A/N: Several of my readers seemed to think that this story needed closure. That's what this little piece is. With a pile of sugary fluff on top.
The John that faced her once the door had slid open kept one of his eyes closed while the other was staring at her in sleepy, but blatant suspicion. He was bare-feet, wearing only a pair of checkered boxers and a ratty grey t-shirt and his hair looked as if some space-monster had spent the better part of the night dragging him along the hallways of Atlantis by it. Instead of asking her what she was doing there at this ungodly hour, he just slid his palm slowly down his face and shook his head disapprovingly, because his analytical capabilities might have not been their best a moment after being forced out of well-earned slumber, but even he could tell that if she was standing in his doorway shoeless and wearing those seriously baggy and low-hanging pink cotton pants and a flimsy tank top, there was no way she was conducting official business.
"Err… hi," she started, a little too loudly as she obviously hadn't thought this whole thing through. Startling herself, she quickly glanced up and down the empty hallway.
"Mmhmm," he mumbled, trying to convey both his apprehension and desire for her to get on with it.
"There's something…," she tried again, shuffling somewhat anxiously from foot to foot, "… I need to…"
"'Lizabeth…," his grumble wasn't so much an expression of impatience, rather a comment on the ridiculousness of the whole situation. Trying to move the conversation out of the potentially embarrassing realm of the hallway, she leaned over to get a glimpse of his quarters behind him. Seeing what she had come to look for, her eyebrows shot up in relief.
"Is that your uniform jacket hanging on the back of the chair?" she asked, pointing her long lean finger over his shoulder. John narrowed his eyes, scrutinizing the finger first and then slowly turning his upper body to follow where it pointed. His jacket was, indeed, hanging from the desk chair.
Not feeling the need to confirm the obvious, he just turned back again and winced. "Why?"
"There's just something I need to, um… check," she blurted and the next thing he knew, she had already pushed past him and made her way to the desk. There was nothing else left for him to do than let the door close and turn to see what she was doing.
By the time he figured out her goal, it was already too late to save himself. Elizabeth was handling his jacket in a very determined manner, patting down and rumpling every inch of it, until a soft crackle of bending paper reached even his ears and in a quickly descending state of panic the question "How does she know?" managed to only flutter through his brain. Meanwhile, Elizabeth had already wriggled a finger into the garment's lining.
"There's no…," John mumbled, hand reaching for is nape helplessly, "…it's not what it…" Elizabeth had hooked her fingers triumphantly around something and was dragging it out. "I wasn't…," John's desperate attempts to explain the situation away continued, even when Elizabeth was already tilting the piece of thick paper in her hands towards the light to get a better look at it. The glossy surface reflected back a soft beam of light from the night-lamp for a moment and then her movements halted, leaving her to stand motionlessly, staring at the photograph in her hand. It was of her, sitting behind her desk in her office, not working, though, head buried into her computer, but looking somewhere in the distance, at about a 45 degree angle from the camera's vantage point, a sort of wistful, satisfied smile on her face. To the lower margin of the photo John's neat hand had written "THAT'S WHY" in a black permanent marker and the corners of the rectangle were worn, as if somebody's fingers had clutched it by them over and over again. Now both of John's palms had found a way to the back of his head, fingers interlocking in helpless confusion. "I love you…?" he finally offered in a hesitating voice, as it seemed that truth was the only option left.
Not able to tear her eyes away from the photo, Elizabeth absently stated, "I know…" Then, as if suddenly becoming aware of her surroundings again, her head snapped up and her eyes caught John's, just in time for their simultaneous exclamation.
John was the first one to recover, letting his hands drop and mumbling, mostly to himself, "Well, I guess it's understandable, considering that you knew about… that." He wiggled his finger towards the incriminating evidence in her hand. Elizabeth was still simply staring at him and he could feel a ball of cold panic start to form in the pit of his stomach. "You're completely freaked out by this, aren't you?" he finally let out a very unsoldierly gasp, eyes widening. "Please don't tell me that you want me to leave Atlantis? I promise, I'll be perfectly…" This was hopeless. He couldn't have been expected to do this under these circumstances. Letting out a resigned sigh, he settled for an apologetic self-deprecating puppy-grin. "I am not awake enough right now to beg for my life, Elizabeth," he ended up snorting.
What he had failed to notice in his moments of panic and distress was that Elizabeth had actually shifted closer to him all the time and was now close enough to reach out her hand and lay her fingers on his lips, effectively ending his frantic downward spiral. When he looked up at her face in surprise, the dim light of the night-lamp allowed him to catch something in her eyes that he immediately latched on to for dear life.
"Oh," he breathed, wrapping his fingers around her wrist, the look in his eyes alone seeming to raise the temperature in the room by several degrees. "You too, huh?"
She nodded, the corners of her mouth bending into a dumbstruck grin. The next moment he had hooked the fingers of his free hand to her nape and placed his thumb across her cheekbone, tugging her face towards his and, at the same time, slipping away from her fingertips on his mouth.
"Well, that's a relief," he whispered, flashing her a quick grin before his lips caught hers. The kiss almost immediately turned sloppy and exuberant, the sudden drop of all barriers between them making them almost giddy. His left arm snaked around her waist, dragging her closer to him, while the fingers of her right hand were getting personally acquainted with the soft mess of his hair. Finally breaking apart for air, he leaned his forehead against hers. After a few deep breaths he witnessed her trying to stifle a yawn and fail miserably.
"I'm sorry…," she glanced up at his eyes and smiled bashfully. He chuckled softly, puckering his lips to give a light kiss on the tip of her nose, then straightened and pulled her into a tight embrace, letting his fingers slip into her hair to massage her scalp gently.
"We're not really awake enough for this either, are we?" she could feel him asking, his voice shimmering slightly with contentment and laughter.
"It's been a long…," she tried to explain, getting stuck in determining the time period and distracted by the collar of his t-shirt beckoning enticingly close to her lips.
"… couple of years," he finished for her.
"Yeah," she had to agree. Laughing quietly, she tried to raise her head from his shoulder and almost couldn't pull it off, feeling the sweet tingling warmth of exhaustion running through her limbs. "I'd hate to leave just as it was getting interesting, but…," she tried to keep the inevitable light, but a regretful sigh still managed to slip past her.
"Well, coincidentally…," John began, but was deterred by a big yawn of his own. After having stifled it as quickly as possible, he turned her around in his arms, supporting his chin gently on her shoulder. "I was just about to offer you the best sleep in two galaxies," he said, and started to nudge her towards the bed.
"John, that has got to be one of the narrowest beds in Atlantis," she gave an amused half-hearted protest, feeling his Adam's apple jump against the back of her shoulder as he chuckled.
"As I was saying – the best sleep. Closely overseen by yours truly."
Elizabeth yanked her head to the side incredulously, as if unable to believe his sudden cockiness. He used the opportune angle to surprise her with a quick deep kiss and this added distraction to maneuver them both swiftly into the bed.
"So far, so good," Elizabeth mumbled, shifting herself into a more comfortable position. "I'm still going to have to sneak out of here before the morning rush hour…"
"Shhh," she could feel him weakly admonishing into her hair. "Sleep…"
Their breathing grew steadily deeper and heavier, but just a moment before he managed to completely drop off, he felt her stir in his arms.
"'Lizabeth?" The time the deep growl came in question form.
"Sorry," her voice was already gravelly from sleep. "I forgot."
"Mwha…?" she felt his hot breath in her hair again.
"I love you too. I forgot to say that before."
"Oh," he pulled his head back slightly, trying to get her hair out of his mouth, "right, thanks, now we're even…"
"Well, if you're going be that way about it…," she tried to feign apprehension, but sleep made it all come out in passionless deep monotone.
Settling back to spoon her comfortably, John remembered what had puzzled him most about the way the whole scene had played out. "How did you know about that picture, anyway?"
"My dad…" she replied, barely able to move her lips.
"I'm sorry, I must have dozed off," he sounded genuinely confused. "For a moment there, I thought I heard you say 'my dad'…"
"Nn't was m'dad…," she said in one long sleepy sigh. "Told me… y'look at my mouth… eyes… college football… an'ave picture…" And with that she was truly asleep.
Mumbling, "I'm in love with a crazy woman… but it's all good," he followed her into slumber.