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14 September 2007 @ 06:51 pm
Contention  
Title: Contention
Author: Angel Leviathan
Disclaimer: The Atlantis characters aren't mine.
Rating: PG-13 (One use of severe language)
Summary: Having taken the broom and hat off Elizabeth, the blonde dropped them and fell awkwardly on her ankle to boot, as she lunged forward to catch her friend. “Somebody get me some help!” Ellie yelled, so loud she feared that her voice would carry beyond the safety curtain. She still made no delay in yelling her second request. “JOHN!”
Notes: Written for one of the challenge_the prompts.


“You know, if we don’t start planning this wedding soon, people are going to think we’re going to be one of those couples that stays engaged for ten years and forgets that they meant to get married.”

“Somehow I don’t think anyone will let us forget to get married,” Carson replied, smiling.

Laura raised her eyebrows. “Certainly not your Mom.” She drummed her fingers impatiently on the kitchen counter, waiting for the kettle to finish boiling.

“I don’t think she’d particularly mind if we ended up at a registry office…”

She snorted and bit down on her lip, trying to hide a smile. “I’ve met your mother all of twice in the past few years and just by those brief meetings, I know that if we jet off to Vegas or go by the registry office route, I’ll forever be the devil woman who wouldn’t let her darling son have the perfect wedding.”

“You make Mum sound like a monster!” he laughed.

“I love your Mom. She’s adorable. But there’s a limit to how loved a daughter-in-law I’ll be if she doesn’t get to plan things and buy an outrageous hat,” Laura replied. She frowned. “Speaking of hats – my step-mom – not a hat person. Maybe I should lie and tell her nobody’s wearing hats.”

“We have no date, no venue and no guest list, love. Right now, really, nobody’s wearing hats! Nobody’s wearing anything.”

Laura smirked. “Nude wedding?”

Carson folded his arms across his chest and tried to look stern.

“Didn’t know you were into that sort of thing. Try breaking that to your mother!”

“I,” he began, “have to go to work.” He claimed his wallet from the nearby table and dropped it into the pocket of the coat he grabbed. “You,” Carson continued, “can spend the evening planning whatever wedding you want, as long as it isn’t a nude wedding.”

“Spoilsport.”

“Drink after the show?”

“I’ll catch you at the stage door.” Laura agreed. She smiled wickedly as he reached the door. “Semi-nude wedding?” she called.

“Not on your life!” was Carson’s response, as the door swung shut behind him.

-

She knew something wasn’t quite right when she noticed her mic had been turned up to compensate for her suddenly failing voice. Blinking to try and clear her vision, Elizabeth attempted to ignore the unease that had settled over her, and continued to hold her last note of the first act.

The stage was free of the company Ensemble, only Ellie and a handful of technicians and stagehands remained when she was lowered back to the ground. The safeties snapped back from around her waist and Elizabeth took a few shaky steps forward.

Her leading lady snatched as many props from her as she could carry, brow furrowed in concern. “Elizabeth?” she asked, not sure of the response she would get.

“I’m okay, I just didn’t take enough deep breaths up there…”

Ellie stopped as Elizabeth reached to steady herself. “Easy there…”

“No…I…I’m okay, I just…”

Having taken the broom and hat off Elizabeth, the blonde dropped them and fell awkwardly on her ankle to boot, as she lunged forward to catch her friend. “Somebody get me some help!” Ellie yelled, so loud she feared that her voice would carry beyond the safety curtain. She still made no delay in yelling her second request. “JOHN!”

-

Laura was sat glancing through a box of paperwork she wasn’t truly concentrating on. Did she want a big wedding? Where she had to be very careful what she said to people she, in all honesty, hardly knew? She supposed it would be no different to her job in that respect. The press would be there in some form. More being careful what she said. And did.

…Was the fairytale wedding worth not enjoying her wedding day at all?

The part of her that still had the sensibilities of a little girl protested the thought that she was even considering anything else. There was a wedding and there was over the top, Laura told herself. She wasn’t even sure she believed in god, though she had always imagined getting married in some kind of church. Perhaps that was the fantasy overruling reality again. There was no way she was going to vow to ‘obey’ when the time came. Own vows, then, as overly demonstrative as it sounded.

The dress was the only thing she was even half-sure about. She wanted a white bridal gown, even if she wasn’t exactly (‘not exactly!’ she heard a voice in the back of her mind mock) what it was supposed to stand for. She wanted to look as stunning as she possibly could for one day, and found that her desire wasn’t to have all eyes on her, but just to see Carson’s reaction. Laura had never been a ‘girly’ girl, rarely wore dresses and skirts and wasn’t sure if she owned anything with even a splash of pink on, but she suddenly needed to know if seeing her in a totally different light would make Carson smile.

It struck her that she didn’t know whether Carson believed in god, her own religious musings aside. She had tended to assume that he did. Maybe he didn’t. He did place an awful lot of his faith in the people around him. But maybe that was just the way he was, not some religious belief telling him to see the good in everyone.

They were frighteningly different, she realised, with a cold shock that ran down her spine. It had never seemed to matter really. But if she was going to spend the rest of her life with him? Laura knew she wasn’t the easiest of people to live with. She was argumentative, made bad jokes, laughed at the wrong moments and leaped before she looked ninety percent of the time. Carson thought about things. Really thought. With an intensity that she had seen hurt him all too often. That wasn’t going to change anytime soon. She wondered if she’d even love him as she did if he didn’t think and didn’t care.

There were probably people who asked him how the hell he put up with her.

Laura checked her watch and stood, snatching her jacket from the back of her chair. She flipped the box of paperwork shut, slung her bag over her shoulder and headed for the door.

It didn’t matter. It really didn’t matter. Only they knew the reasons they were together. Others could only watch. They couldn’t watch all the time.

And hey, at least they were different enough to make sure things never got boring.

Laura slammed and locked the door behind her, smiling.

-

John had been eerily quiet for the duration of his time at the hospital, Elizabeth had noticed. Whatever it meant, it couldn’t be good. She knew the stage manager wouldn’t have been happy about him running out on the show, though, luckily, there had been a swing still present to cover his track. She dreaded to think of the chaos she had caused, though Vala seemed to run surprisingly well on chaos.

The baby was okay. Elizabeth wasn’t feeling so great, but between the shock and worry and the passing out she was sure that anyone else in her situation wouldn’t be feeling so hot either.

From the expression on John’s face, she wondered whether he intended to slowly murder the doctor, nurse or her. He didn’t look impressed. At all. It seemed she had scared him pretty badly. Maybe he had every right to be angry. Maybe not. It wasn’t as if she had done it intentionally.

When the door to her private room swung closed and they were finally left alone, John simply gave her a long, dark, look that just said it all. He began to pace the length of the room.

She looked down and tugged at the sheets of her bed. “John, I’m-“

“Elizabeth. No. That was it. That back there – that was it. Enough. No more.”

Her head snapped back up. “It’s not your decision!”

“You think I don’t know that?” he shot back. “Too damn stubborn to-“

Elizabeth raised her voice. “You’re a fine one to talk!”

“There are limits to-“

“Worked yourself into the ground because you-“

“You know that-“

“Oh, just fuck off and leave me alone!!” she shouted, surprising even herself.

John stopped pacing and stared at her, clearly stunned. They had had more than their fair share of slanging matches over the past couple of years, but she had rarely resorted to abusive language.

Her fists clenched tight in her lap, Elizabeth gazed steadily across at him, no trace of regret on her features. She showed no sign of backing down, until she twitched and hissed, expression twisting into a grimace. “Evidently the baby doesn’t like me shouting at its father,” she muttered, eyes closed and jaw clenched tight.

“You have to relax…”

“I’m relaxed,” she insisted, in deadly low tones. “I’m fine, the baby’s fine, the doctors have told you that. Many pregnant women have fainted before, you know.” Fewer after only just making it through the first act of a show, some inner-voice told her.

“I don’t think you quite understand all this,” John said, gripping the end of her bed. “I’m the one here who has to watch. When you tell me you’re feeling okay, I have no idea whether you’re telling the truth or not! Forgive me for being so concerned when I can’t damn well trust you not to risk both your lives!” he raged.

“I’ve been sensible. I’ve stepped back.”

“Sensible! You passed out a couple of hours ago and weren’t exactly speedy in coming round, you know!”

“It was my last show in-“

“It was damn stupid-“

“I know that! How guilty to you intend to make me feel? It isn’t as if I planned it. One minute I was feeling fine, the next I was on the floor. I didn’t do it for kicks, John!” Elizabeth fumed, despairing that her last words sounded like more of a wail than a proper protest. Hormones! Damnit! She wasn’t going to cry. She was not going to cry, even if it meant finding another reason to yell.

John took a deep breath before he continued, at thankfully a lower volume. “You’ve got to stop now. You’ve done your job. You’re not having an easy time with this, don’t pretend you are.”

“…It’s been difficult, but… I don’t do rest well, you know that.”

“Then I don’t think either of us want you on bed rest for the last few months of this pregnancy.”

She sighed and looked down. “I’m not a fool, John. I know how often you’ve had to talk me down from various irrational states recently. I know you’re having to do it again. It shouldn’t be this way.”

John was silent, as if he couldn’t trust himself to respond without saying something inappropriate.

“…I’m sorry,” she said softly. “Even I’m having trouble keeping up with how I'm behaving lately. This…is all so new and…” Elizabeth looked back up, “you’re right. I’m not having an easy time with it. That’s no excuse though.”

He spoke in a low voice. “You have no idea how much you scared me today.”

“I-“

“No. You don’t.”

They both looked away and at anything but each other.

-

In the early hour of the morning, Laura was on her third drink, yet surprisingly sober.

“So. Any thoughts on the wedding?” Carson asked her, sipping at his second pint.

She twitched her shoulders. “I want to marry you and I want to wear a white gown. That’s all I know.” She smiled slightly. “But, as you said, people do want to see us married, so we can’t rush off and do it in secret.”

“Is that what you’d rather do?”

“Oh, no,” Laura shook her head, “I guess there’s just so much to think about. It’s not as if it’ll all suddenly pull together. It’ll be complicated. I can’t help thinking it’ll be like some kind of show, you know?”

He covered her hand with his. “It doesn’t have to be.”

Her smile broadened. “I don’t know. I spend so much time dealing with the theatre, it might be nice to be the one onstage for a change.”

“Diva,” Carson teased.

“You know it.”

“Maybe we need a wedding planner.”

She wrinkled her nose. “I guess they could run around panicking instead of us. We don’t exactly have the time to deal with a crisis involving pink satin or table cloths or something.”

“Pink satin?” he questioned.

Laura shook her head, gesturing wildly. “I am not wearing pink satin, before you get any ideas.”

“Bridesmaids?”

She fought the urge to bash her head against the tabletop. “Hadn’t even considered them. Oh god, a maid of honour and pageboy and you have to choose a best man! Or best men, I hear that’s getting more common these days…”

Carson nodded. “We need a wedding planner.”

“Definitely.”

-

The journey across the city had been made in silence. Thankfully, John had had the sense to snatch Elizabeth’s bag and clothes from her dressing room before they’d left for the hospital, whilst the stage manager had already reclaimed her costume from them. For an awful moment, Elizabeth had thought everything had been left at the theatre, and, even with the best of security, things had been known to go ‘missing’ from many theatres she’d worked in.

Things could have turned out worse, she told herself, lying in bed and staring in the dark at the far wall across from her. It could have been a lot worse. She might have had to stay in the hospital, she could have lost the… It didn’t bear thinking about.

John really did have every right to be furious with her. He hadn’t spoken a word to her since the hospital.

She shifted to face him, wondering how long he would continue to pretend to sleep. Maybe until she fell asleep? He could have left, she reasoned, he could have gone back to his own place. Was he reassuring her or reassuring himself by staying when he was still so angry?

Elizabeth closed her eyes. She had to sleep. She wouldn’t be onstage the next day, but she still felt she should go and apologise, make sure everything was in its right place. Things would change whilst she was gone. John’s contract ran out in six weeks, as did that of many other members of the company. She wondered if playing a lead role for eight shows a week would mellow Vala at all. Probably not.

She was on the verge of sleep when she felt one of John’s hands fumble to grip hers. Elizabeth opened her eyes, but found his were still closed. The pressure on her fingers increased. She ran her thumb over the back of his hand and closed her eyes again.

She couldn’t help but wonder if they were apologising, and who was apologising to who.

Fin
 
 
 
Vicky: [Atlantis] Lizvickysg1 on September 14th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
Beautiful one.
I really like Laura's brief moment of insecurity. And I was afraid for Elizabeth and the baby. I can totally understand why John was so angry. He was afraid too, and the only way for him to express this fear was to be angry, that is all.
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 15th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
Thank you. As for John - exactly, he had no control over the situation and no really active way to fight his fear. Anger was his only way to pretend he didn't feel so helpless.
Hannah554: sparky 3hannah554 on September 14th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
I think I nearly fell out of my chair when Elizabeth fainted, I really loved the conflict both she and John were going through in this chapter. Laura and Carson were cute too and that last scene was really adorable.

Looking forward to more!
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 15th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
Eeep, sorry. I don't want to cause any falling-from-chair related injuries! ;) I'm glad you liked the fic, thanks.
Andy: blue-sparkyankareeda on September 14th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed this one greatly! :) The ending was really beautiful.
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 15th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed reading! :) Thank you!
rogue equestrian: SGA:: John biting nailselvinborn on September 14th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)
oooh, this one is really good. Especially the last section.
yayness!
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 15th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
Thank you! Seems it was worth the battle with it in the end. :)
Kirsten: Liz - We Go Onxfkirsten on September 15th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
Awwww!! I love watching Elizabeth try to come to terms with her new limitations. That's fascinating! :D
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//timeboundpythia on September 17th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC)
Glad you liked reading! Elizabeth really wants everything to carry on as normal for as long as possible, because she knows everything will change very soon. Normal means fighting the limitations.
csiAngel: sga thoughtcsiangel on September 17th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Awww, gosh that's such a touching moment at the end there.

I like the mix of the storylines here. The drama of the John/Elizabeth story, and the happier Carson/Laura.

And I know I've mentioned it once, but I absolutely love the ending :-)
[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//: lotr Galadrial 2timeboundpythia on September 17th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. :) I thought there'd been a bit of an angst overload recently and someone in the series has to be happy. :)
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[unlimited]//.Colchian Witch.//: lotr Galadrialtimeboundpythia on September 22nd, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
You're probably better off having not read it all. I do tend to ramble. :) I'm glad you've enjoyed reading so far. As for friend adding - if it's this AU you want to keep up with, then I suggest you add the community to your Friends list. If it's any other fic I've written, then add my LJ if you like. :)
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