Title: One Thousand Lives
Rating: PG-13 (because One to Let Go is in the same continuity)
Pairing: Sumner/Weir (and my heart goes pitty-pat)
Summary: There had to be a timeline where Sumner survived.
"Last night I lived one thousand lives; Not one of them survived..."
- Nearly Beloved, The Wallflowers
One Thousand Lives
Elizabeth turned her face into the seabreeze, looking out over the water. She imagined the tiny fires of the Athosian settlement far across the water, hot red dots in her imagination.
She heard his footfall, deliberate, to warn her. A courtesy.
"Sheppard," Sumner said behind her, "looks like a spooked cat every time I talk to him."
"Well," Elizabeth said without turning her head, "he was the one who - " Her voice stuck in her throat and she couldn't get anything more out. She just cleared her throat instead and wrapped her hands around the sudden goosebumps on her arms.
Another audible footstep, two, and Elizabeth could feel his heat at her back.
"Did I cook you dinner?" he asked. "The Tuesday before we left?"
Elizabeth bit her lip until she could trust her voice not to waver and the tears that had been threatening since Rodney had reported finding a familiar face in the quantum mirror on PX3-668. "Yes," she said, her composure a small pride. "You're quite a cook."
His hands touched her shoulders, then, big palms, strong fingers.
"I'm sorry," he said, his voice the husky whisper she remembered from his bed and she let herself melt back into him. He pressed his chest into her back and wrapped his arms full around her shoulders.
"It was hardly your fault," Elizabeth said and this time her voice did shake. "I can't imagine you wanted to - " She wanted to wipe away the tears on her face but she would have had to break out of his embrace.
"Come on," he said, turning her gently by her shoulders under she could press her face into his chest. "Cry it out."
It should have felt absurd, being comforted by the man she was finally mourning, but somehow, Elizabeth knew, he was the only person who would really understand. She didn't really cry, just held onto him tightly and breathed in his scent, warm against the cool night air. His hands on her back were gentle.
"I guess it's a little silly," she said, wiping her face as she pulled back a little. "After all, we agreed before we left that continuing would be inappropriate."
Guilt flashed over Sumner's face and he cleared his throat. "Of course we did," he said gruffly.
Elizabeth stared at him. Never, never in her life had she though Marshall Sumner was capable of blushing. "What?" she demanded. "What did we do?"
"We did what men and women do when they're cut off from their own galaxy," he said without looking at her. "Made it to about your birthday before it seemed silly to keep protesting."
Elizabeth leaned back against the balcony railing and regarded him speculatively, the wind blowing her hair over her shoulders. "My birthday," she repeated. "Are we, are we still together?"
"That we are," Mack - he had blushed so now he had to be Mack again - said, the first happiness she'd yet seen from him lighting his eyes. "Little over a year now, I guess. Not much for dates myself."
Liar, Elizabeth thought affectionately but didn't speak the thought. "And I haven't tossed you through a spacegate yet?" she joked.
"We have an arrangement," Mack said with a shrug. "You're in charge in the gateroom, I'm in charge in the bedroom."
"That's what you think," Elizabeth returned and they both laughed. It felt light and free to laugh with him again, like something hard and thick was breaking apart in her chest.
"That's why I need to get back," Mack said when he'd stopped laughing. He sounded apologetic. "What with me being uh, dead 'round here, I guess there's no danger of entropic cascade failure but - "
"But you belong there," Elizabeth finished for him. "With her."
"With you," he corrected. "Er. The other you. My you. I hate this alternate dimension horseshit."
Elizabeth felt herself flush at his words, My you, but she put on her bravest command face. "Rodney is already working on duplicating the remote control," she said. "We should have you back in no time."
Sumner - Sumner again, he wasn't her Mack - nodded and touched his fingertips to her hair, pushing it behind her ear. "I don't know if he ever told you," he said, looking at her fondly. "But if he was me? He thought you were the classiest dame in two galaxies."
Elizabeth lifted her hand and curled it around his, one last, lingering moment of human warmth between them.
"Thank you," she said, blinking back tears that weren't entirely sad this time. "He - he never said anything. I guess...he never really had the chance." She squeezed his hand and let go. "Hey, at least we worked in one universe, right?"
"Worked damn good," he agreed.
"Okay, then," Elizabeth said, squaring her shoulders. "In that case? Let's get you home.
A/N: I think it was springwoof who instilled in me a great desire to see Sumner say "horseshit" yes?