He wonders where she is thinking about, looking up at the sky. He's watching her from the doorway, crossing the threshold into something private and far away.
"Don't worry. It isn't eggnog." He smiles and she nods graciously.
He sighs at her deflated tone. "Look Elizabeth-"
"I know. I know what your going to say."
"No you don't."
She turns to face him properly and looks him right in the eye. "Your going to say that it's christmas and that I should celebrate and forget about everything that happened to me for a night."
John bites his lip. "Your right. I probably would have said that. But I would have also said that I know you don't just forget bad things that happen to you."
John had defied orders to go up and get her. But as it turned out he wasn't alone. The rest of the team were just as surprised when Elizabeth had fought her own way to them, after learning of their nearby presence.
The replicators had kept her alive to fuel her copies, but she wasn't the same. She was colder, harder, a far more insular person than she ever was.
John supposed that was the price of being kept in captivity with no one but yourself. She had fought her way through the ship and even John didn't know the extent of how and what she did to get out.
To wage a one woman war on her captors would have taken the kind of courage he couldn't fathom in anyone but her.
They had been beyond happy to have her come home. But Elizabeth carried the burden of her memories with her, the worrying of the true damage the replicators had had on her.
Even now, at christmas, she didn't trust her memories, trust herself to let go of what had happened.
Elizabeth rolls her eyes but keeps listening. "Everyone missed you. We missed you more than anything. And if this party is a way - a happy way - to celebrate you coming back, then let them have it."
"Them? Or you?"
"Is there a difference?"
She scans his face for another answer but finds none. Everyone, including him, was still wary of her. He seperated himself from her when he spoke now, before it was us and them. Now it was her, then the people she had left.
"I did it for you you know." She whispers stepping closer to him.
"Trust me, I know." John says quiety, pressing his forehead against hers. "Come on. It's christmas." He takes hold of her hand and she lets him. It's a feeling she once wondered about ever feeling again.
"Lets dance, lets pretend to smile, and tomorrow you can tell me, or not tell me, about all the things that are making you sad."
He always makes her the same offer. This is the only time she has considered taking him up on it.
"Alright." She says. "Maybe." Her first christmas back on atlantis isn't the best. She still has nightmares about clanking cold space ships and grabbing hands.
But she tries to move on. Tries to let him help.
And he does.