timeboundpythia: (Atlantis Elizabeth Fall)
[personal profile] timeboundpythia
Title: Five Times Elizabeth Tries to Teach Ancient to John
Author: [livejournal.com profile] timeboundpythia
Disclaimer: The characters and premise of Stargate Atlantis aren't mine.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: The Real World
Summary: He is playing dumb and they both know it.


She sits at the end of his bed, mini whiteboard balanced on her knee as she scrawls down another word (‘puddle’) and lifts the board for him to see. There’s a reason why she carries that tablet computer everywhere; why ninety-five percent of her written communication is electronic. Elizabeth narrows her eyes as he looks at the board this way and that, pretending he can’t quite figure out what she’s written.

“John...” Her voice is almost a growl.

She’s sure she can hear his smirk before he looks down at his board and sketches the precise lines of Ancient for ‘puddle jumper’.




“Don’t play dumb with me, John.”

“Why are you so sure--

“Because you’re better than this.”

“Don’t assume that intelligence can be applied to all areas of academia, Elizabeth.”

That those very words, in that very manner, come out of his mouth is enough for that little twinkle in her eye to appear and for his lips to twist in a discomforted grimace. He is playing dumb and they both know it.

He rattles off the list of third declension nouns that they’ve been working on, those slight twists on the Latin that intrigue her and annoy him. It sounds as easy to him as breathing. It took her days, weeks, months to feel comfortable with the kind of linguistic manipulation that he’s taking for granted.

She’s furious, jealous, awed and a little bit in love all at the same time.



“Turn around.”

“You’re cheating.”

“I most certainly am not, Colonel. You’re just a sore loser.”

She grabs his shoulders and makes him turn around, then begins to trace the word between his shoulder blades with her finger. Today it’s Colonel and not John, for this is in public and their silly game has become one of the ways in which Carson is measuring his recovery and the sensitivity of injured muscles and scarred skin.

John hisses as she squares off the last letter, a tender spot deliberately touched to draw it to Carson’s attention. Good, she thinks. Stop hiding that it hurts.

He gets his own back in a matter of seconds.

“’Lizabeth.” He doesn’t play along. Everyone knows they’re ‘John’ and ‘Elizabeth’ anyway. “I didn’t know you had such a dirty mouth on you.”


“I’ll spare your sensitive ears, Doc.”

“It wasn’t--“

“The Ancients could get pretty creative, I’ll tell you...” he’s telling Carson.

She is going to kill him.



It’s a little too close for comfort, playing with the deck of cards and the suits assigned to word roots. She fumbles with them, fingers tripping up where they never have before, and she’s no less relieved when she turns them over one by one to find her scrawl and his print where she could find the sequence for a ‘Gate address. If she were still trapped between reality and one created for her.

“Hey,” he murmurs, reaching across the table to close gentle fingers around her wrist, stilling her hand. “We don’t have to do this, you know. Not now.”

The mess is empty, as quiet as ever it is at this hour of the morning, and when she could agree and relent and just get some sleep, Elizabeth shakes her head. “Yes,” she insists, “we do.”

John lets her go ahead and makes his own, deliberate stumbles that allow her to explain and focus, not doubt and over think. She pretends she doesn’t notice.

At 6am, they’re found slumped over the table, fast asleep, the cards, an empty canteen of coffee and empty, dark-ringed mugs scattered between them.



“Why are you doing this?”

“Because you suggested it?” He relents a moment later. “Okay, I suggested it. Someone’s got to keep you occupied at ridiculous o’clock in the morning.”

It’s a new - ruined - deck of cards and she taps her index finger on the ten of diamonds, redirecting him to the verb printed and transliterated beneath. “Use it in a sentence or I get your dessert this evening,” she reminds (taunts) him. “Seriously, John.”

“You’re telling me you wouldn’t have everyone’s inboxes flooded with twenty emails every morning if it weren’t for me?” he pitches back, trying to buy time.

“I hear it’s chocolate pudding.”

“You don’t like pudding.”

“I do today.”

“When would you ever need to use this word?” John protests, a distance to his gaze betraying that he’s still thinking. “Seriously? ...Because I can. Because we can mock McKay in Ancient and he won’t have a clue. Because I like seeing you in your element--“

Me? You’ve learnt this faster than any--“

“Because I’ve kinda grown to like showing you I can do more than charge off through the ‘Gate with a gun.”

She glances down at the cards, then back up at him, fighting a reluctant smile. “Use the verb, John.”

He does.

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February 2016

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