She woke in a rush of air, her husband’s name on her lips.
“I’m here, little one.”
Jennifer twisted on the floor towards the sound of his voice, ignoring the rush of pain that snaked down her arms at the sudden movement. She met his gaze in the semi-dark room and forced herself to take a deep breath. He was tied to the wall, his feet barely touching the ground; John Sheppard was next to him, a gash on his face and murder in his eye. “Laura?”
“Here.” Laura was tied to a support column in the room several feet from her. Blood stained her wrists and streaked down her arms.
“Was surprisingly ineffective.” John jerked his head to the other side of the room to several unconscious bodies. “They tossed them in a few minutes ago.”
Jennifer groaned as she recognized Cameron Mitchell, Teal’c, Vala, and Daniel Jackson. “How long before O’Neill loses his patience and has the Apollo locate us despite our plan to not involve any other SGC personnel?”
“We’ll ask them when one of them wakes up.” John glared at the prone forms. “The Wraith stunner probably won’t keep Teal’c down long at all.”
“Kidnapped by religious fanatics…” she sighed. “This is wrong on so many levels.” Jennifer rested against the support column she was tied to and examined the length of rope they’d used to bind her hands. She felt like she’d been put on a child’s leash. A weird, primitive, totally cruel child’s leash. She’d never agreed with that. It had always pissed her off to be in the mall and to see some toddler tethered to their mother with a length of springy plastic because “Mom” couldn’t be bothered to actually pay attention to her child. She looked towards her husband. “I think I’d be a good mother.”
He frowned at her; obviously confused by the turn of the conversation and glanced briefly towards SG1 as they’d all started to groan and move around as much as they could having been hog tied together. “I know you will be. My mother always told me I’d try the patience of an Ancestor. I’m sure our children will be horrible.”
She laughed. “Yeah, it’s going to be great.” With a sigh she inspected the rope bound around her wrists and grimaced at the broken skin. “Just once I’d like to be kidnapped and treated with some humanity. It really isn’t too much to ask. I bet they treat their dogs better than this.” Jennifer leaned back and closed her eyes. “Maybe one day we can go back to Sadeta, rebuild… gather up the people that survived and make a new home there.”
“Planning on repopulating the planet by yourselves?” Laura asked softly.
“Yeah sure, all the women in my family are exceedingly fertile. I was an only child only because of problems my father had.” She grimaced as she said that. “Wow, that was rude to admit. Anyways, he was extremely injured in a battle and more children were impossible after that. I’m sure my mom would have had a house full otherwise.” Jennifer opened her eyes and looked at her husband. “What do you think?”
“I think it would be a lot of fun to try to repopulate a planet with you, little one.” He let his head rest against the wall and sighed. “I have a ton of Wraith to kill first. We should practice a lot for now.”
“Yeah.” She grinned. “Training, I’m all about training.”
“Not to take away from your procreation plans,” Cameron Mitchell called out from across the room. “But do you guys have an escape plan?”
“You were plan A,” John responded dryly. “What is your check in time?”
“How long were we out?”
“You’ve been in here about twenty minutes.”
“Okay, so about three hours from now we can expect plan D to arrive.”
“D? What happened to B and C?”
Cameron laughed. “I figured we’d have already tried those two by then. I can’t believe a bunch of hillbillies got the jump on you and us.”
“We were taken out by a Wraith stunner on the trail.”
“Ditto.” Cameron leaned back against Daniel. “How you doin’, Jackson?”
“Good.” Daniel sighed. “For you know, being stunned and tied to you.”
“Yeah.” Cameron sighed. “Teal’c?”
“I am… very tired of being captured,” Teal’c muttered.
“Yeah, it’s getting old. Vala?”
“I’m here. I’m awake. I’m irritated.”
“Yeah, but you’re not bitching about being on a dirty floor so I’m just checking.”
“It is dirty,” Vala conceded as she leaned against Teal’c who had righted them almost immediately. “But, at least Muscles got my hair off the floor. I just got it done, you know.”
“If I didn’t say so before…” Laura craned her neck to see. “I really dig the highlights.”
“Thanks, it’s for summer.”
“So, if plan B could be developed soon that would be great,” Laura wiggled a little. “My ass is falling asleep on this cold concrete and I think the sun is setting. I don’t want to be traipsing about in the woods of East Tennessee in the dark. There are bears up here, you know.”
“What is a bear?” Ronon glanced towards Sheppard.
“Remember when we watched that move The Edge with Anthony Hopkins? That big brown animal… that was a grisly bear.”
Jennifer laughed. She remembered Ronon’s reaction to that movie pretty well. “Ronon is convinced the bear was the only reasonable character in that movie.” She jerked when the large door near the front of room swung open and two men entered. Her stomach dropped a little as one walked in purposefully and stopped stand in front of her.
“William.” He jerked his thumb towards his chest. “But everyone calls me Billy.”
“Of course they do.” Jennifer pressed back against the column she was tethered to and forced herself not to look at her husband. The last thing she wanted to show him was how truly petrified she was. “Jennifer.”
“No.” She glared at him. “Jennifer.”
“Sethur has declared that you’re to be my second wife.”
Her mouth dropped open. “No.”
Billy grinned. “You don’t get a choice.”
“Look, even if the Bible in your twisted little world does allow for you to have multiple wives there is a seriously huge rule about multiple husbands and I’m already married. Very married.” She skidded away from him and she could hear Ronon growling through clenched teeth. “Seriously, I had two wedding ceremonies. I’m so married that my mother practically clapped from the grave because I was no longer living in sin.”
“Sethur has declared that only marriages he blesses are valid.” He made a grab for her but she kicked out with one foot and he backed away with a frown. “If you don’t behave we’ll have to get the drugs and what fun will that be?”
Jennifer frowned at him. “Are you damaged? I mean, seriously?” She shot a glance towards his companion who was glaring. “And what’s with Silent Bob?” she demanded. Which caused sputtered laughter from Cameron Mitchell and John.
“He’s come to make his choice between the other two.” Billy reached out for her again and caught the rope.
“Choose between them?” Jennifer frowned. “Women aren’t horses you backwards jackass. Besides who could chose between them? I’m not even a guy and I’d fuck them both.”
“You have a filthy mouth.”
“A figuratively filthy mouth is preferred to a literally filthy mouth.” She frowned. “Seriously, when did you brush your teeth last?”
“You are disrespectful,” he growled and grabbed the rope to pull her to him. “You’ll learn to keep your mouth shut.”
“Really, I’m trying to spare you a world of pain.” Jennifer pulled back on the rope and suddenly felt like Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi… she could only thank God she still had her own clothes. “My husband is the meanest son of a bitch you’ll ever come across. You could search two galaxies and not find anyone like him. A guy like you would be so pathetically easy for him to kill that he’d probably be annoyed with you for wasting his time.” She held herself away from him as he tried to pull her close. “You touch me, you HeeHaw reject and I swear to God…”
She never saw the blow coming, but she hit the floor with an astounding smack, and her face stinging from the backhanded blow. She heard Ronon, Laura and John all shouting something but she barely recognized the words. Their fury at being helpless was clear.
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain,” Billy took out a knife, cut the thick rope from the column, and then jerked her from the ground. “You’ll do as you’re told or you’ll die. It’s that simple.”
Jennifer glared at him. “Desperation is a weakness.” She wiped the blood from her mouth with her bound hands. “And weakness kills.”
“Are you threatening to kill me?”
“You’re already dead to me,” Jennifer said softly and let him jerk her close. “A minute from now, two days from now… it doesn’t matter. You’ll never be able to turn your back on me because the moment you do I’m going to kill you.”
He actually laughed as he cut the ropes from her hands and then the idiot holstered his knife. “You? A little thing like you?”
“Underestimating your opponent is the deadliest mistake you can make in a fight,” she responded as the rope dropped on the floor between them. “My husband taught me that.”
“Which one of the men in this room is your husband?”
“The one looking at you like you’re already a dead man.” Then she struck, shoving the heel of her hand into his throat so hard and so fast that his face went white immediately. Before his friend could even respond, she whipped William around, shoved one foot into the back of his leg to put him down on one knee, and grabbed his chin.
The bones of his neck breaking were like bullets being fired… each sickening pop more sound than she could bear. She dropped him on the floor in front of her as the stench of his vacating body rushed over her face, pulled the hunting knife from a holster on his belt, and threw it without hesitation. It found a home in the friend’s throat and he fell back with a thud. The silence that followed was deafening and a white noise filled her head.
“Holy fucking shit,” Laura whispered her voice hoarse with shock.
Jennifer shook her head to clear it and ran to the second man, retrieved the knife, and went to cut Ronon loose from the wall where he all but hung.
She didn’t wait for Ronon to free himself from the tangle of ropes but immediately went to cut down John, then to Laura, her movements economical and focused. By the time she got to Vala and Teal’c, Ronon had retrieved one of his knives from the table where all the weapons had been tossed and was cutting Mitchell and Jackson loose.
John was snapping out orders and everyone was falling into line because apparently plan B had legs. She took the gun her husband offered her, retrieved her small laser pistol and tucked it back into her bra where it had been pulled from and met his gaze for the first time since she’d been cut free. She wasn’t nearly prepared for the angry despair she saw there. In in a space of seconds she saw regret, guilt, and fury. Jennifer knew he wasn’t angry with her; understood on some deep level that he was angry with himself for what he’d taught her to do.
Ronon checked both of his weapons as he watched his wife, her eyes were dark with emotion – anger, frustration, fear, and the guilt of what she’d done. There was no time for comfort and he knew she didn’t expect it, at least not yet. Instinct and training—he’d spent so much time hammering it into her and while he couldn’t ever regret it – he wished there’d been no need for it. Everyone else in the room was looking at her with a mixture of shock, awe, and guilt.
“Okay, let’s move out.” John stopped beside them, regarded Jennifer with shrewd eyes. “You still with us?”
Ronon flinched but didn’t interfere. John had a job beyond his and he had to be sure of what Ronon already knew instinctively.
He nodded. “Good.”
* * * *
Twenty-five women, eight living infants, and a mass grave. It had been the most horrific day of her life and it wasn’t even over. Jennifer shrugged out of the tac vest and sat down on the bench in the women’s locker room at the SGC. Vala and Laura were stripping down much the same as her.
Vala pulled off her tank top and sat down with a sigh. “I’d totally fuck you, too, you know. You’re beautiful.”
Jennifer laughed then, soft and light in a way she hadn’t in a very long time. “He obviously had no imagination because I figured it would distract him. He barely blinked.”
“Perverted mental pictures are wasted on uneducated nutjobs.” Laura yanked off her boots. “Dude, that was—that thing with the knife–that was straight out of a movie or something.”
“Major Lorne taught me to throw knives,” Jennifer admitted softly. “It’s one of his skills. Ronon is upset… you know… I can see it all over him.”
“Men like to think they should do all the fighting,” Vala murmured. “They like to think they should shoulder all the pain and horror that comes with taking someone else’s life because it will be easier for them to deal with it later.”
“You’ve killed before, right?”
Vala frowned. “Well, yes. Many when I was the host to a Go’uld; but I felt removed somehow from that and after the first few years I learned to pull back completely when things went really bad. I learned to hide in my own mind so I wouldn’t have to deal with the things she used my body to do. Murder, insane amounts of sex with men who weren’t always willing, etc.”
“Wow.” Jennifer sighed. “Sucks.”
“Yeah,” Vala nodded. “Sucked wide but I survived it and you’ll get through this day.”
Jennifer nodded. “How could it get this bad? They were on a government list for fuck’s sake. How could anyone let something that horrible happen? They were still pulling bodies out of the ground when the Colonel forced me to beam up to the Apollo.”
Laura slid onto the bench beside her and nudged her with one shoulder. “We did a lot of good though. Those that survived will get the best care possible.”
* * * *
She was curled up in bed when he entered the quarters they’d been assigned at the SGC. He sat down the tray of food on an empty desk and went to her, when he rounded the bed her found her wide awake staring at the wall. “You’re not resting, little one.”
Jennifer turned and looked at him then, her eyes dark and hard. “I’m not the woman you fell in love with any more, am I?”
“What?” Ronon sat down on the bed and touched her shoulder. “Of course you are.”
“No.” Jennifer shook her head. “That woman was soft and she blushed when you looked her way. That woman wasn’t a killer.”
“You aren’t the woman you were when we first met – that soft, beautiful woman would have never claimed me as her mate. That woman would not have survived this day without a great deal of suffering; and while I found her intriguing from the moment I set eyes on her—I’m very much in love with the woman you are and I would change nothing about you.” He pushed her hair back from her face. “I hate the day we’ve had. I hated watching you defend yourself because I will always feel that it is my duty; and I hated watching you with those women who had been held prisoner for so long and the tears that you couldn’t keep at bay when they told you about the women and children who had not survived the experiments.”
“It was a pretty shitty day,” Jennifer admitted. “And we still haven’t figured out if these assholes had anything to do with the bomb on the Daedalus or if there is something more going on. And what about the TRUST? Shouldn’t we go home to make sure Rodney and Evan are okay?”
“John will get us home as soon as he can. Right now, they are working with the surviving women and the children. They’ve brought Carson into consult but he refused to let them bring Teyla and their son to the SGC with him. He didn’t want her to see what Michael had done.” Ronon slid into the bed behind her and gathered her close. “You did well, today. I know the others are looking at you differently; treating you in a way that is different than they ever have before and all for different reasons.”
“Those trained to do it wish they could have done it for me.”
“Yes,” Ronon admitted.
“And Vala? Daniel Jackson?”
“They see you taking a path that they went down a long time ago and maybe it reminds them of what they gave up long ago to survive.”
“I don’t need anyone’s pity.”
“Ah, little one, no one here has pity for you or what you did today. No one.”
Jennifer shuddered a little. “You’ll stay?”
“All night. Sleep and I’ll watch over you.”
“Like our first night?” she questioned softly.
“Yes, and all the nights afterward.” He kissed her forehead and turned her in so she rested against his chest.