She heard him come to the balcony, instantly recognizing the strong lazy gait, but didn't turn to look at him until he was almost standing next to her. She had seen him and his team coming through the gate about an hour before, but hadn't really had the chance to speak to any of them because they were immediately whisked off to medical checkup.
"Hey," she said, noting how his eyes were taking her in, from head to toe.
"Hey, so, what's new?"
"Let's see...," she looked up, trying to recall. "Zelenka finally managed to figure out what that lab was used for that we discovered at the lower level of the West Side. There's a new doctor on the medical team. The kitchen started to stock both vanilla and chocolate ice cream..."
"Oh, good to know," he quickly dismissed the mundane list she was reciting. "And you? Any... new developments in your personal life?" For some reason the question seemed somewhat loaded.
"John, is there something you want to ask me?"
"Well, yes," he appeared to be looking for the best way to proceed. "You know these gizmos, right?" he asked, taking his portable life sign detector from his breast pocket.
"Yes," she nodded, a benevolent smile on her lips. "I have seen them around."
"Yeah, yeah, they're real fun. Especially after Rodney figured out how to switch the color differentiation system on." He made a few quick taps on the touch screen. "For instance, would you venture a guess as to how many persons are on this balcony right now?"
"I am sure that you're going to tell me and blow my mind," Elizabeth nodded.
"Well, according to this, three." Her eyes widened slightly and she was about to say something, but he raised his hand to theatrically continue his Q&A session with himself. "And, again, according to this rather primitive piece of technology, how many of these persons seem to possess the ATA gene, indicated by the dot with a kind of light bluish hue? Although Rodney keeps telling me that it's green. I told him that I'm the pilot and that the US government has certified that I am not colorblind, to which he muttered something about WMDs and US government assurances... Anyway, getting back to the original question. How many out of the three present here carry the gene?" He made a loaded pause and this time Elizabeth didn't even try to interfere. "The answer: two."
Elizabeth took a step closer to him, her expression suddenly going from amused to soft. John pretended not to notice, keeping up his performance.
"And another funny thing...," he said, twisting the monitor in his hand and tilting his head to the right. "One of those ATA dots..." Elizabeth made a quick move to snatch the machine from his hand, but his reaction was too good and he yanked his hand out of her reach, tutting: "Hey, you don't have the gene, remember? This thing becomes useless in your hands. Sheesh, the power must have really gone to your head..."
She muttered something that sounded almost like "I kind of do..." but let him continue.
"Where was I? Right. As I was saying, one of the blue dots seems to be right on top of the white, let's call it non-ATA dot. Curious, isn't it?" he looked at her conspiratorially and raised an eyebrow.
"Yes," she nodded and her eyes were smiling now. Not the amused, slightly condescending smile she had given him before, but something infinitely softer, infinitely more intimate.
"Or maybe it's in the white dot. I mean, how's that even possible?" he asked, looking intently at the screen, at the same time taking a step closer to her. "The thing must be broken," he shook it dramatically.
"It's not," she whispered and though she was sure he had heard her, he still continued the charade.
"I think I have to take it to Rodney and see if there's anything he can do to fix it. Would be a shame if I had to toss it, with all the trouble the Ancients went through to make it and all...," he winced.
"John," she finally cut in, reaching her hand out, grabbing his jaw and forcing him to look at her. "Yes."
"Yes?" his eyebrows shot up to his hairline. She just nodded and let her hand cup his cheek. Her eyes were shining in the setting sun. And suddenly she saw how all the air left his lungs and for a moment it looked like he was going to faint, but then the widest possible grin took complete control of his face.
"It's...," was all that he managed to get out, still grinning almost idiotically. "I'm gonna..."
"I know," she replied and the smile that was fighting behind her lips broke free. She already looks like somebody's mother, he thought, and snaked his arms around her.