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The blood in her ears, pounding, like the sound of their boots on the floor above, filled her consciousness. Focus on the pounding, she told herself. Focus on the mundane. Your heart. As long as you're focused on it, it can't stop.
The blood on her back, from the cuts on her shoulders and arms. Focus on the blood, the discomfort of her filthy white tank top sticking to her flesh. As long as she felt the blood flowing warm on her body, she knew she was still alive.
She put her head against the dry, cracked wall and exhaled sharply. Her breath sent a plume of rock and grime into the air and she backed up, covering her mouth to keep any from slipping down her throat. God knew what the Pegasus version of asbestos was, but she didn't want to find out.
Deciding break-time was over, she pushed away from the wall and ran down the corridor. Above her, she heard doors being slammed open and voices being raised to declare another empty room.
Four days ago, Elizabeth had been sitting at a table with the leaders of these soldiers. They had been negotiating for the right to explore a cavern where McKay thought a ZPM might have been hidden by the Ancients. The negotiations had been going well, or so Elizabeth thought.
It started going bad when she discovered one of the alien sentries in her quarters rooting through her bag. She'd asked Major Lorne to keep his eyes out for anything peculiar and, the next thing she knew, he and his team had been shuffled through the Stargate at gunpoint. She and Teyla had been left behind, cut off from the Stargate and armed only with the supplies Lorne had left her.
After that, it had gone from worse to horrific. Teyla's attempt to take the Stargate by force had left her with a broken leg. The last Elizabeth had seen, the guards were dragging her away to be reeducated. Since then, she'd been alone in the city. A diplomat, reduced to jungle warfare. And she thought negotiations were bad on Earth when President Von Vici had refused her a glass of water while negotiating in a 102-degree briefing room.
The thought of a pre-expedition deliberation made her laugh out loud, dropping her to her knees. Petty, pathetic Earth politics... squabbling over centuries-old slights. Elizabeth laughed until tears came to her eyes. Well, she was done with that. If she ever returned to Earth for good, she would never again give a flying goddamn about territorial issues or blood oaths or whatever shit people wanted to kill one another for.
She knew she was endangering herself, making a target of herself. She struggled to her feet and continued on. The hospital had looked abandoned from the street, a comfortable place for her to escape the light, drizzling rain that had been falling for the past two days. Instead, she'd found armed guards protecting, she assumed, the decayed floorboards and useless medical equipment.
At the end of the corridor, she found another barricaded door and kicked it in. The stairs were inky black and reeked of decay, but she stepped inside and shoved the door back into place with her shoulder. Pain was everywhere; her shoulder, her hips, her knees. It felt like she'd been running for a week rather than just four days. She was exhausted, drenched with sweat, her lank hair pulled back from her tired face in a ponytail.
If she'd looked in a mirror, she probably would have screamed before realizing the reflection was her own.
She moved down the stairs as quickly and quietly as she could manage. As she reached the landing, she was aware of furtive movement to her right. She ducked out of the way just as a pipe came down in a high arc. She howled and rabbit-punched her attacker in the stomach, side-stepping out of the danger area.
They grappled briefly, hands and nails and teeth against flesh. Elizabeth somehow forgot she was carrying a gun, going after her attacker with fists rather than bullets. As she unsheathed her knife, her attacker gasped, "They'll never stop looking for me."
Elizabeth froze, arm cocked to bury the knife in her attacker's stomach. "Teyla?!" she gasped.
Elizabeth brought her hand up, pressing trembling fingers to the other woman's face. She traced the lips and nose, burying her hand in the thick hair before releasing a sob of thanks. "Teyla!"
They embraced, holding each other tightly in the darkness. Teyla smelled like heaven, although the logical part of Elizabeth's brain knew they both had to reek to high heaven. "Did they hurt you?" Elizabeth asked.
"I escaped shortly after my leg was broken," Teyla said. "I have spent the past few days in the sewer system. I am only out now in search of food."
Elizabeth reached into the thigh pocket of her trousers. Half of the orange-like fruit the natives called "naranja" was wrapped in a handkerchief. She worked her fingernails around the edge of the peel and held it against Teyla's lips. "Bite," she said.
Teyla's teeth sank into the fruit and she sagged against Elizabeth with an orgasmic groan. She took another bite, the juices trailing down the inside of Elizabeth's wrist, and pulled back. "We should save the rest. Where did you find it?"
"I stole it from a street vendor," Elizabeth said. "I took more, but my... bag broke when they spotted me. I only managed to grab one."
"Thank you," Teyla said.
"Come on," Elizabeth said. She tucked the naranja back into her pocket and wrapped an arm around Teyla's elbow. "I'm not losing you again." Together, they limped down the stairs and into an underground storage room.
Another day went by quickly, now that they had one another to spend time with. Quiet was less silent with another person breathing next to you. When Teyla slept, Elizabeth found herself staring at the other woman's face. They slept in hovels and in alleys. Elizabeth saw Teyla naked for the first time under the spray of a waterspout. She had undressed as well and they bathed one another with the urgency of lovers and fugitives. Hands refused to linger, brushing never turned to caresses.
They dressed in their filthy clothes when they were done, picking up their weapons and going in search of their next temporary hideaway.
Night fell and Teyla rested her head on Elizabeth's lap. It didn't mean anything, just a habit they'd gotten into. Elizabeth was nearly asleep herself, focused on the stars, when a semi-familiar sound reached her ears; two quick bursts of static. She remembered being in some Third World country, trying to find a ballroom dancing song. They'd ended up humming their own song, her and Ana Maria, and then dancing had turned to something else. What had made her think of static?
She glanced down at the radio, heart thumping in her chest as the sound repeated. She pushed aside their discarded clothes and retrieved her radio. Her thumb slipped off the button twice before she managed to depress it long enough to speak. "This is Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Hello?"
"Doc?" Colonel Sheppard whispered. "Thank God!"
At that, Elizabeth Weir began to cry.
Hot water, soap suds and perfume. Shampoo, washcloths and clean clothes. Elizabeth slipped into a pair of panties and a tank top, fresh from the Atlantian version of a clothes dryer and sat on her bed, staring out at the night sky. She hadn't dried her hair; she liked the way it felt on her shoulders. Wet and clean.
Her door chime sounded and Elizabeth looked over her shoulder. "Who is it?" she asked, not wanting to put on a robe.
"Come in, Teyla," Elizabeth said. She stood as Teyla entered, wrapped in a diaphanous green robe. Elizabeth could see her nightgown beneath it and smiled. "I've been thinking about you."
"And I, you," Teyla admitted. She walked into the room and let the door slide shut behind her. "This may sound... odd, but..."
"You can sleep with me."
Teyla's face broke into a relieved smile.
"I didn't sleep a wink last night," Elizabeth admitted. "I was scared to come to you." She blushed and looked down at her bed. "I'm glad you came."
Teyla shed the robe and Elizabeth allowed herself to see what she'd blinded herself to off-world. The rich, golden-brown hue of Teyla's skin, the way her hair contrasted with it on her shoulders, the deep brightness of her eyes. Elizabeth drew back the blankets and lay down, letting Teyla settled next to her.
"Lights," Elizabeth said. The lights faded and she became emboldened. She slipped her hand from Teyla's shoulder and cupped her breast through the thin gown she wore.
"Elizabeth," Teyla said softly.
"Yes," Teyla whispered.
Elizabeth smiled and squeezed.
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