"Excuse me?" The small sandy-haired man looked timid as he came up behind Ronon and Jennifer.
Ronon did his best attempt at a friendly smile. "Yes?"
"I'm sorry," the man said, sounding scared. Ronon sighed. Obviously his attempt at sounding nice had failed miserably. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "But the Daedalus won't be able to take you back just yet. There has been an unavoidable delay. Technical problems. It might be fixed in the next hour, or in the next few days."
The man hurriedly added, "This was a last minute thing. Completely unavoidable. I'm really sorry."
Even Jennifer was looking slightly annoyed. "I cut my trip home short because of the situation in Pegasus. I need to be there."
"We both need to be there," Ronon interjected. He was slightly amused to notice that the man seemed to be shaking slightly. This man obviously wasn't going to last long at the SGC if he was scared just facing Ronon. He wondered how the man would react if he was facing the Wraith or the Goa'uld.
The man lifted his hands helplessly. "There's nothing I can do."
Jennifer took pity on him. She went over and laid a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay," she said in a mock-confidential voice, "he has that effect on people. We don't blame you for the delay."
Ronon snorted. They had been on Earth for a week and a half. Jennifer was on leave to visit her family and he was here to report to the IOA again. They had gotten urgent notice from Pegasus yesterday that they needed to be back immediately. The details had been sketchy but Ronon gathered that there was a new alien threat in Pegasus. The Daedalus was supposed to be ready to take them back. But now they were stuck here for some indeterminable period.
"I'm sorry," the man repeated again. He gave them a nervous smile and then hurried out of the door. The door closed behind him.
Ronon turned to Jennifer. "So," he said, "now what?"
It took them a few hours of sitting around the mess hall with nothing to do before they had decided to leave and find something to do. Landry had ordered them to stay within the SGC and to stay out of everybody's way, except there was simply nothing for them to actually do. Finally, Ronon had decided that the best way to pass the time would be to have a few shots of scotch in a spare meeting room. Least that way, he reasoned, the time would pass somewhat more quickly and he wouldn't have to challenge some of the SGC personnel to duels in order to entertain himself.
Jennifer wrinkled up her nose when she read the label. "I'm not terribly fond of this stuff," she said. "I prefer beer."
"It grows on you." Ronon remembered the first time John introduced him to scotch. He had found it surprisingly smooth compared some of the drinks he had found out in some of the planets in Pegasus.
"If you say so," Jennifer said, sounding doubtful.
Ronon grinned. He liked the sweetly puzzled expression on her face. Lifting up the bottle, he poured it into plastic cups. It was difficult to measure out the arbitrary 'shot' amount that John had told him about so he just half-filled them.
Jennifer picked up her cup. "It's weird drinking out of this."
Ronon lifted his cup to his lips and downed it in one gulp. He had always found the SGC rather cold. The scotch slid down his throat, warming him up from the inside. "Mmm. Tastes the same though." He never quite understood why people from Earth felt the need to drink each of their separate types of alcohol out of separate glasses. Rodney had tried to explain different types of wine glasses to him at one stage, but he just blanked out. The idea that the width of a glass indicated that it should contain a red wine (or was it a white, he really couldn't remember) puzzled him.
"I suppose," Jennifer said. She lifted up her glass and then paused. "I wonder what Landry would think if he knew we were drinking his scotch?"
"He told us to stay out of his way. We're out of his way," Ronon pointed out. He punctuated his point by taking another gulp.
"Yeah, but this looks like quite expensive stuff." She looked hesitant.
Ronon glanced at her cup and raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to have a drink or not? It's not as though we have anything else to do here."
Jennifer lifted the glass up to her lips and in one quick motion, drank the entire thing. She set it down and wiped her mouth. Ronon took that opportunity to refill her glass. "How much do you expect me to drink?" she asked. "Are you trying to get me drunk?"
Yes, a part of Ronon's mind said, but he clamped down on it. "Of course not," he said while pouring himself another glass. "If you want, we could go back to the mess hall."
She pursed her lips. "No thanks," she said.
Ronon silently agreed with her. It had been incredibly boring in the mess hall. On one hand, they were in one of the most top secret facilities on Earth. On the other hand, all they were allowed to do here was eat jello and sandwiches. Plus, there was the whole problem in Pegasus that they were both worried about. There had been a hint that John and Rodney might be in trouble and Ronon wanted to go back and help them.
"This gets a bit better when you have more of it," Jennifer said as she sipped on her second cup. "It's kind of like caramel."
"Mmm," Ronon said.
There was an awkward silence. Ronon looked around the room and tried to think of a topic of conversation. He was never terribly good at starting conversations. He was better at expressing himself physically. "So," Ronon said.
At the same time, Jennifer said, "Well."
They both laughed.
"You go first," Jennifer said.
Ronon tried to sound casual. "What did happen between you and Kiryk?"
Jennifer frowned. "You aren't still harping on that, are you? He wasn't a bad guy. He was trying to help her. I'm a doctor. I was the logical choice."
"He didn't have to kidnap you."
Jennifer laughed and brushed her hair away from her face. "If I recall mission reports correctly, didn't you do the same to John and Teyla."
Ronon was stumped. "It's not the same thing," he finally said.
"No," she said, with a grin, "you just wanted to save yourself. He wanted to save the girl."
Ronon didn't know what to say. What she said made perfect sense. But still, he had taken people who were perfectly capable of defending themselves. And he hadn't exactly kidnapped them. Not really, anyway.
Some of what he was thinking must have shown on his face because Jennifer leaned over and patted his shoulder. "Sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to have a go at you there. I was scared when Kiryk kidnapped me, but I realized soon enough that he was a good guy. He'd just been through rough times. Like you." She had a pensive look on her face. "I admired him. His courage."
"Hm," Ronon said.
"I admire your courage as well," Jennifer added hastily. "I admire John and Teyla too. You're all so … brave. I," she bit her lip, "could never be like you guys." She lifted the cup to her lips and downed the rest of her scotch. Before Ronon could grab the bottle, she had already poured herself another cupful.
"You're brave too," Ronon said, "just in a different way." He genuinely meant it. The number of times he had seen Jennifer take charge in a medical emergency that would have left other people flustered at the gushing blood and oozing sores was remarkable. She was normally an unassuming, rather shy person, but inside the med centre, she was completely different. Not bossy, but strong-willed and determined to save lives.
"Yeah right," she said. "That's what they all say in these situations. I know I'm a bit of a wimp. I have no head for heights and I couldn't run up a mountain to save my life."
"But," Ronon pointed out, "you'd run up the mountain to save somebody else's."
She seemed to ponder this thought. "I suppose," she admitted after a short pause. "If it wasn't a very steep mountain." She gave him a shy smile.
Ronon laughed. He really liked her sense of humor.
He was about to pour himself yet another cupful of scotch when they heard footsteps outside of the door. They both stared at the door guiltily. Jennifer had an expression on her face that reminded Ronon of a kid who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
The door opened and Landry stepped through.
"Ah," he said as he spotted the open scotch bottle on the table and the slightly flushed look on Jennifer's face. Ronon thought the look on her face was adorable. "I was wondering where my good scotch had gone."
"General Landry," Jennifer began, "we're really sorry…"
Landry waved a dismissive hand. "I'll give you the lecture on inappropriate behavior later. I take it you didn't hear the announcement. The Daedalus was ready half an hour ago. You were supposed to collect your luggage and get to a beaming point." He looked at his watch. "You have about ten minutes."
Ronon was surprised at how quickly the repairs had gone. He stood up, lifted up the scotch bottle and handed it to a bemused looking Landry. "We'll be going then," he said.
Landry gave them both a pointed look. "Yes, you should be."
Jennifer had an apologetic look on her face as she sidled past Landry and out the door. "Woah," she said once they had rounded a corner. "Didn't he look mad?" She paused slightly. "I feel slightly dizzy. Must have been the lunch we missed."
Ronon had to admit that he was also feeling the slight effects of the scotch. "I'm fine," he said. Beside him, Jennifer stumbled slightly. "Here," he said and caught hold of her arm. "Hold onto me." He grinned at her. "You have a whole two weeks on the Daedalus to sober up."
Jennifer laughed and held onto his arm tighter.