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John awoke with a slight headache, and inhaled sharply.

The scent of some type of berries filled his nostrils, and when he opened his eyes, the brown hair directly in front of him caused him to frown in confusion.

Pretty sure that’s not mine.

Then the soft hand wrapped in his squeezed and he heard a soft sigh as the person in front of him shifted slightly.

He blinked once, then chuckled in realization and pressed a kiss to the back of the neck that was now visible to him. “Morning,” he greeted, starting to work his way around the left side of her neck, the pale vastness opening up to him.

She turned her head with a moan, and John craned his neck as their lips finally met again.

He pulled back, and Elizabeth smiled up at him, shyly. “Good morning,” she whispered in reply, a playful smile on her lips.

John leaned down and kissed her one more time before rolling back onto his side, spooning Elizabeth as he had during the night. Their intertwined fingers rested on the small rise of her hip, and he pulled himself closer to her, breathing her in.

As the fog started to lift and the realization of last night hit him like a soft nudge in the arm, he sighed. Judging from the camisole top that Elizabeth was still wearing, and the fact he could still feel his boxers, it was safe to assume that they hadn’t actually had sex last night. He felt disappointed and relieved at the same time, and he hated himself for it. Despite his adamant disapproval of Elizabeth’s principle of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” he couldn’t help but let his mind wander to what repercussions they would have to face when they returned to Atlantis.

An invisible hand hit him upside the head. He was laying in bed with Elizabeth, his arms wrapped securely around her. Don’t start on what’s going to happen once you get home. You’re still here. Enjoy it.

He raised an eyebrow and chuckled.

Elizabeth finally spoke again, almost reading his thoughts. “We can’t stay in here all day, John,” she chided in a light voice, yawns threatening to drown her out.

“Mm. Sure we can. The Fa’torians aren’t gonna care. They probably encourage this sort of behavior between husbands and wives.”

Elizabeth giggled. “And what about Ronan and Teyla?”

John let out a mocking groan. “Eeh. I’ll take care of them later.”

She rolled over in his arms, letting him readjust his right arm under her waist before she settled. “I foresee a few problems with that.”

The sight of Elizabeth, her hair mussed from being pressed into the pillow, the lavender nightshirt that she wore that exposed so much skin, and the sated look on her face made him forget what the conversation was about. “Yeah?” he asked absentmindedly, pressing a kiss to her collarbone.

She gasped, then cleared her throat. John apparently wasn’t going to deter her, even though he was going to try his best. “They will -- ooh -- figure out where we are, sooner or later.”

“Okay,” he drew out, trailing down her skin towards fabric that just covered her breasts.

“And when Rodney gets back, someone will tell him.” She pressed her hands against his bare chest, gently forcing him to stop.

John groaned, pulling his head up. “You had to throw that in there, didn’t you?”

She shrugged, then grinned.

He cupped her cheek and kissed her again, more forcefully this time, trying to convince her to change her mind.

But when he pulled back, Elizabeth was making a face at him that was both pleading and apologetic. “I’m supposed to meet with the Council one more time this morning. We may be finished this afternoon, if everything works out.”

John grimaced, then flopped over and lay on his back. He grunted assent, then began to study the ceiling.

Elizabeth pushed the covers down and made a move to sit up. John let his eyes roam over her back. The rise of her spine was visible as she leaned forward, and as much as he wanted to reach out and run his hand over her back for the umpteenth time, he restrained himself. They had shared last night, which was more than John honestly expected, and he didn’t want to ruin the rest of their time here with gestures which would distract Elizabeth from finishing her talks with the Fa’torian High Council, or that would hurt even more once they went home.

John. Shut the hell up.

But instead of swinging her legs over the side of the bed and standing, she turned to her left and curled up in John’s side again.

When he cocked a curious eyebrow at her, she gave him one of her own. “Five more minutes.”

“Deal,” he replied, kissing her hair and wrapping his arm under her waist again. It was probably going to be numb in a matter of minutes, but he didn’t care. Nothing could phase him at this moment.

Except for the heavy knocking on the wood door.

“Sheppard!”

John’s eyes widened in worry as Ronan’s voice carried into the room. He pulled his arms back from Elizabeth and jumped out of the bed.

He opened the door just a crack, thankful that the angle shielded the bed -- and Elizabeth -- from view. Mindful of his current lack of clothing, he hid his body behind the door. “What is it?”

Ronan turned and glanced down the hallway towards the lobby. “Something’s happening. Teyla and I were downstairs, and all of a sudden, the villagers started yelling and carrying on.”

John turned and noticed Teyla standing next to Ronan. “Any idea what is it?”

Teyla shook her head. “I do not know. But I heard a rumor from the guide downstairs that the prime minister called an early meeting of the High Council.”

By now, Elizabeth had gotten out of bed, pulled on a thin robe, and made her way to the door. She tapped John on the arm, and he opened the door a little more. “They’re having an emergency meeting?”

Teyla‘s eyes flickered quickly between them, but John had a feeing that it was more do with his current attire instead of Elizabeth’s. “That was all that I have heard. But Elizabeth? I have not seen Tharon at all. Nor did Kerrak join us for breakfast this morning.”

John and Elizabeth turned to each other, exchanging worried glances. He knew that she was thinking: what was going on that could have possibly turned the Fa’torians hostile in the past twelve hours?

She frowned in thought, then her eyes widened. John knew that she had figured it out, and wished he understood too.

“Teyla, we need to find Tharon.”

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

As Tharon paced back and forth in her office, the ramifications of her actions washed over her like a deluge of water. The thought of what she had done, what she had proposed to the Council, was making her physically ill. It shouldn’t be, but as she ran across the room to a waste basket and emptied her stomach of its breakfast, it was the only logical conclusion that she could come up with.

She reached for a cleaning cloth and used it to wipe the edges of her mouth. The feeling of nausea began to subside, and she knelt on the floor and let out a heavy sigh.

Did I do the right thing?

Regret was starting to eat away at her. She should have informed Elizabeth of her plans, but she didn’t want the Lanteans any more involved than they already were. The timing of their arrival was almost perfect. If things got out of hand, she knew that the weapons they had arrived with were still upstairs in their bedrooms.

Ronan didn’t even need a weapon, she thought with a small smile.

Just then, the door flew open and shut just as quickly.

Kerrak rushed over to her and knelt down as well. “Are you all right?” he asked in worry, eyes roaming over her.

Tharon nodded. “I’m fine, I’m fine.” She sat down, her back against the bookcase that the cloth had laid atop of earlier. “Breakfast didn’t agree with me.”

Her husband frowned, narrowing his blue eyes at her. “That’s the second time this week that your breakfast hasn’t agreed with you.”

She heard the sounds of shoes and boots shuffling on the stone ground outside her door, and she dismissed the thought with a shake of her head. “We have more important issues to deal with than my stomach. Help me up.”

The instant that she stood on her feet again, the door swung open without the usual consent.

Elizabeth and Teyla walked into her office, followed by John and Ronan who quickly shut the door behind them. Elizabeth and John appeared to have hastily gotten dressed. While he had thrown on the clothes that he had worn when he got here, his black shirt wasn’t tucked into his grey pants, and his boot laces were undone. Elizabeth was wearing the clothing offered to her by the village, but her hair was slightly disheveled, indicating that they had rushed down here in a hurry.

If Tharon had been in their place, she would have done the same.

“Tharon, is everything all right?” Teyla asked, skipping over the formal greetings that normally accompanied their meetings.

She nodded, her short blonde waves bouncing as she did so. “Yes, why do you ask?”

“We heard about your early meeting with the Council. And we heard the angry mob that gathered shortly afterwards.” Elizabeth tilted her head. “We’ve been completely honest with you about our intentions. Can we expect to have the favor returned?”

Tharon closed her eyes and sighed slowly. “I was hoping to discuss this at a later time, but it seems I am overruled.” She moved across the room to sit at her desk. “There is a matter, which I have been wanting to present to the Council for quite some time, and I thought the morning after the celebration where most of the members would have drunk far too much raa’zin would be the perfect time to put it forward.” She looked up at Elizabeth. “I was wrong,” she admitted with shame.

Elizabeth sat down opposite her, leaning forward as her face scrunched up in an worried expression that Tharon recognized all too easily. “Tharon … what did you do?”

She folded her hands on top of the desk. “I told them it was time for a change.”

“What kind of change?” John asked.

She could sense his impatience, but mostly his worry. Tharon had a feeling it had to do more with Elizabeth and not with the Fa’torians’ situation, but that was a topic for later debate.

Her eyes met Kerrak’s reassuring gaze.

“I announced my intention to relinquish my position as prime minister. To Kerrak.”

The last time she had seen such shocked faces was twenty minutes ago in the Council chambers, when she had told them the same thing.


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