Title: Words don't come easy
Author: Vicky
Category: Romance, a bit of angst
Summary: "It's better to say too much/Than never to say what you need to say"
Spoilers: a tiny one for Common Ground
Rating: G
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Claim: John/Elizabeth
Prompt: Song
Author's Note: Inspired by the song Say (What You Need to Say) by John Mayer. Written for writers30days in April.

He had never been good with words.

It wasn't that he wasn't cultured enough; his parents – his father – made sure that he was, to walk in his father's steps. But he just wasn't able to find the right words to express his feelings.

Tonight was no exception. He had so many things to say, but he didn't know how to. Still, he had to at least try. There had been so many times in the past when he wasn't able to say the words he wanted, needed, to say, and in the end, it backfired on him.

But this time, he had to say the words.

Looking at himself in mirror, he hoped that the words would come to him when he needed them. He didn't want to mess everything up because he couldn't find his words. He had never been so nervous in his life, of that he was sure. He felt like a one man army waiting for the fight of his life.

And he knew he would have to fight.

She had always been good with words.

She guessed that it was for the better in her line of work, but it had always been like this. Even when she was just a little girl, she had a way with words some adults could only wish they had. She didn't realize it at first; for her it had always been something natural.

But at school, she noticed the difference. The other kids weren't like her, and she wondered if her gift for words was a good thing for a long time. Teachers liked that, though, and always complimented her, which only served to further alienate her from the rest of the class.

But after a while, words didn't come as easily as before. When it came to her work, nothing had changed, but when it came to personal matters, everything did. She knew why it changed, when it changed. She could pinpoint the exact moment she lost her way with words: Jimmy Peterson, Sophomore year. She had been fool enough to fall for someone way more popular. When she finally bit the bullet and told him, he had laughed at her, and asked if she really thought he could like her.

Since that day, she had been much more careful when talking about feelings, until Simon came into the picture. He had been so sweet and kind, and she slowly got her confidence back. Up until he broke up with her for someone else. She had retreated back into the woman she had been before him, deciding to not let herself be hurt by another man.

Ask her to face two nations at war, or even a group of Goa'uld, and she would have them eating out of her hands by the time she was finished with them. But put her in front of a man and ask her to talk about her feelings, and she was at a loss.

And she didn't think that this time, she would be able to change.

He found her on the balcony, a meaningful place for them. It was late, and the night crew had already started its shift, but he wasn't surprised to find that she was still there. The opposite would have surprised him, though.

She was just like him on that aspect; their minds refused to just shut down once they were done with their day, instead running away with dozens of 'what if' scenarios.

"Hey," she said, as he came to stand beside her at the railing.

"Hey, yourself. Long day, uh?"

"You can say that."

And a long day it had been.

His team had been off-world for a routine mission, when they were attacked by Kolya's Genii. Luckily, they made a narrow escape, but they had been hindered on their way towards the Gate by many obstacles. Creating diversions to draw the Genii away from them, they had finally made it to the Gate, only to find Kolya already there, waiting for them. John had wanted nothing more than to shoot the man for the torture he had put him through, but Teyla had convinced him to let it go this time, if they wanted to make it back to Atlantis in one piece.

This new encounter with the Genii reawakened thoughts, memories and feelings he had thought he had been able to bury once and for all. And tonight, instead of pushing every single one of them back, he decided that it was time he confronted and acted on one of them.

That was the reason why he came to find her.

"Do you think we'll ever get rid of him?" Elizabeth asked, jolting him out of his thoughts.

"I hope so. After everything he has done, it would only be fair."

"We should contact Ladon first thing tomorrow morning to tell him what happened."

"Yeah, we should. Let's not talk about this anymore, tonight," he added, wanting to change the subject to what he came here for.

"What do you want to talk about, then?" she asked, offering him an opening.

But he didn't speak. Instead, he took the hand she was resting on the railing in his own. She turned her head to look at him, surprised at the gesture. He could see the question written in her eyes, and he answered her without saying a word.

"John…," she whispered, trying to free her hand from his hold, but he wouldn't let go. "No… We can't…"

"Yes, Elizabeth," he interrupted her before she could say anything else. "There's something I just can't ignore anymore."

"Please, John," she tried to stop him again.

"No. Let me say what I need to say." He stepped closer, and when she dropped her head, refusing to look at him, he lifted it back up with two fingers under her chin. "I've never been good with words, especially when it comes to this. But seeing Kolya again made me realize that one day, I might not come back, and I need to tell you something. You don't have to say anything, just let me say this."

He could see in her eyes that she wanted him to stop, that she wanted to stop him, but he couldn't let her. He didn't want to force an answer out of her, and he wouldn't, but he wanted her to hear him out. And so he spoke, before she had a chance to interrupt him.

"I care about you, Elizabeth. A lot," he added, wanting her to understand what he meant. He didn't want to say words she didn't want or wasn't ready to hear; words he wasn't ready to say just yet, despite the fact that he wanted to. "I just want you to know that. I don't ask for anything in return."

He squeezed the hand he was still holding before releasing it, and turning away from her to walk back inside.

Her heart skipped a beat when he said those words.

He didn't say the three little words she didn't want to hear, not right now, but the words still conveyed the same feelings. She had wanted to stop him, before it was too late, but he didn't let her. He dove straight in and said those words to her.

And now, he was leaving her alone, to think about what he said.

"I care about you, too," she whispered to his back.

The words were out of her mouth before she could even think about it. They just came out naturally, a great change from those past years. She was giving in, and she wasn't afraid.

She might have whispered them, but he still heard her words, and stopped to turn back towards her. He smiled at her, and she smiled back; whatever was going to happen now, they were finally able to say what they needed to say.