Summary: Just a little reflective piece from Jen's POV, starts off in mid episode 13 with random flashbacks to previous episodes and a few made up things thrown in for good measure (ie my own crazy interpretation of scenes ie totally made up dialogue and events). Not the kind of thing I usually write, following the show plot so closely. So not sure where this came from. Also forgive my complete character assassination of Jen at the end, I'm quite clearly venting my own issues! I apologise to Jen. Spoilers right through season 1.
**"But it's Zoe!" You tell him, and that's all there is to it as far as you're concerned. It's Zoe.
But he's looking at you like he doesn't understand. Worse, he's looking at you like he just doesn't care.**
Disclaimer: Don't own anything. And may not have been paying too much attention as I watched the show. Just a product of my twisted imagination. All errors are mine.
You feel your heart stop beating for a flicker in time. Your chest is constricting painfully and you draw in a sharp breath. Insidious fear is pressing down upon you as you watch her.
As you realise, before anyone else does, exactly what it is she is doing.
As you realise, far too late, that she isn't coming back.
You eyes are glued to the live footage from Venus, her hesitant steps across a new frontier. She looks suddenly so small, so lost, so alone. The horror of the events unfolding makes you ask yourself how this, how any of this, could have ever been your dream? How it could have been hers?
You know exactly the thing that is going through her mind. But you're stranded on Antares, a dark void of space between you, and you have no way of reaching out to her. You're helpless. And silently you berate yourself for not seeing this coming, for not lifting a finger to stop this while you still had the chance. Now, it's simply too late.
You can't breathe.
And in your mind suddenly you're back on that smoke filled fire escape, in another time, another planet.
There is smoke all around you, suffocating you. There is rising panic in the air, people fleeing for their lives. You hear the order- evacuate now. And that's all you're supposed to be thinking about- getting the hell out of there. Following orders. But you can't help but notice- Zoe isn't right behind you.
He's trying to explain it to you, but he is wasting his breath. You understand the situation all too well.
"But it's Zoe!" You tell him, and that's all there is to it as far as you're concerned. It's Zoe.
But he's looking at you like he doesn't understand. Worse, he's looking at you like he just doesn't care.
It's that moment you realise that it was never the dense black smoke suffocating you that day. It was a dark paralysing fear of losing Zoe. A perverse and primal fear that stole your breath and stalled your heart beat. It's the exact same feeling you're now experiencing. And you look over your shoulder nervously. Waiting for someone to jump up and declare that it's just a drill. Waiting for someone to tell you it's alright.
But you know already in your heart that this time is different. You and Zoe both have already had your fair share of chances. Of narrow escapes. You and Zoe are already living on borrowed time.
There is nothing but stunned stillness from the other onlookers. No one knows quite what to say, to do. All any of you can do is watch in horrified helpless silence.
You have to talk to her. You can reach her, you know you can. You have always been the one. You ignore the inquisitive looks from the others as you ask Ted for a private line to talk to Zoe. In your mind, you still haven't let her go. There is still time, still a way, you'll reach her, you have to. You'll fight for her.
Quite frankly you're beyond caring what other people think of you, or of Zoe. But you recall your promise to her, to keep her secret. You owe her respect of privacy. And the absolute last thing you need is Donner involved in this. He would only get in the way, complicate things.
Yet "Join with Donner" Is the exact thing Ted tells you to do when you ask to speak to Zoe.
A nauseating wave of resentment washes over you, resentment for him and Donner both. How many times had Ted let you down? Let Zoe down? He cared for no one but himself. He made that clear time and time again, so it shouldn't surprise you that this time is no different. And yet, it does.
And as for Donner? He is the one to blame for all of this. You tell yourself it's the truth. It stings less than believing that maybe you just weren't a good enough friend to Zoe. Maybe you failed. After all, in Donner's defence, he was ignorant of the situation. You were the one by Zoe's side the whole way. You were the one who lost sleep, night after night, disturbed by how affected she had been. You shudder as images from the Halloween party bombard your mind.
You had never known what to say to her. You had never known what it was she seemed to be seeking from you.
'You made the right choice.' You assured her. 'The only choice, Zoe. Just give yourself time.'
What more could you do? You gave all you could, you wanted badly to be the one to hold her through that time. Yet even Ajay surpassed your pathetic attempts at comfort, and without even really trying.
Sometimes it seemed that she was seeking absolution from you. Something you never had to give to her. Not because you held her actions against her, but because you really didn't see that she'd done the slightest thing wrong. And yet you were all too aware of her own guilt eating away at her. Not quite guilt, you realise now, more like regret.
You wonder, only now, years later, if she hadn't wanted your comfort and support at all. You wonder if Zoe had wanted you to stop her? If she'd wanted you to say 'Sure thing, give up your ambitions before you've even started, sure thing, have Donner's baby, Great idea.'
It wasn't something that occurred to you back then. It wasn't something that made sense to you even now. After all, if you had stopped her, she wouldn't be her today. And without her by your side, neither would you. Both of your dreams up in smoke. And yet, if it meant she was safe, if it meant you didn't have to watch her self destruct right in front of your very eyes, you think you would have traded both your dreams, without a second thought.
It takes a moment for that to sink in, that you could have put a stop to all of this, all those years ago. But you shake your head, banishing the futile thoughts. The rational part of you takes hold. You couldn't have predicted this. And there is no changing the past, in any case.
You watch her on the monitor, as she steps further and further away from the lander. Absent-mindedly you trace your fingers over the screen, as if you could somehow pull her close.
You had watched her, all those years ago, falling apart at the seems. Drifting away from you, from everyone. She had been irrevocably damaged. And you'd done all you could to help her put the pieces back together. And, as it turns out, all you could do was just not enough. Not nearly enough. If it had been, then she wouldn't be doing-- this.
In that moment you know you are beaten. That, once again, you have failed. Once again, you've let Zoe down. Once again, you just don't understand her. It plays on your new found feelings of extreme inadequacy. Just what kind of a friend had you ever been? Just what kind of human being are you? You can't even see 'Beta'. You can't hear it. It doesn't speak to you, doesn't pull you close, you're the only one of them unimpressed. The only one completely untouched.
'Maybe I'm just too cold, too analytical.' You had told her, shrugging your shoulders, trying to make it seem as if you didn't care in the slightest.
'Don't be ridiculous.' She told you.
'Maybe I'm not even human. Maybe I just don't have a heart.'
'I think Rufus would disagree with that.' She answered quickly, a slight smile on her face.
She said the right things, and gently squeezed your arm. But it was clear her mind was elsewhere. And quickly the conversation dissolved to what she considered a far more important topic- her walking on Venus. And it left you wondering if she ever heard anything you said to her, if she ever understood you in the slightest.
There was talk around Antares, of 'Beta', of hallucinations, of visions deeply rooted in personal guilt.
'Maybe Jen and I don't have any guilt?' Wass suggested, his attempt at an explanation as to why you and he were the only two not experiencing the disturbing hallucinations.
And the suggestion cut right through you. Even though he hadn't meant it as an attack, even though he had included himself in his theory, even though he was half joking as he said it. It wasn't really a suggestion that you'd done nothing wrong, it was a suggestion that your own shortcomings and failures and transgressions didn't bother you. Just one more accusation against you as a cold hearted remorseless being. You stopped participating in group conversations about Beta after that.
Personal guilt is certainly is certainly no stranger to you. Right now, this, is crippling suffocating guilt. Not being able to save Zoe. Not being able to stop all of this before it began years ago. For the way you had teased her, almost encouraging her, about flirting with Donner. For the way you had never known the right thing to say to take that pain out of her eyes. For the way you'd been the one to drag her back to the program after she had her heart set on leaving.
She was packed. She was leaving. She was on the damn train. Post Eagle. She had a one way ticket away from this.
And you stopped her.
When Ted finally goes to bat for you, kicking Donner off the line, you simply can't find the words.
"Zoe?" Is all you can utter.
"Jen, is that you?"
Just hearing her voice, relief floods over you. But it quickly turns to panic as you realise she isn't going to listen to you. She is too far gone.
"I'm not turning back." She tells you.
'I'm not coming back.' She told you that day at the station. And she had meant it. With every part of her. But you'd talked her around. You were the one, the only one, you could reach her again. You just had to.
"It's going to be fine, Jen" She tells you, so calm, so certain.
It frightens you, because she has lost the plot. It's not going to be fine. It can't be fine. You're afraid, and angry, and you start shouting things hysterically down the line at her.
"Are you crazy? Listen to yourself! You know this isn't real. It's a hallucination! I know you think that's your baby out there, but it's not Zoe. You know it's not."
"You're not making this easy for me." She told you from the train that day.
That comment hurt. Because all you'd ever done was try to make things easy for her. You only shrugged your shoulders. What did she want you to say to that?
"Do you think I'm making a mistake?" She asked. And she looked to you, searching for guidance. As if you had all the answers. "Do you think I should stay?"
Why did she always ask you that? Why did she always put it on you? As if she wasn't capable of making a decision unless it met with your approval? And now, here you are, screaming at her, crying, pleading with her. 'You're making a mistake! Turn back!' Your message couldn't be any clearer. But this time, she simply isn't listening.
You never really understood each other, you see this now. Your entire relationship is rooted in deep, painful, misunderstandings. Yet this time, you somehow feel a flicker of something you can relate to. She thinks that her baby, something she lost, something she loved, something she longed for and grieved for and felt guilt over, is out there. And you ask yourself if it was you in her place, is there anything that would drive you to walk over Venus against all logic and sense? Something you were unable to turn away from, something you were unable to give up on. Your something is her. And you know that if it were in your power you'd walk right out there after her- hoping to convince her to turn around, of course. But if she could not be convinced, would you turn and leave her?
She would do it for you, walk across Venus to save you. You don't doubt that for a second. You think back to the solar flare, the way she risked her own life to come after you in the lab. And had that not been another of Goss's drills, the two of you would not be still standing.
She hid with you under the radiation blankets. She never once scolded you. Never once asked you what the hell you were thinking, to endanger your life, and hers, for some stupid rabbit.
You don't know why you had expected her to understand your great plan with Rufus. But you did expect it. She looked to you with such bitter resentment when you explained that you were going to let one of those embryo's grow into a real live rabbit. When you told her that you were lonely, that Rollie was gone, and that these rabbits were your babies.
She didn't look to you with incredulity and disdain, like Rollie had. She looked to you with fiery anger in her eyes. Almost as if she were telling you 'I sacrificed my baby for this, why should you get to keep yours, Jen'.
She had never understood Rufus, she made her feelings clear time and time again that she thought you were being foolish. Still, she was prepared to die with you rather than leave you out there alone.
You'd be there if you could, at her side right now, walking across Venus, come what may. But you can't go out there, you can't follow her, you can't drag her back with your bare hands. All you have is your words, and you have to try harder.
"Jen....." Her voice breaks you from your thoughts.
"No." You interrupt her.
"I just want you to know..."
"I'm not listening to this, Zoe!"
She is trying to say goodbye, and you don't want to hear it. It hurts so much more to know that she heard you. If she'd just gone crazy, just kept walking, if she'd ignored you and followed her hallucination, then you might forgive her. But she hears you, hears your voice breaking. She understands you, she understands what is at stake. And she is walking away anyway.
"I have to tell you........" She begins.
But you don't want to hear it. "Don't talk, just turn around, start walking back to the lander." You're screaming now. You're desperate. You've lost control, of her, of yourself.
"It's too late, Jen." She tells you, and you think you hear her crying.
"No." You tell her. "It's not too late, if you start walking right now."
You'd told Rollie of your fears that you were chosen as the sacrificial lamb. It terrified you, trapped up here, with Beta, with all these 'chosen' people. And yet it never occurred to you that something far worse might unfold. That Zoe might be the sacrificial lamb.
"Turn around, Zoe!" You order her.
"Please." She pleads with you. "Let me say goodbye."
With those words, you rip the head set away from you, throwing it to the ground. Tears streaming down your face. Helplessness and despair and rage boiling inside you. You know you should go and tell the others. Tell them you tried, tell them you failed. But they'd figure it out soon enough. And you just can't face them.
You walk away, without a second glance to that head set discarded on the ground, without a second glance to the live feed monitor from Venus. You walk away. You tell yourself it's you walking away. It's easier that way. Easier to believe you were the one who gave up on her. Easier than watching her kill herself over some stupid hallucination, some past sin and need for absolution. Easier than believing that she chose that over you. So you walk away. You run like hell back to your quarters. Maybe it makes you heartless after all, to leave her there, alone, dying.
You can see it all, horrifying clear in your head. You don't need to be there. She's walking, and walking, so driven, determined. Step after step, long after everyone predicts she will fall. Until that final moment when she just can't go on any longer. You try to imagine what will become of her, what will be left of her body after the harsh atmosphere of Venus has finished with her?
You imagine Donner screaming at her to turn around. Screaming and screaming even though she has long since passed the point of no return. Even though, if she turned around now, she still wouldn't make it back to the lander. You imagine Ted and Nadia screaming at him through the intercom. Ordering him, pleading with him, to take off, to leave Zoe behind before it was too late for him also.
You wonder what he is saying to her? If it's the same things you are? Is he pleading? Is he crying? Is he screaming at her? Is he angry? Does he blame her? Does he blame himself? Does he wish he could walk away?
You already know, he isn't leaving Venus without her. And it's nothing to do with Zoe. It's his chance to make up for what happened on Mars. His chance to redeem himself. And you hate him in that moment, all over again, for being the one there with Zoe, for being so close to her, for dying with her. It should have been you.
Your heart is aching and everything in you wants to turn back around, to pick up that head set, to hear her voice one last time, to tell her that you love her, to let her say she loves you. But why the hell should you? Why should Zoe get to say goodbye? Why should she get to find peace? There will never be any peace for you. She is the one who chose this, she did this, ripped your heart right out of your chest. You hate yourself for failing her. But you hate her too, for choosing this.
"There is more to life than this mission." You'd told her once. Trying to make her see that she was worth so much. But she never did see it that way.
"Not for me." She answered resolutely "Not anymore."
She told you, there and then, all those years ago, that you just didn't matter to her. That this mission, her career, Donner, the baby, all mattered to her more than you did. You just weren't listening.
They don't realise that you can hear them talking in the corridor.
"She is asking for you, Jen." Evram says gently.
If Jen makes a reply, you can't hear what it is.
"I understand this is distressing. But I think you'll regret it later if you don't go and see her. Her chances of recovery aren't good."
This time there is no mistake about the reply. "Whose fault is that?" Jen snaps back at him. The venom in her voice causes your breath to catch in your throat.
"I understand that you're angry..." He continues.
"You understand nothing!" Jen declares.
And then, there is only silence.
She was the reason you turned around. The reason you came back. You'd wanted to say goodbye to her. You'd wanted desperately for her to understand. She'd been right there, talking to you so clearly. And then she was gone. Then, there was only silence. And you knew you had to turn back. The desire to talk to her, to be with her, was stronger than any hallucination, stronger than any of the things Donner was trying to entice you with. It was all for her.
You'd been certain she would understand the thing that pulled you away from the lander on Venus. That strong pull, defying all logic. She who risked her own life for a stupid rabbit. Sure, that all got swept under the rug. It was only a drill. Nothing was ever said about it. But Jen hadn't known that was a drill. And you had never forgot it, the madness in her eyes, the panic, the fear. The sheer stupidity of the whole thing. Who was she to cast judgement on you?
You never forgot her, at your hospital bedside all those years ago. All night long she sat with you, holding your hand.
You never forgot the way she ran down those stairs in the fire drill calling your name. Outwardly you were cringing, knowing she had failed some kind of test. Inwardly your heart lept as you realised that you were that important to her.
You never forgot the way she looked at you at that train station, that she was the only one who asked you to stay, the only one who asked you and meant it.
You'll never forget the way she kissed you that night, proving to you that there just might be more to life than the mission.
You'd been certain that she would be the first one there waiting for you when you woke up.
But this time, it's Donner by your side as you lay injured.
It makes you shudder to realise that you used to wish for this, for exactly this. That as Jen sat by your side all those years ago, you were wishing it was him. And what was worse, Jen knew it. And now here all your dreams have come true. You've made the crew of Antares. You're the first woman to walk on Venus. And Maddux Donner is by your side. He is holding your hand. He is kissing your forehead.
And it makes you shudder.
Because it's her you're longing for.
It's her you turned back for.
She was the reason you kept going.
That very last second when you had not one ounce of strength left. When Donner was screaming at you to to stand up. When he was risking his own life to save you. It was only her on your mind. The reason you kept hanging on, drawing each painful burning breath into your lungs. It was for her.
But it's all too late.
Jen is gone.
And there just isn't a reason to keep breathing anymore.