AUTHOR: Little Red
CATEGORY: Atlantis. Sheppard/Weir.
SUMMARY: The night before the morning after. Prequel to "6 A.M." There are spoons.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Apologies for the tragic lack of pr0n. Extra lots of thanks to Tammy, who beta'd, and A.j., who didn't beta but who said "more groping."
DEDICATION: For anr.
Spoons Came First
"You're drunk," John accuses with a laugh as Elizabeth breathes on the spoon in her hand and tries to hang it off her nose.
She shoots him an indignant look. "I am not," she insists, but she cracks a grin and the spoon clatters to the table. "Quiet for a second."
The spoon falls off a second time, and once again she fails to grab it before it hits the tabletop.
"You have to tilt your head back," Ford says helpfully before reaching over to the next table to grab another spoon.
The rest of the mess hall -- hell, most of the city at this hour -- is deserted. John isn't sure why it seemed so necessary for the four of them to drink that night (McKay bowed out, something about a citrus base in the latest acquisition of alien moonshine). The past few weeks have been hard, too hard, full of all-nighters and near-misses that are strangely easy to forget when Elizabeth Weir is trying to keep from laughing long enough to balance silverware on her nose. And failing miserably.
John grabs Ford's spoon out of his hand. He feels a little off-balance as he sits back up and decides that alien sour mash packs more of a punch than he originally thought. Still, drunk or not, he's better at this than Elizabeth. "Watch and learn."
"That's cheating!" Elizabeth's spoon bounces off the table this time, and she continues her protest from the floor as she retrieves it. "You can't... lean it against your chin."
"I'm not!" John then appeals to Teyla, for whom they are ostensibly staging this demonstration. "I didn't."
Teyla looks either concerned or afraid. "I believe you," she says with an exaggerated smile, the one that shows up whenever someone mentions something particularly strange about Earth -- Cosmopolitan magazine or professional wrestling or Elvis impersonators (Ford's from Las Vegas). He doesn't really like that look on her because he feels like he ought to be able to explain his own culture better, even if it is weird as hell sometimes. Still, he can't wait for the day when he and Ford and McKay get the chance to take her to Earth.
He owes her a ride on a Ferris wheel, after all, and he's pretty sure that he can talk Elizabeth into riding the rollercoasters with him.
Ford has collected other spoons and hands one to Teyla. "Wanna try?"
"I believe I will just watch," she decides. She isn't drunk enough, John figures. Teyla -- all the Ethosians, for that matter -- seem to have a rather frustratingly high tolerance for alcohol. Something about evolution, probably... an upgrade in the Ancients' design? He should ask Elizabeth. She has theories about everything.
"Elizabeth..." Her name has a lot of syllables. He never noticed that before. "I have a question."
"Aha!" She cheers and holds her hands out in triumph. The spoon stable, she looks at him seriously. "I'm listening. Don't make me laugh."
They talk about programmed evolution with spoons hanging from their noses -- Teyla too, eventually, because either the booze finally hits her or she starts to feel left out. The alcoholic buzz makes John feel warm and safe, in spite of the recent horrors in his memory that he's trying not to think about. The company's nice, too, even after Teyla reaches her daily cap of Earth weirdness and Ford makes up an excuse to walk her back to her quarters.
It's always nice to spend time with Elizabeth -- almost always, he amends, since he can do without her sometimes obsessive hashing and rehashing of their mission reports. This feels different. Not calmer, exactly. She touches him more when she's drunk, his arm or shoulder when she's laughing or making a point or trying to get his attention amid the conversation.
He finds himself looking at her more than he usually does, noticing things he's seen before but never really thought about. She has freckles, for instance, barely visible on the bridge of her nose and across her cheeks. She has a few vertical worry lines between her eyebrows that can still be seen even as she laughingly refuses a refill of her drink. He suspects he's at least partly responsible for them. He'd apologize -- women are weird about wrinkles -- but they look good on her, somehow.
She looks good. She looks tired lately in a way that worries him, now that he's thinking about it, but even in spite of that and her alcohol-hazed eyes and a spoon in the middle of her face, there's something about her that's more real and comforting than any of the alien women who have offered him a bed in the past eighteen months.
He wonders, as they argue about whether Sean Connery or Roger Moore played James Bond in the one with Jaws, why he has found it necessary to look for companionship so far from home.
Even when this "home" is... McKay keeps telling him how many millions of thousands of light-years they are from Earth, but the number seems too unreal and never sticks in his head.
They finally agree to disagree about the Bond movie until they're back in a galaxy where it can be rented (even though she's so wrong and that one's a classic and is definitely Connery). She collects their mess of cutlery and empty glasses and bids him goodnight.
He isn't ready for this break from their reality to end. He likes talking to her about movies and amusement parks and scattered trivia from their lives before they had ever heard of the Ancients or the Wraith. He has come to respect and rely on her leadership, but he likes her better this way, unencumbered by responsibility and free to do nothing but smile the goofily unselfconscious smile he always works so hard to get out of her.
"Walk you to your quarters?"
She laughs, one hand brushing his arm in the way that tells him she's still a little drunk. "Not sure I'll make it?" There's no mockery in her voice, only amusement.
"You can never be too careful."
He doesn't intend to go farther than that. He only wants to prolong the comfortable feeling between them, but they get to her door and he still doesn't want to leave. His own quarters are filled with reports that need editing... and with his own thoughts. He hovers around the entrance to her room, hoping she won't hit the panel to open the door just yet.
She's telling him, in a voice a little too loud for the hour and the other living quarters in this hallway, about how her father used to mail her care packages of trashy action movies so that they would always have something to talk about. He's standing a little too close to her, drawn in by the casual way she leans against the doorframe and that goofy smile. He thinks that the alcohol must have pushed him over the far side of crazy, because she smells different than she usually does. Or perhaps he's just never noticed.
It's at that moment, standing in a public hallway, listening to her talk about her father of all things, that he decides he really needs to know what it feels like to kiss her.
Not that he's never wondered before. They spend a lot of time together. He has always found her attractive, even more so as he learns more about her. This is, however, the first time he has thought it while both standing this close to her and being drunk enough to do something about it.
Elizabeth notices his changing intention, because her words trail off right in the middle of relating her family's strange obsession with the Lethal Weapon movies. "John?"
It seems only fair to warn her. Seems suave, even, to his slightly addled brain. "I want to kiss you."
It stuns him that she doesn't look surprised. One side of her mouth quirks up and her eyes go a little bit wider. "Okay."
He isn't sure where to put his hands. He doesn't usually have a problem thinking this sort of thing through, but then, he feels like this should be different than usually if only because he knows her so well. He ends up keeping his hands to himself and leans in for a peck on the lips like he's thirteen years old again.
He isn't sure what happens, exactly, but it's definitely not a peck on the lips.
It doesn't feel like a first kiss. It should be sloppy -- they're drunk and unfamiliar with each other this way -- but it isn't. They have worked side-by-side so long that this feels just like another extension of finishing each other's sentences. Her mouth is warm and moves exactly how he wants her to before he even knows which way he plans to go. She opens her lips for him without any effort on his part, and while she tastes like the same lime-y alien liquor as he does, there's something else that's Elizabeth. He memorizes it as hard as he can.
When he breaks the kiss he can't quite breathe. His hands have found their way to the back of her neck and her hip of their own accord and he can't quite figure out how to disentangle them to take a respectful step back.
It occurs to him belatedly that this is a really bad idea. There are any number of personal or professional reasons for why they shouldn't let themselves be seen tangled in the hallway outside her quarters, but here they are.
"Wow," she says, her breath brushing his cheek. He shivers. Reducing Elizabeth to a single syllable is even higher on his list of personal achievements than being able to make her smile that goofy grin whenever he wants to. He'd celebrate if he could think past how hot her skin is under the palms of his hands, even through her clothes.
Before he can stop himself, he wonders what she'd look like without those clothes. His brain is unable to completely process the idea that if he plays his cards right, he could very well find out in the next twenty minutes. That mental stall doesn't really matter, as his brain has pretty much been cut out of it already.
Elizabeth brushes his lips with hers, inviting him back in, and he would be helpless to resist even if he considered putting up a fight. He presses her up against the doorjamb, moving his mouth to her neck when the opportunity presents itself, delirious with what's left of his alcoholic buzz and the feel of her long fingers in his hair. She smells even more incredible up close. His hands find themselves beneath the hem of her shirt, and he really shouldn't be this excited about touching her back, but there it is. She gasps when his teeth bite down gently on the exposed skin of her neck and his brain explodes a little more.
He pops the clasp of her bra without even thinking about it, his actions controlled by muscle memory. Even under her shirt, the slack gives him access. Her skin feels a lot like any other skin on any other woman, but it's different because it's her. She pulls his hips right against her somehow. He's lost track of her hands but doesn't really care, because he has other points of contact to think about now. Her nipple tightens a little into his palm and Elizabeth makes a low sound into his mouth that he never, ever thought he would hear from her.
John conveniently forgets where he is until something he does while trying to spread her legs wider against the wall so he can feel her through her pants tips her off-balance. She grabs the wall behind her for leverage and her hand trips the door release. For a moment, caught in the sudden illumination spilling out of her quarters, they both freeze.
It takes her three attempts to put her hand on her chest before she pushes him back. There's an awkward moment as he tries to properly disentangle his hand from the loose fabric of her bra and his arm from under her shirt. She looks dazed, and he knows how she feels.
The reality of the hallway solidifies. Even if it's late at night, there are people on duty twenty-eight hours a day and they're lucky they haven't been caught.
Maybe, he amends. He wouldn't mind having a witness to the fact that he put that look on Elizabeth Weir's face.
He's supposed to leave, and he knows that. To apologize, even. He can't quite find the words and decides, cowardly, to leave it up to her to dismiss him.
She speaks, but it isn't quite what he expects. "Maybe we shouldn't do this here."
Her statement is ambiguous enough to let him be a silent jerk and wait for her to clarify whether she's sending him off or... he doesn't even let himself think of the other option, doesn't let himself look past her into the bedroom already bright with automated Ancient lights. She's his boss. She's Doctor Weir. She knows better than this. If she turns him down, he'll only be disappointed until he sobers up completely, at which point he'll know better, too.
This is a new smile, at once shyer and more determined than the wicked one she usually uses when she can see right through him. "Come in," comes the offer. One of her hands is still just barely touching his chest, like she forgot it there, but even drunk he doesn't think she does anything unintentional.
He remembers how to speak. "For a nightcap?" They're drunk, he reminds himself. It's all right that they're not thinking, that they're about to do something that might be incredibly stupid.
It really does seem like a good idea at the time, and he's pretty sure he would be even more stupid for passing this up.
Wicked Elizabeth smile. He doesn't think he'll ever be able to accept that look from her in daylight anymore now that he knows what it means. "Something like that."
She pulls him into the room -- or he pushes her, he isn't sure -- and that's the end of his mental deliberation.
They can sort it out in the morning.