of course, would be his first order of business.
He was watching her face as suggestions appeared that she would not be returning to Atlantis. She caught on quickly, he had to admit. Sheppard was only a moment later. At the break, she was out the door, her phone in hand, dialing some mystery number. Whoever she called, he thought, they couldn't do a damn thing to stop what was going to happen.
He was surprised, then, when Bill came to tell him that he had just gotten off the phone with the President of the United States. It seemed, he said, there would be more people joining their conversation. They would adjourn for the rest of the day, he was told, until those others could be gathered. As he was leaving, he saw Weir talking to Sheppard, a determined look on her face. Just who the hell had she just called?
The next day, he wanted to slap himself when he saw Weir and the President greet each other like old pals. Of course. Diplomat. Former head of the SGC, temporary though it had been. Of course she had the President on speed dial.
Fine, he told himself. But the least he could do is get that cowboy Sheppard replaced, preferably by himself. The day he suggested that, he saw the fire within. And, boy, was she hot. She had given him that same searching look, like she was trying to figure out if he was just that ignorant or if he had some reason for suggesting it. He still wasn't sure what she had finally decided.
"No," she said simply.
He barely kept himself from chuckling to himself at her blatant refusal. "No?" he asked instead.
"No. Sheppard stays and that's the end of it."
Of all the nerve. She may be running Atlantis again, but he'd be damned if she'd dictate military matters. "He's a loose cannon. You've been lucky so far. One of these days one of his flyboy ideas is going to go wrong and it won't just get him killed—it will get a lot of other people killed."
She continued to look steadily at him. He wasn't entirely sure she wasn't about to slap him. "He may seem like a loose cannon to you, but his flyboy ideas work out there. We're not in our own galaxy anymore, Colonel. Things don't work the same way there that they do here. If anyone dies out there, it's because some bureaucrat decided to start dictating policy from the next galaxy."
He couldn't believe she had called him a bureaucrat. This may have been his first field assignment in awhile, but he was no paper pusher. It took him a moment to collect his thoughts and present his next argument. "Even if that were the case," he said and watched the way her eyebrow arched at the suggestion of doubt. "The position of military commander should not be held by a major. There are protocols."
She leaned forward just slightly. He had that thought again that she wasn't confident in his intelligence. "Then promote him."
Since then, they had continued to exchange heated words, each challenging the other continuously. While she tended to win the battles, he thought he had raised himself in her eyes. In a way, he was thankful for that. He had long since realized he enjoyed arguing with her as much for the mental stimulation as for the reason behind the disagreement in the first place. Not long after that realization came the thought that he liked the debates as much for her as for any other reason. He certainly didn't find as much strange pleasure the few times he had butted heads with other diplomats.
The turning point was when Sheppard began to transform. He would never wish the man to remain more bug than human and he certainly didn't harbor any desire to see him come to harm, but if Sheppard were incapacitated, Weir would have no further reason to prevent him from gaining the post. He wanted to weep when he first saw the mess the other man had made of some things. The rosters were the least of the problems, though the easiest to fix.
When Weir appeared, he was almost glad. Maybe now he could at least raise her opinion somewhat by proving that Sheppard wasn't the only one who could do the job, that the job could, in fact, be done quite competently by someone more structured and with more experience. When he realized she was upset about the rosters, however, he was baffled. He could see that she understood why he had done it, wondered even if she had seen the problem long ago.
"You could have waited a day." It was her tone as much as her words that struck him the hardest. It wasn’t so much disappointment as incredibly deep sadness, whether for him or Sheppard, he couldn't say. You could have waited a day. It was such a simple statement to hit him so hard. He couldn't find words to respond and so she left.
Her tone haunted him for the rest of that day and into the next and the next until Sheppard was healed. Even then, he wandered the corridors late into the night until he managed to stumble upon her hiding spot. She was sitting on the railing, one leg bent to hold her head as she pondered the vast ocean around them. When she heard his footsteps, she looked to see who had come, ready to jump off and back into the fray if something had gone wrong.
"Steven," she said, obviously surprised that he was her visitor. "What are you doing here?" She wrapped her sweater tighter around her like she thought it might offer some protection against an oncoming storm. He supposed she thought he was an oncoming storm. He stood for a moment, trying to figure out what he could possibly say to her.
"I'm sorry." She furrowed her brow, not understanding what he meant. "About earlier," he continued, beginning to gain some momentum. "I never—" he stopped, trying to figure out how he should say what he had wanted to say since he first heard those words. "You were right. I should have waited. It was callous of me and I'm sorry."
The ever searching eyes were back and he stopped himself from hiding this time. He wanted her to know that he was truly sorry. As much as he still firmly believed the changes needed to be made, he had been hasty and maybe a little power starved when he made the decision. He hadn't considered the people who had been working under Sheppard for over a year now, and he should have.
She smiled. He thought his heart might hammer its way out of his chest. Of course, she had smiled around him and at him before, but she had never smiled to him and it was the best feeling in the world. She invited him to sit with her and he accepted. They sat in a comfortable silence at first. Then she started talking. She talked about how she had been so scared for Sheppard and even a bit of him. She admitted that she had wondered if they would find a cure for him. And she admitted that she had worried she would lose her flagship team to Sheppard and his curse.
He asked if she had feelings for Sheppard, if there was something there, or if she wanted there to be something. She chuckled softly. She said that there may have been some attraction at one point, but that he was her subordinate. As much as they were equals as friends, she still needed him to respect her enough to follow her orders. Furthermore, she did agree that he had no problems disobeying someone. Right now, when he disobeyed, it was because he felt there was a genuinely good reason to do so. If they were involved, she worried that he might not give himself the same leniency to do what had to be done.
They had been standing side by side, absorbing some of the other's warmth on the cool Atlantis night. He had looked down and seen the sadness in her eyes, not because she really wanted to be with Sheppard, but because she knew that he would at least pause before disobeying and that could get him killed. He wanted to comfort her, to tell her that she wasn't alone in her command responsibilities, to tell her that he understood.
So he kissed her. He didn't remember consciously deciding to do it, but he did. She was initially startled and he didn't try to do anything further at first, pulling back slightly and looking down into the water below. Then she put a hand to his cheek and kissed him back.
As much as their disagreements could have kept them at arm’s length from each other, he was glad that they did argue. And they continued to argue. Even after they first started sleeping together. They knew each other well enough to know when and where and what the arguments would be about. And they knew enough about each other now to know that they were never meant to be disrespectful, rather an honest difference in opinion and temperament.
It was why now, trapped as he was in his own body by the creature that had invaded, he was so baffled why she couldn't see it. Why didn't she see the way things were different?
And then he realized: they hadn't argued. Elizabeth didn't know anything was wrong because what he had taken for granted as so much a part of their relationship hadn't happened since the creature was first put in him by the Trust. He had never wanted to pick a fight with her as much as he did now.
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Characters: Elizabeth Weir/Steven Caldwell, John Sheppard, Teyla Emmagan, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex (include others as desired)
Prompt: Elizabeth and Caldwell are constantly antagonizing each other - why are they in a relationship? Maybe they like arguing.
Three Things You Don't Want: Character death, kink, sex (although that last can be implied)