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04 October 2010 @ 09:18 am
Fic: The Seasons of Water  
Title: The Seasons of Water
Author: miera_c
Summary: Four seasons in the second year of Elizabeth and John's marriage. Set in the wildwest_lantis AU.
Pairings: Elizabeth/John, background Kate/Lorne
Main characters: Elizabeth, John, Ronon, Janet, Kate, Lorne, other
Rating: R
Warnings: some period-appropriate discussion of childbirth risk
Spoilers: de nada
Beta: grav_ity
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. More's the pity.
Author's Notes: I started writing this before the sparktober comm was official, but obviously it was the guidance of providence. ;)



Summer finally arrived not long after the anniversary of the siege. The first spell of truly hot days didn't come until June, and after three days of progressive warmth, John noticed the wind picking up in the afternoon as he and Cameron worked with one of the more stubborn horses at the rebuilt ranch. They both looked to the west and saw dark clouds beginning to gather on the horizon.

Not half an hour later, the clouds were noticeably closer and John could see lightning flashing even from this distance. It was quite the storm building up in the foothills.

They secured the livestock and John barely kept his own horse from bolting as he mounted to ride home. Over the hoof beats he heard the first rumbles of thunder.

The new house was within sight of Atlantis, but down the road and across the creek. It was far enough away to afford some privacy, but close enough to town that Elizabeth walked to her store on most mornings and John had only a short ride out to the ranch. John scanned the road anxiously as he approached, but there was no sign of Elizabeth. The storm, however, was racing toward him at alarming speed. He locked his horse in the barn and went into the house.

"Elizabeth?"

There was no answer. John hurried through the rooms downstairs, closing and latching the shutters as lightning began to flash outside. He had to lunge to keep a small table from overturning as the wind gusted hard enough to snap the curtains.

He kept checking outside as he went through the house and the day darkened ominously. He had just concluded that Elizabeth was staying in town for the duration when he saw a slim figure headed down the road, fighting against the wind.

He bolted out the front door. Elizabeth was at the small bridge over the creek, holding tightly to the railing. As he ran the skies opened up above them and fat raindrops began to fall. Elizabeth grabbed on to him and together they rushed back to the house, but not fast enough to keep from getting soaked as thunder cracked loudly overhead.

Once inside, with the door safely shut, Elizabeth leaned against the wall, her hand over her heart as she panted. She was drenched and her hair had come almost entirely loose in the wind. John didn't even have to say anything, he just looked at her. "I'm sorry," she gasped out. "I thought I would have time to reach home. The storm came up so quickly."

He nodded, crossing the entry hall and kissing her lightly. "I know. Just-"

She touched his cheek. "Be more careful," she finished for him. Then she smiled ruefully, even as more lightning flashed outside. "I remember when that was my line."

John chuckled at that. The wind gusted again, causing the shutters to thump. "I closed everything up," he informed her.

Elizabeth looked down. "Well I don't think the dress is hurt, but we should both get out of our wet things."

He nodded. His own clothes were sopping too, and his trousers were clinging to his legs uncomfortably. They both removed their boots and John went to grab a few towels from the linen cabinet as Elizabeth went upstairs. There were two indoor water pumps in the house, a great luxury, for it meant there was an entire room just for a bathtub on the first floor, behind the kitchen. It made the process of bathing much easier, at least in the warmer weather. During winter the bathwater still had to be heated on the stove, but carrying it a few steps from the kitchen was far less difficult than from an outdoor well.

When he reached the bedroom, Elizabeth was struggling with the buttons of her dress. She heard him come in and said absently, "John, could you help me with this?" She was looking out the window at the wind and the rain still lashing at the trees.

John abruptly forgot the storm and his own uncomfortably wet clothes. Elizabeth had decided to leave off some of her undergarments as a concession to the heat that morning. She'd even joked that being married to him was turning her into a harlot, going out in public without all her garments in order. He'd been thinking about it all day, but the rush of the storm had driven it from his mind temporarily.

He stepped up behind her, licking his lips, and unfastened the button she was having trouble reaching. At the same time, he leaned down and kissed the nape of her neck. He felt her draw in a breath under his hands. His mouth moved lower as he undid another button, then another. Finally the dress was loose enough to remove.

Elizabeth hung the dress over the screen near the fireplace so it would begin to dry. He helped her unfasten her lone petticoat – usually she wore more than one – and then he could see her legs as he stripped off his own shirt and pants. Ordinarily she would also be wearing her long underpants that came down over her knees, but not today, and her stockings were rolled up just above her calves instead of all the way up her leg. Had her skirt somehow gotten caught or even lifted by the wind, there would've been an enormous scandal had anyone seen a glimpse of her bare leg. He knew the silk material was uncomfortable in this hot weather, but most other people wouldn't care about Elizabeth's comfort much.

In the next flash of lightning he could see that her cheeks were red from him staring at her. John moved behind her again to help unlace her corset, brushing a kiss against her shoulder as he did so. His voice was rough with arousal he didn't bother trying to hide. "Did anyone notice?"

Elizabeth shook her head. As the corset came off and she stood there in only her short chemise and the thin underpants she wore to bed, she looked completely wanton. The dim light reflected off her damp skin and her hair was wet and loose over her bare shoulders. It was almost unbearable, knowing she had been walking around all day like this. No one had known but him, of course, but that made it even more exciting.

"I don't think anyone cared to look," Elizabeth said quietly. "I still need a bath, though. I was perspiring quite a bit even without the other layers."

"Or the stockings," he observed, brushing her hair out of the way so he could kiss her neck.

"Or the stockings," she repeated huskily. Her skin was indeed salty against his tongue, and her body was hot in his arms as John pulled her backwards. Elizabeth must have felt his reaction to her state of undress, for she turned around and pulled his head down and kissed him hungrily. They broke apart only when a crack of thunder actually shook the whole house.

It didn't distract them for long. John helped Elizabeth free herself from the remainder of her clothes, his hands and then his lips exploring her bare skin eagerly. Elizabeth tried to reach for his waist but he lifted her up and tossed her onto the bed.

He stripped out of his underclothes as fast as humanly possible and climbed after her. Elizabeth watched him cover her body, her hands reaching for him and running over his skin with an urgency he shared. But he bent down and began to lavish attention on her breasts, ignoring the continued noises of the storm outside in favor of focusing on his wife. She clutched at his shoulders as he laved the stiff peaks with his tongue over and over. Her bare legs wrapped around his waist and she tried to tug him up above her.

John resisted, instead trailing wet kisses over her belly and then lower. Elizabeth made a noise that caused him to glance up. Her gaze, illuminated by the flash of lightning, was knowing, and he grinned, amused that she understood why he was choosing to do this now.

The first time he'd pleasured her this way, Elizabeth had been torn between embarrassment and desire. He'd told her that the only thing that mattered was whether she enjoyed it. There was no propriety between a husband and wife as far as John was concerned, and he'd known when she bit her lip and nodded at him to continue that Elizabeth agreed.

There was another problem, though. As his mouth moved down between her thighs he heard Elizabeth begin to moan. She got extremely vocal when he did this to her, more so than at any other time, though John considered it his husbandly duty to test that theory as much as possible.

Now nobody could possibly hear her, not over the racket outside.

As he kissed her even more intimately she grew louder and louder until she was whimpering and clutching the bed linens in her hands. When his fingers joined his mouth in caressing her body, the pleasure finally overwhelmed her and she cried out his name against the thunder that still echoed outside, rolling loudly over the valley.

John rested for a moment, rubbing his cheek against her leg. The rough stubble on his face scratched the delicate flesh of her thigh and Elizabeth squirmed, giggling.

Again she tried to draw him to her but John rolled onto his back, dragging her with him. His wife shot him another knowing look as she settled herself above him, her hands braced against his chest as she began to move slowly.

John loved to watch Elizabeth riding him like this. He was dying in moments from the slow pace she set but he didn't want it to end either, so he didn't say anything. Instead he touched her, stroking her arms, her back, her hips, teasing her breasts until Elizabeth was panting and moving more urgently. The lightning had lessened but it still flashed brightly enough for him to see her clearly as she rocked against him, eyes shut and her face full of need. He slipped a hand down where they were joined together and she flung her head back, groaning as he brought her to completion yet again.

His own release hit hard as Elizabeth was still shaking above him. She collapsed against his chest with a gasp, both of them shifting restlessly for a minute until their arousal ebbed away.

John could hear the steady pounding of rain on the roof. The edge of the storm had moved off to the east, taking the worst of the thunder and lightning with it, leaving only the rain. The window in the bedroom hadn't been closed all the way, and a breeze blew in, cold enough to raise goose bumps on his sweaty skin. He gently maneuvered Elizabeth onto her side on the bed and drew up a thin blanket to cover them both.

"I still need a bath," she mumbled, burying her face against his chest. "So do you, now. And we need to fix supper."

He kissed the damp curls on the top of her head, grinning. "We have time. I don't think we'll be going out again tonight." A long, rainy evening alone with his wife sounded perfect to him.

*~*~*~*~*

The entire month of August had been brutal – "killing hot" as Janet had said. The weather had been particularly bothersome for Elizabeth this year. John had watched worriedly as her appetite waned and she grew pale, but she was hardly the only one suffering from the effects of the heat wave. He'd been on the point of insisting she see Dr. Beckett when the temperatures had cooled a bit, and Elizabeth seemed to regain some of her normal energy.

This picnic supper had been her idea. Their friends were gathered on blankets in the shade of the willow trees that grew near the bend in the creek as it crossed their property before heading into Atlantis. It had still been warm during the day but a cool breeze blew as the sun went down.

A general cheer had gone up when the Lornes' announced that Kate was expecting another baby. Little Emma had just passed ten months and was crawling around on a blanket, laughing at the silly faces her father made at her and frequently crawling over to Ronon to stare up at him in fascination, to everyone's amusement.

Janet and Ronon sat side by side. Elizabeth had told him that Janet was reluctant to consider marrying again, and John suspected his taciturn former partner was in no hurry to raise the issue. That courtship might end up lasting longer than John's courtship of Elizabeth, which was an alarming thought.

Elizabeth was seated on a blanket with Alec Beckett cuddled in her lap. He was watching everything going on around him with wide eyes. Unlike Emma, who never met a stranger, Alec was more nervous around people. Elizabeth had helped care for him since he was born, though, due to Laura's slow recovery from the difficult birth. Elizabeth was the little boy's favorite person other than his own parents.

Alec let out an unhappy sound. Elizabeth rocked him instinctively, caressing his head with a gentle hand. John stared for a moment, sudden suspicion growing within him. As if she sensed his thoughts, Elizabeth looked up. There was a mix of fear and hope in her eyes. John couldn't believe he hadn't realized what was going on before now.

He wandered off toward the creek, trying to think. He'd been distracted by Elizabeth's illness due to the heat, so he hadn't thought to mark when her courses should have come. He couldn't remember her being indisposed from that since June, not long before their anniversary. Then again, it seemed likely now that it hadn't been the heat alone that had been making her ill.

He could hardly get his head around this. There had been two times, once last winter and once in the spring, when Elizabeth had thought she might be pregnant, only to be disappointed. Since then neither of them had spoken of it. John didn't want to contribute to her unhappiness by bringing the subject up, and he'd realized long ago he'd rather have her safe and with him than risk losing her in childbirth.

He heard soft footsteps in the grass and knew without having to turn that it was Elizabeth approaching him. She stopped beside him as he looked at the reflection of the fading sunlight off the water. The creek was low due to the lack of rain.

"I wasn't sure how to tell you," Elizabeth confessed softly. "I was... afraid to say the words aloud. I know that's silly-"

She stopped when he reached for her hand. "Are you certain?"

"I wasn't, but it's been over two months now. I was going to go to Janet if there were no signs by the end of next week."

John couldn't figure out what to say. He was elated and terrified in equal measure. His knuckles brushed against her cheek and Elizabeth sidled closer to him, squeezing his fingers. "I know, John. I'm as nervous about this as you are." He doubted that but didn't contradict her aloud. "We can take every precaution. I'll be careful, I promise."

He nodded, his arm slipping around her waist on instinct, as if he could keep her safe just by holding her. "I love you," he told her quietly. He didn't say the words aloud all that often, but he figured if there was ever a moment when it should be said, this was it.

Elizabeth leaned in and kissed him, ignoring the presence of so many people not far away. There was a hooting noise that sounded like either Jack or Cameron. Elizabeth's cheeks turned pink and she flashed an annoyed look back at the group of people on the lawn.

John chuckled. "You'd rather not tell them yet, I suspect."

Elizabeth linked her arm with his as they turned back and shook her head. "Not yet. I'd like to have more time to get used to the idea." She didn't say what she was surely thinking, that she wanted to wait until they were sure she really was pregnant and that everything was all right before having to share the news. Elizabeth was a very private person, and John knew she would rather not have the entire town butting into their personal affairs, especially about something that mattered so deeply to her.

He raised her hand to his lips absently. "All right." He glanced toward Atlantis, visible down the road from the house. The sun had just dipped behind the mountains. He thought about the coming fall, about all the preparations that would need to be made for a baby, and tried desperately not to think off all the things that could go wrong.

"John?"

As usual, Elizabeth could read his expression easily. He put his arm around her shoulders. "It's going to be a long winter," he said ruefully.

*~*~*~*~*

In some small corner of his mind, John knew he was being ridiculous. But he wasn't sure how much more he could take.

Everything was fine. Elizabeth had told him, Janet had told him, even Carson had reassured him multiple times over the last six months that Elizabeth and the baby were both fine. When Elizabeth had first started to feel the child moving, John had relaxed a little. But as the weeks wore on and nothing out of the ordinary happened, he was getting perversely more worried.

Something was going to go wrong. He just knew it. The closer they got to Elizabeth's lying in, the more frantic he became. While in the past Elizabeth had found his protective streak endearing, in the weeks since Christmas she'd been growing more and more annoyed with him.

Now Elizabeth was standing with her hands on her hips rather than folded across her chest, largely due to the swelling of her belly and her breasts from the pregnancy. Her glare, however, had not been diminished at all by impending motherhood. "John, you're being silly. It's the middle of the afternoon. I'm perfectly capable of walking to the Lornes' house."

Kate was in labor, and Elizabeth wanted to go to her. John was dangerously close to forbidding it. He bit the words back because he knew that would not be something Elizabeth would forgive. She'd accepted him as her husband, not her master.

Instead he crossed his arms, trying uselessly to come up with a good reason for her not to go. "It's too cold out."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, tying a scarf over her head. "I walked to church this morning when it was even colder."

He jumped on that. "Which is another reason you shouldn't go out again. You've exerted yourself enough for one day."

"The house is closer than the church." Elizabeth picked up her warm wrap, clearly not interested in continuing this conversation.

He rubbed his hand over his face. "You agreed with Janet you would begin your confinement soon," he pointed out.

"I haven't begun it yet," Elizabeth retorted. "I'll have to go to the store this week to sort some things out before I can sequester myself away entirely. Will you try to get in my way then too?"

John muttered under his breath. Peter Grodin was perfectly capable of running the store for a few weeks in Elizabeth's absence. He'd done it before, on much less notice. John was starting to think Elizabeth was just doing these things to make him crazy.

The door opened. Ronon had slipped out onto the porch when John and Elizabeth had begun arguing. Now he poked his head in. John scowled at the amused look on his friend's face. "I can walk Mrs. Sheppard back to town. We should probably get going."

John looked past Ronon, seeing one last option. "It's snowing." He turned triumphantly to his wife. "You can't go out into a storm. Kate would never expect it, you know she wouldn't."

Elizabeth craned her neck and looked around Ronon. She sighed in exasperation. "John."

"What?"

She pointed a mittened hand out the door. "It's barely a flurry. It's not even sticking to the ground."

"So?"

"I think her point is this hardly qualifies as a storm," Ronon said helpfully.

John glared and turned back to Elizabeth. She was in turn glaring at him. She picked up her reticule. "You can stay here and wait or you can walk me to the Lornes, John, but the only way you're keeping me here is by locking me in the house." She shot a look at Ronon. "And somehow I don't think that would work."

Ronon smothered a laugh. John glowered. As annoyed as he was that Elizabeth was going out in this weather, he certainly wasn't letting her go without him and she knew it. "Give me a minute to find my coat and gloves."

"They're by the back door," Elizabeth pointed out calmly, adjusting the fit of one of her mittens.

John dressed, cursing Ronon, Kate Lorne and her baby, stubborn women, the weather and the universe in general.

The afternoon had darkened, and in other circumstances John would've found it almost pretty to be walking towards the lights of town through the soft snow. Now he gripped Elizabeth tightly, nervous about her slipping on the icy road.

Marcus was pacing anxiously in the hall, while Carson sat on the sofa and watched the two children playing on the rug. John wasn't surprised Laura was here already. A low moan from the bedroom caught Elizabeth's attention and she hurried away without more than a nod, leaving John holding her things.

Emma let out a joyful squawk at the sight of Ronon and toddled straight over to him. Carson had to console Alec, who began to cry as his playmate abandoned him. John hung up Elizabeth's wraps and then his own coat and hat.

The wait was not nearly as long as it had been with Emma's birth. It had only just gotten fully dark out when there was a distinct cry from the bedroom. A few minutes later the door opened and Laura beckoned Marcus inside. As John was the only person in the sitting room without a sleeping child in his lap, he followed and hovered near the door.

Kate was lying in the bed, a bundle of blankets in her arms, her face shining through her tiredness. Marcus kissed her and looked down at his new child with awe on his face.

"It's a boy," Elizabeth said quietly, coming to stand with John in the hall. "Evan, after his father and grandfather." John raised his eyebrows and Elizabeth smiled. "Apparently Marcus is his middle name. His father was Evan so his family used his middle name instead."

Elizabeth leaned against him and John's arm wrapped around her, cradling her body against his side. They stood there for a moment, just watching, until Ronon approached with Emma in his arms. She looked sleepy but her eyes went wide as Ronon set her down in her father's lap and she saw her baby brother for the first time.

Laura came to the door, followed by Janet, and everyone slipped away to give the family some privacy. Janet and Laura assured Elizabeth they would take care of the house and with a united front on his side, John didn't have to argue to get Elizabeth to agree it was time to go home.

The snow hadn't stopped, but it was barely a couple of inches deep. It was enough for a person to slip or trip, but he didn't say anything. That didn't stop Elizabeth from shooting him a mischievous look. "No comments on the 'storm' raging outside?"

John rolled his eyes. "Not right now. But if the snow doesn't stop overnight, please at least consider letting me hitch up the wagon to take you to the store tomorrow?"

She rubbed her back absently. "I may take you up on that."

Once they were home he stoked the fire in the kitchen and insisted Elizabeth sit and rest her swollen feet on a footstool while he found something for their supper in the pantry. He cleared the dishes away and washed them, to find Elizabeth almost dozing before the fire when he was done. She stirred as he approached. He knelt down to put her shoes back on, rubbing her feet gently to ensure she was warm enough first.

He looked up to find her watching him silently. He wanted to speak, to explain how he was feeling, but it was too much for words, at least for him. Instead he shifted closer and put his hands on her stomach. The baby wasn't moving, but Elizabeth was so warm, even through the multiple layers of her dress and undergarments. John leaned down and pressed a kiss against her belly. He felt Elizabeth's fingers run through his hair gently and for a long moment he didn't move, focusing on the warmth of her body under his palms, the feel of her hand in his hair and the soft crackle of the fire.

He stood up, leaning down to kiss her gently. Then he picked her up in his arms, drawing a laugh from his wife, but no protests. She was heavier and her body more unwieldy, but he didn't waver as he carefully carried her upstairs to bed.


*~*~*~*~*

"This," Elizabeth gasped out, squeezing his hand until his fingers cramped, "is not what I had in mind."

"I know," he murmured, rubbing small circles against her back as the pain seized her again. He glanced out the window but there was no sign of anyone approaching the house yet. It had been hours since Ronon had gone to try and cross the creek and get Janet, but no one had come.

And outside the rain still fell heavily.

Nearly five straight days of rain, following the heavy snow melt, had effectively cut their house off from town. The creek that passed by Atlantis was usually a docile, pleasant stream. Now it was a torrent, churning and muddy. It had washed out the small bridge that connected the road to the town two days ago.

John had thought the blizzard at the end of February had been the scariest moment of Elizabeth's pregnancy. They'd been snowed in for several days and he'd spent most of his time afraid she would go into early labor while he couldn't get help. His fears had been justified, just four weeks too soon.

The only mercy was that Ronon had come to stay with them after the snow storm, because John didn't want to leave Elizabeth once she was in labor. Ronon had left this morning, after Elizabeth's revelation that she was in labor.

Apparently she'd been having pains all day yesterday, but not regularly enough to be sure it was "really time." John had come as close to smacking his wife on the head as he ever would, probably, at that. Janet had predicted the baby would come last week, for heaven's sake.

Elizabeth cried out as another pain hit her. When it was over, she noticed he was looking out the window. "Anything?"

"Not yet."

She nodded. She had been asking the same question every couple of minutes all afternoon. But this time she let go of his hand. "You need to go down to the kitchen and boil some water. Fetch the towels in the linen closet that I put aside for the baby, and that old blanket. We can use that." Her face contorted. The contractions were speeding up.

He didn't move right away, torn between not wanting to leave her alone and the fact that Elizabeth knew far better than he did what she would need to get through this. He already felt useless, and was trying desperately not to think about what would happen if something went wrong.

"John," she said through gritted teeth.

"All right," he gulped. "I'll be as quick as I can."

He ran downstairs so fast he nearly tripped. He kindled the fire in the stove and set the pot of water to heat. He could hear Elizabeth yelling again and he grabbed a pile of cloths from the closet and hurried back up to the bedroom.

Elizabeth had been walking the length of the room earlier, after her water broke. Then she had him bring in an old wooden chair. She was sitting there now, her feet wide apart and her hands gripping the arms so tightly her skin was white. John was trying not to think too much about why Elizabeth was staying away from the bed for this.

She was wearing an old nightgown. A blanket had been wrapped around her but it had slipped off. He crouched down in front of her, rubbing her legs absently. Her skin was cold but damp from sweat.

Elizabeth bit her lip and he realized she was trying not to cry. His pulse kicked up another notch. "Elizabeth, what's wrong?"

She shook her head. "It's nothing. It's not-" she gulped down a small sob, not meeting his eyes. "I didn't want you to see me like this."

John didn't know what to say. He knew it wasn't considered proper or appropriate for a husband to be there while his wife gave birth, that it was supposed to be the province of women and women only. He certainly wished that this was going more conventionally in that he would be downstairs waiting while Elizabeth had Janet and Laura and Samantha Carter with her through this experience.

He reached up and touched her cheek. "I know. But I'm not sure how I would stand being on the other side of the door, to be honest."

Her lips twitched with a small smile. He didn't dare kiss her, and before he could say anything else something banged downstairs and he heard someone yell, "Elizabeth?" It was Janet's voice, and the sound made his heart swell with enormous relief.

It was one of the few times John could ever remember hearing Elizabeth swear, and she was loud about it at that. She bellowed towards the open bedroom door, "It's about damn time you got here!"

Janet flew into the room. She frantically threw off her dripping wet coat while she dropped her kit on the bed and approached Elizabeth. Jack O'Neill was in the doorway, looking completely soaked.

Janet was examining Elizabeth. John looked to Jack. "What happened?"

"I had to swim across the creek and rig up a line to help Miss Fraiser get across," Jack said. The creek must have been even worse than John had feared if it had taken that long and that much effort to get anyone over it.

And he remembered belatedly that his former partner was not a strong swimmer. "Is Ronon all right?"

Jack nodded, though his face was grim. "He nearly didn't make it across. He got swept off his horse but managed to hang on to the reins and work his way over."

Janet interrupted them. "I need water and – never mind," she stopped when she caught sight of the towels. She began rifling through her bag. "I couldn't bring the bed so we'll have to do this in the chair," she said to Elizabeth.

She didn't answer, too busy fighting through another contraction to speak.

Janet looked at John. "You're going to have to stay and support her."

Elizabeth shot him a look at that but there was nothing for it. Jack went to fetch the hot water from the kitchen while John moved as Janet instructed and settled behind Elizabeth. He did his best to focus on his wife's face and not look down. Janet draped a towel over Elizabeth's lap as well.

It wasn't long before Elizabeth was screaming and the pains were coming almost continuously. Janet barked out instructions and John winced as Elizabeth nearly broke his fingers while she struggled through the labor. John rubbed her back, cradling her as much as he could at this awkward angle, trying to support her body, until she collapsed against him after one last mighty effort. Janet bundled something into a blanket and moved away.

There was a horrible silence. All John could hear were Elizabeth's heavy breaths and the thrumming of rain on the roof.

Elizabeth turned her head towards his chest as the quiet stretched. Her eyes were tightly shut, and she shook her head slowly in denial. He felt her draw in a deep breath, trying to hold back a sob. John threaded his fingers through her messy hair, his throat closing over. He couldn't move. Even after all his fears in the last nine months, he couldn't bring himself to think it had been for nothing.

There was a sharp smacking noise, followed by the most beautiful wail John had ever heard. The baby was crying.

John wasn't sure who was shaking more, Elizabeth or him. Both of them looked towards Janet, who approached and gave them an apologetic look. "I'm sorry. Her mouth was blocked."

"Her?" John asked as Janet stooped to lay the tiny bundle of blankets into Elizabeth's arms. He leaned over her shoulder to see as she tugged the blanket back a little to look at the baby's face.

"You have a strong little girl," Janet said with a smile.

Elizabeth was staring down at the baby, who was still crying unhappily about her rude introduction to the world. Through the tears on her own face, she asked Janet, "You're sure she's all right?" Later John would reflect that Elizabeth had been reassuring him for weeks that things were fine, but the truth was she'd been as worried as he had.

The door opened and Jack peeked in nervously as Janet laughed. "There's certainly nothing wrong with her lungs, is there?"

"I guess not," Elizabeth said. Her voice went up about an octave as she cooed down at the baby, "Hello there, my sweet girl."

The baby began to quiet, making John wonder if she recognized her mother's voice. Elizabeth glanced up at him, and he knew the expression on her face was one he would remember for the rest of his life. She didn't say anything, but he leaned over and kissed her briefly.

The baby let out an unhappy noise. From the doorway, Jack asked, "You have a name picked out?"

Elizabeth looked at John swiftly and nodded. "Anne Evelyn. For her grandmothers."

The baby was moving restlessly, her eyes opening and closing at random. John had seen enough newborns to know that was normal. He reached out and touched her tiny hand. It was warm and her skin was the softest thing he'd ever felt.

He wasn't sure how much time passed while he sat there watching Elizabeth cradle their baby, but finally Janet gently reminded them that Elizabeth should get cleaned up and into bed. Abruptly, John found his arms full.

He settled Anne against his chest gingerly, turning his back to give the other women some privacy. He wanted to spare Elizabeth as much as he could. He couldn't stop staring down at the baby. She was blinking less frequently and seemed to be dozing off, but her arms and legs still moved randomly inside the tightly wrapped blankets. It was a strange sensation.

Janet touched his arm and he looked over and saw that the baby wasn't the only one sleeping. Finally he asked the question that had been hovering in his mind for the last half hour. "Is Elizabeth all right?" he said to Janet.

"She seems to have lost more blood than normal," Janet admitted. "But I've seen that happen in older women before. I'll stay the night to keep an eye on things but the bleeding has already dropped off as it should, so there's no cause for alarm."

Her words didn't really keep John from feeling alarmed, but there was nothing he could do for the moment. Janet patted his back. "Go sit with her and I'll get Jack to help me clean the room and tidy the house."

For once in his life, John did as he was told without comment, settling on the edge of the bed carefully to avoid disturbing Elizabeth. She was solidly asleep, though, and stayed that way for another half an hour. Fortunately she woke just as the baby began to fuss. Janet returned and guided Elizabeth through the process of nursing the baby. Sensing that his wife was slightly uneasy that he was there, John went downstairs.

Jack came in the front door as John returned to the kitchen. "I went to tell Lorne the news. He was waiting on the other side of the creek. They're going to try and build a temporary bridge tomorrow now that the water level has stopped rising."

John just nodded. He leaned against the table. It felt like it should have been the middle of the night, that more than a few hours had passed. Even with months to prepare, the fact that little Anne was there, right upstairs with Elizabeth, was overwhelming.

The world outside their house suddenly seemed more formidable. John had thought loving Elizabeth this much had taught him what it meant to be vulnerable to things you couldn't control, but the tiny baby he'd just been holding brought that to an entirely new level.

His whole world was up in that bedroom now. And there was nothing he wouldn't do to keep the two people inside it safe.

Jack hunted through the cabinets and came up with a bottle of whiskey. Elizabeth tolerated having it in the house but felt it should only be for medicinal use. Jack, however, found two glasses and poured a small amount into each one and then put one of the glasses into John's hand. "Congratulations."

"Thanks," John tossed back the drink, welcoming the burn of the spirits down his throat, reviving him a little.

Jack took the glass, his face understanding, and nudged him. "Go on back upstairs. Janet and I will take care of everything else."

John departed without any further ado, since he could hardly think of anything but Elizabeth and the baby. He needed to move the cradle over closer to the bed, and make sure the stove in the bedroom was well stocked for the night, so they would be warm enough.

He arrived in the bedroom just in time to hear a tiny noise, followed by an small cry. Elizabeth was soothing Anne with gentle pats on the back. She looked at him with amusement. "Apparently she doesn't like to be burped much."

"Of course not," John said, affecting a haughty tone of voice. "My daughter is a lady."

The two women laughed and Janet squeezed his arm. "I'll go help Jack. I imagine neither of you has eaten anything today."

John wasn't especially hungry at the moment, but Elizabeth would need to eat, to keep up her strength.

Janet departed and John kicked off his shoes and settled on the bed alongside his wife. Elizabeth looked exhausted, but she made no move to let go of the baby, who fell asleep in a few minutes. John simply sat and watched until Elizabeth finally glanced up at him. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. "I love you."

Her smile was shadowed with pain and tiredness, but it still made his heart swell. "I love you." She looked down at Anne. "She's so perfect, John."

"I know." He touched the baby's head gently. Underneath the blanket was a swirl of dark hair, and John found himself hoping she would have Elizabeth's pretty green eyes.

Elizabeth grinned. "I think she got your hair. And those are definitely your ears."

He groaned. "Great. I've doomed my daughter to a lifetime of being called an elf."

She raised an eyebrow. "Maybe on Anne they'll be cute?"

John shot her an outraged look at that, but Elizabeth yawned hugely in the middle of laughing. He shifted closer. "Here, let me take her, in case you fall asleep."

They shifted Anne into his arms, and fortunately she didn't wake. Elizabeth leaned against his shoulder and sighed. After a moment, she asked, "Do you hear that?"

John listened. "I don't hear anything."

"Exactly." Elizabeth craned her neck to look up at him, smiling. "It stopped raining."

Mindful of the child sleeping in his arms, John leaned down and kissed her.


 
 
 
I'm not weird, I'm limited edition: at the beginning with youanuna_81 on October 4th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
*content sigh* That was so lovely, and just what I needed today. I can imagine John being nervous and protective, and Elizabeth being annoyed by him. Yay for a little girl! I love that he was there for the birth, even though it wasn't usual or even appropriate for that time - period.

Thank you for sharing!
he is terrible, face-wise: blue eyesleanstein on October 4th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
This was great! Your attention to detail is truly amazing. I loved it to bits. The ending was perfect, and you truly conveyed the joy John and Elizabeth felt with having a baby.

Thank you so much.
Aly: {SGA} John/Elizabeth back in the real wotenacious_err on October 5th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
Oh, I love this. I'm glad to see something from this AU again, and I love daddy@!John. :)
Little Red: xf - scully baby - carolinamylittleredgirl on October 5th, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!

I've been out of touch with this AU for a very, very long time. SO SWEET! <3 <3 <3 Porn and love and babies, what else could anyone possibly need??
Vicky: [Atlantis] Joe/Torri - Friendship is a gvickysg1 on October 5th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
*sighs* I loved this. This is really perfect. And I'm glad that John was here, even though he shouldn't have been. And yay the baby girl! :D
world_of_blade: Happyworld_of_blade on October 5th, 2010 10:14 am (UTC)
I've missed this verse. *sigh* Everything was so beautiful. I love the whole "Marcus is really Evan" thing- and I LOVE that Jack saved the day by swimming across the river and rigging up a way for Janet to get there.

Yay! Sparky!Babies. :)

Great story.
gravity.not.includedgrav_ity on October 5th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
THIS FIC! I wish I could remember all the things I said before, but it's been a bit of craziness since then and suffice to say: I LOVE IT TO PIECES. ;)
peanutbutterer: Squeepeanutbutterer on October 7th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
John + baby = CUTEST THING EVAH. And then you go and make him a cowboy and the baby his adorable little girl and my mind explodes.
Andy: yellow_heartankareeda on November 15th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
That was absolutely perfect! ♥ Wonderful story, beautifully written!

Mindful of the child sleeping in his arms, John leaned down and kissed her.

Awwwww, this is melting my heart. ♥