Weir is scared, and that frightens him, because she's supposed to be steady. He should be able to push and push and find a solid wall of Weir pushing back with reason and science and controlled fear, but now if he pushed, she'd crumple, and he'd have to catch her. An old song about catching a falling star comes into his mind, which is ridiculous, because the only things falling through their night sky are Wraith darts, and the song only holds if by "catch" you mean "shoot at with the ancient technology given us by our revered ancestors and pray the falling star blows up in the atmosphere." He lowers his chin to the briefing table and looks at Weir, whose head is in her hands. He searches helplessly for the right words to say, comfort, lies. She looks up at him.
"Get some rest," she says. "We all need it, God knows."
"I thought God was a snake demon hanging out in some poor guy's head."
"Sleep?" he asks. "You really planning on getting any sleep tonight?"
"I have things to do--"
"So do I."
"Like pestering me?"
"Exactly," he says, and rests his chin on his hands, perfectly balanced and mimicking her. He stares at Weir, whose brow is furrowed from too much paperwork, too little fun.
"Wanna go for a spin in jumper two?"
She looks up, startled that he's still here.
"John," her voice softens. "What's this really about?"
"Just checking to make sure you're okay."
"I am, " she says, and lowers her head like that's the end of that. He has an urge to shake her, but knows she'd crack. He doesn't want to break her; he wants to make her stronger, but he doesn't know how to build up leadership in others, only how to plunge through it. He also has the urge to kiss her, and that urge doesn't seem to have a downside, so he does. His AF appointed shrink once told him he had poor impulse control. She kisses him back for a second, then pushes him away -- that's as it should be, her pushing back. Except she should be kissing him, and he should have her leaned over the table now, so why is he standing here looking bewildered?
"Major, please don't make me --"
"Don't make me into the one who has to say no. You know as well as I do why we can't. The military has regulations about --"
"I've never been much for following regs."
She looks at him with pleading eyes, but he refuses to budge.
"Look, do you want me to say I don't feel it too? That I don't -- don't want you ? I can't. But that doesn't make it right." But it is right, and he's frustrated that she won't see that, won't think about this situation instead of the stupid rules.
He thinks, on the subject of stupid, about the leadership seminar at the Academy, and he thinks about how he can't just force Weir to get smart -- he has to show her that she's really wanted to break the rules all along.
He gives her a wink that means "this isn't over" and goes to his quarters to read pages 50-52 and think about getting Weir to smile and laugh and relax in his arms. He fantasizes about blindfolding her and taking her to see the buttercup field on -477, of teaching himself to play her favorite instrument, but then he remembers he's not courting her -- that would be too easy -- but courting her inhibitions, with the full intent of dashing them to pieces once they're his to command. He thinks of reasoned arguments and appeals to his natural charm, of staring her down and of his hand up her skirt -- if he'd ever seen her in anything so feminine or so impractical. There's a knock on his door. Elizabeth comes in uninvited.
"What page?" she asks, gesturing at his book.
"Forty-nine and a half," he says.
She smiles at him, then sobers and says, "We should do this properly."
She smiles ruefully. "Break up."
He blinks in confusion. "We aren't going out."
"I suppose we aren't," she says, joining him on the bed. She looks at him with eyes he's never seen before, dark and intense, but he is nonetheless surprised when she kisses him, when she dumps her documents on the floor and kisses him again, harder, when she throws him onto his back. He lets her fierce passion and his own responses take him unaware.
And when, curled around her naked body, he feels the passion relax into sweaty afterglow, he's still a bit shocked. He nuzzles against her and she sighs back, and he knew this was right, that now she's bent but hasn't cracked; she's strong enough to go and save the city because she's got him -- and he feels strong too, he tells himself. He's about to say as much when Weir sits up and starts pulling on her shirt. He blinks away groggy sex-induced laziness and says, "Where ya going?"
She sights, takes his hand, and holds it far away from herself. "John, we should stop seeing each other," she says.
"Seeing each other?" he bursts out. "So that was -- what -- a pity fuck?"
She shakes her head a little sadly. "It was what we needed," she says. "And it was good. But..."
"Emotional ties," she says. "Favoritism, conflict of interests --"
"And that'll go away if we don't sleep together?" He's angry now -- he cares about this. "You can walk out of this room and stop caring?" That gives her pause, so he barges on. "You think I can just push this aside, forget about it? That it couldn't possibly distract me on a mission?"
She sighs. "No. I won't stop caring -- but we've both made sacrifices for Atlantis before."
"Because duty in Antarctica was a luscious temptation."
"That's not what I meant."
She's standing, half-dressed, in his tiny, cramped quarters. He lounged naked on his bed, and the impasse grows stonier. Finally she slips the last button into the last buttonhole and leaves. He knows she will be in deep thought, puzzling over the mysteries of regulations and reservations, relationships and rights and wrongs. He takes up his novel, trying to remember if Sonya loves Nicholas.
This is how all great love stories begin.
Summary: In which Sheppard wants to Screw the Regs, and Elizabeth is still surprising.