Title: Make Believe
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG
Challenge: Little Red, John/Liz with the dialogue line: "Shut up, I'm trying to be dignified."
Mistakes: Entirely mine.

Notes: This was done for a challenge over on LJ and is entirely Little Red's fault. There is no Table of Iniquity, sadly. Next time maybe? Also? When in doubt? Make people up.

Summary: How was it she always ended up in the funky outfits?

"...and we are here to celebrate the joining of our two peoples into one alliance! An alliance that will bring glory and honor back to our world..."

Elizabeth hated these things. She hadn't always. Usually, the hype and pomp of the celebratory banquet after a particularly successful negotiation helped relax her, decompressing muscles that had been tensed and tight for the previous indeterminate amount of time. But that was back on Earth where the worst that could happen was getting hit on by the Prince of Morocco or accidentally breaking the Prime Minister of Egypt's hand.

She hadn't heard the end of that one for weeks.

Still. Out here things were different. More immediate. Less... safe. Back home, you got yelled at or started a war. But it was a war you could understand, and the yelling wasn't so bad because you could always go home and watch a movie where someone else got blown up, or cried all over someone else.

She'd burned through Atlantis' supply of trashy movies in the first five months. It really was amazing how much contraband the whole crew had managed to smuggle along.

Then again, the crates with the Columbia House-worthy store of DVD's, and the Play Station II Ford had comandeered'd had 'General O'Neill' stamped all over them. Literally. With big black ink.

If or when they ever got home again, she was going to smack him for packing the entire Final Fantasy sequence. She'd been subjected to various highlights of plot and "Really cool!" battle scenes for weeks after Alan had gotten past level two.

Some days it paid to have your people trust you and find you approachable. Other days she wished like hell she'd convinced Grodin to install an authorization code on her quarters' doors.

Not that any of it would help her today.

No, today was the observance of a rather important alliance forged with the people of the planet Mek. A planet that had cows. Well, something genetically derived from the base stock of something that evolved to be a cow on Earth, according to Dr. Gomez. One way or another, these cows provided a dairy supplement to those on Atlantis who needed it, as their dietary supplements were going away faster than they could be replenished. And they also had cotton. Processed cotton. Processed tan cotton. Along with orange, blue, red, and a slew of other colors.

All of which she was somehow currently wearing in her ceremonial garb.

She bit her lip and tried not to sigh.

How was it she always ended up in the funky outfits? Why couldn't it be McKay or Teyla or John? Intellectually she knew it would never be Ford because he had insane luck like that. Luck that had yet to break, even after 100 missions off Atlantis alone. But the rest of them?

No one else had to wear pantaloons and a bra.

Life was so unfair.

Someone poked her in the arm. Blinking and making sure she hadn't missed anything important in the speech - Governor Mishtek was still going on about glory and, strangely, paint - it took her a couple seconds to return the poke with an elbow.

"Ow, stoppit," came the whisper from behind and to the left. The ceremonial position of her own color guard. One of them, anyway. Namely, the man who'd been having entirely too much fun at her expense ever since she'd stomped out of her quarters five hours ago. The ranking military officer in Atlantis. Who was all of five. "Lizzie!"

"Shh," she whispered. "He's making a speech!"

"And everyone's as bored as we are. Look. See? The entire front row is glazed over."

She, the Atlantis security team consisting of Sheppard, Ford, Greer, and Lexington were all arranged behind Minister Mishtek and his not-unimpressive court on a dais in the main capital's town square. And indeed, the entire front row (that she could see of it over Mishtek's shoulder pads) looked almost catatonic. In fact, she could see McKay slumped over on Beckett's shoulder.

Careful not to rearrange her features by laughing - a strict no-no during important ceremonies in the Mek culture, apparently - Elizabeth shifted backwards a bit so she could at least see John out of the corner of her eye and speak without hissing.

"Rodney's all over Carson again."

"Those two worry me."

"Carson doesn't seem all that unhappy."

"Probably because he avoided the bra get up." Elizabeth bit her lip and tried not to hit him. She was fairly certain that hitting him would be worse than laughing out loud. Or maybe not. Ford had won the Second Governor's respect by accidentally knocking him out during a tour of the textile mills.

The universe was a very strange place.

"Will you shut up, I'm trying to look dignified."

"It's not working."

She could see his smirk. Damn him. "And you're not shutting up."

"Aww, Lizzie..." Somehow, without even moving an eyebrow, he managed to project an injured cute puppy look. "I think the puce looks really fetching."

"Stop calling me that, or I'm ordering you into the spare set they sent along for dinner."

"And let us not forget the amazing loopy hat."

"I hate you."

"Is that tattoo on your hip real?"

It was incredibly unfair that he had steel-toed boots. Incredibly. Very slowly, and very patiently, she tugged up the side of her indigo belt to cover said youthful indiscretion. Damn her need for ice cream and new underwear. Damn it to hell.

"You know that as soon as we get back home, I'm not talking to you for a week."

The amused glint in his eye turned absolutely mischievous, but she was saved from John's comeback by the resounding applause of the Mekans. Cheers and hoots spilled over the main dais, and for a minute Elizabeth was almost okay with the bikini top and weird pants.

This was why she was out here. Making friends and studying new cultures. Becoming self-sufficient.

And then there was a hand patting her ass.

Oh, she was going to kill him.