Title: A Bullet In The Chest Is Worth Two Shaking Hands
Author: BithaBlu
Rating: TV14 for mild language
Characters: Zane, Jo with a few OCs for plot purposes. And Isaac Parrish makes an appearance because who doesn't love Wil Wheaton?
Spoilers: Through 4.05, "Crossing Over"
Summary: So why was Zane sitting bedside when Jo woke up? Here's my theory.

Zane sat in the lab he shared with three other geeks staring at the table full of parts. All the individual parts of the Sky Cruiser had been repaired or replaced and the prototype was mostly reassembled but, instead of finishing it, Zane toyed with the muffin he had jacked from Fargo's little VIP set-up. He was bored. Designing and building the prototype the first time had been interesting. Fun. But rebuilding it? There didn't seem to be a point. The joy was in the creation, not replication.

So, for now, the only entertaining thing about the project was waiting for Jo to 'casually' stroll by his lab- once every two hours on the dot- so he could make faces at her through the window. She was a few minutes behind her schedule and Zane was contemplating mooning her this time. She'd probably bust him for indecent exposure though. Which, Zane thought with a grin, could be fun.

Since reassembling the steering console was tedious, Zane let his mind wander as he fit the parts back together. Although, his mind didn't so much wander these days as it kept coming back to the same topic over and over again. What was Lupo's deal lately? Why had she let him go? What had changed? What could he get away with now? Why had she cared about keeping him out of prison?

So many questions and there was no way she would answer them even if he decided to ask.

Thankfully, Jenkins and Yanar chose that moment to return and, from their hurried whispers, bringing some distracting gossip with them. Zane was tempted to turn around and find out what they were talking about but he knew that Lupo would throw a fit if she walked by and he wasn't working on the Sky Cruiser. Instead, he just eavesdropped as he continued the repairs.

"But you were there, Anna Yanana. How could you not know what happened?"

"A. Don't call me that. B. Just because I was there doesn't mean I know what happened. It's not like I pay attention to what everybody in Cafe Diem is doing while I'm on a coffee run. And C. Seriously, LJ, don't call me that again."

Zane snorted. No matter how many times Yanar whined about Jenkins' nickname for her, he never listened. That was the downside of sharing a lab- having to hear every one else's constant bickering. Of course, there was also an upside to sharing a space with Jenkins- the man was as gossipy as Vincent so there was really no need to stop working when something interesting happened.

"Like I was saying before being so rudely interrupted," Yanar continued, "Lupo just collapsed. She was talking with that historian guy and then she dropped."

Every muscle in Zane's body tensed and he gripped the edges of the table to keep himself from crushing the fragile parts he had just assembled. He closed his eyes and tried to breath.

"So you have no idea why she went down? She didn't choke and pass out or act weird beforehand?" Jenkins asked as he sat down at his table. His chair always squeaked and today the noise was like an icepick in Zane's brain. Why the hell didn't that idiot requisition a new chair? It's not like GD couldn't afford a damn chair.

Yanar hovered by Jenkins' table instead of heading to her area. "Not as far as I know. I heard her talking and then she dropped. Dr. Grant caught her before she hit the floor and the next thing I know, the ambulance arrived and they carted her out."

Zane got his breathing back under control and opened his eyes. Letting go of the table, he tried to ignore the two other scientist babbling in the background and focus on the task at hand. Grabbing a mini-welder, Zane tried to reconnect two pieces but they wouldn't stay together long enough for him to finish the weld. He stared down at the parts and tried to figure out why they were vibrating.

It wasn't the parts that were shaking though. It was his hands that were the problem.

Why the hell were his hands shaking?

Before he could answer his own question, the door to the lab opened again and Pierro burst in the room yelling, "You guys will not believe what I just heard!"

"Lupo collapsed in Cafe Diem?" Jenkins offered.

Pierro's face fell for a second but then he grinned when the other man didn't add anything else. "Yeah, but did you hear why?"

"No. Why? What did you hear?"

Zane clenched his hands into fists. If he didn't want to hear what Pierro had to say so bad he would have strangled the man for sounding so excited to have news before that loudmouth fuckwit Jenkins.

"Andrea heard Dr. Blake say that Lupo's got a bullet in her chest."

There was an immediate eruption of questions and the clamor grated on Zane's ears. He grabbed some components and managed to get them back together after a few minutes. It normally wouldn't have taken so long but his hands were still shaking and the damn noise in the background kept breaking his concentration. And it didn't help that the door kept opening and more and more people came in. Soon the lab was crowded with people repeating the same info again and again. Nothing new- just that Lupo was in surgery and that the bullet was close to her heart.

Finally, Zane got the prototype's main computer fused back together. It had taken far more effort to repair it than it had to build it and Zane flattened his hands against the table top. He pushed down as hard as he could- hoping that he could get the damn things to stop shaking before he tried reinstalling the computer.

The door to the lab opened again and Zane heard someone stop abruptly halfway through the door.

"Are you kidding me? Don't any of you have work to do?" Parrish's pompous voice bellowed through the lab and Zane snickered at the sudden silence. If nothing else, the guy knew how to get attention. "Oh wait- let me guess. You're all in here rehashing the same tired tidbits of information when you could, instead, be out there finding out that there are more things going on. Such as, have any of you heard that a plane just appeared in Cafe Diem?"

The noise was deafening as people bombarded Parrish with questions. Zane didn't even have to turn around to know that all Isaac had to do to get the others to shut up was raise one hand. Since Parrish obviously had some more information, Zane calmed down and opened a panel to access the steering mechanism.

"First of all, Lupo wasn't shot. Like the trees in the atrium and the plane in Cafe Diem, the bullet just appeared. All initial information suggests that these occurences are a result of temporal dislocation. Apparently, someone's been playing with wormholes." Parrish sounds way too happy about that but Zane just attributed it to the guy's warped sense of humor. "As to the bullet, it was a large caliber from an airplane. It displaced the muscles around her heart but, according to two separate nurses, it looks as though Lupo should be fine barring incident."

There was yet another barrage of questions and Zane was thoroughly sick of being stuck in the lab with a bunch of babbling idiots. Was it so much to ask for some quiet? Couldn't they see that he was working? If Lupo saw this mob, she'd throw a fit and bitch them out for violating fire code laws or something.

Of course, Lupo wouldn't be seeing this mass idiocy. Her being in surgery and all.

Clenching his hands into fists, Zane tried to erase that last thought. He was so close to being done with the Sky Cruiser and he didn't need any more distractions. Now if only he could get the steering mechanism installed...

Jenkins' voice rose over the crowd and, with a laugh, he said, "If anyone could survive with a bullet where her heart should be, it'd be Lupo."

There was a crash and then- finally- it was quiet.

Zane would have happily returned to work when it silence descended if it weren't for three things.
1. He was standing.
2. The window to the lab had a hole in it.
3. The computer he had been just about to install was now across the hall in multiple pieces.

Plus it was just awkward with everyone staring at him.

So Zane did the only reasonable thing- he left.


Zane was sitting on a bench in the medical wing with his head leaning back against the wall when Parrish found him. At first, Zane didn't react to the man's presence but eventually he sighed and said, "Jo's going to kill me when she finds out about the window. And the steering mechanism. Mostly the mechanism."

Parrish snorted. He started to say something but changed his mind and instead said, "You won't have to worry about that. After much persuasion, I convinced Leroy that it would be in his best interest to take the blame."

"Jenkins is taking the fall for me?"

"Well," Parrish hedged, "It's more like he recognized that if Lupo were to hear the crack that he made about her, it would be worse than if he just said he accidentally busted your flying jet-ski."

Zane laughed out loud. He knew there was a reason he liked the pompous bastard. The man was devious, creative and spiteful. All in all- awesome.

"Look, I need to get back to my lab," Parrish said as he scratched the back of his head absently, "And I need a favor. Seeing as how I took care of the mess in your lab, I figured that you could take care of this for me."

A quick shrug of the shoulder and a curious look invited Parrish to continue.

"I acquired something for Lupo to read when she wakes up. I'm hoping it will distract her so she won't decide to review all the incident reports from yesterday." Parrish winced before he added, "Someone may have reprogrammed the AI in Larry's car to have the personality of Randy 'The Macho Man' Savage and I don't have an alibi. So if you could just sneak this magazine over to her, I'd appreciate it."

A quick grin flashed across Zane's face as he stood and reached for the magazine Parrish was carrying. A look at the title made the grin a little wider. Military Ma'am- Lupo would love it. Zane wandered in through the doors and wondered how many of Parrish's practical jokes he had taken the blame for over the past few years. He was running down the list of things he had spent time in the cage for that he hadn't actually done when he spotted her.

Lupo. Unconscious.

There wasn't anyone sitting in the chair next to her bed and, although Zane had no intention of staying, he stared at her as he sat down. Sometimes it was hard to forget that she wasn't some towering amazon and it was just so strange to see her this way. Lupo just had a presence that made people think she was bigger than she actually was and, to see her like this, it was like a visual slap in the face. She looked small. Small and fragile.

Jo looked vulnerable and Zane hated it.

He fidgeted in the chair and contemplated just leaving the magazine next to her but something compelled him to stay. Curiosity perhaps. She had been acting different lately and maybe seeing her in an unusual state would help him figure out why. Of course, if she woke up and found him there, she'd probably blame him for her being there. And then yell at him for not working on the Sky Cruiser. Oh- and then she'd probably slap some cuffs on him and march him down the detention cell just on principle.

Zane's lips quirked at the thought of Jo manhandling him while wearing a hospital gown. It was so easy to imagine her marching him through GD with her ass hanging out. She'd probably shoot anyone who dared to look though.

A sudden movement caught his attention and Zane realized that he had stayed too long. Lupo was waking up and turning to look at him.

Crap.