Elizabeth woke slowly, blinking in the darkness. Wondering groggily when she'd started waking up early without an alarm. She signed softly, wishing *she* could turn the lights on without having to get up first.
Even as she shook her head in annoyance at the stubborn finickiness of the ATA gene and threw back the covers, the lights were suddenly on. Her head jerked up in surprise, groaning at the thought of what Rodney was up to now; if it wasn't so painful to listen to, she'd insist harder that he always tell before doing *anything* to Atlantis.
"Why are the lights on?" The gravely, grumpy voice besides her didn't surprise her nearly as much as the suddenly lit room had.
"Actually, I'm just as glad they are, I have to get to work." She swung her legs over the side of the bed. "I'll turn them off as soon as I get to the bathroom door. And find out why they got turned on." She muttered the last with a glare meant for her erstwhile astrophysicist.
"Why?" John knew he was whining, but sometimes it actually worked at making her rethink her responsible behaviour; and he did hate it when she got up early.
This time she just replied indulgently, "Because someone has to run the city." Nonetheless giving his tousled, sleepy head a tender smile. And she took her time stretching her shoulders and neck while sitting in bed; a minute more playing with her lover was nothing to skip on in this uncertain life.
"Come on, come back to bed." He was lazily patting the mattress next to him, knowing he was wasting his time but playing their familiar game anyway. While he was still giving her his first thorough once-over of the day, his brain, cycling through the usual crooked thought branches that could drive McKay nuts hit an odd note and he frowned, eyes raising to meet hers, "Say, you wouldn't have *thought* about having the lights on... would you?"
Elizabeth raised a brow at him, "Of course I did, I don't happen to relish banging my toes on your gear." She widened her eyes deliberately on the 'your', teasing him.
He ignored the most likely true accusation about his effect on her orderly room, "Umm." John thought the lights off.
"Jooohn!" Elizabeth growled in *mostly* mock annoyance. She'd been looking forward to having a clear path to start her day.
"Humour me. Think about having the lights on."
"Oh for Pete's sake." Elizabeth shook her head. Done her stretching, she got up; she really did want to get started on her reports before everyone woke and started interrupting. And if she let herself get dragged into whatever John's new game was they'd be arguing for an hour.
John grabbed one of her hands at the last second, pulling it to his lips with a deliberately seductive grin he knew she liked, "Humour me. You love me, right? Come on, just one little thought..." He kissed her palm softly with each statement. Ignoring the annoyed glare she was shooting him.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes at his transparent antics; but acceded anyway. If he was that insistent, she knew from past experience that a short participation would allow her to get free of the pestering and back to work the fastest. So she closed her eyes and wished the bloody lights were so bright his night-adjusted eyes yelled at him for her.
Her own eyes popped open when the lights not only did come on, but at a noticeably higher brightness.
Suddenly wide awake and deadly serious, John grabbed his earpiece off the bedside table, swinging over to her side of the bed to keep his hold on her hand while getting up. Pulling her behind him as he reached for their clothes and tapped the comm link, "Carson!"
"John, you're overreacting!" Elizabeth's voice warbled as he jostled her about while she tried to tug her hand out of his in frustration.
"No, I'm not." John knew deep down that he was, just a little; there was nothing really wrong. So why *was* he feeling so panicky all of a sudden? Maybe because this was the Pegasus galaxy and spontaneously appearing good things always meant rapidly approaching bad things. And they'd been riding on a wave of 'good' lately, which must have been slowly cranking up his subconscious 'bad thing' senses to hair-trigger sensitivity. Either way, he knew he wouldn't be calming down until he knew Elizabeth was OK.
The doctor's groggy voice eventually replied, "Aye lad?"
John popped his head out of his T-shirt, helping Elizabeth with her vest, "Elizabeth just turned on the lights."
Carson leaned up on his elbow in his bed, sleepily humouring the early-morning madman, "Well yes, colonel, so can I..."
"YES Carson! *You* can. And *I* can, but ELIZABETH should not!" John knew he needed to get the panic, or at least himself, under some control. There was no excuse for shouting at the doctor; and yet... He took a deep breath as Elizabeth frowned at him and briefly cupped his cheek.
Carson took a few moments to make the connections, then got up, rolling his eyes in annoyance at the yelling, "Some of us just woke up colonel. Even Rodney's less than a genius when he wakes up. A'll meet ye in the infirmary."
"Already on our way." Carson could hear Elizabeth muttering in the background and shook his head, at least getting some romantic enjoyment out of the situation. It was good to have people acting like normal human beings every now and then, instead of the always-tense, always-working inhabitants of a floating city in another galaxy. Especially nice to see the two people with the most responsibility having that little bit of emotional ease.
Elizabeth sat in a chair in the infirmary with a tablet she'd borrowed from Carson so she could work while he ran his tests. Doing her best to ignore John pacing next to her and pestering the doctor with questions every minute or so.
When one of the computers finally beeped, Carson walked over, feeling Colonel Sheppard dog his steps. As he interpreted the results he started smiling widely.
"Something wrong?" Sheppard asked as Carson walked quickly to a different terminal, colonel at his heels.
"Doc?" John could hear his own voice rising; it didn't matter that the man was smiling, all this hurrying was making his nerves tight and shivery with the latent fear they all lived with.
"Yes?" The doctor's tone was distracted.
"Well? What's wrong?" By now Elizabeth had gotten up and put a hand on John's shoulder, trying to calm him so they could hear what the doctor had.
"Oh, nothing, nothing at all." Carson was hunting for a rarely used file, muttering to himself, too distracted to remember his patients couldn't read his mind.
"Then what!!" Elizabeth shook her head with exasperated affection, moving herself in front of John and wrapping his arms around her waist. Ready to elbow him if he said another temperamental word; it was blatantly obvious to her from Carson's cheerful demeanour that whatever was up, it wasn't bad.
She reminded herself that John's self-control was not at its coolest when it came to her safety. She spared a moment to admit the advantage of their relationship being public among the expedition; people would feel justified to step in and snap some sense into him if anything happened to her, without having to couch their actions under some other excuse. One less worry for her.
She got back to the present as Carson spoke. "Well, it appears it's Lieutenant Havesham that will be several hundred dollars richer at some point in the near future."
"What?" Confused herself, she managed to beat John to the question.
Carson finally looked up at his two curious friends with a grin, "Yer 3 weeks pregnant."
Elizabeth froze, dropping her grip on John, slowly turning to share a look with him, seeing him standing with his mouth agape, arms at his side; shaken but eyes already starting to shine with happiness. She still couldn't get past shock.
"That's impossible." Her voice was barely above a whisper, hand automatically covering her belly.
John tilted his head in question; he'd been sure she wasn't against having his baby... was she? It was his turn to put his hands on her shoulders in reassurance. The joy bubbling through him ached to be shared with her, but their relationship was strong enough these days, he was strong enough, that his only concern was for whatever was scaring her. He was confident they'd celebrate later.
Carson just humoured her, enjoying giving good news instead of the usual bad, "And why is that Elizabeth?"
"You know as well as I do that I ..." Shaking herself mentally out of the stupor, she rolled her eyes at the two men who knew her most intimately, one way or another, "That I haven't had a period since before I came here! I thought you told me yourself I was well into menopause... you even blamed its early onset on stress and my not sleeping enough!"
"Umm, true." Carson frowned in concentration, checking his readings again while he thought. "Well, ye're definitely pregnant. A wonder if..." His voice trailed off as he reached for another sampling needle.
John swallowed, reminded of his thoughts about the rapidly approaching bad things. He dredged up a shadow of a grin for Elizabeth when she looked at him with half-concealed worry of her own. He put an arm around her waist, hugging her briefly to his side. Letting her go with a kiss on the top of her head and a silent prayer, he lifted her onto the table Carson indicated. This time having no intention of pestering the doctor; Elizabeth needed him, and that was always a damned good way to freeze his panic or get any other troublesome emotions put aside.
It took a couple hours for Carson to come up with the explanation. Elizabeth for once didn't need to be convinced to take some time off. She and John spent the time holding on to each other in a curtained off corner of the infirmary, with Carson running interference so the rest of Atlantis left them alone.
Elizabeth sat on the edge of an examination table, John standing in front of her, their arms around each other; sometimes hugging as tight as they could, sometimes just staring at each other. It was probably one of the most silent periods they'd spent together; both preoccupied with mentally adjusting to a baby, consciously setting aside the rest of the concerns they had until they knew something. Just locking eyes every few minutes to share the awe, sometimes delight, sometimes terror of two people who had until very recently given up on the idea of a family.
Had only recently accepted that they could even have the love of one person. There just didn't seem to be words for what they felt. The feelings were of touch, of expression, of shared intimacy. Reading each other's minds would have been superfluous.
When the doctor finally walked into their quiet corner and cleared his throat, they were calm, Elizabeth getting up so they could stand together, ready to face anything.
Except that. With her back leaning on John's chest, Elizabeth felt exactly how he tensed at the word. Felt herself freeze in fear, both for herself and for the new life she carried. Trying to keep from being thrown back to the terror of her imprisonment, gripping John's forearms hard enough to draw blood. Unconsciously trying to burrow back into him while his arms tightened to steel around her. Terribly glad they'd had the time to reinforce the bond between them before facing this.
Carson tried to be reassuring for the two people who couldn't even come up with one response between them, "Back when those nanites in yee were active; aside from trying to take over yer body, they also automatically fixed it."
"Fixed?" Elizabeth found her voice, trying to let herself be somewhat reassured that there was no *new* threat. Somewhat. Trying.
Carson shrugged, "Hormones in the state of flux that menopause can induce... I can imagine little wee machines decidin' that a 'fix' was needed. An' then goin' an' makin' changes. A'm still na' sure why ye dinna get a period though..." He frowned in annoyance at not having all the answers, "But yer ovaries are still producin' eggs, and a can see the linin' o' the uterus is at the right stage fer 3 weeks o' pregnancy. I'll be taking a great deal more tests a'm afraid, to be sure everything is absolutely well. Fer now, a can tell ye that if this was Earth and ye came to me pregnant, I'd say everything was perfectly well and right on time. The babe should be just fine."
"Aaah, Carson?" John's voice was quiet, arms tight around Elizabeth. And their baby. Panic just barely under control. As long as she was under his touch.
"How are the inactive replicator things in Elizabeth going to affect the baby? And why is Elizabeth able to turn the lights on exactly?"
"As to the lights, I'd say yer wee one obviously has the same strong Ancient gene ye do colonel. And a suppose having it in the babe is close enough to Elizabeth's own body for the technology to accept her; the gene might even have spread back to her bloodstream from tha wee one. The nanites..."
Carson tilted his head, not wanting to encourage them to worry about what he was confident what a situation under control, but not ready to dismiss the possible danger either, not that they'd believe it. "They are still inactive, there's na change there. But since they are in yer body... it's quite possible some will end up in the babe, if they can travel through skin..." He tightened his lips, understanding and agreeing with the anger in the new parents' eyes at the thought of an innocent child being pulled into such damned trouble. "That does na mean the wee one will come to harm fer it. They'll be just as inactive in him." He grinned encouragingly, trying to lighten the air, "Or her."
As the two stood there, faces pale and arms tight around each other, Carson nodded apologetically for the news he'd had to impart and slipped back out.
John's eyes closed, head bent to rest on Elizabeth's, making himself take deep calming breath. Replaying the doctor's words to get every nuance out of them. Unconsciously rocking Elizabeth. He finally managed to convince himself that nothing Carson had said was a death sentence. It was scary, but no worse than yesterday had been. No more, no less terrifying. But they had dealt with yesterday, and they would deal with today. And tomorrow.
He lifted his head, firmly set upon safeguarding his family. Starting with finding a way to make Elizabeth feel better.
"Well." John turned Elizabeth in his arms so he could grin at her, one hand cupping her cheek, wishing he could take the worry and fear in her eyes into himself and leave her at peace. "Born with keys to both Ancients and Replicators. That's not a bad start for an Air Force brat." He pecked her on the nose, glad she was allowing him to distract her at least a little, her tension very slowly decreasing. He widened his grin, "Add a dash of Wraith and he'd be a real Pegasus baby."
"John!" She objected with a sob buried in her voice.
"Joking!" He pulled her closer, "You know I'm joking." Kissed her forehead, "'Laughter kills fear'." He hoped they could continue to be alone long enough to get themselves back to looking like business as usual; the last thing they needed right now was to have to deal with everyone's well-wishing and going-on when they were still trying to assimilate their own feelings.
Elizabeth rested her head on his chest, reminding herself that together they could beat anything. Anything at all. "Who said that?" She didn't really care, but she knew he'd feel better if she played along with his teasing.
"Sean Connery, part of a longer quote, but that bit fit here." He rubbed his cheek on the side of her head, holding her close. Knowing with a sinking heart that they were both going to be having nightmares about her time dealing with replicators in one form or another for the foreseeable future.
A stray thought caught Elizabeth and gave her the strength, or at least the distraction, to pull herself a little further out of the fear. Pull them both a little out of the fear. "You'd better not think you can get away with becoming as protective as Ronon, Sheppard."
Without meaning to he snorted laughter, arms tightening around her for an instant before lifting his head, catching her eyes as she did the same. They were grinning at each other, albeit shaky grins, each trying hard to make the other feel better. Elizabeth knew it was a waste of time to try to tell him not to be protective and John knew she knew. But they would both enjoy the flirting, teasing and growling they could get up to with such a great excuse. And that would keep the fears away for the days, until they could hold each other through the nights.