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Acknowledgement

 

Note: directly follows Siege III


 

On her way to the mess-hall, she passes Zelenka leaning against a wall, asleep on his feet. Elizabeth rests her hand on his upper arm, shakes him carefully.

“I’m up.” He jolts awake in an almost painful motion, alarmed eyes coming to rest on her. “Dr. Weir?”

She leaves her hand where it is and squeezes lightly when she feels him tremble from exhaustion.

“Get some sleep, Radek. You more than deserve it.”

He looks quizzical. “And you?”

She smiles and knows it won’t fool him. “Later.” Her thumb traces a small, circular pattern on his arm which she hopes is reassuring. “Go on. Go.”

On any other day, she knows he would have reacted to that. Today he just says: “But--“

“I’m not Dr. McKay, Radek, you don’t have to argue with me.”

He smiles weakly at that, then nods. “A little rest, I suppose …” His eyes unfocus and the trembling beneath her fingers grows stronger. He looks frail, overwrought. Dark blue rings under his eyes. The wispy hair needs washing.

“How many stimulants did you take?” she asks, now using her hand to steady him.

“As many as necessary,” he answers with a noncommittal shrug while taking his glasses off and pinching the bridge of his nose. Even that simple gesture appears sketchy. He tries pushing off the wall but sways dangerously.

“You’re not going to make it to your quarters alone, are you?”

Zelenka leans back against the wall and closes his eyes. “Probably not. But this wall is comfortable.”

She could smile at this but doesn’t.

“Come on.”

The confusion is plain on his face. “Dr. Weir?”

“Move, Radek. You’re not staying here.”

“But you can’t --“

“Oh?”

A frown passes over his face, he appears to be grappling for words. “Surely you have better things to do, than --“

In any other situation, it would have amused her how he backs off after meeting her resoluteness, how he always seems so eager to be on her good side. It doesn’t now.

“My people are my priority. You’re one of them. This is the better thing to do. Now stop arguing and move.”

He acquiesces, the will to protest gone. Staggers against her more than once on the long way through the corridors to his quarters until she realises that he has fallen asleep walking.

He doesn’t wake when she pushes him onto the bed and tucks him in.

There’s not even a twitch when she leans down to kiss his forehead and whispers: “Thank you.”


Fin

 

Read the sequel: Full Circle



 
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