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Afterwards, they lay awake for the longest time.

John was spooned up against Elizabeth, holding her against him, brushing his fingertips across her hands that lay in front of her. Just when she thought he was about to fall asleep, he would lean forward and kiss the back of her neck. It was comforting, a reminder that he was still there.

Would always be there.

She wanted to turn around and talk about this, but she couldn’t summon the strength.

John seemed to sense it too. He pushed himself up a little higher and gently pulled her body around in his arms so that they could see each other, face to face.

The look in his eyes was sleepy yet content, and he smiled at her. “Get some sleep,” he said, gently pressing his lips to hers. “We’ll talk in the morning.”

She smiled against him, then rolled back over and pulled John’s arm tighter around her.

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

When the sun peaked through the blinds again, Elizabeth was laying facedown on the bed, her head sideways on the pillow, watching John as he slept. Her right arm was framing her head, and she gently pulled her head up and slid her hand underneath it, giving it more height.

“Morning,” John suddenly whispered, and she narrowed her eyes at him.

“How did you know?”

“Being off world so often, it kind of becomes habit. Especially when you wake up to a village of little people staring at you.”

She laughed, and instantly she knew that his story was a lie. He only said so to make her laugh.

And right now, she didn’t mind.

He finally opened his eyes and blinked a few times, then turned his head towards her. “Hi,” he greeted again, feigning shyness.

She pressed her face into her arm, truly feeling the same way. “Hi.”

“How’d you sleep?”

“Mmm. Wonderful.”

“That’s good,” he evenly replied. Then he frowned at her. “On a scale of one to ten, how did I do?”

She burst out laughing and buried her face in the pillow.

The smile on John’s face was disarming her, and she forgot about the elephant in the room.

He leaned over and brushed the hair away from the nape of her neck, and he pressed a kiss there, sending chills down her spine. “So,” he drew out slowly, moving his lips across her exposed shoulder, “what’s on the agenda for today?”

As his lips continued to wander, she spoke quickly, knowing that it wouldn‘t be long until the thought left her. “Umm, I have a meeting with Kerrak to help him prepare for the transition and we have one last brunch with him and Tharon and oh my God, John,” she pleaded as she rolled over in the bed, rolling her head back against the pillow.

John shifted in the bed and pressed one knee in between hers as she wrapped her hands around his head and pulled him down. Instead of meeting her lips, he angled his head and kissed, then sucked, at that one spot at the juncture of her neck and shoulders that sent her arching into the bed every time.

“John,” she whispered, threading her fingers through his hair.

He pulled his head up, but the goofy grin was gone. “Yeah,” he replied in a resigned tone.

Elizabeth frowned at him, then chuckled. “I didn’t say stop.”

“I know,” he replied, leaning sideways on his right elbow and running a hand through his hair. “That was me.”

“Why?” she asked as his eyes darted around the room.

He sighed, then looked back at her. “We’re gonna have to talk about this, at some point.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, and ran a hand over her face. “I know,” she admitted, rubbing the back of her neck nervously.

John turned and lay on his back, biting his lip as he stared across the empty room.

She didn’t like the tension that had suddenly crept back into the room. So she turned on her side and sprawled a hand across his chest. “Let’s finish doing our best to help Tharon and Kerrak, and then we’ll talk about this when we get home.” She tilted her head to the side, then brought her green eyes back to look John in the eye. “We will figure this out.”

He narrowed his eyes at her doubtingly. “You sure? Because when I first brought this up, you wanted to--”

Elizabeth pressed a slim finger against his lips. “I’m sure,” she answered, replacing her finger with her lips.

She felt him smile and she pulled her head back, resting it on his shoulder while he let out a sigh of relief. After everything that they had been through, everything that she had finally let herself feel, it was impossible to just leave this newfound relationship on Fa’tor and pretend it never happened.

“John?”

“Hmm?”

She paused for a moment, then looked up at him and said it. “I love you.”

John craned his head and looked back at her, lips parted in shock.

Elizabeth smiled back at him, ensuring that she was sincere. “I’ve always liked you. But somewhere along the way,” she told him, “I started to love you.”

He still didn’t say anything, but he pressed his lips together and sat up a little more against the pillow.

She shrugged lightly. “I just thought you should know that.”

He leaned forward and captured her lips again, and she smiled.

Especially when he replied, “Love you too, ‘Lizabeth.”


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