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09 July 2008 @ 01:11 am
Atlantis: "Running" (John/Liz)  
"Running"
Word Count: 7,533 words.
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: John/Elizabeth
Category: action/adventure
Summary: What was intended to be a vacation for Elizabeth doesn't turn out as expected. Sparky.
Author's Note: It's set anywhere in season 2


"Running"

Elizabeth looked at John’s hand as he held it out towards her in the dark of the night. The cold, black metal was simply a dark shadow in his open hand.

“Take it!” He ordered. She couldn’t tear her fearful eyes away from his hand.

“You know I can’t!” She breathed.

“Please,” his hazel eyes begged her.

The growls were growing closer, and John took a step towards her, placing his empty hand on her forearm, forcing her to look at him. “Elizabeth, you have to take the gun.”

She could see a hint of fear in his eyes, and she bit her bottom lip. It went against everything she’d ever believed in; everything she’d fought for all of her life. She’d always managed to settle things peacefully, without any reliance on the use of guns.

“You’re not going to be able to talk your way out of this one,” He said, as if reading her thoughts. “You don’t even have to shoot anything.” His voice grew urgent as the growls seemed to surround them.

“Then why do I have to even take it?!”

“In case I’m not there to protect you!” He yelled before sighing. “Look, I need to know, that if anything happens to me, you’ll be ok.”

Things had changed when she agreed to take on this mission, to lead an expedition to another galaxy. She constantly ordered those under command to use force on other planets and to defend the city of Atlantis itself. Would it be any different if she were the one holding the gun?

Elizabeth’s eyes dropped to the handgun again. They’re not humans, she reminded herself.

----------------------------

Dr. Elizabeth Weir was reading over the paperwork for the next shipment arriving on the Daedalus, which was due to arrive in several days, when she was startled by a knock. She looked up to see Lt. Colonel Sheppard’s head peek into the room.

“Busy?” Elizabeth shook her head, and John walked into the room, sinking comfortably into the chair in front of her desk with a smile on his face.

“Is there something you wanted?” She asked, weary of the large grin he sported.

“Yes there is,” he leaned forward in his seat. “You know the mission we’re going on later today?”

“The one to P2X-718 and the long term study on the plant life? I am in charge around here; I do know all of the missions.”

“Right, well it’s a really nice planet, warm, tropical, I even ran across a beautiful swimming hole, waterfall and all.”

“Are you going anywhere with this? I do have work to do” Elizabeth said, trying to hide a smile at his boyish grin.

“You just said you weren’t busy!”

“Well, I lied.” She smiled. “What is it?”

“I think you need a break.” He said simply.

She raised an eyebrow. “What exactly are you suggesting?”

“I’m suggesting that you get out of the city for a few days, and take a well earned break on a beautiful tropical planet.”

“John, I have a city to run, I can’t just take a break.”

“Sure you can, Teyla took over the city while we were on Earth, and she can do it again for a few more days.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.” She looked doubtfully at the pile of files on her desk that she still needed to get to.

John followed her gaze. “The paper work’s not going anywhere. Come on Elizabeth! It’s your last chance to get away before the Daedalus arrives with a certain Colonel.”

Elizabeth couldn’t help but smile. Colonel Caldwell, commander of the Daedalus, hadn’t exactly offered a positive ear since his first arrival. He and Sheppard didn’t see eye to eye on things, and managed to butt heads in every situation. She knew that he was after her position. That had become obvious when she was back on Earth. It looked like he wasn’t going any where for a while, so she was trying to be as friendly as she could. If he stepped over the line, though, she’d make sure to put him firmly back in place. John would just love that.

“Can I take that as a ‘yes’?” John asked hopefully.

“Sorry, John,” Elizabeth sighed. “It’s just not going to happen.”

-----------------

John’s wide grin was that of a child in a candy store as Dr. Weir entered the control tower in full uniform. She shot him a sigh of exasperation, but she still couldn’t hide a small smile of amusement.

“Do not worry, Dr. Weir,” Teyla said to the Atlantis leader. “Everything will be fine.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Thank you Teyla. I really appreciate you doing this for me.”

Teyla smiled. “It is no problem, you deserve a break.”

Elizabeth smiled back just as Dr. Brown entered in full uniform with Rodney close on her heels. She displayed a nervous smile as a result of this being her first time offworld; other than Atlantis that is.

A quick look into the ‘gateroom saw Ronon Dex, Major Lorne, and Dr. Carraway (another botanist) ready to go with a laden M.A.L.P. between them.

“Looks like we’re all ready to go,” Elizabeth felt a small flutter of excitement as she turned to the sergeant by the controls. “Dial the ‘gate”

“Enjoy yourselves.” Teyla said, bidding them goodbye.

“Thank you again, Teyla.” Elizabeth replied earnestly and Teyla bowed her head.

Elizabeth turned and led the group down the stairs to the Stargate. John was instantly by her side. “I knew you’d change your mind.” Without waiting for her reply, he walked past her to stand by Ronan as the Stargate came to life.

Ten minutes later the group of seven was making their way to their designated camp site.

“Major, you remember to bring the balloons and streamers?” Sheppard asked from the head of the group.

Lorne grinned. “How about marshmallows instead?”

“I guess that’ll be ok. Beer?”

“Sorry, Sir, we’re out until the Daedalus arrives.”

Elizabeth’s eyes grew wide and turned to look at Sheppard next to her. “You don’t seriously take alcohol-“

John chuckled, looking back at her. Behind them, Major Lorne also laughed.

“Just making sure.”

“How are you doing Dr. Brown? Do you need any help carrying your pack?” Rodney asked Katie eagerly from the middle of the group.

“No thank you Rodney, I can manage,” She smiled thankfully.

“Actually, I wouldn’t mind some help, Mckay.” Ronan smirked at the Doctor. He was carrying several bags that contained tents and food.

Rodney looked back at Dex. “Was I asking you?” Ronan just smirked back. “No, I didn’t think so.” He turned back with a smile to Katie.

Five minutes later they broke out of the dense vegetation into a large clearing, surrounded all the way around by trees.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” John said, lowering his bags to the ground. “Welcome to our camp site.”

-------------------

Sheppard zipped open the tent and the warm, early morning sunlight cracked through the opening. Stepping outside, John stretched and smiled. It was sure to be another perfect day in paradise.

Ronan looked up from his seat by the fire where he was preparing some breakfast. He’d already been up for several hours on the last watch for the night. Dr. Weir had insisted on having a sentry even though they were the only ones on the entire planet, according the UAV scans.

“Good morning!” Sheppard beamed happily to his teammate. “What’s on the menu?”

Ronan held up an empty MRE packet and John grimaced. “Yummy.”

“Some of us are trying to sleep!” An irritated Rodney called from the text next the one from which John had just emerged. John turned around and saw Major Lorne exit the same tent with a roll of the eyes.

“Thank you very much for making me bunk with him.” Lorne mumbled to John.

“Better you than me.” John picked up a couple of MREs and threw one to Lorne. He then sat down on a log that they’d placed next to the fire.

Lorne rolled his eyes and ripped open the packet, sitting beside John. “So, what’s the plan for today?”

“Well, I have plans to check out that swimming hole. The scientists can get to work on their botany stuff and one of you can supervise.”

Lorne and Ronon looked at each other. “’One of us’?” Lorne repeated.

John grinned. “That’s the beauty of being in charge.”

“Well I have to share a tent with Rodney! I don’t want to listen to him complain all day.” Lorne grumbled.

John and Lorne looked to Ronon.

“I don’t think so.”

“Why don’t we all do scissors paper rock?” Suggested Lorne.

John raised an eyebrow. “With three people?”

“We’ll draw sticks then.”

“Fine.” John sighed and picked up a stick, breaking it into three parts, one shorter than the others. He drew them behind his back, mixed them up, and then held the ends out to Lorne.

Cautiously, Lorne drew the middle stick. He grinned and help up the long stick for the other two to see.

John turned to Ronan who simply glared back. “Come on, Ronon, this is the only way that’s fair.” He cooed.

Ronon grunted and pulled one of the last two sticks. His eyes shrunk to slits when he pulled the short stick. He grunted again, threw the stick in the fire, stood, and stalked off into his tent which he shared with John.

“Hey! You drew, you agreed to the terms!” John yelled after him grinning with Lorne laughing next to him.

“How can there be laughing this early in the morning?”

The two men turned to see Elizabeth emerging from the third tent with a yawn. She was already dressed in her uniform, but her hair was still slightly ruffled from sleep.

“Morning!” John beamed as she made her way over and sat down on his other side.

“You’re annoyingly chipper this morning.” Elizabeth said to John and then looked to Lorne. “Morning, Major.”

Lorne smiled. “Good morning, Dr. Weir.”

“So, today we’re going on a bit of a hike to the waterfall.” John said to her. “So make sure you put on your swimming suit.”

Elizabeth frowned. “There’s no way I’m going swimming.”

“I thought that was the point for you coming along.”

“John, Atlantis is sitting on an ocean, I can go swimming anytime I want.” She rolled her eyes in amusement.

“Fine, it’s your loss. Lorne, you want to tag along?”

“I did pack my swimming trunks for a reason.”

-------------------

They’d been walking in the scorching heat for over 30 minutes and there was still no waterfall in sight. The group of three had long since shed themselves of their jackets in the heat and they were just about ready to pass out.

“Excuse me for channeling Rodney here, but are we there yet?” Lorne grumbled and took a large drink from his quickly depleting water bottle.

“Almost!” Sheppard called from up ahead.

Lorne looked to Elizabeth walking next to him and said in a quiet voice so that John couldn’t hear. “I’m beginning to think he’s lost.”

“I heard that!” John called over his shoulder and Elizabeth smiled.

“Aha! Do you hear that? Water!” John quickened his pace as the other two heard the sound of running water up ahead.

The sound of crashing water grew louder with each step and Elizabeth was surprised when they suddenly broke through a tree line and found a magnificent waterfall crashing into a large swimming hole. On one side the small lake turned into a stream and ran off through the trees.

A smile spread across Elizabeth’s face. It was a spectacular view that caused all thoughts of the rigorous journey there to be forgotten.

“Finally!” Lorne mumbled and dropped his pack to the ground.

Before Elizabeth even realized what was going on, the two men had stripped themselves of their shirts and pants, and were heading towards the water in just their swimming trunks.

The two men ran into the water and Elizabeth was reminded of little boys at the beach.

As they began to splash around Elizabeth took off her pack. She spotted a rock protruding over the water and slipped off her shoes. The water was blissfully cool on her feet as she sat down, and she began to wish that she had brought a bathing suit to wear. She was wearing a tank top underneath, but she wasn’t about to go swimming in front of two of the top military officers in Atlantis while in her underwear.

“Oh, ‘Lizabeth!” John called with his boyish grin in place. “You know you want to come in!”

“No, I’m fine right here, thanks.” The sun was warm and she felt like lying back on the rock and falling asleep.

The two men headed off to explore the waterfall and Elizabeth let her eyes fall closed. She hadn’t felt so relaxed in such a long time. She hated to admit it, but John was right, this had been a good idea. Elizabeth only wished that the trip would never end; the thought of having to return to all the paperwork was not at all appealing.

She suddenly realized that she could no longer hear the men’s voices and she opened her eyes to look around.

John was wading in front of her, a big grin on his face.

“Where’s Ma-“

A great force suddenly hit her from behind and she went flying, face first into the water.

She felt panic rip at her insides as she swam for the surface. When she surfaced, she saw Sheppard in front of her, laughing hard. The laughter behind her belonged to Lorne who stood on the rock, bent over at the waist as he fought to catch a breath in the middle of his laughing.

“Major Lorne!” Elizabeth yelled in what she hoped was an authoritive vote as she was still getting over the shock of what had happened.

Lorne simply jumped off the rock into the water, splashing her.

She tried her hardest to be mad, but with John grinning at her like that, and Lorne’s laughing, she couldn’t help but crack a smile. “You two are in so much trouble!” She laughed and shook her head.

John shrugged, “I told you to bring a bathing suit. You should have listened.”

Elizabeth responded by splashing him and laughed.

“Oh, this means war, Doctor.” John gave her a sly grin. “Major?” The two simultaneously bombarded her with splashes and she shrieked, very un-Elizabeth Weir-like of her.

Elizabeth dove under the water and began to swim away from them. But John wasn’t letting her get away that easily, he swam after her, and when she surfaced he grabbed he legs, pulling her back under.

When they both surfaced again they were laughing hysterically. John suddenly realized how different Elizabeth looked. It was strange to see her having fun for once. She always had things to do and people to worry about, but at the moment she was grinning as if she had no care in the world. He knew that this trip had been a good idea.

“Truce?” He questioned, holding out a hand.

“Truce.” Elizabeth nodded, taking his hand and shaking it.

Elizabeth suddenly realized how water-logged she felt in her uniform, especially the bulky pants. She started swimming towards the bank.

“Hey, where are you going?” John called after her.

“I’m getting out.”

“But you haven’t checked out the waterfall yet.”

She turned around to see his wink before hightailing it towards the waterfall. Elizabeth laughed and swam after him.

------------------------

The sun was beginning to set by the time the group of three made it back to the camp. Annoyingly enough, the men’s hair had dried off and were in warm, dry clothes, while Elizabeth was in her still damp clothes and her hair was in a tangled, wet mess.

“Geez Elizabeth, did you fall in a lake or something?” Rodney laughed, looking her up and down from his seat next to the fire.

“More like pushed,” Elizabeth cast a sideways look at the two snickering men. “Excuse me while I change.”

John and Lorne grinned at each other before discarding their packs and heading over to the fire.

“How’d the plant watching go?” John asked, grinning at Ronon.

The large alien simply glared at the Colonel.

“That much fun, huh? What about you, Rodney, planning on switching to botany any time soon?”

“Very funny,” Rodney drawled.

“Thank you. So, I believe tonight is marshmallow night.”

-----------------

Once Elizabeth had laid down that night it had taken only minutes to fall asleep. She hadn’t realized how much the day had taken out of her.

She had no idea what time it was when she woke up to a noise outside. Simply thinking it was the guys switching sentry, she squeezed her eyes closed and began drifting back into sleep.

However, a deep growl had her awake instantly and she sat up, holding her sleeping bag tight around her. She listened for any noises outside. Had it simply been part of a dream?

Someone, or something moved by the side of the tent, and Elizabeth leaned over and shook Dr. Brown awake, signaling her to keep quiet.

The only sounds they heard for the next minute were their own, short breaths.

The zipper to the tent began to open and they looked at each other in fear. Should she yell for help?

The flaps were pushed open and John’s head peaked into the tent. He put a finger to his lips and gestured for them to follow him.

Elizabeth slipped on her shoes and crawled out of the tent.

Everyone had gathered around the smoldering fire and was looking around in silence. Elizabeth couldn’t help but notice Rodney’s attire. He was wearing a pair of boxes and a shirt that read “I’m with geek” and an arrow pointing upwards.

As she shivered in the cold she wished she’d grabbed her jacket to cover her large white T-shirt she’d worn to bed with a pair of black track pants.

Several minutes went by with no sound and she was about to ask what was going on when a growl broke the silence, followed by another. Whatever was out there, there was more than one of them. They were surrounded

She looked to John next to her. He was in his full uniform and had a strong grip on his P-90. Lorne and Ronon were in a similar position within the group.

“If anything happens, get to the ‘gate.” John ordered the group quietly.

Suddenly, something broke through the trees to Elizabeth’s left. She turned to see something grey running at them at high speed on four legs.

John pushed past her and shot at it several times before it fell to the ground with a yelp.

“What is that?” Rodney whispered.

Ronon suddenly let out fire behind them and they turned around to see another one go down.

It looked similar to a wolf, but larger in size. Its fur was jet black, making it hard to see in the night.

The growls surrounding them grew greater in sound and number.

“Colonel?” Lorne’s eyes were darting around.

Two of the animals broke through the trees, but were instantly subdued by gunfire. As soon as they hit the ground, more appeared.

“Get to the ‘Gate!” Sheppard ordered and began firing just as Ronon began firing at more behind them.

With Sheppard in the lead the group ran for the trees. Several of the creatures jumped out in front of them and John fired on them, but there were too many. He grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and turned to the left, pulling her through the trees. “This way!” He yelled, hoping the others would follow.

He urged Elizabeth in front of him and she ran ahead as fast as she could. She had no idea where she was going, she simply ran in a straight line, trusting that John would be right behind her and would guide her.

Moments later she heard his gun fire. The creatures, whatever they were, were chasing after them. She had no idea how many were chasing them. She realized that the others weren’t with them, and she had no idea where they were, or if they were safe, but she couldn’t focus on anything but keeping her legs moving and controlling her breathing.

The growls that broke the night air only gave her fuel to run faster through the trees. All she could hear was the rhythmic pounding of her feet against the ground, and the blood thumping in her ears.

For a moment she couldn’t hear any weapon fire and there was a moment of fear where she believed that John was no longer behind her, and she slowed to turn around, but John was instantly by her side, grasping her forearm, and pulling her forward again.

They ran through some bushes, unaware of them ripping at their skin “They’re getting closer!” Yet John needn’t have even spoken, as the growls behind them drew nearer.

It may have been only minutes later, but it felt like hours. Elizabeth’s lungs were gasping for oxygen, her chest tightening in pain. She knew she was going to collapse at any moment.

John had managed to reload his P-90. “Keep going.” He turned around and fired on their pursuers once again.

Elizabeth ran for another minute before she staggered to a stop and gasped for air. As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t run again, not until she recovered from her last run.

She turned around as she fought to give her body the oxygen it greatly needed, and all she saw was trees and bushes. There was no sound except for her own erratic breathing.

Then she heard feet, or perhaps something else, breaking through the foliage towards her. She could only hope that it was John.

Elizabeth’s breath hitched in her throat as John stumbled through the branches in front of her. Her eyes closed in a brief moment of relief. She didn’t know what she would’ve done if it had been something other than him.

John came to a stop in front of her, his features etched with concern. “You ok?”

Elizabeth gave him a nod and he took a look over his shoulder. “I don’t think there’s any more chasing us, but I’d rather not stick around and find out.” John walked past Elizabeth, motioning for her to follow him. He was breathing heavy too, but not as bad which annoyed Elizabeth. Perhaps she was more out of shape than she’d thought. She quickly fell into step beside him.

John reached for his radio. That he’d seen, only Ronon and Lorne had had their radios with them, he just hoped that they were ok. “This is Sheppard, does anyone copy?” He paused and listened for several agonizing seconds. When there was no reply, he came to a stop, and looked at Elizabeth. “Can anyone hear me?” He tried again.

He was again greeted with silence.

“Did you see where anyone went?” Elizabeth asked hopefully.

John shook his head. “No, at first I thought they were following us…” He trailed off. “I’m sure they’re fine.” He assured her.

After a few moments of silence, John spoke. “Well, the ‘gate was east of camp, right?” John crouched down and drew an ‘X’ in the dirt with his finger. To the right of it he drew a small circle, symbolizing the stargate.

Elizabeth nodded, catching his train of thought. She crouched down next to him “So that means we ran north.” Her breathing was finally returning to normal.

John nodded, drawing a line from the top of the X. “And the waterfall we were at earlier… yesterday is north of camp.” He drew another X further above the other. “And if I remember correctly, the UAV pictures showed that the river leading from it goes south-east, by the gate.” John grinned triumphantly, drawing a squiggly line from the second X by the circle. “So, if we find either the river or the waterfall, we’ll find our way straight to the stargate.” He drew two little stick figures between the two X’s and then a dotted line for their planned path.

Elizabeth smiled. “I hope you weren’t an art major.”

He shrugged. “My teacher told me I had talent in kindergarten, didn’t really pursue it further.” He stood and used his boot to cover up his little map.

Her smile faded as she grew serious again. “Sounds like a plan.” Elizabeth replied trying to hide her growing concern. She stood and they continued walking again in silence.

During the next few minutes the reality of what was happening began to sink in. Since her first step through the ‘gate to Atlantis, Elizabeth had had her fair share of adventures, and she’d had her life threatened on many occasions. But in comparison to John, she’d barely been through anything. She always caught the end of the adventure, the return to Atlantis. In the end she heard all about their excitements and close-calls during debriefs.

Now, here she was, experiencing one of John’s offworld adventures first hand. She was running through a foreign forest from some wolf-looking alien creatures in her pajamas with her second in command. The thought almost brought a smile to her face until she remembered that there were still five other members of the group unaccounted for.

She was reminded of the feeling whenever one of the teams was offworld and she was stuck on Atlantis, worrying for them when the only thing she could do was send another team out to search for them, in which case she just had more people to worry about.

Sensing her unease, John nudged her lightly with his elbow. “Don’t worry, the others will have made it back to the ‘gate and dialed for help, and since you’re missing, they’ll have sent the whole of Atlantis, who are all are searching for you now.”

Elizabeth smiled. “I can just see Kavanaugh searching endlessly for me.”

“Of course,” John laughed. “Don’t you know that he has a secret love for you?”

She shook her head and laughed. “I couldn’t be so lucky.”

At that moment she realized how thankful she was that she’d ended up with John. He always managed to lighten her mood and she couldn’t think of anyone that she felt safer with.

After a moment a thought crossed her mind. “What happens if we’re actually heading slightly north-west and we miss the waterfall all together?”

“Well, we’re bound to run into the river that runs into the waterfall, right?”

“The UAV showed that the river flows from the north into the fall.”

John shrugged and gave her a small grin. “I know where we’re going; I have a good sense of direction. Trust me.”

“I do.” Elizabeth replied sincerely, and she did.

John’s eyebrows raised and he turned his head to look down at her and, upon seeing her seriousness, he gave her a small smile.

------------------

It was a little while before they heard water crashing against rock in the silence of the night, and John looked at Elizabeth with an ‘I told you so’ grin.

A minute later they arrived at the waterfall, and Elizabeth’s breath was taken away by how beautiful the scene was before her. The moon above them was almost full and its reflection rippled in the water. With the sound of the water crashing to the water below, and the plants that riddled the banks, it was truly picturesque.

When Elizabeth stopped walking, John turned to look back at her. She was looking at the scene in awe, her eyes twinkling in the moonlight. The corner of his mouth curved into a grin, and he stepped back to her. “Hey,” he reached up to grip her arm lightly, and was shocked by how cold her arm was. “Geez, you’re freezing! Why didn’t you say something?”

She looked from the waterfall to him when she felt his warm hand on her arm. The cool night breeze had been blissful after their sprint, but in just her shirt, she’d quickly become cold.

Before she could reply, Sheppard was taking off his vest, and then his jacket.

“John, I’m fine really.” But her protests were to no avail, as John handed his jacket to her. She reluctantly accepted, and pulled the piece of clothing on. She instantly felt herself warming up as she zipped it up.

Elizabeth looked at John and found him watching her closely. She suddenly realized how vulnerable she felt at that moment. The thought scared the hell out of her. She was relying on John to keep her safe and to get her back to the ‘gate. She’d always been an independent woman, and hadn’t relied on anybody for years. But she trusted him and that gave her some peace.

“Why don’t we sit down and rest for a while.” John suggested. He hadn’t meant to stare, but he realized that even though this had become a usual occurrence for him in the past two years, it wasn’t for Elizabeth, and she must be exhausted.

Elizabeth nodded, and followed him over to a large tree. Together they sat down and leaned against the large trunk. Elizabeth let out a small sigh, a wave of fatigue suddenly washing over her. Now that she’d sat down, she never wanted to get up again.

“You doing ok?” John asked.

“It’s definitely the most interesting vacation I’ve ever taken.”

John chuckled. “Guess that’s my fault, huh?”

“It’s alright. I’m still trying to decide which is worse, being chased through a forest by alien creatures or paperwork.”

“Hmm… tough decision.”

Elizabeth smiled, leaning her head back against the trees and closing her eyes.

“Tired?”

“Now that I’ve sat down, yes.” She spoke without opening in her eyes.

“Try and get some rest, we can stay here a while.”

“Are you sure?” She said through a yawn.

John chuckled, “Yeah, I’m sure.”

She wasn’t sure what made her do it; perhaps she was just more exhausted than she thought. There was no way she’d be able to fall asleep with everything that was going on. But she shifted over slightly and leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder.

John’s eyes opened wide in a moment of surprise, as he looked down at the top of her head. He shifted her forward for a moment, and slipped his arm around her shoulders. Elizabeth settled back comfortably, and John leaned his head back against the tree, a small smile on his face.

-----------------

Consciousness asserted itself on Elizabeth’s brain when her pillow suddenly grew rigid. Before she was even fully awake, John was pulling her to her feet.

“What’s-“

“They’re back.” He whispered.

Elizabeth rubbed her eyes. The others had found them? Her body began to relax with relief when a howl ripped through the night air.

She was definitely awake now.

“Come on!” John grabbed her hand and they began running alongside the river.

They ran as fast as their legs would carry them, and Elizabeth held tightly to John’s hand, she wouldn’t let him go. She could hear the growls chasing them, and when she turned to look back, she wished she hadn’t. They were running a race they couldn’t win.

John knew he only had limited ammunition left, and he couldn’t fight them off by himself. He didn’t look behind him, but he knew they were getting close. They couldn’t keep following the river. On the bank there was no trees, they were out in the open. They’d have to take their chances in the forest. Even if it got them lost, it was better than dieing.

He veered to the right, pulling Elizabeth with him. She didn’t question him, and he knew that she trusted him. Her life was in his hands, and he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to protect her.

The trees didn’t stop the creatures, but it may have slowed them down a little. He tried to lose them by taking random turns. They gained a small lead, but they were both wearing down and wouldn’t last much longer.

Elizabeth was surprised when John started slowing down to a jog. “What are you doing?”

“Elizabeth, I know you’re not going to like this, but I need you to do something for me.” He stopped and began reaching for his sidearm.

“What is it?” She was scared out of her mind, and John wasn’t helping.

“I need you to take my gun.” He held his 9mm out to her.

Her body froze in fear and she pulled her hand from his, stopping in her tracks.

Elizabeth looked at John’s hand as he held it out towards her in the dark of the night. The cold, black metal was simply a dark shadow in his open hand.

“Take it!” He ordered. She couldn’t tear her fearful eyes away from his hand.

“You know I can’t!” She breathed.

“Please,” his hazel eyes begged her.

The growls were growing closer, and John took a step towards her, placing his empty hand on her forearm, forcing her to look at him. “Elizabeth, you have to take the gun.”

She could see a hint of fear in his eyes, and she bit down on her bottom lip. It went against everything she’d ever believed in; everything she’d fought for all of her life. She’d always managed to settle things peacefully, without any reliance on the use of guns.

“You’re not going to be able to talk your way out of this one,” He said, as if reading her thoughts. “You don’t even have to shoot anything.” His voice grew urgent as the growls seemed to surround them.

“Then why do I have to even take it?!”

“In case I’m not there to protect you!” He yelled before sighing. “Look, I need to know, that if anything happens to me, you’ll be ok.”

Things had changed when she agreed to take on this mission, to lead an expedition to another galaxy. She constantly ordered those under command to use force on other planets and to defend the city of Atlantis itself. Would it be any different if she were the one holding the gun?

Elizabeth’s eyes dropped to the handgun again. They’re not human, she reminded herself.

Hesitantly, she reached out a shaky hand and took the foreign object. It felt heavy in her hand.

John put his hand on her cheek. “I want you to run ok, run as fast as you can. I’m going to try and stop them.”

Tears stung her eyes as she placed her empty palm on his.

“I’ll come after you, I promise, ok?”

Elizabeth nodded, but she didn’t want to let go of his hand, didn’t want to leave him.

“Go, Elizabeth.” He leaned down and placed a quick kiss on her lips before turning and running back the direction they came.

She stared after him, frozen in time. The sound of his P-90 firing jerked her back to reality, and she turned, running through the forest as fast as her tired legs would allow. She had a sinking feeling that she’d never see him again and it tore at her insides.

After a few minutes she couldn’t hear anymore sounds behind her. She’d never felt so alone and helpless in her life.

Her foot suddenly caught on a branch, and her body pitched forward as she fell to the ground, the gun falling from her hand. She rolled over onto her back, gasping for air. She knew she had to keep going, and she stood up, trying to calm her breathing.

To her right a twig snapped and it seemed to echo in the night. She turned her body to the right just as one of the creatures appeared through the trees. It was so close she could distinguish all of its features. It had beady yellow eyes that were trained on her every move. Unlike a wolf, its ears were set into the side of its head, and it had no tail.

Elizabeth spotted the gun lying on the ground in front of her, and she slowly knelt down. The creature growled, and took a step closer to her. Her hand closed around the gun, and she slowly stood again.

With a shaky hand, she held the gun out in front of her, pointing it at the animal. It wasn’t dumb, it knew that it was being threatened, and it began to walk towards her on its four feet.

She took a couple of steps backwards, her index finger poised over the trigger.

It was done playing with her now as it gave a growl and ran at her. Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut.

BANG!

Her eyes flew open and she saw the creature crumple to the ground. Her mind clouded with confusion.

“Dr. Weir!”

She looked up to see Ronon lowering his weapon and Major Lorne running past him towards her.

“Dr. Weir, are you ok?” Lorne asked in concern.

Elizabeth lowered her shaking hand and looked from Ronon to the dead creature to Lorne and nodded. “Yeah… thank you.” She was alive.

“Here, let me take that.” Lorne took the gun from Elizabeth’s hand, surprised to see it there in the first place. The fact that she had Colonel Sheppard’s gun wasn’t a good sign, and he was almost afraid to ask his next question. “Where’s Col-“

The echoes of a P-90 fired in the distance before Lorne could finish his question. Elizabeth looked briefly at him before running in the direction of the gunfire. Lorne and Ronon were quickly following her.

It wasn’t long before they heard more gun fire and the growls of more creatures. With his greater speed, Ronon passed Elizabeth and Lorne. By now Elizabeth was certain she should have tried out for the cross country team in High School.

When they finally caught up to Ronon, he and John were fighting off a few creatures, several of them were already lying dead on the ground.

With the three men present, it wasn’t long before Ronon was shooting the last of the creatures.

Relief washed over Elizabeth to see John alive, and when his eyes fell on her, she could see that he felt the same way. They held each others’ gaze for a brief moment. He smiled and gave her a nod before tearing his eyes away to look at the guys.

“About time you guys showed up!” John said, his smile spreading to a grin.

“Well, if you had of just gone back to the ‘gate like you told everybody to, we wouldn’t have had to come at all.” Lorne retorted.

John’s face turned serious. “What exactly happened?”

“Are the others ok?” Elizabeth asked at the same time.

Lorne nodded. “We were all split up. Ronon ended up with Rodney, and Brown and Carraway were with me. My group got to the stargate and Ronon arrived a few minutes later. When you didn’t arrive after a while we tried you on the radio. When we didn’t hear anything we sent the other three through for reinforcements and came after you guys.”

“They were supposed to radio us when the reinforcements came through and that was a while ago.” Ronon said.

“Well, something must be up with the signal. I tried contacting you earlier too. I’m sure Rodney will be able to figure it out and explain it in great detail.” John rolled his eyes.

Elizabeth suddenly noticed that John had blood dripping down his arm and he was holding it with his hand. “You’re bleeding.” She stepped forward to look at his arm

John looked down at his arm. “Yeah, those things have claws too. It’s just a scratch.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows at his definition of ‘scratch’. “Maybe we should get back to the ‘gate so Carson can take a look at it.”

“Preferably now, before any more of those things turn up.” Lorne added.

John nodded and turned to Ronon, “Lead the way.”

----------------

Upon returning to Atlantis, John and Elizabeth were instantly whisked away to the Infirmary.

With only a few cuts and bruises, Elizabeth had managed to make it out of the Infirmary within an hour. John on the other hand wasn’t as lucky. He’d lost a little blood, and Dr. Beckett insisted that he stay the night.

Leaving the Infirmary to the sounds of John’s protests, Elizabeth headed back to the tower to find Teyla. She found her sitting in her office and she knocked on the door.

Teyla looked up and stood instantly, “Dr. Weir, you do not have to knock on the door to your own office.”

Elizabeth just smiled and walked in, taking a seat in front of the desk, and Teyla returned to her seat also.

“I am very sorry, but when we could not get in contact with any of you, I did not send the reinforcements through.”

“Don’t worry about it, Teyla.” Elizabeth replied. “I would have done the same thing.”

“Dr. McKay said that there was some sort of magnetic interference on parts of the planet that the UAV didn’t pick up. He thinks that there may be some sort of device somewhere on the planet.”

“Well, I guess it’ll just have to stay like that, I’m ordering that planet locked out of the dialing system.”

Teyla bowed her head. “I am grateful that you are ok, Dr. Weir, and Colonel Sheppard?”

“He’s ok, Carson’s keeping him overnight.” Elizabeth smirked, remembering John’s complaints when she’d left.

The two women smiled at each other in amusement.


By the time Elizabeth had showered it felt like it was really late, and she desired nothing more than to collapse onto her bed and sleep for the next 24 hours. However, she was surprised to find it was the middle of the day, and she still needed to speak with John.

Not wanting to talk to anyone else, she slipped into the Infirmary as quietly as she could, and snuck through the curtains around John’s bed to find him sound asleep. She wanted to kick him.

Instead, she collapsed into the chair by his bed. Maybe some nice person would come by and carry her back to her room. She gave a small chuckle at the thought of Ronon carrying her to her quarters.

John, hearing her laugh, suddenly rolled over, causing Elizabeth to jump.

“What’s so funny?”

“Sorry! I thought you were asleep.”

“And that’s funny how?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “Never mind.”

“What are you doing here anyway? You should be getting some rest.”

She shrugged. “I thought I should come and see you first.”

John nodded. “I was waiting for you. I’m glad you’re ok. I knew some of those things had gotten by me, and I thought…”

“I thought the same thing about you.” Elizabeth replied.

“You didn’t even have to use the gun.” John smiled.

“No, almost though.”

John pushed the covers down to his waist and sat up. Apparently he’d managed to avoid the hospital gown. “I’m so sorry, Elizabeth. I never should have made you take that gun. I know how much you despise weapons.”

“I’ve been in charge of Atlantis for two years now, and I’ve had to use them to defend this city, and I send teams through the ‘gate with them every week. I spent my whole life trying to end the need for guns, but now I understand that sometimes they’re necessary. I admire your courage, but I never want to have to shoot one.”

John reached out and took her hand. “I swear to you I’ll never let anything like that happen to you again.”

“You can’t always be there to protect me.”

“No, but I can make sure you never step through the ‘gate again unless it’s to Earth. But even then I’ll step through first to make sure it’s safe.” He gave her his trademark grin which never failed to make her smile.

“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?” Elizabeth smiled.

John shook his head seriously, “Not at all. You scared me to death ‘Liz.” He hadn’t meant to use her nickname, even though he couldn’t really call it her nickname since nobody ever called her that.

Elizabeth bowed her head, her cheeks turning pink. She admitted that she’d always been attracted to John, but she’d never really had the time to stop and think about there ever being anything more than that. Of course they’d always shared the random flirt here and there, but this was a lot more than that. She’d never felt so out of control and safe at the same time.

Not usually the one to be so open about his feelings, John realized how much he’d just said. He was quick to lead their conversation astray. “How about next time you decide to go on a vacation we’ll just take a trip to the mainland.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “Next time I decide to go on a vacation?” She didn’t miss the ‘we’ in his last statement and smiled, “Sounds like a plan.”

-The End-