Chapter nine

Elizabeth Weir raised head at the sound of light tapping. Sheppard propped on the door frame waved at her with a grin. "Hi Lizbeth. Are you busy?" She smiled back at him and turned her tablet so he could see half-finished Solitaire.

"As you can see – not really. Come on in, John." Colonel ambled inside and made himself comfortable on the edge of the desk. She leaned back and gave him a questioning look. "What brings you to my humble abode?"

"Couple of things. First of all i want to thank you for letting me return to full duty so soon." Elizabeth nodded with a smile.

"Well, even Carson couldn't find an excuse to keep you locked in Atlantis any longer." She definitely was not going to tell him about visit of desperated Major Lorne, who barged into her meeting with Carson and practically begged them to send his suddenly anal-retentive boss out of the city. As it turned out stuck on light duty and terminally bored John decided to remind his subordinates about proper security procedures concerning storing and safeguarding of specimens of local fauna and flora. After three days of constant harassment Lorne looked ready to go postal, and for his sake Carson agreed to clear Colonel for full duty earlier.

"Yeah." Sheppard grinned broadly. "I cant wait for tomorrow morning. Will be nice to stretch my legs – even if it is just a 'nerd watch' mission."

Elizabeth chuckled at his eagerness. "And your other reasons?" Sheppard waggled his eyebrows at her.

"Why, i wanted to see you of course. You didnt come to visit me in infirmary, so i've came to ask why." His tone was playful, but she could see dissapointment hidden deep in hazel eyes, and wanted to kick herself. She was in the infirmary, of course – late in the night when he, and almost everyone else were asleep. Even then she was too aware of night nurse presence to do anything she really wanted to – wake him, kiss him senseless...and finally whack him over the head for scaring her like that. Instead she decided to play it safe – and in doing so she hurt his feelings.

"Well. Colonel." She said hiding her anxiety behind playful smile of her own. "What would your soldiers say at the sight of Atlantis leader kissing their commanding officer's boo-boo's?"

"That i have an excellent taste and am making real progress?" His bold reply and broad smile left her speechless and blushing furiously. At her panicked glance towards glass walls of the office Sheppard decided to let it go...for now.

"Anyways, last reason is that im going to settle a small matter with Rodney. So im giving you early warning."

"Oh? What did he do to you this time?" Elizabeth took with gratitude an out he offered. Banter and bickering between her 2iC and Chief Scientist was definitely safer ground than unprofessional feelings she shouldn't have for said second-in-command...and vice-versa.

"Ah, nothing serious." John dismissively waved his hand. "Just another round of neverending battle of wits. Im going to pay him back for all "Caution! Wet floor!" signs popping everywhere i go."

Elizabeth chuckled rolling her eyes. "Yes, that definitely sounds like Rodney. What are you going to do, John? Should i get Carson on standby, or evacuate city in advance if you want to start next prank war?"

"Well, i was thinking about torturing him with lemon...or two." John started scratching his chin with serious expression. "But that would be too fast, and relatively painless. So, instead im going to beat him black-and-blue with biggest of six stuffed rabbits that mysteriously found their way into my quarters." Elizabeth blinked caught off-guard by his dry delivery, and with very unladylike snort lost it completely. While she was laughing helplessly Sheppard crowed silently in triumph. Reducing always calm and composed to the state where she didn't care about appearances anymore and was laughing to the point of tears? No small feat. And he was one of few beings in the world that could do it.

Finally she managed to regain control over herself sufficiently to fix him with stern look...without corners of her mouth twitching too much. "You are...incorrigible, Colonel!"

"Part of my charm, Ma'am." He replied cheerfully, beaming at her. Elizabeth shook her head with exagerrated sigh of resignation.

"Anyway, aren't you curious where our illustrious Dr. McKay managed to find half of a dozen of stuffed bunnies in the city three millions of light years from closest toy store?" John asked off-handedly, and with satisfaction observed wave of pink creeping on her cheeks. Yup, second part of his plan was coming about nicely.

"Hmm, probably borrowed them from expedition members." She replied faking lack of interest, at the same time fully aware of Sheppard watching her like hawk. Colonel smirk broadened when he reached under his jacket.

"Of course he did. And i think you know to whom belongs this little fella." Sheppard deadpanned placing ball of purple fluff with two long ears and eyes made of small buttons in front of her. Pink deepened into crimson, and she hastily grabbed the toy from the desk. "How did you know?"

"Oh, i saw it in your room before going to Earth when Ancients kicked us out of city. I thought you are dog person, y'know." Elizabeth smiled fondly at the mascot, and carefully placed it inside one of drawers. "Its a gift from one of my students from Georgetown – for luck."

"Yeah, he's certainly lucky." Sheppard nodded wisely. "Rest of his associates is placed under arrest in my closet. One question though – why?"

Elizabeth averted her eyes, sheepishly tracing invisible pattern on the desk top. "You know Rodney, he can be very persistent and convincing when he wants something...and it sounded, uh..."

"Like really funny idea?" Finished John softly. She looked at him and he winked.

"Yes, it did. I hope you are not mad."

"Mad? Because you had fun? Nah." Sheppard lifted one finger to stop her from talking and continued. "But because it was fun at my expense you owe me something in return."

Elizabeth narrowed cautiously her eyes. "And what would that be, John?"

"Lunch, Lizbeth. With me. Today."

"A lunch? Why, Colonel – are you inviting me for a date?" Elizabeth smiled slyly, leaning back in her chair to have better view at her companion. But since two could play this game, Sheppard leaned forward with his own saucy smile. "Anytime you want, Doctor."

Elizabeth laughed uncertainly, not sure how far he was ready to take his teasing. "Lunch it is, then."

John firmly squashed his disappointment. He caught flicker of longing in her eyes, and it had to be enough...for now, anyway.

"All right, lets get going then." He said brightly, hopping of the desk, and discreetly rubbing his still somewhat stiff back.

"What, now?" Elizabeth looked at her watch with a frown, and then blinked realizing how late it wa s getting. Sheppard smirked smugly at her. "Yeah, now. Or else we'll eat cold leftovers." With a roll of her eyes Elizabeth started rising from her chair...and in the exact moment her computer beeped announcing new e-mail. She sat back and opened it.

"Elizabeth!" Sheppard whined indignitantly. She gave him distracted hand wave. "Its from Engineering, John. I was waiting whole day for their report about our desalinization capabilities. Give me five minutes, please." Colonel sighed defeated - there was no way to drag Dr. Weir away until she finished reading. Deciding that his bruised back deserved to wait these five minutes on softer surface than hard wood, he bent to sit in one of comfortable armchairs in front of Elizabeth's desk. He was halfway down when she realized what he was doing, and her head jerked up in alarm.

"NO! DONT SIT DOWN!"

(The End?)

Author's notes: Thats all, folks! I hope you got at least a few chuckles out of this fic. This particular plot bunny was stalking me for long time – and i promise it was the only rabbit murdered during writing of this story. And sorry for the delays: real life (a.k.a. net issues) can be more annoying than swarm of alien rabbits.