Title: Afternoon Delight

Author: Little Red

Rating: PG

Category: Sheppard/Weir, fluff.

Summary: They take vacations together by the hour.

Author's note: (by Tammy, mid-beta)
Tammy: [points] She was tired when she wrote it.
Little Red: [points] She was tired when she beta'd it.
Both: We figured we cancelled each other out.

Also, though the title is borrowed from that song, it's neither a songfic nor about sex.

****

They take vacations together by the hour.

This is, Elizabeth knows, the price she pays for being romantically involved with the other leader of this expedition. Should either of them want to take a whole weekend away with anyone else, they could probably swing it without Atlantis sinking into the sea. Nothing dire happened when Ford went with Teyla to "help with the planting" for a week. Both John and Elizabeth, however, are too tethered by responsibility to leave their city unsupervised for long.

So they do this. A long evening spent sipping alien wine and kissing in a section of the city staked out for just this purpose. A pleasure cruise in a jumper to check out some recently discovered secondary systems (and she had gasped at the view of Atlantis -- of any planet -- from space above, and he'd been too caught up in watching her awe to laugh).

An afternoon on one of the secluded beaches of the mainland for no reason at all.

"Mmm..." Elizabeth hums, stretching her toes into the sand beyond the blanket John packed from Atlantis. The sun is bright and hot, and they already exchanged massages in the name of sunscreen. "I think we could run the city from here, don't you?"

"I think this place would lose something with all the computers. And... McKay." He's rummaging through the makeshift picnic basket he packed, the one he didn't let her open on the jumper despite her begging curiosity, and emerges with a bottle with alien writing around it. He hands her a glass -- regulation-issue and no doubt borrowed from the mess -- and pours her some of the dark purple liquid. "Try it," he says, watching with anticipation.

She doesn't know if he realizes that he's courting her. John doesn't like being traditional, mostly because he can't stand being predictable. She doesn't let on, doesn't want to step on the self-image he carries of a lone wolf who only seeks female company when it suits him, because she finds it so cute.

The purple drink is good. It's rich, almost like port. It's too rich for a day at the beach on Earth, but here they can really declare their own proper rules of etiquette.

Like that it's all right for the two senior-most expedition members to sleep together. She doesn't think that would fly too well under the umbrella of decorum on Earth, either.

John leans back on the blanket to stare at the sky through his sunglasses. His arm falls towards her so his hand is brushing her forearm, slowly rubbing across the same small patch of skin.

He looks tired. It's been a long month, and one without enough time to themselves. She begins to brush one of her hands through his hair in a rhythmic, slow motion, and smiles when he does.

"Keep doing that," he says on a breath, and she does, alternately watching him and the ocean. She's pretty sure he's watching her through his dark glasses, but has long since gotten used to him staring at her.

She lets him get away with it. Lets him get away with a lot, when she thinks about it.

He makes up for it. She still wants to kill him two weeks out of three in a professional capacity -- the man has chronically poor hearing when it comes to marching orders -- but when he's being her boyfriend, she has few complaints. It's not just that he's great to sleep with (and he is great to sleep with), but he's nice to wake up to. He even brought her breakfast in bed, once, and she chooses to believe that he did so not just because she would be so overcome that she would reward him with lots of lazy morning sex.

He knows, after all, that she probably would have done that anyway.

"It's beautiful here," she says. The ocean looks different from shore. "How did you find it?"

He doesn't answer her, and for a minute she thinks he's asleep.

"I love you," he says, seriously, without preamble or fanfare.

A delighted shiver runs right through her body. She thought she knew this, has long suspected it of him, but suddenly she feels like she had no idea until right now.

She says, "I love you, too," just as simply, and tries to keep from laughing at the rush of emotion suddenly in her chest.

John turns his head away a little, and the giddiness she's feeling is replaced with worry. "John? What is it?"

"You don't have to say it just because I did."

There's something precious and insecure in his tone, something that makes her want to hold him for a very long time. She slides down onto her side on the blanket to be more at his level and pushes his sunglasses up so she can see his eyes. He squints against the brightness but looks at her straight on.

"I would never say that if you didn't deserve it."

His eyes are intense, laying his emotions out for her to see, and she thinks that must be why he wore the glasses today in the first place. He doesn't, usually. He prefers to see as many details as possible.

He looks almost afraid, and a little unconvinced, and a little awed.

"You know that about me," she chides gently, her fingers beginning to play with his hair again.

"I know," he agrees.

The moment sits between them as they watch each other. She feels like this should change something, but can't imagine what.

She liked hearing it, though. Wouldn't mind hearing it again. That's different, too. She remembers feeling smothered by those words in the past, like being loved by a man gave him a claim to her that she wasn't sure she could live under, but this feels balanced and warm, right and good.

Maybe her personal rules are different in this galaxy, too.

"We have to go back soon," he says, and she knows without checking her watch that he's right. There is never enough time.

"Next time," she smiles.

"Tonight?"

She was going to work late -- her bargain with herself for taking this time off. "Sure." She can finish the reports tomorrow. It isn't like anyone from Earth will see them for a while, anyway. "We can finish off this bottle."

He grins. She thinks she would have managed to keep from falling for him if it weren't for that smile.

Elizabeth gets up first and hauls him to his feet. As she's packing away the blanket she sees a picnic lunch of sorts still wrapped up and is sorry they didn't have time for it. It's mostly rations; she's sure it'll keep until that night. Or the following year.

John stops to kiss her before they re-board the puddle jumper.

"Nice vacation," she murmurs into his mouth, and can feel him smile back.

"For the whole two hours?"

"For the whole two hours."

She can't think of time better spent.

-/sappiness-

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