?

Log in

No account? Create an account
SGA Fic: Against The Odds - tranquility... best achieved in chaos
phrenitis
phrenitis
SGA Fic: Against The Odds
A week late, but fic! sparktober forever! I've missed these two so much.


Title: Against The Odds
Rating: PG
Category: John Sheppard/Elizabeth Weir.
Spoilers: None.
Disclaimer: Owned by others.
Author's Note: Thank you to ceruleantides, my usual partner in crime.
Summary: She's pale, but her nod is determined, and that's going to have to be good enough.

==

They're less than ten minutes out of the ‘gate when suddenly everything goes to hell. They are much too few in number, caught unawares on what was supposed to be a simple return visit for a mission of peace with the Pacians, and he doesn’t even make it to Elizabeth’s side in an effort at protecting her before they’re dropping quickly one at a time from the stunners.

She goes down right after Ford, crumbling in place as her body immediately goes limp, and he bites his tongue yelling her name in panic when her head narrowly misses striking the rocky ledge behind her.

It’s lucky he’s the next one stunned because he is pissed. His hand is a vice around his gun, teeth clenched in anger, and all he can think is how sick and tired he is of this universe sometimes – living on the edge of oblivion, fighting and negotiating and dying on every planet they encounter even though he knows he’s doing his damn best to just get along with everyone and survive already. It’s barely half a year living in the Pegasus Galaxy, and right now, all he really wants to do is kill someone.

==

He comes to with his face cupped in Elizabeth’s hands as she calls him Major Sheppard, and then John, and then Major again like she’s alternating between a command and a wish. There's concern in her voice that sounds all too familiar, some urgency and fear beneath that, and he forces his eyes open so she stops worrying.

“I’m still alive,” he tells her as the world comes into focus – blue and yellow becoming sky and sun. Her hands are warm where they touch his face, her fingers soft against his cheek.

“You cut it close sometimes,” she says as a reminder, and he thinks she actually sounds angry with him.

He looks up at her ruefully. “Job hazard?”

She helps him to his feet, but the effects from the stunner fade quickly enough, and he glances around, gets his bearings. They’re not far from where they’d fallen initially, but all his weapons are gone and he can already count twelve enemy soldiers in the near vicinity.

Ford takes a few small steps sideways to get closer, his voice low. “Fourteen hostiles, sir. Four other prisoners.”

"Let me guess. The Paci want Atlantis now?" he asks even as he knows the answer. He honestly thinks he'd be shocked to find out otherwise.

Elizabeth looks serious, determined, like she's already steeling herself against the interrogation they both know is coming. Ford simply grins. "Same old, sir."

He knows it's a good two day's trek to the Pacian city, and he's sure the peace-promising Paci leaders they'd met the previous trip won't be nearly as pleasant this go around now that Atlantis is within reach. He avoids the glance Elizabeth casts his way, angry with himself because if past experiences were anything to go by, he really ought to have been prepared for this.

He does a quick check of the area and another count of bodies to commit the details to memory. McKay and Teyla are unharmed, grouped with the other prisoners and waking up from the stunners as the soldiers tie everyone's wrists. He watches as the restraints are put on Elizabeth, wrenched tight enough that she grimaces, and his hands itch for a weapon. He wants nothing more than to start the fight here and now, but he doesn’t see any immediate advantage he can leverage, so he bides his time, coiled impatience building.

==

Midnight ticks away quietly while they’re held prisoner under the damp cover of a rocky cave surrounded by guards and the occasional murmur of dialog as the sentries confer.

He’s bound together with Elizabeth, the rest of their small group tied off in pockets of two or three people and scattered around their temporary prison. It's been a long day of marching across uneven terrain that's beginning to tax them all physically, but even now the guards are careful – keeping the group separated, their confiscated weapons stored beyond easy reach somewhere outside the cave.

The guards’ stunners glint with the planet’s double moonlight, and when he looks over at Elizabeth, he can see her thoughts working furiously as she stares up at the ceiling of rock. He knows what she's thinking of trying. She's a diplomat, a very good one, and he's seen her in action - her words and arguments incredibly powerful and persuasive. But that ability also draws unwanted attention, makes her a high-profile target, and there's something about that notion that leaves him constantly terrified for her welfare. He nudges her foot with his.

”Don't even think about it," he says softly.

She doesn't turn to look at him, but he sees the thoughtful smirk in profile.

"Elizabeth," he warns.

She gives a little half shrug. "Worth a thought."

"You'll get yourself killed." He emphasizes this point with another tap to her foot to make sure she gets it. He doesn't have a plan yet, but he'll think of something, so he really hopes she's not going to take matters into her own hands right yet because he's seen the scattered bits of technology used in the city and watched these soldiers, and negotiating is a really bad idea. She looks at him this time, an odd little smile on her face.

He frowns. He doesn't know her well enough yet to know what she's fully capable of in a situation like this, but he knows she's resourceful and too smart for her own good, and he definitely knows that look. “What did you do?”

Her expression flickers from guilt to pride before settling on resolute as she turns away from him. “Waistband."

They've been tied side to side for convenience on the long march, and with a little angling he's able to reach behind her. Just under the hem of her shirt, cold metal brushes against his fingers, the feel of the handgun wonderfully familiar, and he stares at her, stunned.

And she thinks he's impulsive. He shakes his head. "We're eventually going to have a talk about this."

It's only in a galaxy far removed from home while under threat from yet another alien culture that he's finding it normal to briefly lose track of the severity of situations. He supposes when living under the constant fear of death, you take the moments as they come.

So he finds himself wondering about her - her past, her secrets, what he might find out if she got off world with him more, or what she might share over Athosian hooch on a late Atlantis night during a rare moment of quiet. He's already fiercely proud of her, aware the city stands and functions thanks to her tireless efforts, and sometimes when she lets down her guard and he's privy to the toll it takes, it makes him defensive on her behalf. He knows she has the fortitude to hold up, but he wishes there was a way to spare her.

Spare her from having to be a leader during a time of war against aliens in another galaxy.

Because he's pretty sure she didn't have that in mind when she volunteered.

==

It doesn’t go down as he plans, not even in the slightest.

- It’s just him and Elizabeth for one, and he wanted to get the whole group freed, so that’s really not great.
- He manages to take down one guard, but it’s three less than he anticipated, and the remaining thirteen against two odds they face are pretty bad.
- They only end up with the gun and a stunner between them after their escape, and that just goddamn sucks.

An hour later he stops them for a break at a small mountain stream, but he doesn't know what to say to her - can't find the right apology, and has them on the run with no plan at all - so he's not the least bit prepared when she steps up beside him, presses a kiss to his cheek in thanks.

==

His only advantage is a strong bet that the city is the final destination, so they track the group at a safe distance, leading instead of following to stay out of the reach of Pacian soldiers that comb the area for them.

He's pleased by Elizabeth's ability to keep up and follow his signals with little confusion or delay. She has few questions, and he finds she's surprisingly easy to talk to. He uses her as a sounding board, runs his ideas past her - they're all mostly horrible, so he's grateful she points out the glaring holes in his plan with diplomacy. He's also just as frustrated by his inability to convince her to let him try for the Stargate and get her back to Atlantis.

"They already have Teyla, McKay and Ford," he explains again, knowing it's futile. "They only need one - everyone else is expendable."

"I know what it means, John."

"Then you know if we're caught again, we're dead." He lays it out plainly, harsh and honest - his anxiety rising as the city nears and the risk to her safety grows exponentially. "The only reason we were all being marched back to the city first was to see who was easiest to break."

She just looks at him levelly. "They're our people."

He really hates that he taught her that.

==

It only takes 10 minutes to teach her how to become an expert with the stunner. It's not a weapon designed for killing, but she figures out how to turn it lethal before he even does. He can tell that discovery catches her by surprise, the realization that she's capable of such thoughts, the reality that she very well might need to put those thoughts into violent action.

"It's just in case," he says to reassure her. If he can help it, he'll be the only one doing any killing.

She watches him as they head north again, and he feels her gaze on his back, weighty and thoughtful. She isn't a soldier, but there's a quiet toughness about her that he understands - she's not someone who shies away from difficult decisions or actions.

"How easy?" she asks, and comes up to walk beside him. He knows exactly what she's asking, has heard it from airmen and lieutenants alike, and yet something about her asking the question sends a lance of pain through his gut.

"Easier than you think," he says, and hates that it's the truth.

She doesn't look troubled by his answer, looks instead like she expected it, but she reaches out to gently touch his arm.

==

As the sun starts to drop in the sky, they race ahead in an attempt to cut the group off at the pass in the long stretch of rocky, shrub-covered terrain that surrounds the city proper. It's a half-baked plan filled with a lot more hot air than he's let on, and one that will probably get them all killed, but it's the only semi-good idea he has, and Elizabeth doesn't argue. In fact, she doesn't even seem the least bit doubtful. He should feel grateful for her trust, but he's not entirely convinced he deserves it, and it leaves him even more tense with worry over his plan, his teammates, and her.

The area is eerily quiet, almost unnaturally silent save for a faint crackle in the air that sounds like dry leaves and feels like anticipation. Hot wind catches at his clothes, and he suddenly feels the hair on his arms, on the back of his neck, stand on end.

He grabs her by the arm, pulls her toward him to safety before a loud crack rents the air.

“Elizabeth,” he says in warning, and then they are surrounded by lightning - brilliant sizzles of electricity that spatter the ground near them in strobing flashes of white fire. They stand rooted in fear, backs flat against the rocks as he hopes the little overhang they're under will be enough.

His hand is still locked tight around her arm, and he can feel her heart pounding where the backs of his fingers press against her ribs. She looks at him, but whatever she says is lost under the loud booms of thunder that clap down in succession. The smell of ozone rises, strong and metallic, and he nervously watches the landscape for fire.

And then abruptly it's raining - fat drops that multiply quickly into a downpour while the lightning tapers off, thunder following as the storm passes to the west.

He must have held his breath at some point because he's suddenly aware he's breathing again.

"Oh my god," she says, and it's exactly what he's thinking.

"Why is everything always out to kill us?" he mutters.

She still looks stunned by the experience, but she smiles when she meets his eyes, a small lift to one side of her mouth that he likes seeing.

Just beyond their covering, the world is nothing but watery grey-blue streaks as the heavy rain continues. There's little chance the group is pressing on to the city in this, and he's well aware this is the only advantage he'll get. Hunger is already a dull ache in his stomach, and he knows Elizabeth must be feeling the same although she has yet to say a word about it.

"Ready for this?" he asks her.

She's pale, but her nod is determined, and that's going to have to be good enough.

==

The rain is a perfect cover, and though he feels nearly drowned from the weight of it, he's still able to dispatch three soldiers in short order.

Elizabeth mirrors his approach from the north, eerily stealthy and taking down the fourth guard in silence with a shot from the stunner to the base of the neck. If she's feeling hesitant or having second thoughts, he doesn't see it. Her movements are clean and simple, and he watches with a little bit of pride as she binds the guard with the restraints she finds on him, then moves forward and is lost to the trees.

The rest happens quickly, loudly although the rain swallows most of the sound:

- the distraction he sets with a stunner on overload,
- the release of Ford and Teyla to join in the fight,
- the rescue of McKay and the other Paci prisoners,
- the shots from stunners and guns until the rest of the guards are either subdued or dead.

Aside from a darkening bruise under Ford's eye ("Should have ducked," McKay offers), they are unbelievably unscathed. He stays at Elizabeth's side as they redistribute weapons and prepare for the conflict he expects at the Stargate, but she is remarkably calm. He's thankful she didn't have to kill anyone, but he wonders if she might be in shock.

"I've seen my fair share of battles before, Major," she says after he hovers a little too close to check if her hands are shaking.

"I'd say you did a little more than see tonight."

She nods. "Point taken."

He wants to reach out and touch her - for her sake maybe, or because he wants to assure himself she's okay. The odds never seem to be on their side, so he's not sure how to accept this win. He's learning though that she's made of stronger stuff than even he gave her credit for, her stubborn loyalty to the expedition and now the city and the people something he finds admirable. He might have accidentally brought her this war with the Wraith, but he's more than once wished he could end it for her.

"Almost home," he reminds her, and her small smile in return is lovely. There's not often a lot for her to smile about, but he does try to give her as many of these moments as he can.

"You can write the report for this one," she says.

"Oh?" He looks at her curiously. "I know how much you like writing up these things."

She looks apologetic, embarrassed. "I'm tired."

==

The recovered ration bars in their gear and the promise of Atlantis help spur them through the long hike back to the gate.

He stops them twice for a few hours of rest each time he notices McKay start to sway alarmingly from fatigue. Even Elizabeth has gone extremely quiet, and he's not sure she's aware how she leans against him for support when he sits beside her. He thinks he's only keeping it together from a mixture of training and a desire almost bordering on the unhealthy to want to see his people home.

The rescued Paci prisoners, on the other hand, are apparently built out of much tougher material. They show no signs of exhaustion despite their ordeal, so he uses them to scout ahead while Ford looks on, aghast at their energy.

Their approach to the 'gate is unhindered - the Paci soldiers needing to do no more than wait, but the distance between the city and 'gate is in his favor. There are only half a dozen Paci on guard, the rest likely still in transit, and even Teyla looks pleased.

Elizabeth refuses to sit out of the fight, so it's an all-hands 9 against 6 attack, and over in mere minutes. Despite the better odds, both McKay and one of their rescued Paci allies are in unconscious heaps on the ground from stunner hits. But there are no fatal casualties on either side this time, and he can tell Elizabeth is thankful for that.

"Let's go home," he says.

He sends her through the Stargate first with their Paci friends following, and the look she gives him before she crosses the threshold is grateful and proud and oddly attractive to him given the circumstances. He's clearly not in the right frame of mind, but he doesn't get to think about it because Ford is half-carrying, half-dragging McKay to the 'gate, and he rushes over to help while Teyla guards their back.

Ford stumbles, and whether or not it's on purpose, McKay's face hits the side of the 'gate hard enough to bruise.

Ford looks innocent. "Oops."

==

He knows it's her when his door chimes - knows partly from the late hour, but also because she's the only one who ever shows up at his door.

"I never did say thank you," she says when he lets her in.

He shrugs. "You don't need to."

She looks at him with a sideways smile. "It's a compliment, John."

It makes him uncomfortable, and that surprises him. He's not in this for the gratitude, not really sure what he's in it for honestly. It's his job to protect the Atlantis expedition, and by extension, her most specifically, but there's more at stake than he bargained for when he came on board.

She lingers in the doorway. "They would have killed you to get me to talk."

It's not said as a question, but he knows she's asking. She thinks too much and always gets to the conclusion when he wishes she'd just leave it alone.

"The Paci act in pairs," he says, acknowledging the truth. "It's why we were tied together, to make sure the loss would be fresh."

She doesn't look shaken, just thoughtful and even a little sad. Death haunts them all - it's just a little easier to remember on this side of the galaxy. Maybe a little easier to live with because of it too.

"Well, at some point we're bound to find an ally," she says. Her optimism is unflagging, but it makes him smile. She's full of intriguing contradictions, and he has a strong desire to know more.

"I heard the Athosians brought alcohol over for us," he says, switching topics. "Need a drink?"

She glances at her watch, looks back up at him like he's joking. "It's almost midnight."

He hops up and joins her at the door, not about to let her find a way out of this one. "Then I guess it's a good thing we have an excuse to celebrate."


-Fin

Tags: ,

10 whispers :: tell me a secret
Comments
mylittleredgirl From: mylittleredgirl Date: October 28th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMGGGGGG. Okay, so my phone pings with an email letting me know that phrenitis has posted a new entry to sparktober and I full on FLY across the apartment to my computer because THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING. I turned off the stove for this!

And omgggg, you blow my expectations away every time, lady. :) This is perfect. I love it. Tied together! First season! Ford! Rain! I didn't specifically notice but I bet you put in hand-holding for anr! Elizabeth being AWESOME and stashing a handgun that she got from somewhere and being all sneaky with her reveal. And I love love love this bit about the enemy:

"The Paci act in pairs," he says, acknowledging the truth. "It's why we were tied together, to make sure the loss would be fresh."

SO PERFECT. Although really, if they were smart, they would threaten Elizabeth to get John to talk, because girlfriend is made of steel and John's brain would explode with chivalry. True story.

And the bestest best part is John in the first scene just HATING EVERYTHING, because you just know he has to feel like that sometimes. It's like every damn day he gets shot or stunned or somebody gets taken hostage or somebody's trying to blow up Atlantis and at a certain point, dude just wants to CHILL OUT for 8 hours and drink some Athosian sour mash with his distressingly capable boss because just maybe she's the type of woman who takes her top off after she's had a few drinks and not that he really wants that, per se, but you know, it's possible, and he's not ruling it out entirely until he knows for sure she's not going to flash him, but he'll DENY EVERYTHING if you ask.

That sort of thing.

I <3 U SO MUCH GURL I AM DRINKING OUT OF MY OMG! MUG RIGHT NOW.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: October 29th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I HAVE MISSED YOU. AND SPARKY. AND EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM.

And now I get to go read your fic of AMAZING because I felt shamed into saving the moment until I finished and posted mine. Best reward ever, btw. Am off to read it momentarily and I have so many feelings of joy about it that I cannot control my giddiness. Is it 2005 again?

I am so glad you like!! It took awhile to remember how to write these two, and lots of episode watching (hooray! also, how ridiculous and adorable are they still? omg). Not that I'm complaining. ;)

I failed at handholding, FOR SHAME. But I added cheek kissing! Surely anr will forgive me?

And lmfao - you should write the sequel! You know whenever John gets wind of Athosian brew being poured, he always shows up because Elizabeth might be there. And there was that one time she was somewhere in the middle of drunk and had her arm threaded through his and insisted on teaching him the seven basic tenants of crisis negotiation while her hair kept falling in front of her face. He doesn't know why he thinks about that night more than others, but it's possible it could happen again when the alcohol is out, and what if he's not there to keep an eye on her?

OMG! MUG KEPT ME COMPANY DURING FIC WRITING. I LOVE IIIIIIT.
mylittleredgirl From: mylittleredgirl Date: October 29th, 2012 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
MUG IS THE BEST AND SO IS SPARKY AND SO ARE YOU AND NESS PRETTY HELL GIRLS YAYYY.

It's totally 2005 in all the good ways!! 2005 FOREVERRRRR.

OMG, they're so adorable. I just watched a music vid or two that I still have saved on my hard drive (okay, I have like *twenty* saved and wish I had *four hundred*) for important research into whether or not the puddle-jumper chairs swivel, and OMG. THEIR YOUNGNESS. THE CUTENESS. JOHN'S FACE. LIZZIE'S EPIC EYELINER.

Cheek kissing! I died! It was so perfect and John is like "I DON'T KNOW HOW DEAL?" and it's just so in keeping with Elizabeth's tendency toward physical gestures of affection in times of trauma. I'm writing a thing right now that hinges - as so many things do - on John sucking at words, and I wonder if Elizabeth senses that when she praises him he just wants to bolt so she hugs/cheek-kisses/hand-holds instead?

I totally want to write that sequel, haha. His reasons are COMPLETELY LEGIT. Like, team-building. Working relationship... building. Honor protecting. TOTALLY NOT ABOUT BOOBS.
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: October 29th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
PRETTY HELL OTP. Oh god. It's no joke that I still have a Google RSS feed set to ping me about any Joe/Torri news. I get very excited when they're at conventions together - the stories are delightful. :D

I was watching Aurora the other day and cracking up thinking about Shep!pants and Lizzeh's progressively smaller shirts, and her fabulous hair. THE GOOD OLD DAYS YOU KNOW. Also, I think I have a ridiculous amount of music vids saved too. I feel it is imperative that I watch these now.

LOL, I love your theory. She does have a mischievous streak and it would be fitting for her to pin him down with a physical gesture just so he's forced to hear the compliment and she can enjoy how downright uncomfortable he is.

ALSO. YOU ARE WRITING A THING? *FLAIL*
mylittleredgirl From: mylittleredgirl Date: October 29th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I AM WRITING A THING! Except I think it might not be working because sunny_serenity gave me a challenge and was like "YOU MADE ME CRY IN THAT LOVE STORIES FIC, MAKE THEM HAPPY" except John in this is still crap at feelings, just instead of hooking up with a scientist he's being a dork and bribing her with coffee and puddle jumper field trips. I'm stuck in UST mode this Sparktober!! Nnng. I need to finish this and then write something where they are already togetha and they can be crap at feelings while having sex on the regular.

Lizzie's a little evil, innt she? I suspect she does enjoy making him a little uncomfortable, because she does it so often. She probably thinks it's good for him. It probably is.

OH JOE/TORRI PRETTY HELL OTP <3 <3 I still loff them!

I need to watch Aurora again clearly!?? I kind of remember it being super slashy? IDK! Must rewatch! OH POOR ME.
georgierae From: georgierae Date: October 30th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
*sighs happily*
phrenitis From: phrenitis Date: October 30th, 2012 08:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Right?! These two. Honestly. I cannot.
georgierae From: georgierae Date: October 30th, 2012 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm amazed they still have the ability to make me actually giddy.

<3
vickysg1 From: vickysg1 Date: November 3rd, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this fic. I love that Elizabeth isn't afraid to fight to get her people back. I know she'd go to this length if need be.
ankareeda From: ankareeda Date: November 4th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, this was absolutely amazing! *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* Fantastic work! It makes me all fuzzy and warm. ♥

”Don't even think about it," he says softly.
She doesn't turn to look at him, but he sees the thoughtful smirk in profile.
"Elizabeth," he warns.
She gives a little half shrug. "Worth a thought."


♥♥♥

An hour later he stops them for a break at a small mountain stream, but he doesn't know what to say to her - can't find the right apology, and has them on the run with no plan at all - so he's not the least bit prepared when she steps up beside him, presses a kiss to his cheek in thanks.

*squeee* This is perfect.
10 whispers :: tell me a secret