Title: Askew

Author: Christi (christim@comcast.net)

Rating: Muppet-friendly.

Category: Uh…gen? A little J/S sap? A teeny bit of S/W friendship? And there’s Daniel. Maybe a drop of angst, but in fluffy clothing.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Author’s Note: An entirely tardy response to the gate_haven fic challenge for an “Intruder” fic insert. I’m not entirely convinced it makes a lot of sense, and it’s entirely possible that the timeline is *completely* screwed up. But…oh well. Ignore the one giant cliché this fic is, if you please.




When they walked through Earth’s stargate for the first time in nearly a year, Elizabeth greeted the stranger who was welcoming them from the control room above.


McKay asked about someone named Samantha.


John didn’t say anything at all; he was too busy wondering if the gateroom had been this particular shade of utilitarian gray a year ago.


As it turned out, they could have learned everything they needed to know from those first thirty seconds.




“So General O’Neill was promoted?”


In front of her, General Landry nodded, inviting her to sit down with a welcoming sort of gesture that was very reminiscent of his predecessor. “Yes, Head of Homeworld Security. He and several others should be here within the next few days—it seems the return of your team is quite a draw.”


She wasn’t sure how to reply to that. Elizabeth Weir knew a lot of words, but none of them quite captured her pride in the simple achievement of being alive and leading the people she did. So instead, she changed the subject. “How long have you been stationed here?”


“A month. It’s still a bit surreal,” he admitted. “The concept that you just returned from another galaxy is a bit…hard to grasp.”


Sitting on the wrong side of the desk she once sat behind, talking to a man she knew nothing about, Elizabeth silently disagreed.




“You transferred?!”


On the video screen, Samantha Carter blinked. “Hello to you too, McKay.”


“I can’t believe you transferred.”


She rolled those blue eyes and no, Rodney did not need a moment to restart his thought processes. Really. “Strangely, when I decided what to do with the rest of my life, I didn’t put a lot of thought into how you would react.”


B..b..butyou’re a stargate expert! You can’t do that without a…stargate!”


“Why not? The amazing part of theoretical astrophysics is that the math is the same no matter where you are.”


It just didn’t fit his idea of Samantha Carter, smart, blonde warrior woman with guns and leather and whips and….


Okay, maybe those last couple items had been inspired additions by his overactive imagination. But still, the argument was sound. “I…you…”


Now she was smirking, he was pretty sure. Damn, that was…hot. “Does it make you feel better to know I’ll be there in a few days to help debrief the Atlantis science team?”


His brain did veritable back flips when it registered the wording of that sentence. “Did you get my message?” he asked abruptly.


Onscreen, she froze. “Uh…yes.”


“And? Were you touched? Moved?” Hey, he had been facing nearly certain death and had thought of her. In Rodney’s book, that was worth something.


“Uh…more like disturbed.”


And there went that theory. “Oh.”


They sat in silence for a few strained moments before she offered awkwardly, “But, uh, I’m…glad you’re not dead.”


Well. That was…something, anyway.




Daniel ran into Elizabeth in the hallway, did a double take and then pulled her into a hug with the laugh of an old friend. She might have clung a bit too tightly, relieved to see someone she knew even a little. Luckily, Daniel Jackson was too much of a gentleman to call her on it.


Pulling away, she noticed a leather-clad woman standing behind them and tilted her head, amused. Daniel glanced at the interloper and shook his head. “Don’t ask.”


All right then. Maybe his chivalry was limited. “You grew a beard,” she finally observed for lack of something else to start the conversation.


“He forgot to shave,” the brunette corrected. “Not quite the same thing.”


Daniel just shrugged it off. “So is it amazing?”


There were many words for how she felt about Atlantis, but that was the best one. “Yes, it really is. I’m surprised we didn’t see you there. I thought you’d be on the first ship out.”


A rather woebegone look came over his face. “Yes, well…that’s a long story.”


The brunette was smirking now. How odd. Elizabeth thought it was best to follow Daniel’s lead and ignore it. “Well, we’ve barely scratched the surface. If you want to hitch a ride back....”


He wanted to; she knew that without a doubt from the way his whole face lit up at the possibility. “As soon as I can,” he promised.




A week after he arrived, John finally left the mountain and visited Ford’s family. That, as expected, didn’t go well.


When it was finished, he didn’t know what to do.


Finally, he rented a car and just…drove. He ended up at the beach hours and hours later, watching the waves of the Pacific Ocean and wondering why they seemed wrong.




Somehow, the arrival of Jack O’Neill at the SGC also coincided with the mysterious appearance of a commissary full of cold beer and enough hamburger to feed an army. Eyeing the impromptu barbeque, Carter had to smile.


“You really think this is a proper use of Air Force resources?”


Jack shrugged, taking a long drag of beer. “Morale, you know. Welcome home and all that. Plus, haven’t you heard? I’m The Man.”


“Ah. I’d heard something to that effect.” She lifted the beer right from his hand and took a sip. “Where are you bunking tonight?”


He blinked. “With you?”


A grin lit up her features and no, he really was NOT basking in being near Carter again. At all. “Good answer.”




The commissary was crowded and had a completely unprofessional air to it, but Daniel had to grudgingly admit that it was a nice break from the oppressive gloom that had been hanging over their heads since the appearance of the Ori. Vala was relishing the atmosphere, sitting next to him and taking in the chaos as though she couldn’t decide where to start.


“So, are interviews almost over?” Daniel asked Elizabeth who sat next to him, a bit bemused by the spectacle.


“Nearly. I think we’ll have several good additions. It’s a little daunting, choosing between greatness. But not at all a hardship.”


He nodded, distracted by Teal’c and Cameron’s entrance with a foosball table. “Yeah, at least you know you’ll have the best of the best.”


“Exactly. Yourself included. You’re the expert on the Ancients.”


Across the room, McKay was having a rather loud argument with a server about serving the iced tea with lemon already in it. “Oh, I don’t know about that.”


“Daniel…you used to be one.”


His eyes kept sliding over to where Jack and Sam were sitting. There was no obvious change there, but they sat just the tiniest bit closer than usual, smiled that much more often, and were fairly oblivious to everyone else in the room.


“Doesn’t count,” he argued as he watched them. “Trust me.”


“Not count? How can it not count?” Elizabeth argued, laughing a little.


A strange feeling was nagging at him as he watched his friends, a reluctant processing of the Ori and the new situation and Atlantis and what it all meant for him personally. He wasn’t really sure what Jack and Sam had to do with it all and wasn’t sure he wanted to know—it was disturbing enough to know that for whatever reason, his best friends’ sex lives were somehow a factor in one of the most important decisions in his life. “I can’t go to Atlantis,” he blurted out, finally turning towards Elizabeth, who looked as disgruntled by his sudden revelation as he was.


“Why not?” she finally asked. “I thought you wanted to….”


“Oh, I do,” he said regretfully. “More than just about anything.” His eyes slid over to his friends again, and he suddenly understood what they had to do with this. “But I need to stay here.”


Maybe if they hadn’t accidentally put the Ori on the trail, maybe if things had continued on in the quiet post-Goa’uld and Replicator haze…maybe things would have been different.


Elizabeth finally nodded, falling silent because there was nothing else to be said. In the background, McKay’s voice got louder. “Someone should have warned me about him,” she finally said.


Daniel had to laugh at that. “What could we have said?”


Vala, who had been surprisingly quiet during his whole revelation process, flicked a dark lock of hair behind her shoulder and shrugged. “Stock up on citrus.”




McKay studied Samantha Carter carefully. “So…you’re happy?”


She didn’t even hesitate, which was yet another unneeded blow to his ego. “Yes.”


It just didn’t make any sense to him, really. But then, he wondered if maybe the problem was that he expected it to. “With him? But he’s so….”


Cue a death glare that would strike fear into the heart of any man. “Watch it, McKay. I can still kick your ass.”


He sighed wistfully. “I know.”




Two weeks later, Elizabeth sat in her temporary SGC office, staring into space. The Daedalus was leaving tomorrow, a convenient escape from the overwhelming feeling of stupidity that plagued her. She knew, logically, that there was no one to blame for the passage of time.


It might take her a few weeks to fully accept that, though.


“Hey,” John Sheppard said as he poked his head into the door.


Of all the things she had accomplished on this trip, doing right by him was probably what she was most proud of. “Hey. Where have you been?”


He shrugged. “Took a trip. Got promoted. Ate a Big Mac.”


Only Sheppard would rank those things in the same category. “How was it?”


He frowned. “Kind of gross, actually. Greasier than I remembered.”


That sort of summed it all up.




In the first twelve hours they were back at Atlantis after nearly a month away, Elizabeth memorized the personnel file of every new recruit and made an effort to meet as many of them as possible.


McKay asked Katie Brown out.


John was just relieved to see that the gateroom was as technicolor as he remembered.