She was tied to the seat in a sinking jumper…
Pure panic jolted Jen into action, her movements echoed with a shrill, repetitive beeping. She flailed furiously, struggling to free herself before the water came in too far. But the water wasn't here…and this jumper had a white ceiling. And when did Rodney install such a shrill warning beeper?
"Och, now calm down lass," Carson commanded, his hands pinning her to the bed.
Something sharp stung the side of her neck, the prick of pain making her dizzy. She struggled dispite the sluggishness in her limbs.
"Jennifer, calm down." Ronon's voice. Ronon's face. She hesitated…listening to his repeated insistence that she was safe. The beeping klaxon slowed in tandem with her mind's acceptance of his words. Other faces hovered in the background, blurry and out of focus.
Jumbled images of icy water flowed with her as she slid into the darkness.
John and Evan walked into the infirmary, crossing to where Carson and Marie were holding court in front of Dr. Keller's bed. Ronon stood with an uneasy stiffness next to an equally concerned looking Teyla.
"Next time we'll bring her up a little more slowly," Carson was saying. "It was just a bit of a panic. Nothing to worry about."
"Everything okay?" John asked, immediately assessing the pale woman in the bed beside them, her skin as white as the gauze covering half her forehead. The monitors next to the bed beat a steady rhythm while she slept.
"Aye," Carson shot them a calm smile. "Jennifer woke up in a bit of a state. We had to sedate her. Next time we'll let things wear off a little less abruptly. Give her time to adjust."
"But she's okay?" John looked at the doctor for reassurance.
"Other than a broken wrist, a conk in the noggin, and swallowing half an ocean, aye lad. She'll be fine."
John's attention shifted to the bed to the left and the equally pale skinned occupant.
Laura's state gave them far more to worry about than Jennifer. Where Davidson's rope around Jennifer's torso had effectively belted her into her seat, Laura had been wearing only the lap belt. She may have come out of it with less of a worry if Davidson's un-secured six-foot form hadn't smashed past them into the bulkhead, half crushing Laura as he flew past. The right side of her body suffered the most damage, with broken ribs and a cracked collarbone, torn ligaments in her shoulder, a broken wrist, and a severe concussion. One of her ribs had pierced a lung, giving them all a sleepless night, but true to her stubborn red-headedness, she'd come through surgery with flying colours.
Now it was just a matter of waiting for the sedative to wear off and the recovery to begin.
John hadn't needed to speak to either woman to know that Laura had purposely crashed the jumper. Rodney and Radek had run test after test, confirming without at doubt that the dampeners were not faulty… they had been turned off. But why? Why take that kind of chance? Why nearly kill yourself in an attempt to take out one man?
They were questions that would remain unanswered until the two women awoke.
It was almost four o'clock in the morning when Jennifer started to wake up. The infirmary was quiet and lifeless, a nice change to the emotional insanity that had followed hours earlier when the two women had been brought in.
The rescue had been a frantic battle of men against ocean. The jumper had crashed almost directly in front of them, flying in perfectly fluidly until it suddenly pitched and slammed into the water. He'd fully expected it to plunge beneath the surface, but somehow Cadman had managed to keep enough control to hold the craft hovering half-in, half-out of the ocean for two minutes before she finally passed out and the ship had started to sink. In the time it had taken Cadman's mind to release flight control and Sheppard to take it over, the interior of the disabled jumper had filled completely with water.
It was one of the longest flashes of time he'd ever had to hold on to.
Jennifer's breathing grew more sporadic as she pulled herself out of the drugged sleep. She mumbled something incoherent and lifted her broken hand. He wrapped his fingers around the cast and gently guided her hand back down.
Her eyelids fluttered and opened, finally focusing.
"Hey," he leaned closer to the bed. "How are you feeling?"
She frowned. "Dizzy."
She lifted her left arm, eyeing the cast warily. She glanced at him, her free hand rubbing lightly across the gauze along her temple.
"Wrist. Carson said it was a clean break. And you cracked your head…only seven stitches though," he added, angling his chin towards the bandage on her forehead.
"Only seven?" she half smiled.
She nodded and closed her eyes. They shot open almost immediately. "Laura!" she gasped.
Anticipating her reaction, he was on his feet and pushing her back against the pillow before she could sit up.
"Right beside you," he slid to the side so she could see Laura in the next bed.
"Wow," Jen whispered. "She looks bad."
Ronon quickly filled her in on Laura's injuries.
She pointed her towards the foot of Laura's bed. He snorted and reached for Laura's medical chart, having to help her hold it so she could read the report.
"Satisfied?" he asked when she dropped her head back to the pillow.
"No, but it will have to do I suppose."
"Want to tell me what happened out there?" he asked.
Jen stared up at him. "I…" she bit her lower lip. "It's fuzzy…pieces…" Her brow furrowed, wrinkling the gauze. "He wanted us to shoot you down…"
"We figured as much. That's why Sheppard dropped to the trees… so she'd have something else to shoot at."
"Oh," Jennifer replied. "I didn't…I mean I thought…" She gave her head a slight shake then smiled, resting back against the bed again. Her eyes drifted closed and she sighed. "Just thought he was a good pilot."
After a moment of silence he thought she'd fallen asleep again, but she snapped up with a gasp. Her fingers shot up, wrapping tightly around his wrist. Her skin was like ice. The monitor beside her began to beep crazily and he watched the numbers climb.
"He's going after our families," she blurted out. She tried to pull herself up and he forced her back. Her words rushed out in a hurried stream. "He said if we didn't do what he said, he'd kill them! My Dad. Laura's family. The baby—"
"Okay…one thought at a time, Jennifer." He tried to keep his voice steady despite the agitation she was transferring through her trembling fingers. "Who said?"
"Not the real one…the one in the jumper."
"He's dead," Ronon said firmly. "He died in the crash."
"What if he isn't…wasn't…working alone? What if—"
Ronon tapped his com. "Sheppard."
"Hey buddy," John answered sleepily. "What's up?"
"Need you in the infirmary."
"Everything okay?" John asked, his voice suddenly clear and awake.
"Doc's awake and needs your help."
"Be there in five," came the succinct reply.
"He's on his way," Ronon assured her. "I'm sure it was just an empty threat, Jennifer. But—" he added before she could protest. "We'll make sure everyone's safe. Okay?"
"Okay," she whispered, slowly sliding her fingers away from his wrist.
"How about you tell me how you crashed while we wait?"
Evan attacked the punching bag in rhythmic pattern of kicks and punches, exhaling curses with each strike. He couldn't believe the damn woman would actually willingly face-plant a jumper into the ocean out of some crazy-assed scheme to save him. That was the best plan she could come up with? Snapping on a seat belt and going for the send-the-bad-guy-through-the-windshield trick? It was a damn lap belt in a space-ship…not a Looney Tunes cartoon! When she finally woke up he was going to have a few words with her on that subject. Right after he told her he loved her he'd firmly explain how he would kick her ass to hell and back if she ever tried anything so one-hundred-percent spectacularly foolish ever again.
God damn redheads.
"Of all the stupid… rash…reckless…fool-hardy… idiotic… brainless… hair-brained… dumb-ass… god-forsaken… stupid…."
"You said that one already," John quipped from the doorway.
Evan gave the bag a disgusted shove and stepped towards the corner of the gym, snagging his water bottle off the floor. He downed half of it then exchanged it for a towel.
"Ran out of swear words?" John moved into the room.
Evan shrugged, swiping the sweat off his face with the cloth. "Used them already. In seven different languages. Including Ancient."
"You slept yet?"
Evan stared at his CO knowing damn well the man was asking while already knowing the answer. "Sure," he lied. "A whole eight hours. Any word from the IOA?"
"Everyone is alive, accounted for, and under 24 hour secret surveillance. SGC agrees it was likely just an empty threat, but surveillance will remain in place until they've tracked down the supply lines and come up with an identity on our impostor."
"How's the Doc?"
"Driving Carson nuts with questions over Laura's treatment."
Evan had to smile at that one. Jen wasn't just a bad patient, she was hell on wheels to anyone tasked with taking care of her. Didn't help that Ronon's constant presence was only adding to the tension level when anyone came near her bed.
His smile faltered. Despite Carson's repeated assurances, Laura showed no signs of waking.
John slapped him across the shoulder then shoved him towards the hallway. "She'll be fine."
"Before or after I kill her?" Evan scowled, stepping into the dimly lit hallway.
"Hey," John shook his head. "I thought it was a pretty ballsy move, myself."
"That's such a compliment coming from the guy who thinks 'kamikaze' means 'park here'."
"Hey…" John frowned. "I've never wrecked a jumper McKay couldn't fix. Now quit arguing with me and get yourself cleaned up, Major. Carson's said to tell you she's waking up."
Evan tried to hide the flicker of hope he'd been strangling for the past three days, then gave up. "Yes, Sir." he grinned and took off at a run down the empty hallway.
"Come on," Laura pouted. "I feel fine."
"I said no," Evan replied firmly. "You are not taking a jumper to the mainland, and that's final."
"No, Jen can't take a jumper either."
"No, the Doc can't book a jumper to the mainland and request you as the pilot either.
"You are not allowed to steal a jumper, borrow a jumper, requisition a jumper, or blackmail anyone else into getting you a jumper. I don't want you in the jumper bay, near the jumper bay, or anywhere in the immediate vicinity of a jumper for the next two weeks or I swear I will pack you up on the Daedalus before she leaves in the morning and you will spend the next eighteen days under the ever watchful eye of Colonel Caldwell in stead of here in the city with your best friend on down-time. Do we have an understanding?"
"Party pooper," Laura sighed and dropped her head back to his shoulder. She shifted her leg up over his and pressed closer. "Guess I'll just have to find something else to do to pass the time."
"Carson said no strenuous activity."
Laura smiled slowly, tracing random patterns across his bare stomach. "Well then I guess it's up to you to make the activity as un-strenuous as possible."
Evan laughed. "And just how do you expect me to do that, Red?"
"Slowly," she kissed the side of his neck. "Very…very, slowly."
"You are so going to steal a jumper, aren't you?" he sighed when she nibbled on his ear.
"I prefer the word liberate," she laughed, nuzzling the side of his jaw with her nose.
"Fine," he sighed, sliding his fingers into her hair and kissing her. "Please just warn me first."
"Now where's the fun in that?"
"Red…" he said slowly.
Laura smiled. He was so cute when he was worried about her. "I promise I'll warn you."
"Now," she rolled on top of him. "Where were we?"
"I think you were seducing me."
"Right," she smiled. "Well, let's get back to that, shall we?"
"Let's," he grinned. "And then you can steal your jumper."
"Love you," she giggled.
"Love you too, Red."