Summary Sometimes, Jack thought, he really hated the Ancients.
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis/SG-1 (crossover)
Pairing: Elizabeth Weir/Jack O'Neill
Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing in the sandbox.
Original story: I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by paranoidangel42</lj>
Notes: Thank heaven for my beta, smittywing. I couldn't have done this otherwise.
Jack had always been an early riser - and it hadn't, really, been that much beer. Well, okay, he acknowledged, grimacing at the taste in his mouth, it had been a reasonable amount of beer. In fact, he supposed, it had been a better-than-average amount of beer, in a pizza place with lousy service and great pizza, with a beautiful woman who'd just come back to Earth after a year of cheating death in another galaxy, only to get dumped by her boyfriend. Really, Jack figured, he had every reason for sleeping in. Even so, years of training died hard, so he was used to waking up when he heard something out-of-place. Elizabeth Weir rummaging for her clothing, was definitely -not- a normal sound in his morning routine. Not that he had any trouble admiring the view, which got even better when she realized he was watching her and flushed a rosy pink that he'd bet went well beyond what little he could still see of her breast.
It was a very nice breast.
He'd been pretty sure that its owner wasn't sticking around. He'd enjoyed last night, and between her break-up and his promotion, they'd both needed to blow off steam. She'd been slim and strong and he could still feel the soft heat of her skin against his fingers, but he'd known going in that beer plus stress added up to an uncomfortable morning after. He regretted that, more than he'd anticipated. And there'd been more there - something more than a mutually acceptable release. She was, he mused, watching her button her shirt, quite a woman.
When Elizabeth looked at the floor and said, "I have to go," Jack wasn't surprised, although the fact that she wouldn't look at him - that bothered him.
"Do you regret it?" He didn't. But he liked Elizabeth Weir, and he wanted to know. "Last night?"
"Yes," she said, and he raised an eyebrow, wondered if the button she was twisting on her cuff was going to pop off the shirt. "No." She ran a hand through her hair and looked around the room. "I don't know," she finished, finally, and he heaved himself into a sitting position.
Empathy was a lot more awkward without beer.
Eventually he took the easy way out. "You're right," Jack said, trying his damnedest to make it clear he wasn't expecting anything more. "You should go. Otherwise we'll both be late." He watched her bite her lip.
When she reached the door, she looked back and met his gaze squarely. "I enjoyed it," she said quietly. Then she was gone.
It wasn't until he heard the front door close that he said, "Yeah, me too," and went to see about breakfast.
The Daedalus left a few days later, and the thing about suddenly being the Man meant he was so tied up in minutiae that he didn't see her before she left. He didn't forget what she'd said.
He hoped she was having fun; he was pretty sure she was - right up until the point they sent him to break up the party.
There were a lot of things that sucked about being the Man. Kicking Elizabeth Weir and her people out of Atlantis probably came close to the top of the list. "They're not going to like it," Jack warned, perversely heartened by Commander Helia's frown.
"She doesn't have to like it," Woolsey said smoothly, cutting off the Commander's next remark. "We have our orders. And we're leaving behind diplomatic contacts. Perhaps one day Doctor Weir can return as a guest."
"Perhaps," Helia murmured, and the meeting adjourned.
Sometimes, Jack thought, he really hated the Ancients.
He found her in the Atlantis mess, just like the last time - only this time around she was bent over a pile of inventory forms and duty rosters. After a moment's observation, he realized she wasn't really doing much beyond staring at the table; hardly surprising, since she'd been handed her walking papers a few hours ago. He scowled; the fact that he'd had to play delivery boy hardly sat well. He snagged two cups of coffee, doctoring it hot and sweet and hoping her taste hadn't changed much. "So," he drawled, setting the cup down on the corner of a stray page, "you do paperwork now?"
She didn't smile when she looked up. "Yes, well. I’ve told everyone who could possibly need to know every detail I can remember about everything that’s happened in the last year. And this time, no one cares about my personnel recommendations."
"Doctor Weir - " he started to say, wondering what the hell he'd been thinking, to run her to ground tonight.
She cut him off with a shake of her head. "Whatever you're about to say, General, save it." He watched her shuffle the papers into order, freeing the sheet stuck underneath his peace-offering-cum-caffeinated-beverage,
"I was just going to say," he said, his mug awkward in his hands, "that it's a hell of a long distance relationship."
She looked at him, confusion on her face. "What?"
"You and Atlantis."
She gaped at him, then smothered a laugh that hurt his own throat. "Does that entitle me to get drunk?"
"It would," he allowed, then frowned. "Except nobody's willing to tell me where the booze is hidden."
She smiled thinly, then reached out for the mug of coffee still cooling on the table and wrapped her hands around it. She didn't invite him to sit. "What's your excuse?"
Jack set his own mug down and looked away, clasped his arms behind his back for lack of something more useful to do with himself. "Would you kick me out if I told you that sometimes the trouble with being the Man is that you have to carry out shitty orders?"
He felt her watching him; eventually, he turned back and met her gaze. She studied him a moment longer, then sighed and set her cup down. "No," she said at last, and he let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Not this time," she added, with a twist of her lips.
"Good," he answered, and meant it, and realized that he'd about exhausted his topics of conversation. Twice, since they'd really already had this conversation somewhere in Colorado Springs, two years earlier, even if the circumstances were a little different. Just a little, he acknowledged to himself. Some things really weren't all that different. Elizabeth just watched him flounder, smiling a little more broadly when he took refuge in motion, sliding into the opposite seat. "So," he said at last, "good coffee?"
"Damn mess halls. Overdone meat, soupy pasta sauce. The wrong color Jell-o." He took his own sip and grimaced. "Crappy coffee."
"I'm sorry," Elizabeth chuckled. "The sous chef quit yesterday."
Jack had to give her credit: her voice was steady enough. "See if I come here again." Which was, he realized, not the best retort under the circumstances.
Her face went momentarily blank as she paused, cup halfway to her lip, and looked down at the table. She had her composure back by the time she glanced back up at him, but he didn't miss the slight shake in her hand that sloshed the coffee over the rim and onto the table. "Come now, General," she said dryly, "I'm sure you'll learn to love it. Think of it as a new experience." Her lips twisted and she cleared her throat. "Actually, though," she continued, setting the cup aside and getting to her feet, "there are things I ought to be doing. I'll just leave you to it, if you'll excuse me."
He watched her go, her boot-heels clicking across the floor. By the time he remembered his own coffee, it was cold, and he just wasn't that desperate for caffeine. He was better off avoiding it anyway, given the amount of time he was about to be spending with Woolsey - who chose that moment to page him on the radio. Jack grumbled and stood and went to do his duty to former-gods and someone-else's country with the occasional pause to wonder where Weir was spending her afternoon.
Jack was well aware that curiosity had, on more than one occasion, killed the cat. Nine times out of ten, the cat was Daniel, although Jack felt his personal odds weren't far behind. Still, he thought as he stood outside Elizabeth's quarters and wondered if he should knock, Elizabeth Weir wasn't likely to kill or maim him. Yet, anyway. Even if he might be pressing his luck - which explained his present hesitation.
Voices echoed from around the corner, which was when he realized exactly how odd looked for him to be standing there staring blankly at the door, so he raised his hand to knock. The universe, however, hated Jack O'Neill on occasion, which meant that his hand gesture actually triggered the sensor, which is how he came to open the door on Elizabeth Weir in the act of packing her underwear.
He stared at her.
She stared at him, bra dangling from her hand.
"Locks," said Jack. "They're not just for the Milky Way," he added after a moment, and waved the door shut.
He'd just swung away when he heard it slide back open.
"General," Elizabeth said. "Did you want something?"
"I was just -" he started, turning back to her, and then caught sight of the city through her windows. "Hell of a view," he finished.
She smiled wanly. "I keep forgetting you haven't seen much of it - of the city," she clarified. "It's why I chose these rooms. Come on," she said and beckoned him in. "Take a look."
He followed her in, and stood there, staring at the brilliant lines and delicate towers and spreading piers, Elizabeth silent next to him. He heard a shaky breath, glanced over to see her arms crossed tightly under her breasts, an almost-hungry look etched onto her face. He looked back out at the city and said, at length, for the second time in their acquaintance, "Are you okay?"
For the second time in their acquaintance, he watched Elizabeth shake her head. “I don’t know," she answered. "I really am leaving."
"You really are leaving," he echoed. Because she deserved to hear it, he said, "I'm sorry."
Two years ago, he'd heard that kind of sorrow in her voice and reached out and gathered her in. Two years later, facing a sadness even more profound and laying part of the blame on his own shoulders, he felt the same urge but was far less certain of his reception. She shrugged - the gesture hurt to watch, and it decided him. He slung an arm around her shoulders and hauled her up against him and hoped like hell she wouldn't deck him.
When she turned her head into his chest and the taut line of her back sagged, he stopped worrying and slid his hand up to rub at the nape of her neck. When she reached up and dragged his face down to hers, he replied with lips and tongue and teeth and let her take whatever comfort she could find. Later, when they'd somehow made it to the bed and lost a lot of clothing in the process, she pushed him down and settled herself atop him. Jack just filled his hands with her breasts and watched her turn her head to the windows as they fucked, as she gasped and moaned and pleaded and finally shattered, as he followed her over the edge, knowing he couldn't give her what she really needed.
Much, much later, she watched him silently as he retrieved his pants and tugged on his shirt. He paused before he waved at the sensor, turning to look at her one last time. He didn't say anything as he walked through the door, but from the fragile peace on her face, he figured she got the message.
He followed them through the gate - it wasn't like he really had a choice - and they met each other's gaze squarely when they shook hands on the other side before going their separate ways. Watching Weir walk away, he still felt the thread of whatever conversation they'd started over two years ago - whatever conversation they'd sort of continued last night - dangling unfinished. He didn't contact her; he figured he was pretty low on the list of people she was interested in hearing from.
He might have reconsidered, given time, only then Woolsey pissed off the Ancients and Jack got ordered in to clean up and it wasn't like Jack ever got a lot of resolution in his life anyway, so he filed it away and got on with things.
Which wasn't to say, when he heard her voice over the radio while he and Senior IOA Liaison Lacks-A-Survival-Instinct were holed up away from the Replicators, that he didn't have a moment of being pleased to hear her voice. He did. Only then he realized what her voice meant, and willed himself not to go throttling anyone. After that he got busy nearly drowning and having his mind raped (which, fine, he had that t-shirt, but it wasn't any more fun with repetition) and trying to figure out how to get the hell out of there, and by the time everyone was not dead and the city was not overrun, it was getting late in the day.
So Jack didn't really have an explanation for why he headed up to her office when, by rights, he should be enjoying a hot shower and some sort of bed. Only then he said "You can stay," and her face lit up like Christmas. And then he pointed out that this time, it was her heroic rescue, and watched as her blush slipped down under her collar and told himself firmly not to think about how very nice her breasts - plural - still were. But when he said "Welcome home," and she hugged him, her face joyful like he'd never seen it on Earth, he felt their unfinished conversation come to a close. This was Elizabeth in Atlantis, certain and grounded and staying put.
So he left it at that - that, and a small Post-It note, stuck on the wall outside her door thirty minutes before they dialed Earth: "I enjoyed it." He figured if nothing else, she'd find it and smile. Beyond that, well - she'd work out all right.