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[this takes place some time during Inara's visit, but before this thread. And Management would like to note that this is so not what we were expecting to happen.]

Funnily enough, it was he that sought out her. One would expect it to be the other way around, given his penchant for not being able to express feelings and avoiding them all together. And he certainly was never one to explain himself, insofar as descisions made based on personal feelings and not gut-feeling or his incredible sense of duty and loyalty went.

However it had been gnawing at him since he first saw her with him...hell, even the fact that he was a lot more squishy than his kind ever had a right to be...well, it took a lot to squick John Sheppard, and a docile and tamed Michael seemed to encompasse the term a lot very well. But when he heard from Ronon what had occured after the Satedan had left his CO to his inner musings outside the Cafe, he was blanketed with...with something. He couldn't tell what it was, his blindness to just about everything that stemmed from the proverbial rose-coloured glasses he now wore thanks to Inara, having clouded things he had never really admitted to in the first place.

And because he was the one who had pulled such an extreme one-eighty in the feelings department (heaven knew if she had ever returned his feelings, or knew how he had felt about her, in the first place) he figured it was his duty to be the one to initiate the conversation. Because she had to know. And he needed to say it, just to make sure that his current feelings on everything else weren't just a means of striking back at her for not choosing him.

He noted how interesting it was that she'd picked the same balcony that Rodney did once, after a hellish mission in which the dear astrophysicist had his sensibilities and entire belief system challenged very, very sorely. He pondered dubbing it Their Balcony, a place for Team Sheppard to meet one-on-one out of the way of Atlantis' population and talk each other out of his or her respective tree. And she looked like she needed talking down, if her slightly rigid posture and the way she gripped the handrail was any indication.

He said nothing as he leaned against the railing beside her, propping one foot up on the bottom railing and letting the breeze play over his face as he watched the waves crash over the pier below. After several moments of silence, she let go of the railing and slid her arms out, effecting the same pose as him. Relaxing. Once he was sure that she was comfortable, and the silenced had stretched to the verge of becoming uncomfortable, he finally glanced at her, a question in his eyes.

"Ronon told me," he said, once more looking out at the white caps dotting the endless blue spread before them. The sounds of the water crashing against the city and the tang of salt did much to keep him calm.

She stiffened slightly at his words, but then relaxed as the manner in which the words were spoken registered, and the expected rebuke did not come. "And?" she asked, prompting him to continue.

"I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother the hell out of me."

Teyla merely nodded.

"But not for the reasons you may think."

The admission had her looking at him sharply, a frown firmly in place. "And what reasons might those be, Colonel?"

Ouch. He winced at the formal title and finally gave her his full attention. "Hey, now. That's uncalled for," he said, his look betraying a bit of the hurt her comment produced. He continued when she visibly calmed. "Yeah, I know I'm supposed to run the gamut of reasons such as he's a security risk-blah-blah-blah. It's my job. But considering the fact that he's not our Michael, and he's actually managed to grow some manners," he ignored the flash of anger in her eyes and pressed on, "I have to say the risk from him, specifically, is minimal, at best. So long as he doesn't try to come visit, I'm willing to not book him for an intimate appointment with my P-90 and Ronon."

Her expression softened, but only a fraction. "Thank you," she said quietly. But then she was giving him a puzzled look. "Er, you said that the reasons were not ones that would be evident. And seeing as how you have touched upon the reasons I was expecting..." she trailed off.

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He scrubbed a hand through his eternally mussed hair.


"Teyla..." hell. He had had it all rehersed and could say the words in his head without flinching. They were good words, too! But somehow, now that the moment was here, he was second guessing himself. Was it really fair to Teyla, that he tell her this now? Expecially considering their respective situations? He sighed again, this time averting his gaze. "Crap," he muttered, prompting her to place a gentle hand on his arm.

"John, please tell me."

What the hell. Dragging this out would only make it worse. "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but um...the things I feel for you...let's just say that what you have with Michael makes me jealous." There. He said it. He didn't really say it, say it, but he said it.

Her eyes went wide as his implied meaning hit her, and thankfully, she didn't withdraw her hand from his arm. "I...suspected..." but what she suspected even she didn't know. Certainly not this.

"Why did you not say something before?" she said finally, voice thick with emotion. Her wounded tone, the accusation in the words and the thickness of her voice had him looking up at her, and he noted tears in her eyes. His face fell.

"Teyla. I'm...I'm sorry," he said softly.

Her face twisted into anger, as the first droplets of moisture rolled down her cheeks and she punched him in the arm, hard enough to leave a bruise. He let her strike him in her frustration until he was able to get his arms around her, and then he held her close as she buried her face in his chest.

He knew then that he was an idiot. They had shared the same feelings for each other, and now they had each chosen someone else because they had thought the other was a lost cause.

"If he hurts you...if he breaks your heart, I'll kill him," he whispred. It was as much of a blessing as anyone would get from John Sheppard.

He felt her swallow hard, and he couldn't help but smile ruefully at the muffled words, "And if she does the same to you, I will see to it that she is unable to find work again."

A large wave crashed against the pier below, its impact against the structure and the sound of the spray hitting the deck loud in the silence that followed. They held each other tightly, bleeding feelings they could no longer harbour without putting their budding relationships into jeopardy. They allowed themselve to finally love each other fiercely for these few short moments, before the embers cooled and the constant glow of the closest of friendships resumed its place.

They had each other's back in this, as in all things, and for that, Sheppard was eternally grateful.

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