Title: Not Easy

Pairings: Sheppard/Other, Sheppard/Weir

Category: Drama, Angst, Episode Tag

Spoilers: Up to and including "Sanctuary."

Disclaimers: Neither Stargate Atlantis nor any of its characters belong to me.

Archives: Command Dynamics (Sheppard/Weir fanfiction archive) and Atlantica (general Atlantis archive)

Notes: sends love and hugs to all the pre-readers, especially Rose Wilde Irish

Summary: John and Elizabeth, post-"Sanctuary."


"Are you mad at me?" he asks.

The question seems a little absurd. After all, he's lying on his back (on her bed), naked, propped up by a pillow, gazing at her as she busily unwraps a condom- at the moment taking longer than necessary, fingers hesitating slightly, because he's surprised her, and she doesn't want to talk about this, not right now.

"Hmm?" Elizabeth pretends not to hear, or to be confused, or something that will make him rethink where they're heading.

He doesn't buy her act, of course. "About Chaya."

She pauses for a second, a long second, fingering the edge of the foil package with her thumbs, then shrugs, forcing a smile that looks amused, except that the rest of her- which he can see, though her head is bent and her body is slightly turned away from him- clearly isn't. A little too carelessly, she says, "Why would I be?"

They first began sleeping with one another after the Genii attack on Atlantis. It was a given that they would. He expected it, she expected it. It was the stereotyped outcome to every bad romance novel based on the same premise- the dashing, handsome hero saves his beautiful damsel-in-distress- and obviously, John Sheppard had never read a romance novel in his life, else his rebellious streak might have protested the cliche. Though, in a way, perhaps it did. Even now, their relationship defies the happily-ever-after ending.

Sex, in their case, is convenient. It's true that it's not just sex- there are some feelings involved, yes, undefinable ones, but ones she knows she shouldn't have, and ones he can't remember ever having (though he must have), it's been so long. But it is mostly sex (sex between friends- they are friends, have been for a long time), and they treat it that way: they aren't dating, and when they talk about the future, it's in general, about Atlantis and the expedition as a whole, never "you and I" or "us," and they make no demands of each other. "Monogamous" and "exclusive" and "faithful" are meaningless to them, never brought up, never assumed, never expected.

It shouldn't surprise her that John slept with Chaya. She guesses he did- knows he probably did- though she hasn't asked, hasn't wanted to. (Doing so would just remind her of how naively oblivious she was to what was going on right in front of her.)

John's question, really, is senseless, because she has no right to be mad, and she knows it, and he knows it, and why he is asking her about this now, two days after his return from the planet (she feared it was a suicide mission, though she could do nothing to stop him), during their first time together since Chaya's visit, confuses and, surprisingly, angers her.

She remembers his return- anticlimatic in almost every sense. He was unusually quiet, strangely reserved. And though they have only known each other for several months, it was clear to her that he had changed somehow, and in no small way. He glowed- not actually, as Chaya had- but spiritually, as if he had gained something wonderful and powerful and profound. It was deeply personal, too, and she saw that immediately. She was disturbed by this, but said nothing, and it was only later, alone in her office, that she finally recognized her feelings for what they really were- jealousy.

She hasn't tried to analyze herself any further since then.

Another second passes, and John doesn't answer. She knows that he is watching her, trying to gauge her emotional state, but she doesn't look at him.

She feels the bed shift, hears him move, and as she turns towards him, he's suddenly there in front of her, staring at her with an intense look on his face as his hands cup her face.

He doesn't speak, not with his voice, but right now, with his eyes, he's conveying too many things to her, so many things that she feels overwhelmed, but she has no time to process them all because then he's kissing her, and everything but the touch and taste and feel of him leaves her mind.

It turns out that they never finish their conversation.

But lying in his arms sometime later that evening, listening to him breathing, to the faint sounds of the ocean outside, though she said nothing, she suspects (fears) that she gave something away- something vital, something important. What, she's not sure, any more than she is certain what it is he wanted to hear her say.

What worries her most, though, is knowing that he, too, gave away something, a part of himself- and that he did it willingly. It scares her, makes her mind race like it's racing now, makes her chest hurt with a sharp sensation that isn't exactly pain.

It's better when she doesn't think, doesn't try to figure everything out, doesn't need to consider what's different now, what's changed, what is changing, him and her and them together. She's glad that he didn't press her, though he could have, and her relief makes no sense, except maybe, just maybe, he or this- whatever this is- could break her.

He mumbles something incoherent in his sleep, his breath warm against the back of her ear. His arm tightens around her waist, as his leg slides over hers, unconsciously possessive. She feels safe, protected. She relaxes slightly, then slowly, gradually more as the heat from his skin slowly encompasses her- she hadn't realized she was cold.

It should be easy, the two of them, but it isn't; she isn't.

But when she's with him like this, in the dark, just the two of them wrapped around each other, it's easy to pretend that this is all there really is to it, that all her worries and all her anxieties don't really matter. Morning will make her think differently- it always does. But daybreak is still several hours away, so she holds his hand and closes her eyes, pretending to sleep until she actually does.