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The sound of the wind rustling through the village awakened Elizabeth. The worst of the storm had passed overnight, and her nightmare hadn’t recurred. Her head was still on John’s shoulder, and she blinked in groggy confusion before she remembered how he had pulled her over last night to make sure she actually got to sleep a little.

To be honest, it was the best she had slept in a long time. It was a shame she couldn’t ask Carson to prescribe the handsome man to take her to bed each night.

She silenced a chuckle at the thought, and another one at the imagined look on Carson’s face if she ever brought it up. The Ambien didn’t really help her that much anymore; she still took it, following Carson’s orders, but the medication would only last for so long until it wore off in the morning and she woke up in a sweat, panicking after yet another nightmare, another bad night of sleep.

After a while, she had just decided on less sleep. Less chance for her dreams to turn evil on her.

John’s chest rose and fell easily as he breathed. She craned her neck to see if he was still sleeping and met his hazel eyes. “Morning,” he greeted softly, a ghost of a smile crossing his face.

“Morning,” she replied, almost shyly as she laid her head against his chest again. She brushed her cheek against the fabric of the black T-shirt that he wore, wiping away a rogue tear before she spoke again. Where did that come from? “When did you--”

“Right after you did,” he answered, pulling his arms a little tighter around her.

The diplomat knew that she should have pushed away. They needed to get up soon. There was work to be done. But the woman still needed the solace. The comfort that she got from being in someone’s embrace was a feeling that she hadn’t even realized she had missed until John had pulled her to him last night. But this was temporary; they had only gotten this close due to the pretense of being married, and they wouldn’t be on M51-936 for long.

So she pressed into his side again and looked up at him.

He was staring at the ceiling, but after a blink he looked back at Elizabeth. “You okay?” he whispered.

“Better than I was,” she let herself admit while her guard was still down.

He looked at her, a worried frown covering his face. “So … every time that Atlantis has a storm like that?”

She exhaled and nodded.

Then she cleared her throat, and the eleven year old girl who was scared of thunderstorms faded. She finally pulled away from John and laid flat on the bed.

Don’t let yourself get so close, Elizabeth. When you realize how temporary this really is, it will only hurt you.

John lay still for a moment, and she anxiously wondered if maybe he misunderstood what she did. Surely, he knew as well as she did that while the overnight nearness was needed and appreciated, it was temporary. She bit her lip in consternation.

He finally stretched, letting out a low groan, then let his arms drop to the covers with a thud. Then he sat up against the headboard and chuckled.

“What?”

John had a smug look on his face. “So two things got accomplished last night.”

“Oh?”

He nodded, adjusting the pillow behind him. “You got a full night of sleep, despite the storm.”

Elizabeth held up a hand, extending two fingers. “And the second?”

He chuckled. “I know what we can do for the Fa’torians that would make this a beneficial trade.”

Her eyes widened. “Really? And what’s that?”

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

The team had assembled for breakfast again that morning. Tharon had come in the room, but she quickly excused herself, causing everyone to look at her with concern. Kerrak’s eyes widened, and he made a move to stand and go after her, but he stopped as John and Elizabeth walked in.

The Lantean leader’s eyes followed after Tharon, and then she turned around. “Is Tharon all right?”

Kerrak shook his head helplessly. “I do not know. She just … left.”

Elizabeth nodded, though judging by the look on her face, she wasn’t completely at ease.

John sat Elizabeth down at the breakfast table, then took the chair next to her. Since the room was clear of guards, John spoke freely. “We have a proposition for you. Something that will make this trade much more beneficial to you than us.”

Kerrak leaned forward, obviously interested. “Go on.”

“In the short time since we’ve been on Fa’tor, we’ve experienced two severe thunderstorms. I was told by the guides who escorted us from the Stargate that they happened twice a month, perhaps.” Elizabeth leaned forward, matching Kerrak’s position. “I imagine the unexpected storms cause quite a mess with your agricultural work.”

“They do,” Kerrak confirmed. “We try to put as much into storage houses as we can in preparation, but sometimes we are caught off guard.”

Elizabeth nodded in understanding. “We have a technology that allows us to conduct digital long range scans. It was actually instrumental in helping Atlantis when a massive tropical storm hit our city a few years ago.”

John’s eyes darted over to Elizabeth, but she didn’t even blink. Her stance was formal yet sincere, and she didn’t betray any of the anxiety that had been so overpowering last night. Her fašade was startling and amazing. It made her one of the most treasured members of the Expedition.

He had to make it a point to start reminding her of that.

“Can this technology be brought to Fa’tor? It sounds as if it is integrated into the city,” Kerrak wondered.

“It is,” Elizabeth responded, “but we can set up a network of satellites in orbit above your planet. They can send visuals from space, and also take radar readings to let you know of impending storms.” She reached for a cup of the strong tea and smiled. “It would save you time and energy, and help your people to prepare better.”

“Especially since the number of storms seems to be picking up,” John casually threw in, with a shrug.

Kerrak nodded and leaned back, his hands against his lips in a prayerful gesture. “It seems like it would be very useful for our people. Would the delivery be a burden for you?”

“No,” John replied, glancing sideways at McKay, who returned the look with a scowl.

“Yes, of course, just assume that I can do anything,” he griped under his breath.

“Rodney,” Elizabeth softly replied, much like a mother trying to appease a five year old.

John snorted.

McKay shot another glare at him, then sighed. “I suppose I can radio Zelenka, have him rig something up. Of course, it would proceed faster with my help.”

“Then by all means,” Tharon replied as she entered the room, “feel free to help!”

Kerrak stood, and the others followed suit.

She bit her lip as she made her way over to the table and grasped her husband’s arms. “Are you well?”

Tharon nodded immediately, smiling in reassurance. “I am fine. The storms have me on edge, as I’m sure is the case with most of our people. This device sounds almost too good to be true.” She gave the team an appreciative yet rueful smile. “I’m not sure that espo beans and fabric are sufficient on our end of this exchange.”

“Believe me, this has been a very fruitful experience,” John said, causing Elizabeth’s head to rise. The glint in her eyes told John that she understood the connotation, and her lips tilted upwards for only a second before returning to the business at hand.

“We are more than happy to help,” Elizabeth replied as she stood from the table. “Do you think the rest of the Council would be open to this idea?”

Tharon nodded and rose from her seat as well. “I believe they would. But there is only one way to find out.” She nodded curtly at the young woman standing outside the door, who promptly came in.

“Yes, Prime Minister?” she asked.

“Dr. McKay will be returning to Atlantis. Please have a guide escort him to the Stargate. And notify the Council. Our meeting will start shortly.”

“Yes, Prime Minister,” she murmured as she left the room, hurrying about her duties.

The others stood, and while Tharon and Kerrak talked quietly, John nudged Elizabeth with his elbow. “So, what’s your husband supposed to do today?”

She cocked her head to the side in mock consternation. “I don’t know. Do the laundry, clean the bathroom?” she replied with a chuckle.

John smiled, then looked back at Ronan and Teyla as the Athosian spoke. “Or you can be my servants for the day.”

Ronan rolled his eyes. John bit his lip. “I’m gonna say no,” he said quickly.

“Elizabeth? We’re ready.”

He heard her reply, “I’ll be right there,” and then John felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Elizabeth looking at him. He couldn’t put words to the look that she was giving him, just like he couldn’t describe the way that he was feeling right now. After spending the night in each other’s arms – granted, due to a storm – how were they supposed to say goodbye? He had a very strong desire to kiss her on the forehead, like he had done yesterday when he and Ronan had left.

But after how close they felt last night, a simple peck on the forehead didn’t seem enough.

He glanced over her shoulder and saw Kerrak and Tharon walking out through the double doors, with Teyla and Ronan following.

“John…” Her voice almost sounded pleading, and it broke him.

He gently cupped her face and kissed her.

On the lips.

It lasted only a second. When he pulled back and softly rubbed her cheeks with his thumbs, he half expected her eyes to be wide open in shock.

But judging from the contented sigh that she exhaled, it seemed that she wanted it as much as he did.

“Have a good day,” he whispered, a small grin starting to break out.

She returned it, her green eyes looking brighter than before. “Be safe.”

John pulled his hands back and walked out of the room before his body took control again and made him stay.


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