A.N.1: Hello all! Long time no see! This is just a small ficlet inspired once again by a prompt from the marvelous Gateworld Sparkies. This one was 'tree swing'. Enjoy! :)
Elizabeth breathed in the evening air with relish, the atmosphere delightfully cool after the stuffy yet comforting warmth inside the house. The sky that swept over the silhouetted treetops was turning a dusky violet streaked with slate blue, the sunlight waning but not yet completely gone. Several streets over, the muffled hissing and roaring of passing cars filtered into the quiet residential neighborhood. It was familiar noise – background noise - that had always been easy to tune out; Elizabeth realized that in all her years living in this house she had never really noticed it. Now it was strange though… the sound felt out of place to her. The gentle murmur of a rippling ocean had taken the traffic's place in the back of her mind.
She stepped off of the brick pathway that curved around the front and sides of the two story brick house and walked into the spacious backyard where shadows were beginning to gather underneath the bushes. She stuck her hands in the pockets of her brown jacket, a slow smile spreading across her face when she saw the object hanging from the largest tree in the yard. A wide wooden board, worn smooth with years of use, suspended by two long thick ropes. Elizabeth stepped leisurely over to the swing and lightly gripped the coarse rope closest to her. Memories poured over her - warm, happy memories, of sun baked summers and after-school autumns spent catapulting into piles of freshly fallen leaves.
She lowered herself into the swing and loosely took hold of both ropes, pushing against the ground with the heels of her boots to set herself gently swinging. The old motion was familiar and soothing; it had been many a year since she had last sat on a swing – it felt like several lifetimes ago in fact. Back and forth, back and forth… she became so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't see or hear the figure that approached her from the house.
"Having fun?" asked John.
Surprised, Elizabeth dug her feet into the grass, the swing jerking to a stop. When she saw him she let out a breath and laughed. "You should learn to make more noise when you walk."
"Well, stealth does kind of come in handy when you're in my profession," he smirked.
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow and nodded her head to the side in response. "No arguing with that."
They smiled at each other for a moment and John moved closer, slouching charmingly, hands in his pockets in his usual relaxed posture. "Your mom was wondering where you'd wondered off too. She's started making another pot of coffee."
Elizabeth smiled. "It's a nervous habit; she's done that for as long as I can remember." She twisted her hands around the rough ropes of the swings, the smile fading somewhat. "I don't think she wants to let me out of her sight for more than five minutes at a time."
"I don't blame her," said John. "If the only time I got to see you was for one week every year I'd be a little clingy too." At Elizabeth's arched eyebrow and quirked mouth, he quickly tried to backtrack. "Well, no, I just mean I would… I don't…"
She decided to take pity on him. "It's okay," she said with a small smirk. She slowly began to swing again, feet skimming over the grass. Nothing was said for several minutes; the sky grew steadily darker above them, the now black leaves rustling in the slight breeze.
"My dad built me this when I was six," said Elizabeth quietly, fondness in her voice, watching the ground before her as her shadow lengthened and shrank. "I used to spend hours out here when I was a kid; you couldn't ever get me to come inside." A smile spread across her face and she looked up at John. "I used to dream of being an astronaut you know." She gave an embarrassed laugh. "Seems a little ironic now."
He grinned like a five year old, surprise lighting up his features. "You? An astronaut?"
"Uh-huh," she nodded, letting the swing's ropes bear her weight as she leaned back. "I'd sit here and swing as high as I possibly could, pretending I was flying through the stars." She met his eyes and smiled, knowing he would probably appreciate the childhood fantasy. It was odd really how comfortable she felt sharing those memories with him; she had never admitted that to anyone else before.
The delighted grin hadn't left his face; he was looking at her like he'd never seen her before.
She glanced away from him, feeling a light blush creeping up on her. "So," she teased, "did a young John Sheppard sit on a swing like this one in his backyard and dream about being a pilot?"
"Nah," he said. She lifted an eyebrow, surprised, but then he shrugged. "I was more of a tire-swing guy myself."
Their soft laughter filled the evening air. After a minute Elizabeth slowed the swing to a stop and rested the side of her head against a rough and somewhat frayed support rope, gaze falling on the house where she'd grown up. Lights shone from within, turning the windows into golden rectangles, safe and warm and welcoming. Inside she knew her mother was bustling around, getting out three mugs for coffee and probably wondering where her daughter and her handsome friend had gotten to. A small smile lifted one corner of Elizabeth's mouth as she replayed the appreciative look and teasing raised eyebrow her mother had shot her when she had brought John to the front door. She'd missed her so much…
"Come on," said John quietly. Elizabeth raised her head to look up at him. He swiftly touched a hand to her shoulder and jerked his head towards the house. "Can't let your mom drink all that coffee by herself."
Elizabeth let out a small laugh. "Yeah, that would be a sight." Their eyes met for a long moment, both smiling. "Thank you for coming with me, John."
His hazel eyes were soft as he looked down at her. "Anytime."
The light was almost completely gone now; it was getting difficult to see. Suddenly a rectangle of light appeared in the wall of the house, outlining the figure that stood in the doorway.
"Hey, you two!" called Mrs. Weir, "John Sheppard, I don't get to see my daughter nearly often enough for you to keep her out here all night."
The door closed, the spill of golden light that had fallen across the path and lawn disappearing. Elizabeth laughed and rose from the swing. "I think she likes you, you know."
"You think so?"
"After years of being a career diplomat you learn to spot these kinds of things."
John just smiled and the two of them began walking towards the house in the newly arrived night, close enough that their shoulders occasionally brushed. Inside the house a dog barked and Mrs. Weir's voice could be heard scolding, "No, Sedge, you can't have any coffee!"
John met Elizabeth's eyes and grinned. "Yeah, I wouldn't have missed this for the world."
A.N.2: Thanks so much for reading! I love reviews, so please take the time to drop me a line and tell me what you thought; I really appreciate it. :)