SUMMARY: In which our heroine faints and is caught by Sheppard.

Lizzie Love - Part One

Elizabeth woke with a gasp.

She'd half-levered herself onto her elbow in waking, elemental panic making her heart race. But it was only the Atlantis infimary, nothing to worry about.

"Liz?" John climbed off the next bed over, then turned. "Beckett! Get over here, Elizabeth's awake!"

His commanding tones were edged with the kind of concern he usually reserved for tense situations and Elizabeth sat up, alarmed. "John?" She winced as a momentary dizziness came over her.

John sat down on the bed next to her, and his arm came around her shoulders. "It's okay, Liz," he said, easing her back against his shoulder and patting her arm. "You just had a blackout spell. You'll be fine."

Disconcerted, both by his caresses and his reassurances - John was not a man for casual physical contact with her - Elizabeth eased herself away from him in the bed. A faint frown crossed his face, but he didn't try to touch her again.

"A blackout?" He'd called for Carson quite urgently. "I fainted?"

Carson came into the room at a run, his coat flying out behind her. "Oh, she's awake? Thank God. I tell you, I've never been so worried in my life as when John called to say you'd fainted." He quickly moved to the other side of the bed from John and took her hand. "Does anything hurt? How many fingers am I holding up? Would you like me to get you a coffee?"

"I...I'm fine." Elizabeth extracted her hand from Carson's. "Nothing hurts." She hesitated a moment. Nothing hurt exactly, but she was feeling a little strange. "What happened to me?"

Both men seemed surprised as they looked at her. "You mean you don't remember?"

Her memory seemed oddly blank for a moment, before the mists cleared. "I..." Elizabeth blinked. "I was translating one of the walls in that room Dr. Mettyn found on the third floor of the north-east wing. Tower two."

The room was a surprise discovery, a large, light, airy room with designs that spread across the walls and ceiling, and even the door when it was closed. Dr. Tirrina Mettyn had a trace of the Ancient gene - about as much as Carson - and the walls had glowed very faintly in her presence, so Elizabeth had called John up to the room, apologising for breaking up his sparring time with Teyla.

She remembered tracing her finger along one of the lines of the design, as the door opened behind her. Dr. Mettyn looked up and there was a flash of light--

"You fell just as I came in," said John. "Luckily, I caught you before you hit the ground."

"Dr. Mettyn wasn't hurt?" The two men exchanged a look, and Elizabeth felt dread fill her. "She was?"

"Oh," Carson said, "I'm sure Dr. Mettyn is fine."

"And I'm okay?"

"Well, we're worried that you fainted," said John. "You've been working yourself too hard lately."

Elizabeth took a deep breath. "Everyone's been working too hard," she said, beginning to ease herself off the bed. "I'm not the only one."

"But we're worried about you." Carson seemed very earnest. "Look, satisfy your doctor and go to bed early. Sleep," he added with a significant glance at John. Confused, Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder to find John at his most spuriously innocent. She wasn't sure what was going on here, but she was getting very mixed signals from both men and she didn't know what to make of it.

"You haven't had an afternoon off in...oh, a few days now," John said, his voice low and soft. If Elizabeth hadn't known better, she'd have thought he was trying to be seductive. "It won't be hurting anyone to relax for an afternoon."

She gave him another glance. A few days? Her last afternoon off had been...nearly a month ago. Since then, crisis after crisis had taken her attention, starting with the takeover attempt by Phoebus and Thalen and ending, most recently, with a trading issue between Captain Rogers' team and some Pegasus locals. Teyla had been able to help smooth that one out, but as the leader of Atlantis, Elizabeth had been in the thick of things.

The thought of an early night was very attractive, but she knew she had some reports that needed to be written in the next day. "I'm fine," she said firmly. "But I will get to bed early." At Carson's frown, she smiled. "I promise."

It was with some reluctance that they let her leave the infirmary, and she could feel their eyes upon her as she walked out and headed for her office.

"Dr. Weir! It's good to see you up!" The cheery call from one of the marines nearly stopped her in her tracks.

"Uh, thank you, Sergeant Doran."

The man's eyes widened as she replied to him, and he gave an almost fearful nod and hurried on. Elizabeth looked after him, slightly bemused.

Next were a couple of scientists. "Oh, Dr. Weir, we heard you fainted!" "So terrible!" "It's wonderful to know you're okay!"

Even more bewildered, Elizabeth thanked them and kept going.

It was the same everywhere she went, people greeted her with such obvious relief and effusive welcome that she felt...conspicuous. Like she was missing something important.

She ran into Rodney as she was climbing the stairs to the control room. "Rodney!"

"Elizabeth!" He stared at her. "You're okay!"

"Shouldn't I be? Look, Rodney, could I see you in my office for a minute?"

He put his hand over his heart in a flamboyant gesture. "For you, Elizabeth, anything."

She eyed him for a moment, but he followed her up to the control room where the techs all stood and began to babble their greetings. Elizabeth finally extracted herself from the crowd and got to her office where Rodney was grinning like an idiot. As she closed the door on the techs, she saw them all staring at her, beaming at her.

It was hard not to shudder. Something weird was going on here and she wanted to know what it was.

"Rodney, tell me what's going on."

Rodney looked surprised. "Going on? Nothing's going on."

Taking her seat, she jerked her head at the control room, and he turned. "That? Why would that surprise you? Listen, Elizabeth, are you feeling okay? I mean, Sheppard said you fainted. Have you been eating normally? Sleeping?" A sly smirk crossed his face. "Well, I know you haven't been--"

"I'm fine," she snapped, then regretted it when he began to look dejected. "I'm sorry, Rodney, but I'm just not... Things are beginning to feel strange."

In a surprise gesture, Rodney reached out and patted her hand. "It's okay, Elizabeth," he said. "You've just woken up from a dead faint, it's no wonder you're feeling strange."

Elizabeth took her hand back, more than a little disconcerted by Rodney's gesture. "Are you feeling okay, Rodney?" He didn't seem to be behaving quite normally.

Rodney frowned. "I'm fine. I'm not the one who's been working herself to death."

"I'm hardly dead," she pointed out. "Never mind, Rodney. I must be..." ...imagining things... "...more tired than I thought. I'll get to bed early tonight."

"And sleep?"

She wondered what else she'd be doing in her bed. It wasn't as though she had a lover in Atlantis.

"And sleep," she said.

"Promise?"

"Go away, Rodney," she said lightly.

He went, glancing anxiously at her as he left.

Elizabeth sighed as the door slid closed behind him. Then she opened her laptop and checked the date and time - same day, same year...all normal.

Something weird was going on.

If she could only put her finger on it.

- TBC -