Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Characters: Elizabeth Weir/John Sheppard
Word Count: 3,000
Rating: R (romance/angst)
Summary: John Sheppard is very, very confusing. And also gay, right?
A/N: Spoilers for The Intruder, Runner and Trinity.
Elizabeth didn’t realize until it was too late that she’d been flirting with John for weeks. But she had been: waking up early to blow dry her hair before staff meetings, putting on lip gloss and letting him go on whatever missions he wanted, if only so that he would smile at her and come home happy and ready to debrief one-on-one in her office.
It was too late, and the spring air was cool on her arms. She shivered on the balcony while pretending to watch the stars as John stood lazily beside her, leaning against the railing, saying nothing.
John looked lost in thought, too pretty and too thin for her tastes, and yet, there she was laying a hand on his arm, smiling sweetly and tucking herself against him, reaching to pull his arm around her waist. He was so warm. She lifted her face and leaned in, her body already anticipating the slow, comforting caress of his kiss.
“Whoa!” John said with an openly shocked expression.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, stepping back too quickly and knocking her wrist against the hard railing. She winced. “I thought…” she trailed off with a mortified laugh. John nodded, visibly recovering.
“Elizabeth,” he said quietly, so kindly. “I can’t,” he raised his eyebrows meaningfully.
“Oh,” she said, swallowing, her voice hollow. She stared out at the dark ocean and felt her face getting hot. “Of course not,” she said. “I’m sorry, John, I didn’t mean to. Of course it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to—“
“It’s not that,” John gave her a wary half-smile and tucked in his chin. “I’m gay,” he explained.
For some reason she felt like she might cry. This was better, wasn’t it?
“Of course, of course,” she repeated. Stupid. John took pity on her and pulled her into his skinny arms in a stiff, brief hug.
“I won’t tell anyone,” she said into his shoulder.
“Neither will I,” he promised, releasing her. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
Her answering laugh was a little desperate. Tomorrow it would seem funny, and they might even laugh about it later. For now it was just enough that no one else had seen her throwing herself at her obviously uninterested military commander.
“Right,” she rubbed at her sore wrist. “Thank you.”
“No harm done,” John said, gesturing between them. “We’re okay?”
“Of course, Colonel,” she smiled. “Of course.”
The next morning, John arrived at her office door half an hour before the staff meeting as he usually did, but this time with two mugs of something hot and steaming. He waved his eyebrows in lieu of knocking on the glass, and waited patiently for Elizabeth to open the door for him.
“Good morning,” she said, giving him a puzzled glance even as she took one of the proffered cups. “Is this really coffee?”
“Courtesy of the good Colonel Caldwell,” John said as he closed the door behind him and joined Elizabeth at her desk. “He sends his regards.”
“I see,” she took a long, stalling sip and tried to work out what to say next.
“So,” John began, leaning back in his chair and balancing his coffee on one knee. “This is awkward, huh?”
“Yes,” she nodded. He grinned at her, eyes sparkling.
“I am flattered,” he said. “And it goes without saying that you’re a very attractive woman,” he added politely.
“Thank you,” she said, “but that’s not necessary.”
“Still true, though,” John answered. Elizabeth smiled. She knew it was a formality, but it felt good anyway, like a balm on the places rejection had left raw, both his and Simon’s. She pushed a folder across the desk.
“Shall we go over the incoming personnel assignments?”
The rest of their meeting was business as usual, and the short walk to the conference room afterwards was surprisingly easy. Elizabeth almost felt normal again, until she caught herself staring at him during the staff meeting. Her thoughts would drift to fantasy, and then slam her against the hard edge of reality, of a John Sheppard who had fooled everyone, including her.
She watched him listen to the department heads, bicker lightly with McKay, nod at all the right times, and doodle on an empty paper cup with disguised concentration. Elizabeth realized with a strange sort of pang that John was probably even lonelier than she herself was.
He looked up just then, as if he could hear her thoughts, and his expression was inscrutable.
John caught up to her before she reached the transporter. He looked a little sweaty from the gym, but his eyes were clear and bright.
“So what do you think of him?” he asked excitedly. “You should see him on the firing range, it’s freaky.”
“I assume you mean Ronon and not the young man resting face down on the mat?”
“He’s a little scary, isn’t he?” John grinned happily.
“He’s certainly something,” Elizabeth agreed, remembering Ronon’s stony, one-word answers and his dark eyes.
John didn’t say anything, but followed her into the transporter and waited until they were safely ensconced in her office before speaking.
“So can we keep him?” he asked, perching on her desk.
“You really like him, don’t you,” Elizabeth mused.
“He’d be an asset to the team,” John explained. “And he was also totally checking you out.”
Elizabeth arched an eyebrow and tipped her head forward in her best Oh Please expression.
“Well,” John amended. “You were checking him out.” He ignored her sputter. “I’m just saying that Ronon brings with him a number of prospects for all of us, including you.” He held up his hands.
“He is rather…striking,” Elizabeth admitted. She gave John a calculating look.
“Not my type,” he defended. “Yours?”
“Really? What is your type?”
“I asked you first.”
“Okay,” she leaned forward. “answer me this, then: Lorne or Parrish?”
“Parrish,” John said without missing a beat. “Wait, you know about them, too?”
“Carson or Kavanagh?”
John paused to consider. “Beckett has incredible eyes,” he shook his head.
“Hmm,” Elizabeth agreed.
“But Kavanagh was strangely hot,” John admitted. Elizabeth made a distasteful face, but nodded in agreement.
“Campbell or Zelenka?” he wanted to know.
“Mmm, Zelenka, definitely.”
“Seriously? It’s the accent, isn’t it?”
“What can I say,” Elizabeth twinkled, “I like ‘em smart and hairy.”
John laughed then, big and loud, and it made her chest fill up with warmth.
“Ronon or Rodney?” he asked her.
“Both?” she blurted out, then found herself blushing. “I can’t believe we’re actually having this conversation. What about you, Rodney or—“
“How come Simon isn’t here with you?” John asked suddenly. Elizabeth froze, the smile slipping from her face. “I just,” he grimaced. “Sorry, it’s none of my business. I just think you deserve to have someone here, with you.”
“Simon,” she pursed her lips. “Simon decided he didn’t want to be here after all. With me, that is.”
“I’m sorry,” John repeated. He leaned forward and patted her arm.
“It’s okay,” Elizabeth smiled gamely. “Are you,” she paused. “Seeing anyone? I’m not sure if I can even ask you that.”
“Not unless you count Dr. Heightmeyer,” he deadpanned.
“Poor us,” Elizabeth sighed. “It’s not like—“
“Dr. Weir?” the door cracked open to reveal Chuck Campbell’s questioning face.
She invited him in, but he shook his head and stood just inside the doorway: Caldwell had a question and was waiting for her reply on the commlink. Chuck turned to leave, and Elizabeth looked over just in time to see John giving his backside an appraising glance.
“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink,” she said meaningfully. She stood and stretched, gazing out at her balcony and the glinting sea beyond.
“Tell me about it,” John answered, sliding off her desk with a wry grin.
Elizabeth toed off her shoes and sank down to the mattress with a heavy breath. She thought about turning out the lights, but felt too tired to get up. The day had been so long, too long, and with too much consequence. There was a knock at the door, and she thought about getting up to answer it — if she had the gene, that would have been enough. As it was, she dragged herself up and found John on the other side, looking blanker than usual.
“Did Rodney find you?” she asked, already stepping back to let him in. “He was looking for you earlier.”
“Ah,” John leaned against the back of the low-backed Ancient sofa and stared thoughtfully at the ground. “He did.”
“The arrogance,” Elizabeth caught herself, drawing a deep breath to stop the sudden and angry prickle of threatening tears. “I think he is truly sorry,” she said after a long pause. When she looked up, John was watching her.
“Well, I can’t speak for Rodney,” his voice caught on the name and he paused, brow creasing. He pressed on carefully, placing each syllable between them like an offering. “But I know I am.” He caught her perplexed look. “Sorry, that is.”
“John,’ she admonished. “You’re not the one who destroyed a solar system.”
“We’re all responsible,” his voice was sharp. He was right, and she didn’t know how she’d been avoiding that particular and painful truth all day. “We all trusted Rodney to know what he was doing.”
“Yes,” she agreed.
“But I’m the one who convinced you to let him go back,” John rubbed wearily at his eyes. “Against your better judgment,” John added. He looked up at her, and even exhausted and pale, he was undeniably gorgeous. She pushed the thought away.
“We all wanted it to work,” she placated. “I wouldn’t have agreed to something so risky if I didn’t want it, too. Despite what you may think,” she crossed her arms and aimed for a playful tone, “I can resist your charms.” That earned her a smirk. John rolled his neck and gave the ceiling a thoughtful look.
“This is one of those days when I wish Atlantis had a bar,” he mused.
“Or that we could go visit Radek’s still,” Elizabeth said wistfully.
“Right,” he drawled. “The one we’re not supposed to know about.”
“Wait,” Elizabeth pressed his arm as she passed him, ignoring how it still felt too good to touch him, and ignoring his curious glance as she reached into a cabinet and produced a tall, brown glass bottle.
John quirked an eyebrow. “A favor from Dr. Z?”
“It’s Athosian,” she smiled, pouring two generous glasses. “a gift from Halling.”
Elizabeth lifted her drink to toast, but stopped partway. The thought of toasting to the one-sixth remainder of a solar system left her feeling a little hysterical. John was already tipping back his head to take a long draught. She did the same.
“Strong.” John coughed. “Kinda tastes like a Cosmo, doesn’t it?” He held out his glass for more.
“God,” she muttered as she tipped the bottle toward him.
“So, Halling, huh?”
“John—“ she warned.
“You can tell me,” he assured her. “You can trust me,” he said without thinking. They looked at each other, both hearing the echo of Rodney’s promise.
“Halling is just a friend,” she shook it off.
“Really?” John’s tone was light. “Because there’s something so appealing about him.” Elizabeth just sighed in defeat and sank down onto the couch next to him. John leaned back and swung his legs over to join her there. “I’d totally hit that,” he said, taking the bottle.
“Could you be any gayer?” Elizabeth burst out with a hysterical, hiccupping sort of laughter. “Sorry,” she could feel her face crinkling up as tiny, exasperated tears slipped out. “Sorry,” she said it a few more times.
“If you want me to,” John slipped an arm around her and gently maneuvered her until she was leaning against him. She gave up and cried quietly into his stupid, gay shoulder.
“We should hang out more,” John said after a while. He poked her companionably with his pinky. “It’s fun drinking with you. Really.”
“Thank you,” she mumbled, trying not to notice how good his shirt smelled. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
She only had the smallest of headaches the next morning, and managed to make it through the morning staff meeting without breaking down when Rodney couldn’t meet her eyes or say more than three words to John. When the agenda turned to local matters, and the upcoming Athosian summer festival, she carefully avoided John’s gaze.
“Of course you are all invited,” Teyla explained. “And we would be particularly honored to have you there, Dr. Weir.”
“I’m in,” John scratched his chin. “I was just talking to Halling about it, actually,” he added with a barely perceptible lilt. “He told me he was really looking forward to it.”
“Will there be dancing?” Elizabeth said brightly. “Because I know how much Colonel Sheppard would like to participate.”
“You can dance?” Rodney blurted out, momentarily forgetting his self-imposed silence. “What, like the White Man’s Overbite?”
“I’m sure he’ll show us,” Elizabeth nodded. “Won’t you John?”
The look John shot her was pure evil.
There had been more of that incredible spirit, bowls of the stuff, mixed with fresh juices and something sweet and granular that lingered on her tongue. Plus long, low tables piled high with food, and yes, dancing. Lots of dancing. She’d even danced with Halling, and laughed as he led her with big, warm hands on her waist. He’d walked her to the pump for fresh water, cold and clear on her lips, followed by heat, his arms around her and the lightest of kisses.
“Let’s go,” John’s voice called from the edge of the fire. “Party’s over, I have to take you home now.”
She drowsed on the ride back, opening her eyes at times to see the sky, huge and full of stars. John was quiet beside her. When they docked he sat for a moment as the interior lights came on and Elizabeth fumbled with her seatbelt, squinting.
“You don’t need that, you know,” John brushed her hands aside and undid the clasp. “I’m a good pilot.”
“You’ve been drinking,” Elizabeth stood and reached for the chair as her knees wavered.
“Actually,” John steadied her, taking her arm. “I haven’t. You’ve been drinking, though. Come on,” he urged.
“You were right about Halling,” she smiled, perilously close to giggling. John turned to open the rear hatch, but not in time to hide the dark look that crossed his face.
“You’re jealous,” Elizabeth stopped still. “Of course, he’s your type, isn’t he?”
John gave her a long, bleak look. She couldn’t do this to him.
“John,” she touched his cheek. “If that’s what you want, I won’t—“
And then she couldn’t speak, could barely think from confusion, because John had stepped forward and he was kissing her, soft and tentative. His hands slid around her waist, and he pulled her closer, sliding one hand up to tangle in her hair as he coaxed her mouth open with his tongue.
She was reeling, eyes closed, and every soft pull of his lips on hers sent a wine-dark flood of desire running all through her. She could come just from this, she thought, and moaned as she felt the flat of John’s hand against her thigh, pressing between her legs, searching.
“Elizabeth,” he whispered, voice gruff and lost. But she was over him, she remembered. And there was something else, too. She pushed him away, panting.
“I thought you were—“ she stared at him, at his flushed face and wet lips, and those eyes. Her breathing matched his, and she could feel how wet she was.
“Yeah,” he said flatly.
“Colonel Sheppard?” there was a clanking sound of boots outside on the ramp, and then a rapid knock on the compartment door.
“Yeah,” John called. “We’re here,” he cleared his throat and turned back to her. She started straight ahead and didn’t look at him as she clumsily straightened her dress.
Elizabeth stepped forward as the hatch swung open, lifting her chin and giving Zelenka her most professional smile.
“How was the rest of the party?” Zelenka took her hand to help her down the steps. “Is it true what they say about the Colonel?” he asked with a jaunty air, grinning over his shoulder at John. “And dancing?”
“You’ll have to ask him,” Elizabeth said primly as she released his hand. In twenty steps she would be at the transporter, and then home. “I’m afraid I don’t know what Colonel Sheppard was doing this evening.”