prowler_pilot: (JA joy)
[personal profile] prowler_pilot
Title: Home
Rating: G
Pairing: pre-sparky, mild UST
Timeline: Early season 2. This is set on Earth.
Summary: Elizabeth's trip to Earth does not go as planned and she asks for the support of her second-in-command.
A/N: I was just not feeling it tonight and then I saw some Sparky gif on Tumblr. This followed.

“I hate to ask this of you, but I didn't know who else to call.” Elizabeth looked up at her second-in-command, meeting his eyes tentatively. She regretted doing that the moment she'd heard his voice on the other end of the line, but then again, she didn't have many friends left on Earth after being incommunicado for over a year. That, and security clearance issues – she didn't want to spend the day skirting questions about her job that she could not answer.

John offered her a smile and a little shrug. “I was getting bored at home anyway. There's only so much football you can watch before you get a migraine.” Her own smile was strained, but she was grateful for his solid presence at her side once again.

“Do you have a place to stay for tonight?” He asked.

“The guest room,” she said with a sigh, “General Landry is going to get me quarters in Cheyenne Mountain as soon as possible but with us, the Daedalus crew and the Tok'ra delegation on Earth at the same time they're strapped for space at the moment.”

John nodded in understanding. “I wish I could have a spare room to offer but I'm staying in Cheyenne as well, so all I can do is be a good neighbor when you eventually get there.”

That elicited a bitter chuckle from her. “I came all the way back to the Milky Way only to get stuck in cramped quarters in a military facility. No windows and no white noise from the ocean, either.”

“At least it's better than that Antarctica outpost of yours.” He offered placatingly, trying to lift her sour mood. Another small smile found his way on his lips, recalling the day they had met, when his life – all their lives – had irrevocably changed.

“Oh, Antarctica was fascinating, but the relief I felt at leaving that place...I thought I would never feel warm again.” She made a face.

Elizabeth mentally chastised herself. She knew John didn't have much left in terms of family or friends here, and he had spent the best part of his military life on the move, in war zones or inhospitable territories, and she felt selfish and petty for bringing up the issue. She had embraced Atlantis as her home, but for John, although they had never talked explicitly about it, finding his place in Atlantis had a deeper meaning. “I'm sorry, I just...I thought I had something to come back to, to be excited about.” her eyes found his again, a self-deprecating smirk on her face “I should have known something like this would happen, shouldn't I? It was naive of me to think I would be coming back to a house, a dog, and a loving boyfriend. I'm not even holding it against him, that he moved on. I'm more surprised than anything, I guess.”

“A year is a long time. The same could have happened to you.” He seemed to study her face, his voice dropping an octave. She remembered many late nights on the balcony close to her office, standing close to him, sharing comfortable silences and quiet laughs while the city slumbered and there was no real reason for them to be still awake. His gaze suddenly became too much to bear and she moved her attention to her feet. “The IOA would have a fit, me being the expedition leader and all.” She smiled ruefully, but not without a hint of amusement at the thought.

She scuffed the autumn leaves with the toe of her boot. The rustle of leaves got the attention of the white dog walking at her side. The dog stopped sniffing the ground and turned on its heels, tilting its head to the side as it stared at its master. Elizabeth shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “You're right, Sedge.” She bent over briefly to unclasp the leash and fished a tennis ball out of her bag. The dog's tail started wagging furiously. “Sit.” Elizabeth ordered, and the dog complied, still trembling with anticipation. “Go get it!” She called out as she tossed the ball, and Sedge took off after it.

“I never thought of you as a dog person, you know.” John said idly, watching as Sedge retrieved the ball and trotted back to them. “Should I take that as an insult?” She said in mock offense as she took the ball that Sedge had dropped at her feet. “Good girl,” she praised before tossing the ball again.

“I guess there are not enough dogs in Atlantis to make that connection.” he shrugged. This time it was him who bent over to get the ball, but Sedge didn't seem to mind, and she launched herself in pursuit, kicking up flurries of dried leaves as she ran. “I grew up with dogs. There always seemed to be a scruffy mutt or two in the Sheppard household. They made good playmates.”
He picked up a stick that he offered Sedge, engaging her in a game of tug-of-war Elizabeth knew he was going to lose one way or the other. As predicted, after a bit of tugging and some playful growling, Sedge dropped the stick while John was still pulling. He landed unceremoniously on his backside with an 'oomph'. Sedge ran back to him, happy to have him at her eye level, and sniffed intently at his jacket. “Sedge, get out of the way. Sit.” The dog dutifully obeyed and she stepped up to John, amusement badly concealed on her face. “I'm sorry,” she snorted as she offered him a gloved hand up. He took it, briefly considered whether to drag her down with him and decided against it, and pulled himself up from the dirt.

“What time did you say Simon was leaving?” John asked then, dusting dirt and crunched up leaves off his jeans. Elizabeth glanced at her watch. She sighed, her shoulder slumping dejectedly. The playful moment was gone. “In half an hour. We could stop by the store and get some boxes, by the time we get back to my place he should be gone.” She clasped the leash back on Sedge's collar and handed her a treat. “Two trips should be enough. Most of my things are already at my mother's place, from when I moved from D.C. to Colorado.”
He squeezed her shoulder gently. As he removed it, the back of his fingers ghosted on her cheek. She leant instinctively into the touch and the tender comfort it provided, his skin warm against the coolness of hers. The pad of his thumb was on her cheekbone for the briefest of moments before he stuffed his hand back into his pocket, as if he'd been burned.
He cleared his throat and started walking back in the direction of her car. “May I suggest pizza and some cold beer when we are done with the unpleasant task?”
She stared at the back of his head for a full five seconds before she felt Sedge tug at the leash and set her feet into motion, tailing him. “Sounds great. And since you'll be helping me haul heavy boxes of books and china, food's on me.”
He didn't turn around, but Elizabeth could feel the smile in his voice as he spoke. “You're my favorite boss.”
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April 2017


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