Rating: Um... Ages 10 and up.
Spoilers: None, set sometime in season 2 or 3.
Category: John/Elizabeth friendship & UST. Ze fluff.
Summary: He gives her an ultimatum.
Author's Note: Written in chat to anr, because she said something about Sparky being an angsty pairing now or something. My muse lives in Australia now. If you want me to write something, I suggest you go through Ness.
He gives her an ultimatum.
"Or chess. Or Sorry!"
She wants to ask who wasted cargo space bringing Sorry! to another galaxy, but that would divert her from her goal of getting out of here and back to her office as fast as possible. "John, I really have to go check out Dr. Zelenka's progress on-"
"Pick one," he insists, and it's not a suggestion. "Carson said you needed a break. I haven't seen you leave your office in two weeks."
That's not fair. "I leave my office."
"Only because you don't have your own coffee maker. Now..." he points to the board games spread in front of him on the mess hall table.
She hesitates too long, because he adds, "I'll tell Carson, and he'll relieve you of duty for a whole day, it'll be a big scene..."
Some days she hates him; some days she loves him (in that platonic, coworker, mutual-life-saving-every-other-week sort of way, because anything else would probably take even more time to resolve, and then she'll never get to Dr. Zelenka's lab).
She hasn't decided which sort of day this is yet.
"Fine," she caves, and points to Sorry!, because it's a kid's game and will probably be over the fastest. Monopoly would take all night.
"Excellent choice," John says, but he's giving her a look like he knows exactly why she chose it.
"Would you like a snack?" he asks as he lays out the playing board. "A beverage?"
"Can we just get on with it?"
"I'm not that kind of guy, Elizabeth."
There's a bit of an awkward pause while she tries to sort out whether he meant it to come out that way. She reads the instructions on the back of the box instead of dwelling on that too far, because if she really is thinking about it then, God help her, John and Carson are right and she has been working too hard.
John sets up the pieces -- red team for her, she assumes without asking, and he picks blue -- and then hands over the deck of cards with unnecessary gravity.
"You will be laughing by the end of this game," he informs her.
"Don't you have work that you're supposed to be doing?"
He stares at her, and she imagines it's not too dissimilar from the stare he'll give a Wraith on the other side of a P-90.
She sighs. "Does it count if I'm laughing at you?"
"Yes." He then mocks her, "Now draw some cards, please, or you'll never get back to work."
It's hard to be too competitive with a game that's mostly based on chance and played with cards instead of dice, but somehow, John manages it, and it doesn't take long before she's laughing after all.
"That's cheating!" she yelps, and reaches for the box with the instructions.
He traps her hand under his, and the warm touch surprises her enough that she stops pulling. "It's a completely legal move." It surprises her even more that he doesn't pull away.
"You're only supposed to go five spaces," she argues. Her voice sounds a little shaky, so she pulls her hand away from his and reaches for his most recent card as proof.
"One, two, three..." he counts along the board. "Oh, I guess you're right."
"I can't believe you're cheating at a child's game," she says, shaking her head and moving his playing piece back a space.
"The object is to win, isn't it?"
"You're impossible." She pulls her next card and cackles with delight as she knocks his closest piece back to the beginning. "Sorrrreeeeeee..."
He's smiling a little smugly even though she just took away his lead.
Lorne wanders into the mess hall partway through the game and comes over to watch. "She's beating you, huh?"
John smiles. "That's what she's supposed to think."
It's a little different drawing cards and moving pieces with someone watching, and it occurs to Elizabeth how frivolous and irresponsible it is for her to be sitting here playing a board game that shouldn't even be in this galaxy when there are things she really should be doing. Things that aren't nearly as fun, unfortunately, but fun isn't normally that high on her to-do list.
She's so wrapped up in her thoughts of how to escape this scene gracefully that she almost doesn't notice an exchange of looks between John and the Major, right before Lorne makes an excuse about meeting Teyla somewhere and leaves.
"What was that?" she asks.
"Less talk, more play," John says instead of answering.
"We really should be-"
"One full game. If you stop now, we'll have to start all over from the beginning."
She eyes him suspiciously. "You'd like that. Then you might have a chance."
"Oh, you just watch. Luck's always on my side."
She doesn't know how he does it -- and she watches his counting very carefully -- but he does pull ahead in the running. Three of his guys are already home and they're both slower now to draw cards, not really talking about anything, just... talking.
It's nice. She does feel better. She shouldn't need it, but she's lucky to have people who care about her enough to force her out of her own head for a few minutes a day.
She feels unexpectedly sad that it's never any longer than that. She'd scream bloody murder if someone suggested a vacation, but, well, she could use one.
"It's not so bad, is it?" John asks.
"No... taking a break."
She doesn't even have the chance to start feeling self-conscious before he jumps in with,
"Don't do that."
"Don't start thinking about how you could be spending your time more productively. It's not the end of the world if you take an hour off every now and again."
"You don't know that for sure," she points out, because the end of the world seems to come pretty frequently in their line of work.
He nudges the cards toward her. "It's your turn."
She knows she's going to lose. "At what point can I forfeit?"
"That doesn't sound like the indomitable Doctor Weir," he mocks.
She glares and draws a card. "Fine. You're on."
She loses, of course, and in only three more turns.
"Looks like you're right, John. Luck is on your side."
He looks pleased, but not nearly as elated to have beaten her as she would have expected, given all the bravado leading up to it.
"We've both gotten pretty lucky over the years," he offers diplomatically.
"There has been some skill involved."
He smirks. "Maybe a little."
Once again, she's not entirely sure what they're talking about.
Her mug of tea is empty and the game is over. She checks her watch as subtly as she can. Maybe Radek will have already gone to bed.
John slides all the player pieces off the board. "Rematch?"
She rolls her eyes, all set to tell him that he got his one game and she's now completely off the hook, but something stops her. She doesn't really need to do anything else tonight.
"Monopoly?" she asks. "I think I'm going to need something a little more than luck."
He beams, and she laughs, because it's so rare that he smiles like that. He doesn't take too many real breaks either, she realizes, and while the careless attitude might fool some people (like Caldwell, for example), she suspects that she and John are cut from the same workaholic cloth. Maybe she's not the only one in need of a vacation.
He clears the Sorry! board and opens Monopoly. "I should warn you," he says, "I'm very good at this game."
"We'll see, won't we? I want to be the car."
He pouts. "I always play the car!"
"I called it first," she answers reasonably.
He relents and hands it over. "I'm always luckier with the car," he complains.
"Already with the excuses and I haven't even won yet."
He glares. "I get to be the bank, then."
"No way! You cheat!"
"It was an accident! Can we move on, already?"
She shakes her head, can't quite believe she's doing any of this. "We're going to be here all night. You realize that, right?"
If he's grinning victoriously already, she's not going to acknowledge it. "I guess that depends on how fast I beat you," he says.
She always thought he needed to get taken down a peg or two. This might have work-related benefits after all.
"This counts against the next time Carson says I need a board game," she declares. "I'm going to want credit for this."
John smirks. "Carson didn't specifically say board game. That part might have been my idea."
She never doubted that.
When they roll for turns, she rolls a 6. He doesn't look like he minds.
"You want to buy it?" he asks about the property she lands on.
"You do know the rules of this game, right?"
"I have a strategy."
He gives her a toothy grin. "I love people with strategies."
"Less talk. More play."
In the end, neither of them wins, because he owns the utilities and she owns the railroads and when it's 0200, even pride can't keep her awake any longer. He's been up even longer than she has -- she knows, because she approved the shutdown of the North pier for the training drills that morning -- but even so, he puts up a token struggle.
"Now we'll never know who's the better tycoon," he argues even as he stacks the paper money to put away.
She must be tired, because she concedes, "There will be other games. I'm sure I'll need to be dragged away from work for a few hours under medical threat at some point."
"You should take better care of yourself," he says with unusual seriousness.
He nods, admitting the irony. "Says me."
He walks her back to her quarters. Hers are only two hallways away from his, so this isn't that unusual. Normally when he's walking her here, though, he's half-chasing her with some wild-eyed idea and she's arguing and planning her escape.
It feels more than a little different, though, because when he opens the door for her with a flick of ancient genes, she has the momentary crazed idea that she should kiss him, like they were on some sort of date.
It does sort of feel like a date, more than any other evening she's had in this galaxy.
That thought alone should be proof of exactly how tired she is. That old stubborn voice hisses in her ear that this reallywas irresponsible, that she'll be exhausted tomorrow, that she should never let anyone, even (especially) John Sheppard, trick her into ideas like this.
"Thanks," John says, interrupting her train of thought, and before she can ask why he's thanking her, he adds, "I had fun."
She can't think of a witty comeback, so she tells him the truth. "Me too."
They stand there almost long enough for it to be awkward, and then she moves or he does, maybe both having the same silly idea at the same time, and she moves in to kiss him on the cheek but ends up touching her lips to his.
She pulls back in surprise, but not before every little nerve in her body makes a vivid memory of what his kiss feels like, and that's something she really probably shouldn't know.
John smiles sheepishly, runs a hand through his hair, and she thinks she can see a touch of pink in his cheeks that usually isn't there.
She can't help it. She laughs, and covers her mouth with her hand. Hopefully she isn't blushing quite as much as it feels like she is, because that would be too silly, even for 0200.
"I told you I'd have you laughing," he informs her.
She can't tell him how relieved she is that this didn't turn completely strange. It almost feels... not normal, but better than normal. "That you did."
He chews the corner of his lip. "See you tomorrow?"
There's something adorable and hopeful in his tone, and she wonders if he's having the same totally inappropriate thoughts that she is. But really, a board game is about as much caution as she's willing to throw to the wind for one night.
"Yeah." He doesn't look too disappointed, so there's no real reason for her to add, "We'll have to play the rest of the game sometime."
"I hear Dr. Biro has Parcheesi."
She can't help but notice that he still hasn't left, and she's leaning against her doorway in a way that's almost coy, still thinking those things she really shouldn't be thinking about John.
She doesn't feel too guilty, though.
"Strauss has Connect Four," he adds. "She tried to teach it to Ronon. He didn't see the point."
"That doesn't surprise me."
"No, not really."
He shuffles on his feet and she notices he's looking everywhere except through the open door to her quarters.
She does some quick calculations in her head, judging how late it is against how long they played board games and how likely it is that no one will walk by in the next thirty seconds, and then kisses him again.
Just a peck on the lips. Theoretically, to see whether she was right the first time about how surprisingly wonderful it felt.
She breaks away just before it crosses the line between maybe-this-is-just-how-friends-say-goodn
This time he's the one who laughs, just an amused hitch of breath against her cheek, and there's no reason for that to thrill her right to her toes.
He points haphazardly in the direction of his quarters. "I should probably-"
"Yeah, probably." She wonders why it doesn't feel like the universe is caving in.
"Good night, Elizabeth."
He touches her shoulder before he goes, and she steps into her quarters and shuts the door before she can say or do something to ruin this.
She doesn't even check the clock as she gets ready for bed; she knows it's beyond late. She tries (and fails) not to think about what he's thinking.
It takes a little while to fall asleep.
Surprisingly, when he knocks on her door at 0630 and asks her to breakfast, she isn't tired at all.
- end -