Written for: sga_santa
Prompt: Sheppard/Weir, Sheppard whump (mental, physical or emotional), Sheppard communicating with Atlantis, Rodney and John friendship, SG1 crossover. [I think I got everything except the crossover part. Hope you like it!]
Summary: Elizabeth leaves the city to close a trade agreement at a neutral location. A sudden Wraith attack leaves her and John stranded, and their forced proximity brings feelings to the surface that they'd both been ignoring.
"I don't like this," John said for what had to be the hundredth time this hour.
"I understand your objection, John, but I'm afraid that one of the perks of being in charge is I get to ignore it," Elizabeth told him sweetly, snapping the fasteners closed on the tac vest she so rarely got to wear. "Sometimes our trading partners need to see that we're... That I am willing to meet with them in person. It's necessary to build trust."
"Yeah, well. I'd rather we built trust from the other side of a com channel." John slid his sidearm into his thigh holster with unnecessary force.
Elizabeth grinned at him. "Do you have any idea how long it's been since I saw real, honest to goodness trees?"
John shook his head but smiled back. "All right," he said, 'but no flower-smelling unless Rodney does it first."
"Hey!" Rodney said indignantly. "How did I get dragged into this?"
Ronon clapped him on the shoulder, taking the opportunity to slide a finger through one of the buckles and drag Rodney after him. "It's because you make it so easy, McKay," he declared, pulling Rodney out of sight around the corner.
Teyla clipped her P-90 to her vest and followed them with a smile of her own.
"All right then," John rubbed a hand over his hair, scrubbing it even further into disarray. "Let's go."
Elizabeth stepped through the gate. The faint tingle of wormhole travel danced over her skin and she shivered. She'd gone through the gate so many times, but never often enough to truly get used to it. She glanced around, amazed at the abundance of green. It really had been too long since she left the city, if simple grass had her so enthralled.
"Everything looks clear," Rodney announced, studying his life signs detector closely.
"Looks clear?" John asked, surveying the area with narrow-eyed focus. "Or is clear."
Rodney shot him a glare that had Teyla swallowing a grin. "Is clear. Though, as you know, the range on these things is not infinite, and there are large herbivores that live near this gate that could hide the life signs of a small group of humans..."
"Thank you, Rodney," Elizabeth interjected before Rodney could work his way into a bigger rant, or before John could say something that would get him going even more.
"Ok. The Venari should be here soon," John checked over his shoulder to where Lorne should be hovering with a cloaked jumper, just in case the Venari showed up with less than honourable intentions. "Let's give them some room."
The group moved away from the gate, Ronon leading with his gun in his hand, Teyla and John flanking her closely. Elizabeth couldn't help but appreciate the team's determination to protect her. It was... nice.
The gate gave a deep thunk and lit up. Reflexively they all turned to look. John took a half-step in front of them, automatically shielding her from the whatever was coming through. Ronon dropped to one knee beside them, Rodney behind him. Teyla slipped to the side, to ensure a clean field of fire.
A tide of people spilled through the gate, screaming and tripping over one another. They were unarmed and terrified, racing frantically in all directions.
Instinctively Elizabeth grabbed the back of John's vest. "What's happen...," she blurted.
A wraith dart burst through the gate, answering her question.
"Wraith!" Ronon bellowed, firing.
John dropped to one knee, bringing his P-90 up with one hand and tucking Elizabeth against his back with the other. "Get down!" he shouted at her over his shoulder. The deep thunder of a P-90 to her left was Rodney opening fire, almost drowning out the whine of Ronon's shots. Teyla had been bowled over by a fleeing refugee and was regaining her feet.
"Lorne! Damn it! Open fire!" John waved at the open air near the gate as three more darts shot through.
"That first dart almost hit us!" Lorne's voice was tinny through her earpiece. She ducked closer against John's back. "Coming around!"
The first drone flicked out from the cloaked jumper, hitting the first dart head on. It exploded over the field, raining fire onto the refugees. The second veered wide, striking about ten metres away from the huddled team just as a fifth dart screamed through the gate. Reflexively, they threw themselves flat. John twisted, curving his body around Elizabeth's head. She had just enough time to feel one of the buckles on his vest dig into her cheek before everything disappeared in a brilliant flash of white.
"...zabeth. Elizabeth." The word was accompanied by a gentle tap on her cheek. "Hey. Wake up."
"John?" Her mouth felt fuzzy. Her head felt worse.
"That's me, all right." He sounded distracted, and wry. "Time to wake up."
She opened her eyes, blearily trying to make sense of what she saw. Tree branches overhead, full of spherical purple pods that bobbed unevenly in the breeze she now felt sliding past. When it came, recall was swift. "Oh, no," she closed her eyes again.
"Oh, yes," he said. Another tap against her cheek had her sitting up, irritably batting his hand away. She took a deep breath and marshalled herself.
"Ok. What's our status?" She was gratified that her voice came out calm.
"We're stranded," John said. "Not entirely sure where, though at least this place seems pretty temperate so far." He gestured behind them, and she turned to see twisted wreckage scattered over what looked to be a fair sized swath of low forest. "Looks like the dart that picked us up crashed, maybe one of the team tagged it before it went back through the gate."
"Where's the pilot?" she asked, her heart rising in her throat.
John patted his P-90. "Already taken care of," he said. There was something strained in his voice, and she turned to him in sudden concern.
"How are you? Are you hurt?" She ran her eyes over him, noting that he was pale and sweating quite a bit. He also seemed to be favouring one leg, and the arm that wasn't holding the P-90 was curled protectively around his abdomen.
"I'm fine," he said shortly.
"Oh, please." She rolled her eyes at him. "I may not be a doctor, but I'm not an idiot either."
He shot her an abashed grin. "Ok, so I'm not fine. I'm good enough, though."
Elizabeth looked around them. "Enough for what? I don't seen any sign of a gate."
"Enough to wait for Atlantis to come get us." John shifted a little on his feet, grimacing. "They'll find us."
"How?" She gestured at the nothingness around them.
John smiled at her. "I don't know," he admitted. "That's for them to figure out. But they're coming. None of them would leave us behind."
"Rodney will be in charge," Elizabeth wasn't sure if that was a reassuring thought or a terrifying one. Rodney was a bulldozer when he was rescuing someone, which was good, but Rodney was... well. Rodney, which created challenges all on its own. "With me gone, he's next in line."
"With Lorne." John started to grin. Elizabeth pictured it and couldn't help but smile too. "Can't you just see them?"
"Thank God for Teyla," she said, laughing despite the creeping fear.
John put his hand on her shoulder, gripping tightly. "They're coming," he repeated firmly.
"Ok," she said. "Then we need to make sure we're here for them to find."
John nodded, his face becoming grave. "We need to move," he said. "The Wraith will be looking for their downed dart."
Instinctively she looked at the sky. John did, too.
"Yeah," he nodded sharply to some internal commentary. "We need to go now."
As if in reply, a distinctive whine filled the air. John grabbed her arm and started deeper into the woods, hauling her with him.
They ran for longer than Elizabeth would have thought possible. Her exercise regimen on Atlantis included plenty of cardio and a daily run on the pier, but nothing to compare with racing through an alien forest, branches slapping across her face and mounds of dirt tripping her constantly. She lost count of the number of times John brought her back to her feet as they struggled to outrace the dart searching overhead.
Finally John stumbled to a halt, doubled over and breathing laboured. Elizabeth collapsed onto one knee beside him. His fingers were still gripping her arm like vices, and it felt a little like he was using her to stay on his feet. She glanced at his face, and if her heart hadn't already been racing it would have started at the blood flecking his lips and chin.
"John!" She was on her feet an instant later, bracing him upright and pulling an arm over her shoulders. "John!"
"M'ok," he insisted hoarsely. "M'ribs hurt. Need a minute."
"I think your rib has punctured your lung," she told him, fear making her voice strident. "You need to lie down and stay still!"
He looked at her blankly. "Oh."
Elizabeth looked around them. They were in an area of dense brush, and she spotted a reasonable deadfall about thirty feet away. "Ok, John. We need to move over there." She slipped her arm around his waist, trying to ignore how heavily he leaned against her side. "Let's go."
She got them both to the deadfall and helped John make it to the ground, placing him on a bed of what leaves and soft dirt she could manage. Hurriedly she shuffled through the contents of their vests. A quick glance at the sky told her that it was beginning to get dark. The best news she had was that the whine of the dart had finally stopped. Of course, that could also mean that the Wraith were on the ground hunting them, but she really needed something positive to hold on to.
John was shivering.
"We need a fire," she told him, pulling out the fire starter that Teyla had given her at their very first meeting.
"No," John said, teeth chattering. "It'd attract attention."
"I'll make it small, and I'll block the light," she countered. "If we don't get some warmth, you could die." She ventured a smile, and from the softening in John's eyes, at least partly succeeded. "Then all the other diplomats would make fun of me."
"Worse." John coughed. "Rodney's going to show up eventually."
Elizabeth shuddered and made the fire.
With night came the cold. The fire provided what warmth it could for its size, but there was no escaping the fact that they were lightly clothed and the night was damned cold. Elizabeth heated water from her canteen over the fire, handing it over without comment. John took it gratefully, sipping carefully. His colour had faded even more. She'd wrapped him in their space blankets, though she knew he'd lose more heat to the ground than the blankets could keep. It would be a long, uncomfortable night.
"Elizabeth?" John's voice had weakened.
Immediately she went to him, huddling close by his side and offering what heat she could. He was shivering again, and she took a moment to get some rocks from near the fire to place along his other side, setting some new ones in place at the fireside to warm.
"Good... Good idea," he muttered.
"Thanks." She curved her arm around his shoulders and leaned her head against his.
"I..." John coughed. "I wanted to tell you something."
Elizabeth stared into the fire and ignored the stinging at the back of her eyes. "You can tell me when we get home," she told him firmly. "Right now, Rodney and Lorne are on their way. We just need to be patient and wait for them to get here."
"You spend all that time telling me I need to talk more," John said grumpily, "and when I want to say something, you want me to save it for later. Don't you want to hear it?"
She laughed softly and shook her head. "Not if it's goodbye."
John leaned back just enough that he could look up at her face. His eyes were shadowed by the night, lit only by the unevenly flickering firelight. His expression stole her breath. "What," he said slowly, as if it hurt to get the words out, "if it's 'hello'?"
Her stomach dropped, and her hand found its way to cradle his face without her even thinking about it. "John," she choked out, "I thought... I don't know what I thought."
"It's a bad idea," he said, leaning into her hand, "to have a relationship with your commanding officer."
"I'm a civilian."
"So you are." His eyes dropped to her mouth.
"John," she whispered, leaning down to press her lips against his.
He jerked in her arms, his hand lifting to his ear. He frowned.
"What is it?"
"I'm not sure," he closed his eyes. "I thought I heard Atlantis." He shook his head a little, his hair tickling her cheek and chin.
"You heard Atlantis?" she echoed uncertainly. He nodded, his eyes still unfocused. She slid her hand up his cheek to his forehead. "Oh, damn." John leaned harder into her hand, almost nuzzling. "You have a fever." She set her lips against his temple, uneasy at the heat there.
"I hear her," John muttered.
"Atlantis?" Elizabeth asked, her heart sinking as she realised he was slipping into delirium. He nodded against her shoulder, and she pulled him tighter. "Ok." She smiled tremulously. "Next time you hear her, you tell her where we are then."
She could barely hear his reply.
Elizabeth's eyes sprang open, and her hand snapped to her radio even before she came fully awake. John was a heavy weight against her side, slumped over. A quick glance showed his cheeks were red with fever. "Rodney? Rodney, is that you?"
"Elizabeth!" The relief in Rodney's voice matched her own. "We're coming! Where's Sheppard?"
"He's here," she looked down at John's closed eyes and hugged him closer. "He's badly hurt."
"Of course he is," Rodney snarled. She couldn't help it: she grinned as she heard him shout for medical support to be waiting at the gate.
"Doctor Weir," Lorne's calm voice interjected. She could hear the strain at the edges. "Can you provide any details on Colonel Sheppard's injuries?"
"Possible punctured lung," she started, "and he's running a fever. He's currently unconscious, but he was delirious earlier. He was also limping..." She took a deep breath, reassured by Rodney's continued ranting and chivvying in the background of Lorne's transmission. "Major? How did you find us?"
Rodney broke in. "Atlantis lit up the gate address," he said, sounding a bit awed.
Elizabeth looked down at John's unconscious face. His heavy stubble scratched her lips as she kissed his cheek. "Thank you," she whispered in his ear, before looking again at the sky. "Thank you," she repeated louder to the rescue team. "But I think you need to hurry."
"The Venari are still eager to complete our trade agreement," Teyla said. "They understand that what happened was unexpected."
"Hard to miss that part," Ronon muttered. "Since they showed up in the middle of the Wraith attack."
"They were somewhat disconcerted," Teyla allowed with a smile. "But it was an opportunity for them to see our prowess and weapons for fighting the Wraith first hand."
Rodney scrubbed a hand over his head. "We were terrified we'd shot down the wrong darts," he admitted. "Lorne did some great shooting to only wing the one that picked up you and Sheppard."
Lorne shifted uncomfortably. "Not good enough. It got back through the gate."
Elizabeth spread her hands along her desk, happy to feel the smooth material under her fingers again. "That may be, but you still found us," she said, giving them all a wide smile of appreciation. "We knew you would," she added softly, watching Rodney turn away to hide the expression on his face. She could tell by the nervous looks and scurrying science team that he'd been a tyrant in his rush to find them and get them back, and she was thankful for his presence on the expedition all over again. He coughed and turned back.
"Of course we did," he blustered.
Lorne grinned at him, and Teyla smiled at them both.
Elizabeth figured she would never be told what had transpired in the city to find them so fast, but it had resulted in an unusual harmony with her staff, and she planned on enjoying it while it lasted. "Ok," she closed her notebook. "Thank you all." They filed out.
She heaved a sigh and spun her chair to face away from the door.
John coughed from the doorway.
She jumped to her feet and crossed to him as he stepped inside. The door slid closed behind him, and the windows shimmered into opaqueness. She shook her head. "I wish I could do that."
John just looked at her silently.
"You're right. We need to talk." Elizabeth took a deep breath, then faced it head on. Her chin lifted. "What happened was a mistake. We should just try and forget anything we said..."
John took a limping step forward.
"...or, or did." Her voice shook, and the little nervous curl in her stomach twisted. "Nothing's changed. I'm still above you in the chain of command. We should just... just say goodbye to those people in the woods, and move on."
John lifted a hand and tucked his fingers behind her neck, tugging her into taking a step closer.
"John?" She hated the tremble in her voice.
He leaned in until his lips were a breath away, his eyes steady on hers.
"Hello," he said, and kissed her.