Author's Note --- Yes, I'm back! The evil plot bunnies have attacked me and disrupted my life once again. They wouldn't let me move on until I agreed to put this tale to screen! I hope you all enjoy where it's going! I'm not sure where they're going to take us, but it should be a fast and exciting trip! We've got Jen and Laura whump, and a lot of angry alpha males searching for answers. :) An excellent start if I do say so myself!
Laura walked through the cold, quiet corridors of the lower levels of the city. She took a deep breath, loving the musty scent of dampness and sea salt. The air on the Daedalus was stale and canned, its regenerated atmosphere usually smelling like a gym locker. She loved the work and the job – but she could definitely forgo spending eighteen days in a row locked in a sardine can with a hundred testosterone charged cement heads.
Landing on the Atlantis pier always felt like coming home. Sea. Sky. Fresh air. She tried to cram as much outside time in during their stop over, but she'd be back on the ship all too soon. And more often than not, the short layover was not enough time to reconnect with her friends. Between schedules and assignments, she was lucky if she'd been able to hang with anyone for more than a meal over the past three months.
But not this month! No, this time she'd lucked out. The Daedalus had left without her. She'd been assigned the time on Atlantis and was going to make the most of it! Starting with 24 hours of free time, and an outing with her best friend.
She grinned and turned to her companion. "So tell me what I missed…"
Next to her, Jen shrugged. "Not much, really," she answered, pretending to find something of interest along the smooth marbled walls. "Same old, same old."
Laura narrowed her eyes. "I've been gone for over a month and you're telling me nothing unusual happened?"
"So if I ask around," Laura hinted, "everyone will tell me everything went just fine with all those off world missions…"
"Uh-huh," Laura nodded. She paused. "You know I don't believe you, right?"
"Yup," Jen grinned.
Laura laughed. "So what did you do this time?"
"Why does everyone always think it's my fault?"
"Because it usually is," Laura dropped her arm around her friend's shoulder. "You have the luck of the dammed."
"I do not."
"Who got hurt this time?" Laura asked, dropping her arm.
"There's a but in there isn't there?"
"But…" Laura prompted.
Jen rolled her eyes. "I might have…accidentally…destroyed…a…sacred temple…a few weeks ago…" she muttered.
"Destroyed a sacred temple?" Laura stopped abruptly, and burst out laughing.
"It wasn't my fault!" Jen stopped walking and turned to face Laura. She flung her arms wide. "Rodney told me the console was harmless! He should have said it was harmless if you didn't touch it! How was I supposed to know the green buttons were a self destruct? I mean, all I did was lean against it! Thankfully Colonel Sheppard realized the beeping wasn't a good thing… I mean seriously…would you…oh for god sake! It's not that funny!"
Laura's laughter echoed down the empty hallway. After a moment she straightened, her eyes shining with unshed tears. "Oh god…" she gasped for air. "Self destruct…Oh J…I missed you…"
"Yeah, yeah…" Jen scowled, crossing her arms.
"I mean it," Laura insisted, her laughter fading into a soft smile. She threw her arms around Jen and hugged her tightly.
"I've missed you too, Spaz." Jen smiled her understanding and agreement. She gave Laura a squeeze then pushed back. "Now if you're done laughing at me—"
"Hey! I wasn't laughing at you," Laura interrupted. "I was laughing with you."
"I wasn't laughing," Jen reminded her friend, and fell into step beside her. "The other person has to be laughing for you to laugh with them."
"Hmm…" Laura grinned, leading the way into a side corridor. "Good point. I'll keep that in mind."
"You do that." Jen glanced down the dimly lit hallway. She looked up, then back at Laura. She frowned. "Are you sure you know where you're going?"
"Yes, I'm sure I know where I'm going," Laura mocked in a sing-song voice.
"…'cause you said it was around the next corner," Jen reminded her friend, "about seven corners ago."
"Yeah…well…" Laura stopped at the junction of an intersecting corridor. She turned in a complete circle. "It's been a month since I found it."
"Ah yes," Jen nodded. "The mysterious it. Are you going to tell me what it is yet?"
"Nope," Laura said firmly. She glanced sideways at Jen. Laura knew her friend hated surprises, but this little gem was definitely too cool for words. An acoustically balanced room that played the most amazing music. Emotionally charged symphonies so enveloping, all she'd been able to do was sit on the floor and just listen. Laura had stumbled across it during her last visit but hadn't had time to explore it further.
Jen was going to love it…if Laura could remember just where the hell it was!
"You don't remember where it is, do you." Jen commented dryly.
"These hallways all look the same. It would be nice if they could have color coded them." Laura turned down the dark corridor to their right, hesitated, then took the corridor to the left. "This way…I think."
Jen walked beside her. "Why didn't you make a map or something?"
Laura looked down at her pocketless capris and tank top. "And just where do you propose I keep the pen and paper?"
Jen's eyes dropped to Laura's chest. She wiggled her eyebrows.
"I'll have you know this is a fifty dollar bra, not a desk set," Laura huffed.
Jen snickered. "Oh they're a desk set all right…I seem to recall a certain someone nearly getting caught on a certain someone else's desk? Right before the someones' commanding officer walked in…?
"Hey!" Laura tried for offended but couldn't stop herself from grinning. "Yeah…that was a pretty close call, wasn't it?"
Jen shook her head and grinned. "One of these days you two are going to get caught."
"Hey! We're very discreet…"
"The front compartment of a Jumper is not discreet."
"Oh shut it," Laura felt her cheeks burning at the memory of nearly being walked in on by a pair of engineers scheduled to run maintenance on Jumper three. "At least I admit I have a problem," she countered.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Oh like you don't know, Miss sneaking-glances-then-hiding-your-face-when-he-looks-your-way." Laura taunted. "You're not fooling anyone with that small town innocent act, missy. We all know you want to jump his bones."
"Jump his bones?" Jen gaped. "How old are you?"
"Old enough to know what it means…" Laura smiled lewdly. "Come on. You know you want to. Just admit it."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Jen said hurriedly.
"Uh-huh…" Laura nodded slowly.
After a moment, Jen huffed. "Yeah, well…how do you know I haven't…you know…done it?"
"Because you can't even say it!" Laura snickered. "Say it. Come on…say it! Sex." She poked Jen in the arm. "Say it, Keller. Sex. It's just a word Miss Medical Terminology. Sex. Sex, sex, sex!"
"Okay!" Jen exclaimed. "Fine! Sex. There I said it. Happy?
"God, you're crude."
Laura laughed. "Besides, there's no way you'd be wasting time down here with me on your day off if you had the opportunity to be taking a ride on—"
"Laura!" Jen wacked Laura across the shoulder. "You're impossible!"
"Yeah, but you love me anyway."
"I tolerate you."
"You love me."
Jen giggled. "You just don't know when to stop, do you?"
"Nope." Laura popped the P dramatically.
The end of the corridor they stopped at a t-intersection. Laura looked left, right, then left again.
Jen turned in a circle. "I thought you Marine's were supposed have some kind of…you know…memory thing…"
"Memory thing?" Laura raised her eyebrows.
Jen swirled her index finger around in the air. "Yeah. Some trick you do to remember where you're going."
"Yeah, like…counting footsteps or making up rhymes or something…"
Laura snickered. "What are you talking about?"
Jen dropped her hands to her hips. "You know what I mean!"
"No," Laura shook her head. "I don't."
"Do you know where we're going or not?"
"I know…" Laura stepped forward, spotting a vaguely familiar double set of wall sconces next to an arched doorway. "It's right there…"
"Uh huh," Jen scowled. "Sure it is."
Laura stepped forward. "No really. It's right there."
Jen shuffled along behind her. "You're just saying that."
"No…" Laura pointed at the lights on the wall. "See? Two lights side by side."
"Yeah that's definitely an unusual marker. Heaven forbid there should be lights on the wall…" she scoffed.
Laura turned to glare at her. Jen was biting the inside of her cheek to keep herself from laughing.
"You're such a trouble maker, Keller." Laura rolled her eyes.
Jen giggled. "It's so much fun yanking your chain."
Laura walked under the arch into the large, open room. The walls were bare and dark, streaked with stains from the salt water that once flooded the entire section.
"Well…this is certainly exciting," Jen glanced up at the single light on the ceiling high above their heads. "Definitely worth an hour's walk and the promise of having to climb back up 17 floors to the transporter level."
"Oh shush," Laura made a face. "The room is over here." She pointed to a closed door to her left.
Jen stepped forward but Laura stopped her. "Nuh-uh… Finders keepers." She swiped her hand over the access control.
The door slid to the side revealing nothing but darkness beyond. Laura wasn't surprised by the lack of illumination. The music and light show didn't kick in until you triggered the console in the center of the room. She fought to contain her smile. Jen was going to flip!
Next to her, Jen shifted her weight nervously. She stared into the dark room. "Is there some big thing that's going to jump out at me?"
Laura dropped her arms to her side. "Would I do that to you?"
Jen raised her eyebrows.
"Okay fine," Laura admitted. "But not this time. This is really cool, J. Trust me. You're going to love it."
"Fine…" Jen eyed the room warily. "But we go in together."
Laura relented. "Okay."
They crossed the threshold in tandem. Faded light from the room behind filtered forward, chasing away the deeper shadows. Laura's eyes moved past the intricate and unusual patterns carved into the marble flooring and up to the center console, which was hidden behind a half-dozen silver shipping crates.
Those hadn't been there before.
She frowned. This wasn't on the scheduled list of storage rooms.
"Well I can certainly see why you dragged me below sea level…" Jen muttered as she stepped towards the crates.
A tiny shiver of ice feathered across the back of Laura's neck. Instinct and training kicked in and she leapt to the side. She opened her mouth to shout a warning to Jen but an explosion of crippling pain in the back of her skull shut her down.
She was out before she hit the floor.