Pairing: Teyla Emmagan/Elizabeth Weir, John Sheppard/Elizabeth Weir
Summary: The darkness enveloping Atlantis is oppressive. The city looks abandoned, but even in its emptiness, Elizabeth has the niggling sense of being watched.
Author's Notes: This is an AU partly based on themes in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. You can tell, because the title is part of quote from his story The Colour Out Of Space. I can't help it. I love creepy ancient horror from before humans came into existence. You can also blame lanna_kitty, who asked me "If you were to write a Cthulhu mythos-ish SG story, what would it be like?" I ended up writing this because I couldn't get it out of my head until I did. At least this one is only a few thousand words long. (If you're really curious, the initial outline for this fic is here.)
The darkness enveloping Atlantis is oppressive. The city looks abandoned, but even in its emptiness, Elizabeth has the niggling sense of being watched. Something fills the air and muffles the echo of their footsteps. She stops and shakes her head as goosebumps prickles her skin, but she dismisses the feeling. She's always had an overactive imagination.
A quick glance over at Colonel Sumner to see if he feels it as well confirms that it's not real. He just shrugs and gestures his men forward as the rest of the expedition pours through the wormhole.
"I'll take Major Sheppard along." Marshall stands next to her, his P-90 held loosely against his chest. "He could probably use a chance to stretch his legs."
The whole time on that damn planet, Sheppard looks half-startled and like he's seeing shit out of the corner of his eyes. Guy spent too long in Afghanistan. They should've discharged him instead of shipping him to Antarctica. Even if he does smooth out relations with the locals.
Marshall's just really fucking relieved when Sheppard goes off with the girl. 'Let me show you something,' his Marine ass. Maybe Sheppard can get it out of his system and come back ready for the mission.
They are underground, in the caves of Athos. Her father showed them to her when she was a girl, and said they were a secret of her family. This place was given to them as a refuge, and as a reminder of their origins.
Major Sheppard is the only one she has ever shown it to. She is the last of her kind here, and she knows that she must leave the caves and her planet behind.
Teyla senses a great, vast presence in the sky and she reaches out to them with her mind. It is time for a sacrifice to be culled from the herd. Her father had called these ones forbidding, but she knows otherwise. Her smile broadens, and Major Sheppard responds to it. He believes that it is directed at him.
He is very, very far from the truth.
Major Sheppard stumbles back through the wormhole with Lieutenant Ford and a strange woman just behind him. Elizabeth hasn't had a chance to learn the names of the rest of the Marines that fall into line behind them. "Colonel Sumner and Sergeant Bates are gone, Dr. Weir," he says. "This is Teyla." He nods at a the woman that stands next to him. "She says it's something called the Wraith. Something about a chosen sacrifice."
Her regal beauty as she surveys the control room takes Elizabeth's breath away. When Teyla meets Elizabeth's gaze, it's as an equal. She steps forward and nods. "You must be Dr. Weir," she tells Elizabeth. "I believe our people have much to offer each other."
"I can't explain it, Elizabeth," says Rodney. "The ZedPM is dead, but we're still underwater, and the shield is holding. I don't know what's powering the city."
"Do you think there could be more ZPMs in an alternate control room?" asks Elizabeth. She sits in the office in her control tower and tries to find a comfortable wall to put her back to. The ocean is too murky, and the strange shapes that swim by her window make her uneasy. She can't identify them.
"Possibly? We should look for them." Rodney's making mental notes as they talk. His hands are gesturing a mile a minute. "I still can't figure out why we can't dial Earth. I mean, we're stuck for now, but we can figure it out. I'll get the Czech guy to help hunt for ZedPMs while I do that."
"You mean Dr. Zelenka." Elizabeth nods and leans back in her chair. "Send Carson in, will you?" she asks. "I'd like to talk to him about this experimental ATA gene therapy."
Rodney bounces on his feet. "Yes, uh, about that--"
Elizabeth raises one eyebrow, and Rodney just beams at her. She can't help but look amused.
"I'd like to be the first to try it."
John stares out the window. There's a balcony directly out there. He wants to walk out the door and let the seawater fill his lungs. He knows, somehow he just knows, that it would be all right.
But the city needs him to stay inside for now. He can't explain that either.
"Good evening." Teyla stands in the doorway and smiles as Elizabeth glances up from her desk.
"Hello, Teyla." Elizabeth answers Teyla's smile with one of her own. "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Perhaps." She walks forward slowly, and feels the weight of Elizabeth's gaze on her body. "I have some--" She pauses. "Some concerns about this gene therapy that Carson wishes me to try."
Teyla will keep Elizabeth from this city. Elizabeth is hers.
They lie together, limbs entwined and sweat drying on their skin. Their kisses are softer now, less demanding. Elizabeth trembles as Teyla places her hand over Elizabeth's heart.
"There is something special between us," she tells Elizabeth. "Do not take the gene therapy. Have you not noticed those who have grow more distant from the rest each day?"
"I have to say, I'm a bit hesitant about it," admits Elizabeth.
Teyla slides down Elizabeth's body and begins to convince her of this.
As they sleep, arms around each other, Teyla senses the presence once again. She is their beacon. The slumbering city has begun to waken, but she dodges its sleepy mind, and calls to the presence. They welcome her.
She knows them. She has always known them.
"Why won't you take the shot?" Major Sheppard slams his Bantos sticks hard against hers. "Why are you talking Elizabeth out of it? She needs the shot."
They whirl together in an elaborate dance. His mind sparks against hers. His body twists as she turns and sweeps her leg, knocking him to the ground.
Teyla leans over him. Her sticks are pressed hard against this throat. Her eyes are narrowed and she pants, reining in the hunger within her. She was made to leash this hunger, to wear the seeming of what she is not.
"Elizabeth and I will remain free of the ATA gene's influence," says Teyla calmly. "As control subjects."
"Alien bitch." Major Sheppard snarls and tries to lunge up, but Teyla brings her sticks sharply down. She hears the crunch of his trachea, but he still breathes as no human should be able to do with an injury so severe.
He is no longer human. No matter. It is not as if she ever was.
"Sheppard just found her here." Rodney gestures, but his movements are more subtle than they were when Elizabeth met him. They're more fluid. When she sees him in her peripheral vision, something is wrong. It's his shape, it's not right, but when she looks at him straight on, he appears normal.
They all appear normal, but that doesn't stop Elizabeth's unease from growing.
Elizabeth doesn't frown, but her lips thin as she meets Teyla's eyes. When she looks back at the stasis chamber, she catches a flash of rage passing over Major Sheppard's face. It doesn't last long.
He doesn't stop staring at the strangely youthful Elizabeth Weir in the stasis chamber while Rodney powers it down, and when she finally opens her eyes, the first thing she does is smile and meet his gaze.
"Elizabeth, this other Dr. Weir has the strongest ATA gene I've ever seen in anyone except Major Sheppard," says Carson. He's gazing adoringly as she sits in her white Ancient gown and talking quietly to Major Sheppard. "She says the Ancients gave it to her to make her stay in the city more comfortable."
He's standing too close to the infirmary bed, and Elizabeth appreciates that Teyla is standing near them. She knows Teyla well enough by now to realize that the calm expression she's wearing is hiding distaste.
"This only supports my theory that the city's designed solely for ATA gene holders," says Carson. His strange insistence has Elizabeth concerned. "You should let me include the gene therapy in my next round of standard vaccinations."
"I won't make it mandatory," says Elizabeth. She toys with the necklace she wears. "I've already explained that."
"But Elizabeth--" begins Carson.
"I've made my decision," says Elizabeth, cutting him off. "I stand by it."
"You feel it, don't you?" Elizabeth sits on a chair in John's quarters. Her white gown reaches the floor, and the metal decking is cool under her feet. "The connection the city gives us."
"I feel something." John is lounging on his bed. He leans against the headboard and flips through a book, but Elizabeth can feel that he's aware of every movement she makes. Her hand flutters once, and his eyes track it.
"I'm the one who's supposed to be in charge of Atlantis," she says. "The Ancients left her in my care, not this other woman's. The one who pretends to be me."
"Dr. Weir's not so bad," says John. "She just doesn't get it like you and I do. Not yet."
He looks up at her, and Elizabeth leans forward. She's close enough that she feels John's breath on her face. "The problem is her lover. She's being influenced unnaturally."
This other Dr. Weir, with her red shirts, she doesn't deserve to hold Atlantis. Her overwrought emotional bond with the creature that calls herself Teyla is the first thing that proves it. Elizabeth's own existence after ten thousand years is the second.
"She makes me uneasy." Elizabeth twists her hands together as she paces, but Teyla stays calm and still as she watches from her seat. They're in her quarters, decorated with remnants of her time on Athos. She would prefer that Elizabeth relocate to them.
Teyla tells herself that it is to secure her influence in Atlantis, but she knows that Elizabeth's influence ebbs as more succumb to Dr. Beckett's gene therapy.
Underneath the hesitance, Teyla sees the steely core of Elizabeth's personality. This city longs to wrap itself around her, but it can only do that if it has ten thousand years to work its will upon her mind. Teyla's Elizabeth will not be here so long.
Major Sheppard spends most of his time with the other Dr. Weir, who refuses to give up Ancient garb. Elizabeth's offers to share her own have been refused several times.
She spends many of her nights in Teyla's rooms, and Teyla spends just as many in hers. They speak in low, hushed voices when they are alone together. Elizabeth may stride fearlessly through the corridors of Atlantis, but she feels unseen eyes staring with every step she takes.
No one on Earth realized that a city could mold so many of its inhabitants into its own shape. No one on Earth has ever before lived in a city that was millennia old.
Elizabeth has been seeing Kate about her concerns. She knows that Kate shares them, has expressed concerns of her own, even. Today Kate seems distant. She's staring out into the ocean instead of listening to Elizabeth with the focused attention that she usually exhibits.
When Elizabeth remembers that Kate had a check-up with Carson yesterday, she's chilled. She excuses herself, but Kate doesn't hear her. She still stares out at the ocean, her expression intent and her eyes unblinking, like she can see something vast that Elizabeth is blind to.
At the doorway, Elizabeth stops. Out of the corner of her eye, Kate's smiling, but the tilt of her head is unnatural. A head-on glance shows that Kate hasn't moved at all.
She doesn't even move when Elizabeth walks quickly back to Teyla's quarters.
Teyla looks up. The instant the door closes behind Elizabeth, her eyes grow wide with fear. She walks closer, and Teyla stands. She takes Elizabeth's hands and draws her to sit.
"Carson's been giving the therapy to people without their consent," begins Elizabeth. "My appointment with Kate--"
"Your expedition's psychiatrist?" asks Teyla. She leans forward, using the gestures of the Athosians to soothe Elizabeth. "What is wrong?"
"Kate would never take the gene therapy willingly." Elizabeth's breath is controlled, but Teyla feels Elizabeth's heartbeat gentling as she lays her hand over her heart. "She's acting like the others now. She was one of the last holdouts."
"Now it is you and I alone," says Teyla. She kisses Elizabeth fiercely, her desire flaring. She channels it into the satiation of the body, not the appeasement of this endless, burning hunger.
This human woman was not meant to be other than a means to an end. A pawn for sacrifice when the game comes to its end. She sees that Elizabeth is more than simply a sacrifice to her people. What is the rule in the Earth game? Under certain rare conditions, the pawn becomes the queen.
They sleep together, arms around each other, and urgency flavors Teyla's dreams. She warms her people that Atlantis wakes. She can hear their voices. The quiet murmurs grow louder, and they reassure her. They will come for her soon.
There is faint curiosity in them when she tells her people of Elizabeth. As Teyla wakes and meets Elizabeth's gaze, she can feel the weight of her people behind her eyes.
"Help is coming," she tells Elizabeth. "My people will arrive soon, though not via the Ring of the Ancestors." Not her ancestors, though. Never hers.
"I wasn't aware that the Athosians had achieved space flight." Elizabeth looks confused, for which Teyla cannot blame her. She does not know how Elizabeth will react when she finds out how Teyla has misled her.
"My people are not the Athosians." Teyla takes a deep breath and centers herself. "I wear the guise of a human, but I have never been one."
It is then that, as Elizabeth phrases it, that all hell breaks loose.
Elizabeth feels the constant pressure of the city's gaze. The hairs on the back of her neck rise when she's alone. They rise when she's with anyone, anyone at all, that isn't Teyla. Now that she and Teyla are walking the halls of Atlantis, trying to make their way to the control room before they're caught, she feels hostility and anger permeate the air around them.
She'd thought she could attribute Teyla's strangeness to the cultural divide of being from two different galaxies. She'd thought that Teyla was human, the last person besides her to remain that way.
"Elizabeth." Teyla murmurs her name quietly. "Sunlight will weaken them."
When Elizabeth pauses and looks at her, Teyla flinches. She knows Teyla can see the fear in her eyes. "Then we have to raise the city," she says. "Before the others find us."
"I am aware of that." Teyla glances around the corner, and they begin walking again. "Elizabeth, I did not realize when I came to Atlantis what would develop between us--"
Major Sheppard steps into the hallway behind them. Rodney and Lieutenant Ford flank him. The other Dr. Weir steps out in front of them, and Kate's with her. Standing next to Kate is Carson. He's holding a syringe, and he looks worried for her. Elizabeth's instincts tell her that's not right the right interpretation.
"Carson's waiting for you," says Major Sheppard. His voice is concerned, but Elizabeth can read the mocking undertones. "You're sick. Hallucinating."
Whatever Teyla and the Wraith may turn out to be, she's proven herself to be safer than Major Sheppard and Dr. Weir. She doesn't deign to answer him, and instead looks at Teyla, who has drawn her Bantos sticks and stands ready to fight. "If we get out of this, we can deal with it then."
Major Sheppard is only a foot from the door to the control tower, his arm outstretched. Teyla sees his face contort as the doors slides shut and Elizabeth brings the city's quarantine protocols online. His howl of rage echoes throughout the city, and his voice is joined by others, including that of Dr. Weir.
There is pounding on the door. Given time, the horde of Lanteans will claw their way even through the solid metal. No matter. Her people hover above the city in their ships, and they wait for her to bring it within their reach.
"Rodney's trying to shut down my command code." Elizabeth is talking to herself, her fingers flying across the keyboard as Teyla moves to the panel behind which are the crystals that control the Gate of the Alterans. She is no longer constrained to call it by the name the Athosians have given it. "I've locked him out for now."
"Good." Teyla sinks to her knees and wrenches at the panel door. She lets it clatter to the ground, and then braces herself as the city begins to shudder and rise to the surface. When the control tower breaches the water and sunlight begins to stream through the windows, Teyla smiles and begins to pull crystals from the recessed area. One by one, she lays them out and smashes them into shards.
She saves the largest crystal, the one Dr. McKay once told her allows them to dial Earth, for last. Elizabeth looks at her in horror, but Teyla has only grim satisfaction.
"My people have long sought to bring Atlantis under their sway," she says. "They are here."
Elizabeth's face is as grim as Teyla's, and as fiercely determined. Doubt begins to worm its way through Teyla's gut when Elizabeth turns her monitor enough to bring it into Teyla's view.
"No one is going to have Atlantis," says Elizabeth. "Not if I have anything to say about it." She lifts her chin, and in this moment, she is more regal and proud than Teyla has ever seen her.
The timer for Atlantis' self-destruct protocols stares at her from Elizabeth's computer. Behind it, she sees a virus, one she knows that Dr. McKay created before he fell under Atlantis' sway. It is erasing the contents of the Lantean database.
Teyla closes her eyes and reaches with her mind to call out to her people. Instead of their darts and their soldiers, they turn their thoughts to salvage, and to rescue.
When she opens her eyes, Elizabeth is close. She stares at Teyla. There is no fear in her eyes, merely a calm acceptance of the fate she has chosen for herself. "I'm sorry, Teyla," she says. "I can't risk this galaxy or Earth. Not with the way this city has twisted the expedition."
The countdown begins its final phase. Teyla smiles. She is secure in her fate. "I am a queen among my people," she tells Elizabeth. "For my sake, they would welcome you."
Elizabeth's mouth curves, but there is too much sorrow for her expression to be a true smile. "If it were possible, I think I might take you up on that." She doesn't look away from Teyla's eyes. "But there isn't time."
"In that you are wrong." Teyla wraps one arm around Elizabeth's waist, and lets her other hand rest atop Elizabeth's heart. She feels the pulse of life flow through Elizabeth's body as a cone of white surrounds them and Atlantis dissolves into flames.