Title: Marching Into the Rays of the Sun
Pairing: Elizabeth Weir/Marshall Sumner
Rating: PG-13 (Theme)
Continuity: Post-One to Let Go but all you need to know to read this is that they slept together once before Atlantis and Sumner survived the Wraith queen and now there is awkwardness.
Summary: Drawing lines in the sand.
Etc. Thank you to reccea for letting me spam her AIM box, lilac_way for Beta Round One, and wojelah for the prompt and polish.
Marching back up the steps
Into the rays of the sun
- "Bottom of My Heart" by the Wallflowers
Marching Into the Rays of the Sun
Elizabeth had been up all night. Atlantis, as it turned out, was like one of the old fairy tales, the gruesome old stories where mermaids washed away in the ocean foam and woodsmen were sent to cut out young princess's hearts. It was beautiful, and majestic, and very old. And, Elizabeth suspected, hoarding its uglier secrets. She left the little room right off the control room, the one that had somehow become her office without her intent, and walked out on the balcony where she and John had argued. Where she had been right and John had been wrong, but she had conceded and John had been lucky, and Mack Sumner and Sergeant Bates and Teyla and Halling and the other Athosians were asleep in their makeshift rooms.
The air was cool on her face, the sky purple in the last vestiges of night. The sun was rising - did they call it the sun? Was it rising or were they sinking? She was standing in a lost city on a different planet in a different galaxy and suddenly she felt so disjointed, so alienated, because here she was the alien, the stranger in a strange land, that she had to sit down, her head spinning with new perspective.
Orange light broke through the pinkening horizon, the first signs of day in a night that never ended, and Elizabeth heard the scrape of a boot on the floor in the doorway. She looked up to find Mack Sumner there, smiling ruefully in the frame of the door. "Didn't realize you were up already," he apologized with a nod of his head. "'Scuse me."
"Haven't been to sleep yet," Elizabeth said, pulling her feet under her, tucking herself into a loose inverted lotus. She pulled in a deep breath and caught a warm, familiar scent. "Who made coffee?"
"Broszoski and Galindez have staked out a mess," Sumner said. He paused for a moment and then held out the cup. "You want?" he asked, so reluctantly she had to smile.
"Just a sip," she promised, having lost her internal battle to refuse. It smelled ridiculously good and her night had lasted forever. "Are you here to watch the sunrise?" she asked as he passed down the metal mug and she wrapped her hands around it. She hadn't realized they were cold.
"Thought I'd see what all the fuss was about," he admitted.
"Pull up some floor," she invited, still holding the mug and tilting her face up to the breaking rays. "There's plenty to go around."
Sumner was awkward as he sat, moving his weapons out of the way and sitting too straight to be entirely comfortable. Elizabeth handed him back his coffee and he took a sip as if that might help him relax. She inhaled deeply, breathing in the morning, the scent of coffee, of the starch in Sumner's uniform, of his skin and his hair and his mouth, closer than he had been in a week and just as far away as he was meant to be.
First light, clear and bright, streaked across the sky, touching the highest spires of the city towers and spilling across the miles of stained glass and metal alloy sprawled beneath them. Elizabeth gasped, the sudden beauty heartbreaking in its intensity. She felt tears prick in her eyes but didn't let them fall. Sumner stayed quiet and still, out of respect for her awe or lost in his own reverence, she wasn't sure. When the sun broke the horizon, he offered her the coffee cup silently, and she took it, recognizing it for the peace offering it was. The brush of his hand was comforting, grounding her, reminding her that she wasn't alone, not completely isolated in this new world.
"Thank you," she said as she handed the cup back. It was the companionable kind of silence they shared in his cabin that night a lifetime ago. Pre-Atlantis. Before her eyes were opened. He nodded amiably and then rubbed his thumb around the rim of the cup.
"You know," he said mildly, so mildly he could have been teasing her, or he could not be. "What with the Wraith looking to be a constant threat and all, we should talk about the expedition falling under military command.
"You know," she said, equally as mild, "that will happen over my dead body."
For a moment, one, hidden by their legs, his hand folded over hers and squeezed, quick and warm. "I sure hope not."