Because I Need You by AndromedaMarine

John ran a hand through his messy black hair and sighed. He'd blown it again, almost hitting the bull's eye but veering off in hesitation at the last second. The breeze that wafted over his face from the balcony soothed his flushed skin. He was angry. Embarrassed. He knew what he should have done, yet it was what he didn't do that mattered. He leaned over the railing and stared down at the swirling waters below; wondering what would happen if he threw himself over. It wasn't the first time he'd imagined such things, but it was just imagining. He didn't want to die, and he knew it. Where would Atlantis be if he was dead? Where would she be?

The balcony door swished open. She'd found him. He didn't acknowledge her. He didn't want to face her after he'd run away from her, embarrassed. "John," she said softly, slowly approaching him. "What's wrong?"

He glanced at her and resumed staring at the ocean. "Nothing," he grunted.

"I know that's not true," she rebutted, standing at a modest distance next to him. "Tell me. I promise I'll only laugh a little and I won't tell Rodney anything." She smiled, cocking her head at him. "Please? You were acting strange a few hours ago and I'm kind of worried."

"Don't want to go," he said.

Elizabeth frowned. "Go where? Off-world?"

John shook his head. "IOA reassigned me," he whispered as breath caught.

The woman's jaw dropped and she couldn't say anything for a few moments. John's hazel eyes met her green ones. "John, I..."

"They didn't ask you because they knew you'd fight to keep me here." He took a deep breath, warding off the tears that threatened to show themselves.

"Where?" she breathed.

John was quiet. "A planet in Milky Way called Pala by the natives. According to Woolsey it's the Omega site for Earth and they need a military commander. I guess once Mitchell got promoted he took over SGC and Sam went to DC with O'Neill. I don't want to go."

Elizabeth crossed her arms and looked out over the planet. "We've been here for five years and not once has the IOA forcefully taken a military member of the expedition. Why do you think that is?" she asked, not looking at him.

John shook his head. "I don't know. What does that have to do with my reassignment?"

"Woolsey is no longer in charge of the IOA sector in the SGC. He was promoted a month ago and now he has no direct control over Atlantis. A newbie does. He's the one who is reassigning you. Woolsey never took military members because he was aware of the threat that this galaxy poses to Earth. He knew that we needed every able-bodied man available to be transferred here to fight against the Wraith. If this new agent knew anything about Pegasus he wouldn't have reassigned you because he'd know I need you here. And if your behavior a few hours ago has anything to do with the reassignment I'm sure that the words 'I need you here' can be taken in more than one way."

John simply stared at her.

"When are you scheduled to go back?"

"Sixty days."

Elizabeth shifted so her upper arm was touching his. "Well, then I'll just have to go back for you and tell them I'm keeping you here." She smiled.

The full-bird straightened. "I'm sorry – why?"

"Because Atlantis is your home," she said casually. John blinked. "Because nobody will ever handle Atlantis with the precision you do. Because you're at the top of your field. Because the IOA only has jurisdiction because the Stargate just happens to extend out here. Because Atlantis is becoming a separate state, or colony. The IOA can't control us fully, John. If they really, really wanted you on Pala or wherever the hell planet in Milky Way they'd have to go through the President, Generals Hammond, Landry, O'Neill, and Mitchell, Colonel Carter, Dr. Jackson, and then me. I'd fight because I need you." She smiled again. "But I didn't hear anything about it and if you really were reassigned I'd be the one telling you. As far as I'm concerned you're not going anywhere."

John didn't say anything. He simply pulled her into a tight embrace, burying his head into the hollow of her neck. "Thank you."

After a few moments he released her. "I must say, I am curious – why don't you want to go?"

John gave her a small grin. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, close to her mouth. "Because I need you." He repeated the kiss on her other cheek. "Because if I left Atlantis I'd never stop thinking about you." He kissed her on the lips, lingering for as long as he could before oxygen became an issue and even then he didn't want to pull away from her. "Because I love you."