Even though it's her room.
The mess hall becomes her temporary sanctuary. It's thankfully empty and she makes herself a cup of coffee before hiding in the darkest corner of the room she can find. She needs to think.
Elizabeth knows precisely the reason she's running. That they had sex isn't it, exactly – that'd been a long time coming and they both knew it.
She wasn't prepared for the way he looked at her.
Elizabeth has always thought she could read John well, almost from the start. His poker face has gotten better over the years but his eyes always give him away. She's known for a while now how he feels about her – at least, she thought she knew.
Earlier tonight, though, buried deep inside her, his touch gentle against her skin, his gaze was naked. Exposed. Honest. And Elizabeth's not sure she's ready for what she saw there, not yet.
She takes a sip of her coffee. It's cold.
"Good morning, Chuck."
"Merry Christmas, Dr. Weir."
She'd forgotten that today is Christmas. She forces a smile in Chuck's direction and wishes him a merry Christmas in return.
Though the greeting is soft, Elizabeth still jumps. "Hi," she manages, cursing the redness she feels in her cheeks.
"Early morning?" The words are casual enough but, as usual, John's eyes betray him. He's confused, worried, and a little hesitant. Beneath it all, all she can see is the way he looked at her just hours before.
"John." She can hear the edge of pleading in her own voice. "Not now." Please. She's not ready.
He studies her for several seconds. She can't hold his gaze. "Alright," he agrees, probably taking pity on her. "Lunch?"
"If I can," she hedges, fully aware he knows she's putting him off.
"Okay." He tries to catch her eye, but she avoids him again, and he turns to leave. He pauses at the door. "Elizabeth?"
She looks up involuntarily.
She manages to evade him for the rest of the day, first by surrounding herself with others and later by disappearing into the depths of the city. Hiding, the little voice in her head accuses. She ignores it.
She finds an empty, quiet room and tucks herself away. It gives her too much time to think.
Late in the afternoon, he finally shows up. Either he knows her better than she's ever given him credit for or she's going to have to talk to Chuck about appropriate use of the internal sensors.
He slides down the wall to sit next to her on the floor. Neither of them says anything for a long time.
John is the first to break the silence. That he's the one trying to talk and she's the one running away doesn't escape her notice. The irony of that's not lost on her.
"Do you trust me?"
The question is so far removed from anything she's expecting that Elizabeth is momentarily speechless. "Do I...? Yes, of course I do."
John stands and holds out a hand. "Come with me." She blinks up at him and he wriggles his fingers. "Come with me," he says again.
Elizabeth hesitates, then reaches up and allows John to pull her to her feet. He runs his thumb over the back of her hand and squeezes her fingers before letting go.
She wishes he'd held on.
"The jumper bay?"
He steers her toward Jumper One, settling her in the co-pilot's seat, and Elizabeth watches him go through the pre-flight checks. He opens the radio channel. "Command, this is Sheppard. Permission to launch?"
She doesn't hear the answer, but seconds later they lift off.
Their destination isn't far: in orbit around Lantea.
"Why are we here?" Elizabeth asks, gazing down at the cloud-covered planet.
"This is your present." Startled, she turns toward him, catching his shrug. "Well, it will be. We need to wait a few more minutes."
She nods like he's making sense, then finds herself blurting, "I need to explain."
"You don't," he says, surprising her. "I get it." He ducks his head, catching her eye. "Elizabeth, I'm not going to lie to you – this won't be easy. We both know that. But can it be any harder than it is now?"
She looks away again, her gaze skittering around the cabin. Beside her, she hears John sigh.
"It's time," he says quietly, and the jumper begins its descent.
Elizabeth watches the horizon as they approach Atlantis, flying towards the setting sun. The city comes into view and she feels her breath catch at the beauty of it, awash in the warm golden glow of the last of the sun's light and backlit by the reds, oranges, pinks, and purples of sunset. She's seen the city from the air before, of course, but never anything like this. "Oh my god," she breathes.
For all his earlier confidence, John looks embarrassed. "Merry Christmas," he says, almost shyly.
In that instant, she makes her decision.
After they've landed in the jumper bay, Elizabeth says his name. "John?"
He turns to her. "Elizabeth?"
She leans across the console separating them, capturing his lips with hers. He tastes just like she's been remembering all day.
That look is in his eyes again when she pulls away, but this time, she doesn't freak out.