John watched from the doorway, as her slender fingers glided over the controls. The light in the room dimmed slowly and all but one of the doors - the one he was standing in - enclosed her in the circular room. She stepped up onto the podium, as the near pitch-black room started to sparkle with tiny balls of light. Stepping in, he willed the final door to close them in darkness, the only light being the soft glow of the artificial stars overhead as he watched her lower herself to sit with her legs crossed, in the centre of the podium.
"You know, there is a sky outside for stargazing." He smirked because her eyes were so full of wonder, staring up at the constellations he faintly recognised.
"It's not the same." She whispered.
"This planet's got a couple of extra moons, what's not to love?" He moved to sit down beside her, leaning back with his hands pressed into the floor and his feet out in front of him.
She glanced at him and smiled faintly, before looking back up at the stars. "This is the last thing I remember."
John studied her face for a moment, with his brow furrowed, before he hesitantly turned his eyes up to see. His lips parted to speak, as his finger pointed towards a constellation that he remembered. But he couldn't will words to leave his lips.
"Odysseus." She said whistfully and John's lips turned up a little on the side as he watched her smile. "Oh Goddess of Inspiration, let me sing of wily Odysseus, that master of schemes!" She quoted, and he couldn't help but watch as the stars glistened in her eyes.
"They're the stars that we could see from Lantea, aren't they?" He questioned, meeting her eye and she shuffled herself until she was sitting beside him, her shoulder pressed against his shoulder as she pointed to the ceiling.
"Do you remember, Hephaestus?" He could feel her breath against the side of his neck and for a moment, the sensation threatened his ability to speak.
"No." He choked and he could see her smile out of the corner of his eye.
"He was a craftsman. Can you see his tools?" She pointed, but for the life of him, all John could see was stars. "He built the grand palaces of Mount Olympus and the armour of Achillies at the battle of Troy-"
John grinned. "I saw that movie, it was the one with Brad Pitt in a skirt, right?"
She chuckled. John watched her watch the stars, as her features softened and her eyes drooped. "They say he created woman too. He made Pandora at the command of Zeus as a punishment - "
John turned to meet her eyes, knowing that even as she spoke, her words were riddled with metaphor and the resounding ache of her underlying fears. "- her dowry was a jar, or some say a box."
"I've heard this story." John's voice was thick and he could feel a heat rising up the back of his neck.
"All the evils of the world were released when she opened it."
"What, and you think that's what we've done?" He suddenly blurted, dropping the flowery metaphor because he'd never been too good with greek mythology.
To his surprise, she didn't even flinch at the change. "What if it's true, John? What if i'm just a Pandora's box, waiting to unleash pain and suffering on everything I care about," She looked into his eyes and he could see a soft glistening of unshed tears in their green depths. "-on everyone I love?"
Reaching out across the dark space between them, John took her small hand into his. He ran his fingers across her knuckles and he smiled when she wrapped her fingers around his.
"Sometimes I can feel them, it tingles." She whispered, twisting her hand in his as microscopic nanites coursed through her blood, utterly unaware. "Sometimes it feels like they're just waiting to take control of me again."
"We brought you back Elizabeth. You're not going anywhere."
"You can't promise that."
Gently, John raised his free hand to rest it against her cheek, leaning closer to her with a warm smile. "You're forgetting the best part of the story."
"And what's that?" Her voice was barely audible. Her eyes were set on his lips as he licked them, inches away from her own.
"That there was something left in the jar." John closed the gap between them, pressing his lips to hers softly, slowly. He heard her make a small sound, pressing her lips to his harder and parting them slightly to let in the taste of him for the first time. She hadn't tasted anything in so long and the faint flavour of coffee mixed with the velvet of his lips, had her grasping for some form of reference to the moment. But in her memory she could find nothing but a moment where she - in her body but not herself - had seen but not felt this man's strength wrapped around her, as his lips had tasted her.
With a gasp his lips were gone and feeling began to return to the rest of her body. His arms had found their way to her waist and one hand was in her hair.
She realised that her own hands were gripping his face firmly but not violently and she smiled as she felt his breath against her swollen mouth.
And as his mirth reached his eyes, he whispered. "Hope."