He can't be there for her. There's an entire village of sick people and he and Teyla seem to be the only ones not affected by this illness, probably for some freaky genetic reason. They are needed elsewhere, and he can't sit with Elizabeth and try to comfort her through the chills and fever.
And he wants to, which is the weirdest part. He's never been good with this aspect of being involved with someone. Usually this type of situation makes him want to run and hide. That he wants to sit by Elizabeth's bedside and just be there is new.
He doesn't have much time to dwell on it. There have been two deaths, but both of them were elderly villagers. Still, Teyla is determined there shall be no more, so she and John are running themselves ragged trying to help everyone. Ronon and Rodney are both down for the count, with Rodney alternating between being catatonic and rambling even more rapidly than usual. Ronon's fever spikes and he starts hallucinating and it takes every ounce of strength John and Teyla can muster to hold him down until he faints.
Finally some of the villagers who got sick first begin to improve. As evening comes, Teyla agrees they both need to rest. John washes himself quickly, downing an MRE before grabbing a cup of broth and going to the corner of the healing house where Elizabeth is lying in a cot.
She's asleep. He can tell by her breathing. It's comforting and scary all at once that he can take one look at her and know that.
He sits down on a stool next to the cot, placing the cup of broth on the makeshift table. He wishes, not for the first time, that they had simply turned around and gone back to Atlantis when they realized the villagers were sick. Carson could've possibly treated this, or at least made her more comfortable.
Elizabeth had vetoed the idea, afraid of bringing the illness back to the city. She insisted they needed to do all they could to help before she and the others succumbed to the fever.
He reaches out and brushes her forehead with the backs of his fingers, ostensibly to check her fever. They're in public, even if most everyone in the room is asleep or delirious, and he knows how Elizabeth feels about PDAs, especially off-world.
The truth is if they were back home, he could do more to comfort her. Even if it was just a simple fever, in the privacy of Elizabeth's quarters, he could do more than sit by her bedside for a few minutes, unable to touch her more than briefly.
The depth of this feeling surprises him, but it's curled up in his chest, so deep he had no idea how intrinsic this impulse to take care of her had become until now. It's not an unpleasant feeling. He always feared that really letting himself get involved would feel claustrophobic. This is something else. Something he's not sure he could live without doing anymore.
Elizabeth stirs. She looks exhausted and her eyes are burning with fever, but she murmurs his name quietly, and relief hits him hard. She's going to be all right.
He keeps his voice low, unable not to reach out and squeeze her hand. "I brought some soup. You feel like eating a little?"
She nods wearily, and he helps her sit up enough to take the cup. Because they're in the corner, because he just can't help himself, he rubs his hand up and down her leg gently while she sips at the broth. Elizabeth either doesn't notice or is too tired to care. Her hand comes to rest on top of his and even though her skin is too warm, he soaks up the contact. He has no idea if he'll ever be able to articulate what he's been thinking, but this isn't the time or place anyway. For now he'll take the reassuring feel of her skin against his and the wry, tired smile she offers when he tells her what's been happening, joking a little about nursing Ronon through his visions. It's strange that he's the one drawing comfort from this, but it's the truth.
If he can't tell Elizabeth how he feels, he can try to show her. He hopes they get back to Atlantis soon, so he can fuss a little more.