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Teyla heard a door slam and opened hers to see the backside of John as he ran down the stairs. She glanced towards their bedroom door with a worried look, and stepped out of her room.

Hurriedly, she knocked at Elizabeth’s door.

“Go away!” yelled a voice that seldom yelled.

“Elizabeth, it’s Teyla.”

She heard an interior door open and the soft padding of feet over to the door. Elizabeth opened the door slightly, just enough to confirm that it was indeed Teyla and not John. She swung the door open with a groan. “Sorry, come in.”

“What happened?” Teyla asked as soon as the door was shut.

Elizabeth tied her robe tighter and stood with her hands on her hips. “John is being utterly … insane.”

Teyla raised an amused eyebrow. “And that was enough to cause you to slam your doors?”

Elizabeth sighed, and her posture slumped. “John kissed me this morning. On the lips.”

The Athosian tried her best to look shocked. “He did what?”

The other woman looked at her, gaping slightly, before shaking her head. “I‘m your friend, Teyla. Don‘t even try to lie.”

She sighed, and nodded. “John told me this morning.”

Elizabeth’s wet curls shook in consternation. “I tried to ignore it all day, and when he decided to talk about it, I told him what we both knew but didn’t want to say. That whatever happens here was going to stay here. And he acted like a love struck teenager and stormed out.”

“And yet you act completely indignant that he did such a thing.”

“Why shouldn’t I be?” Elizabeth demanded.

“It was only yesterday that he kissed you on the cheek and you admitted that you liked it. And that you do have feelings for him. So why do you admit it to me, yet deny it to yourself? And John?”

Elizabeth let out a frustrated groan as she turned around and walked to the doorway leading into the bathroom, leaning over to pick up a discarded garment on the floor. As she held it by the hanger and shook out the minor wrinkles, Teyla surmised that it must have been her dress for the party tonight.

Elizabeth glanced up at Teyla, almost in embarrassment. “It was hanging on the door when I slammed it earlier.” She held it up, looking at it with a frown, then hung it back on the door handle. “I can’t do this, Teyla.”

“Elizabeth--”

“How are we supposed to present ourselves to the Fa’torians as husband and wife when I can’t even look him in the eye without wanting to kiss him?”

That took Teyla aback.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

John had made up his mind to run around the village and get all the pent up anger of out his system until he realized that he was already wearing his clothes for the celebration tonight. As he didn’t have anything else as nice, and he didn’t want to risk having to reenter the bedroom where a woman was fuming, he walked around.

But briskly.

He was walking back towards the inn when Ronan seemed to come up alongside him from out of nowhere. “So you and Weir have a fight?”

He snorted. “What makes you say that?”

Ronan laughed. “I know the move. Husband gets mad and needs some--”

“We’re not married,” John hissed as quietly but emphatically as he could without giving away the ruse.

Ronan’s eyes darted around. “Well, you’ve sure got them fooled.”

“They’re not the only ones,” John muttered, picking up the pace and leaving Ronan behind in slight confusion.

He entered the lobby and was about to make his way up the stairs when he looked up and caught sight of the light blue dress that he had handed to Elizabeth earlier. She and Teyla were coming out of her -- their -- the room, and he bit his lip, quickly moving around the side of the stairwell so that he wouldn’t be seen.

He was planning on leaving as soon as they cleared the area, but they remained at the top of the stairs, talking quietly enough so that none of the Fa’torians mingling in the lobby could hear.

However, it was loud enough that John heard every word.

“Elizabeth, you need to tell him,” Teyla’s voice was softly urging her.

He heard a heavy recognizable sigh. “I can’t. He won’t even talk to me. You heard what happened the last time we went down this road. Believe me, I don‘t want things to end this way. I don‘t want them to end.”

John’s eyebrow arched downward in a confused frown. Either he was a stubborn ass and hadn’t heard a word that she had uttered earlier, or she was having a change of heart. He shook his head and continued listening.

“Elizabeth. The success of this mission depends largely on your status as the leader of Atlantis, which is contingent on having John as your husband. If anyone doubts, everything that you’ve worked so hard for, all the benefits for Tharon and her people, would vanish in a heartbeat.” Teyla sighed. “Is it such a bad thing if your pretense as husband and wife is strengthened by the way you really feel?”

Elizabeth let out a helpless moan, and John’s heart dropped in his chest.

It was official.

He was an ass.

As his brain took its time in processing that she felt the same way for him that he did for her, and his heart grabbed onto a little bit of hope, he heard the resignation in her voice. “I’ll be glad when this is over.”

John stealthily slid into the dining room which lay behind the staircase, circling around to appear on the other side. He cleared his throat and looked up the stairs, smiling at Elizabeth and Teyla. It was much easier, now that he knew what he did. “Good evening, ladies.”

Teyla nodded at him, a slight smile flitting across her face. “John. You look well.”

“Thanks,” he murmured as he got distracted by Elizabeth’s dress.

It had looked fairly simple as it hung on the hanger, but draped over Elizabeth’s body …

He suddenly lost his ability to speak.

It was a lighter shade of turquoise, and true to the Fa’torians’ culture, the hem ran to the floor. The neckline scooped modestly across her chest, but the sleeves were made of a transparent gauzy material. It looked as though the sleeves had been cut on the underside from the shoulder down to the wrist. Something bound the fabric at the elbows, letting it drape over her arms freely. The first word that came to John’s mind was angel.

“You’re beautiful,” he said, unashamed.

Elizabeth pressed her lips together in a bashful smile. He wasn’t sure at this point if she was just playing along or if she was betraying her emotions. At this point, he would take either.

He extended his arm and watched with a smile as Elizabeth stepped down and inserted her arm through his. She didn’t clamp her hand around his elbow as tightly as she had on previous occasions, and her eyes weren’t wrinkling. Yeah. The posturing was fake.

Which made him even more determined to see his plan through.

He was going to dance with Elizabeth, make her laugh, give her his undivided attention, do everything he could to make up for his stupidity.

And if she smiled at him, just once, it would be worth it.


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