Fic: Just a Game
Characters: Sheppard/Weir, hints of Janet/Daniel, Jack, Sam, Teal'c, Jonas
Summary: Elizabeth goes to a football game.
Notes: Part 1 is set before Dot Com, part 2 is set after. I started this in May 2006. This year I've been trying to finish unfinished fics sitting around on my hard drive. This one was not only fairly finished, but reminded me how fun this universe is. I thought I may as well post it here for completeness. It's beta'ed by myself, five years later, and American-picked by hhertzof.
Elizabeth couldn't help but smile when she spotted John leaning against his car, waiting for her. After he'd spent days pestering her, she had eventually given in and agreed to go to one of Langford's football games with him. It wasn't that she didn't support the team, she just wasn't particularly keen on football and was happy to just read the results in the school paper. John, of course, was an ardent fan. When she had asked him if this weekend's game was important he had told her in a slightly shocked tone, that they were all important.
So, in retrospect, it should not have come as a big surprise to see him dressed nearly entirely in burgundy and gold, including a Langford sweatshirt and Langford scarf. She was tempted to find out what color his socks were or ask him if he had the Langford boxers on.
Elizabeth, by contrast, had just dug out her Langford t-shirt from the back of her closet. She'd bought it on a whim one day, not long after she started working there, and never really had occasion to wear it since. However, it wasn't warm enough to wear on its own, so the effect was somewhat lost when she put a jacket over it.
"Hey," he greeted her, standing up as she approached. "Don't you at least have something in school colors?"
She sighed. "Just this t-shirt." Since she hadn't yet zipped her jacket up, she opened it to show him.
There was an expression on his face for a minute that she couldn't quite decipher, but then he pulled off his scarf and wrapped it around her. She shivered when his cold hands brushed her neck. He stepped back and smiled at the effect. "That's better. And it will keep you warm too."
"Thank you," she said, resisting the temptation to ask John what laundry detergent he used, because his scarf smelled wonderful.
"Come on." He turned in the direction of the football field. "I'll buy you a hot chocolate."
She followed him. "You're just trying to get me to take my coat off, aren't you?"
He turned to smirk at her. "It's not as if you're not wearing anything under it."
"Why do all men have one-track minds?" She asked rhetorically, but smiled back anyway.
"Two," he said, calling out to her as she trailed behind him, "don't forget football!"
She rolled her eyes. He was saved from her reply, though, because he was busy buying them a hot chocolate each and stopping to have a conversation about the game with the guy selling it. Elizabeth stood off to one side, cradling her hot chocolate and looked around. There weren't that many people about and none of them wanted hot drinks yet. When John had told her what time to meet him she thought it was early, but given that he knew more about the subject than she did, she assumed she'd got the kick-off time wrong. But perhaps not.
"Why are we so early?" she asked him, when other people came looking for drinks and he was forced to tear himself away.
"So we can get the best seats." His tone of voice suggested this was obvious.
She couldn't complain about that because she'd done the same thing herself in the past, just not for football. As she sipped her drink, she let him lead them up into the stands to where he assured her was the best place to sit, although she couldn't tell why it was an improvement over most of the other seats. Once there they found Jack and Teal'c had beat them to it. They were both in Langford colors, although Jack's consisted of the baseball team's cap and jersey, which Elizabeth had to stifle a laugh at.
They exchanged greetings and Elizabeth slid in next to Jack, with John on the other side of her.
"I didn't think you were that keen on football," she said to Jack.
"Hockey is better," he confirmed, "but Teal'c's a fan and I support the team."
"I hear the new quarterback is worth watching," Teal'c put in and before she knew it he and John had launched into a discussion over her and Jack about the merits of the members of the team.
"I didn't know you liked football," Jack said to her, also tuning out the other's football conversation.
"I don't. But I was persuaded to come. And I support the team too," she added.
Jack raised an eyebrow. "So the rumors are true."
She sighed. "Not you, too."
Jack just grinned at her and Elizabeth shook her head, refusing to answer.
Luckily for her, the smell of hot dogs intruded and she started to feel hungry, even though she had eaten before she left the house. The owner of the hot dog was a good few paces behind the scent and revealed himself to be Jonas, with Daniel in tow.
"Hey, guys," Daniel said, and another round of greetings were exchanged, except for Jonas who had his mouth full. His food disappeared quickly enough, though, and he sat down next to John, who had moved on to debate the merits of the opposing team. Today they were up against the Wraith. Daniel sat behind Jack, and he and Elizabeth turned round to talk to him.
Not that they had a chance to say much before Sam and Janet arrived. If Elizabeth didn't have a good sense of self-preservation she might have accused Janet of stalking Daniel - Elizabeth was sure her appearance so soon after Daniel's arrival was unlikely to be a coincidence. So she was unsurprised to watch Janet make a beeline for Daniel and sit next to him, although Sam was happy enough to join in the football talk. Despite being at the other end of the group, Teal'c had no problem making himself heard.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Jonas's pants leg had moved up and exposed a strip of what looked suspiciously like a dark yellow sock. Not quite able to believe what she was seeing, and the possibility of what she was not, despite what she had thought about John's clothes earlier, she interrupted their conversation. "Jonas, please tell me your other sock isn't dark red."
Jonas flashed her a grin and a leg, and revealed that it was exactly as bad as she suspected.
John leaned over to whisper in her ear, "I've got the school boxer shorts on."
She ignored the way his breath tickled her skin. "Why does that not surprise me?" she said in a low voice. "But how can they show how big a fan you are if no one can see them?"
"All you had to do was ask." He caught hold of the waistband of his pants on the side nearest to her.
"John!" she said, shocked, and grabbed his hand before he could do anything, not quite believing that he was willing to reveal his underwear in the football stadium.
There was the sound of giggling behind them, which stopped immediately when Elizabeth turned round. "I know exactly why you're here, Janet Fraiser," she said, to divert Janet's suspicions about what she thought she'd seen.
"And why would that be?" Janet asked, in an innocent tone.
Elizabeth noticed that not only were Sam and Janet staring at her - Sam looking interested, Janet her usual combination of innocent and murderous - but Daniel had also stopped his conversation with Jack to hear her answer. Despite her law background she found herself unable to mount her own defense and had to settle for, "You know."
Janet merely grinned and Elizabeth decided to turn her attention to the field, where the cheerleaders were gathering as the bleachers filled up. A shouting war was just starting up between the two teams' fans, led by the cheerleaders, and Elizabeth winced as John joined in. Oblivious to her discomfort he picked up one end of his scarf - that she was wearing - and waved it a bit.
"Would you like your scarf back?" she asked him.
"Huh?" he replied, before he focused on her and dropped the scarf in response. "Are you warm yet?"
"No." Although it had become something of a matter of pride that she was not going to take her jacket off regardless.
He grinned as he slid closer to her so they were almost touching at the leg and shoulder. She didn't move away. "When you are, let me know."
Fortunately for them both, the players started making their way onto the field and Elizabeth's ears were assaulted once more. It didn't stop once they started playing either, for John was quick to shout encouragement at the players and jeer at the opposition. Every time the Explorers scored he jumped up and Elizabeth thought she might as well have been invisible. Everyone else around them was getting into the spirit too.
Elizabeth couldn't help but be caught up in the excitement, but it might have been easier if she knew what was going on. It was difficult to concentrate on the game when people stood up in front of her every five minutes and all that told her was that she should have been watching beforehand, not trying to work out what she had just missed.
"Did you see that?" John asked, excitement in his eyes as he sat back down and noticed she was watching him.
"No, what just happened?"
"The Wraith fumbled and we scored from nowhere."
She nodded. "Okay."
"Never mind," he sighed. "It's half-time anyway."
He was right, she discovered, and she turned back to the field to watching the cheerleaders perform. She was sure she had seen at least one of them outside John's office door, which didn't surprise her. However, cheerleading routines were better appreciated by young men and Elizabeth looked for someone to to converse with. Preferably about a topic that wasn't football. But Janet and Daniel were having an earnest discussion about something Elizabeth couldn't quite hear and she didn't want to intrude. Everyone was talking about the Explorers' amazing playing in the first half of the game.
Fortunately Jack leaned over and asked, "Help me with this crossword?"
Elizabeth looked over to see he had a folded up newspaper in his lap, containing a half-completed crossword. It said something about her concentration on the game that she hadn't even noticed Jack wasn't paying attention. Or perhaps it was just that he wasn't paying attention to the cheerleaders. "Don't you have a bet with Sam about that?"
He shrugged. "She's not listening."
Elizabeth looked over and saw that he was right, so she took pity on him. "All right, what are you stuck on?"
"Up, down, charmed, something."
It wasn't her field of expertise but she had heard of that sequence. "Strange."
"Hmm, yes, it is." Jack's tone suggested that he hadn't understood the answer. "Never mind."
She didn't get a chance to explain it to him before the second half began and everyone turned their attention back to the game.
They weren't far into the second half when it became clear, even to Elizabeth, that both teams were playing completely differently than their earlier performances. The Explorers had been scoring, although not often, but when they had it had been spectacular, and the Wraith had consistently missed easy shots. Now, however, the Wraith seemed to have woken up and the Explorers were struggling to catch up. The Wraith beat their impressive score during the third quarter.
After berating the Explorers for a while, John had lapsed into silence along with most of the rest of the crowd. Elizabeth stifled a yawn and pretended not to notice John's fingers playing with his scarf.
The next thing she knew she was comfortably warm, even if her pillow was a little hard. The background noise of the football game grew and she pushed herself up from her position on John's shoulder.
"Hello, Sleeping Beauty," he said, smiling at her, but not moving his arm from around her waist.
"I'm not," she replied, rubbing her eyes. She had been comfortable, even though she was sitting on a hard seat with John's shoulder for a pillow.
His smile turned to a grin. "What, not sleeping or not beautiful?"
Elizabeth opened her mouth but couldn't find a good way to answer that without incriminating herself.
"If you were trying to stop any rumors," Janet said, leaning down to mutter in her ear, with a grin Elizabeth didn't like the look of, "falling asleep on his shoulder wasn't the way to do it."
"It was only because he was sitting next to me," she said, turning round to face Janet. "It could just as easily have been Jack."
"Except you're sitting a lot closer to John."
Elizabeth glared at her even though she and John had been shoulder to shoulder the whole time - or at least whenever John was sitting down. When she turned back round to face the field John removed his arm and she could see that the game was over. The score up on the board explained why the Explorers cheerleaders were leaning despondently against each other. The crowd and the cheerleaders on the opposite side of the field were much more animated.
"I guess we lost," she said.
"Yeah," John answered, without enthusiasm.
"I need a drink," Jack said, with feeling.
"Good idea," she heard from Daniel, behind her, followed by, "I concur," from Teal'c. Jonas was the only one who didn't appear to be affected by the result, but that was just because he was more excitable to begin with and sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.
The walk to Maybourne's bar was not a long one. They were soon seated around a table with drinks and still no one spoke.
"That was..." John trailed off, obviously unable to find a good word to describe the game.
"Pathetic," Sam finished.
"Yeah, pathetic, that's it," John agreed, and heaved a big sigh.
Elizabeth smiled. He was actually quite sweet like this - like he needed a hug to make it all better. Not that she was about to offer, and certainly not in front of other people, even if they were their friends. Especially if they were their friends.
The atmosphere was quickly dispelling the comfortable warmth she had felt upon waking. She also couldn't stop thinking of all the work she needed to get done. Normally she would have tried to get through it all during the week but John was a disruptive influence. Which, admittedly, was not always a bad thing, but she did get far less work done now she had him to interrupt her every day. And yet she rarely threw him out of her office.
"I have to go," she said, breaking the morose silence and finishing her drink as she stood. "I have work to do," she added, smiling at John who looked puzzled at her wanting to leave.
There was a chorus of farewells and promises from her to Sam and Janet to meet for lunch next week. Outside, the air felt refreshing after the atmosphere in the bar, but she had no time to enjoy it because John had followed her out and cornered her outside the bar.
"I'm sorry." He stuck his hands in his pants pockets and looked contrite.
"I should have listened when you said you didn't like football. I thought once you gave it a chance--"
"Don't worry about it, John. I enjoyed myself." She wasn't going to think about how much of that was due to his presence. Or his shoulder.
He frowned. "Really? But we lost and you fell asleep."
She smiled. John was so focused on the game and the outcome that he failed to see what she had: she'd spent an enjoyable morning with her friends. That they lost was probably the only reason it hadn't turned into a whole day - although given the work she needed to get through before Monday morning, that was probably just as well. "See you Monday," she said, not feeling the need to explain it to him. Not least because he might then ask her to future games and she suspected the novelty would soon wear off.
"Wait!" he called, jogging the few steps to catch her up. She turned round to find him standing very close behind her. She resisted the immediate impulse to step backwards.
He put out one hand to finger her scarf. She ignored the way her heart beat faster as the back of his hand brushed her shoulder. "Can I have my scarf back?"
Elizabeth bit her lip to keep from smiling and shook her head. "I'm warm now," she said. "I think I'll keep it."
She stepped backwards, out of his reach and headed towards her car, leaving him too stunned to do anything about it.
"It's just a football game, how long can it take to get ready?" John called up to Elizabeth.
She didn't bother answering, just carried on going through her wardrobe. "Aha," she said, finding what she had been looking for hidden away at the back behind some uncomfortable shoes. Watching the Langford Explorers pick their new team was not her ideal way of spending Saturday morning, but John went religiously every year and now that they were living together she was trying to take more of an interest in his interests. Even if that included football. For one reason or another they hadn't seen each other much this week, so they would at least get to spend some time together, which was how Elizabeth had rationalized it when John asked her to go with him.
By the time she made it to the bottom of the stairs, John was already out of the door and on the way to the car. Elizabeth rolled her eyes. Any other time she had trouble getting him out of the door late, never mind on time. And even though she had held them up, they would still be early.
He was so focused on getting there in time that he had driven to Langford, parked the car and bought her a coffee (so she wouldn't fall asleep this time, he told her) and handed it to her before he noticed what she was wearing. Elizabeth had never gotten around to building up the selection of Langford clothing that others had. She'd had a t-shirt once but that had long since been turned into a rag. What she did have now was a scarf, even if she hadn't worn it since the last football game she'd been to.
"That's my scarf," John pointed out.
"Good eyes." Elizabeth sipped her coffee to remind him she was holding it, therefore would be a bad idea for him to tackle her to get his scarf back. Not that it was his scarf any more. He had given it to her to keep her warm the last time he had dragged her to the football field. Refusing to give it back when he asked had started off as a game but ended up as a point of principle. Elizabeth wasn't sure why she was doing it, but she was certainly not going to stop and let him win.
John settled for glaring at her but Elizabeth knew he was plotting for later. It didn't matter, she would be ready.
Neither of them said anything as they made their way to the front row of the bleachers. Various students were already warming up and Elizabeth was unsurprised that several of them waved at John, or greeted him with a "Hey, Shep". John returned all of their greetings and asked a few of them for the names of the new players - presumably these were freshmen or older students only just trying out this year.
Elizabeth was seriously wondering if she should just give up now and lie down for a nap until it was all over when she was rescued by the surprise appearance of Sam Carter.
"Sam!" Elizabeth greeted her friend. "I didn't think anyone else would be crazy enough to be here."
As the potential players lined up there were a few cheers from the stand nearby, filled with students both male and female.
"Except for the players' fans, of course," she added.
"I could say the same for you," Sam replied. "Especially given what happened at the last game you went to."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. Was anyone ever going to let her forget that? She kept the subject on Sam's reasons for being here and not the last game when she'd fallen asleep on John's shoulder. "John might occasionally get accused of cradle-snatching with his groupies--"
"Hey!" he said, without taking his eyes off the field.
Elizabeth ignored him. "--but I didn't think you were into the same thing."
"Well, in a choice between one of these guys and Rodney McKay..."
"I see your point." Elizabeth couldn't imagine anyone willingly dating Rodney.
"No, you're right. I'm trying to get more students interested in physics and I thought a course on the physics of football might help."
Elizabeth nodded, acknowledging the brilliance of the idea. "Sounds good."
"Yeah. You can imagine what McKay thought of it, though."
Elizabeth grinned; she could. "So what is he offering in competition?"
"I don't know yet. Either he's keeping it very secret, even from Radek, or he hasn't thought of anything better yet. I'm hoping for the second, although I don't think for one minute I'm going to lose this one." She sounded fierce about it.
"Ouch," John interrupted from beside them.
Elizabeth turned to the field, intending to ask what happened, but since she could see two of the players lying on the floor, she could guess, even with her meager knowledge of football.
"So, how's it going?" she asked him instead. Out the corner of her eye she saw Sam pull out a notebook and pen and start taking notes.
"I don't know why some of them are here at all," he gestured at the field, at a guy who'd just let the ball slip through his fingers. "They obviously don't know how to play."
"Perhaps they're hoping everyone else is going to be worse than them and they're going to get all the girls attention simply by being on the squad," she said, genuinely trying to take an interest this time.
"Probably. Although I think some of them do it for a dare."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes.
"There's a bunch of freshmen who look really good, but some of the old players are going to be hard to replace."
Throughout the training session John continued to point out those players he thought were good and would make the squad for sure, and those he thought were useless and had no chance. Elizabeth was surprised that she found his commentary interesting. But it was probably because he didn't just tell her the names of the players, he also talked about the backgrounds of the ones he knew, so she felt as if she knew them too, and was routing for them just as much as John was.
By the time they'd finished Elizabeth could see Sam had taken plenty of notes. Elizabeth wished her luck with the course as they departed, but Sam was already deep in thought.
"I think they picked the right players in the end," John said, as they made their way home.
"Hmm," Elizabeth said, non-committally.
"So, did you enjoy yourself?"
She could tell that was a leading question from the smile on his face. "The company was all right, I guess." She was certainly not going to give himself the satisfaction of saying yes.
"Only all right? And you didn't answer my question."
"I didn't?" She grinned. "I think I need a nap after that early morning."
John's smile only grew as she evaded his questions and tried to think of reasons not to go to any more games, let alone practice sessions, which he would certainly drag her along to if he could.
In the end, she let him have this victory. "I had a not entirely pleasant morning spent with my boyfriend and my friend."
"So," John began, "the next game is--"
"Oh, no, you don't," she cut in, pointing a finger at him. "That was my one game for the year. You can get up early if you like, but my weekends are sacred and I intend to spend them sleeping."
He shrugged. "It was worth a try."
And not just one either. John would be sure to leave it a while until she thought he had forgotten, then spring it on her when she least expected it. Probably at such a time when she was powerless to say no. There was definitely some tactical thinking she needed to employ on this problem.
John never quite stopped grinning all the way home and Elizabeth could tell he was making plans already. It would be annoying if she didn't find it so cute. She was almost relieved when they arrived home and could turn their attention to different topics. John certainly had another one in mind because they were barely inside the door when all of a sudden Elizabeth found herself against the wall being thoroughly kissed. Not that she was going to complain, it was just a little unexpected.
It was only when she realized his hands had made their way to her neck while he distracted her with his mouth that she worked out what he was doing.
"Oh no you don't," she said, managing to pull away and extricate her scarf from his grip.
"You can't say you weren't enjoying it." He pouted a little, but didn't look surprised that she'd rumbled him.
"Let me just hide my scarf and I'll be happy to pick up where we left off." She took a step towards the stairs, but he grabbed her arm.
"Forget about the scarf and we can get on with this sooner."
She raised her eyebrows. "So, you'd quite like to do this with the scarf on?"
John opened his mouth to retort but closed it again as he looked her up and down with a lascivious look on his face. Elizabeth couldn't help but blush under his gaze. "Kinky," he said.
Elizabeth laughed, although not for long because she soon found herself back against the wall, but this time John's hands were trying to remove other pieces of her clothing. Elizabeth suspected she might have won the scarf argument for good.