Title: Deception

Spoilers: not really, but takes place after The Hive

Season: Two

Summary: An off-world trip leaves Elizabeth in the hands of the enemy. Team action – some Shweir pairing.

Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis, characters, etc. do not belong to me, but it would be really cool if they did.

Notes: This is my first fanfic, so please be kind. :) I hope you like it. There's some fluff in the beginning, but the action starts soon. Enjoy!

Sitting at her desk, Elizabeth was reading through an operations report when John entered. She glanced up and flashed a quick smile. He sat down on the edge of her desk. "The Castorians have agreed to work with us, but the Prime Minister insists on meeting you in person to finalize the deal."

"Well" she said leaning back in her chair, "Since they have agreed to provide us with a much needed supply of food, I guess I can spare a day to meet with him." She chuckled, "Who knows…maybe I can get him to throw in a ZPM too."

He tilted his head and gave her a half smile, "Well, if anyone could do it, you could. We're going back tomorrow morning."

"All right, I'll be there."

She stepped through the gate and wondered if she'd ever get used to the way it felt. As she looked around, she noticed a small delegation standing a few feet away from the gate. These people were advanced – very modern and technologically superior to others they had met in the Pegasus galaxy. They had much to learn from each other. Yes, this was definitely worth her time, even though she wasn't fond of going off-world and leaving Atlantis solely in the care of others.

As her eyes scanned the group, she noticed a tall, handsome man standing in the middle. Their eyes met, he smiled and began to walk towards her. "Doctor Weir?"

"Yes" she replied.

He tried to cover his surprise, but it was too late, his expression betrayed him, "I'm sorry…you are not what I expected. In Castoria, all of our leaders are male. I assumed that you would be..." He stopped and scanned her face trying to gauge her reaction.

"Anyway" he said, attempting to recover, "I can tell you that I am pleasantly surprised – delighted actually. It's not often that I am able to entertain someone as lovely as you."

Caught by surprise, Elizabeth flushed. Since leaving Simon back home, she had almost forgot what it felt like to be the recipient of male attention. As the leader of the Atlantis expedition, no one had dared to shower her with such flattery. She demanded respect. Only John had been able to penetrate her tough shell, but still she kept him at a distance—always the consummate professional.

Of course, John noticed the rapid change in the Prime Minister's attitude. He had an uneasy feeling as he watched the Prime Minister offer his arm to Elizabeth and lead her into the city. John grimaced as they walked away laughing and smiling. "I can't believe it. He's flirting with her," he thought.

"I have truly enjoyed our discussion Prime Minister Azarius. And, I trust that our new alliance will be beneficial for all of our people"

"Please…call me Jacob"

"All right…Jacob, it's been an honor meeting you. I look forward to future discussions. Maybe next time you will be able to visit us on Atlantis"

"Yes, that would be wonderful. I think we have much we can learn from each other. Besides, it's not often that I have the opportunity to interact with someone whose intelligence matches her beauty." He smiled and waited for their eyes to meet, "Please, will you stay tonight? I have prepared a banquet to celebrate our new alliance. I would like you to be my guest of honor."

His flattery unnerved her, "I wasn't expecting to stay…"

He interrupted, "Don't worry. We will make sure you have everything you need"

He smiled slyly and reached for her hand, "Please, it would be an insult if you did not stay to celebrate with us."

Elizabeth knew she should return home, but there was something magnetic about this man. He was charming and difficult to refuse. She enjoyed his company. Besides, she thought, it would be an insult to reject his offer, "I'll stay."

As they exited the Prime Minister's office, John was standing guard outside. She glanced over at him. "Jacob has invited us to stay overnight for a celebration in honor of our new alliance"

"Well, that's very nice of you, Jacob" he said with a hint of sarcasm. He didn't like the way Jacob looked at Elizabeth, and he certainly didn't want to stay overnight. He locked eyes with Elizabeth, and she gave him one of those looks that said it was non-negotiable. They were definitely staying for the evening festivities.

The Castorians knew how to celebrate…although it was too formal for John's taste. The banquet hall was elaborately decorated, and Rodney was already enjoying a sampling of the exotic cuisines.

As John walked up to Teyla and Ronan, he noticed how different they looked. The Prime Minister made sure they had appropriate attire for the party. He had never seen Ronan dress up for any event, and he looked very uncomfortable. Teyla, on the other hand, looked at ease in the blue, full length gown that the Castorians had provided.

"Well, don't you two look nice" said John. Teyla smiled, and Ronan grimaced.

"How long do we have to stay here" Ronan asked as Rodney walked up to the group with a plate full of food.

"This is great. Have you tried the salmon? It's amazing. I haven't had food this good since we left earth. This is…" His voice trailed off and his jaw dropped as he stared at something behind John.

Ronan saw it too. His eyes widened as he stared appreciatively. John turned around slowly to see what had captivated them. Anything that had Rodney speechless had to be good. He turned towards the door, and then he saw her. Elizabeth. She was wearing a red, strapless gown that hugged her body in all the right places. She was stunning. He couldn't take his eyes off her.

John noticed that her eyes were scanning the room. She was looking for a familiar face. Her eyes met his, and she smiled warmly.

John composed himself, and started to walk towards her while Ronan and Rodney continued to stare. As he got closer, a tall figure appeared in front of her. It was the Prime Minister. He grabbed her hand and politely kissed her cheek. They exchanged words, and he began to lead her away. She glanced back over her shoulder and gave John an apologetic look. John watched Jacob lead her to the main table at the front of the banquet hall. He turned around with a sigh and walked back to the team.

"Please, dance with me" Jacob whispered to Elizabeth. The music was playing and couples were already moving across the large dance floor. She protested at first, but finally agreed to join him.

As they danced, she realized that she was actually enjoying herself. It had been a long time since she was able to relax and have some fun.

John couldn't help but watch the couple glide across the dance floor. When it came to Elizabeth, he was very protective, but she was having a good time. He should be happy for her. Nevertheless, he was relieved when the Prime Minister's aide, Elias, approached, "I hate to interrupt them while they are dancing, but I have an urgent matter that the Prime Minister must attend to."

"I'll do it" John said quickly. "Besides" he lied, "I need to speak with Dr. Weir."

Jacob stopped suddenly. Elizabeth turned and saw Colonel Sheppard standing behind her. "Mind if I cut in?" he asked with a smile. Then, he looked at Jacob and told him that his aide needed to speak with him. Jacob shot his aide a disapproving look, and excused himself gracefully. "Unfortunately, my work is never done. I hope to return to you soon."

As Jacob walked away, John smiled and extended his arms to Elizabeth in an inviting gesture that would have been hard for any woman to resist. She narrowed her eyes and tried to disguise her smile as she moved in to embrace her new dance partner. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to join you earlier. Is everyone enjoying the party?"

"Well, Rodney is having a great time. I think he sampled every dish in the room." She chuckled, "Of course he did." He couldn't help but notice how her green eyes sparked when she laughed. He liked it when she smiled. She had been under a tremendous amount of strain over the past few months. It was good to see her this way – relaxed and at ease.

As they talked, the music transitioned into a slow ballad. They hesitated and looked around at the other couples. They saw Teyla and Ronan adjusting their stance as the music slowed. So, Elizabeth leaned in closer and John wrapped his arms around her waist. She looked up in his eyes and offered a half-smile, which he returned nervously.

Elizabeth felt comfortable in his arms. She would never admit it, but she was attracted to John. Maybe it was his boyishly handsome good looks or the way he smiled at her. Maybe it was because they had been through so much together, and he was the only one that she could confide in. It was difficult to pinpoint, but for now, she was at peace. She laid her head against his shoulder, enjoying the music and the moment.

All too soon, her solace was gone. Screams, and the sound of gunfire, permeated the ballroom. She jumped, startled by the loud noises. John watched as armed men entered the doors. He quickly took a protective stance in front of her. They were military, but he didn't recognize them. They weren't the Prime Minister's guards. "What the hell is going on?" he thought. More gunfire erupted, and he crouched down with Elizabeth, turning protectively to shield her with his body.

"Do as we say and none of you will be hurt"

John caught Ronan's eye and motioned for him to stay where he was. He wanted to see what was going on before they made any moves.

TBC -- pls. review and let me know if you like it. More chapters on the way...