Hello! Thanks to everyone who has been reading this story. It's been fun to write. I'm sorry it's been a while. I've recently started training to bike across the US next summer so that's taken up a lot of my free time. I will continue writing this story as I have time but, as is usually the case, between now and the holidays I'm going to be very busy, as I imagine many of you will be also. So, enjoy this chapter and thanks for reading! (And never fear, I'm not giving up on this story).
Their relationship had been acceptable of late. Though they continued to have disagreements, they also had good moments. It felt to Elizabeth as though their connection over the Hoffan drug problem had helped to break at least one small barrier between them. And, her complaint about John not being present wasn't true any longer. Living in the same city and working together every day did have its advantages.
And then came the epic storm, the one that almost wiped out Atlantis and took Elizabeth's life. That night, when John reflected on everything that had happened, he found it odd that he would be so affected by Elizabeth's death. It truly made him into a killing machine; the thought of never seeing her again. And the fact that someone else chose to take her from him made him even angrier. But he hadn't felt sadness at her loss, just deep rage, and he found that rather disconcerting.
Maybe there was no sadness because there wasn't time for it. Maybe he felt rage because of the nature of her death. He wondered if he felt rage because he still loved her or because he felt like she was his, and as such she was under his protection which meant he had failed in his duty.
After tossing and turning for hours that night, he finally got up and made his way resolutely to Elizabeth's room. For better or worse, he felt like he needed to be with her. He had almost lost her today, almost lost her to that monster Colya, and he needed to know she was still safe.
Ringing her bell he waited, expecting it to be a long wait, but it was only a short minute before she opened the door.
"John," she said in a slightly breathless voice. He rubbed his head awkwardly.
"Elizabeth, I just came by because-
He stopped when she wrapped her arms around him, feeling the strength and firmness of his body. He returned the gesture, finding it comforting to feel her heavy warmth between his arms. Pushing them into her room, he closed the door and the darkness of the night enfolded them. She was holding him so tightly he didn't think she would ever let go.
After a moment, he realized she was shaking and he kissed her on the head, taking one hand to run it through her hair. Pulling them to her bed, he sat down, pulling her with him. After a moment, Elizabeth seemed to realize that she was clinging to him and she sat up, releasing him and pushing the hair out of her face.
"I'm sorry, I'm just… it was a hard day that's all."
John almost laughed but touched her face with a hand. "Hey, a hard day is one in which three teams forget to check in and we have a fight about what beans to trade for. This day? This was like… Modern Warfare Atlantis."
Elizabeth snorted and rolled her eyes a little before looking down. "Yeah. I guess… when Colya was pulling me back towards the gate I didn't… I didn't know what would happen. I thought I would be their prisoner and I just…" She broke off as she took deep breaths. John reached forward to pull her in to his chest again and she breathed deeply of his familiar scent.
"I don't know what I was thinking when I thought you were dead," John began. "I guess I wasn't thinking. I was just trying to kill as many of his men as I could to avenge you and maybe get Atlantis back in the process."
He took a hand and started running it through her hair again.
"Come on," he said as he lay down on the bed, pulling her with him. "Let's sleep. And then we can leave this whole damn day behind us."
They lay silent for a moment but Elizabeth broke the silence soon after.
"John? Why did you feel like you needed to avenge me? You know that's not what I would want."
John lay in the darkness holding her, feeling her breathing against his chest. He thought for a moment and then shrugged.
"I don't know Elizabeth. I wasn't really doing much thinking. It was a combat situation and I did what I thought was necessary."
She was quiet for a long moment again and then she took a breath. "I understand that John, I really do, but if you really lose me, I don't want you to avenge me, not at the cost of human lives."
John sighed heavily, his grasp tightening around her. He could feel his jaw clenching slightly and he had to consciously focus on letting the tension go. Elizabeth wasn't a warrior, a fact he loved and hated about her. She always wanted to talk things through and didn't understand a soldier's mentality very well. It tended to be a big source of contention for them.
Not wanting to talk about it, John just closed his eyes and tried to slow his breathing, hoping she would let it go, but she wasn't so easily swayed. After a moment, she said,
"John, I know you're not asleep." Pushing herself up on her elbows, she looked at him through the darkness as his eyes opened. "Do you understand that my profession is all about defending human lives? How I fight with words so we don't have to fight with weapons?"
She cut him off. "Do you understand how avenging my death would be a total violation of the things I fight for?"
He fought the urge to roll his eyes and took a breath. "Elizabeth, I know that, you won't let me forget it. But what I did today? That wasn't just for you, that was for Atlantis and everyone who lives here. It was to defend Earth and to keep this city and all its knowledge from falling into the wrong hands."
"I know that John, and I'm not saying you did the wrong thing today-
"Really?" John cut her off as he pushed up on his elbows next to her. "Really? Because that's what it sounds like."
Elizabeth gave him one of her signature hard looks. "John, I support what you did today. If I had really died, I'm confident you would have saved Atlantis and everyone who lives here. I've just never seen you lose it like that and it… it scares me."
Looking at her murky form in front of him, he pressed his lips together. He really didn't want to talk about this and he wasn't interested in getting into a debate with her about vengeance. Because he knew that's what this would turn into.
"Elizabeth can we please just go to bed? I'm tired, it's been a long day, and I really don't want to debate the motives of my actions with you. I came here to make sure you were okay and comfort you if you needed it. Now can we please sleep?"
They looked at each other in the grayness of night and he could almost see Elizabeth fighting with herself. She knew if this were a negotiating situation, she would drop the subject and start in on something else, or she would approach the subject in a different way. But, since this was John, she felt like those rules didn't apply and, more often than not, found herself breaking her own rules of fighting and negotiating. It was always strange to her that it was easier to negotiate with strangers than it was with loved ones.
"John…" she said as she looked down and then plowed on despite her better judgment. "John I just want to make sure you're okay. I don't know if you realize how important it is to me that you don't do something like that again unless you have due cause, which admittedly you did this time."
That did it for John and he sat up, swinging his legs over the bed. "Elizabeth," he said as he stood. "I don't know if you were informed but, I'M A SOLDIER! This is what I do! And just so you know, my profession is ALSO about DEFENDING HUMAN LIVES. We just do it in different ways. And yes, I know, it's the same old argument we ALWAYS have. Well you know what? I'm sick of it!"
With one last look at her dark form, he made his way to the door and exited quickly before she could stop him.