Chapter 3: The choices we make.
Elizabeth listened intently as Rodney explained that while they did have limited power for now, the city had no way to power the shield. That slightly unnerved her, and as John stated that they were "Target practice" and Rodney answered.
"I'm acutely aware of that major, but thankyou for reinforcing it" she had to close her eyes and shake her head. She could sense the bickering a mile away.
Because they were so alike, John and Rodney, both so intelligent and passionate, and neither one outwardly wanted to be like the other.
She could see it in Rodney from the moment she met him, he was so much like what John used to be, the dark genius, though of course Rodney was rude and arrogant, that john had never been.
As soon as she saw John there sitting in that chair, she knew that she recognised those eyes, at the time she couldn't put his face to a name, or a specific memory, but it was there, gnawing at her, his eyes burning into her. She had asked who he was, and she would have sworn that for a moment, a wash of disappointment clouded his eyes.
She had wondered at the time if perhaps he had known it too, that there was something there, some faint recognition.
But now, after this day, after coming through the Stargate and seeing this city, so preserved, so pristine and fearing that they might have to run away from it. Seeing John go off on that mission and bringing back the group of Athosians, bruised and beaten, she knew it was him, she could see it in his eyes, in his wild hair, she could see the boy that high society told her she could never know.
He had always intrigued her, the wonder of the unknown. He was so dirty so mysterious, shadowed by that black hooded jacket that always hid his beautiful dark eyes. And here he was, all these years had passed since the day she saw him last, and he was so different, yet, she could still see the boy in him, the geek in him.
"When can you tell me where the wraith took Colonel Sumner and the others?" she heard him ask Rodney, and she knew that he was now a fighter.
"Even with the six symbols lt. Ford provided, there are still hundreds of permutations that…"
"720" he cut him off and Rodney silenced for a moment. But he was still a geek, and she had to hide a slight smile that grew on her lips.
Elizabeth led him across the control room, intent to find a place where she could speak to him in private, but a door suddenly opened and they looked upon the large balcony.
Elizabeth glanced at John before stepping out, they walked carefully across it as the floor as still coated in puddles.
"Let me guess…you aren't gonna let me rescue my people?" he asked as they both lent heavily on the railing.
"Major, you don't even know if they're alive" she said as she slowly turned to him.
"You don't leave people in the hands of the enemy…and the fact that we are having this conversation In private tells me that you know damn well that it's wrong and it will totally undermine your leadership" she couldn't believe it, is this really what he thought of her?
"So as ranking military officer…" she couldn't let him continue. So she cut him off.
"Ok, just shut up! And listen to me for a moment alright"
"Come on what do we know about the wraith, one of the few things we do know is that they are the enemy that defeated the Ancients"
She explained to him the ramifications of the first time that they used the Stargate on Earth, the troubles that they caused for earth were immeasurable, and that was her point. She didn't want those people to die; she didn't want anyone to die, she just needed more information.
"I will not authorise a rescue mission unless I am sure there is at least a remote chance of success, I'm not sending more good people including you, to their deaths" she couldn't help the slip, she needed to get her point across and by addressing him directly, stressing how much she needed him to stay alive, maybe he would see what she had always felt, and what she felt now that she was responsible for his life and the lives of all of those people he so desperately wanted to save.
"Ok" was all he said before he left her alone on that balcony.
They did go through with the mission, John found a bay of ships that he easily figured out how to operate, and the decision was made.
She watched as the lowered into the room, and she watched as it disappeared through the event horizon.
"Be safe" she whispered as the gate shut down, and he was once again gone.
She worried about them the entire time they were gone, but they returned, safe and in one piece, but Colonel Sumner didn't make it.
John told her what had happened, how he had taken the colonel's life, and he could never forgive himself. She knew that it must have been difficult for him, but hs didn't even try to tell him that she understood, because there was no way that she could.
All she could do now was tell him the one thing that she had been wanting to tell him since she realised exactly who he was.
She lent her elbows on the railing and he did the same.
"You know I knew you were there that day" she stated, fiddling with the handle of her mug.
"What?" he asked looking sideways at her, but she didn't turn her head.
"That day behind the grandstand…I knew that you were there" john nearly choked on his wine.
"What! Then why...I thought that you…I mean, I didn't know you remembered…" he stuttered and didn't make much sense, Elizabeth slowly turned her head to the side with a smirk and he calmed a little.
"Elizabeth, I…" she waved him off.
"John its ok" he stood straighter, and looked at her closely.
"No it isn't ok, he hurt you and I couldn't do anything, I froze" he explained.
"John, Danny was…" he cut her off.
"Danny was a jerk!" she startled a little and stood to face him. "He never cared about you, I could see it everyday, he was a pig and he used you" Elizabeth dropped her chin to her chest, and he could see the sadness in her eyes. "He didn't deserve you" he breathed out, and she slowly looked up at him again.
"Elizabeth, I'm sorry I couldn't help you then, I was afraid of you, I was afraid of the life that you had, you were way out of my league, and seeing you now…I know that you still are" Elizabeth blushed only slightly "but I hope that maybe, if you let me, I can make it up to you."
"John you don't have to…" he cut her off again.
"yes!...I do, because all I have seen for the past 20 years is your face, when ever I fall asleep I can see the tears in your eyes as you ran past me, I've never been able to shake it"
Elizabeth just studied him for a moment, looking deep into his eyes, as he looked deep into hers waiting for her to say something.
"Then I want to make it up to you as well" she said softly, and john looked confused.
"For what, you never did anything wrong…" she stopped him with sadness in her eyes.
"Yes I did, I loved you" he stood unevenly for a moment. "I loved you all through high school, but I was afraid of what it would mean, my father would never have approved, and that's why I was with Danny…I never loved him, after I left I couldn't bare the thought of what I had done to you" john was caught off guard, he never thought she felt that way, never in his wildest dreams did he think that she could ever care for him as much as he did her.
"And now?" he found himself asking, though his brain hadn't registered what he was saying. She looked away down at the ocean, deep in thought.
"I don't know, you are so different, I'm so different…" she breathed out deeply
"You're still beautiful" he said beneath a whisper and she looked up into his eyes, he could see pain in them, like he had said the wrong thing, and she stepped back, twisting her fingers in her hand with her face scrunched.
"But Simon…"she trailed off and John reached a realisation, she was with someone.
"Yes" she cut him off
"Elizabeth I'm sorry…"
"don't be, I'm not…I care about Simon, I really do…but I have loved you for so many years…I just don't know what to do" she said.
John stepped up to her, moving further and further into her personal space, but he didn't care, and she just looked up into his eyes, as the tears began to form in hers. Gently he brushed a lock of hair from her face, and tucked it behind her ear, leaving his hand cupped against her cheek.
"don't worry about it Elizabeth, you don't have to decide anything right now, just know that I am here, and I'm not going to make the same mistake I did 20 years ago. And whatever you decide, I'll always be here, waiting for you."
"John…"she trailed off as his thumb caressed her cheek.
"Simon or me, it doesn't matter, as long as you make the choice that makes you happy, I'm here for you, and I'll always be your friend Elizabeth, as long as you'll have me"
Elizabeth studied him closely trailing her eyes across every line on his face, every whisker on his only slightly stubbled chin, she studied the young sparkle in his eye that he had all those years ago, and she realised that he wasn't so different, he wasn't so foreign that she couldn't fall in love with him all over again.
And then it hit her, she had never stopped loving him, she cared for Simon and she hated to hurt him, but she was in another galaxy, and she had told him to move on with his life, she couldn't pass up this chance to start over with john, for her mistakes to be forgiven and star anew.
And she couldn't expect Simon to wait forever anyway.
"John, I…I think I still feel…" he moved his hand from her cheek to the nape of her neck and he could feel the heat there.
"I think I still…"she was breathing heavily and so was he as he slowly leaned closer to her, her eyes shifted from his eyes to his lips as he got closer and suddenly her words eluded her.
"Love you" he finished for her, as his lips touched hers ever so softly.
"Mhmm" she answered into the kiss that deepened and sent electrifying shivers through her body.
"me too" he whispered as their lips parted long enough for him to say just that, and then drew back to each other for another deeper kiss as his arms curled around her waist.
"But what about…"
"shhh" he said stroking her cheek "we'll work it out" and she smiled as she lent her head down to rest it on his chest as he wrapped his arms around her tighter, holding her as the breeze of Atlantis ruffled there hair and brought glimpse of new adventures, possibilities of new wonders to be discovered, because the best part of their lives…had only just begun.