Summary: Making a better memory after 2x16: The long goodbye. entry for anuna_81's Kiss-a-thon
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: I ain't got no money, and nobody'd be daft enough to pay me for this. As it is thought, so let it be said; you make the toys, I play with 'em.

AN: hey, I made Sunday! by my timezone anyway... inspired by Ville Valo and Manna - Just For Tonight

"I'm sorry."

"Elizabeth-"

"No! I know it wasn't me. I know you understand that. But.." She'd thought she'd convinced herself of the need for this honesty, and yet.. She looked away from John's worried eyes and in that distance refound her courage. "I hate that the first time we.. kissed-" she had to stop, taking a breath to make up for the one that she still lost whenever she thought of the way her body had come to life, "That it was a power struggle."

John's hand suddenly on her shoulder made her eyes fly up to his, wide as that of prey she'd never seen herself as. By whatever trick of the mutual path their thoughts were on, she could see the same fear-mixed arousal widening his pupils. And only then, with the balance that that realization helped restore, did she really notice just how close he'd come.

He'd always stood close, but he didn't usually touch. Didn't usually have the memory of a stolen kiss stiffening his stance and tensing his eyes.

"'Lizabeth."

She shook her head at the reassurance she could hear offered, "We can't just forget. I don't *want* to forget." She knew they could, that they'd all been through too many altered-mind adventures not to accept and recover friendships. But standing on the balcony and staring out into the dark night earlier, she'd hated the very idea of giving up the memory. Of burying the closest they'd come to intimacy under a veil of shame and regret. She just wasn't sure what she could, or was willing to do about it.

"If you don't want to forget," John's eyes dropped to her lips and her breath caught with the unspoken yearning; she couldn't ask, not after- When his eyes came back to hers, even closer and darker, only a trace of the hesitation and emotional distance she associated with John was left, "We can change the memory..."

Part of him was terrified at the risk he was taking with their friendship, but he couldn't refuse the plea in her eyes. He understood hating the memory of having taken something from someone by force. But he'd been entirely willing to bury the memory of Teyla. If it had been Elizabeth... it would have twisted his very real desires for intimacy.. would have taken every dream and turned it into a nightmare until he couldn't face her. Phebus hadn't *really* taken anything he and Thalen both hadn't been willing to give, deep down, but John knew Elizabeth wouldn't see that; would only have the memory of meaning to steal.

"Yes."

The whisper was close to broken, but it wasn't. Elizabeth wasn't broken; only injured and a little lost. Trying to leash the excitement rising through him, he slowly closed the distance between them, shifting his touch to her lower back and bringing his other hand to rest gently at her nape, hoping he wasn't making a mistake, wasn't taking advantage of a weak moment that she would regret.

Watching her eyes calm and feeling the butterfly-light touch of her hands along his ribs, he very gently urged her to lean her head back and softly touched her parted lips. Any thought to keep it casual rather than intimate disappeared at that first contact. He hadn't imagined that Thalen could have taken so much away from it, would never have thought that the simple touch of moist lips parting and shifting under his could be so instantly intimate. Maybe if Elizabeth had hesitated he could have stopped there and called it a healing memory, but she melted into him with a surprised moan and he couldn't stop himself.

~~~Tonight I'll give myself to you
~~~And our secret stays untold

His tongue slipped between her lips and he pulled her body tight to his. Silky skin that tasted of coffee and something else that he would always remember now, tight breasts pressing into his chest and making his hands twitch to touch and bare and taste, even as he couldn't stand to leave the possession of her mouth. Who was possessing who was immaterial, the need arching between them was mutual as the shuddering pleasure of having tender, sensitive skin stroked and teased.

He still knew this was only a temporary shift in their relationship, wasn't so far gone as to forget who they were, but pulling back took strength he wasn't sure he would find again, his groan of frustration smeared back into her lips when she whimpered and he couldn't resist one last touch before jerking back, panting, their eyes inches apart as their bodies refused to separate.

The woman within her, that she'd spent so many years keeping under controlled wraps, cried out for them not to stop, but Elizabeth couldn't simply give in. Not now that John had given her the chance to think.

But the fact that he knew it, that he was watching her with full knowledge and acceptance, only made the conflict worse. There was no question that their unwilling memories were taken care of, that the passion still grinding their bodies together was all they would ever recall of this misadventure. Any further step would have no excuse or reason other than physical desire. They wanted each other; beyond even the attraction that had always been between them.

And they couldn't. It would destroy them enough already to lose each other, and they already had enough trouble running this city and each other without fighting. Even if the IOA somehow didn't mind, the rest of humanity would. Kavanagh wasn't the only asshole and such a relationship would be used against her and John every instant of their lives. Aside from destroying the feelings between them, it would make commanding harder. And therefore, in some desperate hour, inject that moment's delay that could kill them all.

They couldn't.

And John gently pulled back, his arms still holding her but their bodies reluctantly parting. She smiled apologetically, wishing things were different, but at the same time feeling stronger for the memory between them. The strengthened hope of tomorrow.

He smiled gingerly back, looking at her lips rather than her eyes and speaking in that soft caring tone he sometimes got, "I don't want to let you go."

Blinking a little, Elizabeth found a real grin creasing her lips, "That would make reading my reports a little challenging, colonel."

He mock-groaned at that and shifted his hold, pulling her closer again, starting to shuffle them around to non-existent music, "How about just for tonight?"

~~~~Just for tonight, we'll keep on dancing
~~~~And the city won't tell a soul

Elizabeth willingly followed his slow lead, the light of the room fading at his silent request, leaving only Atlantis shining through the window to outline their dancing forms back and forth across his room. No, she wasn't remotely inclined to end the evening either.

~~~~Just for tonight, the lights are shining
~~~~And our secret stays untold