It was supposed to be so simple. Lorne’s team had asked Elizabeth to come help translate text in some Ancient ruins on an uninhabited planet.
No one could have predicted that she’d press down on the wrong lever, linking up some long-forgotten crystal to a mysterious doohickey that would zap her and leave her to wake up on a stone floor.
Something feels wrong.
It feels like a murmur of voices, but there are no words. It’s some odd cross between sound and meaning and shape, parked between her eyes, like a headache without the pain.
She pushes herself up to sit, rubbing at her forehead with one hand. It doesn’t go away; the hum hovers in the back of her mind, like a droning sound deeper than her ears should be able to hear, and it has shape, color, like a phantom mist that lives in her periphery.
Language without words. Meaning without form. Confusion, mostly. It’s like confusion, but it’s outside her, not just inside her.
She swallows hard. Lorne offers her a hand to pull her upright; she makes it to standing, but she’s still a little dizzy.
Something’s not right.
She’s figured it out by the time the team reaches the Stargate, and really, it’s one of the stranger things that’s happened to her in this galaxy.
She can’t read minds.
But she’s pretty sure she can hear feelings.
Back in Atlantis, Carson orders her straight to the infirmary, then fusses around as nurses set to work drawing blood and running scans.
Elizabeth still feels a little shaky, but her balance is better, and she can sit up without wavering. The nurses are tidy and efficient as ever - Carson takes great pride in how smoothly his infirmary runs - and she’s settled on a bed, given water, and told to relax while they look through her results.
John will be worried, she muses. Accidents that happen off-world are scary things. Normally, she’s the one knotting her hands, hovering outside the infirmary, waiting for someone else’s test results.
In fairness, he’s really been trying a lot harder not to get hurt recently.
She shuts her eyes, sitting back against the wall. The infirmary is quiet, and even the low hum of outside emotions is more of a backdrop. Faint. Distant. Curiosity, bemusement, even a hint of boredom. She smiles. Apparently someone’s counting the minutes till the end of a long shift.
Carson finally finishes conferring with his nurses, and comes to deliver the news.
“Well, this is a new one.”
She makes a face, swinging her legs over the side of the bed to sit on the edge. “How bad is it?”
“It’s...odd. Not to sound melodramatic, love, but you really can sense the emotions of people around you.” She opens her mouth, but he raises a hand to forestall her questions. “And no, I can’t explain it. Now, I haven’t found any damage, and as far as I can tell, it’s entirely due to foreign particles in your bloodstream. But they’ve been steadily decreasing, even in the past few minutes. Strange as it seems, I don’t think it’s too serious. And it seems to be temporary.”
She lets out a breath. “That sounds too easy.”
Carson laughs, scratching the back of his neck. “Well, you did say it was only a quick zap. I’m sure that’s part of it. But like I said: I can’t explain it.”
Footsteps echo down the corridor, coming towards the infirmary. It’s a rhythm she recognizes, and sure enough, John walks in a moment letter, his brow creased.
As he comes closer, the rush of worry swirls over her, tight and dark. She’s seen the scowl that he gets when he’s concerned, but feeling it, having all that fear directed into her own mind, is overwhelming.
She knows the moment he sees her.
A sudden swell of warmth hits her, bright and clear as an arrow. It’s warm. Rich. Melting.
It swirls around her, soft as a cloud. The shock of knowing exactly how he feels stuns her, and it takes Elizabeth a long moment to catch her breath.
“She can perceive emotions,” Carson explains. “Apart from that, she’s perfectly normal.”
John blinks. “She can -”
She sees the moment he realizes, the split second he puts it together and understands just why she’s blushing.
He freezes for a moment, and finally steals a look at her. There’s a question on his face, uncertainty hovering over his mind like a cloud. He’s a guarded man. She’s always known that he uses humor to deflect.
She smiles at him gently, willing him to understand.
The answer is yes, John.
Joy washes over him like a blaze of light, warming her from the inside. It’s happiness, surprise, and relief, and it wraps around them both like a blanket.
She’s never felt so utterly and completely loved.
“Even in the past ten minutes, we’ve registered a decrease in the activity,” Carson continues, oblivious to the silent conversation taking place between them. “We’ll need to keep monitoring it, of course, but it seems like it’s going away on its own.”
“Good.” John’s voice cracks, and he clears his throat. “Good. Glad to hear it.”
“Carson,” she asks, “could you give us a moment?”
“Of course.” Carson squeezes her shoulder. “I’ll be in my office if you need me.”
She watches him disappear around the corner, then looks back up at John. “I didn’t know you felt that way.”
John looks sheepish, and despite the warmth swirling around them, she still senses a hint of discomfort. After all, he just unwittingly confessed that he’s in love with her. And he probably wasn’t planning on doing that today.
“I don’t know what to say.” He looks like he wants to step back from her bed, get some distance. Back away. Get some equilibrium.
But she has the advantage here: she knows exactly how he feels. He can’t read her emotions.
She’ll just have to show him, then.
Elizabeth puts a hand on his cheek, brushing his jaw softly, before pulling him in for a kiss.
He kisses her back without hesitation. One kiss turns into two, then three, then she loses count as he tilts her head back and kisses her long and slow and deep.
He kisses her like he’s been thinking about it forever. There’s always been a thread of attraction between them, that tantalizing hum of mutual something , and suddenly there’s nothing hidden and his tongue is in her mouth and it’s not just her, it’s him, and she knows he’s wanted this just as long as she has.
It’s drugging, like she’s breathing in his desire, and heat blooms under her skin, her body awake and aware and -
“Oh, for the love of God!”
Carson’s exasperated voice shatters the moment.
The two of them spring apart guiltily. Carson’s standing in the doorway, staring at them.
John leans away from her like somehow the doctor didn’t just see them making out like horny teenagers. He clears his throat. “Carson -”
“You know you’re still on a heart monitor, Elizabeth?” Carson folds his arms. “And here I was, thinking you were in distress. I might have sent a whole platoon of nurses to see this.”
John can’t quite hide a grin at that, and she tries to swat him on the shoulder, but there’s mirth radiating from him. After all, it was as much her fault as it was his.
“I’m sorry, Carson. It’s not - we just -”
“I don’t need the ‘birds and the bees’ talk, dear. Just -” he waves his hands helplessly - “not in my infirmary, please?”
Carson stalks off, shaking his head, and John finally lets out the laugh he’s been holding in. “Did you just get in trouble?”
Amusement is light around him, but she manages to shoot him a baleful look. “No more than you did.”
“Have you ever been in trouble before? - for anything?”
She sighs, scrubbing her hands over her face. “That’s not exactly how I thought that would happen.”
“You’ve thought about it?”
His voice sounds casual, even teasing, but she can feel the core of uncertainty under the question. He’s not sure just where they are right now, whether it was just a sudden whim that caught her, or she’s as deep in this as he is.
She laces her fingers through his. Honesty deserves honesty. “More than you might think.”
He’s got that gleam in his eye again. The slow burn of long-nursed attraction warms them both, and Elizabeth has to remind herself that Carson’s keeping an eye on her vitals, and she’s not particularly keen on the entire nursing staff watching her and John do some quality...debriefing.
So she presses a hand to his chest, pushing him back far away enough that she won’t be tempted. Well. More tempted, anyway.
“Carson has me stuck here until the tests com back clean.” She flicks a look up at him through her lashes, using the sweetest voice she can muster. “Would you bring me something to read?”
He feigns shock. “Dr. Weir. I feel so used.”
He beams at her, and it strikes her again, the clarity and warmth of his smile. When he’s happy, he seems lighter somehow, like there’s a weight off his shoulders.
She’s seen that smile a thousand times, but now it feels completely new.
She shakes her head. “Surprise me.”
He leans in for one more long, slow kiss, pulling away just as her cheeks get hot.
John Sheppard is a damn good kisser.
“You got it.”
He’s out the door a moment later, and Elizabeth sits back in her bed, smoothing her scrubs, willing away the flush in her face.
She dozes off soon afterwards, and wakes to find War and Peace on the table beside her bed. Inside the front cover, she finds a handwritten note.
Remind me to thank whoever built that doohickey that zapped you.