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Elizabeth was awake almost the instant that the morning light streamed through the window. Without the sound of the waves to lull her to sleep, she had laid awake for far too long, listening to John’s easy breathing while he slept. The sound eventually soothed her, closing her eyes some time during the early morning hours.

She looked towards the window on her right, where the heavy blinds parted and the Fa’torian sun harshly reminded her how short her night had been. She groaned as she buried her head into the pillow a little more. The order of the day was negotiations with Tharon. And even though she looked forward to them, as well as learning more about their culture, she had no desire to leave the sanctuary of the bed.

She heard John‘s even breathing next to her suddenly catch as he began to wake up. “Morning,” he faintly whispered, clearing his throat.

A small smile crept across her lips, though she didn’t know why. “Good morning,” she replied, turning over and laying on her back. She glanced at John shyly out of the corner of her eyes. His eyes were still shut, his hands were resting on his chest as it moved up and down, and he was smiling too.

One eye opened in her direction to confirm that it was morning, and he groaned, raising his hands to cover his face. “How’d you sleep?”

Considering I barely slept –

“Fine,” she answered with a nod, trying to convince herself. “You?”

“Good,” he replied, his voice slightly higher than normal, sounding unsure himself.

The tension between them made her stare at the ceiling nervously. They had shared a bed; it wasn’t like they just had a one night stand. They were keeping up appearances for the sake of peaceful relations. Why was this so hard?

“So, honey, what are you doing today?”

Elizabeth couldn’t help but laugh. And as she turned her head to look at him, she nodded her thanks.

John smiled back, lacing his fingers behind his head as he returned the nod.

“We’re officially beginning talks today. Tharon may ask Teyla to join us.”

“So, you girls get to chit-chat all day,” John deduced slowly, “and Ronan, McKay and I do … what?”

“Socialize with the other Fa’torians. Get to know some of them a little better.”

John raised a suggestive eyebrow, a goofy smile spreading over his face.

“That is not what I mean, John, and you know it,” she reprimanded as she fought a yawn. “Learn a little more about their history, their culture, the espo beans. Besides, the Fa’torians might be a little suspicious if my husband starts flirting with their eligible young ladies.”

John shook his head, turning over and leaning on his elbow. “You’ve got nothing to worry about, Elizabeth. I‘ve only got eyes for you.”

Elizabeth tilted her head again, and her smile faded. There was something else there, underneath his smug smile, something that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, and she began to feel the apprehension creeping back in to the bed. The sudden urge to stay right there was very strong, but not as strong as her flight reflex.

So she pushed the covers to the foot of the bed and swung her legs over the side.

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

Ronan glared up at the ceiling, fingering his blaster on the table next to him. McKay had been snoring all night. And since he ended up with a little extra time on his hands due to the unintentional insomnia, Ronan had spent it wondering how he could shut up the scientist once and for all.

So far, using his blaster to cut through the heavy plaster ceiling directly above McKay’s bed was at the top of the list.

He groaned and lifted his head. McKay was still asleep, flat on his stomach. A thin line of drool was visible, even from across the room. Geez.

His head landed on the pillow again with a heavy thud. He had considered leaving the room during the night and going to Teyla’s next door, preferring the hard cobblestone floor to the incessant nasal breathing. During his time as a runner, anytime he had the opportunity to sleep, he made himself sleep wherever he could. He got accustomed to laying on tree branches, inside hollowed wooden logs, on steel struts. However, McKay’s snoring was severely testing his patience.

But every time he tried to swing his legs out of the bed, he remembered the pointed glare that McKay had gotten from Weir yesterday when he came close to insulting their hosts. Although he wouldn’t admit it to anyone, Ronan had a lot of respect for her, and it wouldn’t let him do anything to interfere with her efforts. He didn’t want any of the Fa’torians to get any ideas if he snuck into Teyla’s room in the middle of the night.

So he continued listening to McKay’s snoring, simultaneously eying a pillow and wondering how long it would take to smother him.

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

Teyla finished dressing in the garments that the Fa’torians had provided just as a maid knocked on the door. A young, red haired girl smiled at her, telling her that breakfast was served in the inn below. She nodded her thanks and followed after her.

They descended the stairs and made their way around the stairwell. The smaller dining room was actually located behind the stairwell itself. Inside, the rest of her team was already assembled, and she cringed slightly. “I apologize. Did I oversleep?”

“No,” everyone exclaimed at once as they all looked at each other, exchanging casual glances.

Remembering that the inn was almost devoid of people, she eyed the group suspiciously. “Why do I have the feeling that I am the only one who slept soundly last night?”

Ronan glared at Rodney, who sat next to him at the table with his head propped up in his hands. “He snores,” Ronan stated with a grumble.

“Oh, I’m sorry, remind me to make a list of all my habits be -- I do not snore!” he cried out, raising his head quickly.

“Like a freight train,” John confirmed with a ghost of a smile, glancing at Elizabeth as she tried some of the tea. She hid a smirk behind her cup as Rodney glowered.

“Was it really that loud?” McKay snapped warily.

“A: previous experience. And B: you just owned up to it.” A look of triumph came over John’s face, quickly replaced by reluctance as the server placed a cup of tea in front of him.

Ronan grinned and clamped a hand on McKay’s shoulder. “I think you just got your ass handed to you.”

“Shut up.”

Teyla shook her head with a chuckle, then sat down next to Ronan, opposite Elizabeth. Despite the fact that it was only about nine o’clock in the morning, the Expedition leader was still yawning, and John looked as exhausted as she did. “How did you sleep?” Teyla asked, knowing full well that the answer would be a lie.

“Fine,” they replied in unison, aware of the server hovering near the doorway.

Teyla narrowed her eyes in disbelief, but said nothing else.

An uncomfortable silence fell over the group, leading John to stand from the table. “Ronan, McKay, what do you say we go for a walk?”

Ronan jumped up from the table before he had even finished speaking, showing his agreement.

Rodney groaned reluctantly. “Sure, why not? Maybe I can find something else I’m allergic to.”

As the scientist stood and walked out of the room, John grabbed Ronan by the arm. “Is your blaster set to stun?”

“Has been all night,” he replied, patting it and following McKay out of the room.

John looked back at Teyla and Elizabeth, licking his lips. “Well, ladies, have a wonderful morning … doing whatever it is that you’re going to be doing.”

Elizabeth nodded at him, leaning back in her chair and holding the cup of warm tea in her hands. “You too.”

John opened his mouth, looking as though he was about to say something else, then quickly closed it.

In a move that surprised Teyla, he ducked back down and pressed his lips to Elizabeth’s forehead. He whispered something that Teyla couldn’t hear. Elizabeth quickly overcame her shock and nodded in response, smiling back at him. “Behave yourselves.”

“Easier said than done,” John replied as he walked away.

Once he was out of earshot, Teyla turned to the servant. “Do you mind giving us the room?”

“Of course, ma’am,” he replied, exiting the same way and closing the doors behind him.

The instant she heard the latch, Teyla turned her eyes to Elizabeth, who was looking comatose. “What was that?” she exclaimed incredulously, quickly looking towards the doors.

Elizabeth took a deep breath, then leaned forward, placing her cup on the table. “I suppose it was my husband kissing me on the forehead to keep up appearances for the Fa’torians.”

“It wasn’t just that, Elizabeth,” Teyla disputed, crossing her arms against her chest. “Something seemed amiss when I walked in this morning. As if neither of you slept very well last night.”

“We didn’t,” Elizabeth frankly admitted. “It was hard to fall asleep without the ocean,” she explained, but she trailed off at the end, seeming as if she wanted to say something else but restrained herself.

Teyla nodded in understanding, then said what Elizabeth didn’t. “And you were sharing a bed with John.”

An absurd smile came over Elizabeth‘s face, turning her slightly red. “It shouldn’t matter, anyway! We’ve had to play this charade before, and every time it has been a success and we left with new allies. This time won’t be any different.”

“Except you can’t deny that something between you has changed,” Teyla said slowly, causing Elizabeth to sigh and drop her head. “I have noticed a difference between you and John, but I cannot explain what it is.”

“Yeah, neither can I,” Elizabeth replied, raising her head and pinching the bridge of her nose.

The sound of footsteps outside silently marked the end of their conversation, and Elizabeth seemed relieved as the doors opened and a guide stepped to the side as Tharon stepped into the room. “Elizabeth. Teyla. Good morning.”

“Good morning to you, Tharon,” Teyla replied. “I trust you are well?”

Tharon nodded her head, then ran a hand over her stomach. “Last night’s meal apparently did not sit well with me, but it is nothing to deter us. Come. The Council is looking forward to meeting you.”

Any hint of anxiety from their previous conversation had faded from Elizabeth’s face. What Teyla recognized as her tactful diplomatic face was securely fastened to her face with a reassuring smile. “By all means,” Elizabeth responded, gesturing to the doorway.

As Tharon led the way out, Teyla reached out and grasped Elizabeth’s arm. “We will have a very productive day, Elizabeth. And perhaps tonight, we may dine without the company of the men.”

Elizabeth’s lips tilted upwards in a grateful smile. “I would like that.”


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