They’d chosen a small conference room away from the main control tower for privacy and so that Jennifer would not have to travel far. Jennifer paused outside the room, Ronon at her left and Stackhouse at her back. It was not unlike being in the field and that sort of disturbed her. “Marcus, are you going to remain in the hall or attend the briefing?” She glanced over her shoulder at him and frowned at him. “And did you remember the rule about watching my six?”
Stackhouse laughed softly. “I’ll stay in the hall and glare at people. Colonel Sheppard will brief me as he sees fit.”
She nodded and then walked into the room. The door slid close with a soft click and she slid into the chair near the head of the table beside Sam. Jennifer knew the Colonel appreciated directness and she wasn’t going to huddle as far from her as she could. She was going to have to admit some pretty stupidly intimate things to her and John Sheppard and it was sort of a personal nightmare. Ronon sat down in a chair beside her, though she knew he would have preferred to stand.
“What happened last night?”
Sam’s blue eyes were intense, hard, and the anger there was genuine. For a minute it was overwhelming.
“After we left the pier and I made sure you got to your quarters without any problems, I checked on a patient I had in the infirmary, stopped by the gate room to get a confirmation that…” She flushed and glanced briefly at Sheppard.
“Relax, doctor, I’ve seen your underwear, read your file, and often sleep a few feet from your boyfriend who talks in his sleep. You pretty much have no secrets from me.”
Jennifer’s mouth dropped open and then she laughed. John Sheppard was a horrible man, but only in the best way possible. She relaxed a little and took a deep breath. She turned one hand over and snagged his fingers with her when Ronon covered her shaking hands with one of his own. “Where is McKay?”
“He’s in his lab. He assumed you might be more comfortable without him here.”
“He should come up. There is stuff—well he should come up.” Jennifer took a deep breath, surprised that Rodney would think he wasn’t welcome and somewhat charmed that he was trying to make her comfortable. She barely listened to Sam on her radio requesting Rodney join them. The low dosage of pain killer that Carson had given her wasn’t doing much to combat the body ache she was dealing with. She only glanced up briefly when Rodney entered the room and slid into a chair across from Ronon and beside John.
“Okay, so I checked with Chuck to make sure that Sheppard had made his designated call in, and since the science labs were close and I knew Rodney was off world, I went by the lab to prod Radek into going to bed because he works too hard. He yelled a little in Czech and then promised that he would get at least eight hours. I left him muttering and questioning Rodney’s parentage. Then I carried Sergeant Stackhouse a coffee because I knew he was working on the ammunition inventory and figured he needed it.” She ran her fingers over Ronon’s as she thought about what happened next. “I went back past the labs, Radek had vacated as promised, and I headed for bed and I wasn’t paying attention, really. I’ve never really had to here.”
“This man came out of one of the systems rooms—the big one with all the databanks. He wasn’t in uniform and the only thing I saw was the gun in his hand. I know I should have looked at his face—but hello, it was a gun right there in my face on Atlantis. The closest I get to a gun threat in the city is divesting Ronon of his so we don’t get accidently blasted during sex.” She flushed. “Okay, can we strike that part from the record? In fact, can we strike all of that from the record and I’ll start over?”
“I’ll only put the pertinent parts in the report,” Sam murmured and offered a small smile. “A gun you said?”
“Yeah, 9mm with a silencer. Silver plated. Laser sight.”
“Sure about that?” John asked.
“Yeah, I started attending weapons classes in the last month. Positive about it. It’s the only gun I have the physical strength to handle so it’s the one I intend to qualify with.” She ignored Ronon’s intake of breath and figured he’d have a lot to say about that later. “So, he points it at me.”
Ronon’s fingers curled into a fist underneath hers but she couldn’t risk looking at him. She waited until he relaxed before she continued. She met John Sheppard’s gaze across the table and sank back a little in her chair. Everyone said that John had an “on” switch when it comes to doing what he does and she’d just discovered one. He looked ready to rip someone’s head off. “He told me to get on my knees.”
Sam reached out and put her hand on her arm. “Maybe this should just be me and you?”
“Carson said there was no sexual assault,” John’s voice was soft but the edge of it cut down the middle of the room hard and fast.
“And there wasn’t.” Jennifer turned then and looked at Ronon. “There wasn’t.” Ronon nodded, his beautiful green eyes just as hard and stormy as John’s.
She looked towards Rodney, his jaw was tight that the muscle was jumping. His gaze focused on his lap top and he was typing something. “What ever he did in the systems room… he didn’t want anyone finding about it.”
Rodney looked up. “I’m having my team start a full diagnostic. We’ll find out what he did or what he took.”
“He told you to get on your knees.” John repeated, refocusing the conversation.
She turned to Sam because none of the men in the room offered the kind of calm she needed. “I figured I was in trouble and that he was going to kill me. So I told him no. I was just not going to die on my knees.”
“The fucker,” Rodney muttered as he typed.
Jennifer laughed a little. “Rodney.” She took a deep breath- the next part was going to be harder. Ronon had already seen the damage because he’d helped her dress and had managed to place literally dozens of kisses all over her body—a murmured apology brushing over her bruised skin with each kiss but she hadn’t told him about the actual fight. “He lunged at me and tried to hit me with the gun. But, he wasn’t very fast and I got past him but he… he caught me by the hair and threw me against the wall.”
John and Ronon muttered “fuck” at the same time and Rodney stopped typing.
Sam reached out and took both of Jennifer’s hands. “Okay, just concentrate on me. What happened next?”
“I hit the floor pretty hard but I knew I had to get up. Being on the floor would make me vulnerable. I had to get up.” She swallowed hard. “So I crawled away a few feet and got to my feet – he was pretty much on me immediately. Trying to hit me with the gun, and that’s when it occurred to me that whatever he was—he wasn’t military. If he was I’d already be dead. I couldn’t figure out why the hell he would try to hit me with the gun… instead of just shooting me?”
“Someone not trained to pull the trigger would hesitate. Killing isn’t easy,” John said.
Jennifer swallowed hard, and tried to push back the memory of when she’d most willing pulled a trigger with the intention of killing. Her lack of success hadn’t helped with the guilt of that. She didn’t regret it—but felt guilty all the same.
“So, I grabbed his testicles and jerked and twisted as hard as I could to get him off of me.”
“Good for you,” Ronon murmured.
His fingers drifted over her shoulders and through her hair and looked at him. A small look of amusement crossed his face and she realized he’d lingered outside the rec-room and had heard her claim him as her own. It startled her for a minute and she just stared at him. Her heart hurt a little for all the pain she’d caused him—the worry, the fear. It wasn’t what she wanted to be in his life. She desperately wanted to be a source of comfort and solace for him. Yet, she’d managed to yet again get herself in a seriously horrible situation.
She jerked a little and refocused on Sam. “He screamed like a woman and rolled away. But, it only made it worse, really. He came up swinging and I was so freaked out I let him corner me in the systems room. He punched me the stomach a few times, threw me to the ground, and really it just sort of pissed me off – so I picked up the first thing I could get my hands on and swung.” She remembered the metal in her hands and it made her shake a little. “It was part of a shelving unit that the computer people were putting together I guess. I know I broke his arm and he probably has a few cracked ribs as well. Then I ran, I tried to call for help but my radio was broken and then he was chasing me. Honestly, I got so messed up—and I couldn’t think. I know I should have….” She curled her fingers around Sam’s. “I should have gone to you or at least found a security patrol.”
“Hey, cut yourself some slack. You aren’t trained for that kind of thing and frankly you did better than most of the none military personal on this base would have. So tell me the rest.”
“I went Ronon’s quarters, found the biggest knife he’d left, and got into the corner so I could see him if he found me and came through the door.” She closed her eyes. “That’s all I remember. Carson said he had to tranq me.”
“You’ve been kidnapped twice, stranded in a mining shaft, nearly captured by men who may or may not intended to use you to breed Wraith hybrids, and now this. Quite frankly, Dr. Keller, I’m surprised you haven’t already been tranqed once or twice already.”
She swallowed hard. “Are you going to send me back to Earth?”
“What?” Ronon demanded.
Jennifer reached back and took his hand in hers but kept her focus on Sam. “You’ll be pressured to do so, it’ll be obvious to the SGC and the IOA that I’m suffering from PTSD.”
“Half the population on this base suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Rodney waved it off. “Hell, more than half. Everyone that was on this bloody thing when Sheppard kissed our new planet hello is definitely harmed beyond all help psychologically. Anyone that has seen the footage of a Wraith feeding OR got a good look at a Wraith at all, will probably have space vampire nightmares for years and I doubt a single one of us could watch a Marilyn Mason video without breaking out in a cold sweat.”
“Yeah, but none of you had a melt down.”
“Not true.” Rodney pointed out her, his shrewd blue eyes focused on hers. “I have a melt down no less than twice a week and Radek loses it daily. We’ve had to replace the punching bag in the gym four times in the past six months because John thinks it to be his own personal enemy and Ronon beats half the Marines on this base on daily basis to keep his shit in check. Sam has been taken hostage, kidnapped, etc so many times she’d have to check her own personel file to give you an accurate number. Her dealing mechanism is a total mystery to me; but she’s still blonde and pretty and dumber than me so I don’t worry about it. You just need an outlet, preferably one that does not have you swinging a fifteen inch steal pipe around in my systems room. You should try the ‘screaming pier’.”
“What’s that?” She frowned and shared a glance with Sam who was staring at Rodney dumbfounded.
“It’s where I send my scientists when they get fed up with me and want to murder me. They got out there scream at me in their respective language until they feel better and then they come back to work. It’s worked wonders for morale in the Science department.” He stood. “Speaking of my scientists- I’m going to have all of the males report to the infirmary for a full physical.”
“You should make them all report; male and female.”
“I’m not going to waste Carson’s time to assuage some feelings. If they are innocent they certainly won’t mind helping to move along this investigation.” Rodney looked towards Sam who nodded. He paused at the door. “We found the steel rod, by the way. You left it embedded about three inches into a wall. My team is very impressed with your physical strength and for the record, most of them are now more afraid of you than they are your boyfriend.” He looked out into the hall. “Stackhouse, wanna help me bully some scientists?”
“If it helps.”
“It’s a double pleasure—bullying and helping.”
John tapped two fingers on the table as the door shut. “For the record, Dr. Keller, what is your rule about watching your six?”
“No ogling my ass.”
John grinned, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Ronon, what say you and I go glare at some scientists while Stackhouse bullies them into a scanner? Our culprit will likely piss his pants the moment he sees you and our mystery will be solved.”
Ronon put his hand on Jennifer’s arm.
“Relax, Colonel Carter is wearing her side arm and is more than capable of pulling the trigger.”
“Stay with her and I’ll come get you when the scans are done.”
“I will.” Jennifer covered her his hand with hers. “Promise me you won’t kill this man.”
“I promise I won’t do anything to get myself thrown off Atlantis or put in a jail on Earth.”
It wasn’t exactly what she’d asked but the results were roughly the same. Jennifer sighed and released him. She waited until he left with John and then focused on Sam. “About the IOA?”
“You’re the most gifted trauma surgeon in your field, which is why you are here. Organizations like the IOA are more interested in using people like you up until your empty rather than bring you home for what they would consider a personal problem. That being said, I have no intention of mentioning your behavior after the attack. And your medical reports will not reflect that you were tranqed or that you had a good old fashioned hissy when you woke up.” Sam leaned back in her chair. “You’ll schedule weekly sessions with Dr. Stephens to discuss your issues. He’s a gifted psychologist and has worked with both people from a variety of trauma situations—from war to people who survived the 9-11 attacks. He’ll help you through. Then, you finish your weapons training, and get Ronon to teach you some more self-defense.”
“In the mean time, you’re going to rest and get better. Living is the important part and you got that right.”