timeboundpythia: (Atlantis Elizabeth Still)
[personal profile] timeboundpythia
Title: My Part of the Dialogue
Author: [livejournal.com profile] timeboundpythia
Disclaimer: The characters and premise of Stargate Atlantis aren't mine.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: The Real World
Summary: Usually, even the worst of his jokes drew a glimmer of something from her, but, that time, it had been fear.
Notes: Tag to The Real World


By the time it reached midnight, ten emails had rolled their way into his inbox, all addressing the most trivial of matters (mostly brought up weeks ago by McKay) and all signed by one Elizabeth Weir. He had known it was going to happen, for he had developed the ability to accurately predict when she would go through her ‘ridiculous by daylight’ emails and put together unnecessary, busy-work responses. It was always when she didn’t want to sleep rather than when she simply couldn’t. Said emails were perused with no real interest in the contents, but with intent to idly study the quality of Elizabeth’s writing (or how it deteriorated).

When she chose to, she could create documents that could keep McKay reading for pages on end to say what she could easily say in a sentence (or ‘no’), but the longer she fought sleep, the more she was likely to make little errors that most people wouldn’t even notice. That, and the more emails she wrote to the same people in one sitting, the more informal her signature became. She’d start out the evening as ‘Doctor Elizabeth Weir’, end it as ‘Elizabeth’ (he was sure there was a dirty joke there somewhere, but he’d not dared to tell her it yet) and on that one occasion she’d simply signed an email ‘E’. She must have fallen asleep pretty soon after she’d sent that one, but he’d never managed to find out where. It hadn’t been in her quarters or her office.

As he crossed the room, a bleep alerted him to another email received. He added it to the mental tally he was keeping and swiped his hand over the sensor to release the lock on the door to his quarters.

Truth be told, he felt like an ass. He shouldn’t have made that quip about reality and false realities and nanites. It had been poor timing, even for him. Usually, even the worst of his jokes drew a glimmer of something from her, but, that time, it had been fear. Well-suppressed, calmly-handled fear, but fear nonetheless. And then he’d gone and left her to dwell on it and over-analyse and get herself caught in a sleepless loop like she always did.

He really was an ass.

The lights were dimmed in the command centre, which just made the cold glare of her office all the more obvious. She was sat there at her desk, typing away, as if answering emails straight through until morning was a perfectly normal thing to do. She would sit there all night and right through to the start of her shift if someone didn’t stop her. If he didn’t stop her.

Without a word of greeting, he parked himself on the edge of her desk and made an obnoxious show of slowly leaning forward to study the screen of her tablet, no matter that it was upside down to him.

“...Good evening, John.”

“Almost ‘good morning’, actually,” he told her, knowing full-well that the screen that he continued to stare at could tell her exactly the same thing.

“I hadn’t realised,” Elizabeth murmured, lifting a hand to give his shoulder a gentle nudge to encourage him to get out of her way.

“I wonder at your success as a diplomat.”

That got her attention.

“What?” Was that a hint of offense?

“Because sometimes you’re really awful at lying.”

Her lips pulled momentarily to one side. “You can’t believe that politics is solely about deceit.”

“No, but the fact remains that you’re a terrible liar sometimes,” he so generously informed her. “I think you’re just lucky that you’ve never had to broker any treaties on behalf of yourself.”

It really was offense now. “Are you suggesting that I’ve never been invested in--“

“I’m suggesting that you’re crap at looking after yourself, Elizabeth,” John sternly countered. What was that about being an ass? “You need to get some sleep.”

Turning her attention back her screen, she replied, “I spent most of today asleep,” with affected indifference.

“Five hours. Even by the math, that doesn’t add up. And, technically, you weren’t really asleep. Not in the relaxed, getting some rest way that you’re being completely pedantic about.”

“I am not being completely ped--“

Brows lifted, he fixed her with a look.

She glared right back at him, clearly gearing herself up for an argument, but then deflated all at once, her shoulders slumping as she ran a hand through her hair. Elizabeth stared down at the surface of her desk, avoiding his gaze.

“You need to get some rest. Don’t think I don’t know that you used your pleading, vulnerable look to make sure Carson didn’t write you off-duty.”

“I don’t have a ‘vulnerable’ look,” she muttered, determined to be contrary.

He smirked. “Yeah, you do. Poor Doc falls for it every time, though I think you’re the only person I know who uses it to make sure they get to stay at work. I think he’s the only person you use it on. I should tell him, you know.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“So, you do have one...”

Leaning back in her chair, she seemed to suddenly grow weary of their verbal sparring and, instead of firing something back, she regarded him with the wearily wired look of the exhausted running on caffeine and reserves of willpower.

“It was you, you know,” Elizabeth murmured, glancing down into her lap.

“Me?”

“I kept seeing you,” she said simply. “I mean, Carson and Teyla told me what you did... and I know I must have listened, however subconsciously. And now,” her breath of laughter was utterly humourless, “here you are telling me to sleep...”

And he’d made that stupid crack about realities and being infected. He’d made her doubt even more. She had no way of knowing for sure that she wouldn’t go back there in her sleep; that she wasn’t asleep now and the nanites had adapted to use him against her.

Or if they were both infected.

“Shit,” he muttered, the word escaping him before he had time to censor himself. “’Lizabeth, I was kidding. You’ve got a lousy bedside manner; I make stupid jokes when I don’t know what to say...” But it was still no excuse.

Feeling more and more angry with himself, he reached over to shut down her computer, pressing the power button down even as she tried to bat his hand away.

“John! That was half an hour’s work!”

He ignored her. “Come on,” he insisted, one hand reaching to curl around her arm as he had done so not so many hours ago. “We’re going to bed.”

A hint of colour touched her pale features. “Is this how you proposition all women?”

“Only if they want me to.”

Sometimes, it was disturbing how at ease he felt with her. It took only one look at her for him to know that she felt it too.

“I’ll sleep on your couch,” John clarified, before either one of them could start seriously considering the idea of them actually sleeping together (and then there was sleeping together and sleeping together). Even if his mind had wandered off somewhere less than innocent when he had noticed the flush to her cheeks, he had no intention of broaching that subject. Not now.

She rounded her desk, though gently extracted her arm from his grip, if only for the sake of appearances.

“And...?”

“And when you wake up here and not there and I’m snoring away on your couch, then...”

Her eyes closed for only a moment and she gave a single nod to convey her understanding, yet she made no verbal acknowledgement of her fears or what his suggestion could and would do to abate them.

As they left her office, she queried, “How exactly am I supposed to sleep if you’re snoring?”

True to his word, he slept on the couch in her quarters.

And though she started out trying to sleep in her bed, when he woke in the morning he found her slumped at the foot of the couch, wrapped up in her blankets and with her head resting not so far from his. It looked damned uncomfortable, but at least she was asleep, her breathing slow and even, stress eased from her features.

He let her sleep.

Fin
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