Title: Things To Do in Atlantis at 4am
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG-13ish?
Spoilers: Um... Atlantis happened?
Notes: Dumb crack written for Little Red. Because she's evil and pervasive. Also, blame Miera. She wouldn't believe me that I write crap.

Summary: Table of Iniquity, turn, turn, turn, tell us the lesson that we should learn! Lesson number seven: Paperwork and sleep deprivation never mix well. Goodnight, everybody!

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"What's your calm down thought?"

It was late. Very, very late. The kind of late that only college students, bakers, parents, and - apparently - co-commanders of the Atlantis mission ever experienced. John sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face and tried to focus on whatever inane thing Elizabeth was asking about now.

Not that Elizabeth was ever really inane, but after 3am, she did tend to get a little loopy. After 3am, her thought processes started resembling his ex-wife's normal ones; namely, they made no sense and left him waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"What?"

Elizabeth opened the one eye not smushed into their normal cafeteria table and, somehow, managed to quirk an eyebrow. John had always been slightly fascinated by her facial muscles. They were so weird.

"I'm speaking English."

"Meh," he grunted and leaned a little harder on his fist. "Clarification?"

Elizabeth snickered and closed her eye again, rocking her head a little on the table. She'd gone face down into a stack of power reports ten minutes ago and he was so going to laugh if she had ink all over her face when she finally sat up.

"Your calm-down thought. What you think about when you don't want to have an erection anymore."

Okay, that woke him up.

"What!?" The voice break was entirely unintentional. Reasonable, but unintentional.

Elizabeth had a very loud giggle. It usually started low and ended with a lot of squeaky breaths that ended when she started snorting. He'd only managed to get her snorting once or twice over the last year that they'd been doing these weird two to three times monthly all-nighters. It was a sign of honor or pride or something something. She wasn't snorting yet, but there were squeaky breaths.

John just sighed and rolled his eyes. "You are such a brat."

"Joooooooooooooohn," she wheedled, finally pulling her face up off the table, mirroring his earlier pose by shoving one fist under her chin. "You know you want to tell me. I'll tell you mine."

John blinked. "You will not. You still haven't told me your greatest fear from the last time we played this game-"

"I can't believe you're afraid of chickens!"

"-and I'm not falling for that again." John glared and settled back on his own fist.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and reached over to poke his nose. Yet another strange, post 3am habit. The first time she'd done it had been the first time he'd ever gotten her snorting. One day, he was going to have a long conversation with her about how he'd not been placed on Atlantis for her own personal amusement and mocking. She'd probably roll her eyes again.

"Why do you even want to know?"

"Meh," she shrugged. "I was reading a book Kate lent me earlier. The hero - and I use that term loosely - kept thinking about one of his old professor's in a bikini to try and make his dick go down."

John snorted. "And you just had to know if mine was the same?"

"Call it a sociological experiment."

"I don't think that would work. All my old teachers were hot."

Elizabeth raised her eyebrow, smirking evilly. "Even the guy ones?"

John smirked back. "Oh, baby."

"And you're trying to distract me."

Seriously, having conversations with the woman was like a constant, very subtle interrogation. If he had even an ounce of sense, he'd stop agreeing to do paperwork with her late at night. But then, if he stopped doing late night paperwork with her, he'd miss out on fascinating conversations like this.

"Do you absolutely swear, um.." He thought quickly, trying to come up with something suitably important. "On your Thursday poker game, that you'll tell me your cool down thought?"

"Mutually assured destruction?"

"You've got to stop reading those books and learning things."

The whack to the shoulder was expected and not all that hard. It always cracked him up at how violent she'd gotten in the last few months. The woman who'd fished him out of the Ancients' chair back in Antarctica and given him the half-excited, half-annoyed dressing down was very much not the woman asking him about his cool-down thought at 4am in the middle of an alien ocean.

Or maybe she was. At least he knew about it now. Which was kinda great because despite the loopiness and weird questions, the woman was damn cute, even with her hair sticking up like that.

"Whatever, fine. My cool down thought is puppies."

He blinked. "Puppies?"

"What?" Her grin was wicked in the dim light of the empty room. "Puppies are decidedly unsexy. Also, thinking sexy thoughts while thinking about puppies is creepy."

Huh, that made sense. "Huh, that makes sense."

"Your turn!"

"Not fair!"

More squeaky giggles and another shoulder punch followed. "You do think of something dirty. Is it Rodney? In a dress?"

John made a face. "No, but thank you, I have a new cool down thought."

"Telllll me!" He waited as Elizabeth tried to force her face into some kind of pout; a nearly impossible feat given the continuing giggles.

He stuck out his tongue at her, hoping for a snort. "Fine, fine, you're right, it's Rodney in a dress. A short one."

"It is not!" Absently, Elizabeth reached over and stole his water cup before taking a long swig. "You just don't want to tell me because it's embarrassing."

"Um, duh."

"I'll tell you what stupid thing I'm most afraid of."

Enjoying this now, John leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms up to clasp his hands behind his head. He'd never actually gotten Elizabeth to wheedle him before. It was a strange experience, if funny. "Tell me first, otherwise no dice."

This time, the pout seemed more real.

"Fine, fine." Elizabeth crossed her arms, still glaring. "Small birds."

He blinked at her, incredulous. "And you're giving me crap about the chickens?"

"Chickens aren't small. Finches really freak me out."

"Finches are the size of my thumb."

"Weird!" Elizabeth smacked a fist on the table, causing her pile of reports to slide sideways. "Anyway, spill."

"Why do you even want to know?" He tried.

"Because you don't want to tell me." Arms still crossed, Elizabeth tilted her head and raised her eyebrow. It was the Death look she usually aimed at him after a mission. Unfortunately, it was probably the most effective thing she had in her arsenal.

"Boot camp."

Then she was blinking. "What?"

"Boot camp. My cool down thoughts are about boot camp. My lead instructor was this six foot four black guy from the Southside of Chicago. He had us running laps and pulling drills until well after curfew and enjoyed yelling at us for every tiny little error." John sighed and scrubbed the back of his neck again.

"So when you-"

"Major Murphy is quite the mood killer."

"Ahh. Wait, how is that embarrassing?"

"It's not."

"You just want another punch in the arm, don't you?" Elizabeth dropped her arms and shook her head. Still shaking her head, she pushed her chair back and got to her feet. "On that note, we have to be awake in three hours for a briefing."

John clambered up out of his chair, snagging the empty cups and water pitcher. They'd stopped with the coffee hours ago. "Carson really hates us, doesn't he?"

"Mmmm." Elizabeth nodded, letting him pass her to set everything on the waiting conveyor belt before starting to gather up their papers. "I think he's trying to make a point about sleep deprivation, but I'm never awake enough to ask him about it at the time."

"Damn scientists," John commiserated, leaning down across her to snag his straightened pile, immediately cursing his stupid, stupid tired brain. And her stupid, stupid girly smell and girly perfume. "Dunno why we brought them, honestly."

Elizabeth's hand was warm on his shoulder, fingers fluttering lightly at the edge of where his t-shirt ended near his neck. It was probably the late hour and the sleepiness that dropped her tone into the dusky, intimate register that suddenly and necessarily had Major Murphy mentally screaming at him. "Mmm. Good night, John. See you in the morning."

With a last flutter of fingers and an only slightly evil smile, she left the mess hall.

-fin-