The Long Way Home

Title: The Long Way Home
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: John Sheppard/OC
Rating: T for now, M later on.
Synopsis: It was a journey John Sheppard just had to make. Series 1 Onwards


3. Equilibrium

Chapter Three


I know that there's no turning back. If we put too much light on this

We'll see through all the cracks.

David Cook - Lie


Major John Sheppard and Doctor Elizabeth Weir were standing on a balcony that neither of them had known existed until three minutes ago. It was stationed on the east side of the control room and it's entrance had been cleverly disguised as a wall. As Doctor Weir had said upon arrival, the city seemed to be anticipating their needs and accommodating for them.


Only ten minutes ago had Atlantis propelled itself upwards and out of the ocean, plunging through the freezing cold depths before breaking through the surface towards the dazzling sun. John had assumed this was one of the fail safes the Ancients had installed in case their generators depleted and he had to admit he was glad they had gotten around to that. Dying under a thousand feet's worth of water pressure had never appealed much to him.


Both of them leaned over the side of the balcony starring into the sea below them as the silence stretched between them. The waves were rippling calmly against the side of the stunning building as he began to construct his argument.


John was good at reading people. He knew what Weir was about to say before the words even exited her mouth and he was already strategically thinking up the right right road blocks to burn a hole in her logic. When taking on an opponent like Elizabeth Weir, one had to work on the same playing field that her mind did in order to gain some ground against the enemy. Shouting and screaming wasn't going to get him anywhere so he would play on her terms, challenge her intellect and valour.


He chanced a glance at her face to see her still shocked and awed at the sight before her. Adaptation was something that came easily to him. A balcony had appeared and he decided to use it, for Weir he understood it was more about the technical side of things, she questioned the reasoning behind the balcony being here.


"Let me guess, your not going to let me rescue our people." John began by breaking the silence.


Weir said nothing in return to his comment and he felt the familiar surge of anger and indignation fluctuate inside him. His emotions were running high as they always did in situations involving the lives of others. They were in the enemy's hands having god knows what done to them and that thought chewed at him. John couldn't afford to think of them as individuals, that would make the burden to bear even heavier but already his mind was throwing up images of their faces making the burning desire to rescue them even more real.


The strong, resilient Colonel Sumner, sweet demure Cassie Pierce and the quiet, reserved Sergeant Stackhouse. His new friend Teyla and some of her people were amongst the prisoners also and the urge to do something, anything was overwhelming. It was too late for John to turn back the clock but he could use all of the options viable to him at this current moment. He would never forgive himself if he didn't try.


"Major." Weir said finally, angling her body towards him as he paced with nervous energy. "You don't even know if they're alive."


"You don't leave people in the hands of the enemy." John shot back, his furious gaze fixing on Weir as he stood before her. "And the fact that we are even having this conversation in private let's me know that you know damn well that it's wrong and that it would totally undermine your leadership."


He paused for a second as Weir stared at him with dark eyes, stunned by his observation. She placed both hands behind her back and shifted her stance so that both her feet were parted. She was fortifying herself against his revelation and he was glad he'd smacked that card down on the table, appealing to her both her human nature and her role of leader of this expedition.


Clearly Weir expected to be having this conversation with a honour-toting jar head instead she was floored by his keen eye and deeper understanding of her situation. John had established his measure of her pretty quickly and now he was allowing her to do the same.


"So as ranking military officer..." he continued before she held up a hand to cut him off.


"Sorry, just shut up a moment alright?" she requested, snatching back her control of the situation.


John closed his mouth and clamped his lips together, trying to stem the rest of the argument that was on the very tip of his tongue. She was in charge here and she commanded his respect, there would be no mutual relationship between them if he didn't reward her with it.


"What do we really know about the Wraith?" she asked him with a flat, calm tone to her voice. "One of the things we do know is that their the enemy that defeated the Ancients."


John conceded to that information, drawing it in and storing it for later. He didn't know much about the civilization that pre-dated them but he gathered that they had been a powerful people, he was standing on top of the greatest evidence of that right now.


"When we first started using the Stargates on Earth, we got ourselves into serious trouble and why?" she prompted him, using a gesture he understood meant for him to continue the story.


And yet John couldn't. He didn't know anything about the history or the people she was talking about except for what the Hologram had told them, and the bits and pieces he'd picked up along the way. It frustrated him that she was using his lack of knowledge against him.


"I don't know that." he forced himself to admit.


"Because the people in charge didn't consider the ramifications before they reacted." Weir finished for him.


"But they took our people." he reminded her sharply, gesturing with his hands. "How am I supposed to react?"


"We're defenceless." Weir snapped,pointing out the obvious oversight. "You said so yourself."


That was another good point of hers. What use was a rescue mission if it put the larger volume of people at risk? From a personal stand point there was very little he could do to sooth the ferocious beast inside him, he despised being in this position even if it was his duty.


"How do you know going off on some half assed rescue mission isn't going to bring the Wraith right back here to our doorstep?" she questioned John without breaking his gaze.


"Maybe it will." he replied, his voice alarmingly level despite the vicious battle that was waging inside him. "But it's the right thing to do and why..."


He jabbed his finger at Weir pre-empting her next question.


"Because it is."


"John..." she implored, drawing out his first name in attempt to reconnect with him.


"If we're not gonna do this and I mean right now, let's just turn tail and pack up because their coming." he told Weir, pointing at the sky for empathises.


"You don't know that." she shook off his warning with the dismissive tone of her voice.


John was getting to her though, he could see it in her defensive posture. It was in the way she crossed her arms tightly over her chest and darted furtive glance at the white clouds rolling in across the otherwise clear blue sky.


"Our people are in the hands of the enemy Doctor, do you know what that means?" he asked her outright.


Weir tilted her head upwards and John took that as a sign to continue as he switched gears and prodded at the principles behind why she had been selected to govern this exhibition. He knew a thing or two about leadership and why she, of all people was here. He was drawing back the curtain like a magician to revel the bigger picture at play.


"It's just a matter of time before the Wraith figure out that this is the base of all our operations." he reminded her intentionally.


If he had to put the fear of God into this woman then he would if it obtained his goal. John could see the cogs turning behind Weir's eyes and he knew that already she was changing tactics and that meant on some level he was winning. He was forcing her to review her decisions as he laid down the implications in front of her like a grotesque game of chess.


"I just need more information, I mean who knows maybe I can negotiate a peaceful..."


"Peaceful?" John exclaimed as his mind flickered back to the stench of burning flesh that had filled his mouth and nostrils back at the village, the thought of it made him gag at the wastefulness of the Wraith. "We weren't there for more than a few hours before they showed up."


Something crossed Weir's mind, he could see something lurking behind those hazel orbs as his eyebrows furrowed into a frown, his lips pursed waiting for her words.


"Is it possible they came because of you?" she asked him, slipping into a more factual tone of voice.


It lead John to consider a wealth of possibilities as he diverted his gaze in thought over the ocean. His head was already nodding his agreement as his brain fired off words and images connecting the fragments of the loose ends together.


"And that one of these people you brought back with you tipped them off?" Weir persisted, referring to the Athosians refugees John had brought back to Atlantis.


"It's possible." John confessed, sounding hostile at the fact she had began to speak to him as if he were a child.


"See that is exactly the kind of snap decision I'm referring to." Weir pointed out, shaking her head.


"They're not bad all people." John told her, his voice touching some shred of humanity deep down inside her. "And if we're gonna stick around here, we're gonna need friends."


The position Elizabeth Weir was in was not an easy one and as she accepted his words she knew that he had won. He was right on so many different levels and in the end broken down her original resistance. He had bested her at this verbal chess game, his evidence was sound as was his logic and tactical observations. She had no doubt that she had just been manipulated and that was no mean feat on Major Sheppard's part.


"Ok." she finished quietly, nodding so he could see the depths of her understanding. "I see your point. Now you see mine."


They were creating an equilibrium between the two of them, a mutual respect as it were. The dynamic between the two was changing and John thought he could live with that. Doctor Weir was an open minded woman and she was glad she had taken on board his opinion. All that was left now was this final moment of truth.


"I will not authorise a rescue mission unless I am sure there is at least a remote chance of success. I'm not sending more good people including you to their deaths." she told him, her fists clenched by her sides.


John was seeing beyond the mask she portrayed, he could see the weight of those lives upon her shoulders as her eyes blazed daring him to challenge not just her authority but her humanity once more. He had pushed enough to get what he wanted it was now his turn to stand down and acknowledge her position in the chain of command.


"Ok." he spoke softly before bowing his head in acknowledgement and exiting the balcony in order to begin making plans.

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