Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend. - Albert Camus
It was early and the pale light glinted off the water below and the breeze coming through the open window was crisp and cool; he could taste the tang of salt on his lips. Stepping back from the window, he looked down at the holstered gun lying on the bed. Picking it up, he felt the weight in his hand. He looped the holster onto his belt and fastened the straps around his thigh. The light pressure against his leg was strangely comforting.
Leaving his quarters, he headed through the corridors, passing a scientist who mumbled a 'hello', never raising his head from the data pad in his hand. Stepping into the transporter, he punched his destination and stepped out into another bright and airy corridor. The door to the armoury opened for him and the Sergeant on duty greeted him cheerfully. He was expected and the P-90 and ammo was laid out for him next to his vest. He signed the weapon out before heading back to the transporter.
As he stepped out of the transporter, he saw Elizabeth standing on the balcony overlooking the gate room; she was waiting for him, he knew. She turned with a beaming smile, just a little too strained to be totally genuine. She was worried about him but trying not to show it.
"Good morning, Colonel," she said brightly.
"Dr Weir." He joined her at the railing. Down in the gate room, his team were preparing to leave, Ronon's stillness only serving to exaggerate McKay's nervous energy as he checked his equipment, talking to himself the whole time. Teyla glanced up at them and smiled.
"Shall I start dialing the gate, Sir?" the technician asked. John looked toward him and nodded, not quite trusting his voice to carry across the room without betraying his nerves. He watched as the chevrons locked themselves into place and the wormhole exploded outward before settling back into the familiar shimmering pool. Elizabeth placed her hand over his on the railing and squeezed it gently.
"Are you sure you're ready for this?"
"Kate seems to think I am."
"And what do you think?"
"I think she's right. Still mildly terrified though. I know this is routine mission but I learnt the hard way there's no such thing as safe out here."
"It's not too late to back out, if you want to wait a few more days..." But he knew it was too late, if he didn't do this now, he was scared he'd never be able to.
"No. No, I'm good."
"Um…excuse me," McKay called up to him, "but we're waiting here and if I have to go on this utterly pointless trade run, I'd really like to get going sometime this morning. There's rumours of real cheesecake for dinner and last time that happened Ronon got into a fight with that market trader on MR5 834 and by the time we got back there was only lemon left. I swear he does it on purpose."
"I didn't get into a fight," Ronon argued.
"You knocked the guy out cold."
"He started it."
"Oh, now there's an intelligent argument." McKay rolled his eyes.
"He insulted Teyla."
"And it was very kind of you to intervene Ronon but I am quite capable of looking after myself," Teyla said forcefully.
John watched from the balcony as the three of them continued to bicker and felt a smile spread across his face. Letting go of the railings, he turned to Elizabeth.
"Yeah, I'm good." And as he walked down the stairs toward the gate, he realised he meant it.