Disclaimer: I do not own SGA of course, if I did, Sparky would have been canon. *grin* No money was made from this ficlit and no copyright infringement is intended. Any similarity to any story not my own is coincidence.
Title: Standing Beneath the Boughs and Berries
Genre: Fluff, John POV
Timeline: Set sometime early third season
Author's Notes: I'm not entirely certain that this went quite the way I intended. But... I haven't written sparky in a very long time, so...
Written for the Sparky Advent Calender at john_elizabeth
I twirled the E'oteltis sprig in my hands and watched as various couples around the hall exchanged the blossoms with a smile and kiss, most often, a friendly little peck on the cheek, or a chaste brush of lips.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." I sang to myself.
Then I saw the pretty little blonde standing under the archway and looking wistfully at the kissing couples. I smiled to myself and headed in her direction. By the time I heard Teyla's, "Wait... John..." I had already made my way to the blonde girl and was holding up the sprig like a mistletoe. She smiled.
"I accept," she said just as Doctor Weir and my team gathered behind me.
"Oh for heaven's sake Colonel, how on Earth do you always seem to end up in these situations?" Elizabeth murmured surprisingly in a breath low enough that only the team and I could hear it.
I heard Rodney muttering something about Captain Kirk behind me and could almost feel Teyla rolling her eyes.
"Did you just offer her the E'oteltis?" Elizabeth asked.
I eyed the pink petals and stems in my outstretched hand, nearly hiding the little cluster of incongruous white berries dangling within the tiny blooms. Standing in front of me, the pretty blonde princess smiled. I swallowed and looked over to Elizabeth. She had on what I thought of as her diplomat's face.
"Uh, yeah... why? What's wrong?" I asked, thoroughly confused.
"Oh John, we needed these people," she said quietly enough that only we could hear.
Then Princess, oh God, what was her name... stepped forward and took the treacherous sprig from my hand.
"I accept," she said again and then waited expectantly.
"Accept? What does she accept?" I asked Elizabeth under my breath. "I thought it was just supposed to be one of their holiday traditions, like mistletoe. You know, stand underneath it, get a peck on the cheek..." I trailed off as I saw Elizabeth's look.
"Unless you stand under the Arch of the Ancients," she said, indicating the arch underneath which we stood. Looking now, I saw that it was carved with hundreds of the little pink flowers and berries. "It's called Standing Beneath the Boughs and Berries... offer someone an E'oteltis sprig during M'astis, under the Arch, and you're offering marriage."
"You just proposed there, Captain Kirk," Rodney said. "Couldn't you have kept those hormones in check for once?" He snarked, close on the heels of his first comment.
I wanted to protest that it wasn't my fault. I mean, I couldn't have possibly known, right... right? And it hadn't been about hormones; the poor kid had just looked so sad. I wanted to protest, and then I caught a glimpse of Elizabeth's expression, there and gone. She had looked sad, and disappointed, and something else I wasn't certain that I should let myself recognize, even though, in my heart, I knew I wanted to.
Her gaze moved past me suddenly and I watched as the King approached.
"Just let me handle this, Colonel. I think you've done enough for one mission, don't you?" She said in a moment of brief frustration.
Before I could protest, Elizabeth stepped forward to meet the King...
A day and a half later, I walked the empty corridor in the direction of Elizabeth's quarters. Atlantis was still and dark, but thanks to the ata gene, I could still feel her hum throughout the nighttime hours. Two and a half years into our mission and I found it more comforting than unsettling. So much so, that by the time I reached Doctor Weir's door, the nervous thrum of my heartbeat had steadied. I rang the chime.
Elizabeth greeted me at the door, pink t-shirt rumpled and hair tousled.
"I uh... sorry if I woke you."
She brushed my apology away. "It's all right, I wasn't really sleeping anyway. What did you need, Colonel?"
"I um, I wanted to uh... thank you, and um... apologize, about what happened back there on the planet. I didn't know about that whole marriage thing, and I didn't mean to... I mean, I just got kind of caught up in the whole holiday season thing, you know..."
Elizabeth waved her hand.
"It all worked out. Let's just forget it; local customs. Just try and watch your step next time, all right?" She sighed just a little and I nodded, deciding to go. I turned and shoved my hands into my pockets, fingering the small plastic shape I found in the right hand one. I stopped and turned back.
"By the way, how did you convince N' timi to a marriage of just an hour and a day. I mean, she seemed pretty intent on holding onto the notion of being married to me."
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow.
I felt myself flush just a little and she gave me a small smile.
"It's traditionally a year and a day, but the M'astis marriage contract can be for any amount of time agreed upon by the couple. And it's also tradition for the bride to take only an hour and day if another woman steps forward with a prior claim."
It was my turn to raise an eyebrow, and I was gratified to see a small tinge of pink color Elizabeth's cheeks.
"You are my military commander. I do hold a legitimately prior claim," she said, trying for a dignified tone. "Professionally," she added briskly, even as the blush brought out her freckles.
I couldn't help my smile before nodding in agreement.
"True enough, because really, you had me at, hello, welcome to Atlantus," I said, referring to our first meeting at the Ancient outpost in the Antarctic.
Elizabeth took a moment and finally shook her head with a fond and resigned sort of sigh." I suppose that means I'm stuck with you."
I smiled in happy agreement, pleased to see Elizabeth return it with her own quick grin that lingered just a little as I said, "Good thing you like me... professionally..."
"Good thing," she echoed quietly.
The moment stretched between us before Elizabeth broke it with a light sigh and another small smile.
"Well goodnight, Colonel. Please try to stay out of trouble; at least until the morning."
Elizabeth gave a quiet little laugh. "Good night, John."
"Wait... 'Lizabeth," I said, stopping her before her door slid completely closed. I gathered my resolve and reached into my pocket to pull out the small plastic sprig of green oval leaves and white berries. I held it up with what I hoped was a convincing sort of smile. I waggled the plastic mistletoe.
"Merry M'atis," I said hopefully.
I stepped forward, holding the mistletoe up high.
"On Earth... during Christmas," she countered.
"Indulge me," I suggested in return, stepping into her space.
"Those two words together can never be good when you're involved," she replied without heat and an inviting sort of look that almost contradicted her words.
I took a chance and brushed my lips over Elizabeth's.
"Then how 'bout we indulge each other," I whispered, catching another glimpse of that expression that she had had on the planet, this time, happily without either pain or disappointment clouding it. And this time, I let myself recognize it for what it was.
I kissed her again, this time thoroughly enough to leave us both a bit breathless.
"For how long?" Elizabeth murmured, leaning her head forward against mine as she answered my suggestion.
"Well, I'm good with forever," I replied impulsively.
She leaned back and raised an eyebrow. "How about we start with an hour and go from there..."
"You do realize this could get us into all sorts of trouble, right?" Elizabeth asked.
"I'm okay with that if you are."
She gave me a thoughtful look.
"Ask me again in an hour," Elizabeth replied with a small smile before leading me into her quarters.