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Tharon and Kerrak were sitting behind the desk, hands clasped, as they talked quietly. Elizabeth cast a look of pity their direction, then moved across the room, closer to John.

He stood by the door, listening to the crowds as they got riled up and then fell silent for a few moments. The pattern was occurring like clockwork, with no sign of letting up. It worried Elizabeth greatly; the calm society that she had only met days ago had turned, their behavior border lining on savage.

Even if she was deaf, she would’ve known about all the commotion outside just by John’s body language. Whenever the crowds would become loud and boisterous, he would tense, and his hand would instinctively go to the absent gun holster on his right thigh. As the people calmed, so did John.

She reached out and touched his arm. “Everything all right?”

He sighed, running a hand through his hair as his hazel eyes looked down. “They’re a little quieter than they were before.” He frowned, then looked up. “But not by much.”

Elizabeth crossed her arms, hugging herself. “They should’ve made it to the ‘Gate by now.” She was trying not to let herself worry about Ronan and Teyla, but as the minutes stretched on, feeling like hours, she dropped her guard and worried.

John attempted a smile, reaching out to touch her elbow. “They’re fine. Rodney probably answered the phone back home.”

She smiled, just for a second.

Then John’s radio crackled. “Colonel Sheppard, please respond,” Teyla’s voice calmly called out.

He pressed the switch. “Go ahead.”

Major Lorne is sending the teams through as we speak. Shall we discreetly return to the village?

Elizabeth nodded her head. “Tell them to hurry. It’s only a matter of time before the villagers come after them.”

John clicked his radio again and walked towards a window. “Yeah. Try to keep out of sight, and hurry up. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Understood. Teyla out.”

As the radio fell silent, John turned around and glanced at Elizabeth. To anybody that was observing, it was a brief look of reassurance. But Elizabeth saw something else, something that had always been there, hiding under the depths of his hazel eyes. It mirrored the look that she was giving him in return.

Worry. Concern. Desire, even.

Love?

She shook her head at him, breaking eye contact, and gave him a hesitant smile. “We’ll be fine,” she tried, trying to seem as optimistic as she could, given the circumstances.

John took a step towards her, slowly nodding. He lowered his voice so that only Elizabeth could hear him. “You mean them? Or us?” he quietly asked, reaching out to take her hands in his.

John.” The tone of warning she had tried to convey was nearly overshadowed by the desperation she felt. Despite the dire situation that they now found themselves in, the urge to take him by the hand and lead him to a lonely spot was almost getting the better of her.

John raised an eyebrow, then gently tugged her hands, walking backwards to the window. She helplessly followed him.

They sat down on the window seat. He ran a hand through his hair anxiously and she immediately missed the contact. “I know that, for the past couple of days, things have been … different between us,” he stated, licking his lips as was his custom when he was nervous. “And I know that, once we go back to Atlantis, things have to go back to the way they were.”

No, they don’t, was the first response that came to Elizabeth’s mind, but she quickly suppressed it as his hand covered hers again.

She was acutely aware of John‘s thumbs rubbing the tops of her hands, causing goosebumps up the length of her arms. But her eyes were on his, and she was listening to every word. “But I want you to know that, no matter what, I will always be there for you. It doesn’t matter if I’m the military commander of Atlantis, your partner, or your closest friend. Anytime that you need anything, someone to talk to, whatever it is -- I’ll come.”

I need you.

John smiled, almost embarrassed. “You know, it’s funny,” he said, looking down at their hands. “I’m not the kind of guy to talk about my feelings.”

“I’ve noticed,” Elizabeth dryly commented, the only thing she could bring herself to say without betraying herself.

He cleared his throat lightly, raising his head. “But I care about you. A lot more than I ever expected to. And I--” She thought she heard a sniffle, but convinced herself it was just a sharp breath. “And that’s how I feel. And nothing will ever change that. Do you understand?”

Elizabeth couldn’t look him in the eye anymore. Staring down at her lap until she felt John’s hand touch her cheek. “Hey,” he whispered. “Look at me.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?” he gently pressed.

She finally got a hold of herself, but as she blinked and looked up, a tear escaped down her cheek. “Because I won’t be able to stop myself.”

The deluge began to break and she let herself start to mourn for the end of their relationship that never really even came to fruition.

John sighed. “’Lizabeth,” he whispered in empathy, pulling her to him by the shoulders and just holding her for a second.

She had more crying to do, but now was not the place or time. As she started drawing back, John cupped her cheeks and wiped the trails of tears away. “You gonna be okay?”

Timidly, she shook her head. “I don’t know.”

John dipped his head and gently kissed her. It was chaste and sweet, but mostly reassuring. “We’re gonna be okay. Trust me, all right?”

“I do.”

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

Teyla and Ronan led the team through the woods that surrounded the square. They made their way to a dirt mound on the northern side of town and hid behind it. When they finally caught sight of the village again, their fears were confirmed.

“Looks like the entire town has mobbed together,” Ronan said, checking the setting on his stunner.

“Indeed. I hope that Colonel Sheppard and Doctor Weir are still safely indoors with Tharon and Kerrak.”

Ronan noticed a movement in the town square. A new group of people approached from the southern entrance, holding familiar looking devices in their arms and hands.

“Damn,” Ronan muttered, sinking down behind the dirt mound next to Teyla.

Her eyes widened. “What’s wrong?”

His eyes met hers. “They’ve got guns.”

They watched in slight horror as the villagers approached the others and began distributing the weapons freely.

Teyla reached for her radio. “Colonel Sheppard, please respond.”

Go ahead, Teyla.”

“We’ve arrived back at the village, but there’s been a development.”

What kind of development?” he asked, starting to sound a little irate.

“They’ve got guns. Handing them out to everyone gathered in the square.”

Oh crap,” was Sheppard’s immediate reply. “How the hell did they even get weapons in the first place?

His query was answered by someone in the room. Judging from the high pitched voice, it was Tharon. “The Council members knew where the weapons were stored. One of them must have told some of the villagers where to find them.”

“Colonel, do you have your weapons on you?” Teyla inquired, even though she was fairly certain of the answer.

No, my P-90 and my sidearm are both up in our bedroom. Ran out too quick this morning.”

After letting out a moan of frustration, Teyla nodded at the Marines, who began to stand and move around her. “We’re coming to get you. Be careful.”

She heard a cocky smirk. “Yeah, I don’t have much of a say--

The next sound through the radio was the door being broken down and the yelling of villagers as they demanded Tharon and Kerrak to give themselves up.

They stealthily snuck around the buildings, being careful to avoid anyone.

They took off running when they heard the first gunshot, and the sound of someone screaming in pain.


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