The Wrong FaceShe stirs awake when she hears a crashing sound outside her room and her mind immediately goes to the possibility that something has gone wrong. Heart beating frantically, she climbs out of bed, pulls on a jacket and makes it to the doorway.
"John?" she whispers into the darkness.
No one answers.
She creeps forwards, staying close the walls. It doesn't take her long to reach the doorway and when she peers out, she sees him.
Her heart plummets and once again she realises she's back home. Atlantis is worlds away, universes away, in fact. She swallows back the nostalgia and forces herself to move forwards.
"Simon," she tries his name.
It sounds wrong. She shouldn't be saying his name.
John, she tries silently. The memory of his face floats into her mind and she smiles.
"Elizabeth," Simon soothes, reaching out a hand to stroke her hair. He thinks the smile is for him. "Go back to sleep. I'm sorry I woke you."
Nodding, she pulls at her bottom lip with her teeth.
She wants John to be there more than she's ever wanted anything before.
She's seeing the wrong face again.
She wakes up the next morning, her cheeks sticky with dried tears. Green eyes take in her surroundings and her brow furrows in confusion.
She's in her quarters at Atlantis and Simon in nowhere to be seen.
Without a second thought, she gets out of bed and races to the door, pulling it open. The familiar hall spreads before her, warm and inviting. She stares at it.
She turns when she hears John and when she notices the amused, but fond expression on his face, realises she's still wearing her pyjamas.
"John," she greets him. She wraps her arms around her middle.
"Are you okay?" he asks. He stops by her side and leans on the frame of her door, looking intently at her.
"I…uh…" she begins, "I don't know."
She tears her eyes away from him and scans the hall properly, taking every detail in that she possibly can: the columns rising up to the ceiling and beyond, the lights, switched off now that there is daylight to light up the city, the sleek and shiny walls.
"I had a nightmare," she tells John finally, hanging her head.
She thinks he'll want to make it better, to fix her, and that'll mean a trip down to the infirmary or a house call from the doc, so the words are spoken cautiously.
He surprises her and takes things in a new direction. "Want to talk about it?"
For a moment, she stares at him.
He wants to talk to her about her nightmare?
She shrugs and waves him into her quarters. "Sure," she agrees.
She follows John inside, closing the door behind them. Immediately, she retrieves a nightgown and slips it on. When she tries to tie it up at the front, her shaking hands fail her and John steps in to do it for her.
She mutters, "thank you" and ignores the way her skin tingles under his touch when he accidentally brushes her arm once he's done.
"You should sit down," John says, nodding towards the bed. "You're shaking like a leaf!"
She nods mutely and makes her way to the bed; she's grateful for the support it offers when she practically collapses onto it.
"Okay?" he asks.
"Okay," she nods.
John takes a seat beside her and she's very aware of their thighs touching through the thin silk of her gown and pyjama pants and his jeans.
"So, this nightmare," he begins. "What happened?"
She bites at her lower lip, contemplating how to explain.
John offers her an encouraging smile.
"I woke up – in the nightmare, I mean – and I was back on Earth. Simon was there," she says. Her voice breaks and she stumbles over the next words. "And you…well, you weren't."
Studying her for a moment, John reaches for her and pulls her into a hug. "I'm here now," he comforts her. "I'm here now."
Before she can help it, she's giving in to the tears that she's wanted to shed since she woke up, John's t-shirt clutched tightly between her fingers.
She wakes up to darkness and wonders briefly what happened. The last thing she remembers is breaking down in John's arms, tears making their way down her face to soak his shirt.
She sits up.
"John?" she says quietly, straining her eyes.
"It's me, Elizabeth," another voice soothes. "It's Simon."
Her eyes widen.
"Simon?" she repeats.
"Yeah, Liz," he confirms. "Simon."
Desperation clawing at her, she shakes her head and moves as quickly as she can from the other figure in the room.
"No. No, no, no, no. You can't be. I was just at Atlantis. You're not supposed to be here. I'm not supposed to…" she drifts off and continues to back away, making it successfully to the door and then the hallway, the front door and finally, freedom.
She tears down the street, barefoot, ignoring the stabs of pain shooting through her body as she runs over rocks and jagged pieces of debris.
She keeps running, running, running…
She can't stop moving, won't stop moving…
"Elizabeth! It's me, John!"
She comes to an abrupt stop and frantically searches her surroundings for any sign of him.
"Elizabeth," he says again.
The vague outline of a man appears and she hurries towards it. Behind her, she can hear Simon shouting for her to come back.
"John!" she calls.
She snaps awake and finds herself staring into his concerned eyes.
"Whoa," John says as she buries her head in his chest. "That sounds like it was some nightmare!"
She takes a moment to pull herself together and then nods. "Yeah."
"The same?" John asks.
She shakes her head. "I woke up again and Simon was there, so I ran until I found you." She runs her tongue over her lips as he looks on, thoughtfully.
"Do you have any idea what the dream is telling you?" he asks her, in a tone that suggests he does.
"Well, I know that Atlantis has become my home more so than Earth ever was," she says slowly. "And Simon…I don't love him. I keep running away from him to find…you?"
She stares at him, confused. "That doesn't make any sense."
"I think it does," John replies, matter-of-factly.
"What," Elizabeth teases. "Have you suddenly become an expert on dreams?"
He smiles. "No, but I think sometimes that it's not until you ask someone on the outside about a dream that you can actually understand it."
She shrugs. "Well then, my 'someone on the outside', what do you think it means?"
John pauses and she can see how awkward he is. It radiates off of him like steam out of a boiling kettle.
Still, he doesn't speak.
"I really don't know what it means," she tells him.
He gives her a cryptic smile. "Think about what you last said. You keep running from Simon to find me."
She does and it is a few seconds later that she realises what her dreams have been trying to tell her.
"Oh," she says. "I…I'm sorry. I didn't know. I-"
John presses a kiss to her forehead and she shuts up.
"Don't worry," he whispers. "I feel the same way."