Author's Note: The Year of the Spark continues! Yay! In this story most of S4 and S5 doesn't exsist, only the fact that Elizabeth was left behind and is part replicator and so sucks anyway (IMO), lol. This may lead to a multi-chapter fic later, I haven't decided yet. Special thanks to Hannah for stopping me from deleting it and being a fab beta. Enjoy!

Chance Encounter

By Steph7085

John glanced at the stall in front of him with a puzzled look on his face as he grabbed one of the strange items from the top of the pile and threw it back just as quickly. With a frustrated groan he shoved his hands in his pockets and spun around to face Rodney who had practically disappeared inside of a huge pile of gadgets; only his waist and legs were visible.

"McKay," John growled more out of boredom than anything else. His call was ignored as the Scientist disappeared further into the pile. John shook his head and began to walk forward intending to go to another stall, but the sound of a smothered yelp made him freeze and he turned just in time to see Rodney's legs flailing wildly. John smirked widely as a deep laugh came from his side.

"Do you think we should help him?" John asked Ronon, who watched the scene before him with a rather sadistic amount of glee.

"Not a chance," Ronon replied as he took a step forward to watch the spectacle more closely. Rodney's muffled shouts were increasing in intensity now, and they caught Teyla's attention. The Athosian came forward and moved into the space left by Ronon. Her head tilted to the side as a frown crossed her pretty features.

"Only Rodney can get himself into these situations," she said with a sigh before narrowing her eyes at Ronon who was now shaking the pile playfully, causing Rodney's curses to accelerate and become high pitched. John laughed out loud as Ronon's smirk grew, until he saw Teyla marching towards his position. The Satedan quickly stopped tormenting McKay and let himself be lectured.

John couldn't help but shake his head at his team mates, they certainly knew how to make off world trips interesting. He watched Ronon sigh, then move to grab McKay's legs and pull the struggling scientist out of the pile, only to be berated by a red faced scientist who knew exactly what Ronon had done. John turned around and slowly moved towards a stall on the far edge of the market. He didn't have to watch to know that Teyla was now soothing Rodney's ego and bringing general order to the threesome.

He was half way to the stall when he caught a glimpse of brown curly hair to his left. Like always his heart jumped into his throat and his stomach started doing a strange little jig that made him want to throw up, cry, or punch something until the feeling had gone away. This time though he ignored it, knowing, even though his heart screamed out in hope, that it wasn't the person he wanted it to be.

Even after all of this time - two years to be precise - he still held out hope for finding Atlantis' missing leader, his friend, and the woman who changed his life for the better. He knew it was impossible, hell, the facts and his head knew that it was very likely she would be dead, just like her clone had said, but…his gut instincts had always disagreed with that notion.

He missed her like crazy, still after all this time, and it was scenes like the one he'd just witnessed that brought his grief to the forefront of his mind. It was something 'they' would have joked about, it was something he would have used just to put a smile on her face, and it was something that would have drawn her out of her office just so she could find out more.

He ran his hand though his hair and took a deep breath, quickening his pace.

At least I'm not as bad as I was, he thought with a mental shrug, remembering the time when the sight of a familiar head of hair would have sent him running to confront the person, even though it wasn't her, and the times when every off world mission was a chance for him to search for Elizabeth all over again. Now, it was just a shot of adrenaline followed by a hollow ache of disappointment.

He neared the stall and saw the jewels, trinkets and other bits and pieces lined out neatly across the surface and was just about to reach out for one when he heard a very distinctive voice coming from one of the stalls near to him. His hand froze and his throat constricted, even as his head told him to stop being an idiot. He knew that voice.

Slowly, he turned his head and saw the head of curls again. The hair was longer than Elizabeth's had been the last time he saw her, but two years would be more than enough time for hair to grow. She was the same height, had the same figure - if only he could see her face. With his heart hammering he cleared his throat, and the woman who he was examining stilled, her spine straightening as her shoulders pulled back.

"Elizabeth," he whispered hoarsely, his eyes never leaving the back of her head. He swallowed visibly, his hands now in his pocket, as the woman looked over her shoulder, her face pale, but her eyes alive with colour and shock. Her mouth had dropped open and they both just stood there staring like idiots, in too much shock to do anything. "I…how?"

John finally found the ability to walk and stepped forward, noticing that she turned around fully to face him. She gracefully pulled her hair behind her ears before linking her hands together in front of her, her fingers lacing together tightly.

"Hello John," she stated simply, with a small smile. He finally reached her, his hand automatically reaching for hers. She let him take it and gripped his hand just as tightly as he looked her up and down. He couldn't seem to close his mouth and just continued to stare. She laughed self consciously and that brought John crashing back to reality and in an instant, so quickly that even he was shocked that it happened, he pulled her into his arms, resting his head on top of hers.
"Hi," he finally said as her hands cautiously stole around his waist, her face cushioned against his chest. "Is it really you? The real you I mean…" He felt her nod against his chest and closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of her hair, and stopping his eyes from losing control and letting the tears he felt forming loose.

"John," she whispered, pushing against his chest and pulling herself out of his arms. He let her loose, his hands now holding just beneath her shoulders. He had a thousand questions and couldn't for the life of him sort them into any order. She placed a finger on his lips when he tried to speak anyway, a resigned look on her face. "Don't," she pleaded and he instantly stilled.

He saw the conflict waging in her eyes and his brain reminded him of everything that had happened. The joy and elation he felt at having seeing her again dimmed slightly and his face fell. She saw his understanding and gave him grateful smile, her lip quivering slightly.

Technically, according to protocol, he should capture her and return her to Atlantis. He'd never been particularly good at following orders anyway. He knew what she would have to go through if she returned home. She'd be treated like a science experiment, be questioned endlessly and wouldn't be allowed to see or speak to anyone, including him.

"You have to go," John told her regretfully, his voice haggard and broken. She nodded tearfully and threw her arms around his neck, as she whispered in his ear.

"I've missed you."

"Yeah," he replied in a choked huff. "Me too, now go on get out of here, before the others come." She pulled back, kissing his cheek as she withdrew.

"Thank you John," she told him as she moved to disappear into the crowd, his grip on her arm stalled her though.

"Lizabeth…I never told you…"

"You don't have to," she interrupted knowingly, squeezing his fingers. "I know…I do too. Look after them for me."

John smirked as he nodded, a light re-appearing in his eyes that hadn't been present in two years. She narrowed her eyes at him playfully and his smirk grew. Rodney's voice shouting 'Sheppard' broke their silent communication. John let his eyes run over her again and he watched as she steeled herself against her own emotions.

"I'll see you again," she promised and as John turned to see where the team was she disappeared into the crowd. John bit his lip and breathed in deeply, schooling his face into a look of exasperation as McKay came marching up.

"Who were you talking to?" The scientist demanded, crossing his arms over his chest angrily. He didn't give John a chance to respond. "Not that I care, but whilst you were busy talking I nearly died…"

John tuned out the rest of McKay's rant, his eyes looking back over his shoulder at the point where she disappeared. He smiled.