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As the storm continued outside, the rest of the team sat to eat with Tharon and her husband, Kerrak. The younger guide led John and Elizabeth through a hallway as she shook off her jacket. With all the rainwater it had absorbed, it felt like it weighed an extra ten pounds. She glanced back at John, trailing closely behind her. He still wore his leather jacket, which had helped to ward off the rain, but he appeared to be shivering every few seconds.

"Are you cold?" she asked quietly.

John shrugged as they kept walking. "A little. My head feels like an ice cube."

She repressed a smirk but still chuckled as she absentmindedly extended her hand, running it lightly over the errant strands. His dark hair was still inexplicably pointing all over, and even as her hand glided over she could feel the humid moisture rising from it.

They stopped walking. Her eyes caught John's, and as she processed the strange look that he was giving her, she pulled back. What had come over her? She couldn't remember ever petting his hair before. Did she subconsciously think that she was at liberty to do so now, given their current "married" status?

She pressed her lips together, mouthing "sorry" so their guide wouldn't hear them.

John shook his head, dismissing it, and gestured for them to continue walking.

They passed a set of windows, and they saw the rain still pouring in the square, making large puddles. Their path took them into the neighboring building, and the corridor emptied out into a large room that looked like a lobby. A few Fa’torians were walking around. Some were carrying large bags, muttering as they looked outside through the windows. A young man stood behind a desk, dispensing information and keys. Elizabeth assumed that it was their inn.

The guide led them up the stairs. The pack on her back was getting heavier with each step, and just as she stopped walking to take it off and carry it in her hand, the weight disappeared.

John held the handle on the top as she slid her arms out of the straps. She turned around to face him, to take the bag back, but he shook his head at her and motioned her up the steps. “I got it.”

She nodded her thanks and continued up the stairs.

The hallway on the second floor had six doors, three on each side. The guide stopped at the second door on the left. “This is your room, courtesy of Prime Minister Tharon,” he said, nodding respectfully at Elizabeth. “I hope it is to your liking.”

John and Elizabeth shot each other a wary glance, then realized that they would be sharing a bedroom during their stay here. She smiled in approval. “Thank you,” she murmured as the young man walked swiftly back down the hallway to the stairs.

She felt John’s eyes resting on her as he leaned against the doorway.

“What?” she asked, glancing up at him, lips quirking upwards in a smile.

He shrugged. “Nothing. Just repressing the urge to pick you up and carry you across the threshold.”

It made Elizabeth laugh. Judging from the smile that was spreading over John’s face, she assumed that was his plan.

The door opened and she heard John groan behind her.

She knew why. There was no couch. Only one bed. The only small mercy was that it wasn’t a twin.

The two windows in the room were straight across from the door. The bed was on the right side of the room, and a small sitting chair was on the left. There was a latched door next to the chair, which Elizabeth assumed led into the bathroom.

She walked in and John closed the door behind her. Dropping the bags in the bed, he removed his vest and unzipped his leather jacket. His black t-shirt was slightly damp around the collar, and he reached for the hem. The shirt was halfway over his head before he stopped.

Elizabeth had let her eyes roam eagerly over John’s well sculpted chest until he tugged the material back down. She averted her eyes as he looked up.

“Sorry,” he apologized, dropping his hands and sitting on the bed. “Kinda forgot who I was with.”

Words escaped her at that moment. Thankfully, a knock at the door rescued her from her speechlessness.

Elizabeth hurried over to the door and opened it. A young woman stood there, flowing fabric in her arms, stepping forward with a wide smile. “You must be Doctor Weir. I am Sebarin. I brought you garments for your evening meal with Prime Minister Tharon.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened in surprise as John stood from the bed. “Oh! Thank you,” she replied, taking the garments from the red headed girl.

She nodded courteously at her, and walked back down the hallway.

As the door closed, she looked back at John and raised an eyebrow.

He shrugged good-naturedly, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “Guess it couldn’t hurt to blend in.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

John had taken his tunic and slacks into the bathroom to change, giving Elizabeth the privacy of the bedroom to change. He quickly yanked his shirt off, threw it on the floor, then held up the loose fitting shirt the Fa’torian woman had given him. It was tan, almost the same color as the shirts he had worn in the Ancients’ ascension sanctuary when he was trapped there for what felt like months. He let out a groan of distaste, but pulled the shirt over his head regardless.

There was a pair of dirt colored sandals resting inside, and they looked about his size. Deciding the boots would clash with the outfit, he knelt down and untied his boots, pulling them off along with the black socks.

He undid his pants and slid them down, pulling on the brown slacks. The material was soft, almost soothing against the skin of his legs that was accustomed to the harsh fabric of the Atlantis uniform. He smirked, then turned around and looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was still slightly damp from the storm earlier, and he grabbed a thick cloth from the counter and did his best to wring out the excess water.

The black hair would spike no matter what he did with it, but he ran his hands through it roughly. He gritted his teeth, then headed for the door. He knocked, then called out, “Elizabeth?”

“I’m dressed,” she responded as his hand went to the door knob.

He glanced down at his sandals as he walked out. “Maybe you can barter for this ma…”

The thought escaped him completely as his eyes took in Elizabeth, and he felt his heart stop for a moment. She was breathtaking, so much so that he had to force himself to inhale. She wore a short sleeved pale green dress with a loose fitting waist and a skirt that flowed down to her ankles. She wore similar black sandals, but with a slight heel. The neckline, though, completely mesmerized him. It started out as a scoop neckline, but just as it reached the middle of her chest it dipped and created a V. It might have been a plain dress for the Fa’torians, but on Elizabeth …

You’re beautiful was the first thing that John could think of. Unfortunately for him, the thought was so loud that he wasn’t sure if he had said it or succeeded at keeping it to himself.

Elizabeth smiled at him. “Does this look okay?” she asked and he sighed slightly. He hadn’t said anything -- he had just thought it over and over again in the expanse of a few seconds.

So he nodded -- perhaps a little too vigorously, he observed silently as she grinned shyly at him.

“You look very nice,” he finally replied, flashing a quick smile at her. He then turned around and motioned at his own clothes. “And how does your husband look?”

“Very handsome,” Elizabeth replied immediately, causing John to tilt his head at her.

“Thank you,” he replied, smiling again and extending an elbow to her.

She laughed as she took it, and they walked back down the hallway to the end of the stairs where the young man was standing, waiting patiently for them.

They walked back through the connecting corridor, reaching the banquet table as McKay’s voice began to rise. “Really, thirds? I couldn’t,” he insisted in a sarcastic tone that John was all too familiar with.

“McKay, leave some for us,” John chided mockingly as he and Elizabeth walked in, untangling their arms.

Ronan and Rodney both stared appreciatively at Elizabeth’s dress, and John was glad to see that he wasn’t the only one so affected by her outfit.

“Wow, Elizabeth, you look … wow,” was all that Rodney could produce as the steaming food on his plate went unnoticed.

“The coloring and style suits you, Elizabeth,” Teyla responded with a smile from her seat on the other side of the table.

Elizabeth nodded in acknowledgement, a sudden flush coloring her cheeks.

John cleared his throat. Noticing the servants out of the corner of his eye, he pulled out a seat at the end of the table where Tharon and Teyla had been sitting. As Elizabeth took a seat, she smiled up at him. “Thank you,” she said, so softly that he could barely hear it.

He nodded at her, at a loss for words at the moment, and took his seat at the other end of the table.

His eyes barely left her during the rest of the meal.


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