DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for scarletts_awry for femslash07 this started as a small little AU and exploded on me. This is a bit of a crackfic AU. Thanks to havocthecat for titling and handholding and spot betas. The title comes from The Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Man with the Soul so Dead
From the vantage point of her bench, Elizabeth Weir narrowed her gaze at her former clerk and silently wished for the floor to open up. Watching him be swallowed whole would just improve her day immeasurably. For his part, Kavanaugh glared back imperiously, unafraid of her gaze's challenge and she resisted the urge to throw a pencil at him. Instead, she lifted a brow and said coolly, "On what grounds Mr. Kavanaugh? It's Tuesday and Mr. Sheppard isn't allowed to ask questions on Tuesday?"
Kavanaugh huffed a breath, waving a hand at John. "Prosecution is testifying for the witness!"
The witness in question, Doctor Rodney McKay, rolled his eyes. "Oh please," he responded disdainfully, "since when has anyone ever managed to put words in my mouth!" He sniffed. "Besides, I have plenty of my own which are likely going to be too complicated for defense counsel to understand. Might I suggest finger puppets?"
Biting the inside of her cheek hard, Elizabeth did her best to quell the laughter that was threatening to bubble up. Rodney certainly did have a point. She couldn't ever accuse him of being easily led on anything. "The witness does have a point," she conceded only too happily. "Objection overruled, the prosecution may proceed. But please, Mr. Sheppard, let's cut down on the prose shall we? While the jury may appreciate your literary stylings, the defense does not."
That made Kavanaugh glower but, defeated, he silently took his seat next to his client. Elizabeth didn't spare him any further attention, he really didn't rate any. "Please, Doctor, do continue with your explanation. My clerk has finger puppets on hand should you require them."
A ripple of laughter went through the courtroom and she permitted herself a tiny smile.
With her expressed permission to continue, John Sheppard leaned comfortably against the jury box and gestured for Rodney to continue, "Sorry for the interruption, Doctor, feel free to proceed. I believe you were about to explain the timers used in the Athos County bombings?"
Again Elizabeth checked a smile, this time caused by the unspoken message on John's face telling Rodney to keep it simple. Despite the fun of confounding Kavanaugh, they all would prefer that the jury actually understand the evidence and Rodney could be confusing enough when he was trying to be clear.
The threat the Wraith network posed sent icy cold fingers a dread down Elizabeth's spine. She risked a cool glance over the court, taking stock of the defendant. Unlike his attorney, Michael Kenmore was the picture of stone-faced control. This one's star was on the rise among the Wraith and the idea of him going free truly scared her.
Kenmore flicked a glance her way and she almost shuddered at the look of malevolence in his eyes. To think the man had once been an agent of the Justice Department. She would have disbelieved it had she not seen his records for herself.
Sitting back in her chair, Elizabeth toyed with a pencil as she again read McKay's report. Too many people had died in this attack and she didn't have to look at Jack O'Neill to know his thoughts on the matter. The FBI agent and his people sat in the back of her courtroom, watching the proceedings while waiting for their agent's turn in the witness stand. Somewhere outside, she imagined, Laura Cadman was going over her testimony with John's second chair, Evan Lorne.
Well, in theory that was what they were supposed to be doing.
Making a note in the margins of the report, Elizabeth turned her gaze on the interplay between Sheppard and McKay. The duo was known as a defense attorney's worst nightmare and they were most assuredly living up to the label. Kavanaugh looked as if he were headed for the floor at any second.
Impartial though she was supposed to be, a tiny little part of her was gleefully enjoying his misery. Although the next time he hopped to his feet, ready to holler out another objection she whole-heartedly wished he were the defendant. Passing judgment on him would be the best kind of early Christmas present.
Rubbing her forehead, she shared an aggravated look with her clerk when Kavanaugh offered up another flimsy excuse. "Mr. Kavanaugh, sit down! Wasting the court's time with spurious objections will not do your client any favors in the long run," she warned sternly. "My patience is not infinite and you are rapidly approaching its limit. If you do not like what Doctor McKay is stating then perhaps this would be a very good time for you to visit the lavatory? Otherwise, save your breath and my patience and reserve your objections for moments they are actually necessary."
He scowled and slumped in the chair while Elizabeth wondered if, perhaps, she could get away with charging him with contempt on the grounds of being an excessively oversized ass.
Damn the legal system and its insistence on obedience to actual laws. It would be much more fun if she could just hang him and have done with it.
Judges never got to have any fun anymore.
"You look grouchy, I take it Kavanaugh was his usual warm and cheery self?" Meeting her at the door to her chambers, Peter Grodin traded robes for coffee with Elizabeth as she swept into the room.
"And then some," Elizabeth sighed wearily before taking a deep, fortifying swallow of the usually-bitter liquid. It took a moment but she shot a conspiratorial grin Peter's way. "You cut this with hot chocolate didn't you?"
"And a little whipped cream," he affirmed with a grin. "A day spent listening to Kavanaugh objecting to witnesses breathing? I thought you might need a little extra-special comfort and since they frown on buying judges hookers? It seemed like the best way to go. I was going to order in some dinner if you'd like. Korean? Indian? Or are we in the mood for something cheap, easy, and guaranteed to require six weeks in the gym afterward? The deli down the street can have your usual here in about ten minutes."
Elizabeth laughed. "You? You are a saint." Sitting down, she looked at the fifty messages waiting for her and considered it. "Let's go for Korean and the deli, it's going to be a late night."
"Lay in extra rations, got it," Peter nodded. "I'll order a couple pizzas for the agents. I think they've taken over the conference room down the hall and the last thing the delivery guys need is to be waylaid by Ronon Dex looking for a roast beef sandwich. The last guy practically broke his neck running out of here."
"Don't remind me," Elizabeth mock-groaned. "The tip I had to give him to make up for it? Not even their dill pickles are worth that kind of money."
Her assistant snickered then paused. "Oh, uh, we got a call from Director Caldwell over at the Marshals' service and he wants a meeting with you." He hesitated and added, "He didn't sound happy."
Despite the tension working its way into her neck, Elizabeth managed to joke, "When was the last time Steven Caldwell did sound happy?"
Peter rolled his eyes at her. "While the man does tend toward the dour side, this time I have to admit that it did sound serious. They may have heard a new threat that we haven't been briefed on yet. It certainly wouldn't be any surprise, you must admit that. You are the one trying the biggest case in the state right now, probably the country, and it wouldn't be the first time the Wraith tried to take out a judge."
Rubbing her neck, Elizabeth nodded. "I know, believe me, I know. I'm taking every precaution, I promise." She didn't know Helia Lantean all that well but, the judge had barely escaped with her life. Six weeks had passed before she came out of her coma. "Speaking of," she pointed at Peter, "When you leave tonight you have one of the agents or deputies escort you down and check your car before you get in. Don't pull any of this macho tough-guy business. You can't out muscle a car bomb"
"Oh I didn't drive to work," he promised calmly. "Haven't been driving my own car much since the trial started. I've been taking the bus in the morning, and rides home with different friends every evening." He smiled. "At any rate, you know the building I live in is quite secure. You're the one who had the marshals speak to the manager. Everyone in and out is logged."
"Yes I did," said Elizabeth with a faintly cheeky grin. "I doubt you stand any chance of being a target but I'm not taking any chances. I'd hate to see anything happen to you." Not only was he the best damn assistant she'd ever had, he was a friend and for a woman in her position, true friends were a rare commodity.
"I know," Peter smiled back, nodding. "With all the precautions that I'm taking, I'll be fine; it's you I'm worried about. These people are a step beyond your usual fare and you know I worry."
She nodded. "Yes, you do. It's cute." Waving him off with a file, she added, "Now, feed me or it's not terrorists you'll have to worry about."
Chuckling, he ducked out of the room and left Elizabeth looking at Caldwell's telephone message. This was not a call she particularly wanted to return, she imagined she knew what would be on the other end of that conversation and she wasn't looking forward to it.
Taking a breath, she picked up the phone and dialed the number.
"I can't believe you're eating that," Teyla Emmagen grimaced as she watched her partner wolf down something that she suspected was meant to be a sandwich in Rononland. For the rest of humanity, however, it appeared more in the vein of toxic waste or an experiment gone very, very wrong. But then, so many things about Ronon fit that particular description. She did so love the big oaf but he wasn't not anything approaching enlightened.
At least, he didn't want to seem that way.
"Don't knock it til you've tried it," Ronon mumbled around a mouthful, licking his finger. "S'good."
"It's disgusting," she disagreed, opening her laptop.
He grinned at her and kept eating. "You hear about the threat on Judge Weir?"
Teyla's fingers froze over the computer's keys and she looked at him. "I had not," she answered, forcing her tone to be neutral. "What is the nature of it?"
Her partner gave her a look that hinted at sympathy but he made no mention of her history with Michael Kenmore before answering, "Nothing specific yet but there's chatter in Wraith circles, stuff like doing to Weir what they did to Lantean." He frowned. "It took what, six months for her to come out of her coma?"
"Six weeks," she clarified. "I would assume that we are going to be providing increased security for the judge?" She had been following the trial as subtly as she could. Everyone in the office knew of her relationship with Michael but she did not wish to draw any further attention to it. It was troubling enough to know she had once been involved with someone capable of that kind of inhumanity, even more so when one considered the target of the attack.
It had been many years since she had lived in the county but Athos was still her home and many friends lived there. She had not lost anyone in this attack but she knew friends who had and there had been too many deaths, too many funerals. All of them were Michael's responsibility; it was difficult not to consider them hers as well. If she had seen what he was becoming earlier
"Not your fault, Teyla," said Ronon, leaning across the desk and keeping his voice low. "Don't give the bastard the satisfaction." He scowled, his animosity for the Wraith was legend in the office but the personal hate he reserved for Michael Kenmore took it somewhere far beyond even that. Very few people were brave enough to speak the man's name within Ronon Dex's earshot. "But yeah, we're probably going to catch the protection detail. They're not going to call you to testify, Sheppard promised Caldwell he wouldn't bring you into it."
She smiled faintly and nodded. "He will not but there is no guarantee that Kavanaugh will respect that."
"He will," Ronon rumbled. "Believe me; no way would he be that crazy. Your history with the bastard's not going to change the reason for the Wraith attack, they would've anyway, but it does tie him to it. Sheppard doesn't need it to sink him but Kavanaugh knows it'd seal the deal with the jury. You testifying is practically a guaranteed needle in Kenmore's arm."
"Still, it is unlikely that Caldwell will give us the assignment." Teyla reasoned. "My involvement in the judge's protection could be prejudicial."
Ronon snorted. "No more than Lorne banging the FBI's lead investigator."
She shushed him. "You should not bring that up here."
He grinned wickedly. "Oh come on, you think there's anybody in this building that doesn't know about it? Even you can't be that naïve, Teyla."
"Well," she sighed. "No, but nevertheless "
"It's a protection detail," he added. "You will not be discussing the case at trial. Kenmore's not going to show up himself and try and blow Weir's head off. The Wraith are a hell of a lot bigger than just him. Besides, we'll probably be heading the team, not like everything's going to come down to us unless it goes wrong. The woman's a big deal, senators and governors for friends. She gets a hangnail and our careers are over." He took another bite of his toxic waste sandwich. "No pressure, right?"
She threw a napkin at him. "Wipe your face."
He caught it and did as she ordered, grinning at her still. "Caldwell's going to give us the assignment, you know he is, Teyla. We're the best ones he's got and he knows it."
"I know a lot of things, Agent Dex but I don't recall that one being among them," Caldwell commented dryly from where he stood behind the burly agent. "Though, you're right, Teyla is probably one of the best people I have."
Teyla believed that it was to her credit she didn't snicker. "Well, sir, all that I am I must credit to Ronon," she smiled blithely. "I look at him and strive to be better by the day."
"Precisely why I let you keep him around," Caldwell stopped by the table and looked at the sandwich on Ronon's plate. "You're actually eating that?"
With a grimace, Teyla nodded. "It is not a particularly pleasant sight, sir. I suggest that you speak quickly before he bites into it again."
Green about the edges, Caldwell nodded. "Wise words, Ms. Emmagen, wise words." He took off his glasses and wiped the lenses with his tie. "And, as much as it pains me to say these words, Ronon's right. I am putting you two in charge of this one. The chatter's pretty unsubstantiated right now but this is the Wraith, it's not likely to get more substantial before they make their move on the judge."
Both agents nodded, knowing it only too well. No one dared hesitate when it came to intelligence about a Wraith attack. Waiting for further information was the best way to ensure a failure to stop it.
"Have you spoken with the judge about it yet?" Teyla inquired, pulling a legal pad into range and making jot notes that were the beginnings of a security strategy. It would be especially difficult if they were dealing with another justice who was not particularly impressed with the idea of security. Those assignments were often enough to drive even her to drink.
"I have," their supervisor nodded. "Left a message with her assistant when she was in court she returned the call a few minutes ago. She's working late tonight so you two will be her ride home when she goes. You pick who you need for the security detail, pull people off cases if you need them. I'll pull a few people in from the Cheyenne office if we need them to make up the difference."
"Copies of the threats?" Ronon asked, reaching for his soda.
"Everything I've got on them you'll have before you leave," Caldwell promised. "Weir's on board with the security but don't expert her to be a pushover."
Teyla laughed softly. "I would never expect such a thing, sir. I've seen the woman in action." She smiled slyly at her partner. "She scares Ronon."
Caldwell snickered. "Now that does not surprise me." He clapped Ronon on the shoulder. "Truth is the woman scares the hell out of the rest of most everybody. Watch your backs."
"You're getting protection, huh?" Leaning against the doorframe of her chambers, John grinned lazily at her. "What, like you're somebody special or something?"
"I know!" Elizabeth rolled her eyes expressively, shoving a file into her briefcase. "Imagine the nerve of some people, thinking I'm some kind of big shot like a federal judge or something. Where do you think they got such a ridiculous notion?"
He laughed. "Not a clue, maybe something to do with the fancy black dress and penchant for smacking down errant lawyers with delusions of grandeur?"
She tilted her head and gave it some thought. "You know, that just might be it." Adding another file to her briefcase, she gave him a look. "I would assume Mr. Kavanaugh is safe but you?" She raised her brows. "I trust you're taking precautions, John. Getting rid of a prosecutor would derail the case just as much as killing a judge would, perhaps more."
John shrugged casually and advanced into the room. "Me? I'm okay. You know how it goes, lots of security, no published address. I deal with a lot of these high risk cases, Liz; I'm used to the drill by now and before you ask yes I do have a security detail albeit a much smaller one. They're not talking about me yet. You'd make a prettier headline splashed across the Pegasus Daily News."
That made her snort. "Well, unfortunately for them I don't plan on giving them the satisfaction." She sighed. "Do you remember the days when judges and prosecutors were just doing their jobs and rarely got targeted?"
She watched him consider it, or at least pretend to, before shaking his head. "Nope, I always sort of did. But that's just my naturally winning personality. Everybody loves me."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "Yes, that's it precisely it and exactly why I invariably want to throttle you when you start grandstanding in my court room."
"I do not grandstand," he insisted with a boyish grin.
"No, you just whore yourself out to the jury," she shot back laughing.
"Well, it works doesn't it?"
That she couldn't technically argue with. John's conviction rate was almost unbelievable and also slightly infuriating to the defense attorneys he matched wits with. "All the more reason someone would want to kill you." Elizabeth mused. "Just be careful. I'd hate to have to start this whole process over again because you had a terrible accident with being run over by a bus."
He chuckled. "I am not that clumsy."
"Of course you aren't," she nodded. "Which is why Carson Beckett over at Pegasus General has a file for you that's bigger than the hall of records?"
John made a face. "I spend my off hours with cops and federal agents. You have any idea how many people keep taking potshots at those guys? And don't even get me started on Jackson."
Elizabeth laughed, thinking of the newest addition to the judiciary. "At least he's no longer " She stopped at the pained look John gave her. "No, really?"
"Yeah, really," he nodded. "Some mercenary type or something, dosed him at a bar. He's okay, mostly. They got him to the hospital on time and they counteracted it but he'll still be in hospital for a couple days just in case."
She groaned. "The man's a menace."
"Precisely what the doctor at the hospital said when they brought him in," John grinned. "He shows up there like that again? The staff is going to kill him themselves."
"If they don't get you first," she reminded.
John gave her another innocent look. "They love me over there."
"They used to," Elizabeth argued. "Then you dated half the staff and now they just make fun of you as the occasion calls for it."
He shrugged but didn't argue as he helped her with her coat. Outside of the court, he rarely did argue if she let herself think about it. This wasn't to say he was passive, far from it, John just seemed to reserve his temper for the trails he prosecuted and she couldn't say it didn't work for him.
She'd had him in her courtroom enough to see him use it to his, and the government's, advantage.
"Most of the time, they're right," he admitted finally when she had her briefcase and was ready to go. "Now, you need a ride home? Or are the marshals going to play taxi?"
"They are," she nodded. "I'm going to wait for them here. According to Caldwell, he's assigning his best team to it."
"Ahhh, must mean Ronon and Teyla," said John.
Though Elizabeth knew Ronon (who didn't?) she didn't recognize the second name immediately but she hadn't had a tremendous amount of dealings with all of Caldwell's people. "You've worked with them before?"
"I have," he opened the door for her. "Good agents, both are experts on the Wraith situation. Ronon's probably put more of them in the hospital than the rest of the federal agencies combined and Teyla " He hesitated. "Well, she's an ex of the defendant though that was way back when he was on our side."
"Emmagen!" She nodded. "I think I saw something in the files about that."
"Yeah, I was worried for a while Kavanaugh'd try and bring her into it as a potential defense strategy but," he laughed. "Not even Kavanaugh is that crazy."
"Or that stupid, as hard as it is to believe," she turned off the light as they left. "But we really shouldn't be discussing it."
"Consider it a heads up," he winked. "Just in case he actually does loose all sense of sanity and intelligence and tries it. You may end up ruling on the admissibility of your own bodyguard."
Unlikely as it was, she resolved to read up on Agent Emmagen's history with the defendant just in case.
"You don't need to wait with me, you know," said Elizabeth as they came to a stop in front of the elevator. "They should be here shortly and knowing you, you've got a hot date tonight."
He snickered. "Actually, I do. With my Tivo, its shark week and I do not miss shark week. As much as I hate to ruin your fantasy, my life is actually much more boring than you think it is. Tonight is me, my Tivo, a beer and maybe some chips. Though, you never know, I may get wild and wash some socks."
Elizabeth snickered. "Just remember to separate your colors again. It's not fair to make the judge laugh because your socks are pink. I have decorum to maintain and you make that exceptionally difficult." Reaching out, she stabbed the elevator's call button and glanced up at the numbers overhead.
"You miss one red bra one time..." He complained.
Leaving Ronon in the parking garage with a team checking Judge Weir's car, Teyla stepped into the elevator and hit the button for her office floor. There had been no sign of anyone near the judge's car but no one was in any mood to be anything but paranoid with a Wraith threat in the wind.
As the elevator ticked off floors, she glanced at her watch. Hopefully, by the time they got Weir back to her home, Bates would have everything in place. The man could be an ass but even she respected the fact he was an ass who knew how to lay out a security net so tight bacteria couldn't slip through it.
"Still an ass," she murmured to herself with a smirk. She and Bates had seen more than their fair share of run-ins and she didn't doubt there would be more with this case but nevertheless, they needed him.
The elevator doors slid open on a familiar voice muttering, "You miss one red bra one time " and Teyla laughed.
"Well, I can assure you, Your Honor, it was most certainly not mine," she promised, stepping out of the elevator and presenting her id to the tall woman. "Teyla Emmagen, Marshals Service. I believe you're expecting me?"
"Where's Lurch?" John asked with a grin.
"In the parking structure, we're going over the judge's car before we actually let her get into it," she grinned back. "They frown on marshals letting judges get blown up down there as it costs so much to repaint the walls."
Judge Weir laughed at the two of them. "I can imagine all that plaster and paint must be quite expensive."
"You have no idea, Your Honor," Teyla assured with a twinkle in her eye, enjoying the way the justice's face lit up with her smile. "They dock our pay for it too, so It's either check or eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the month."
"Well, we can't have that," she assured.
"I'll see you tomorrow, okay, Liz?" John stepped back. "Gonna go work on beating a confession out of somebody."
"Good luck with that," the judge responded, grinning wryly. "And have fun."
"Oh," he beamed, "always."
"You know, some day someone's going to overhear us and think we're serious," Weir mused to Teyla, who laughed.
"Well, I've known John long enough that such statements are no longer a surprise," she said, tapping the elevator control again. "Are you ready to go?"
"Oh god yes," the judge exhaled heavily. "There's a cup of tea and a hot bath calling my name and the faster we get to it, the happier I'll be." She rubbed the back of her neck and looked over at her. "I don't suppose you drink tea in that surveillance van of yours?"
"My partner prefers coffee," Teyla responded, leading her into the elevator. "But if it's all right with you, I'll be inside your home. We're not taking any chances with this one, ma'am, the Wraith are "
"The Wraith," Weir finished darkly. "And please, if you're going to be staying in my house, call me Elizabeth. I don't stand on ceremony when I'm out of the robe." She laughed, letting her anger of moments earlier fade. "If I didn't, I think I'd lose my mind." She smiled again, devilment in her eyes and Teyla found herself echoing the very same look. Judge --Elizabeth's moods were certainly infectious. "Besides, if you're going to be staying in my home, there is a very good chance you are going to see me in some rather unflattering situations. Bed-head and titles do not mix."
Teyla smiled lightly, letting the warmth of her amusement settle into her soul. "You do have a point, Elizabeth." The name felt awkward on her tongue though not necessarily unpleasantly so. She was not accustomed to addressing a sitting judge with such familiar terms. It felt absurdly intimate. "Well, I can promise I neither sleepwalk nor do I snore. I must confess, however, that I fall victim to the odd bout of late night snacking. So, please, allow me to contribute to the grocery bill when we go out to make your weekly errands."
A faint shadow of uncertainty passed over Elizabeth's face. "It will be difficult to get used to this," she admitted reluctantly, "I'm a very solitary person by nature. Having someone, many someones, watching my every move will be an adjustment."
"Which is not unexpected," Teyla assured. "Most people have a period of difficulty with it. Security can feel smothering at times, but we'll do our best to keep the team's surveillance as unobtrusive as possible. We do want the Wraith to believe you're unprotected; they're likely to be more arrogant about attacking if they think you have taken no exceptional precautions." It was on the tip of her tongue to point out that the judge should be used to eyes watching her, beautiful women usually had countless gazes following them throughout their day.
The realization of it made her hesitate. "We will do our best to not intrude."
Elizabeth smiled but worry was in her eyes. "I'll adjust. It isn't as if I have any choice but adjust. We're dealing with my life here; I can't afford to be shy when it comes to my personal life."
"Nevertheless," said Teyla, "we will do our best to minimize the discomfort. You're just doing your job and it's unfair that you should be punished for doing it as well as you do." She suspected some of her personal emotions about the case had leaked into her tone when the judge's look became one more of concern. "The last thing we want is the Wraith winning another one," she quickly added. "The service took the attack on Judge Lantean personally."
Elizabeth quirked a smile in response. "Is there any other way to take it?"
Since her college days, Elizabeth had always been a night owl, possessing the enviable ability to stay up all hours and work seemingly unaffected the following day. But still, when she hung her coat up in the entrance way of her brownstone, exhaustion slammed down on her with all the force of a ten ton weight.
Of course, it wasn't every day that one found out one was a target of a major terrorist organization.
"What a day," she exhaled heavily, glancing over her shoulder at the marshal following along behind. "You want coffee?"
"Yes, actually," Teyla smiled back, her whole face lighting up. It was difficult to remember that she was a federal agent when she smiled like that. Any other day, Elizabeth would have almost felt well, the night wouldn't have had the undercurrent of tension that it did.
At least, not this kind of tension.
"Great, I assume you'll want to check the house over?" Scrubbing a hand through her curls, Elizabeth kicked off her shoes and dropped her briefcase heedlessly. She'd fix them later but right now she really just didn't care. "Or have you already had people go through everything?"
"They've been through," Teyla assured her voice betraying her distraction as she took in the main rooms. Elizabeth caught sight of the clinical look in the woman's eye before turning to take care of the alarm system. "Bates checked this place over before we went to look at your car. We thought it would be better to get this part of it out of the way before you came home. It can be distressing to see the teams swarming over your personal belongings."
Elizabeth made face where the other woman couldn't see. "It would be," she affirmed, reminding herself of the reason for the agents' presence. "I suppose I should say thank you," she tried for a laugh, turning to make her way into the kitchen. "It looks like they cleaned up before they left, I'm not this good a housekeeper and the maid isn't due until Thursday the maid." She turned to face Teyla. "What about her?"
"We're checking her out as we speak," Teyla promised. "In fact, we'll be checking out the majority of the people you deal with. It wouldn't be the first time we uncovered Wraith sympathizers," her expression darkened, "and they're usually the last people that anyone would expect it of."
Suppressing a shudder, Elizabeth bee lined for the coffee maker. "I can't quite believe that one," she confessed. "The idea of anyone in my life actively sympathizing with these people it's inhuman."
"It happens," said Teyla with a briskly practical tone. "And we have not even addressed the matter of those the Wraith coerce or intimidate. They have been known to do both to advance their campaigns."
"They're insidious." Elizabeth filled the coffee maker on autopilot, her hands shaking slightly. "I thought was aware of the situation before the trial but, now?" She shook her head. "When Sheppard started laying the evidence out How did the Wraith manage to develop such extensive connections without us becoming aware of it?"
"They lie low for very long periods of time and in those times, they enlist the assistance of others both willing and unwilling," said Teyla with a frown. "It is difficult to track and follow them that way, particularly when some of the people they enlist are agents and other police personnel." People like Michael.
Elizabeth could hear the name in the other woman's words even if she studiously avoided saying it. "I'm sorry," she murmured, turning to face her fully. She didn't have to say it either, Teyla would understand.
"We all are," Teyla sighed. "So many people were deceived " And so many more had died. The ghosts of the dead seemed to fill the empty space between them and Elizabeth's heart ached.
She wanted to address it further but the subject of Michael was dangerous ground on which to tread, both emotionally and judicially. She didn't want to risk straying too close to trial related subjects even if there was no chance that it would ever make it into the court room. Elizabeth didn't doubt her ability to remain impartial, at least as much as any human being could remain so in this situation, but nevertheless she didn't want to draw Teyla into it anymore than she already had been.
Waiting for the coffee, she drummed her fingers on the counter and considered which subject to switch the conversation to. "Now, I have to admit we do have a problem as to where you're going to sleep," she admitted guiltily. "When I bought this place, I had the spare bedroom converted into a library-office and, well, my desk isn't that comfortable for sleeping."
"The couch will be fine," said Teyla graciously. "I probably shouldn't get too comfortable," she smiled, mischief in the action, "just in case someone tries to menace my charge in her sleep."
To Elizabeth's surprise, the comment made her blush and put her at a loss for words.
The perplexing part was the fact she wasn't sure why.
Elizabeth, as it turned out, was an enthusiastic runner.
Teyla was quite sure that Director Caldwell had made no mention of that particular fact in any of the reports she had perused prior to meeting her charge. But yet at an hour which should still be considered night, she found herself tapped on the shoulder by a tracksuit-clad Elizabeth.
For someone who normally did her jogging in the evening as a stress relief, she found it difficult to keep up.
A fact which amused Elizabeth to no end and when a bleary-eyed Teyla stumbled into the office after seeing the judge to her chambers, she found a grinning Ronon Dex waiting for her.
"Do not say it," she warned, taking the coffee he held out.
"Say what?" Her partner echoed innocently. Of course, innocent for Ronon was, well, relative. "I did not say anything though I was working up to good morning." He grinned wider. "I'm on my third cup."
"Which means you should hit human by lunch?" She shot back, swallowing a mouthful of coffee and hissing slightly when it burnt her tongue.
"Ouch," he mock-grimaced. "You a little cranky this morning? What's the matter, not enough sleep?"
"Who jogs that early in the morning?" Teyla asked plaintively. "I could barely see where I was going!"
"Helps to open your eyes," said Ronon dryly, ducking when she smacked at him.
"Do not make the mistake of believing I did not know that you were the agent who checked her jogging route." Teyla warned, giving him an ominous look. "There will be retribution, I can promise you that."
"Yeah, well, cause me excruciating and unbelievable agony later, Sheppard wants to see you," he waved a phone message slip her way. "Pick your brain on the Wraith again. Thought he'd already cleaned that out..."
She hit him again, just because. "So had I."
"I don't know how you manage to find anything in this mess," Teyla commented, letting herself into John Sheppard's office. "It looks like a bomb went off."
He made a face. "Best not be joking about that one."
She rolled her eyes. "We have security sweep it twice a day you know."
"Twice?" John blinked.
"You are an especially troublesome prosecutor," she emptied out a chair and settled into it, grinning at him. "So many people want to kill you; we've considered forming a task force."
"But you didn't?"
"No," Teyla shook her head. "It was Director Caldwell's determination that anyone who met you would simply wish to do you violent harm themselves and that would defeat the purpose of the taskforce."
He mock-glared at her. "That's cruel."
She smiled. "You brought me up here before I'd had my morning coffee," she held it up as evidence, "you brought this on yourself."
John made a face at her. "Just wanted to talk this stuff over with you, you're the unofficial expert about the Wraith here " He left it there but Teyla heard the unspoken words. She was the one who had been the closest to them; she'd been the one they'd tried to recruit and were possibly still interested in recruiting. "I want to track them down and do violence, I call Ronon. I want to get into their heads, I call you. After all, he's great with cracking heads but come on; just how much heavy thinking can he do on international cartels potentially involved in the development and tracking of bioweapons."
She sat upright. It wasn't that he said anything new but the undertone which caught her attention. "We have confirmed "
"At least three missing people in Athos County," John affirmed. "No sign of their bodies, no sign of any injuries, no blood, DNA, other sundry bodily fluids, nothing's been found anywhere in the crime scene. The explosions were big but not powerful, they didn't burn hot enough or extensively enough to wipe out evidence. The bomb squad says it's possible that maybe the bodies were destroyed in the fire but it's also possible I'll get up tomorrow morning and find Jessica Biel making my breakfast."
Teyla rolled her eyes but went with the discussion. "You believe that the Wraith are taking people from the scenes of their attacks? For what purpose would they be taken? Ransom is highly unlikely as we have received no demands " Reading in the look on his face, she paled. "Experimentation?"
"Why not?" He shrugged. "If they're cooking something, they're going to need to know how it works on the human body and that means they need people. It makes sense in a twisted sort of way. We've been suspecting they're up to something bigger than just terrorist bombings for a while now, these guys are way too international and " John frowned. "Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I know but I can feel it. They're getting ready for something and the fact they're being this damn cautious about it says it's big."
"It is not for political ideas or any sort of extremist ideology, however," she said thoughtfully. "What I was able to discern from Michael when we were together and he was recruited, it was not anything of that nature. They are arrogant, yes, but that arrogance springs from ego not religious or sociological convictions."
"They're just arrogant sons of bitches," John's lips hinted at a smirk and she nodded. "Not to mention seriously good with commerce. The ATF's got them smuggling all sorts of lovely little toys out of Russia lately and the CIA's been screaming at everybody about possible arms deals with the Iranians, Al Qaeda, all the usual crazies."
Teyla smiled at him, a wry edge on the action. "They are truly living the American dream." The whole matter made her skin crawl, the implications of what the Wraith could be selling to foreign and domestic enemies alike was truly disconcerting. "It's like a Chinese finger trap," she murmured. "The more we pull at it, the more mired down in it we get."
"Speaking of mired down," John swallowed heavily and pushed a file across the desk to her. "I do have some bad news "
The hairs on the back of Teyla's neck rose when she reached for it. "What kind of bad news?"
"We've identified one of the missing and you're not going to like it," he sighed. "The only thing we can be sure of at this point is that she's probably alive, with her kinds of skills, the Wraith wouldn't want to waste her on guinea pig duty."
She had the distinct impression of who it would be before she opened the file. Nevertheless, when she opened it and stared down at the face she had known since childhood, her blood ran cold. "Dear god Charin."
"We know she worked out of a lab in Pegasus General, Carson Beckett's been hounding me all morning, but her house was on the edge of the county. The explosions didn't reach it and the fire hadn't spread that far before we were able to control it there's signs of a struggle in the house. By the look of it, she put up a hell of a fight before they took her." John didn't move from behind his desk and she was grateful for that. The sympathy in his voice was enough. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this but, like I said, they're not going to kill her, Teyla. She knows too much about medicine and virology for them to kill her. In fact," he gestured at the file, "I'm betting the other people they snatched were just bonuses. If our suspicions are right and they are dreaming up some new bioweapon they might be having trouble with it. Charin's the type of person they'd need to fix it. As long as there's a chance she'll give them something useful, that's her life insurance and it'll give O'Neill and his people a chance to find her."
"There are places they may have taken her," Teyla managed to say after some moments of battling her thoughts into something resembling coherence. "We have confirmed a few places, some of them Michael shared the Wraith may not know that he unwittingly betrayed them to us."
"I was hoping there might be some," John passed her a notebook. "We'll be amending the charges to include kidnapping but for now we're keeping the terrorism charges in check. This case is sensational enough, it hits the news what the Wraith were really doing in Athos County, we'll have a nationwide panic on our hands and believe me when I say Governor Landry's not in any mood for another 'chat' with President Hammond. Last time, he damn near got out of it with his neck intact." He grinned. "Not that any of us are particularly concerned with the status of Landry's neck, but the less the Wraith think we know for sure, the better."
She nodded, also unconcerned with how Governor Landry's relations with the President fared.
"Teyla, you think this is going to be a problem for you with protecting the judge "
"No," she brought her gaze up to his, angry at the inference or maybe just angry at the Wraith. "They took Charin, I will not allow them to harm Elizabeth as well. I need to do this; John and I will not allow you, the Wraith, or Director Caldwell to take her from me."
His eyebrows rose with the force of her words, uncharacteristic as it was, but he said nothing, just nodded.
"Is that all that you need?" She inquired with a lift of her brow.
"Yeah, that's pretty much it," said John. "I'm sure O'Neill's people will update you with the search. I made sure they knew to call you with news."
"Thank you," Teyla managed with more of her usual composure before she rose from the chair and left. The door had just closed behind her when she realized she still held the notepad and file in a death grip.
She looked down at both and then passed them to John's secretary, fleeing to the elevator.
Elizabeth emerged from the court room with the nigh undeniable urge to commit homicide. "I am going to kill that mealy-mouthed little " She stopped, closing her eyes and exhaling heavily as Peter held out a hand for her robes.
"Kavanaugh being his usual charming self I take it?"
"And then some," she said wearily, handing over the robes. "I fully expect at some point I will snap and the next trial I attend will be my own."
"Oh there would be no trial for that," Peter assured. "The Mayor, Governor, and President would all be competing for the honor of giving you as many medals as your underfed frame can carry."
She grinned at him. "Underfed?"
"You skipped lunch," he scolded. "You cannot afford to skip lunch, there's not that much of you to start with."
"You sound like my grandmother."
He smirked. "I've been talking to her, she has a quite lovely recipe or two tucked away in that house of hers and heaven knows that you need to eat. If you don't keep your strength up with this trial, you're likely to faint dead away from hunger in the courtroom. Dealing with Kavanaugh on a daily basis if that doesn't sap every reserve you've got, I'll be quite well amazed."
Elizabeth laughed and patted his cheek as she passed. "You're the best mother hen a woman could have, Peter. How is it no one has snapped you up yet?"
"I have high standards and the majority of the human race falls somewhat pitifully short," he smiled briefly. "By the way, Agent Emmagen is in your chambers."
"Is something wrong?"
"She seemed " He waved a hand. "She seems upset about something but, well, I'm not entirely sure that I should ask she's quite an intimidating woman."
Elizabeth grinned. "She's not going to shoot you if you stop to ask what's wrong."
"She won't shoot you," Peter assured. "I've spent several hours being grilled by her and her partner a process I wish never to experience ever again and I can promise you the only person in your life that she trusts with your safety right now is *her*."
The tiny, irrational thrill that raced through Elizabeth was not one she cared to examine too closely. Instead, she smiled, "That is her job I believe suspicion, paranoia, all that."
He hmpfhed and went back to his desk. Elizabeth laughed and knocked lightly on her own door before stepping inside.
Her desk lamp the only illumination in the room, it made it difficult to see the marshal where she was pressed up against the wall. "I am here."
Elizabeth left the lighting situation as it was, crossing the room to stand at the window with her. "Are you all right?"
"No," Teyla smiled faintly, "But I will be. I am sorry for just barging in here but, I needed somewhere to think and we were to meet here anyway "
"Its fine," Elizabeth assured.
She bit her lower lip lightly, debating what to say next before she actually spoke. "I hope I'm not being presumptuous but, may I ask what's bothering you?"
Teyla looked away from the city's horizon to meet her gaze and Elizabeth was surprised to see a faint hint of fear. "I had a briefing with John Sheppard this morning He wanted to tell me the latest news on the Athos bombings."
Elizabeth frowned, thinking quickly on what she had also heard in the court room. John Sheppard's request for leave came to mind immediately and she looked up in shock. "The missing people, the reason that Sheppard wants to file a motion amending the charges you know one of them?" Taking care in how she referred to them, she reached out to rest a hand on Teyla's arm.
"A woman named Charin," said Teyla after a brief shuddering breath. "She has been a friend of mine since I was a very young girl. We always knew her as the doctor who ran a free clinic but, in truth, she is world-renowned for her research in virology " She smiled. "When I asked her why, she said she spent part of her time running the clinic as atonement. It was a way to make up for all the lives that she failed to save in other countries, that perhaps if she saved enough God would call it even. I never truly understood what she meant but "
Elizabeth did. She'd seen the file on Charin. "But she had done work for the government in the past."
"Yes, exactly," Teyla nodded simply, a shuttered look entering her eyes. She stepped back and away and Elizabeth suspected she had unwittingly crossed some sort of invisible line. "This does create a rather unfortunate turn of events for you as well, the trial being postponed as it is."
The return to formality made Elizabeth sigh mentally and nod. "Well, yes, it's not the first time I've had such a situation however." She did her best to smile lightly. "I suppose I'll have time to catch up on my reading, review the transcripts so far, give my fridge the good scrub down it needs..." It wasn't herself Elizabeth was worried about, far from it. "What will you do?"
"My job," Teyla lifted her chin. "You are not out of the woods simply because there's a break in the trial..." She smiled wryly. "Far from it, this may be when they choose to act."
"You would point that out," Elizabeth groaned.
"It is my job," reminded Teyla, this time with a glimmer of something that might be amusement in her eye. "I do believe that you would wish me to do it to the best of my ability."
"Well, I can't argue with that," Elizabeth turned away and walked to her desk, turning on the overhead lighting as well. "However I should warn you, I'll likely pout if I don't get to have a little fun now and then."
Teyla followed, taking a seat before her desk and watching her move. "We'll be sure to schedule some in."
She spoke so casually, Elizabeth couldn't quite even be sure that she was kidding.
Elizabeth wasn't lying when she said she'd dealt with the postponement of a trial before but still, it didn't make any less annoying to wake up with nothing to do. She didn't feel like going for an extra run, didn't feel like getting out of bed, instead she rolled over and covered her head with a pillow.
She lay there for a few minutes before growling in frustration and throwing back the covers. Stomping into the bathroom, she turned on the shower and stripped off her Pegasus Triples' jersey. Waking up grouchy was just the perfect way to start the day really, and before she stepped beneath the water, she turned the radio to the heavy metal channel and turned it up.
Teyla woke with a start, fumbling for her gun at the sound of very loud, and very off-key singing. Charin's file slid to the floor in a mess of papers and she glared at them when her brain identified the sound as Elizabeth's singing.
It was, in Teyla's opinion, a very good thing that she'd chosen to become a judge rather than pursue a musical career. Settling down on the sofa once more, she leaned over enough to gather up the papers and slip them into the file. Elizabeth's choice of music suggested that, perhaps, her mood was not the best and a reminder of the misstep of the day before might not be an appropriate choice of ways to begin the day. She regretted shutting down as she'd done but she also did not regret it at the same time. The situation was such that she barely understood her feelings, articulating them to someone little more than a stranger (no matter what her subconscious had to say on the matter) was beyond her.
Sighing, she stared up at the sloped ceiling of the living room and pushed the cushion into better position beneath her head. "Not the assignment you bargained for is it?" She mused to herself, knowing what Ronon's answer on the matter would be.
She resisted the urge to get up and look out the window. This hour of the morning he was not likely to be on surveillance, it would be Bates or perhaps Ford. It was tradition to give the rookie in their midst the worst of the shifts and Ronon did so appreciate tradition.
Teyla grinned wryly. Ford would have his revenge; he seemed the type to catch on quickly.
Bare feet slapping against hardwood alerted her to Elizabeth's approach and she shifted, rolling onto her side to watch the woman round the corner.
Elizabeth, fresh from the shower, was wrapped tight in a towel and not much else. Teyla blinked, instinctively putting her head down and closing her eyes.
Well, mostly closed.
It was difficult to imagine the woman stalking across the archway that separated living room and kitchen was actually a federal justice. Federal justices didn't look like that in a towel all long legs, glistening skin, and invitations to exploration.
Teyla swallowed hard and tried not to squirm. It was difficult not to. In her opinion, one would have to be dead not to react to Elizabeth Weir in such a condition.
When she opened the refrigerator and bent over in search of food, Teyla bit her lip and told herself she should look away. She needed to look away, this was a judge, and this was the woman under her protection
Which was the absolutely worst choice of words she could have made as a slideshow of images flicked through her mind, each one more explicit than the last.
This was entirely inappropriate for them both and yet, Teyla didn't look away. She continued to watch through half-lowered lids and tried not to picture that excuse for a towel serving as blanket while her mouth acquainted itself with the skin currently peeking out from beneath it.
Now she did squirm slightly, legs rubbing restlessly together with the reaction of her body. The charged atmosphere caused by her rebellious mind brought a rush of moisture between her thighs and Teyla's fingers twitched a little with the wish.
It was not unheard of, she told herself, for thoughts of this nature to occur in a situation like this. It was not uncommon, many agents and their charges were forced to address the problem but many agents were not Teyla Emmagen. She pressed her lips together and willed herself to relax; it did not work no matter how much she wished it to.
This was going to be difficult.
Elizabeth turned away from the refrigerator, letting the door swing shut with careless fingers. The action should not have proved more tantalizing than her unwitting peep show but Teyla muffled a groan and closed her eyes for real. Immediately, the image of Elizabeth's face flush with passion came to her mind's eye and she squirmed again.
Yes, this was going to be very, very difficult.
The sound of Elizabeth starting the coffee maker was her cue to 'wake' but Teyla didn't move. She was not sure she was willing to face Elizabeth looking like that with her body in the state that it was. A state not helped by her happily-overactive imagination's apparent willingness to provide her with fantasies. Elizabeth's safety depended on her and Teyla could not allow herself to become distracted by emotional connections.
After repeatedly reminding herself of this, she risked opening her eyes and found Elizabeth standing over her with two mugs of coffee in hand. "Good morning," the other woman murmured, holding out one of the mugs. "Did you sleep well?"
"No," Teyla took the mug and stood, trying to ignore the way Elizabeth's wet hair curled against her shoulders. "My dreams were fitful."
"Well with things being what they are, I'm not surprised that they were." Elizabeth's voice was neutral but Teyla could see the concern in her eyes. "You had quite the bad day yesterday, it's understandable that it would linger with you overnight." She hesitated before saying, "They'll find her, I'm sure of it."
"Yes," Teyla agreed, sounding more confident than she felt. The mere thought of Charin's abduction made her stomach clench, easily banishing the pleasant thoughts of moments earlier. "Director O'Neill's agents are more than competent; they will not rest until they find her."
"It's personal for them," said Elizabeth. "You're a friend and from what I hear, a good one." She stepped back, cheeks coloring as if she felt she had crossed a line. "Listen, the shower is yours if you would like to use it." She turned away. "I'm not planning to go into the office until later today -- if I go in at all. So, if you want to go in and work on the search I'm sure the security from the teams outside will be enough." Stopping in the door, she turned back and held up her hand. "I promise not to try and go anywhere else."
Teyla shook her head with a smile. "No, what work I can do on the search will be done here. My place is with you, Charin would insist on that." Charin had taught her of things like responsibility and she would not forget those lessons. "It is the best place for me."
She fell into step with Elizabeth and they walked in companionable silence up the stairs and into Elizabeth's bedroom. There they parted company as Teyla stepped into the bathroom and closed the door, hearing the sound of drawers opening and closing as Elizabeth dressed. She listened for a moment then stood there, clutching the coffee and feeling strangely exposed. Surrounded by she was by Elizabeth's personal effects, the woman's presence was stronger here than when Teyla had stood at her side.
This was the one aspect of her job that she had never truly gotten used to; the casual admittance she could expect into the most private aspects of a person's life.
Putting down the mug, she picked up a shirt that rested atop the clothes' basket. It was the one Elizabeth had been wearing yesterday and Teyla let it rest in her hands a moment as the memories of their conversation in Elizabeth's chambers came so easily to mind. It was surprisingly effortless to bring the memory of Elizabeth's hand on her arm, the warmth of her skin pressing through the fabric of her own shirt.
She smiled, her fingers tracing over the material. The memory that the moment was couched in was not a pleasant one, she suspected it would be one of the worst of her life because of the fear for Charin's safety, but that moment...that moment was a lifeline.
The shower smelled of the body wash that Elizabeth favored and Teyla shivered, though she stood beneath the water's hot spray. Her presence, so strong in the rest of the room, was undeniable here and she could almost feel her standing against her back.
Teyla closed her eyes, reaching for the soap, and let her hands drift over her skin with lazy care. In the shower's stall, it was safe to let herself pretend and her hands became Elizabeth's hands. Slick with soap, they slid over her easily and she released a soft gasp when her fingers traced along the curve of a breast, spreading the lather in their wake. One hand pressed against the tiled wall to hold herself upright, in her mind, Elizabeth's mouth was on her neck, kissing and murmuring as those fingers lingered to tug and tease her nipple.
Lowering her head, she felt the fingers slide lower, over the curve of her abdomen to flirt with the curls between her thighs. She could hear Elizabeth's chuckle, playful and wicked, and she shuddered. The sound of Elizabeth's laughter in her ear was dizzying and when wet fingers snuck back between her legs to toy suddenly with her clit, she quickly bit her lip to keep from crying out.
It was too easy to imagine Elizabeth's lips on her shoulder, teeth scoring over the skin, and fingers slide in fast and hard. The right touch here, rubbing there, and Teyla moaned. She leaned against the far wall, freeing up the other hand to return to her breasts and now in her mind's eye Elizabeth was before her. Eyes dark with want, skin slick and hot from the water and so beautiful...
The water pounded down on her body and Teyla pressed her lips together, imagining Elizabeth's sliding over them. Fingers moved again, hit that spot again and she was coming, shaking silently beneath the spray.
When it passed, she rested lazy against the wall, loathe to open her eyes.
She didn't want to find out she was alone when she did.
It had been so long since Elizabeth had been able to have a truly quiet day. Even her weekends were busy, catching up on the things that she couldn't do in the week or that Peter (her salvation some weeks) couldn't do for her. But with the trial postponed, and her docket having been cleared to make room for it, she truly had time to herself and it was wonderful.
While Teyla set up shop in the living room with her laptop and cell phone, Elizabeth retreated to the library with a book. She did cave and make a few phone calls, checking on the search for Teyla's friend and discussing a few other matters with Jack O'Neill. That she couldn't help. Teyla seemed so troubled by Charin's kidnapping and understandably so, if there was anything that Elizabeth thought she could do to help then she was going to do it.
With some time spend exercising judicial muscle to do exactly that, Elizabeth forced herself to relax and pick up one of Rodney's crime novels. He really did have a flare for pulp fiction and, she grinned to herself, his lead character did seem so very familiar.
She really did deserve royalties for all she apparently did for his books.
When it became too dark to read without lamplight it really struck Elizabeth how much time had elapsed and her stomach growled. She laughed and put the book aside, stretching languidly. There was something to be said for spending the day lost in a book.
Getting up, she rubbed the pins and needles out of her legs before leaving the library and walking out into the kitchen. Teyla was opening boxes of take out and smiled guiltily at her as she approached.
"I thought," she hesitated and dropped her gaze to the box, "I thought you might be hungry. You haven't left the library in hours..."
"I'm starving," Elizabeth laughed, nodding. "I got caught up in Rodney's latest book." She grinned. "That's the problem with that man, not only is he immensely arrogant but he's got the intelligence and talent to back it up. Worse still, he knows he does."
"I confess, I have not read his books though John is always complaining about them," Teyla pushed a box toward Elizabeth, handing over chopsticks, blushing inexplicably when their fingers touched. "He believes he is unfairly characterized."
"Oh no," Elizabeth waved the chopsticks for emphasis, "he got John perfect. Worse yet, he's also got me down and I think you and your partner showed up in this one. Ronon is somewhat..."
"Unmistakable?" This time Teyla actually laughed. "He is at that though, and you should not tell him this or I will never live it down, he is the best partner I have ever had. He is a very good man when one gets past his atrocious manners."
"I'll have to take your word for that," Elizabeth left the food to select a bottle of wine from her collection. "There are many traumatized delivery men who would argue otherwise. We order food to distract Ronon now; it's safer for the delivery men. We throw pizza at him; my dinner makes it through unscathed."
"I did wonder where the pizza was coming from," Teyla agreed, turning to slip past Elizabeth as she opened the wine. "Good choice of tactics."
"I thought so," Elizabeth agreed, watching her move to carry the food to the table. "It was either that or face starvation due to all deliverymen refusing to enter the building. Scary guy that Ronon." Teyla nodded but didn't turn away from the table, rearranging things with a peculiar attention to detail. Really, take-out Chinese did not require it. "Teyla?"
She turned, a questioning look on her face. "Yes?"
"Are you all right? You seem a little...off."
Teyla flushed again. "I am fine; it has just been a difficult day in some respects."
Which, of course, it would Elizabeth realized with a sigh. "I take it there's been very little word?"
"No, none." Teyla shook her head. "But you were correct, they are doing everything they can and right now with attention focused on the case, the Wraith dare not make any mistakes. They will not mistreat Charin."
"You're right," Elizabeth assured, bringing the wine to the table. "They can't afford to. If she's half the researcher you say she is, they need that kind of expertise desperately." She caught Teyla's hand in her own and held it tightly for just a moment. "Believe she's all right, Teyla, if there's anything Charin needs you to do right now, it's that."
Teyla looked at their hands then at her, their gazes speaking silently for a moment. Finally, she nodded. "Yes, you're right, Elizabeth." She exhaled. "I must believe."
Elizabeth waited until the food, and half the wine, was gone before broaching the subject again. Gesturing that Teyla leave the empty take out boxes where they sat on the table, she picked up the bottle of wine and relocated their conversation to the floor of the living room beside the sofa. There she refilled their glasses and put the bottle on the coffee table beside them.
"I know this is a difficult topic for you, Teyla," she began hesitantly, "but I swear anything you tell me here will never be repeated outside this house." Elizabeth risked reaching out again, covering Teyla's hand with her own and rubbing her thumb in circles against the warmth of Teyla's skin. "It isn't fair to ask you to carry this on your own, not when I'm here and willing to listen."
"It is difficult to share this," Teyla sighed. "Mostly it's incredibly difficult to admit that I could ever be so stupid, I am a trained agent and a good one." She frowned. "Not so terribly long ago I would have said Michael was incapable of acts as violent as he stands accused. Now, knowing the evidence suggests he masterminded the bombing and Charin's abduction?" She looked deeply weary. "He must have known these people were friends of mine, he did know that Athos County is where I grew up. I cannot believe that the man I believed loved me could betray me in this way. He must have known what this would do to me when he planned the attack and he did it anyway."
Familiar anger put a slight quake in her voice that Elizabeth recognized well. "People can surprise you sometimes and not always pleasantly," she smiled wryly. "My ex-husband certainly never betrayed me to the extent that Michael has betrayed you but he did manage to hurt me quite a bit anyway. I think it would have been easier if he had just gone out and had an affair." Simon had never harmed her, never treated her like Michael had Teyla but she understood in a way. Hopefully it would be enough to help.
Her answer came when Teyla's hand moved beneath Elizabeth's, turning to bring their palms together and let their fingers entwine. The solid heat of their joined hands gave them both something to focus on and Elizabeth let her eyes rest on the sight for a minute before looking at Teyla gain.
"If he did not do that, then what is it that he did?" Teyla asked, her voice gentle despite the confusion in her eyes.
"It's more what he didn't do," Elizabeth answered. "And that was to love me. I came home one day and he was just gone. No warning, no hint that he was going to go though he did leave a rather lovely little video message to tell me goodbye." She smiled, feeling the familiar bitterness rise in her heart. "He even cried. I never did understand how he could do it and I don't know that I ever will."
"I do not believe that I will either," said Teyla. "Michael acted as though he loved me beyond anything. He wanted me to leave the Marshals and join him with the Wraith. He said that he wanted us to be the modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Of course I told him no, I couldn't do it. At the time, no one yet truly comprehended what the Wraith were or what they could become. Knowing the things that I do now, I am glad that I said no. I would like to think that I could not have made any other choice."
"You couldn't," Elizabeth assured. "Everyone has the capacity for darkness in them, that's true, but not like that. You don't have that in you."
Teyla smiled, hair spilling forward as she lowered her head briefly. "I wish that I could say that was so," she murmured guiltily. "There was a time that I considered saying yes. Michael can be quite charming when he chooses to be, he made it all sound so wonderful as if we were about to embark on a grand adventure right out of the movies." A soft, wry chuckle escaped her and the forlorn sound made Elizabeth's breath catch. "I nearly agreed and, perhaps, if I had then Charin would be all right."
On impulse, Elizabeth put down her wineglass and reached out to brush Teyla's hair back away from her face. "And maybe you would be sitting at Michael's side now as his codefendant." She near-whispered, a part of her horrified by the very thought.
Teyla stilled, looking at Elizabeth with solemn eyes. She had such beautiful eyes, eyes that a woman could lose herself in. "That would be unfortunate," she agreed.
"Yes, it would be," Elizabeth nodded sagely. "It would be very unfortunate because then I would be sitting here with Ronon and he would be terrible company."
Not expecting the quick joke, Teyla's eyes widened in shock for a moment then she burst into laughter. Elizabeth grinned in satisfaction before she joined in, letting the laughter wash away the stress of the previous few days. It felt almost too good to laugh with Teyla and the two of them leaned against each other, giggling like schoolgirls.
Elizabeth wasn't sure who moved first but she was sure that Teyla's lips were beneath hers and her hands were sliding into Teyla's hair. The kiss was almost chaste at first, a brush of lips against each other but that satisfied neither of them.
Teyla made a greedy noise against Elizabeth's lips and Elizabeth returned the favor, her tongue chasing a drop of wine across Teyla's mouth. Teyla's lips against hers were soft, warm, and when the kiss deepened, Elizabeth found herself pressed up against the couch as eager hands slid up and down her arms. She shivered beneath the touches and when their bodies demanded they still needed to breathe, they parted reluctantly and stared at each other in stunned silence.
Trying to regain some control over her breathing, Elizabeth watched Teyla touch her lips in wonder and reflexively licked her own. She swallowed hard, unable to tear herself away from the look on Teyla's face. If Elizabeth had thought her beautiful before
She coughed around a laugh as the reality set in and they realized. "The wine "
"And the conversation," Teyla agreed shakily with a smile. "It was Most stimulating."
Elizabeth laughed again, hearing the shrill of nerves on the sound. "Yes, that's it precisely," she agreed, knowing neither one of them really believed a word of it. "It was very stimulating indeed." She pushed herself to her feet, despite not wanting to move. "I should, uh, yes," she giggled, "cockroaches will have taken over the kitchen if I don't clean that up."
She fled as Teyla began picking up the glasses and the wine, murmuring about it souring.
When Teyla pulled the blanket over herself on the couch that night she was still thrumming with the after effects of the kiss. Her imagination had failed miserably in simulating the feeling of kissing Elizabeth, utterly and completely failed. The reality was such that she could still barely think; still felt those lips against hers, Elizabeth's hands in her hair.
Imagination could not even begin to properly capture the feeling of it.
She fell asleep with a sigh and the memory of Elizabeth beneath her fresh in her mind.
"Well now," Peter said slyly, grinning at her as Elizabeth walked through the door, "look who's decided to join the land of the living. Back again, Your Honor? I thought you'd forgotten all about us."
"You know, you're the only person who's ever called me that and made it sound like an insult," Elizabeth grinned wryly at him, shaking the rain out of her hair. "Why do I keep you around again?"
"Because I'm the only person who's ever called you that and made it sound like an insult," he responded, as prompt as ever. "It keeps you from becoming entirely too full of yourself like so very many of your fellow justices. You said I'm quite the life saver that way, judges who become too comfortable in their own power, corruption, I'm fairly certain there was something about dying old and alone with half a dozen cats and a Chihuahua named Precious."
She snorted. "I did not say that."
He feigned confusion, which to her looked more like sheer mischief. "Well, that's odd. I could have sworn that's what I heard."
Elizabeth hung up her coat and shook her head. "Some day "
"You'll give me the raise I deserve, the best office in the building, and perhaps a rather nubile young slave girl?"
"You're terrible!" She laughed. "I missed that."
"Hmm, yes, I can see how you would miss my poor pitiful attempts at humor, locked up in that house of yours with only the lovely Ms. Emmagen to keep you company," Peter's look was knowing. "Please, give me some credit." He wagged a finger at her. "I know you too well for that."
"That you do," she grinned. "It was complicated."
He rolled his eyes. "It isn't that terribly complicated, you make dinner, you bring wine, possibly flowers and if you're very, very lucky " She blushed and his eyes widened. "Please tell me there it was a good meal and you at least remembered the flowers?"
"Chinese take out and .no," Elizabeth shook her head. "But, it wasn't that kind of meal anyway."
Peter snorted. "Ah, I see." He dug around in his desk. "Leave it to me then, I'll have everything ready before your meeting is over."
"Are they "
"Yes," he nodded. "I thought it best to at least lock them in there where they can do no one else any harm but I can't promise you the furniture will come out unscathed. You do know how those two get along."
Yes, when it came to Kavanaugh and John, she knew only too well.
Opening the door, Elizabeth was greeted by near-shouting. "GENTLEMEN!" She hollered, feeling as if she needed her robes and the biggest gavel in the building to even hope to control this mess. "Please! Keep your voices down; we are adults here are we not?"
"Jury's still out on him," John sullenly glared at Kavanaugh who scowled back.
"Yes, well, we'll let them deliberate while we attempt to put this mess to rights," Elizabeth sighed, taking her seat and staring the two men down into their respective chairs. "All right then, so am I to assume discovery is going swimmingly and that we can expect to get back to things any day now or should I go home and contemplate weeding my garden?"
"You may want to pick up some seed samples, Your Honor," Kavanaugh grumbled. "Sheppard's making every step of the process a war."
"I've told you, Kavanaugh, Teyla Emmagen's not going to be a surprise witness okay?" John shot back. "I don't need to call the woman to bury your client six feet under. I've got everything I need and then some. She's not on the witness list because I am. Not. Calling. Her. All right?!"
Sitting behind her desk, it was almost easy for Elizabeth to keep herself from reacting at the name. "Mr. Kavanaugh, please tell me that you're not engaged in some sort of witch hunt? While Mr. Sheppard is prone to the odd bout of theatrics in the court room, hiding witnesses from the defense is not something I've seen in his repertoire."
"Well, ma'am there's a first time for everything," Kavanaugh scowled. "Emmagen's been downright impossible to find, her office says she's on assignment, she's never at home "
"Teyla Emmagen is currently indeed on assignment," Elizabeth agreed. "I've spoken with her superior on the matter. As to what assignment that is, you are not privy to the inner workings of the US Marshals Service however, if you'd like to try, I do believe that Director Caldwell is in this morning and I'm sure he would love to explain it to you."
The invocation of Steven's name had precisely the effect she had been going for. Kavanaugh shrunk back into his collar and shook his head viciously. "That's all right; I will take your word on the matter."
"Good, because that is my final word on the matter and I promise you both that should Teyla Emmagen's name come up in court on this same issue? Whichever lawyer happens to be the guilty party will not enjoy what happens next," Elizabeth folded her hands on the desk and resisted glaring at him. "Now, as for the matter of the discovery process itself?"
"We're working on it," John assured around a sigh of frustration. The look on his face suggesting that working on it was code for 'oh god, oh god, make it STOP!' There were days she took great glee in his misery but on this one he had her complete sympathy. "But it's slow going."
"Well it wouldn't be if you'd stop trying to bury me in paperwork and just hand over everything," Kavanaugh snorted. "He's been absolutely impossible on it all, Your Honor. Everything is two steps forward and three steps back."
Elizabeth rubbed her forehead wondering why on earth she'd ever thought postponing the trial was a bad thing. "Gentlemen, if there was ever a situation that could actually put me on my last nerve "
"Your Honor," John straightened up and met her eyes. "I can honestly say the Prosecution is in no way trying to hide anything from the Defense. I've handed over everything I can think of and pretty much everything that I couldn't. At this point, I think the only thing I haven't given him yet is my lunch order."
As well as directions to the seventh circle of hell but Elizabeth was seriously contemplating delivering those herself. "All right, Mr. Sheppard, I'm willing to believe you on this one mostly I'm convinced you know better than to even think of lying to me. As for you, Mr. Kavanaugh, the court is well aware of your perceptions about the trial and the conduct of both the prosecution and myself. While you are certainly entitled to your opinions, as misconceived as they may be, I am warning you again about your attitude. The court has better things to do with its time than entertain spurious motions from a defense attorney with an inferiority complex. Work with Mr. Sheppard and get this done or the only person who will be endangering your client's right to a fair and speedy trial will be you and I'm sure that Mr. Sheppard will be only too happy to tell that to every single appellate judge in the country. Are we quite clear?"
Kavanaugh sighed, looking deflated. "Yes, Your Honor, quite clear."
"Good," she nodded firmly. "Now, I suggest you both get to working on moving this along today, my patience is wearing thin."
Teyla was waiting for Judge Weir in the hall when she emerged from her chambers. Here at the federal building, she was reluctant to think of the woman in any other terms than that. Things were complicated otherwise and she could not have complicated when it came to Elizabeth's life.
"Are you all right?" She wondered, catching sight of the strained look around the judge's eyes.
"Tired," Elizabeth responded with a sigh. "Dealing with the Defense on this one? I'd face the entire appellate court at four o'clock on a Friday afternoon."
"Kavanaugh?" Teyla asked, walking them down the hallway toward the elevator.
"Yes," Elizabeth nodded. "I understand he's been trying to track you down." She smiled and Teyla's stomach flipped. "He's been made to understand that your current whereabouts are considered need to know and, well, he has no reason to really need to know. He's just afraid John's going to put you on the stand to manipulate the jury."
That made Teyla roll her eyes. "John Sheppard does not need to call me to the stand in order to impugn Michael's character before the jury. He manages such by breathing." She didn't try to hold the venom from her voice. It seemed that the relationship with Michael had brought her nothing but misery over the years and now it was bringing more still to people she cared dearly for. "It does no good to wish the past away but there times "
"And in this? Nobody's going to even try to blame you." Elizabeth pulled her hair out from beneath her collar and Teyla caught the scent of the shampoo she favored. "I wish I could do the same for you," her cheeks filled with color when she spoke and Teyla's lips spread in a smile.
She stood on so much dangerous ground where Elizabeth Weir was concerned and that ground grew more perilous by the moment.
"Would you like to pick up dinner before we go home?" She inquired, hitting the button for the ground floor. "I know you said there was dry cleaning you needed, I had one of our men get that for you this afternoon."
"Oh god," Elizabeth blushed. "That was "
"He is a good man, one who can be trusted to be discreet." Teyla assured. "It will be checked before it is returned to your home but, the contents and your privacy will be respected as much as possible."
"Do you really thing someone would put a bomb in my " Elizabeth grinned wryly. "In my clothing?"
"I have heard of stranger methods than that." She had seen people had die by stranger methods than that. "The trick is to find something which security will not be concerned by, something that you will view as innocuous. It grows more difficult as the police become more wary of everything, therefore assassins and other criminals grow more inventive to achieve their goals."
Teyla stepped back against the elevator wall and checked her gun surreptitiously. "Criminals are, at times, incredibly stupid individuals but, unfortunately, not all of them are. Though," she smiled, "it would make my job so much easier it would also make it terribly boring."
"And heaven forbid that ever happen," Elizabeth joked, adjusting her gloves.
"Indeed," Teyla looked amused. "If I get bored, terrible things tend to happen when I try to find something to keep me busy." Given where her thoughts tended to stray since meeting Elizabeth
The look that passed over her companion's face suggested Elizabeth was thinking the same thing. "Well," Elizabeth cleared her throat, "we wouldn't want that to happen now would we?"
Teyla drove; there was no arguing it even when Elizabeth pouted.
"You know, I am capable of driving my own car," the judge reminded with an arched eyebrow.
"Yes I am, you've told me such several times now." Teyla responded patiently as they came to a stop at a red light. "However "
Elizabeth sighed. "If someone should try attacking the car you are imminently more capable of driving like a bat out of hell."
Which were not her precise words but Teyla was willing to take what she could get. "In a manner of speaking, yes," she nodded then chuckled. "This is not the first time I've driven you home and you didn't complain before."
A faintly mischievous grin lit Elizabeth's features. "I've decided that you've gotten off far too easily in this whole deal because I've been entirely too agreeable about it all."
"Ohhh, that's what this is?" said Teyla dryly. "I'm being punished?" She didn't think it would be a good idea to point out that 'getting off easy' had not been a problem for her since the entire assignment had been dropped in her lap.
"Yes, you are," Elizabeth nodded. "It's only fair."
Teyla shook her head and started forward in traffic once more. "You do realize that's terribly irrational?"
"Well, yes, that's the whole point." Elizabeth grinned. "I'm supposed to be irrational about all this aren't I? And until John and Kavanaugh figure out how to play nicely with the discovery process, I am going to be very, very bored and this? Would be me making my own fun."
"By pouting the whole way home," Teyla added, turning the corner onto a side street and casting a glance at the SUV in the rearview mirror. "It is a novel approach, I will give you that."
Elizabeth yawned a little, snuggling down in her seat. "Actually, it probably won't be the whole way home, I may even nap since I'm not allowed to drive."
"A little, I didn't sleep well last night restless. There's also the matter of the hours spent listening to two grown men bicker like five year olds." Elizabeth sighed. "That will sap whatever energy reserves a person has I can promise you."
"I suspect it would," Teyla agreed, still keeping one eye on their possible shadow. "I find both men trying separately; refereeing the two of them would likely have me going for my gun."
That brought a chuckle from the woman beside her. "Believe me, if I'd had one I probably would have. Do you think the Wraith would pay me for it?"
"We can negotiate with them," Teyla said as lightly as she could. "They may be willing to compensate you accordingly I suspect Michael would contribute a large amount to the process. Imagining the hours they've been forced to spend together has provided me untold amounts of amusement."
She glanced over her shoulder this time, confirming that the SUV was still there. It hung farther back in traffic now but it was still subtly following them and she was certain it was not one of the vehicles the Service used.
This was not good.
"You know," Elizabeth mused, "I hadn't considered that really. The hours and hours that Kavanaugh would need to spend prepping him " She grinned and nodded. "I think I love you for telling me that."
Damn it, Elizabeth needed to be not saying such things when Teyla needed to focus. "Hmm, I'll be sure to collect on that later."
"Are you all right?" Elizabeth slow sat up and looked at her. "Teyla?"
Teyla took an unscheduled turn, doubling back, and the SUV followed. "Do you recall my explanation of why I needed to drive?" From the corner of her eye she saw Elizabeth nod. "Well, you are about to get a practical demonstration of it."
Fishing her cell phone out of her jacket, she tossed it into Elizabeth's lap. "Text 911 to Ronon, leave the phone on. They'll need the signal to triangulate."
She didn't look to see the alarm on Elizabeth's face; she knew it was there anyway. The threat that had been so nebulous before was rapidly becoming crystal clear.
There was now a very good chance that she was about to die and Elizabeth's fear was near palpable in the air. As was Teyla's though adrenaline permitted her to channel her own.
"Do not unbuckle your seat," she instructed briskly, "but please lower your seat back. You are too easy a target sitting as you are."
It would've been better if Elizabeth were crouched on the floor but this would have to do.
"Just do it, Elizabeth," Teyla ordered. Her voice was calm, calmer than she felt, but that was what Elizabeth needed from her. "Do exactly what I say right now, no arguments." She frowned when a second car drew her attention and the implications of what was happening became clear.
"Boxing us in " she muttered under her breath. There was doubtless a third car waiting to take position, herding them along like errant cattle.
Teyla gritted her teeth and, apologizing to the traffic, jerked the wheel and moved them suddenly out and around the car in front of them. Ducking into the new lane, she glanced back to see the traffic close up behind them, preventing the SUV from following too quickly.
Instead, a black truck moved in behind them. "There you are," she ground out, taking a sudden turn out of traffic into a side street. If she timed it right, they would be able to take a round about root back in the direction of the federal building and meet up with her reinforcements.
The timing, however, was going to be the difficult part. Her new friends weren't going to sit back and let her whisk their target out of reach.
"We're going to be fine, Elizabeth," she assured, telling herself as much as Elizabeth. "The federal building is not far." Once the units mobilized, that distance would be closed fairly quickly.
"Right," Elizabeth agreed. "And the others are coming "
"How good a shot are you?"
"Better than they are." Teyla promised. "I have put far more of them in the morgue than they have me."
Elizabeth laughed weakly. "I should hope so; I don't let dead women drive my car."
"A wise policy," Teyla smiled. "Your insurance rates should be quite respectable then "
"Something tells me that's about to change," Elizabeth sighed, sounding more composed than before. "You're going to scratch the paintjob aren't you?"
"Better the paintjob than you." Teyla took the next corner at near breakneck speed. "But you were saying something about wanting a new one yesterday "
"Yes, well, I didn't think it would be because this one got smashed to hell in a high speed chase."
"It hasn't been," Teyla smirked. "Yet."
"You sound hopeful."
Teyla laughed. "Not entirely, but were I not an adrenaline junkie, this would be a highly inappropriate line of work for me." She checked the rearview mirror again, scowling when she realized their pursuers remained close. "This assignment in particular would be quite ill-suited. You have quite a penchant for life-imperilment, Elizabeth Weir."
Elizabeth's retort was lost in the rapport of a gunshot and the sound of Teyla cursing as the rear window shattered behind them.
"Sorry," she said. "But at least it's not the paint!" Unfortunately the comment lasted as long as it took for the second shot to hit the car itself.
Teyla swerved and winced. "Nevermind."
Elizabeth said nothing, Teyla hadn't expected that she would and when she looked, she saw the white-knuckled grip the judge had on her seatbelt.
This time, Teyla didn't try to assure her they'd be fine. She suspected Elizabeth wouldn't want to hear it.
The third shot hit a rear tire which, obligingly, exploded.
"Give me the phone," Teyla demanded, holding out a hand into which Elizabeth slapped the phone. She hit Ronon's number on speed dial and floored the car. They weren't going to get far with the rim but they were going to get as far as they could.
"Shots fired!" She barked when he answered. "We're coming to you but the car's taken hits."
"How bad?" Ronon asked, his words overlapping hers.
She told him then glanced at Elizabeth. "We may have to ditch the car and take refuge in a building."
"GPS says you're passing through the industrial district," her partner warned. "Not a whole lot of places to hide."
"They're putting up an office complex," Teyla answered. "Should give us enough time for you to get here and box them in."
Ronon's disapproval radiated over the line but all he said was, "You got enough bullets?"
He was silent then grudgingly muttered, "Try not to get your head blown off."
"Try not to get pulled over for speeding again," she snapped back and closed the phone.
Elizabeth Weir was about to die and this was not what she'd had planned. There were supposed to be grandchildren, maybe a dog or a cat, comments about how good she looked for her age.
At no point did she ever remember planning for high speed pursuits and gun battles but, well, she was one for two at the moment and she suspected the gun battle was right around the corner.
Slamming the car to a stop, Teyla didn't give her much chance to contemplate the realities long before hauling her out of the car and pushing her toward the construction site. "Stay in front of me, don't look back, and run like hell!"
Elizabeth didn't need to be told twice; she picked out a destination in the building's framework and bolted for it. She let her long coat fall to the ground as she ran, not wanting her legs getting tangled up while trying to keep her head from being blown off.
She'd never been so scared in her life.
Teyla was right behind her, hand on her back and shoving her forward. "GO!" She yelled and Elizabeth went. The building was welcome sanctuary but neither woman stopped running. The sound of car doors slamming were a reminder that slow was dead.
Elizabeth was heading for the stairwell even before Teyla had the chance to tell her to. Going up was a risk, they could be trapped, but they needed time and the more floors between them and their pursuers meant more time for Ronon and the others to reach them.
She heard Teyla pause for a moment but didn't stop going until she reached the next floor. "What is it?" She managed to gasp out between breaths.
"I recognize two of them." Teyla frowned. "The leaders - one is Michael's goddaughter."
"Ellia?" Elizabeth echoed in shock, picturing the well-mannered young woman who'd been sitting in her courtroom since the proceedings had begun. "She's involved "
"She's always been involved." Teyla admitted with a sigh. "Her parents were involved before Michael. I don't know if he knew what they were working with then, but I'm certain their deaths were at least part of what cemented his decision to join. Ellia's never known any other life, likely she was a strong factor in his recruitment."
"And a little child shall lead them " Elizabeth mused, moving to the stairs and glancing down. The glass panels provided her a perfect view of the Wraith teams advancing up toward them. She froze for a moment looking into Ellia's youthful face, twisted up with hate and determination. The difference was striking and Elizabeth sighed, closing her eyes against the reality of what the Wraith had done to the girl.
"Not in quite the manner to which you refer," Teyla reached for her hand, yanking her away and out of potential sight. "We need to keep moving."
"You said two " Elizabeth thought of the unfamiliar man at Ellia's side, hard and cold. "Who was it with her?" He hadn't appeared to be an underling, his manner anything but.
"We don't know his name but John refers to him as 'Steve'," Teyla answered, not looking back at her as they moved. "We suspect he is a favored assassin among the Wraith. Likely he's been sent along to make sure Ellia succeeds in killing you."
"Charming," Elizabeth said dryly. "The Wraith have a murderer mentor program." The fear was fading now and a clinical voice in her head noted likely due to the onset of shock or, also likely, a second run of adrenaline. "What's their dental program look like?"
Teyla flashed a grin. "The government's considering adopting it, it's really quite lucrative."
"I can imagine." Elizabeth sighed. "Where's security?" She wondered suddenly. "Shouldn't construction like this have security?"
"This is out on the police band," Teyla tried a door. "These are often private security firms, retired cops and the like. They're being paid to protect a building from vandals and thieves. No one said anything about international crime syndicates trying to assassinate a federal judge. Likely they ran when they realized we were moving in their direction."
Of course they had. Not that Elizabeth could blame them. "They could have at least left me a gun."
Teyla snorted. "Which you would do what with? Have you ever held one?"
Elizabeth paused. "Skeet count?"
"Well, at least you'd know which end to point." Teyla muttered, taking them up the next flight of stairs. "That's something." She tried another door and this one opened onto an unfinished floor. "Not much shelter but "
"The farther we go up, the less development and the less cover," Elizabeth finished.
"Yes, precisely," Teyla started trying office doors. Many of them led to nothing but bare concrete flooring and walls. "This is likely as good as we'll get but, it may be good enough. Ronon and the others cannot be far away."
"Right," Elizabeth agreed. Ronon and the others, she suspected, was like Christmas. Always too many sleeps from now. "Do you think, maybe, we can hurry them up?"
"Do you have a roast beef sandwich handy?" Teyla grinned. "I'm told that works wonders with Ronon." She rounded a corner into what looked like it was intended to be a reception area. "Well, this works."
"Behind the desk I take it?" Elizabeth suggested with a dry tone.
"And keep your head down."
When the bullets started flying, Elizabeth didn't think that was going to be something Teyla had to worry about.
"Do you think I have time to revise my will?" She mused.
"Gallows humor?" Teyla countered, smirking and pushing her down behind the desk's counter.
"Something like that," Elizabeth pulled her legs up to her chest and tried to ignore the cold concrete floor beneath her. "Besides, I should put a thank you in there to whoever built this place, putting in massive reception desks like this? I got a whole extra five minutes to live."
"Well, you're not dead yet." Teyla checked her gun again and then leaned around the desk. Listening, Elizabeth suspected, for the sound of approaching footfalls. "Though, if you want " She brandished the weapon and winked at her. "Better me than them?"
"Funny," Elizabeth whispered back when Teyla's expression changed.
It was all the warning she got before gunshots rang out and Teyla thrust her to the floor, pressing a knee into her back to keep her there.
Funny, when she'd first been told about the threats against her life she hadn't pictured it being like this. She'd never even considered the scenario of having a federal agent kneeling on her back, pressing her flat against the floor while she traded shots with the people trying to kill her.
It was terribly anticlimactic.
And that was also not a thought that Elizabeth had ever suspected she would be having in the middle of a genuine gunfight.
"This is ridiculous," she muttered to herself. "I'm about to die and I'm complaining about the view?!"
Though she doubted Teyla could hear her over the gunfire, Elizabeth already had a good idea of just what the other woman would say.
'Why not, you've complained about everything else?'
Elizabeth covered her face with her hand and groaned.
She was going to die and all she could think about was the grin on Teyla's face when she teased her. This was embarrassing, she was supposed to be having profound thoughts about life, love, and
The way Teyla smiled certainly qualified.
The woman in question stopped to reload and Elizabeth twisted to look at her. Teyla met her eyes and smiled briefly but grimly before popping back up to continue returning fire.
Okay, so there were worse things to be thinking about when you were about to die.
"It was the sandwich joke you know," Elizabeth told her later, grinning as the paramedic wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. Perched on the back of a truck as crime scene technicians, officers, and federal agents swarmed around her, with a graze on her chin from the concrete and a scratch on her cheek, she was the most beautiful thing Teyla had ever seen. "And don't argue with me, you know I'm right! Look how quickly he got there after you said it."
Teyla rolled her eyes and perched on the truck beside her. "It was long enough, thank you," she assured. "I kept count of the time that passed far too long if anything." Not to mention the bullets which struck the desk but she wasn't about to tell Elizabeth that one. She was still shaking with adrenaline; she was in no condition to try and explain the truth. She wasn't sure she could ever tell Elizabeth the truth of how close they'd come to dying. It felt surreal when she thought back on it, feeling the practicality that'd ruled her own terror. She hadn't been afraid even though she'd been scared to death and it was difficult to understand and she wasn't sure she could explain it.
She looked down when Elizabeth's hand covered her own, fingers sliding between hers and gripping tight. She stared at their hands, entranced by the sight of them together and then slowly lifted her gaze to meet Elizabeth's. The other woman smiled slow and sweet. "But it passed."
"It did," she agreed and they both turned to watch Ellia and 'Steve' be led by in handcuffs. "And the case against Michael just became that much more concrete." She didn't know what the chances of connecting the attempt on Elizabeth's life back to him but Teyla was sure Sheppard would try. "Fortunately, actual charges on the matter will be someone else's problem," she quipped.
Teyla watched Elizabeth roll her eyes. "God yes, if I had to referee the discovery on this one " She released a heavy sigh. "I think I'd probably shoot them both."
"I believe," Teyla teased, bumping shoulders with her, "you need a hot bath and a nice bottle of wine."
Teyla didn't ask to which Elizabeth was referring but the look in Elizabeth's eyes made her shiver.
"We should get you home," she murmured, letting her gaze drop to Elizabeth's mouth in time to watch her lick her lips.
"Yes," Elizabeth agreed. "I think you should."
When Teyla closed the door behind her, Elizabeth released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Closing her eyes, she listened to the silence of the house and let the feeling of safety enfold her. She knew it was a lie to believe no one could reach her here, there was no such thing as safe only safer, but tonight she wanted to believe the lie. "Safe and sound," she announced to the house and heard Teyla's breath catch.
"Yes," the other woman agreed after a moment, "safe and sound." The naked relief in her words surprised Elizabeth, although it shouldn't have. Teyla had to have been just as scared as she had been, if not more so.
Elizabeth froze when Teyla's fingers curled into the material of her jacket and drew it down over her arms. "Safe and sound," Teyla repeated and Elizabeth wondered just who exactly she was telling.
She didn't move for a second, just stared straight ahead as those fingers slid into her hair and drew it back over her shoulder, combing it into place. Though she knew it was coming, she wasn't ready for it when Teyla's lips touched her neck and she again murmured, "Safe and sound," into Elizabeth's skin.
Reaching back, Elizabeth let her hands rest on Teyla's hips lightly as she blinked slowly. Teyla kept murmuring the words between the kisses that she was littering across Elizabeth's neck. Her body tensed in anticipation before Teyla turned her and pulled her down into another kiss.
The kiss was anything but gentle, surging with life, relief, and determination and Elizabeth stumbled back into the wall with Teyla pressing her flush against it. She brought her own hands up into Teyla's hair, curling tight and pulling her mouth tighter against her own. She gasped when Teyla's hands pushed beneath her shirt, stroking over her heated skin before pushing down into her pants and squeezing her hips.
She wasn't anymore prepared for Teyla breaking the kiss than she had been for it's initiation but she didn't complain when Teyla sank to her knees. Obediently, she stepped out of her pants and underwear when they were removed and she reached for the support of the wall when Teyla's fingertips slid up the insides of her thighs.
A moan of anticipation slipped free just before Teyla's lips pressed against her in a gentle touch. Elizabeth forced her eyes open and looked down to meet Teyla's upward cast gaze.
The look of wonder stopped her short and she reached out to trace shaking fingertips along Teyla's soft cheek. "How did we get here?" She asked with a faint laugh of amazement.
"I'm afraid to ask," Teyla admitted before leaning forward again.
Elizabeth tried to watch; transfixed by the sight of Teyla's head between her legs but when that tongue touched her clit her head fell back and she gasped out a plea. She wasn't sure what she was pleading for, whether it was mercy, more, or both but Teyla didn't seem to listen and Elizabeth moaned when her tongue kept up its steady torture. The adrenaline of the day and the anticipation of this mixed into a potent aphrodisiac and Elizabeth was coming far too quickly and too easily.
When it was over, she slumped against the wall and watched Teyla rise before her, licking her lips with great satisfaction. She reached out languidly and Teyla came to her, kissing her slowly. She was aware of her own taste on Teyla's lips but she barely acknowledged in the search for Teyla.
Stumbling, they moved away from the wall and further into the house, grabbing for each other's clothing and tossing it aside as they went. Somewhere in her thoughts, Elizabeth was laughing as her bra landed on a picture of her parents and Teyla's ended up on the picture of her with Simon that she kept meaning to take down.
She landed on the bed, laughing aloud as Teyla settled atop her with a smug grin on her face. "What's that look for?" She asked, skimming her hands down the expanse of Teyla's bare back.
"You," Teyla kissed her soundly, nipping at her lower lip before pulling away.
"Mmhmm," Teyla slid to the side, draping a leg across Elizabeth's as her hand worked its way up her belly. "I did not expect this when I received the assignment."
"God, I hope not," Elizabeth teased, squirming when Teyla's fingers casually tweaked a nipple. "If you did this with all your assignments, I'd have to worry. Although, if this were a part of the deal, I do imagine people would agree to protection much more easily."
"Would you have?" Teyla asked, leaning over her again for a kiss.
Elizabeth thought about it for a moment and grinned. "I would have said yes in a heartbeat." She rolled them again and rested herself on her elbows, looking down at Teyla's face for a long moment. "I should probably say something incredibly poetic at this moment," she decided, basking in the warmth of Teyla's body against her own.
"I think I forget how to speak," she teased, kissing her. "You have a way with making me confused."
Teyla laughed, squirming beneath her. "As do you, I have been unable to think of much but this for days."
"Oh really?" Elizabeth arched a brow. "Then, I suspect, I have my work cut out for me." She did her best wicked grin before sliding down Teyla's body, lips exploring the curves along the way. "So," she paused on Teyla's stomach, lips skimming the silky softness, "much," she let her fingers run ahead, hearing a gasp when they found wet heat, "work."
She paused, finger lightly stroking Teyla's clit, and lifted her head. "You aren't the only one who's been thinking about this."
Teyla's eyes closed and Elizabeth grinned, pleased with herself at the little whimper which escaped the woman and the knowledge that she had caused it. "Believe me, Teyla," she said quietly, bending her head over the body beneath her again. "I have been thinking about this for a very long time " And now that she had her where she wanted her, Elizabeth was going to take full advantage of that freedom. There was so much she wanted to explore.
She kissed the soft skin of Teyla's inner thigh, lingering for a moment and letting her lips brush against the warmth of her flesh. "So much to explore," she murmured aloud, hearing Teyla's moan of response. "I could be here for a while "
Teyla groaned. "I do not believe I could survive that."
Elizabeth slid a finger inside her, seeking out the elusive ridge of flesh and, finding it, grinned when Teyla cried out. As quickly as she touched it, however, she pulled her finger away and replaced it with two.
Moving them in a steady rhythm, she rose up to press a kiss into Teyla's stomach and wandered her way back down to settle between her legs. Teyla's voice filled the air with soft pleas, cries, and half-finished promises as Elizabeth's mouth closed over her clit, fingers still working in her.
They were alive, Teyla was alive, and hers, the thought sent a flush of warmth through Elizabeth and she smiled against the slick of Teyla's skin. Twisting her fingers just right, she looked up and watched with pride as Teyla came with a loud cry.
Settling into her place behind the bench, Elizabeth kept her face composed as she looked over the packed court room. The tension was thick in the air and she couldn't blame anyone for it. The jury sat to her side, looking resolute, they had their verdict and, save for the formality of announcing it, their job was done.
As she waited for everyone to file in and settle, Elizabeth locked eyes with the woman standing at the back of the room and held back the immediate smile. Teyla's eyes filled with warmth but she gave no other sign of her emotions and Elizabeth knew they had to be running riot. The verdict was about to come down, the decision was about to be revealed, and still there was no word on Charin's location.
She'd spent the night before sitting at Teyla's side, hand held tight, listening as Teyla had made phone call after phone call and spoken with contact after contact. Wherever the Wraith were hiding Charin, they were not sharing the location with anyone but an untraceable few.
Calling the court to order, she looked over at the jury and nodded.
Everyone seemed to hold their breath as the clerk brought the jury's verdict to her. Elizabeth opened the paper and glanced at the results inside, biting down on her cheek to hide her reaction from the room. Normally that was no difficulty but this trial, well, she thought it understandable if she had trouble.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," she began, casting a glance toward prosecution and defense tables, "have you reached a verdict?"
The forewoman rose to her feet and nodded, "Yes, your honor we have "
"Well then, what say you?"
Elizabeth squared her shoulders and listened as the forewoman began to work her way through the list of charges Michael Kenmore stood accused of.
As clearly as she spoke, the forewoman's voice was lost when the courtroom erupted into a cacophony of yells. Some were jubilant, others were enraged.
Elizabeth's sole reaction was to sigh heavily and settle back in her chair. It was over. This part of the whole mess was over and done with, the conviction handed down. Sentencing was another matter that still needed to be dealt with but it was over -- Michael was guilty and headed to prison for a very long time.
Or, perhaps, to a date with the executioner if a deal could not be struck to prevent it. She imagined there would be much negotiation on the matter but Elizabeth wasn't sure she could be bothered to care.
She straightened again and sought Teyla's eyes in the crowd. She stood exactly where she had, untouched by the raging chaos around her. Teyla's eyes now were a battlefield of emotion and Elizabeth pressed her lips together, holding back her own reaction.
They would deal with it later.
For now, she allowed herself a little smile and knew Teyla would understand what it meant.
She risked a look at Michael and froze.
He sat still in his chair, immune to the chaos rioting around him, with his eyes fixed steadily on her face. With no expression, no hint to his emotions, Elizabeth still felt the chill of fear race along her spine.
And then he smiled.
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