Title: Starting Into Open Space
Rating: NC-17 (het sex)
Length: ~4,500 words
Continuity: AU, where Sumner didn't die at the hand of the Wraith Queen and he and Weir started
Summary: People like them, people who leave, don't always come back the same.
A/N: Thanks to reccea, who told me why I was stuck, everyone who read on my journal when this was still "Untitled Weir/Sumner ficlet, Parts 1 & 2", and raisintorte who is the reason for all my Weir/Sumner.
How long an hour can take
When you’re starting into open space - Closer to You
- The Wallflowers
Starting Into Open Space
Sumner - Mack - opened the door fully dressed, one hand out of sight. Elizabeth looked up at him and tried to explain.
"I - I didn't know where else to go," she said.
Mack studied her, then reached out and smoothed one thumb across her cheek, wiping away the tear slipping down her face.
"Come in here," he said, dropping his hand to her shoulder and moving aside to escort her into the house.
She went, relieved to let him take charge this time, grateful he hadn't turned her away.
"All right, sit down on the couch," he suggested, closing the door behind her. His eyes were narrow with concern. "You want whiskey, or tea?"
Elizabeth wiped her palm across her other cheek and sat gingerly on the sofa. "Um. I think the whiskey," she said timidly.
"Good," Mack said. "I don't actually have any tea." He watched her for a moment. "You gonna be okay while I go get it?"
"Yes." Elizabeth nodded and suddenly felt less helpless, more centered. "Yes, I'll be fine."
Mack nodded. "Okay." He vanished into the kitchen and Elizabeth heard glass clinking. She leaned back on Mack's couch, covering her eyes with her hand. She shouldn't be here. Who runs to their fuck buddy when her lover dumps her?
"Hey." Mack's voice was low and gentle. Elizabeth dropped her hand to see him standing in front of her, a tumbler of whiskey stretched out to her. He had another in his free hand.
"Thank you," Elizabeth murmured, taking the tumbler. Mack sat down next to her and leaned his elbows on his knees.
"You want to talk about it?" he asked.
Elizabeth shook her head and took a sip of the whiskey. It was strong - old and rich and rising into her head from the very smell of it. It slipped down her throat, warm and dizzying. "I'm sorry," she said, her voice hoarse from her earlier tears. "I should leave."
"You're not going anywhere," Mack said. "Tell me what's going on."
Elizabeth took another sip of whiskey to steel herself and cleared her throat, hoping to put a detached spin to it. "Simon's not coming to Atlantis with us," she said. "His practice is - and he's found - " The words stuck in her throat and she felt hot tears welling up again.
"Elizabeth," Mack said, squaring his shoulders and straightening up.
"No, I'm sorry," Elizabeth said, wiping preemptively at her eyes. "I didn't mean to - I was just so angry that he hadn't said something before, that he let me believe, all this time, that he was coming with me, but he never was."
"Then he's a fool," Mack said. He sat his tumbler on the coffee table and rested his hands on Elizabeth's shoulders. "Look at me."
Elizabeth glanced up at him, then away, hating the gentle look on his face. The pitying look. "I should go," she said, shrugging off his hands and standing up. She took another sip of whiskey and put the glass down. "Thank you for the drink. I'm - I'm much better now. Really." The living room was dimmed, the television off. A light shone from the back bedroom. "I should let you go back to sleep."
"No," Mack said firmly, standing as well. "You're sleeping in my bed tonight."
Elizabeth blinked and opened her mouth because - that wasn't how women were spoken to in her world. This wasn't how she was spoken to. And yet, the urge to step forward into his arms, push her face into his shoulder -
Mack looked uncertain, an odd look for him, and said, "I might be sleeping in the guest room," he amended sheepishly, "but you're staying here tonight. And at least I know you can get some sleep in there."
Elizabeth hesitated just a beat longer, trying to remind herself that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, and then Mack stepped forward and folded his arms around her. She tilted her forehead against Mack's shoulder and took a long, shaky breath as he rubbed circles between her shoulders. She breathed in the scent of his aftershave and pressed her cheek into the fleece of his sweatshirt. She wondered how he'd spent his time on Earth, sorry that she hadn't spent time with him.
But there was Simon, and her need to make things right, to make six years matter now, and what was it for? Nothing.
"Hey," Mack said. "Look." He paused but she knew he wasn't done talking. She knew *him**. "People like us," he said slowly. "People who...go away. And come back. We change. And sometimes the people we love, they don't change with us. And it ain't their fault. But it happens, you know?"
Elizabeth closed her eyes. People like us he'd said. The distance between them, that had been there from the outset, it had closed and she'd never even noticed. It was far from the diametrically opposed views they'd had when they'd stepped through the gate. His cynicism and her idealism had met somewhere in the middle and instead of military vs. diplomat, they were something else. Explorers. Adventurers. Atlanteans.
Mack pulled back and pressed his mouth to her forehead, then, cupping her face in his hands, pressed kisses to her cheeks, the corners of her eyes, her mouth. She could taste the salt of her tears on his lips.
"You're exhausted," he said. "Let's get you tucked in. Big day tomorrow."
"I'm all right," Elizabeth said, touching the back of his hand as he dropped it from her face. But the bone-deep weariness had set in, dragging at her limbs and eyelids, the whiskey a warm, seductive argument for just closing her eyes and drifting against him.
"Come on," he said, graciously not calling her BS. He took her hand in his and tugged her toward the hallway. "I'll find you something to sleep in and change the sheets and you can still get a good five or six hours in."
"Don't change the sheets," she said immediately. "Really, it's fine. I just want to, to get a little sleep. I'll be fine in the morning."
"Of course you will," Mack said with a certainty that made her ache. The bedside table light was on and two of the drawers in Mack's bureau were open. He let go of her hand, shoved one of them shut, and started digging through the other one.
"Sorry 'bout that," he said, tilting his head at the less-than-pristine room. "Wasn't expecting company tonight."
"You don't need to apologize," Elizabeth said. "I interrupted your evening."
"Not much to interrupt," Mack said, handing her a stack of clothes topped with a bright red t-shirt. His hands lingered on hers when she took the clothes from him. "There's sweats and shorts in there in case you have a preference," he said. "You gonna be okay?"
"I'll be fine," she said, catching his hand as he stepped back. "Stay," she said boldly. She could see him hesitate and she knew why. She was supposed to be in Simon's bed tonight, not his. "Please," she said. "I sleep better when you're there." It was her ace in the hole, a dirty hand, and it worked.
"All right," he said, leaning forward and pressing a kiss into her hair. "I'm gonna lock up. You get changed. I'll be right in after you."
"Okay," she agreed and he stepped out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Elizabeth took off the pretty blouse she'd worn for Simon, folding it carefully, and setting it on the floor beside the bed. She wasn't ever going to wear it again. She took off her shoes and slacks and unhooked her bra, folding everything into a neat pile.
The red t-shirt was soft and smelled like detergent and dryer sheets, and a little like Mack - not his aftershave or his hair gel, but the scent of his skin and of his breath on her face. It also said Marine Corps in gold letters blazoned across the front and if she wasn't so tired, she'd worry about it keeping her awake. She pulled on the mesh shorts he'd left, but even tugging at the drawstring left them loose around her hips and threatening to slide to the floor.
She shook out the sweats, but one look told her they were far too long, so she laid them across the foot of the bed, and crawled into the rumpled sheets in just his t-shirt. The pillow was dented from his head and even though the sheets had lost their warmth from his body, they still smelled like him, aftershave, hair gel, skin, and all. She closed her eyes and turned her face into the covers and before he even opened the door, she was asleep.
Elizabeth opened her eyes, confused about what would have woken her up. It was the middle of the night, the soft glow from the clock on the table telling her it was quarter of three. The room was silent and Elizabeth held her breath for a moment until she heard, somewhere, water running in pipes, and she remembered. She was at Mack Sumner's house and the sound of the ocean was a galaxy away.
She rolled to her back and reached for Mack, but he wasn't there. The mattress still dipped where his body was, the sheets warm and slightly damp.
Elizabeth pushed herself up, swinging her legs to the floor. Mack's shirt had slid up to her waist, so she tugged the hem down and stood up to go find him. He was on the couch, elbows on his knees, a glass of water sitting on the coffee table in front of him.
"Hey," she said, trying to make out his expression. The light was on in the kitchen, casting shadows over his features.
Mack cleared his throat and sat up, leaning back against the couch. "Hey," he said. His voice was hoarse but relaxed. Warm.
She sat down next to him, wedging herself between the arm of the sofa and his hip. She swung her legs across his lap, pressing her heels against his thigh. His hands came up to touch her, one on her knee, the other hooked lightly around her ankle. It was how they sat on her bed in Atlantis, so they each had a wall, folded together and still able to look each other in the face.
"Nightmares?" she asked when she'd settled, dragging her fingers through his hair, damp with sweat at the temples.
"A few," he said, which was what he always said. But she'd learned the difference between, A few...but they were bad, and A few...and I'll be okay, from the nights he'd woken up in her bed, silent and shaken.
She was better with the former, able to anchor him with a hand to his shoulder and a kiss, but this was one of the latter. One of the ones he was ready and able to handle himself and she never heard the bits and pieces of those, whispered against her lips.
"How 'bout you?" he asked, not quite looking at her, rubbing his thumb around her ankle. "Sleeping okay? No nightmares?"
"Not tonight," she said because it was true. He does look at her then, curious and assessing and she knows he's wondering what she dreamed about in recent weeks. She doesn't tell him any more than he tells her.
"How you doing with the, uh, other thing?" he asked, back to staring at her knees.
Elizabeth took a deep breath. "It's...it's very strange," she said. "We've been, we'd been together for, well, a long time but now it, it kind of feels like we weren't together at all," she admitted. "Maybe not in the beginning, but in the past few years we've almost been ships passing in the night. I was in Colorado and then Antarctica and then Atlantis. I don't blame him, I just wish." I just wish he'd told me sooner, so I wouldn't have to see you in the halls, that mask over your face, and know I wouldn't see you that night, she thought but couldn't say. "I wish he'd just told me earlier," she said honestly. "I'm starting to think that maybe I didn't even love him. Maybe I was just -- " She shrugged. "Complacent."
"Don't be stupid," Mack said without censure. "Of course you loved him. You were together for seven years. Some marriages don't last that long."
Elizabeth sighed, grateful she didn't have to pretend around him. At least not have to pretend about Simon. "I did," she confessed. "I'm just not sure that I was in love anymore."
"Yeah," Mack said, tracing circles on the side of her knee. "That happens."
"What about you?" she asked, leaning forward to push his shoulder a little. "Were you ever married?"
"Once," he said mildly. "Long time ago, now."
"What happened?" Elizabeth asked, morbidly interested. Mack had never mentioned a wife and everything about his home and his demeanor suggested lifelong bachelorhood.
"Got married right before I went off to Beirut," he said. "I came home, got sent off to Gitmo about a year later. She told me not to come back."
"Ouch," Elizabeth said, reaching out to touch the back of the hand he had curled around her knee.
"I deserved it," Mack said. "I was an asshole."
"You're still an asshole," Elizabeth said, squeezing his hand to take the sting out of her words.
Mack grinned, a genuine flash of humor on his face as he watched their hands slip together. "Yeah," he admitted. "But not like this. Beirut had me real messed up for a little while. I was…drinking a lot. Taking my Wild Turkey straight from the bottle." He lifted his eyes from her knees. "First and last time I ever raised my hand to a woman."
"You hit her?" Elizabeth asked, the words coming from her mouth almost before she thought of them. She felt her whole body tense and knew he could feel it, too. She tried to relax but that just made it worse.
"No," Mack said. "But I raised my hand to her and that was enough. It was enough for me, too."
"What did you do?" Elizabeth asked.
"Went to the chaplain on base," Mack said, brushing his thumb against her skin again. "Nice guy. Navy L-T. Told him I almost hit my wife and every time I closed my eyes, I saw dead Marines, and I was finishing off a pint of whiskey a day. Spent three hours in his office. Cried a bit. I was never much for religion but he got me straightened out. On the right track, at least." He squeezed her fingers where they were laced between his. "That gonna scare you off?"
Elizabeth squeezed his hand back. "We have seen some horrible things this year," she said carefully. "John Sheppard pulled you out of a Wraith ship. We lost half a dozen people to a nanovirus. Some to the Genii. To the Wraith. I think that really, you're holding up pretty well. And if the worst thing you did was almost twenty years ago, now? I think I can live with it."
Mack closed his eyes, his grip almost crushing her hand. He brought it to his mouth, pressed a quick kiss into her palm. "I'm crazy in love with you," he said, his voice rough. "You know that, don't you?"
Elizabeth's breath caught in her throat and it was her turn to close her eyes. This was messy, this was complicated, but she didn't want to deal with that now. She wanted to say, "Yes, yes, me too," but that was messy and complicated as well. Instead, she shifted, pulling one leg back and shifting her weight to straddle his lap. She cupped his face and leaned forward to press her mouth against his.
He opened up to her, mouth and hands, his palms sliding up her legs under the t-shirt and settling on her hips.
"I love sleeping in your shirt," she said when she pulled away, breathing hard, and then wondered why the hell she'd said that.
"I love seeing you in it," he growled, and took that as an invitation to drag it up and over her head.
Elizabeth rolled her hips, grinding against him. He was already fully hard and it felt like a tease - her panties and his boxers between them. He was appealingly dorky about his bedroom attire, boxers and a t-shirt when he actually intended to sleep.
He tossed the bright red shirt off to the side and curled his hand around the back of her neck, dragging her back to his mouth. His fingers pushed her panties aside and slid right inside her, one and then two.
"God," he groaned into her mouth. "You're so wet." He twisted his fingers as he said that and she shivered and clenched around him. "For me?"
She curled her fists in his shirt and tried to kiss the truth into him. He dipped his fingers in and out of her, falling into rhythm immediately. She pushed back against him, pushing him harder and deeper. He blinked, sharp eyes always assessing, even as his own breathing picked up.
Elizabeth slid one hand down his chest, reaching for, finding, his cock, hard and wet at the tip. He made a sound in the back of his throat as she pulled him free of his boxers and shifted until she was up on her knees.
"Hold up," he rasped, setting his other hand on her hip and slipping his fingers free. "I need to get a -- "
She stopped him by cupping her hand over his mouth, and said firmly, "No. You don't." He blinked at her once, the question in his blue eyes clearly, You sure? before she pulled her hand away and guided him inside her.
She and Simon - hadn't. She was flying back and forth to Colorado Springs, their schedules didn't match up…and he hadn't pushed the issue. Maybe she'd known, maybe he had been telling her, long before tonight.
She hadn't forgotten how Mack felt inside of her. She'd only forgotten how she felt with him inside her, shaky and emotional, and laid out bare, more naked than she'd eve been in front of anyone else in her life. It was still raw, still on the safe side of almost too much, and suddenly not enough.
"Take this off," she said, pushing up his shirt. His skin was hot to her touch and soft with the moisture of unshed perspiration. He let go of her long enough to drag the shirt over his head and toss it off in the general direction of the one he'd taken off her. "Fuck me," she whispered, planting her knees on either side of his hips and bracing herself on his shoulders. "Fuck me hard, Mack."
"Oh, God," he groaned, dragging his palms lightly over her breasts, down the dip of her waist, to her hips. He hooked her panties to the side with his thumb and settled his hands at the top of her thighs. "God, Elizabeth."
He liked it when she talked dirty. He never said so, never asked her, but she could always see it in his eyes, in the tension in his shoulders when something tumbled, unrefined, from her lips.
He pushed up into her, guiding her down onto him at the same time, sharp and deep and even a little rough; for once he didn't act like he was afraid of breaking her.
"Yes," she said, heart in her throat, letting go her control one microscopic increment at a time. "Yes, just like that. Just like that."
"You like it like this?" he asked, driving up in to again, and then a third time and a fourth, and by then it didn't seem worth answering but she did anyway.
"Yes, more," she said, letting him set the rhythm, letting him lead this dance. She let him push her, every new hard stroke pushing her near the edge of another cliff, a cliff that was safe to dive off.
Elizabeth turned off her brain, stopped noticing that her breath was already coming hard, stopped worrying that her breasts were bouncing, stopped worrying about what she would do next or whether she would come or if Mack was okay. He would be. She could take this for now.
It came in waves, soft swells of sensation traveling her legs from hip to the ticklish bottoms of her feet, stretched outward from shoulders to fingertips and from the deep, warm, middle of her, where Mack was pushing, up to her heart, to her head, and she was almost dizzy when she realized she was gasping and crying out against Mack's cheek, that her entire body had slipped out of her control and she'd never, never, had an orgasm quite like this before.
"Elizabeth." Mack's voice, rough and low, and urgent in her ear. "Elizabeth." Under her, he pushed up, his body lifting hers and she felt a rush of warmth and the vibration of his groan through her body and then they were sprawled together on his couch, still holding tight, tight to each other, even though they were fever-hot still and damp from many things.
Elizabeth lifted her head - which was still spinning a little - and pressed her mouth to his jaw, his Adam's apple, and his collarbone, wanting the taste of his skin on her lips, before resting her cheek in the curve of his shoulder. "I love you," she said, because she still wasn't thinking, still hadn't engaged, and because it was true.
The first clue that she'd said it was how quickly Mack stilled beneath her. Then his hand swept from the small of her back and buried into her hair. He lifted her head and kissed her, deep, sweet kisses that left her breathless and laughing.
"I can't feel my hands," she said, when he pulled back to gaze at her fondly. She waved one uselessly off to the side and was happy to see a smile appear on his face so quickly. "They're all pins and needles."
"All that blood was busy somewhere else," he said, easing her back and taking one hand in both of his, rubbing briskly to bring back the circulation. "We should go to bed," he murmured in her ear. "It'll be more comfortable."
"But we'd have to move," Elizabeth protested, delighting in the temporary laziness that had settled over her.
"I will carry you," he said, moving to her other hand. "Not like I don't haul your unconscious ass all over the city once a week anyway."
"That happened once," she protested.
"It happened once that you remember," he joked back. "You know who gets called every time Doctor Weir gets hit by an alien death ray. Doctor Weir touched this big round thing and now she's on the floor. Doctor Weir accidentally switched bodies with Doctor McKay and let me tell you how unhappy I was when someone finally told me what was going on. You'd think that Grodin kid would take a shift, at least."
"I just think that it's fair to point out," Elizabeth said as reasonably as she could with a big stupid smile still on her face, "that sort of thing happens to John or Rodney much much more often than it does to me."
"Fair enough," Mack allowed. "But everyone knows better than to call me when their asses need scraping off the floor. They can sleep it off for all I care."
"Right, until you get a yen for Sunday afternoon football," Elizabeth said, pushing her fist gently into his shoulder. "Then they're your best buddies."
"Tell you what," Mack suggested. "Next time we sit down to watch a game, you can bring us the beer."
"Oh, right," Elizabeth laughed. She shifted, sliding off him, and bringing her leg back over. Her hips ached a little and she felt herself go a little flushed as she smoothed her panties back in place. "Not if you're watching that same Hail Mary game for the four hundredth time."
"I'm pretty sure we haven't gone over sixty or seventy," he said, glancing around the living room. "Grab me that shirt, if you will. Besides," he said, as Elizabeth leaned over to snag his green t-shirt from the floor in front of the couch, "McKay got tasked with bringing back a whole new set of media. We'll get hockey, if nothing else." He took the shirt from her and wiped off his face and the back of his neck and tucked himself back in before standing up. Elizabeth picked up the glass of water on the coffee table and drank half of it. The water was still cool, clean mountain spring water. She offered Mack the rest of the glass and he took it, draining it in one long gulp. "You want anything from the kitchen?" he asked and she shook her head.
He took the glass into the kitchen and switched off the light, leaving only the faint hall light glowing. Still, she was pretty sure she could see his smile when he came back and held out his and said, "Come to bed with me?"
She reached up, took his hand, let him draw her to her feet.
"C'mere," he whispered, pulling her hand up to his neck. He leaned down, mostly a shadow, and she thought he was going to kiss her. The next instant, though, she was in the air, literally swept off her feet,
"Mack!" she gasped, tightening her grip.
"Told you I'd carry you," he said, walking back toward the bedroom.
"You didn't have to," she said. "I thought you were joking!"
"Maybe I want to," he said, nudging the door open and carrying her over to the bed. "Maybe it makes me feel all manly and strong."
"I thought that's what the sword in the living room was for," Elizabeth teased back.
"Oh. You aim for the soft spots, lady." He sat down on the bed, letting her slide into his lap. He did kiss her this time, then shifted her onto the bed and moved over to his own side. "You know," he said casually. "I've been thinking. We've got two more days on Earth before we go home. You wanna go for that dinner and dance we talked about?"
Elizabeth smiled, suddenly, swellingly, happy. She reached out and touched his cheek, rough with stubble, and said, "You said home."
"Yeah," he said after a moment. "I guess I did."
Elizabeth settled in against him, curling her hand against his shoulder and enjoying how solid and unyielding he felt beneath her. "We're going home," she whispered, closing her eyes. "Together."