Elizabeth looked at her daughter, sound asleep, her first night home from the infirmary. She appeared to be so tiny, almost lost in the crib, but she looked so calm and peaceful, her little chest rising and falling in a steady, gentle rhythm. Elizabeth smiled at the beauty, and then laughed to herself because she knew the peace was not likely to last long. Emily would no doubt soon be awake and hungry.
She felt John step up behind her and, a split-second later, his arms wrapped round her waist and his head came to rest on her shoulder.
“You okay?” he whispered.
She smiled contentedly. “Never been better.”
John smiled and kissed the side of her neck. “I thought you’d got lost.”
Elizabeth laughed. She had told him she would just pop in and check on Emily. She must have been there longer than she thought. “I got distracted,” she told him.
He edged closer to her, holding her tighter. “She is very distracting.”
“She’s absolutely gorgeous,” she commented adoringly.
“Takes after her mother there.”
“What are you after?” she asked him.
“Can’t I pay you a compliment without an ulterior motive?” he asked with a mischievous smirk.
“I’ve known you long enough to distinguish those with ulterior motive from those without,” she replied, tearing her eyes away from their daughter and turning in his arms so they were face to face. “What are you after?”
John grinned, saying, “Ah, you know me so well.” Then he kissed her softly, before continuing, quietly, “I would like to set a date for our wedding.”
Elizabeth’s heart fluttered excitedly – sometimes she still found it difficult to believe that this was all really happening. “Tonight?” she asked, wondering at his sudden introduction of this topic.
“We agreed we’d wait until after Emily was born… And there she is.”
“Ah, so she is,” Elizabeth smiled. “So, did you have a date in mind?”
“Preferably one not too far away.”
“John, you realise there’s no reason to rush this wedding, right? The baby is already here,” she teased.
John pulled her close to him. “Elizabeth, it has been over five years since I first kissed you. There is nothing rushed about this.”
“Okay then… What about your birthday?”
“That was quick!”
Elizabeth shrugged. “I’ve been thinking about it.”
She nodded. “It’s not too far away. But it’s long enough for us to plan a nice little ceremony.”
John eyed her suspiciously. “And I’d never forget our anniversary.”
Elizabeth smirked, “Ah, an added bonus.”
They both laughed, then quickly stopped so as not to wake Emily.
“Do you really think I would forget our anniversary?”
She shook her head. “No. Really I chose that date so that I wouldn’t forget.”
“Ah, we’d better go with that then. Wouldn’t want to have to – ” John stopped when Emily stirred.
Elizabeth smiled. “Aw, I guess I’ll never know what would happen,” she said, turning around to see to the little girl.
John moved to stand beside her as she picked up Emily. “I think she wants to have a say in planning our wedding.”
“We’d have to put it on hold for a few years.”
“No chance. She’ll have to be content with planning her own.”
“Like you’re ever going to let boys near her.”
“I will eventually. After I’ve had them vetted, and followed, and let Ronon have a little chat with them.”
Elizabeth looked up at him. “Ronon? You’re not going to do it yourself?”
“Oh no, that way I look like the good cop,” John grinned.
Elizabeth laughed and looked down at Emily who was wriggling in her arms. “Yes, your daddy’s crazy. Let’s hope you got Mommy’s sanity.”
“Hey,” John protested, taking Emily’s tiny hand in his. “Don’t you listen to her, you’ll be just fine if you are as crazy as daddy.”
“Are you telling our daughter not to listen to her mother?”
“Of course not,” John smiled innocently and nestled closer to Elizabeth. “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He placed a soft kiss on her cheek. “So, my birthday it is?”
“Quick change of subject,” she observed.
“I thought it best.”
“You’re a wise man, John Sheppard.”
“I have my moments…” He looked down at Emily again. “See, Mommy can admit when she’s wrong.”
Elizabeth playfully elbowed him in the ribs.
“Hey, I’d rather not get beaten up by a girl in front of this child either.”
Elizabeth smiled at the reference to when Jake was born and then, as happened frequently, she was rushed with the memory of four years without John. She held Emily close to her, and leant her head on John’s shoulder.
He obviously noticed the shift in her mood. “You okay?”
He pressed his lips to the top of her head. “Hey, I’m here. This is real.”
Elizabeth let out a laugh. “You know me so well.”
“Yes I do. Try to focus on the present and the future, Elizabeth. We’re together, we’re a family… and we’ve got a wedding to plan.”
Laughing again, Elizabeth lifted her head so she could meet John’s eyes. “I love you.”
John’s smile widened. He quipped, “Who can blame you?” and then he kissed her before she could respond.