Summary: Colonel Reynolds can't decide if being given command of the Hyperion is an honor…or a curse.
Categorizations: Fluff, Humor, Reynolds/Novak if you squint.
Warnings: PG. Mild language and some harmless flirting.
A/N: In honor of Bean's birthday, who wanted: 'Reynolds. In charge of something.' Thanks to abyssinia4077 and holdouttrout!
Colonel Jason Reynolds really should have known this was a bad idea from the start. At the time though, being given command of the Hyperion had seemed like the greatest of honors. His very own ship, a stellar crew, and a nice, comfy captain's chair. After long years of going through the gate and getting shot at, it seemed like a nice change of pace. There had been a lot of back slapping in the days after he heard about his new post, lots of congratulations and good-natured ribbing.
It's only now, five days into his first deep space mission, that he finally begins to understand the bizarre smile General O'Neill had given him as he relayed the news. Upon reflection, it had been almost a bit…evil.
Now Jason gets it. Loud and clear, thank you very much, General O'Neill.
(He really should have known a couple pairs of stars would never be enough to cure Jack of his taste for less gentlemanly pursuits, particularly his habit of torturing his subordinates in creative ways. The damn man never did forgive him for that one time SG-3 allegedly got SG-1 sold to a traveling circus. The resulting pictures almost make his current predicament worth it though. Almost.)
SG-3 specialized in search and rescue, not exploration or first contact. He commanded three highly qualified soldiers. The kind who followed orders without question and fit together like a well-oiled machine.
So who in the world would think to put him in command of a research vessel?
A research vessel populated in large part by scientists of various shapes and stripes?
Yeah, you guessed it. The grinning evilly, stars on his shoulders, and obviously has too much free time on his hands Mr. Jack O'Neill.
It's not that Jason doesn't like scientists; he has a lot of respect for them. You can't get your ass saved by them routinely and not appreciate them. It's just that they tend to be a little…erratic for his taste. Less than five days into his new command, his track record of commanding well-ordered machines is already going right down the toilet. Never before had he truly understood the phrase 'like herding cats.'
Yeah, a lot of things are much clearer now.
Their first mission started out smoothly enough with a standard survey of a rather spectacular-looking gas giant. They spent two days orbiting the formation, sending in a few specially designed probes to collect various samples. The robotics guys were over the moon at the clean execution, as were the other scientists at finally getting their hands on samples that would have been inconceivable even a few years ago.
It's amazing what can be accomplished when every single resource is no longer aimed purely at trying to stay alive and trying to defeat a vastly superior enemy.
Even Jason has to admit that the mission was pretty cool.
Of course, that was before.
Today Dr. Collins is pacing back and forth, a rapid staccato of terms tumbling out of his mouth as he goes, his hands acting out an agitated dance. Jason is able to pick up something about one of the samples having breached containment and somehow taking up residence in their power systems.
It doesn't escape his notice that Collins is talking about the stuff like it's…alive.
Which just can't be good, right?
Jason shares a glance with Major Grimes, his security officer, who just shrugs in response, his eyes a little wide.
Overhead, the lights flicker ominously.
Jason may not follow everything Collins is saying, but the general anxiety of the lab techs in the room combined with the doctor's tone is enough to tell him something not so great is in the process of happening.
He's considering asking for a simplified explanation for at least the tenth time in hopes of an intelligible answer this time, when his eye is caught by a still, slight form leaning against the back wall, her face intent on a touch pad in her hands.
He recognizes her as Dr. Lindsey Novak, a woman he knows primarily from one aborted mission in space under Hammond's command. There had been a hell of a lot of hiccuping then, if he recalls. She seems to have gotten over that though, as she's probably the most placid figure in the whole room. He imagines she's seen her fair share of insanity shuttling back and forth between Earth and Pegasus, working side by side with an Asgard for the last four years.
That's why she's here, engineering specialist, biggest expert when it comes to all things Asgard. She's pretty much the closest thing to an Asgard that exists anymore. Even Colonel Carter, due to lack of time, doesn't know the systems half so well as Novak.
Jason is still a bit surprised Caldwell gave her up.
Going on instinct, he directs his next question at her. "Would you mind bottom lining this for me, Dr. Novak?"
Her eyes pull reluctantly from her device, blinking up at him. "Me? Oh. Sure." She pokes the screen again. "If the sample cannot somehow be contained or neutralized, I'd say we have a 60 chance of the environmental controls failing, a 40 chance that the hyperdrive will also be negatively affected, a 25 chance that enough critical systems will be compromised to result in the ship exploding. And a .0005 that someone will spontaneously combust, but since that is a constant probability completely independent of the current situation, you can probably just ignore it."
She's spoken of their apparent doom in such a bland, matter-of-fact tone that Jason has the bizarre impulse to laugh. But when the highest chance is everyone on board suffocating, he's not quite in the mood to indulge it.
He glances at Dr. Collins for confirmation of Novak's rundown and he nods his head in agreement.
Wonderful. "What kind of timeline are we looking at here?"
"Three to four hours," Dr. Collins says. "Maybe less."
It's going to be a miracle if Jason makes it out of this first mission without an ulcer. "Okay. And here's where you tell me how to avoid all of those possibilities and fix this."
Now it's Dr. Collins' turn to look pained, mopping at his highly perspiring brow with a large handkerchief.
Jason bites back a sigh.
From next to him, Major Grimes hesitantly raises his hand like elementary school kid. When the scientists simply stare back at him, he gamely clears his throat. "Excuse me for even saying this, but can't we just, I dunno, drain everything out of the power conduits or something, taking this…thing with it? You know, like a dead battery?"
There's a long pause, during which Grimes looks more and more sorry he opened his mouth.
"Unfortunately, it's not that simple," Dr. Collins says with what Jason assumes is meant to be a kindly smile, but ends up looking more pitying than anything.
Jason makes a mental note to put a little more time into facilitating the military-scientist relationships a bit more. If they survive, that is.
"Why can't it be?"
They all turn to look at Novak, who has pushed away from her spot on the wall and now leans over a console.
"Excuse me?" Dr. Collins says.
"Why can't it be that easy?" she repeats. She doesn't wait for a reply, gesturing at another small group of engineers near the rear. "Garcia, what's the battery capacity of your prototype probe?"
Jason watches understanding take over Garcia's face. "It's meant for long term observation," he says, stepping up next to her, "so it might just be enough. I can probably tweak it to make it handle an even larger current without frying."
"I see where you're going," Dr. Collins says, and Jason's glad at least someone does. "How long can we survive with the power completely shut off?" he asks of another woman Jason recognizes as the environmental controls specialist. Dr. Gupta, he thinks.
She's got a pen cap between her teeth as she scratches out some numbers. "At least 20-30 minutes before hypothermia and carbon dioxide poisoning become a serious problem."
"Is that enough?" Novak asks Garcia.
"It may just be."
From there, the conversation dissolves even further into incomprehensible specifics, people darting out of the room to undertake various tasks.
Novak passes by and Jason reaches for her arm, pulling her to a stop. "Am I to assume you've worked out a solution?" he asks.
"Yeah," she says, pushing a strand of hair out of her eyes.
"Should I bother asking for an explanation?"
Her eyebrows lift, a small smile curving one side of her mouth. "You're the boss. You tell me."
He doesn't get the sense that she's laughing at him so much as the situation, having experienced this predicament of military-science (mis)communication more than once over the years. One of the things Jason will have to judge is when to demand answers and when to just step the hell out of the way and let the scientists do their thing.
"This is going to work," she says.
He believes her. "Okay. I'll be on the bridge. I want updates every 20 minutes."
"Understood," Novak calls over her shoulder as she hustles to rejoin the herd of people around the main console.
Just as he exits the room, there is the pop of a small explosion. His steps slow long enough to hear someone call out, "I'm okay!"
Forcing himself to continue down the hallway, Jason silently curses Jack O'Neill and his sick, sick sense of humor.
Jason walks a long hallway and listens to the quiet hum of the ship that lets him know all is once again right with the Hyperion. She's only been his for a matter of days, but he likes to think he already knows her sounds.
It's been less than an hour since they were all in risk of asphyxiation or implosion, but now with the probe and it's passenger back on their way to the gas giant and nary a flicker in the electrical systems since, they are all able to take a deep breath.
He's already jotted off a quick rundown of the situation back to Earth and is now looking forward to nothing more than a few hours of shuteye that will hopefully cure the tension headache currently streaking down the back of his neck. Just another thing he will have to get used to, no doubt.
Pausing in front of the lift, he hits the call button. The doors slide open to reveal someone already in the small space, leaning against the back wall. They're bent over at the waist, head lowered almost to their knees.
A hand flaps in Jason's general direction. "Just hit any floor for me, please."
"Dr. Novak?" Jason asks, recognizing that voice.
"Colonel," she says with a bit of a squeak. She straightens up with a jerk, one elbow slamming into the wall behind her.
Jason winces with sympathy. "Are you okay?"
Novak nods her head, one hand cradling her elbow.
He'd have an easier time believing her if she wasn't biting her lower lip and looking up at him through watering eyes. She mumbles something under her breath that sounds suspiciously like "Smooth, Lindsey, real smooth."
He's still trying to decide why Novak talking to herself is surprisingly endearing when she waves at the panel of buttons next to him. "Would you mind?"
"Oh, sure," Jason says, stepping inside and jabbing at the deck number he's heading to.
"Thanks," she says, once again leaning over, lifting a brown paper bag to her mouth and breathing deeply a few times.
He watches her for a moment, not quite sure what to say about her interesting little routine. This is certainly nothing he ever had to deal with on SG-3. "Are you sure you're alright?"
She doesn't look up at him again, just flutters one hand dismissively. "Delayed reaction."
The words are slightly muffled by the bag, but she sounds serious enough. "Excuse me?"
She straightens, slower this time, leaning back against the wall. Her eyes dart over his face and he has the feeling she's trying to judge whether or not she's being mocked. "I've learned to stay pretty calm during crisis situations. But as soon as it's clear we're not going to…" Her hands spread wide.
"Explode?" Jason supplies.
She nods. "Yes. Then it's time for a panic attack." Her face pales a bit as if in proof, and she jams the bag over her mouth again, sucking in a breath.
The doors slide open behind him and Jason punches another number without looking. "Delayed reaction," he repeats. "Useful."
He can see the edge of her lip around the bag curve into a smile. "Yeah. Nothing a paper bag and a bit of time in a lift can't fix."
Interesting cure. Seems a little…unscientific if you ask him.
"What about the…" He gestures at his throat.
Her eyes widen as she tries to place how he knows about that particular foible. He can practically see her latching onto the relevant memory of the Prometheus mission. "Oh, right," she says, looking a bit sheepish. "I, uh, reserve those for special occasions only these days."
Jason isn't sure if he's supposed to laugh at that, but he can't help it.
Luckily she smiles back at him, a dimple flashing in her cheek. "Apparently looming threat of death has become too common to merit nerves anymore."
He grins back. "That I can imagine."
Behind him the doors open once again and he reminds himself he probably shouldn't stand here all day, no matter how strangely compelling that idea is. He moves towards the hall. "You staying in here?" he asks.
She nods, holding her hand out as if proof. It's still trembling, just a bit. "A few more trips should do it."
"All right. Carry on, Doctor," Jason says, stepping out of the lift. At the last second, he turns back, his hand holding the door open. "Oh, and Novak?"
"Yeah?" she says, back to looking wary again. He wonders why she does that, like she's always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"Really great work today," he says, smiling at her with genuine affection.
Her face tinges pink, just like he'd somehow known it would. "Thank you," she says, stuttering slightly at the unexpected compliment.
He nods at her one last time and steps out of the lift.
Wait for it, he thinks as he loiters in the hall just out of sight.
It's right as the doors slide shut again that he finally hears it: a soft hiccup followed by a more audible, "Dammit!"
Jason grins, not even caring anymore that he's gotten off on the wrong deck.
There's a message from General O'Neill waiting for Jason the next morning when he enters the bridge.
'You are very welcome,' is all it says.
Jason stares at the slip of paper, trying to decide if Jack's just trying to be funny or something. After the disastrous mission report he submitted, why on Earth would anyone think he is thankful for this post?
The entire day had been a nightmare of incomprehensible blather. They'd almost blown the ship up, after all. And then there had been that moment when everything finally clicked and his crew pulled the solution out of their asses, their faces lit with understanding.
Which was kind of…cool, come to think of it.
He thinks fleetingly of Lindsey Novak's dimples and delayed panic attacks in the lift.
Looking down at Jack's note again, he does actually feel a tiny tinge of gratitude. Maybe. Guess he really shouldn't have 'accidentally' leaked that photo of the general after all.
Jason shrugs. Just another upside to long-term deep space research missions: even Jack O'Neill will have a hard time reaching him all the way out here.
Leaning back in his chair, Jason listens to the calm sound of his ship running at peak efficiency and asks for a systems update.
Lieutenant Yeltsin has barely begun her report when the entire ship shudders out of hyperspace, the lights flickering off only to be replaced by the muted green typical of backup systems.
"Here we go again," Jason mutters.
Around him, everyone kicks into motion, departments from all over the ship checking in, following basic procedures, including one semi-shrill voice declaring, "That wasn't me, I swear!"
It's only when Yeltsin gives him a strange look that Jason realizes he's smiling.
Sure, the Hyperion it isn't quite a well-oiled machine. Yet. But maybe a little chaos now and again can be a good thing.
For now, there is another crisis to be dealt with.
"Systems report," Jason calls out.
He has no doubt they'll make it through.