Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis, and do not otherwise claim ownership. I am writing this fic for entertainment, not monetary gain.
Summary: She wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry. She wanted to jump up and down, and shout with joy. She wanted to stomp her foot in frustration that John would choose a time when she felt so rotten to go all romantic on her. And wasn't that just like the man? JohnElizabeth
Spoilers: Journey to Forever, by fyd818
Pairings: John/Elizabeth (Sparky), a little Ronon/Teyla (Spanky)
Timeline: Post-Journey to Forever; pre-Shattered
Author: Mama Jo
Author's Note: Once more, a big thank you goes to the YotS people for letting me do this. This is a very pivotal time in John and Elizabeth's relationship, and I had a very, very good time writing this fic. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much. Thank you for checking this out, I hope you enjoy! --Mama Jo
"Nobody can know about this, guys. Nobody. Not McKay, not Elizabeth. Especially not Elizabeth."
It had been just a week since he'd spoken those words to Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex, his eyes shifting intently from one equally serious face to the other. Now, alone in the privacy of his quarters, Lt. Col. John Sheppard stood looking down at the results of their efforts on his behalf. He felt his jaw and his gut both tighten.
It was time for him to act.
If he could find the courage.
The whole universe – well, at least the Pegasus galaxy part of it -- was against him. It wasn't that he hadn't had any time alone with Elizabeth in the past five days. But almost all of it had been very late at night in her office as they did their usual recap of the day, before tiredly separating to snatch a few hours' sleep. Daytimes had proven equally impossible. The handful of times he'd managed to isolate her, something always happened to demand the attention of one, or the other, or both of them.
Frustrating didn't even begin to describe it. John's right hand clenched into a fist inside his pocket as he paused inside the mess hall door. And today – true to form, today hadn't been any better. The morning briefing occupied more of the morning than normal, due to ongoing issues left over from the Wraith's most recent attempt to destroy Atlantis. Then, just before lunch, Major Jordan's team returned ahead of schedule due to Corporal Ruiz getting nipped by a slightly venomous, carnivorous plant. Fortunately, the young woman was more likely to die from embarrassment over the incident rather than from the toxin itself. He was genuinely relieved about that. Still, though, it meant another chunk of another day gone.
John swept the mostly empty mess hall with a quick look. The steam table was, of course, closed down, although a selection of wrapped sandwiches and salads, along with fruit, had been left out for the inevitable latecomers – which sometimes included a certain Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Not today: Either she'd already eaten and gone, or, more probably, stayed in her office and skipped lunch altogether.
He turned back into the corridor, without any appetite of his own. Maybe, he thought with a kind of grim, twisted humor, he should just order a team of Marines to take her into custody and meet him in the high-security lockup. That was about the only place on Atlantis where he could be free of any interruptions—
—And inspiration struck, halting him for half a second mid-stride. He'd have to make a quick detour first. But then— John pivoted swiftly on his heel, determination burning along every vein and nerve. He knew exactly what to do, and how to do it.
Nothing, nothing, would stop him this time.
From the queasy ache in her empty stomach and the pounding behind her forehead, Elizabeth Weir knew her blood sugar had to be somewhere down around her toenails. She could always call to have something brought up to her, of course; surely that would only be one of the smaller perks of her position as the de facto governor of Atlantis. But she instinctively shied away from anything that could be interpreted, however wrongly, as a misuse of power.
And besides, at this point, she doubted it would stay down anyway.
Drs. Rodney McKay and Radek Zelenka, both very red-faced and breathing heavily, glared at each other down the length of her desk. Across from her— Elizabeth struggled and failed to repress the uncharitable thought —across from her sat a woman who, despite her white lab coat, looked as if she should be slinging hash in some rundown truck stop; or even driving one of said trucks herself.
The woman surged suddenly to her feet, raised her fists over her head, and shook them. "Ah want to go ho-ome to Earth, an' Ah want to go now!" she wailed. "Ah jist can't sta-yand all the stress, an' th' yellin' an' th' bickerin'!"
Good heavens, Elizabeth thought, feeling more than a little stunned at the incongruity of that voice coming from that mouth, she sounds like that Melanie woman in Gone with the Wind!
Focus: she had to focus. Aloud, she said in her most soothing voice, "Dr. Birchfield, I cannot begin to tell you how very sorry I am to hear that you feel that way. Please, be seated again." She divided a stern look equally between the two male scientists. "I must also say I am very disappointed the situation has evidently become so severe you feel leaving Atlantis is your only recourse." She folded her hands with great deliberation on the desktop, and chose her next words carefully. "Technically, it is true your appointment is to Dr. Zelenka's department, and under ordinary circumstances you would receive your assignments from and report back to him. But I'm sure you've realized by now that very little about living and working on Atlantis comes under the heading 'ordinary.' In times of emergency, Dr. McKay, as chief scientist, must have the authority to utilize the abilities of every scientist in every department for the greater good of this expedition--"
She broke off as Colonel Sheppard abruptly and unexpectedly sauntered into her office, closely trailed by an intimidatingly solemn Ronon Dex. "Afternoon, folks," he drawled. Passing behind Zelenka, he came around her desk and stopped beside her. Before she could regroup her scattered thoughts, he took hold of her right arm just above her elbow, drawing her irresistibly to her feet. "Apologies, and all that, but Dr. Weir has somewhere else she has to be right now."
Halfway to the door, Elizabeth managed to hang back a little and find her voice. "John, what is this about? I don't—"
John looked down at her, hazel eyes hypnotically intense, his lips pulled to one side in that lopsided grin of his. "I just need you to come with me for a little bit, Elizabeth. In the meantime," he cast a glance backward as he urged her out into the corridor and turned right; she looked over her own shoulder to see his Satedan teammate halt in the doorway behind them, effectively blocking it as he faced inward, "I'm sure Ronon can handle whatever was going on back there. He's very good at cutting to the chase."
Bemused, Elizabeth allowed John to steer her into the transporter closest to her office. Perhaps because he was ordinarily – that word again! – so laidback and low-key, she sometimes forgot how overwhelmingly compelling the person living inside that lean body really was. But as she'd just gotten through telling Dr. Birchfield: Just as there was nothing ordinary about life on Atlantis, neither was there anything ordinary about the city's military commander.
It wasn't until they exited into the jumper bay that Elizabeth finally mustered enough willpower to plant her feet in a serious effort to resist. "Colonel Sheppard," she said, intending to sound severe, but mostly sounding breathless, "I demand to know what it is you think you are doing. I was in the middle of dealing with a very serious, very delicate situation back there, and I am not taking another step until you give me a reasonable explanation for your actions."
Taking his hand from her arm, John looked down at her for a long second or two, his grin only deepening. He pulled a jumper remote from his pocket, and "Okay," he said amiably. With startling swiftness, he wrapped one arm around her shoulders as the other swept her legs out from under her. Despite her reflexive squirm of protest, he easily carried her up the lowered ramp of Jumper One and into the front of the ship, using the remote to close the hatch as soon as they'd cleared it.
By the time John set Elizabeth down in the copilot's seat, she'd gone stiff and silent. He settled into his own place, the little ship obediently coming to life for him. He tapped the communications console at the same time he sent a command to the jumper bay's roof, ordering it to retract. "Tower Control, this is Jumper One," he said calmly. "I'm going out for a little spin -- leave a light on for me."
"Roger that, Colonel Sheppard," the standard reply came back, with no mention of a missing expedition leader: very good. "Have a good flight."
John sent the jumper climbing rapidly into the cloudless afternoon sky and beyond, the simple exhilaration of flight intensifying the emotional high he already was riding. He did take a single quick sideways glance at Elizabeth just after they cleared the atmosphere. She sat locked in a forbidding posture: arms folded tightly over her midriff, eyes closed, face tautly blank. He refused to second guess himself, though. He'd done what he had to do, whether she agreed with it or not.
After establishing a geosynchronous orbit over Atlantis and activating the autopilot, he stood, swiveled Elizabeth's seat one hundred eighty degrees to face the jumpseat behind her, and sat down.
Her eyelids sprang open. She pinned him with a basilisk stare. "I'm still waiting for that explanation, Colonel," she said coldly.
John shrugged slightly. His eyes drifted to the left side of her face. Reaching out, he gently plucked her headset from her head and tossed it backward over his shoulder, his own quickly sailing after it. "I need to talk to you."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "And you had to kidnap me to do that?"
"It seemed that way." Now he'd successfully carried out the action part of his plan, John sensed himself tightening up inside, the old discomfort scrabbling to take control of his vocal cords. He carefully drew a breath past it "It's just that – too much – time – was slipping away."
The cold anger abruptly left her expression on the word. Slowly, she unfolded her arms and placed them on the armrests of her seat. She kept her eyes locked on his, but the look in them was softer now, questioning.
"Elizabeth, I know we both have duties and responsibilities, important ones, and there'll be occasions when we'll have to put them first, for the good of the people who look to us for leadership. But sometimes," he paused to search for the best way to get his meaning across, "sometimes it's too easy to let the small stuff push its way into seeming just as urgent." He had to struggle, but somehow he got the next words out. "And that's what I saw happening with us."
She suddenly looked stricken. "Are you saying. . ." Her voice trailed off as her gaze focused beyond him. After a moment, she said quietly, "Yes, you are. And yes, I have been. But, John, it's barely been a month since—"
"And it's a month we'll never get back," he interrupted her, almost fiercely. "Look, Elizabeth, I'm not blaming you. I got tangled up in the small stuff, too. But I've already wasted too much time, first in trying to deny how I really feel about you, then in waiting for our schedules to clear enough for some moonlight-and-roses moment to happen."
Suddenly, John couldn't sit still any longer. Standing quickly, he turned and took two rapid strides toward the back of the ship; halted in the doorway to the rear compartment, and swung back around to face her again. "I'm not good at the moonlight-and-roses thing. But I love you, Elizabeth," he said. "I didn't say that soon enough, and I'll always regret it. I haven't said it often enough since. I don't think I'll ever be able to say it, or try to show you, enough." Driven by the emotions churning within him, he crossed the small cockpit to stand in front of her. Urgency quivered through him, his stomach muscles tightening unconsciously against it.
"I love you," he repeated, gazing down into her beautiful, upturned face. "I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life cherishing you, and protecting you, and showing you how deeply I will always love you. So I kidnapped you today," without taking his eyes off hers, he went to one knee as he reached into his shirt pocket and withdrew the ring that had been resting against his heart, "to ask if you, Elizabeth Weir, would do me the very great honor of becoming my wife."
The entire universe, the very flow of time itself, seemed to stop, suspending her between one heartbeat, one breath, and the next. All her existence drew down to this moment, centering on the man kneeling at her feet, and the ring he held extended toward her.
Elizabeth had never seen anything like it. Set in silver, the central gemstone burned with all the internal fire of an opal, although it was the deep, dark red of a ruby, her favorite color. Cupping it on either side, like narrow, curving leaves, apple green jade tapered to slender lines inset into the metal of the band. Somehow, she just knew it had to have come from somewhere here in the Pegasus galaxy. She didn't realize she'd raised her hands to her face until she felt her icy fingers pressing against her pounding forehead.
She wanted to laugh.
She wanted to cry.
She wanted to jump up and down, and shout with joy.
She wanted to stomp her foot in frustration that John would choose a time when she felt so rotten to go all romantic on her.
—And wasn't that just like the man?
"It's moonlight-and-roses enough for me," she managed to whisper. Her lips curved into a shaky smile as she held out her left hand to the man with whom she wanted to share all the days of her future., so he could slide his ring onto her finger. "Yes, my dearest, darling John. For now, and forever – yes!"