"Are you mad?" Carson exclaimed as John was rushed into isolation. "Touching her skin like that? Are you trying to get infected?"
John shook his head. "How could I not?" he snapped, his voice desperate. "I…" he started. "We can't lose her. I had to do something to try and help. If I got through to her…if she could hear me…" his voice began to choke and he cleared his throat. Carson's expression softened.
"Aye, John, I understand. But it was reckless and you'll have to be in isolation until we can confirm you've not been infected."
"If it helps Elizabeth, it's worth it." John's voice was resolved as the med tech zipped the isolation chamber closed.
John turned to walk away, feeling concerned that he'd overstepped some boundary with his joking. Suddenly he heard a soft voice behind him which stopped him in his tracks.
"John, wait." He turned to see Elizabeth fiddling with the pocket watch she always carried with her. He didn't move towards her, opting instead to shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other.
"Do you want to get a late dinner or something? I don't really want to be alone right now. I've had quite enough of my own thoughts for a while." John nodded.
"Sure, 'Lizbeth. Let's get some food." He turned to the side slightly, clearing a path for her to join him as they walked towards the commissary.
The food was terrible. They joked about it as they ate, trying not to think too hard about what exactly they were eating, and then decided to go for a walk around the city. As they walked, John noticed Elizabeth getting uncomfortable in some of the busier sections.
"Hey, uh, you wanna go out to the docks or somethin'?" he asked, a little awkwardly. The relief was evident on her face and in her voice when she replied,
"That would be great. It would be nice to get some air." They walked outside and sat on the edge of the docks, looking out at the water. Elizabeth leaned back slightly on her hands before tipping her head to the side to rest slightly on John's shoulder. John stiffened before shifting slightly to allow her to settle more comfortably and carefully moving a hand behind her back.
"Thanks, John." her voice was quiet and uncharacteristically subdued.
"Hey, anytime, what else am I for?" he asked. "But you sure you don't want to go to bed? I mean, you just seem really tired." Elizabeth chuckled softly.
"Stupid, isn't it? I've spent the day unconscious and now I'm tired. But I'm…" she trailed off.
"What?" he asked.
"I'm too scared to go to sleep, John." she shook her head. "I know I wasn't dreaming before, not really, it was the nanites and they're not an issue. But God, John, I can't end up back in that hospital. Being told I'm crazy? Strapped to a table…" her voice cracked. John tightened the arm that was already behind her around her slightly, pulling her closer to him in a hug. Her head turned and she pressed her face into his shoulder, leaning into him as he held her. They sat like that for a few minutes until John finally felt the tension start to leave Elizabeth's body. Her head shifted and he looked down at her. Seeing that her eyes were closed, he nudged her slightly.
"Elizabeth," he whispered. "Come on. I'm getting you to your quarters." She blinked and shook her head sleepily, but didn't protest when he pulled her gently to her feet. He placed a hand at the small of her back and carefully guided her to her quarters, grateful that the hour was late enough that the corridors were mostly deserted.
John flicked on the small lamp Elizabeth kept on the stand near the door of her quarters. She moved away from him and sat on the edge of her bed, resting her face in her hands. John moved across the room and sat next to her at the foot of her bed, pulling her jacket from her shoulders.
"You gonna get changed?" he asked her. She shook her head.
"I just got so exhausted all of a sudden," she murmured.
"Well…you've been through a lot today, you know." John reached behind her and stretched sideways to pull the blanket down away from her pillow. Sitting up, he pushed lightly on her shoulder, encouraging her to lie down. She pulled up her legs and her head hit the pillow as she curled up on her side and John placed the blanket lightly around her shoulders. Her eyes were already drifting shut as he began to stand back to leave.
"John," came her voice, very quiet and thick with sleep. John had to lean more closely to her face to hear her properly. "Don't leave me."
"I won't, 'Lizbeth. Let yourself sleep. I'll be here." He'd barely stopped speaking before Elizabeth's eyes were fully closed and her breathing was slow and even. John lightly brushed a few brunette curls away from her face and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. Stepping back, he glanced around for a minute. Spotting a spare blanket folded on top of a trunk at the side of the room, he grabbed it before stripping off his own jacket and settling himself in the armchair in the corner of the room.
"John?" His eyes snapped open as her voice cut through the light veil of sleep. She was sitting upright in her bed. "You're still here." her voice was marked with a note of surprise.
"I said I would be," he said, stretching his back slightly and turning his head from side to side to work out the kinks that had developed in his neck from falling asleep in the chair before standing and moving to sit on the edge of her bed again.
"I know. I just…wasn't sure if you would." she looked down briefly before bringing her gaze up to meet his again.
"You can trust me, Elizabeth." John said.
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. Did you sleep okay?" he asked.
"Yeah. Like a rock, actually." she pushed the blankets off her lap and scooted forwards to sit more closely beside him. "Thanks."
"For what?" John asked, confusion evident in his voice.
"Last night. Being here." Elizabeth's eyes began to shift around.
"Anytime," John said. "Hey," he brought a hand up to Elizabeth's chin, using his index finger to bring her face towards his, forcing her to look at him. "Look at me." Elizabeth's eyes met his and he leaned his forehead towards hers. "Seriously, Elizabeth. Anytime. If you need me…you know where I am." Elizabeth's eyes closed briefly before she nodded and met his gaze again. They sat with their foreheads pressed together for a moment before Elizabeth's hand snaked its way up John's back and into his hair, and then she was kissing him tentatively. She pulled back suddenly after a moment.
"Oh, God, John. I'm sorry. That was totally uncalled for. I swear I don't make a habit of it. I'm sorry. I-" John cut her off.
"Shut up." His hand brushed her cheek and he moved in to kiss her firmly.