Category: angst, romance
Summary: he was there for her
Season/Sequel: season 4
Spoilers: anything up to First Strike (3-20) and some season 4 spoilers and speculations
Archives: my website, 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: At first this fic was going to be angsty with just a bit of fluff and as I wrote it, it turned out more fluffly than angsty… Don't ask me why, I don't really know. Many thanks once more to my fantastic beta, Jaclyn!
You have a go !
She was exhausted, but she couldn't stop, not now, she had to continue. Just a few more and she'd be done for the day.
She knew she was frowned upon by people around her, and this was why she couldn't give up; she had to prove to them that she could do it. And more than anything else, she had to prove to herself that she could do it, and she would. It was her own battle, one she had to win by herself, without anyone else to help her. She had the will to win, now she just hoped that the rest would follow.
"Elizabeth!" John cried as she dropped on the floor, breathing raggedly. "You shouldn't have pushed yourself so far!" He gathered her in his arms and she put her head on his shoulder, trying to forget the pain she was feeling in her lower back and her legs.
"I have to… I can't…"
"Here, drink that first," he said, holding up the glass a nurse had handed him up.
She took a few sips of water and smiled gratefully at both the nurse and him. She rested her head against his shoulder once more, trying to calm her breathing. Before she could fully recuperate though, John got up on his feet, lifting her in his arms in the process. She instinctively wrapped her arms around his shoulders while he readjusted his grip on her.
"What are you doing?" she demanded to know.
"I'm taking you back to your bed. You need to rest."
"No, I can't. I have to continue…"
"No way I'm letting you. And I believe Doctor Keller has the same opinion," he added as they entered the infirmary and saw her coming towards them.
"What happened?" the doctor immediately asked.
"Nothing. She's just overdone herself."
"Doctor Weir, I've already told you that it'll take time…"
"I don't have time," Elizabeth interrupted her. "Take me back to my bed, John."
With a nod towards Doctor Keller, he walked towards the private room Elizabeth had been settled in, since she wasn't allowed to go back to her quarters just yet. Elizabeth palmed the door open for them and he put her on the bed.
"Thanks, John," she said, thus dismissing him.
But he wasn't ready to leave her just yet; he needed to understand what she meant when she said she didn't have time first. He stood by the side of her bed, watching her as she took a book and opened it. She started reading and after a moment sighed when she understood that John wouldn't leave her alone. Putting the book on her lap, she turned her head towards him and raised an eyebrow.
"Why do you push yourself so far, Elizabeth? You know your body needs time to…"
"I don't have time," she repeated.
"Why, Elizabeth? Just tell me why?"
But she wouldn't answer him. Instead she dropped her gaze to her hands resting on top of the book, trying to ignore him. He didn't want her to shut him off; this was what she was doing and he didn't understand why. On one hand, he wanted to push her, to make her tell him what was wrong so he could help her, but on the other, he didn't. Sighing, he turned away from her and started to leave the room when he heard her.
"They wouldn't let me…"
She hadn't meant to talk, to tell him, but when she saw him turn away without a word, her mouth had opened on its own volition and the words just came before she could think about it. The last thing she wanted was to hurt him, and she was afraid she had just done that when she refused to talk to him. He was her friend, one of her closest here, and if she was honest to herself, maybe one of the closest she ever had, and she really didn't want to lose his friendship over that, and especially not now.
She watched as he slowly turned back towards her, coming closer to stand just beside her bed. She didn't raise her eyes to meet his; if she was to tell him what the matter with her was, she couldn't. But she couldn't bring herself to talk on her own neither; she knew that once it'd be out he'd want to do something and he just couldn't.
"Who are you talking about?" He paused, hoping that she'd answer but when the silence stretched more time than was necessary he continued. "Tell me, Elizabeth, you know I can help you."
"Not this time…"
"If you don't tell me, I sure can't help you." John started to get frustrated by her lack of answers. "You know what, that's fine with me. Stay here, continue to exhaust yourself to the point of falling on the ground but don't expect me to be there next time to help you!" he nearly yelled but knew better; it would only serve at bringing Keller here.
"I've never asked for your help!" she replied on the same tone. "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, why don't you all understand that?"
"And why don't you understand that we were all afraid for you? We nearly lost you here, Elizabeth!" He paused for a moment, catching his breath while his mind was assaulted with images of her on the gurney, being wheeled out of the gateroom. "Why do you push yourself so far, Elizabeth?" he repeated.
"Because I have to, John. You can't understand."
"Of course I can't understand if you don't explain to me. I thought I was your friend…"
"You are!" she interrupted him.
"Then why don't you want to talk to me?"
"Because there's nothing you could do. I need to do this on my own this time, John."
"Ok," he finally relented and Elizabeth couldn't help but sigh. "I should probably let you rest or Keller will have my head."
With one last look towards her, he left the room, leaving her alone with her book. What she told him was the truth: it was her fight and this time he couldn't help her. Taking a deep breath, she reopened her book and started to read again. It was time to regain her strength.
Despite what he said, the next day John was there to help her when she once again fell. Like the previous day, he carried her back to her room in the infirmary, but this time without telling her anything. He was turning away after having put her on the bed when she stopped him with a hand on his arm. He turned back towards her and she gestured for him to sit on the bed.
"Thank you," she simply said finding his eyes with hers. "I'm sorry for yesterday."
"I should be the one apologising. I was the one losing my temper first," he explained when she gave him a look meaning she didn't understand. "So sorry…"
"I guess we're even then. How's your team?" she asked out of the blue. "And how's the City?"
"Atlantis is still standing as you can see. Colonel Carter knows her stuff. But she's not you. As for the team, they're fine too, but I think you know that as well as me seeing they came to see you everyday or so, even Ronon."
"Yeah. And how are the things between Colonel Carter and Rodney?"
"Well, a little bickering here and there, Rodney always trying to prove he's the best, just the usual. I think we're lucky Colonel Carter isn't working in the labs."
"Probably," she admitted with a smile. "How's Rodney? I mean he comes to see me but we never really talk. He usually keeps me updated about his work but otherwise…"
"I guess he's fine. He doesn't talk to me either, and I don't know if he talks to anyone else."
"I'll try to talk to him next time he comes."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"You just did," she answered with a smile.
"Right… Why did you stay here? I mean, you should have gone to Earth for your rehab, it would have been better for you."
"Why? Elizabeth, you know you can tell me," he added, taking one of her hands in his. He held her eyes with his, hoping that this time she would talk to him.
"I wasn't sure they would have let me back…" she finally admitted in a whisper.
"What? Why? Why wouldn't they let you come back?"
"They'd find a reason, any reason. You know as well as me that I've done things…"
"You had no choice at the time and you know that."
"But they don't and that's what really matters, John."
"So that's why you stayed here…"
"Yeah, with a little help from Dr. Keller. She managed to convince them that I couldn't leave Atlantis in any way. They believed her or chose to believe her, I don't know, but I'm here."
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"Like I told you yesterday, you couldn't have done anything. I hope you understand."
"I do. But next time don't hesitate to tell me, Elizabeth."
She just smiled and squeezed his hand in response. Silence fell in the room but it was a comfortable one. They were still looking at each other, conveying something more than just a simple look, like they were talking without the need for words. It wasn't the first time that happened; since they had started working together, they'd been known to have entire conversations without uttering a single word. Once McKay had qualified it as weird, but they didn't think about it that way. It was just another proof that they knew each other so well that they didn't need words to understand each other.
"I should get back to work," John finally said, standing up. "I have some reports to hand in to Colonel Carter, and I'm already late for some."
"In that case, you really should. Any mission planned for you and your team, by the way?"
"No, not for the moment. McKay and Zelenka still have a lot of work, and Colonel Carter asked me to second her which means I'm stuck here for the moment." He squeezed her hand one last time before releasing it. "I'll come by tomorrow. I don't think you have rehab planned for tomorrow, do you?"
"No. Dr Keller wants me to rest one day a week and it's tomorrow."
"Ok, then, be ready for 1100."
"That's for me to know and you to find out…"
With a smirk, he left her private room. She sighed, wondering what he had planned for them the next day but she knew he wouldn't probably tell her until they would be where they should.
Just as she was ready to take a short nap, the door to her room opened again and when she opened her eyes, she saw Dr Keller coming towards her. Sitting up, she smiled at the young doctor who sometimes reminded her of her dead friend.
"How are you feeling, Doctor?"
"Please, call me Elizabeth, at least while I'm under your care. And since I'm not your superior…"
"For now," Keller interrupted her. "So, how are you feeling, Elizabeth?"
"My lower back and my legs are still aching."
"And they will until you're completely healed… And probably after too, from time to time," she added as an afterthought. "I'd like you to have a scan tomorrow so I'll know where we stand. Let's say 1100?"
"Can't it be a bit earlier?"
"Yes, probably. Why?" she asked before remembering what her patient meant. "Oh! I had forgotten that Colonel Sheppard asked me if you could go out for a few hours tomorrow. Well, then we'll do it first thing in the morning and you'll be free to go after that."
"Thank you." She paused for a few seconds before asking. "Do they… Do they want to know how much longer I'll be incapacitated?"
"Yes," the young doctor replied, "and I always answer that it's between you and me, they don't have to know. If you don't have anymore questions, I'll let you rest and I'll see you tomorrow morning."
With that Dr. Keller left. Elizabeth sighed; she didn't know how long they could keep them at bay and she certainly didn't want their newly appointed CMO to face problems because of her. Maybe she should just resign herself that she would have to go back to Earth. Maybe it was time for her to leave the City for good, even despite feeling she wasn't at her place anymore on her home planet.
She knew she shouldn't probably think like that, but being confined in that bed for most of her days tended to turn her into a pessimistic. She already had to put a good show in front of others, so in private, she felt the need to be sorry for herself. Looking down at her legs stretched on the bed, she realised that it could have been worse: she could have been paralysed and then she was sure she'd already be back on Earth. But it wasn't that big of a comfort; for the moment it was like she was paralysed: she could barely use her legs.
Laying her head on the pillow, she looked at the ceiling for the nth time, wishing she was in her quarters. The infirmary had never been her favourite place but with everything that had happened here for the last few months, it was rapidly becoming her least favourite place in Atlantis. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to sleep for a while, knowing that a nurse would wake her up for dinner.
When John entered her private room the next morning, he saw her reading, sat on the bed, in her civvies just like him. She looked up from her book and smiled at him.
"Actually, I'm waiting for Dr. Keller. I had a scan this morning and before she could give me the results she was called for an emergency…," she trailed off, not knowing more about it but hoping he did.
"Yes. Lorne's team had a run in with Wraith."
"Are Evan and his men alright?"
"Lorne's fine, but Peters came back in pretty bad shape. Last I heard, he was still in surgery."
"I didn't know you were on a first-name basis with Lorne…," he said though he didn't know why.
"I'm on a first-name basis with you too…," she simply replied.
"Point taken." Just as he was going to say something else, the door opened again and Dr Keller entered; besides the visible tiredness, her face was unreadable and neither could say what she was thinking.
"How's Lieutenant Peters?" Elizabeth wanted to know; she might not be the current leader of the City but he was still one of her men.
"We lost him…," she sighed. "I couldn't stop the bleeding, I…" She trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
"Did you do everything you could?" John asked and Elizabeth immediately knew where he was going.
"Yes. I think."
"Then, don't blame yourself."
"John's right. You're not responsible for his death, the Wraith are."
The CMO just nodded and took a few seconds to compose herself again and faced Elizabeth.
"Colonel, could you give us a few minutes? I need to talk to my patient before I release her in your care for the day."
"Sure. I'll wait just outside…"
"It's okay, you can stay, John," Elizabeth interrupted him and he nodded before coming to stand on the other side of the bed. "So, what does the scan say?"
"You still have a long way to go, but in a few weeks, you should be able to walk with only a cane."
"That's great!" John said, looking at Elizabeth but he noticed that she didn't seem to share his enthusiasm.
"How many weeks is a few?"
"At least eight… Look, I know it seems a lot but you can barely walk with the crutches now."
"And how much time till I can go back to my quarters and resume my duties?"
"I can't say. It all depends on your progress with the crutches…"
"I see. Is there anything else I should know?"
"No, everything's fine according to the scan. You're free to go now. Colonel, come with me, I'll get you a wheelchair."
"Ah, Elizabeth!" John interrupted before following Keller out of the room. "So what did you want to tell me?"
"How do you…?"
"Try to be subtler next time."
"Right… Well, Doctor Weir needs the time off the infirmary, we both know that, and she also needs to not think about her condition for a while."
"Don't worry, I've already planned to cheer her up a bit. Now, where's the chair?"
When John came back in Elizabeth's room, she was sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting for him to come back. He helped her into the wheelchair and walked them out of the infirmary. Despite her questions, he refused to tell her where they were going, wanting to keep it a surprise as long as he could.
On their way there, they were stopped a few times by people who wanted to know how Elizabeth was. They quickly answered their questions, John noticing that Elizabeth seemed uncomfortable to be seen in a wheelchair by those she led. He could understand the feeling, since he would probably feel the same in her place; neither wanted to appear weak in front of their people.
Finally John stopped in front of doors that Elizabeth recognized as balcony doors, and palmed them opened. She couldn't help but gasp when she saw what was awaiting them: John had arranged it for a picnic. He had spread out a blanket on the floor, a picnic basket, she'd have to ask him where he found it, put on it so that the wind wouldn't take it off, along with some cushions.
"Like it? I thought you could use some fresh air," he said as he wheeled her out onto the balcony.
"It's… Thank you, John," she simply said, not knowing what to say for once.
"You're welcome. Now let me help you out of the chair."
"You know, I can do it alone."
"Please, Elizabeth, humour me."
She didn't answer anything, and just smiled at him. He put an arm under her knees and the other against her back while her own arms wrapped themselves around his shoulders, and lifted her easily from the wheelchair before placing her down on the blanket. He let her rearrange some of the cushions around her and put the chair away.
Sitting down next to her, he opened the basket and starting to take everything he had put in earlier out. Elizabeth had to smile when she saw the turkey sandwiches and her mouth watered when she spotted some Athosian dishes that she adored. He seemed to have really gone out of this way to do this for her and she was touched by all of this. She turned her head away from what he was doing, breathing in some much needed ocean air. That was what she missed the most with being stuck in the infirmary: she couldn't go out on a balcony whenever she wanted to.
"Feeling better?" John asked, looking at her.
"Much. Thank you again, John. I needed this."
"And it's just the beginning. We have a few hours ahead of us to enjoy this. If you want, we can eat now, or we can just sit and talk for a while."
"Actually, I'm a bit hungry and those Athosian dishes smell wonderful."
"I know you haven't had them in some time now, so I thought you'd like it."
"Thanks," she said as he handed her a plate.
They ate in a companionable silence, Elizabeth enjoying being outside for the first time in weeks. Once they were both finished, she turned towards John, seeming to wait for something else.
"Yes…?" he asked.
"What's for dessert?"
"Why do you think there's dessert?" he said, raising an eyebrow, but she knew he was joking.
He reached for the picnic basket he had put away earlier and opened it to retrieve the only thing left in it. When she was finally able to see what it was, her eyes lit up in anticipation. Chocolate. She hadn't had chocolate in weeks, since she was in the infirmary actually; it seemed like nobody thought that patients liked chocolate too.
"Want some?" John asked innocently and if eyes could kill, he knew he'd already be dead.
Breaking a piece of chocolate, he handed it to Elizabeth who took it and put it in her mouth immediately. She closed her eyes and let out a sigh when it started to melt in her mouth; it was dark chocolate, her favourite, strong and sweet at the same time.
Hearing John chuckle, she opened her eyes and glared at him, but he didn't stop.
"Well, I've never seen you react like that whenever you ate chocolate before."
"Try not eating any turkey sandwiches in weeks and we'll see how you'll react."
She knew him too well for his own good, that much he knew. So instead of replying something, he simply watched as she savoured her piece of chocolate, before popping one in his own mouth.
"Want to get closer to the railing?" he asked as they finished the chocolate bar.
"I'd love too. But please, not in the wheelchair…"
"It wasn't what I had in mind."
He stood up before offering a hand to her. She took it and he helped her out on her feet. She leaned on his side, throwing an arm around his shoulders, while he draped his around her waist, as they started walking slowly towards the edge of the balcony. John was careful as he helped her walk; he knew it would have been better for her to be in the chair, but he also understood her need to walk.
They finally reached the railing and she placed both her hands on it, breathing heavily.
"Yeah. My legs and back hurt a bit, but I'm fine."
As soon as she said that, she felt him moving behind her. She didn't know what he was doing until she felt his arms wrapping themselves around her waist and urging her to lean on him. She obliged, glad to be able to relieve some of her weight off her back and feet. She knew that if someone walked in on them at that moment, they would think that something was going on, but she found out that she didn't really care right now. For the moment, she was just enjoying watching the ocean surrounding their City.
They stayed like this, in silence, for a few minutes. From the first few days, they had never really needed words to understand each other, and they had often enjoyed standing on the balcony just outside the control room together, in silence.
Turning her head towards where John's was, she was surprised to see that he was watching her. He didn't divert his eyes from hers, but continued gazing intensely at her. Without any of them really noticing, their faces inched closer to the other's until their lips touched, their eyes closing. Given their positions, their lips more grazed than they really kissed, but still it sent tingles through Elizabeth's body.
She drew her head away and opened her eyes to find herself still looking at him. He had a smile on his lips and she couldn't help but reciprocate it. She didn't really know what happened and she suspected he didn't either. Her mind still thinking about what she felt during that kiss, she yelped in surprise when John lifted her into his arms and walked back towards the blanket. He put her down, before sitting himself, much closer than before.
Brushing a strand off her face with a hand, he inched closer to her and caught her lips again with his. This time, the kiss grew deeper, more passionate, leaving them breathless when they finally broke it. He rested his forehead against hers, her eyes were still closed and when she finally opened them, they fell onto his. She let out a sigh and moved her head away from his.
"Elizabeth…," John tried but she interrupted him.
"I… I don't date men under my command."
"It could split my focus, and I can't let that happen."
"We're friends, right?"
"Yeah…" To say that she was surprised that he asked that wouldn't be enough.
"And you're worried when I'm injured or when I'm missing along with the rest of the team. Don't deny it," he continued when it seemed like she was ready to protest, "I have my sources."
"I… Yes," she admitted.
"Then, wouldn't it be right to say that your focus is already a bit split? But I know you, and I know that if you had to choose between my life and those of others, you wouldn't hesitate. You have proved it when Kolya…," he trailed off, both knowing what he meant. "So if we get involved, that wouldn't change anything, right?"
"But what, Elizabeth?" he sighed, interrupting her. "And don't tell me that you don't want to try, I won't believe you. If that were the case, you would have probably slapped me."
"It's not that…"
"Then what is it, Elizabeth?"
"I'm scared, John," she finally answered after a few seconds of silence.
"That it couldn't work? Then we just have to agree that it wouldn't affect our working relationship."
"No, actually, I think it could," she answered and he had to smile at that. "What if they find out and decide that my opinion can be biased because of that? I can't leave Atlantis, John."
She didn't need to clarify who they where. Despite what Woolsey had told her, she suspected that she was still under their scrutiny and he wouldn't be surprised if she was right in the end. But she couldn't let them run her life either and she had to understand that.
"There are no regs preventing us from dating if we want to, Elizabeth. And if they think that you're not objective anymore in your decision, which I doubt, we'll find a way for you to stay in Atlantis. Besides being a great leader who cares for her people, you're the best negotiator I know, we need you here." He paused for a moment, holding her eyes with his. "So I guess there's only question left: do you want this?"
"I want this but…" She stopped as she heard John sigh. "Listen to me, please. You know what happened with Simon, he hurt me…"
"I won't do that," he said, understanding where she was going. "At least never intentionally, you know that."
"No, I don't John. According to Rodney, you're a Kirk…"
"And you give more credit to what Rodney says than to me?"
"It's not what I meant…"
"Then, what do you mean, Elizabeth?"
"I don't know…" She really was at a loss there and John could see it. "I guess that… If one day you think that we shouldn't be together anymore, or if you meet someone else, tell me right away, don't wait."
"I won't say that'll happen, but I will. But does that mean…?"
"I guess… But could we…"
"Keep it between us for the time being?" he continued for her and she nodded. "Actually, I like this idea of a secret affair…," he said, wiggling his eyebrows at her and she giggled in response. "Ok, last question: can I kiss you, now?"
She had to laugh at the face he made when he asked her, but then got serious again when he leaned in to kiss her.
She slid a hand on his nape to bring him closer to her while she deepened the kiss. She scraped the base of his skull and was rewarded when she heard him groan in her mouth. One of his arms wrapped itself around her back to bring her closer but as it pressed on the small of her back, she gasped, breaking the kiss.
"I'm sorry, did I…?"
"It's okay," she tried to reassure him, shaking her head. "Now, you were saying?" she continued after a minute or so.
A smirk on his face, he once more leaned in and grazed her lips with his a few times, teasing her, before she was fed up of this and grasped a handful of his shirt to pull him closer to her.
A few weeks later, Elizabeth could be found walking with her crutches towards the control room; John and his team were off-world and would soon return and she wanted to be there. She and John were taking things slowly: besides a few make-out sessions, they hadn't gone farther than kissing, John wanting her to be better before they turned their relationship into a physical one. She had to say that she agreed with him, she wanted to make the most of this moment together when it happened and her body wasn't ready for that yet.
As she walked passed the catwalk leading to her office, she couldn't help but stop for a moment. Colonel Carter was currently sitting at her desk, seeming out of place amongst Elizabeth's things. She was still standing there when Sam raised her head and, seeing her, she gestured for her to come into the office.
"How are you, Doctor Weir?" Sam asked as Elizabeth sat on one of the chair; it was weird for her to sit on the other side of her own desk.
"According to Dr. Keller, better and better everyday."
"But you don't really feel like it, right?" Elizabeth just nodded and Sam continued. "I understand, I'm like you on this point."
"Can I be blunt?"
"Why don't you like me? Is it because I sort of blackmailed you when you were leading the SGC?"
"No. That incident is forgotten."
"Then why, Doctor?" She paused, watching the woman sitting in front of her and suddenly understood. "Is it because the IOA appointed me here? I'm not one of their pawns."
"I know, Colonel."
"And I'm not trying to take the City from you."
"How can I be so sure of that?" Elizabeth asked with sarcasm in her voice that she was sure John would be proud of.
"Because my life is on Earth and not here, unlike you. You don't know why they appointed me, so I'm going to tell you. The IOA wanted a new leader, and not just for the time of your recovery, but General O'Neill convinced them that you're still the best leader of Atlantis, even if you'd need time to recover from your injuries. Why they sent me and not Daniel or anybody else is everyone's guess, but I was sent here to help, certainly not to take your place."
"Do you really? Because we'll have to work together for a few weeks until I go back to Earth, and believe me I don't want it to be awkward."
"Neither do I."
"Great, then." She paused before continuing. "You were waiting for Colonel Sheppard's team?"
"Yeah. I think they'll come back soon."
"They should be back any minute now," Sam replied after having checked her watch. "Can I ask you a question?" Elizabeth nodded in response. "I heard some rumours flying about you and Colonel Sheppard…"
So much for discretion… She didn't know how to answer this when a gate activation saved her from that. Sam left her office running while Elizabeth followed, slower. Hearing that it was John's team that was coming back, she went to the railing just as they were emerging from the wormhole. As if sensing she was there, John looked up and found her eyes, assuring her with a look that he was fine.
Others might have noticed that look, but it'd just add to the rest of the rumour already existing about them. Maybe they weren't such a secret after all, but for the moment, she saw no point in confirming or even denying the rumours.
As he was leaving the gateroom for the infirmary, she thought about him. He was there for her throughout her whole ordeal and it wasn't the first time. Actually, as she came to think about it, he always seemed to be there whenever she needed him. He was already one of her closest friends, but she hadn't realised until a few weeks prior that maybe he was much more to her. And now that she knew…
A/N 2: OMG it's longer than I thought at first! And know what? I might actually have a short sequel in mind already. Now, whether I write it or not is another story…