"So tell me, Mr. Sheppard, what exactly is it that you do for a living?"
The question had been quite innocuous. Elizabeth considered it a stock question. She had many of those. Should there be a lull in conversation she would merely open up her little recipe box of questions in the back of her mind, rifle through and select an appropriate one, and insert it into said lull. It was really quite effective. Particularly when the good Mayor had landed himself in yet another foot-in-mouth moment that he was so famous for. She hardly even paid attention to the answers anymore.
Something, she belatedly realized, the man to whom this particular stock question had been posed had quickly realized. The wicked gleam which entered his eye was one she saw too late.
"I jump out of perfectly good airplanes..." he waited a beat before adding, with great relish, "usually into raging forest fires."
The answer itself was quite insane but the method in which he delivered it, smug and with a grin full of the devil's own charm, that really got her. Elizabeth very nearly choked on her very expensive champagne and immediately sent an accusing gaze her old friend's way.
Across the room, Sam Carter grinned smugly and lifted her glass in salute before turning her attention back to the handsome new fireman that had joined their house. Cam-something. Whatever his name, Elizabeth hoped he enjoyed his last few flirtations with the good Captain Carter. They'd be the last ones Sam'd be sharing with anyone for a very long time.
The man before Elizabeth, clearly enjoying her reaction, leaned into her space a bit. "You all right, Ms. Weir?" He asked quite solicitously.
"I'm fine." She managed, her voice rough from the extremely inelegant swallow. "Really..." Trying to recover her dignity, she straightened up, ran a hand down the front of her tailored suit and silently sighed in relief that she hadn't spilled anything. "I'm sorry..."
"John." He supplied, grinning just a little bit and Elizabeth breathed out. She must have choked just a little bit, she was feeling really very light-headed at the moment, and my, he smelled fantastic. "I'm guessing Sam did that on purpose, huh?"
"Probably." She agreed ruefully, desperately trying to hold back a blush. This was ridiculous, she hadn't been this unsettled, in, well...ever! "She does like living dangerously." Laughing nervously, she tried again. "Okay, so let's try this again. You jump out of airplanes, into forest fires, and other than demonstrating the fact you're clearly an avowed daredevil ...they pay you for this because?"
John's grin widened and he inclined his head. "Because usually there's some poor unsuspecting citizen who's got themselves trapped in the middle of said forest fire and they need the well trained professionals to avoid becoming crispy critters." With this said, he clarified things by adding, "I'm a smoke jumper."
"Ahhh...like the Howie Long movie?" As soon as the words were out, Elizabeth bit her tongue and closed her eyes. At some point in this conversation she'd lost complete control and it had turned into a regular runaway train of disaster. The end was not going to go smoothly. She could see that now. Death and smashed metal ahead. All kinds of warning signs were wildly pointing in that direction. Oh well, if the ship was going down she was going to enjoy the ride.
It was quite possible she was drunk.
"Well, not exactly like that." He answered, passing up the obvious jokes in favor of pity. "Can't say as I've jumped out of any low flying helicopters to go chasing escaped prisoners lately but you never know. Might get lucky next week."
With a smile like his, not to mention the rest of him, Elizabeth had the distinct impression he wouldn't have to wait that long. "Oh I don't know, dangerous career, charming manner....a whole week seems a bit extreme."
The wicked glint was back in his eyes, summoned by her subtext-laden response and she lifted her chin just a little, defiantly meeting his gaze. Sam might have intended to have a great deal of fun at her expense but never let it be said Elizabeth Weir was anything approaching a shrinking violet. Fine. She'd come to this party expecting to have to field complaints from citizens about the Mayor's latest budget proposals and to, likewise, trade a few barbs with O'Neill over the fire department's budget requirements. At no point had she expected to meet a daredevil firefighter with a fantastic grin and an interest in teasing politicians though, clearly, that was what Sam had invited her to do. Ordinarily Elizabeth could smell matchmaking a mile away. Since her break up with Simon, Sam and her friends had been relentless in their attempts to 'fix her up'. They'd said it so many times Elizabeth was starting to feel like the beaten up old junker of a truck Teyla insisted on driving around. As a defense, she'd developed an excellent sense for 'fix ups'. It usually worked. But this time it had slipped under the radar and she fully intended to bring much suffering and torment upon Sam for it later...
But at the moment, she was more intrigued by the look of interest that John Sheppard was now sending her way.
"You think?" He asked with a speculative look and a step closer to her.
Elizabeth nodded, putting her glass on the tray of a passing waiter. "Something tells me you don't need to wait that long, I'm sure. With all the tools at your disposal, I'm sure half the women in this room would leap at the chance." She smiled mischievously even as his features fell, just a little. "Some of the men too." Watching him grin wryly, she had the feeling that was not the answer he was expecting. "But I'm sure you already knew that." Despite herself, she punctuated her words by laying a hand on his arm.
The response to that was electric for them both. John looked down then at her and, for her part, Elizabeth met his gaze and valiantly tried to keep up appearances. The expression that slowly dawned on his face said she wasn't doing that well at it and, in fact, this might be a good thing. She was a good strategist. She argued for a living sometimes. She'd had quite the career as a lobbyist in D.C. before Hank Landry had seduced her into joining his campaign and she knew she got results. She could figure out how to plan arguments, conversations, campaigns. She knew how to get what she wanted, how to achieve the results she wanted, but she had absolutely no idea what she was supposed to do next. By no means was she a blushing virgin but...
Why the hell did she feel like one and why the hell did it feel like she was finally in over her head?
"I had an idea." John agreed easily, watching her with some amusement, his approach injecting some stability into what had been a whirl of chemistry. "But then, I guess you've got an idea of that yourself."
The implications in his words came across loud and clear despite the clouded nature of the conversation. Elizabeth knew implicitly what he was implying but by no means was she going to let him get away without saying it aloud. "I'm not sure what you mean." She demurred, regaining some of her composure.
"Ooh, no, I think you do." He countered, cutting through the intimations without any hesitation. "I think, Elizabeth," trying her name for the first time, "you get whatever you want...even when you don't know you want it." His voice lowered on the last and they both seemed to be finding it hard to breathe and really, when had this stopped being funny and light? It was suddenly all heavy with the sex and the wanting and when had she lost control again?
Elizabeth was beginning to think she'd never really had it and she had to wonder if, on some level, this was what it was like to be on the other side of it. If, this was how the politicians and their ilk had felt when she'd turned her renowned powers of persuasion loose on them? If it was...how did a smoke jumper from Colorado manage to out maneuver her?
And, really, the biggest point of them all...why didn't she care?
"I think, Mr. Sheppard," she began to answer, a teasing light entering her words despite herself, "I would have to concede that point to you."
He grinned again, she liked his grin, a triumphant and smug grin as he offered an arm to her. "Glad to see you can see things my way." When she took his arm, deliberately avoiding the equally smug look Sam was shooting her way, he added, "Care to take a walk?"
She had no objections of course. She wouldn't and she knew he knew that. She just hoped he didn't hit her up about the Mayor's budget
Bankrupting the city would not be the most advantageous method of ensuring job security.
Summary: Fireman (Changeling) 'verse. Elizabeth Weir usually sees set ups coming.