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Later on, during the afternoon, Carson allowed Tharon to be released from the infirmary. A lieutenant brought her and Kerrak back up to the Stargate control room, where John and Elizabeth stood behind a panel.

The Stargate was active below them, and Tharon spotted something on wheels nearing the blue surface. “What is that?” she asked curiously.

Elizabeth answered. “It’s called a MALP. It’s a robotic probe that we normally send ahead of teams to the various planets they will be exploring. It allows us to take readings of environmental statistics, life signs, and much more.”

Rodney McKay nodded at the probe as it disappeared through the wormhole. “We just sent that one to M51-936.”

“The designation our computer system gave to Fa’tor,” Elizabeth clarified.

Tharon nodded. “And what will it do once it arrives?”

“We’ll make contact with the team of Marines still on the planet. They’ll bring one of the other Council members to debrief us about the situation, and if things have simmered down, we may be able to return.”

“We’re receiving imagery,” reported a brown headed man sitting at the console in front of them. He had a similar patch on his left arm as did Rodney -- a rectangular symbol with a red leaf in the middle.

“Thank you, Chuck,” Elizabeth replied, and she turned her attention to the right at a larger screen that flickered to life.

The young man who had run to the Stargate shortly after she was wounded became visible. “This is Lieutenant Foreman. Do you read, Atlantis?

“We copy you, Lieutenant,” John confirmed. “Give me a sit-rep.”

“Sir. The locals have stopped rioting. It seems seeing their leader with a gunshot wound and the person responsible for it being tied up brought back some common sense. Most of them have expressed worry about Prime Minster Tharon. I have Councilor Letera with me.”

“May I talk with her?” Tharon asked, moving closer to the screen.

“Of course,” Elizabeth responded. “Lieutenant, please ask Letera to step into view of the MALP.”

He motioned off to the side, and within seconds, the familiar tan skin and bobbed hair cut of one of her most trusted advisors appeared.

Tharon, are you there?” Letera asked through the camera.

“I am. Are you well?”

Letera smiled. “We are fine. Everyone has been most worried about you.”

“Assure everyone that I am all right. Atlantis has a most capable doctor here. I barely feel any pain now.”

I am glad to hear it.

“Letera, Kerrak and I wish to return home to finalize our negotiations with Doctor Weir. I trust you, and your judgment. Do you believe it safe for us to return?”

She nodded. “Yes, it is. Cynara had bribed many of the villagers. That was why she gained so much support. But as the young man here said, once they saw you being carried out and found that the blame rested with her, they quickly explained why they had sided with her in the first place.”

“How do you think the rest of the Council will respond to my decision?”

Letera shrugged. “I’m still getting used to the concept myself, but I believe it is a change that will be beneficial for our people. I have confidence in Kerrak … and yourself.” She smiled, then tilted her head. “He will need someone to help guide him until he becomes comfortable with his responsibilities.”

Tharon let out a heavy sigh of relief. “You have no idea how pleased I am to hear that. Very well, then. We will plan on returning shortly. After we’ve concluded our meeting with Doctor Weir, we will make a decision on how to handle Cynara’s revolt.”

Letera nodded. “Very well, Prime Minister. We look forward to your return.

As she stepped out of sight, Tharon turned around and faced Elizabeth. A wide, confident smile appeared on her face. “Elizabeth. I believe we have some work to do.”

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

That evening, Elizabeth leaned against the chair in the now empty chambers where the Fa’torian High Council had just dismissed their final meeting. Tharon had broken the news to them about her pregnancy, as well as her reaffirmation that Kerrak become the Prime Minister.

This time around, it was accepted with much more respect and approval than before.

Elizabeth had quirked an eyebrow. Maybe there was hope for them, after all.

A boot scraped against the doorway and she looked up, finding a very familiar set of hazel eyes watching her. “Hey,” she greeted, closing up her notepad.

“Hey,” John greeted in return, walking in slowly and sitting down on the edge of the desk next to her chair. “So how did everything go?”

She exhaled through her mouth. “Amazingly well. I think that Kerrak will do a good job. He sat in on the meeting today and asked questions that I hadn’t even thought of.”

John nodded. “So McKay just finished installing the radar system. He’s explaining it to a few of the locals, make sure they know how to use it. And I’m a little hungry.”

“I’m starving,” Elizabeth replied, looking up hopefully at John.

He grinned and pushed himself off the table. “Luckily for you, I’m good friends with the hotel staff. C’mon. We’ve got room service waiting for us.”

She chuckled, then stood up from her chair, stretching out her back. “I imagine you went all out.”

John shrugged. “It’s our last night here. Figured I should make it count.”

They walked back to their room in relative silence. Elizabeth had been anticipating this day at the start of this mission, but now, as each step brought them closer to the end, she found herself dreading it.

From the slow pace that John was walking, and the melancholy way that he stared at his feet while he walked, she assumed he felt the same way.

He opened the door for her, and she let out a soft laugh.

A blanket had been spread on the floor, close enough to the window for the moonlight to stream across it. Two candles were lit on the blanket, giving just enough light for her to walk across the room without crashing into anything. A variety of food was laid out on small platters, and a bottle of what appeared to be raa’zin was sitting next to two glasses.

John muttered something, and Elizabeth craned her neck. “What did you say?”

He smiled as he closed the door behind them. “I took French when I was in high school. Trying to remember a little bit.”

“Did that help you when you were trying to ask girls out?” she teased.

“A little.” He frowned. “Until they realized the only thing I was saying was, ‘Can you please show me where the bathroom is? I think I’m going to vomit’.”

Elizabeth laughed as she knelt down on the blanket. “Smooth.”

John discarded his jacket on the bed, then dropped to the blanket next to her. “So from what I remember, the raa’zin has a bit of a kick to it.”

She nodded at him.

“Let’s start with that.”

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

About half an hour later, John was laying on the blanket, leaning back and supporting his upper body with his elbows as Elizabeth finished her second cup of the Fa’torian wine. She smiled at him, then carefully set the glass down. “I don’t think I should have any more. I’d like to actually remember tonight in the morning.”

John cocked an eyebrow at her. “What do you mean?”

Elizabeth blinked innocently. “It’s our last night on Fa’tor. I’d like to remember all of the good we accomplished today.”

He slowly nodded, but he wasn’t completely fooled. The feeling that she meant something else wouldn’t leave his mind, no matter how hard he tried to convince himself.

Smiling, she picked up a piece of cheese and popped it in her mouth. “John?”

“Yeah?”

“There’s one thing I’d like to do before we have to go home.”

“What’s that?” he tried to ask as nonchalantly as he could, even though his heart was pounding loud enough that he was sure she could hear it.

A shy smile crossed her face. “I want to dance with you.”

He almost snorted, then realized that she was serious. “Umm,” he responded, pointing around the room, “there’s no music.”

Elizabeth shrugged. “That’s okay. I can hum.”

Either she was already drunk, or one more drink would’ve put her over the line. Good thing she stopped herself. John pressed his lips together, then nodded. “Sure.”

He stood up from the blanket, being careful to not knock anything over or step on anything, and extended his arms to help Elizabeth up.

They stood clear of the blanket, and the nervous look on her face reminded John of his 8th grade dance. He smiled reassuringly at her, then slid his right hand around her waist and held her right hand in his other one. She rested her left hand on his shoulder and stepped closer to him.

“So. Any particular song in mind?”

She whispered a name in his ear, and he flushed. He knew the song, but wasn’t a big fan of singing. So he softly started to move with her, humming the music while the lyrics played in his head.

See the pyramids along the Nile
Watch the sun rise from the tropic isle
Just remember, darling, all the while
You belong to me

See the marketplace in old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs
Just remember when a dream appears
You belong to me

And I'll be so alone without you
Maybe you'll be lonesome too

Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain
Just remember till you're home again
You belong to me


Even though the lyrics ended, he kept humming the music. It was the perfect song for them, in this moment. He had told her how he felt, and even though when they went back to Atlantis life would return to what consisted of normal for the two of them, he couldn’t help the way that he felt about her. No matter what they would do, or even where life might take them, John’s heart would always be Elizabeth’s. It would always belong to her.

She started to become heavy in his arms, and he realized that the wine was affecting her and making her sleepy. Just as he was about to jostle her, or move her towards the bed, she raised her head and kissed him.

But this was different. All the kisses before this were chaste, in comparison. This one was passionate, needing, desperate, open mouthed.

Before she had even pulled away, John knew where this was going to end up.

“Elizabeth. Are you sure about this?”

Her green eyes were darkening, and he could feel her pulse rise in the hand that he still held. She inhaled sharply, and when she exhaled John didn’t smell as much wine as he expected to.

“When we go back to Atlantis, I don’t want to regret anything about this.” She removed the hand that she had placed on his shoulder down to the hemline of his black shirt, and began to pull it up.

He didn’t fight her; instead, he raised his arms to make it easier for her to tug his shirt over his head.

Elizabeth dropped it to the floor and timidly pressed her hands against his chest. Something on his chest caught her attention, and he winced as the realization hit him.

She ran a light finger over the still healing scar above his heart. “Oh, John,” she whispered, lowering her head and pressing a feather light kiss to it.

His eyes closed as he sighed. “It wasn’t your fault,” he told her quietly, resurrecting the debate from shortly after he had returned to Atlantis after Kolya’s imprisonment of him.

“I know,” she replied immediately, her eyes still drawn to his chest.

He chuckled, then dipped his head. “My lips are up here,” he teased her.

Elizabeth raised her head and kissed him soundly again.

John began to walk her backwards until the backs of her knees hit the edge of the bed. But instead of sitting down, she rotated them so that his back was to the bed. She pressed down on his shoulders, forcing him to sit.

He wanted to bite his lip at the next thing that came out of his mouth. “If we do this, what’s gonna happen when we go home?”

The irony that he was the one trying to bring up the consequences of their actions tonight was not lost on him.

She sighed, but instead of crossing her arms, her hands snaked to the bottom of her own shirt and swiftly pulled it over her head.

As John’s eyes readjusted in the dim light and he reached a hand up to trace the outline of the black bra against her small breast, she smirked. “We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.”

All logical thought was lost to him as she pushed him back on the bed and crawled over him, straddling his waist.


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