Title: "Moving Mountains"
Category: Atlantis, Jack/Weir, missing-scene or AU, depending on how you feel about it.
Spoilers: "The Real World"
Summary: It's possible hallucinations have feelings too, you know.
Author's Note: Totally medie's fault. This all requires some assumptions, like deciding that the crazybrainverse is an actual AU with independently functioning characters, as Medie suggests, or that nanite-induced hallucinations have feelings too. This is so beyond unbeta'd, because it's 2 AM and I'm on sleepy drugs and if I wait until tomorrow, I'll be at work and will never post it. If you figure out where the title comes from, you're probably on Little Red's sleepy drugs too, and I'll owe you a present.
She's back from the hospital, coming back to work, and he invites himself over with take-out and plastic forks because he's been eating alone at the office too often lately and because he misses her.
Jack is worried that this isn't really her. Elizabeth worries that same thing about him, apparently, but he means something different. She's changed since this whole mess started, and he doesn't know if it's the breakdown itself or the drugs they've put her on to manage everything else. Elizabeth looks at him now like she expects him to be someone else, to say or do something other than what he's doing, and he has no good way of dealing with that.
He spoke with her doctors. His position gives him access -- she knows about sensitive military information, so he gets to know sensitive information about her -- and he abuses that access because he needs to know. He's worked with her for years, on and off, and intensively over the past six months. She looks at him now like he's a total stranger, but not, and he needs to know how to handle that, because he isn't about to let her disappear into this thing.
Doctor Fletcher and his team gave him information in broad strokes -- don't upset her, don't indulge her fantasies, encourage her real memories, break her back into work gently. They didn't tell him how to get her to look at him the way she used to, or what magic words to say to make her remember, to make her act and sound and smile the way she always has before.
After the past few weeks, he'd probably kill for that smile.
So, he wings it. He was good at that once, as a pilot, as a soldier, as someone who occasionally dropped out of planes for a living before he got promoted out of usefulness and into the domain of the paper-pusher. Three years ago, Elizabeth called him out on doing less than his best work at a job he despised for its perceived uselessness, then told him and showed him and helped him see that he was wrong.
Now he's the one who needed to convince her she can still make a difference.
She's coming back to work, but by the skittish, confused look in her eyes when he offered that to her, he's not sure she's coming back to him as the woman he knows.
He rings the bell, take-out in hand, and she opens it after a long minute of her dog barking.
"General," she says. "Jack."
He grins, like this is completely normal and Elizabeth isn't crazy. "Dinner?"
She lets him in after a moment of hesitation. "Make yourself at home," she offers and then shrugs. "I'm still having a bit of trouble finding things."
He's rarely been in her house before, only occasionally to deliver reports, so he's glad there's no need to search for utensils. He spreads Chinese food on the coffee table in her living room, pulls two plates from the drying rack, and waits for her. She spends a long time in the bathroom and then emerges, hands in pockets, more nervous than he ever saw her before this happened. She always looks nervous now.
"Your favorite," he points out as she examines the food. He doesn't know how much she's forgotten. "The place down the street. We get dim sum there sometimes."
She looks amused. "Oh."
There's awkward silence while she pokes at her food with chopsticks. The meds have been making her nauseous, or, at least, they were in the hospital when he was regularly checking up on her progress. Chinese food might not have been the best idea, but it's what they usually eat together, and he needed some excuse to see her.
They're friends. Or, she has been his friend a lot in the past three years, and he hasn't known what to do for her at all with Simon and everything else. She lost the man she loved, and now Jack is losing her.
Sucks, is all. And he supposes Chinese food isn't going to make it better if he doesn't find something to say.
"Do you remember me at all?" he blurts out.
"Of course I do," she answers, then thinks about it. "I just remember... something different."
"You remember working with me, though, right? I mean... you seem to remember a lot of things..."
"I remember the treaty," she says, and watches his face as she continues. "I don't remember working with you on the treaty."
He supposes, given the option, he'd rather have her remember something else anyway. The treaty is reams of paperwork and dignitaries with bad dispositions, and while most of his memories of Elizabeth involve either paper or dignitaries or both, he prefers the few where there's none of that. They don't spend much time together away from work; she has -- had -- a lover, and they don't have much free time as it is. They play chess together on the board he keeps in his desk drawer. They stay late at work -- he stays late to keep her company, or because some part of him doesn't like the idea of her being in the building alone, like the security measures on a government building aren't enough. They're evenly matched at chess, and often, when they stay late at night, they talk more about life than about work.
He nudges at her to leave Simon, because that's a running joke they have that pops up whenever the good doctor cancels a planned outing with her for one medical reason or another, and she always threatens to find Jack a nice wife somewhere, because that's a running joke, too.
"That's good, though. What else do you remember?" He's encouraging her. Fletcher said that was important. Jack's not sure he totally trusts the man, but he trusts someone with a degree to handle Elizabeth's brain better than he trusts himself.
"It's all a jumble," Elizabeth says, skirting the issue. "I'd rather not talk about it."
They're quiet, then. Her fingers are less dextrous with the chopsticks than Jack remembers, and he wonders if that's the medication, too.
She's watching him out of the corner of her eye. "Do we do this often?" she asks.
"At work, yes. You don't usually take time away from your desk to eat."
She looks sad then, sharply, and he's sure he reminded her of Simon somehow, but doesn't know how to take the words back. "Elizabeth, I'm sorry-"
"No, no." She sucks in a breath. "You just... I knew someone else who used to say that."
Something in the way she says someone else makes him think it's not Simon, and maybe that someone else isn't even real.
This isn't okay. She's supposed to be his rock, and now he feels unbalanced -- hell, felt unbalanced even before she went into the hospital, since the moment he got a shaky call from the emergency room to come and get her, because she was in a car accident and Simon was dead.
Simon was dead. Simon, Doctor Wallace, the one who was always there but could never quite marry her, the one she went home to on the nights she actually went home.
Dead. Gone. Out of the picture.
For two years, Jack has been thinking that he should've snapped her up when they first met, before she got together with Simon Wallace, but he didn't really know her yet, and she was more of a U.N.-mandated thorn in his side than a romantic possibility. Now Simon is dead, and she... she has been somewhere very strange in the interim.
"It's nice that you're here," Elizabeth says. She has pushed her Chinese food away and has brought her feet up onto the couch, curling her arms around her knees. She looks tiny, like he could fold her up and take her with him, and that's not something he's used to from her.
"You should call me if you need anything," he says seriously. He's given her that instruction before -- after Simon died, before she left the hospital, when he called her to let her know her baby-steps work schedule.
She's studying him, trying to figure something out. "My memories are all confused," she says, "so please, don't take this the wrong way, but..." She draws a breath. "You and I. What are we?"
It's like a kick to the chest. She looks too vulnerable for him to consider anything but the truth. "We work together, have on a number of projects. I like to think we're friends."
A few rounds with psychosis has made her more brazen than she used to be. "Did we ever have sex?"
He wants to know why she would ask that when they have never been like that, never openly considered it. The past few months especially, when he's been in a dry spell and she's been filling all the gaps between military analysts and foreign attaches, he would've taken her up on it in a heartbeat, but even if she knew that, he doesn't think she ever thought about it.
He gives her the best answer he can. "You were with Simon."
She nods sharply a few times. "I thought..." She looks confused.
"Must've been a dream," Elizabeth says ruefully, and then buries her head in her hands with a groan.
He isn't supposed to indulge her, but the part of him that's been torn up and down and sideways since Simon's car wreck needs an answer. "What was?"
"It wasn't really a dream, I guess, if it lands me in a mental ward." She scratches something imaginary on her arm, then rubs a hand over her face. She has a number of nervous gestures, ones that have become comfortable signals over the years of what she's thinking and feeling, but those aren't usually in her arsenal.
"I'm not supposed to talk to you about that," he admits. "It's not good for you, I guess."
"It feels good to talk about it. Or... not bad. I just need to figure out what really happened and what..." She reaches out toward him, and, after wiping off a stray bit of rice onto his jeans, he extends his hand back. Her fingers are cool and clammy and he wants to rub warmth into them, wants to keep her safe from all these things that are happening so fast.
"In your dream..." He shouldn't ask it, he really shouldn't. Dr. Fletcher aside, he doesn't have the right to know.
He asks anyway. Elizabeth always tells him he's too forward, isn't politic enough, never knows when to lay off a joke or a string of comments or a rant about something. She always laughs, though.
That sinks into his chest harder than he would've expected. This is Elizabeth, after all. It's not like he's been pining away for her for years, he just... always wondered, and this is the first indication he's had that she wonders, too.
Not that a hallucinated fantasy world under psychological duress is a good indication of anything. If it wasn't Elizabeth, if he wasn't worried as hell about her, he'd probably laugh.
"It wasn't a regular thing," she says, her eyes glazing over. She squints, like she can't quite remember all the details of her story, and Jack breathes a little easier at that sign that this world is becoming more real to her than her scary, incomprehensible mental refuge of alien portals and secret government complexes. She wrapped him up in that somehow, in her delusion, and he hopes he was some comfort to her in there, that he was somehow able to help her through something that must have been terrifying.
"Not a regular thing?" he teases. "I didn't make you an honest woman?"
"I didn't give you the chance," she retorts. "I think it was just circumstances. We both had other commitments." He must've given her a naughty look, because she all but throws his hand down to the couch. "Work commitments. We're friends there. I think... we understood each other."
He wants to say there is no 'there,' Dr. Fletcher would want him to say that, but that seems somehow cruel.
"We're friends here, too, you know." He squeezes her hand, wanting to remind her that this world is nice, too, even if it's currently requiring her to dose up heavily on anti-psychotics that make her throw everything up and have her sleeping fourteen hours a day.
"I know. Thank you."
He doesn't understand her in this universe, doesn't know what's going on in her head, doesn't know how badly or permanently she's snapped, though he likes to think the worst is over.
All this is too heavy for him, her grief melted together with bona fide craziness, and he wants badly to just kid around, like they used to when work got too intense. "So... was it good?"
She elbows him in the ribs. "I thought you weren't supposed to talk to me about my hallucinations."
"Hey, hey, it's an honest question. A man needs to know how he measures up."
Elizabeth snorts out a laugh, and Jack feels miles better just knowing she can still do that. "It was okay," she says, teasing.
"You're killing me, here!"
She grins. "It's all kind of fading, but I'm pretty sure it was good."
"We ripped each other's clothes off," she reports calmly. "More than once."
He's caught by her eyes, still sad despite her smile, and his heart tugs at what it must have been like trapped inside her head, and what drove her to it. He touches a hand to her cheek. "I hope I took care of you," he says.
"I was okay," she promises. "I don't remember who... but I know I was okay. And you were far away sometimes, but you were there when I needed you."
Their lips meet, gently, and Jack doesn't think it was his idea. She tastes strange, chemical through the lo mein, and he wants to kiss the drugs out of her, hold her tightly like that'll cure her, get her back on her feet so things can go back to normal.
They break apart, and he brushes her cheek again. "Good," he says. "I'm glad you're back."
She doesn't answer him in kind, but she leans her head on his shoulder.
"It's going to be okay," he adds. She's said that to him before, when he ran into her after an unexpected encounter with his ex-wife, when they lost important ground in a heated negotiation on the front lines, when... he doesn't even remember all the times he's leaned on her in subtle ways. Now it's her turn. "You can get through this, you know."
All she says is, "Okay," but it's something.
"Okay," he echoes, and wraps an arm around her.