Title: Someone to talk to
Summary: Elizabeth just needs someone to talk to...
Character/Pairing: Elizabeth Weir, John/Elizabeth
Spoilers: The Storm/The Eye, The Return
Prompt Number for fic101: #10 Storm
Author's Note: *points to prompt word* I couldn't not write a fic about these two eps with this prompt, really. Though, this is set in season 3, early in the six weeks gap in The Return part One. Many thanks to my beta, Jaclyn.
The thunderstorm was raging outside. She could hear it from her bedroom.
It reminded her of the storm they had faced during their first year in Atlantis. While before going to Atlantis she always had that kind of fascination for storms, since that day, she just hated them. She couldn't help but think about the Genii invasion and Kolya who held her at gunpoint more than once.
Whenever there was a storm outside now, she was sure she was going to have a nightmare about that day.
Tonight though, she just refused to allow sleep to take her, remaining sitting in her bed, her eyes wide open though her room was bathed in darkness. She didn't want to go through that again. Especially not these days, not tonight.
Tonight was the first time it was storming outside since she had definitely left Atlantis. Some would have thought that now that she was as far away from Kolya as possible, she would be able to win over her recent fear for storms. But they would be wrong. Now, she was alone, in her dark apartment on Earth. She couldn't just go and take a walk in the endless hallways. She couldn't just go to her office and get some work done. She didn't even have a job anymore.
She didn't have anyone to turn to anymore.
A lightning bolt pierced through the dark night, and briefly lit the room, making her jump in surprise. She unconsciously started to count the seconds in her head until the thunder made itself heard. It was close now, almost above her head.
She knew she could just take sleeping pills and fall into a dreamless slumber. But she had always been taught to fight her demons. And it was one of them. That was why she would rather sit in the dark during this stormy night. For some people, it would probably make no sense, but for her, it was important.
She jumped again at the sound of her phone ringing. The phone ringing at night had never brought good news to her; her mother had called her in the middle of the night to tell her her father had passed away. She didn't want to answer her phone. She was planning on letting the call go through the voicemail, but the sound of thunder outside made her want and need someone to talk to. No matter whom it was at this late hour. Just someone to talk to for a little while.
Grabbing the cell phone from her nightstand, she bit her lower lip as she saw the caller ID. It was John. She had been screening his calls ever since they were sent back to Earth. She was screening Rodney's and Carson's too, but with John's, it was different. She hesitated for a second, before hitting the button to take the call before the voicemail picked it up. She still waited a few seconds before putting it to her ear, and a few more before finally speaking.
"John...," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Hey... I was calling to see how you were doing with this weather."
She smiled. Despite refusing to talk to him for the past two weeks, he was still worrying about her.
He was one of a few to know how she reacted to thunderstorms, now. He had often found her in the hallways or her office, and kept her company. He had been a comforting presence, one who knew what she had gone through during the storm. She didn't have to be strong around him.
And tonight, he was doing just the same. She was touched by the gesture.
"I could be better," she finally whispered back.
"I thought so. That's a pretty nasty one we have out there. Weather forecast said it would probably last through the night."
She had seen it, too, but she was still hoping that they would be proven wrong. She wouldn't get any sleep if it did, of that she was sure.
"You're planning on staying on the phone with me all night?" she asked, hopeful that he wouldn't leave her alone.
"If you need me to," he said, and she knew he would if she asked. "Or I could..."
He trailed off, unsure of what he was about to say, but she understood where he was going. She debated internally for only a few seconds, before she came to a decision.
"I'll be here in a minute," he just said, before hanging up.
It was then that Elizabeth realised that the rain could be heard behind his voice; he had been in front of her building. She couldn't help but wonder how long he had been there, before he had finally made the call. But she couldn't say she was surprised by that. John was always there for people he cared about, and she had learned a long time ago that she was one of them.
Getting up from the bed, she wrapped a dressing gown around her, before walking out of the bedroom.
She was nearly before the door when he knocked. She hesitated for a moment, wondering if he would insist if she were to change her mind at the last second. The image of John, wet from the rain, came to the front of her mind, and she let out a sigh, opening the door for him.
She wasn't mistaken, he was literally dripping on her doorstep, and she had to shake her head at the state he was in.
"Stay right here," she ordered, as she turned away to retrieve some towels from the bathroom.
She came back with three towels; she handed two of them to John, and laid the last one on the floor.
"Take of your shoes, and leave them outside, if you don't mind."
She watched as he did as he was told, before he took his jacket off and hung it beside the door. She watched as he started to towel himself dry, his hair ending up being even more unruly than usual. She had to smile at the sight as she looked at him.
As she watched him standing there, on her threshold, she couldn't help but wonder if she had been right to tell him to come. These past two weeks, since they had been sent back to earth, she had tried distancing herself from her former co-workers. She was succeeding and she realised that tonight wouldn't do her any good. It wasn't that she wanted to let them go, but she needed to.
Now that they were away from Atlantis, from the place they called home, they all had a different life and friends. She didn't want to cling onto them, only to realise in a few weeks time that they were moving on, and they were leaving her behind; and they would, she was sure of that. She did the next best thing, and distanced herself from her friends now, so it wouldn't hurt so much later.
Or so she thought.
As she looked at him, she realised that she missed him, his friendship, his mere presence beside her in times of need. She missed their midnight talks around a snack in the mess hall, and him doing everything to convince her that it was way past the time to go to sleep. And now, she accepted him back into her life. But it would only be for the night, she would make sure of that.
She was brought back to the present time when he smiled at her, having finished towelling himself dry. She took the towels from him, and brought them back to the bathroom. As she came back towards him, she noticed that he was still standing on the threshold, as if he didn't want to intrude.
"Come in, John," she said, closing the door behind him.
She watched as he took in her new apartment, the one the SGC had set up for her until she found her own place. And a job to go with it, since she had refused their offer.
It was only now, with John standing here, that she realised how much of a mess it really was. She had known it was messy; she hadn't really taken care of her, or of her apartment, since she came back. It wasn't like her, usually her office, her place, were neat, but these days, she was barely doing anything. Take-out boxes littered her coffee table and papers were strewn across the couch. This wasn't her.
"I'm sorry for the...," she started to apologize, but he interrupted her.
"I like what you did here."
He knew he was attempting this trait of humour to lighten the mood, and it worked. She couldn't help the smile that crept up her face. Though it didn't last long; just a few seconds later, she heard the thunder outside, and her smile fell. She could hear the rain batting on her windows, and could almost feel it against her skin, like thousands of knives trying to pierce her skin. She could almost hear Kolya's voice shouting at them, threatening them.
"Elizabeth?" John's voice brought her back to present.
"I could do with some coffee," she replied, changing the subject, and hoping he wouldn't ask questions. "Do you want some?" she offered as she was already making her way to the kitchen.
As she noticed he was following her, she took that as a yes. Turning the coffee-maker on, she grabbed two mugs off a shelf and put them on the counter. She kept her back to him as she waited for the coffee to be made. She stayed silent, and he respected her choice.
The thunderstorm was still raging outside. She was pretty sure it was right above their heads. They were going through the worst of it, now. At least, that was what she hoped.
Once the coffee was done, she poured in the mugs, and handed one to John while she cradled her own in her hands. She didn't have to ask him; she had found out during their time in Atlantis that he took it the exact same way she did: black. The hot coffee burned the roof of her mouth, but she didn't care; it was a feeling she had come to relish. She needed it as much as she needed the bitterness of it to help her get through the night.
"Why did you come here?" she finally broke the silence.
She needed to know why he was invading her privacy in the middle of the night. She needed to know why he kept coming to her while she did everything to get away from him.
"I know you always have a hard time with thunderstorms. I just wanted to make sure you were alright. And I couldn't sleep until I knew," he added in a whisper.
"When will it stop?" she asked, choosing not to address his last comment.
They both knew she wasn't talking about the current storm, but about the fear she was feeling whenever there was one outside. She couldn't help but keep hoping that one day, soon, her fear would subside and she wouldn't jump every time she heard the thunder. She hoped that one day she wouldn't feel ice-cold even though she was inside, and not dripping wet. She hoped that one day she wouldn't feel Kolya's tight grasp on her, anymore.
"I'll let you know when I get there."
"You have nightmares about that day, too?" she replied, surprised.
"He told me he killed you. For a few hours, I thought you were dead. Gone. Of course, I have nightmares about those moments, too."
"Why didn't you tell me, before?"
"You had enough on your plate. You had your own nightmares to deal with, you didn't need to try and deal with mine. Besides, you helped with them."
"How did I do that?"
"I was there for you, but you were there for me, too, during all those nights. It worked both ways. It still does," he added, as a mention of why he was in her apartment.
"Good, then. So, what do you want to do?"
"We could play chess," he offered, knowing that she just wouldn't want to talk.
"Great. Why don't you set the game while I prepare us some snacks? The board is on the top shelf," she said, gesturing to the bookcase.
"Better yet. Why don't I take care of the snacks while you get everything ready?" he strongly suggested, putting his hands on her shoulders, and gently directing her out of the kitchen.
"You really have no faith in my cooking abilities?"
He chose not to answer, but gave her a pointed look. She playfully threw a towel at him before leaving the kitchen altogether.
As she cleared her table so that they could play, she realised that she was in a slightly lighter mood, and she knew it was due to John's presence. The thunderstorm was still raging outside, but it was on the back of her mind for the moment. She decided to stop thinking about the past, about that fateful day, and concentrate on the present. She decided to do what she always did when they found themselves together during a stormy night on Atlantis.
She had just finished setting the last piece on the board, when John came out of the kitchen holding two plates of sandwiches in his hands.
"You can start, if you want," he offered, taking a seat.
"You're so sure you'll be able to beat me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
He wisely didn't answer, and she moved her first pawn. She might not be a match for him, but she still had a few moves up her sleeves.
When Elizabeth woke up the next morning, she felt better rested than usual.
The sunlight was illuminating the room, and she realised that she was alone; no sound could be heard in her apartment. For a moment, she thought she had dreamt the night, but as she saw the chess board on the table, she knew that John had really been there. But he had already left.
After their chess game, which he had won, they had decided to watch a movie. The last thing she remembered was listening to John's breathing evening out, and she guessed she must have fallen asleep on the couch, beside him. Which would explain why she woke up here in the first place.
She was glad he had already left; she didn't want to confront him in the harsh morning light. Last night, they didn't talk, but it wasn't the right moment. She knew that if he stayed, he would have wanted to talk about their removal from Atlantis, about the past two weeks when she ignored her friends. And she just wasn't ready for that.
Maybe he had felt it, because he just left.
She could now go back to her life of solitude, the only one she wanted and needed right now.