Aftermath

Author: Vicky

E-Mail: vickysg1wanadoo.fr

WebSite: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/vickyfics/index.html

Category: angst, romance

Summary: They both need to voice their feelings

Season/Sequel: season 3, post Common Ground

Spoilers: Common Ground (3-07)

Rating: K+

Archives: my website, Command Dynamics, Atlantica, Abydos Gate: Fanfiction, others ask please, I never refuse

Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.

Author's Note: Just a short post-ep fic I just had to write. Once again, thanks to Jaclyn for the fantastic beta job.

You have a go !

Putting her stylus down next to her computer, Elizabeth sighed, glad that she was finished for the day. It had been a very long day with John being kidnapped by Kolya and his men and her seeing him being fed upon by a Wraith. Every time she closed her eyes, even if it was for just a few seconds, she could still see the scene playing behind her eyelids. She knew this day would never be erased from her memory; it was the hardest decision she had to take but even now she knew she could have acted differently. Even if she had given Kolya what he wanted, Ladon Radim in that case, he'd have probably kept Sheppard, wanting to take his long-awaited revenge on him.

Leaving her office, she decided to go on the balcony for a while, knowing that sleep would be difficult to come that night, if it'd come at all. She palmed the door panel and stepped outside, immediately noticing a silhouette leaning on the railing.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm going to leave you alone…"

"You can stay, if you want."

"You sure?"

"Yeah…"

Slowly, she walked towards the railing and mimicked his position, taking a deep breath of ocean air. Turning her head slightly towards him, she looked at his face, wondering what he would look like if the Wraith hadn't given him his life back. At this thought, she shuddered and he must have noticed because he turned his body towards her.

"You okay?"

"Shouldn't I be the one to ask you that?"

"Elizabeth…"

"I'm fine, John, don't worry. You?"

"I'm gonna be fine… I think I'll need some time though."

"It's understandable."

Silence fell upon both the leaders, and despite herself, Elizabeth found it really uncomfortable. Usually, they could stay a long time side by side, without talking, but tonight, she felt like she should say something. Gathering her thoughts, she said the only thing she could think of at the moment.

"I'm sorry… I should have done something, anything."

"You have done something, Elizabeth," he replied forcefully. "You didn't let me die, you managed to get me back."

"You should have come back sooner. I should have…"

"No. Trading a life for another is unacceptable and you know that. You did what you have to do, you had no other choice."

"Yes, I had. And if you had died because I refused to give Radim to Kolya I would… I couldn't have lived with myself anymore," she added in a whisper and John actually shivered at that thought.

"We don't negotiate with terrorists, Elizabeth. Earthling ones or alien ones. I don't blame you for what happened, Elizabeth…"

"It was my decision," she interrupted him, "and you could have died because of that."

"It was my decision too. You'd heard me."

She had indeed, like everyone else in the control room during the brief time when Kolya ordered the gag removed from his mouth. And she couldn't be more glad that he had it back in place before the Wraith started feeding; she couldn't have handled hearing with his screams. She remembered feeling everyone's eyes on her when she shouted at Kolya to stop it but she couldn't have stopped herself even if she had wanted.

She saw him take a deep breath and release it while turning towards the dark horizon once more. She knew she should ask him to go see Kate but she also knew that he wouldn't accept the psychiatrist's help; he had refused it after his mutation so he was likely to refuse it now too.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked, thinking that maybe he would talk to her.

"I'm not sure you could take it."

"Please, John. Don't shut me out and talk to me. I'm probably not ready to hear what was done to you, but I want to help you. And I know that talking could help you."

"How do you know that?" he asked harsher than he intended and winced when he saw her close her eyes. "Sorry. I didn't mean to… You shouldn't stay with me right now, I could hurt you only by talking to you."

"You're my friend, John, and this is where I need to be right now. To help you. And why do you think my knee hurts from time to time? Diplomatic missions aren't always peaceful."

"You mean…?"

"Yeah. Around five years ago. It's how I met Simon, actually, he tended to my knee after…," she stopped, even now she couldn't voice what happened to her. "But now isn't the time to talk about me. Listen, I don't want to force you into talking but…"

"It hurt like hell," he interrupted. "The feeding. I never thought… I knew it wasn't a pleasant experience but I never thought… I never thought it was that bad. Even though I'll still blame myself, I'm glad I ended Sumner's life before the Wraith was done. And it was only short sessions for me. I don't want any of you to experience something like that. I don't even wish that to my worst enemy. The Wraith was in the cell beside mine," he continued. "I tried to talk to him into helping each other escape. At first, he wouldn't listen to me but I managed to convince him. We made a sort of alliance; we joined our forces to escape, he let me live and I let him go through the gate."

Elizabeth wanted to stop him to tell him he took a risk but she knew she should just listen to him.

"Once we were out of his fortress and in the forest we didn't know which way to go and he had taken a few shots. In the morning, he fed on me one last time. I thought he was going to kill me this time but he stopped just before the last second. He left and I stayed there, lying on the ground. I can't say I could have done something anyway; I could barely breathe. When he came back and put his hand on my chest again, I thought 'this is it, I'm going to die this time'. But he told me that there were things I didn't know about the Wraith and I started to feel better. He gave me my life back. And you know the rest. The rescue team found us and I honoured my part of the alliance."

She didn't know what to say. Looking at his face, she saw darkness in his eyes so she did the only thing he could think of at the moment. She took a step towards him and before he could ask her what she was doing, she slid her arms around his waist to hug him tightly, resting her head on his shoulder. He was stunned for a moment but then, he put his own arms around her shoulders and buried his face in her neck.

Elizabeth finally freed the emotions she bottled up during the day and let her tears run freely on her cheeks. It wasn't the first time he defied death but it was a too close call this time and they both knew it. John heard her sniff and nuzzled against her neck, inhaling deeply the smell of her hair in the process, bringing her closer to him if that was even possible. They both needed it and neither wanted to let the other go. His eyes prickled with tears but he refused to shed them. Life was giving him another chance and he wasn't going to waste time with crying.

"What would we do without you?" he heard Elizabeth whisper.

"Shh… It's okay, I'm here, Elizabeth, I'm not going anywhere."

"It's not fair… I should be the one comforting you, not the other way around."

"It can work both ways…"

"Yeah?" she said with a small laugh through her tears.

John's right hand ran through her hair in a soothing gesture, keeping her always close to him. She didn't complain, it was the contrary actually; she pressed herself closer to him, needing to feel that he was alive and fine. Carson might have confirmed it but she needed to feel his heart beat, to hear him breathe.

Finally, her tears stopped falling but neither released the other. They didn't know how much time had passed but after a while they heard the door swish open and Rodney's stammering voice.

"Oh… Err… I'm sorry, I didn't want to interrupt…," he said while they broke the tight hug.

"It's okay, McKay," John replied turning towards him and Elizabeth lowered her head, wiping at her tear-strained face.

"I have to go," she said, walking past Rodney and stepping inside the City.

"Look, I'm really sorry, I didn't want to interrupt you two."

"Don't worry. Was there something you needed?"

"Actually yes, I was looking for you and a sergeant told me he saw you come out there an hour or so ago."

"What did you want?"

"I was just wondering how you felt…"

"I'm fine."

"You'll go see Kate as Carson told you to?"

"I don't think so…"

"You should, she could help you, you know."

Knowing that he couldn't convince him, Rodney bid his goodnight and left the balcony. John resumed his earlier position against the railing. Rodney might be right; Heightmeyer could help him. He was feeling better after this moment spent with Elizabeth, having talked to her but he couldn't fool himself, it wouldn't be enough in the end. Maybe he'd go talk to the psychiatrist one day, but he wasn't ready yet.

Fini