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04 September 2007 @ 11:52 pm
Damage Assessment  
Title: Damage Assessment
Author: Angel Leviathan
Disclaimer: The Atlantis characters aren't mine.
Rating: PG
Summary: Elizabeth didn’t want to be seen, outside work. John was surprised they had managed to keep the secret without confirming the rumours this long, especially considering the gossip that always seemed to surround the Apollo Victoria.
Notes: Written for one of the challenge_the prompts.

John returned from a meeting with the BBC early one afternoon in the fifth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy to find her curled on her side in bed, sleeping so lightly that it only took his nudge at the door to her bedroom to wake her.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Tired,” she replied. She yawned and threw back the covers, revealing that she had crawled back to bed fully-clothed. “I’ll never sleep tonight if I sleep all afternoon.” She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. “How did it go?” Elizabeth asked, following John into the living area of the flat.

“Recurring character, etcetera, etcetera…”

“Descriptive,” Elizabeth chirped.

John looked back at her, noticing the dark circles under her eyes. “I won’t bore you with the rest.” He realised that she was, one again, wearing a baggier shirt than normal in an attempt to hide her pregnancy. He hadn’t failed to notice the appearance of several long coats that she now wore around the city, despite the onset of the non-existent, late, British summer.

She frowned and hit the button for the answering machine as she crossed to the kitchen. “I didn’t hear the phone…”

“Must’ve been sleeping deeper earlier.”

“Elizabeth?” Teyla’s voice filled the room. “I just thought I would phone and ask if you wanted to have tea at the Savoy some day this week. We have both been busy and I thought it might be nice to catch up. I am at the theatre at the moment. Call me back when you have the time?”

John laughed and shook his head.

“What?” Elizabeth asked.

“Mental image. I can’t see Ronon enjoying tea at the Savoy.”

She smiled. “I don’t expect he suggested it.”

“Sounds fun.” John coughed and glanced at the ceiling. “I mean, for you. Not really into the delicate china thing myself. You should go. Be seen.”

Her expression darkened and he knew he had said something wrong. She had been trying to keep her pregnancy a secret from the press for as long as possible. Of course, the press had their suspicions. Elizabeth didn’t want to be seen, outside work. John was surprised they had managed to keep the secret without confirming the rumours this long, especially considering the gossip that always seemed to surround the Apollo Victoria. Most of her costumes quite skilfully masked her changing shape. So far, it appeared that, with the lack of information, filming commitments were 'believed' to be the reason for Vala claiming Elizabeth’s role for four months or so. He was amazed that none of the company had accidentally let the actual reason slip.

“You can play all this your way, you know. With the press. Answer their questions and take back control,” he suggested.

“For a little while. There are always going to be two sides to everything for our child. What we tell them and what the media states. Children are difficult, they can be too trusting, they’re too vulnerable. We don’t know which ‘truth’ they’ll ever believe.”

“Neither of us have any idea what’s going to happen, Elizabeth. You can’t expect the worst.”

He couldn’t tell her what he really thought. That the baby seemed to be more hers than his at the moment and that he was very aware that he seemed to have less control over the whole situation than she did. But what was he to expect? She was the one who was pregnant and putting up with everything that it entailed. If she needed to panic occasionally, then John had to let her.

She hung back, pacing along the space between the kitchen level and the living area. “There’s just so much to think about. Money, for one. I don’t want to raise a child who thinks they should have any material possessions they want just because they could. Money does horrible things to people. You know there will come a day when our son or daughter turns round and demands to know why he or she can’t have this, that and the other, because we have the money and they don’t think it’s fair.”

Elizabeth knew she was ranting as she continued, but she just couldn’t stop. It was as if all the worries she had tried to keep locked up were all tumbling free and there wasn’t a thing she could do about it.

“I want them to be normal. I want us to be normal. I want to go to Leicester Square and buy cheap theatre tickets and pretend I don’t have the money. I want to sunbathe in Covent Garden and pretend I don’t care people are staring. I want our child to be able to do whatever they want without the repercussions we face for as long as possible.”

She was babbling. God, she was rambling like an idiot. What on earth had happened to her control?

“And I don’t want to move to a huge house and install dozens of security cameras in a fruitless attempt to keep our lives our own. I know this flat is too small for a child and it’s inevitable that I’ll have to give this place up, but I don’t want to.”

Elizabeth felt as if she were taking a backseat in all that was happening, everything she was saying. She almost felt removed from her body as she unwillingly continued.

“…And most of all I want to do what any new mother wants to do and show off our baby like the proudest mother in the whole damn world. And I won’t be able to. I’ll have to sell interviews and photo shoots to the highest bidders and make sure nobody who isn’t supposed to have seen the baby yet doesn’t see him or her.” She took a couple of deep breaths and tried to steady herself. “I want to tell the press I’m pregnant. I’d like them to be positive about it, but they won’t be. I’d bet good money that they’ll say it signals the end of my career.”

John kept quiet to let her speak. If he tried to interrupt or make reassuring promises he couldn’t keep, she was only likely to become more distressed or just plain furious with him. He studied her as she paced the length of the main room. Though Elizabeth had seemed to suffer few ill-effects during the early weeks of her pregnancy, the strain was now beginning to show. She hadn’t seemed to have gained any weight that wasn’t the baby, and, in the moments he watched her, even the light in her eyes seemed dull. John wondered if she really would fight back if he pushed her now.

No. There would be no dragging her from the stage before she was good and ready. He knew how desperate she was for things to continue as normal for as long as possible. She barely had two weeks left before she quit anyway.

Elizabeth ceased pacing and gazed at him from across the room. “You’re either thinking ‘hormones’ or ‘mountain out of a molehill’.”

John shook his head. “No.”

“Then what?”

“This is my ‘worried’ face.”

“I assume I must look awful, in that case,” Elizabeth declared.

He glanced down at the floor, exhaling. It took longer than he would have liked for him to look back up at her. “Do you-“

“No,” she interrupted, “no I don’t regret going through with this. I want this baby.”

“Then you gotta stop thinking-“

“John, I-“

“No,” he insisted, “you gotta stop thinking about everyone else and the papers and the photographers and do what you want. Or you’re both going to suffer.”

Elizabeth stared past John and out of the window behind him. She had been sensible with regard to the baby’s health so far. She hadn’t pushed herself as much as she usually did. She had taken performances off when she thought she couldn’t play her role as well as she should and when she had been too exhausted to even try. “I can’t just-“

“You don’t need permission, you know. You don’t belong to them. They can’t tell you what to do or judge what kind of mother you’ll be.”

“You can.”

John blinked, confused.

“You can,” she repeated. “Judge me. And you will. When I run off to work and the baby’s screaming and I don’t look back because I can’t.”

“I won’t-“

“They will. Any opportunity they get. One slip and I’m a bad mother and they’ll take such delight in saying so. Repeatedly. And one day, you’ll think it-“


“Don’t you dare lie to me, because you will, and I will.”

He moved from the window to sink down onto the sofa. He didn’t expect her to follow and wasn’t surprised when she remained on the far side of the room. “…Every mother must think they’re a bad mother at some time or another. Judging by the looks my mom’s shot me over the years, I’d say she’s thought it for longer than she should have.” John sighed. “You can’t plan what happens when you have kids. I could turn out to be a lousy father and we could think we do everything wrong and we could still end up with an amazing kid.” It was easier to talk with his back to her. “You gotta stop thinking about mistakes before they happen. You have to pretend nobody’s watching. You want this baby and it’s yours, not theirs.”

Elizabeth shifted uneasily on the spot and closed her eyes.

“Let them take their damn pictures and write their captions and say whatever the hell they want. Look back and know that you were happy, not miserable and hiding away. Stop wearing those big coats,” he swore he felt her flinch at that, as if she thought he hadn’t noticed them, “and answer the press’ questions and say that, yes, you’re pregnant and you’re gonna be the best mother you can be.”

What was she planning to do, anyway? Elizabeth thought. Drag their child away from any cameras whenever they appeared? Tell them to utter the infamous ‘no comment’ when they were old enough to be chased by the press themselves? She was going to give the child a complex if she continued to let on that the media frustrated her as much as it did.

John turned and looked over the back of the couch. “Go have tea at the Savoy with Teyla like she asked and have fun. Go on that girls’ night out that Vala keeps going on and on about.”

Though she wasn’t looking back at him, she nodded, several times. “Hormones. Mountain, molehill,” Elizabeth murmured.

He shook his head. “Thinking. Too much. As always.”

“John, I… It doesn’t go away you know. Just like that.”

John stood. “I know.”

She sighed and stretched, covering her face with one hand.

“You could get away with a lot more than usual in the next few months,” John said. “Nobody will blame you for savaging a reporter here and there.”

“I could get too used to that.”

He advanced across the room towards her. “You could have fun. And I could go around with the biggest grin on my face and have nobody think I’m plotting something.”

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been doing that anyway, if you hadn’t noticed.”

“Well, think of that as the big-grin-mark-one, and the new one I’ll be parading around with will be the big-grin-gonna-be-a-dad-mark-two.” He wrapped his arms around her and felt her smile into his shoulder. Her arms crept round his waist almost shyly, but she soon tightened her grip with an alarming intensity before relaxing. “You know I’ll kick the ass of anyone who says anything,” John stated.

“I think I’m a little bit afraid of that too…” she teased. Elizabeth stepped back and headed for the series of coat-hooks by the door to the flat.

“What’re you doing?” he asked.

“I’m going to go and see Teyla at the Cambridge. I could do with some fresh air.”

“Plenty of that on the Underground,” John said, dryly.

“Don’t be smart.”

“Would I?”

Elizabeth didn’t grace that with a response. She shrugged into one of her long coats, aware of John’s disapproving gaze. She straightened it and did up enough buttons to hide her stomach. She looked up at him, then quickly started on another button.
John narrowed his eyes. “’Liza-“

She ignored him as she claimed her bag from the coffee table and tried a smile as she kissed his cheek when she passed him again. She felt the urge to escape for a while, away from what she had said and what it all meant in the long run.

Elizabeth smiled briefly, but reassuringly, up at him. “Baby steps, John.”

Vicky: [Atlantis] Sparky - Feels so goodvickysg1 on September 5th, 2007 08:54 am (UTC)
Great one! I love Elizabeth's insecurities about the press and everything else. You wrote them really well.
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 6th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Poor Elizabeth, methinks she's having an 'oh god, what have I signed up for?' moment.
Hannah554: sparky 3hannah554 on September 5th, 2007 10:27 am (UTC)
Love John's pep talk and how Elizabeth is having a little bit of a freak out.

Great chapter!
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 6th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
:) See, she freaks out in stages. Even her freaking out moments are somewhat organised. Thanks you! Glad you liked it.
Andy: featherankareeda on September 5th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
I loved the insight in Elizabeth's feeling. Great work, I can't wait for more.
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 6th, 2007 12:42 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it. :) Hopefully there should be more when I'm finished mauling the timeline.
csiAngel: sga joe cutecsiangel on September 6th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
Aww, poor Elizabeth. Her worries are so realistic, and well conveyed, and I love how happy they both are :-) John's 'mark two' smile comment was so cute.
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 9th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth is a tad stressed. Sort of caught between wanting to be happy and worrying that she shouldn't be, I suppose. John will have to keep cheering her up. :)
mgilueager on February 17th, 2013 10:02 am (UTC)
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