Angelic Paranoia

Paranoidangel's Fanfic

Stargate Atlantis

The Law Society's Annual Ball

Rating: PG
Pairing: Sheppard/Weir, Teyla/Ford, a smidgen of Rya'c/Karen
Beta: wannatee_1984
Spoilers: None
Summary: John finds out some secrets of the Law Society's Annual Ball
Notes: This is very loosely based on the University of Warwick's Law Ball - to which I never went. This is set after Dot Com, as well as referencing events in Out Tonight and The Teal Killer


It was Monday morning when John heaved a big sigh as he entered Elizabeth's office and flopped down on the comfiest chair. "Can you believe," he said, "that I haven't had any students come to see me my entire office hours? Not even the usual gaggle of giggling girls."

Elizabeth put down her pen and arched an eyebrow at him. "Which makes your reason for being here somewhat flimsy," she pointed out.

John leapt up and seated himself in one of the chairs opposite her. "I only came to see you," he proclaimed, putting his arms on the desk, leaning towards her and giving her his most charming grin.

Elizabeth smiled and shook her head. "Actually I'm glad you came," she said, opening a drawer in her desk, "because I wanted to give you one of these." She held out a ticket, which he took and read.

"'The Law Society's Annual Ball'. So that's why it seems like the whole school is out in the quad in the middle of winter."

"Have you ever been?"

"No, but I've always wondered why it was so popular."

"Well, this is your chance to find out. The advantage of dating the Law School Dean."

He sighed dramatically. "I wish I'd known dating you would be so expensive. At this rate it would be cheaper for me to buy a tux."

She was not taken in for an instant. "Remind me of that the next time I buy you dinner."

"Elizabeth," he drew out the sound of her name and put on the smile that never failed to win her over. Getting up, only to perch on the edge of the desk next to her and lean over, he said, "I've seen how much you earn."

"If only your groupies knew how what a challenge you were to date," she countered, refusing to let him affect her.

"A challenge, huh? Whatever happened to the days when you thought I was dreamy?"

"That was before I dated you," she replied, as she leaned forwards to kiss him. "Now go," she continued afterwards, "some of us have work to do."

He grinned and kissed her again before sauntering out, his Law Ball ticket in hand.

***

"Teyla!" Aiden called, as he ran up to meet her, a little out of breath, "I've been looking for you everywhere."

She smiled in greeting. "I had a class. Was there something you wanted?"

"Yes," he said, taking her bag and hand, and dragging her back in the direction he had come from. "How would you like to go to the Law Society's Annual Ball with me this coming Saturday night?"

Teyla had heard people talking about it in the past few weeks but had not really taken much notice. "Is it not just for the Law School?"

"No, it's only run by them but it is THE ball to go to."

"Why? What is so good about it?"

Aiden suddenly dropped her hand, as if he had only just realised he was still holding it, and began to gesture with it. Teyla found hers was now much colder and stuck it in her pocket. "I don't know, the only way to find out is to go and I've never been. But," he paused for dramatic effect. Teyla might have got annoyed except she was expecting a tale of adventure and excitement. "I've been saving up the money I've earned from Doctor Sheppard, so this year you and I can afford to go, and I'll still have enough left that I can rent a tux."

She frowned, thinking of all the things Aiden had told her he wanted to use the money for. If he were to pay for her ticket to the Law Ball then he would probably not have much left over. However, she knew if she asked him he would deny it, so she focused on something else instead. "Then it is extremely formal?"

"Yes. But I don't see why that should doesn't stop us from having a good time."

Teyla was pleased Aiden had thought of her and her frown turned to a smile. "Then I believe would be very honored to go with you. But I’m afraid I don't have a formal enough dress to wear for this Ball," she added, thinking about the dresses she owned and knowing they just wouldn’t cut it for this lavish event.

"Oh," Aiden had looked excited until she mentioned the problem, so Teyla frantically thought of alternatives.

"Perhaps I can borrow one from a friend of mine," she said, thinking that some of the girls in her gymnastics group were the same size as her and it seemed unlikely they would all need their dresses on Saturday.

"Great!" Aiden was instantly his usual happy self, which Teyla had discovered was infectious.

They were both in high spirits, therefore, as they reached the quad and Aiden waved to his buddies standing in the long line that snaked around it. Teyla smiled at Ryan and Ronnie, who she knew. Aiden introduced her to Karen, Ryan's girlfriend, who Teyla had heard of but never met. She was secretly jealous of her, for Karen was also an exchange student but one who seemed to be fitting into life at Langford much better than her.

Ronnie left after the introductions, and Ryan and Karen snuggled together, for warmth, Teyla assumed. She turned to Aiden, "Should the line not be moving forwards if we are buying tickets?"

"No, they don't go on sale until midday."

Teyla checked her watch. "But it is only 11.30. How long have these people been here?"

"Some of the really hard core people would have been here as soon as it got light. We didn't get here until 10, but I reckon we'll still get tickets."

Teyla could not quite believe it. Many of the people in the line looked to be bundled up in thick coats, hats and scarves, but it even so it was still very cold out, the appearance of the melting snow being deceiving in its hope for Spring. "It is that popular?"

"Yeah. Anyone just getting here has no chance."

Upon hearing his explanation Teyla realised what Aiden had done. "Then we should not have jumped the line. There will be people behind us who will not get tickets now."

"Don't worry, Teyla!" He replied to her with a cheeky grin on his face. "I only left to find you, and Ronnie's not going to the Ball, he was just here to keep your place."

"Oh, I see," Teyla was slightly taken aback. She did not think this was something Aiden would generally be bothered about - or at least it was not something the other footballers would consider. Aiden's upbringing had given him unusually old-fashioned manners, which sometimes took some getting used to. "Well, that's okay then," she told him.

Aiden's grin became wider.

"Hey," Ryan interrupted, "look at that!"

Teyla and Aiden turned to look where he pointed. Someone in the line in front of them had built a snowman and now there were a line of people behind them throwing snowballs at it. As they watched, one of them knocked its head off, which seemed to be a cue for a big snowball fight to erupt around them.

***

John had seriously considered buying a tux until he looked at the price. He was glad he had gone to Lincoln during the week to hire one, though, because it turned out that the Law Society's Annual Ball was an even bigger event than he first thought. There were so many Langford students needing to rent tuxes that the shop was actually closing the day before the Ball so they could make a special trip to bring a mini shop to campus for the students. Seeing the line for tuxes growing longer on Saturday and the little place flat out with orders, he could see that the shop would make big bucks from the event.

Elizabeth managed to look absolutely stunning, glowing with radiance with no effort at all in deep red, long silk dress John had never seen before. There was no back, her skin left bare with little straps going across her shoulders and her front was cut in a nice V-neck, which was then covered by a single line of four diamond teardrops, delicate and sparkling and adding more to Elizabeth’s natural elegance. In all honesty he thought she looked beautiful nearly all of the time anyway but he did seriously wonder how many dresses she could possibly need. It almost made him not want to go to the Ball at all and just stay home and have his way with her, but he knew Elizabeth would not go along with it. After all, this was her school's party, so she should be there, him decked out in a stiff penguin suit or not.

However, the sight of Elizabeth in a new ball gown was almost eclipsed by the hall once they got there. The Ballroom was decorated in the Langford colors of burgundy and gold. Streamers and balloons were attached to every wall and little twinkle lights shone from above the room, lighting the room up with a warm glow.

"Wow! This place looks fantastic!" John said, in total amazement and wonder, after they had got their hands stamped with a red Langford University logo. Somehow the organisers had found quite a big hall. John had no idea it even existed, which was impressive enough in itself.

There were long tables lining each side, with silver glittery tablecloths and fake candles along with the cutlery set out for dinner, which gleamed as they caught the beams of the tiny lights strung across the ceiling. The red and gold coloured stage at the far end had instruments on it for the live band that were obviously to come later. In the centre someone had hung a glitter ball, which was currently turned off, making the dance floor slightly darker than the rest of the room. There were clusters of people looking around, like John, but most were either already talking in groups or at the bar.

John had not even noticed Elizabeth had gone until she sneaked up behind him, making him jump as her sudden laughter rang out in his ears. He forgave her, though, because he had not really been concentrating on his immediate surroundings and she had a glass of wine in each hand.

"I should hope so!," she said with a slight smirk, knowing John well enough to see him trying to work out what he had said several minutes ago that she was only now replying to. "They've spent all day on it." His unanswered question about the ballroom's perfect ambience finally clicked and he gave her a rueful grin in return.

"All day?" he echoed, taking a sip of his wine.

She nodded.

"So who are these mysterious 'they'?"

She lifted her glass to her mouth. He swore she was hiding behind it and not actually drinking that much. "I couldn't possibly reveal that sort of information to a math professor."

He leaned closer to her and resisted the temptation to flutter his eyelashes just to see what effect that might have. "Not even if I offered cheesecake?"

"I believe it's already on the menu, for dessert. So your bribe won't work on me tonight." She did not move away, though.

"I'll find another way," he said, "I should get some perks from dating the Law School Dean."

"So the big office hideaway with ensuite bathroom's not enough for you?"

"Okay, other perks besides the office, bathroom, and the fact that the Dean herself is beyond gorgeous." He smiled at her. One of the many things he enjoyed about dating Elizabeth was being able to say those sorts of things and have her know he meant it.

"You're just greedy." Despite her teasing words she was trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to hide a smile.

"I only want the best."

"So you wouldn't be dating me if I was just a lowly professor?"

"Hmm..." He pretended to think about it for a minute, so she hit him. He grinned his patented Sheppard smirk in response and she just rolled her eyes.

***

Aiden knew far more people than Teyla did, so she was content to be led around by him for the night. She noticed, as he did so, that many people greeted him by name, and even managed a 'hi' for her. Ordinarily, when she was on her own those people would never speak to her. Although this was obviously much better, she did worry that they only did it for Aiden's sake and worried how their reactions would change if she and Aiden were no longer friends.

"Hey, it's Doctor Sheppard. We should go and say hi."

Teyla let herself be dragged along on the arm Aiden had so graciously offered her. She was still too busy gazing at the decorations to take much notice of anything else just yet. She was not going to complain about his suggestion, though, because she liked Doctor Sheppard.

"Hey Shep," was Ford's greeting, along with a more formal "Doctor," to the woman who stood next to him, who was Doctor Weir if the gossip in the school paper was to be believed.

Doctor Weir nodded at them. Doctor Sheppard had not introduced her, proving Teyla's theory about her identity. She would ask Aiden later - he knew more about the students and staff at Langford than she did. As she thought about Aiden she looked in his direction - he was grinning at Doctor Weir, who fortunately did not seem to notice. Teyla felt a small pang of jealousy, for Doctor Weir was pretty, before reminding herself she was far too old for Aiden, and besides, there was no reason for him not to look. When Aiden saw her gaze he gave a cough and returned his attention to Doctor Sheppard, who was greeting them.

"Heya, Ford! And Teyla," he said, turning to her. "I haven't seen so much of you lately."

"No, Aiden has been helping me with my math instead."

"He has? And there I was thinking it was my teaching that had improved your math so much."

Teyla was not sure how to respond to that, apart from being glad Doctor Sheppard had noticed her math grades had got better. She heard Aiden laugh, though, and saw both Doctor Sheppard and Doctor Weir were smiling.

Teyla bit back the first compliment that was on her lips. "Aiden has been a good teacher," she said instead. She felt like everyone else in her math class knew so much more than her and she had trouble with concepts that they all seemed to find easy. Aiden did have a tendency to overuse football examples to illustrate problems but Teyla was not going to complain, for she found them a big help as well as enjoying their study sessions.

"I'm glad to see he's earning his pay check."

"So, how about a payrise, Doc?"

Teyla was concerned that Aiden was being too familiar with Doctor Sheppard and not treating him with enough respect but as Doctor Sheppard was still smiling, she did not worry for long.

"Don't push it. Besides, it's not me who decides how much the TAs get paid. You want a raise you'll have to take it up with the Dean."

"Never mind."

Teyla turned to Aiden to ask him what was so scary about the Dean but he placed his hand on her arm to stop her.

"Come on, Teyla, let's go find Rya'c and Karen. See ya, Doc." Aiden gave a little wave and Teyla was too busy laughing to say good bye herself.

***

Elizabeth spent much of the time before dinner speaking to some other professors from the law department. John felt slightly guilty that he did not know any of them better, given the amount of time he spent in the Law School building. He had mostly spent it getting to know Elizabeth and, by extension, Peter, and none of the other people had seemed terribly important. So he happily attached himself to Elizabeth and allowed himself to be introduced to them. He had no doubt there would be a test later - on Monday when he passed them in the corridors - but he had already forgotten half of the names. He felt certain they would remember his, though.

As promised, dinner did indeed include cheesecake for dessert. Which made John more suspicious of just how much input Elizabeth had on the event. Elizabeth, however, happily sat talking law, sharing a bottle of wine and dodging his questions on the subject. John was certain not to miss out on the wine but still did not really understand lawyer-speak. He suspected they made up big words just to make the other departments think they were clever. He wondered if he dated Elizabeth long enough he would eventually take some of it in.

For now, though, he just let his eyes glaze over and hope some of it made itself understood in his brain through osmosis, much the same way most of his students spent his lectures, he suspected. He was reluctant to leave the table for better conversation because most of the other people there were students and also because he felt more protected from his groupies here. Elizabeth had given them the evil eye earlier in the evening and they had stayed away. John did not blame them - she could be quite intimidating when she chose to be. And no-one was game enough to ever cross her once that eyebrow of hers shots up in challenge. Not even John.

After dinner was finished the band began setting up on the stage at one end of the hall and the glitter ball started turning, sending interesting patterns of light over the guests. John was surprised to find the band playing traditional dancing tunes, along with most of everyone else. Either that or no-one was quite brave enough to be the first on the floor. He turned to Elizabeth and said, "Come on, let's dance."

She looked at him as if he were mad, which he probably was. He was certainly bored anyway. "Well, someone has to be first." He stood and held out his hand.

She sighed and shook her head, but he could see her smile.

She let him lead them onto the floor, at which point he discovered a fatal flaw in his plan: he did not know how to dance. Fortunately, they had inspired some other couples to join them, although they all looked like they knew what they were doing. Perhaps it was just that they were faking it better than John, which was admittedly not difficult.

"Ow."

"Sorry." He looked down to try and follow her feet but that just got him confused.

"John, you're supposed to look at me."

He did as he was told, and couldn't help smiling at what he saw. If dancing was just a good excuse to look at Elizabeth he could certainly do more of it. "How do you know this stuff anyway?"

"Which of us was it who wanted to dance?"

He grinned at her. When he had asked her she had just got into a heated debate that looked as if it could go on all night.

He was startled for a moment when she twisted away from him but she turned back again and almost seemed to fling herself into his arms. He remembered a similar move from the couple nearest them a few moments beforehand, but still took the opportunity to keep her close.

"Were we boring you with our law talk?"

She obviously knew him too well. "No."

"You're a terrible liar, John Sheppard. Left foot back. No, other left."

"Well, I do have two left feet."

She groaned.

"I resent that comment, I could have been lying to you for years and you never knew it."

"Oh, yes?" The tone was deceptively light but the hand on his shoulder had tightened enough to be a warning.

Belatedly, he realised that might not have been the best thing to say. "But I haven't, so you're right. I am terrible."

"Smooth recovery. Shame about your dancing."

"I don't know, I think I'm getting better." Although they did seem to be moving a whole lot less now, which made it easier.

***

Teyla watched the dancers and sighed. Aiden and Ryan had started talking about an upcoming football match and had entirely forgotten she was there.

"I'm going to the bathroom," Karen announced and Ryan barely looked up. "Come on, Teyla," she said, ignoring the boys.

"But I do not need--"

"To talk," Karen clarified.

"Oh," Teyla said and followed her, for lack of better things to do.

Fortunately, they seemed to have the bathroom to themselves for the moment. Karen jumped up to perch on the edge of one of the sinks. Teyla leaned against another.

"So, what's the story with you and Aiden?"

Teyla hesitated. She did not know Karen very well but then there was no one else she was close enough to that she could talk about this with. "There is nothing for me tell. Aiden and I are just friends."

"You don't take 'just friends' to the Law Ball."

"I know," Teyla sighed, "but I was not sure for such a long time. Aiden was the first friend I had here and I do not want to lose that."

"I understand, more than you know, but you don't know if you don't take the chance."

Teyla looked up at the other girl at her words, wondering how Karen had felt when she first started at Langford. She was fairly sure it could not have been anything as bad as her experiences, which she generally tried not to dwell on too much.

Karen just continued. "I spent three weeks sitting in class watching Ryan before I found the opportunity to talk to him. I thought there's no way a hotshot football player like him would ever be interested in me. Okay, so it turned out he was, but if I hadn't done something I would still be wondering, and look what I would be missing out on."

Karen did have a point, but they were very different people, as were Ryan and Aiden.

"And it's not like you won't have other friends."

In her mind Teyla had visions of being best friends with Karen and going on double dates. She indulged herself for only a few seconds, though. If she wanted her fantasy to come true she only had to do one thing and with Karen's backing it seemed much easier, somehow.

"I would be most honoured to be your friend," she told Karen, who smiled back.

"Now, let's drag the boys away from football and onto the dance floor."

Teyla held out her hand to help Karen down, which she took gratefully. Despite her words she paused to look in the mirror. "You're so pretty, Teyla," she said, catching Teyla's eyes in the mirror, "I can see why Aiden fancies you."

Teyla smiled at the compliment. "I could say the same of you. I suspect Ryan never knew what hit him when you first spoke to him." She actually knew this to be true because Ryan had told Aiden, who had passed it onto her, and they had laughed at Ryan's love life and change in fortunes.

"Thank you. Right, I'm ready. Let's knock 'em dead." She hooked her arm in Teyla's and they strode out, heads held high.

***

Pleading a need to rest her feet and get a drink, Elizabeth managed to drag John off the floor after a few dances. She was enjoying his attempts at dancing, and certainly had no plans to teach him - it was more fun watching him embarrass himself, even if it meant he was embarrassing her at the same time. She did not want to encourage the gossip about them too much, though, and her dance-card was full of other people wanted a dance with the lovely Doctor Weir, once she had a break. John would probably have fun just sitting looking cool and watching her.

He was on his way to the bar, she back to their seats and until that moment she had not given another thought to the girls who were usually seen hanging around John's office door. At least there were only two of them here but that was still enough to egg each other on. It must be getting bad, she thought, if she was starting to recognise his groupies already.

She was just glad that no speculation about John's attendance tonight had reached the Langford Daily because their already low-cut and revealing dresses would probably have been even worse. She had tried not to stereotype them but as they were both blonde, always dressed in the latest fashions (which Elizabeth would deny to anyone she kept up with) and probably in a sorority, it was hard. She remembered those types of girls from her own student days and she had not liked them then either. Things had obviously not changed much with time.

Both girls were watching John, so had their backs to her, which was probably just as well because she swore she heard her name mentioned. She slowed down slightly, trying not to look obvious.

"That bitch, Weir," she heard.

"How dare she steal him from us? Just because she's Dean she thinks she owns the place."

Elizabeth could not help smiling. They seemed harmless enough, even if they were annoying. They were obviously deluded if they thought John would ever have dated any of his students, especially a sorority girl who clearly had no interest in math. She supposed he had got used to them over time and wondered if she ever would.

She did not see another pair of girls standing nearby, scowling as they listened to the younger girls talk.

***

Aiden turned out to be a better dancer than Teyla was anticipating. In retrospect, she should not have set her expectations so low. After all, she had seen him play football and knew he could change direction and avoid tackles without falling over, and dancing was not really all that different. It probably should not have come as a surprise that he knew the steps of all the dances too. She was quite grateful for his grandparents’ education. He was also good at knowing exactly when to twirl her and dip her for maximum effect and Teyla found she was really enjoying herself. She and Aiden seemed to be perfect dance partners.

She was quite disappointed, therefore, when the dancing was interrupted by what could only be described as girly fighting. But was by no means less vicious for all the scratching and hair pulling that was going on. It seemed that two girls, one with dark hair and one with red, had set upon two blonde girls. Teyla could not tell what the fight was about, for the participants were all screaming at each other with too much volume and venom to make out the words properly.

All eyes were on them, though, including those of the band, who had stopped playing as the fight competed for entertainment. Teyla stared in horror along with everyone else, although she felt slightly guilty, for she imagined the girls would not be happy being the centre of attention, if they were focused on anything else. Some of the men were egging them on and Teyla was glad Aiden was sensible enough not to be one of them.

Instead, Aiden put an arm around her waist and pulled her to him, for protection, Teyla assumed. It was possible he was using the fight as an excuse to get near to her. Ordinarily, she would have pulled away, protesting that she did not need his protection, not least because there was nothing she needed shielding from here. His friendship was all she ever wanted from him, ever since he first offered it. This evening, though, she decided to equally use it as an excuse, finding she was liked being this close to him. If her mind had not already been made up about their relationship, it certainly would have been confirmed by recent events.

***

Elizabeth thought afterwards that she should have seen it coming. Law students and John's groupies in a room together were a recipe for disaster to begin with but even she had not been expecting the cat fight. If she had she would have put money on her sensible TAs to be breaking the fight up, not starting it.

She watched in horror for a few seconds, unable to believe what she was seeing, before springing to her feet to run over to them, possibly knocking over her wine glass in the process. Her shout, as she ran, was heard clearly in the suddenly quiet hall. It seemed to have an immediate effect on all four girls and by the time she reached them they were stood in front of her, looking at the floor. Elizabeth was keenly aware of everyone's eyes on them and John's on her.

"Follow me," she said, and none of the girls dared do anything else.

Luckily, there was an entrance hall, which tonight doubled as a cloakroom, and, most importantly, had doors that shut them away from the main hall. She heard the band start up again, background noise from here, and out of the corner of her eye she saw John stand by the doors looking intimidating and shielding them from prying eyes with his back.

She gave the girls her best stare, not that it mattered for none of them would meet her eyes. She noticed their red faces and wondered how much was from exertion and embarrassment and how much was from alcohol. She did not blame her TAs for drinking, for they had worked hard and deserved to celebrate, but that did not entitle them to do whatever they liked. The younger girls definitely had blue logos on the backs of their hands, which they were quick to cover up when they saw her looking, indicating to Elizabeth they were guilty of underage drinking. That was something to be resolved for next year, right now this was more important.

"Would someone care to tell me what that was all about?" she asked.

Unsurprisingly, no-one said a word.

"Miranda?"

The redhead, at least, managed to raise her head and look at Elizabeth. She certainly looked frightened, though. Good. "They were saying nasty things about you, Doctor Weir."

"That was all?" Admittedly, Elizabeth was having difficulty conceiving a scenario with enough justification for the fight in the first place but even so, this was something she expected from drunken teenagers, not adults.

Her only answer was more shuffling of feet. Miranda obviously felt she had done her bit in confessing and was not going to volunteer any more information.

"I'm not condoning what they did but they are entitled to their opinion. Even if they had done something wrong, did you really think that was the best way to solve it?"

Two heads shook and there were two muffled, "No, ma'am"'s.

Elizabeth repressed a sigh and ignored the way her hands shook. Between John and his groupies she sometimes felt as if she was teaching elementary school, not graduates. Her law students were supposed to be her bastion of sensibility. "All right, I don't have time to do this now, so you are all going home to write letters to the Daily, apologising to all the people here who you have spoiled the Ball for."

Now there were eight eyes on her, all of them big.

"Yes, I'm sure you will be headline news. Enjoy your fame, girls, and I will see all four of you in my office at 9 o'clock sharp on Monday morning."

"But..." one of the blonde girls began and "class", the other put in, as the first paused, looking for an excuse.

"I don't care. I am here to have fun, not shepherd adults behaving like six year olds. I suggest you be there. Now get out of my sight."

All four took the opportunity to grab coats in silence and escape into the cold before even putting them on. Elizabeth wondered if they would be complaining about her or fighting again once they were outside but as long as they went elsewhere they were no longer her problem. Hopefully, the punishment she had set, and the threat of further discipline, once she had calmed down enough to think of something suitable, would be enough to prevent any further damage tonight.

Elizabeth allowed herself to let out a sigh and John came round from behind her and wrapped her in his arms. She rested her head against his shoulder, allowing herself the luxury of his comfort and warmth seep into her while they were temporarily alone.

"Your groupies I would expect almost anything of," she said, after a minute when she had composed herself, "but Miranda and Kerry I thought were better than that."

John said nothing, just kissed her on the forehead. Sometimes she wondered if her relationship with him was worth all this hassle, but as she stood like this, breathing him in, she never wanted to let him go.

"We should go back in," she said, moving away from him reluctantly. She squeezed his hand briefly, took a deep breath, and walked back into the hall with John at her side.

***

This year’s Law Society's Annual Ball might be remembered for all the wrong reasons but still, all the guests looked happy as they finished their drinks and started to drift away. The dance floor was still packed, though, as the band finished their last tune and the guests applauded in appreciation.

Teyla, still breathing hard from the dance, gripped Aiden's hand a little tighter but he did not seem likely to let go anyway.

"Thank you for bringing me," she said, "I enjoyed it." She was only sad the evening had to end.

"I had a good time too," he said.

For a minute the two of them stood there grinning at each other and Teyla wondered whether he would ask her out, if his feelings for her were that obvious that Karen knew about them. The moment drifted on, however, with Aiden looking at her and Teyla started to get uncomfortable with his stare. Rather than letting go of his hand and turning away, as she would usually do, she took a deep breath, licked her lips and moved forwards to kiss him.

She kept it short, just long enough to feel his mouth on hers. It was sufficient to tell him what her intentions were though, because he pulled her closer with his free hand on her waist and really kissed her back. Part of her hoped they were not now the centre of attention but it was only a small part because the rest of her was concentrating on the feel of Aiden against her, which was incredibly distracting.

When they paused, though, all of that was forgotten as she saw the expression on his face. Teyla enjoyed making him that happy and liked kissing him enough that she really could not find a good reason to stop. So she pulled him closer this time.

***

John and Elizabeth were still finishing their wine as the guests and the band left and said their farewells.

"Must be something in the air tonight," he commented.

Elizabeth turned to look and saw Ford and Teyla pressed together and kissing in the middle of the dance floor, neither of them looking as if they were likely to stop any time soon. "At least it's something good this time," she said.

"Hey, Ford," someone shouted, throwing a jacket at him, which was presumably his, "get a room!"

The pair broke apart long enough for Ford to retrieve his jacket from the floor and some good-natured roughhousing broke out between the two boys. Elizabeth had tensed at the first punch but relaxed again as all four - the boys and their girlfriends, she assumed - laughed. John put one of his hands on top of hers where it lay in her lap and she entwined her fingers with his gratefully. There were times when she wished she did not live in such a small town, the university making it seem even smaller. Tonight had highlighted to her the reasons why she and John could not do the same thing.

"Perhaps we should be making a move," John suggested, rubbing her little finger with his thumb, as Elizabeth contemplated.

"We should," she said, coming back to reality, "but someone has to clean this place up."

"You?"

Elizabeth sighed. "I wouldn't usually, but I sent the heads of the cleanup crew home earlier and I suspect the others took the opportunity to escape."

"Ah. So, the mysterious 'they' who organise the Law Ball..."

"Are my TAs, yes," Elizabeth finished. "But if you tell anyone..."

"My lips are sealed," John said, and mimed zipping his mouth.

Elizabeth could not help but smile at that and, seeing that they were the last people left in the room, gave him a kiss. He stubbornly refused to open his mouth and return it, so she brushed her fingers along his lips, unzipping it again. "You can talk," she said, "just not about that."

He smiled back and kissed her properly this time.

"Come on," she said, before she got too used to that, "the faster we clean up here the sooner we can get home."

Those words did the trick because John had leapt out of the chair he had been lounging in and rushed to the other side of the room. "Race ya!" he said.

It was an unfair contest: Elizabeth was too busy laughing and watching John to move at first. She soon shook herself and went to find some trash can liners and collect up the junk left on the tables. John soon forgot about his challenge too, because he kept on finding opportunities to sneak up behind her and distract her. Repeated threats to either throw all the trash on his head, abandon him to finish on his own, or both, seemed to have no effect. Perhaps because he knew as well as she did that she was unlikely to follow through with them.

Despite the help, or hindrance, of a man who gave every pretense of being allergic to work when he could be preventing her from getting any done, it did not take long to get the hall tidy. She had just done a final check round the place to make sure she had not forgotten anything when John grabbed her hand just before it reached the light switch and kissed her.

"John," she said, as she managed to push him away a little, "I have a nice warm house where we can do this."

"I know. I just wanted to tell you the girls didn't spoil the Ball for me. I'm sorry they spoilt it for you, though."

"It's not your fault." She knew he had never done anything to encourage any of the girls that hung around his office. He had tried discouraging them but that had a tendency to have the opposite effect. She was slightly scared about what went on in their minds. "I'll live," she continued. "It seems to be an acceptable hazard of dating John Shepherd."

"Only acceptable?"

"I didn't mean you and you know it."

He grinned and before he could make a wisecrack she gave him the kiss she had been saving for when they were at home and in bed.

"Elizabeth," he said, slightly breathlessly, when she took advantage of his surprise to pull away, "what happened to waiting until we got home?"

She merely grinned and turned the lights off.