Title: Habits
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG
Spoiler: A very minor one for 'Suspicion' and the really obvious one for 'Rising'.
Notes: Wrote most of this at 4am when it wouldn't let me sleep. All mistakes are my own.

Summary: Elizabeth tries to pull a Janeway, but John won't let her.


She'd spent half her life looking for a man who would watch bad sci-fi movies with her in bed. Who knew it would take an inter-galactic trip through a wormhole – an honest to god wormhole – to find one.

"Pass the chips."

Or that he'd get crumbs all over her bed. Still. Be careful what you wish for and all that. She snorted and handed John the bowl.

"You realize this is like the twelfth time we've seen this movie, right?" She leaned back and settled a bit more firmly against her wedge pillow. As she always did since she'd managed to acquire it, she gave a little cheer for Stargate-trading. Civilization meant not having to use bunched up laundry as a sleeping aide.

"Are you complaining?" On the screen, Roy Sheider swore – badly – in Russian.

"Lord, no. 2010 is a classic."

"Then?"

Liz shrugged. "No reason."

She didn't really want to point out that they only drug 2010 out of the communal dvd stash –and swiped the adapter someone had rigged to tap into the floaty screens – whenever they were due a conversation one of them wanted to avoid. The tradition had started the night she'd unearthed the DVD out of the impressive box General O'Neill had sent along marked 'recreation'. If she ever saw that man again, she was going to have to kiss him.

John had seen her grin stupidly over her find and, naturally, asked what the big deal was. Two hours later, after Ford and Teyla had drifted off to do something... else, she and John'd had their second really productive professional fight.

They'd both walked away considerably more sure of the other and with a 2010 fetish.

Had it really already been a year here in Atlantis?

No matter. John had been the one to show up on her doorstep tonight with a bowl of fried tuber chips and the dvd setup. She wasn't avoiding anything, that she knew of, so she'd just have to wait until he was ready to say his piece.

"Man. I can't believe they blew up that fuel source."

"And you say that every time we watch this."

"Because it bears repeating! It's true. And, hey, is making Jupiter a sun even possible?"

"Dunno. Arthur C. Clarke did a lot of research on the science while he was writing the series."

"So maybe?"

"Maybe."

Their hands smacked each other reaching for another chip. Liz flicked his wrist with a finger before grabbing a handful. Thank god the ag department had gotten the air and hydroponics bay up and running. The drafting of all personnel to clear the thousands-years-old section had been tedious – and not all together voluntary – but worth it.

They now had roughly enough food to feed everyone comfortably, and even some extra for trade. Thanks be for a year-long growing season. Slowly, but surely, their new home was becoming more self-sufficient. Even if it meant enforced garden time for everyone. Tuesday and Friday mornings for her.

Liz had a feeling that despite being a galaxy away, and having no clue what her only daughter was up to, Jill Weir was laughing her vegetable-prize-winning ass off.

Her daughter – the same one who'd worked an extra job to come up with enough bribe money to get her younger brother to take over her weeding and watering chores – now had to raise fruits and vegetables as a main food source.

Oh, yeah. Totally laughing.

"Lizzie..."

She blinked and looked up. Huh. The credits were already rolling. "Yeah?"

"You okay?"

"Uh, sure. Why?"

"You totally missed laughing at your favorite part."

"Sorry. Have a lot on my mind."

John was fiddling with the chip bowl. Running his thumb back and forth along the rim, where the plastic was ridged. "Yeah. You seem to be doing a lot more of that lately."

"Huh?"

"The whole spacing out thing."

She smiled and put a hand on his wrist. "That's why they pay me the big bucks. I have to plan for everything. Requires a lot of thinking, thus spacing out."

"Not always." Curiously, his tone was serious. Almost business-like.

"Uh, okay. Where's this going, John?"

He sighed and set the bowl on the nightstand, careful not to knock her alarm clock over, before turning his body to face her. Automatically, she mirrored his actions so that when they finally settled, their knees were touching in matching folded positions.

"John, what's wrong?"

"To be blunt?" John sighed and looked at her straight on. Whatever this was about, he really was worried. The lopsided frown was a dead giveaway. "I'm worried about you."

Not what she expected. "What?"

"Liz, you haven't been yourself lately. You've been sleeping less- ah, ah, AH!" he held up his hand to forestall her response. "I know because five times out of seven this last week, I went to my quarters with you still in your office, and woke up to find you already there again.

"You haven't been to movie night in over a month, you're down to eating what someone puts in front of you, and not all of it, if the smell from your garbage can is any indication, and Peter tells me you've upped your training and ag hours."

"Peter is a rotten fink."

"He's worried. And he's not the only one." He reached over and tugged on the edge of her sleeve. "Tell me what's wrong."

Liz shrugged and slumped. "Nothing is wrong, John. I just have a lot to do."

John tugged her sleeve again. Kept doing it until she was looking him in the eye. "Everyone has a lot to do, Lizzie. But it looks to me like you're letting yourself get too caught up in it."

"But! I have to! The trade negotiations with the Ghunash are next week, and we had power shorts in sections twelve, eight, and seventeen. Teyla and Carson have been working out the plans for Atlantis-based school for the Ethosian children – of which Halling is finally starting to come around to, Zelenka's been finishing up plans for that orbital relay station, and it's staff-review time!" Part of the way through her speech, she'd risen and started to pace around her living area. The nervous tension that had slowly drained out of her body over the last two hours was suddenly back and humming as hard as it'd been earlier that morning.

Through the whole thing, John sat impassively on her bed, looking scarily at home. "Liz. All of those projects are being handled by other people. Why are you getting so wound up?"

She stopped, almost stamping her foot. "Because it's my job to make sure everything is going well, John."

He stood then. Gracefully and with intent, he slipped over to her and put a hand on her shoulder. "It's your job to coordinate. Not to micromanage. You're only burning yourself out, and we don't need that."

"This city needs a leader. And I'm doing everything I can to make sure it gets one," she snarled. Elizabeth tried jerk her shoulder away from him, but only managed to slide his grip down to her forearm.

"Hey, hey, hey. No." John twisted her arm in some strange combat move, probably meant to maim someone, and she was suddenly slumped against his chest. She tried to move. Get away. But his grip was too strong, and his arms too comforting. God, how long had it been since she'd had a hug? "Yes, we need a leader. But we also need you, Liz. We need you sane and confident and with enough sleep. You know you've stopped laughing at Anna's jokes."

"I have?" God, where were these tears coming from? She wasn't sad. She didn't think. She was mad. At him. But he smelled so good and was just so warm... and had a point. "Oh, hell."

A strong hand moved up to play with the curling ends of her hair. Massaging a bit and then stroking. She felt her body give a little more into his.

"Yeah. Look, I know you're in a bad spot. Almost ninety people report back to you on a daily basis. You know more about what's going on in the city than anyone else, except Peter and Ford. And that's just because they're huge gossips." She smiled a bit then. Knew he'd said it to make her. Appreciated it all the same. "But you've got to realize that there is a support system here. These people can do their jobs and do them well. You don't need to oversee everything."

She sighed and nodded into his shirt. "I know. I just... It's hard."

"Yeah. I know."

And he did. Which is why she could have this conversation. And also why she wasn't kneeing him somewhere soft and telling him to get out. He did get it. She'd asked him to keep an eye on her, so many months ago, and he was making good. "My job sucks."

She could feel him grin against the top of her head. "I'm not going to say it doesn't."

"You're going to tell me to take tomorrow off, aren't you?"

"Peter insisted."

She pulled back again. Smiling naturally for what seemed like the first time in weeks. "North shore?"

His responding grin was brilliant in the dim light of her quarters. "I've got the wax and the boards, you bring the bikini."

-fin-