Written for: sga_santa
Pairing: McKay / Sheppard / Weir
Warnings: None I can think of
Spoilers: First Strike, Adrift, Lifeline
Summary: As Elizabeth gets dressed, she gets to have a moment with Rodney and John.
A/N: So, in Lifeline, there is *sort* of enough time for this to happen, if you don't examine the timeline toooo closely. The prompt comes from Alyse's prompts from 2004 and 2005
Elizabeth closed her eyes as the door slid shut behind her, leaving her marine guard outside. There were four of them, heavily armed - it seemed that John was taking the potential threat very seriously, despite his reassuring words earlier. She took a deep breath in then let it out slowly, trying to feel the motion of the air through her lungs and throat like Teyla had always told her to. In and out, in and out. Slowly she felt the muscles in her neck and shoulders start to relax, but the churning, helpless terror in her stomach was unaffected. She ran her fingers into her hair and squeezed hard against her scalp, trying to feel the difference. Were the nanites in this strand of hair, marching their infinitesimally tiny way into the workings of her brain, her very thoughts?
She concentrated hard, brow furrowed, and thought bitterly to herself that she probably would be able to feel them, but that they would steal the sensation before it reached her conscious mind. Suddenly she rushed into her bedroom, to the floor length mirror, desperate to see the changes Rodney's intervention had wrought. She stopped just as abruptly when she saw her reflection, unchanged. Her fingers lifted to her lips, slid over her cheekbone to her temple. She remembered the searing pain as the Ancient tempered glass had struck there, but there was no sign of the wound. She looked perfect. If it weren't for the baggy hospital gown, she wouldn't even have known she'd ever been hurt.
With a single motion, she tore the gown off over her head and threw it aside, staring at her nude body with morbid fascination.
The soft whisper of the door opening cut through the silence, making her look and automatically lift her hands to cover herself.
"Elizabeth. I just want to-" Rodney broke off as he barrelled into the room with his usual lack of tact. He stopped dead just inside the bedroom archway, staring at her. Slowly she dropped her hands and turned back to the mirror. After all, Rodney had seen her naked many times. She let her fingers resume their relentless march across her face and all the other places she'd been wounded; over all the scars that weren't there. The scars that were supposed to be.
"Elizabeth," Rodney said again, and this time his voice was rough. She looked up and met her own gaze in the mirror. The expression on her face was one of utter devastation; the one on Rodney's was helpless, frustrated grief. "I'm not going to say I'm sorry."
Soft steps in the other room had Rodney looking over his shoulder, and the look on his face said 'John'. Elizabeth sighed and crossed her arms, trying to find balance amid all the different fears buffeting her. John appeared over Rodney's shoulder, took in the scene at a glance, and shot a pointed look back into the main room. There was a distinct click as the outer door locked. She returned to her minute examination, trying to see if she could find the seams. If she looked hard enough, would she see them move?
John's hand slid over the skin of her shoulder in a long stroke. He'd almost reached out in the infirmary; she'd seen the stress around his eyes that meant he was working at keeping everything inside. Here, though, in her quarters, he could touch. She glanced at him in the mirror, noting his throat working as he struggled with the emotions he tried so hard not to have to feel. This must have been hell for him. Her own throat tightened painfully and her eyes stung.
She turned into his body, tucking her face against the curve of his neck. His arms curved around her to hold her close, and she felt him trembling - shaking, really - with all the things he couldn't say.
A moment later, Rodney's hands slid into place as he joined them, his chest against her back and his lips against the nape of her neck. No shivers for Rodney; he was rock-solid, a heavy warm presence at her back. An anchor for her and John to cling to, to keep them grounded and to never fail them. She felt John's arm move, his hand lifting to curl around the back of Rodney's neck to bring him closer. Wedged between them like this, she felt familiarity and safety and the soft curl of attraction easing through her. The trembles slowed until they all stood like live statues, breathing in sync.
"I have to finish the calibrations," Rodney said softly, clearly loathe to break the moment. He straightened, slowly pulling his hands and body away like she and John were ZPM's he wanted to cradle forever.
Elizabeth took one last deep breath, rich with the scent of John's skin and Rodney's aftershave, and stepped out of John's arms. She took the step to her closet and started pulling out clothes with ruthless efficiency.
John's hand dropped from Rodney's neck. His thumb grazed Rodney's mouth on the way past, and Rodney's lips flicked into a brief smile as he stepped back. He squared his shoulders, turned on his heel, and launched himself out of the room in his customary imitation of a tank on the go.
John watched her dress, his eyes soft and tired, and when she was fully clothed and ready he took her hand - just that - just held it, and it gave her what she needed to push away the fear into a managable place. Ronon's call came faster than she'd expected, and John pulled her to her feet for a last check before they walked in step out the door.
She didn't look back.