John rolled over and looked at the sleeping figure lying next to him. He smiled as he watched her breathing. Elizabeth was so beautiful, she always had been. He kissed her lightly on the cheek, but not waking her. He loved her more than he ever thought possible. From the first moment he had met her he felt some kind of connection. It had only taken a few weeks for him to know he loved her. He could pinpoint the exact moment. It had been as he lay in the jumper, stuck in the Stargate, dying from the Iratus bug latched to his neck. The thought of never seeing Elizabeth again had cut at him. He had almost told her how he felt, convinced that he would never get another chance. But he had survived, had gotten many more chances, and yet had never told her until last night. People had often thought that there was something between him and Teyla, but it had always been Elizabeth. Sure he loved Teyla, but rather the way one loves a sister. Elizabeth was his everything, and it turned out she loved him too.
"Stop doing that," she said, rolling over with a smile.
"Doing what?" John asked innocently.
He leaned in and kissed her. "I can't help it."
Elizabeth laughed. She moved in to kiss him when there was a knock on the door.
"Hold that thought," said John. He got out of the bed, pulled his pants on and made his way over to the door. He opened the door just a crack to reveal Rodney.
"McKay," he said.
"Morning," said Rodney. "General O'Neill wants to see us in the briefing room."
"All right, just give me a second."
"K. Hey, wait. Do you know where Elizabeth is? She's not in her room and the General wants to see her too."
John gave a small smile and opened the door the rest of the way.
"Morning Rodney," said Elizabeth from beneath the blankets.
McKay gaped at them, speechless.
John laughed. "We'll see you in a few McKay," he said. As he shut the door he could hear Rodney mutter, "Kirk."
"Hello there," said Jack somewhat cheerfully as they entered the briefing room.
"Sir?" John was confused.
"Have a seat."
John, Elizabeth, and Rodney sat down across from Jack, Sam and the rest of SG-1.
"We're reaching the 36-hour mark," Sam said. "They have another day and a half before we're technically supposed to send a bomb."
"Technically?" Rodney asked.
Jack nodded. "They would have contacted us by now if they were capable of it. Now we're not writing them off, just the opposite. We think that it's likely they've been taken captive and need rescuing."
John sat up a little straighter. "Sir, are you saying what I think you're saying?"
Jack nodded. "The Odyssey and the Apollo have been outfitted with Anti-Replicator weapons and had the ZPM's we salvaged installed. Colonel Sheppard, you and your team will be on the Apollo, SG-1 on the Odyssey. The Daedalus will rendezvous with you en route. Your job is to rescue our people and kick as much Replicator ass as possible.
"And the city?" Elizabeth asked. "Are you still going to destroy it?"
Jack looked at Sam, turning the answer over to her.
"Not if Rodney can give us another option," she said.
"Excuse me?" McKay asked.
"You found a way to defeat the Pegasus Replicators."
"That was a one-time deal! I don't have what I need to do that again. And besides, it would destroy the city."
"I have complete faith in your ability to reconcile those two things," said Jack. "You leave for Area 51, oh, now."
"Area 51!?" McKay asked as two marines entered to escort him out.
"Bye Rodney," said John with a smile.
"He'll figure something out," said Elizabeth confidently.
"Just throw a lemon into the mix and he'll have something in an hour," said John.
"You all leave in an hour," said Jack, bringing the conversation back to the serious. "The rest of your team has been contacted and will be here shortly." Jack stood up—somewhat unsteadily—and the others rose too. "Take back our people, take back the city. I don't need to tell you what will happen if you don't."
"Yes sir," they all said.
Jack leaned over and whispered something to Sam, who nodded. "Now if you'll excuse me," he said. "I have a date with Dr. Lam."
Sam helped him out of the room, leaving the others standing there in the tension. This was a very personal mission for most of them. Slowly they broke off and went their separate ways to prepare.
Elizabeth caught up with John in the hallway and sipped her hand into his. "I'm coming too," she said. "I know I'm not technically part of your team, but I want to be there."
John stopped walking and turned to her, taking her by the hands. "Are you sure that's safe? I mean after all you've been through?"
She shrugged. "I want to be there for you, for your sister, for Radek and Lorne. And who knows, I might be able to help."
John touched her cheek, cupping her face in his hand. He smiled at her. "Ok," he said, nodding.
Elizabeth glanced up and down the hall before leaning up and kissing him lightly.
John smiled at her as she pulled away. "What was that for?"
She shrugged. "For awhile."
He laughed. "I can live with that."
The offworld activation alarm went off.
"Looks like our friends are here," he said. "What do you say we go greet them?"
Elizabeth slipped her hand back into his and they proceeded down the hallway.