Jennifer took the glass John pushed into her hand and settled close to Ronon on the small couch they’d taken over in John’s quarters. Laura was sprawled shamelessly across the Colonel’s bed. She watched John put a glass of whiskey in her hand and walk away. The week had been hell and they’d spent most of the day in debriefing with Woolsey who had in turn sent a message to the SGC.
“I built that bomb.”
“No.” Jennifer shook her head.
Laura jerked up right and downed two fingers of whiskey in one gulp. She held out the glass to Sheppard who retrieved it wordlessly. “Yes. I did. I have an undergrad degree in biology. Did you know that?”
“Yes, and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering.” Jennifer sipped her whiskey carefully. “The military just doesn’t let anyone play with plutonium and weapons grade naquadah.”
“The day after I graduated from grad school this hot looking guy in dress blues is standing in the middle of room with this pretty blue eyes and a mile wide smile on the prettiest mouth you’ll ever see on a man asking me if I’d like to serve my country.” She took the glass John offered. “The next fucking thing I know I’m knee deep in boot camp, then Officer’s school—six months later I’m at Area 51 of all fucking places and aliens are real—by the way Cadman—we’ve got an alien in the basement. He’s got a snake in head.” She scowled. “So? What do I do? I sneak down there and take a look at that fuck. Gross—gawd he was horrible. Vain, twisted, and without a single moral in his whole body. Then – there is this equally hot guy in dress blues—except now it’s the Air Force and he’s wondering if I’d like to build him a special bomb.”
Jennifer grinned. “Same hot ass Air Force General that took me to dinner and told me I’d be an idiot not to want to step through the star gate at least once?”
Laura laughed and downed the second glass. “So, I built that sexy son of a bitch a bomb. A big pretty bomb that I would later find out was used to stop a black hole from sucking the whole Earth into it via the star gate.” She held out the glass and glared at John when he raised an eye brow. “More and don’t look at me like that. You’re a sexy son of a bitch, too. Pour.”
“You’ve never built me a bomb.” John poured more into her glass.
“I’ve built him more than one.” She fluttered her eye lashes at him. “He asked super nice every single time.”
“The asteroid?” John asked as he walked away.
“Oh yeah, he paid me a special visit after that one told me how he felt about the wires I used. But in my defense, I didn’t fucking know the thing was going into space and it might need to be freaking disarmed manually… lesson learned.” She frowned into her glass. “Christ, John, where the fuck did you get this?”
“Radek makes it,” Ronon answered watching her with amusement. “We probably don’t want to know any more than that.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” She sighed. “Then, I they came to me and they wanted me to build something that I designed in college. Something I built only in theory for my thesis. It was a work of art, really. An amazing thing and I refused. I couldn’t do it. I refused. I wasn’t going to build a biological weapon. Then—he was there again and I thought about that vividly vain alien I saw that once and I thought yeah I could drop a few bombs on that bastard.” She downed the whiskey and tossed the empty glass on the bed. “I’m never building you a bomb, flyboy. You’ll just take a ride on it and tell me ‘so long’. Well, I’m not fucking Rodney McKay. If you said that shit to me I’d totally punch you in your very pretty face.”
John leaned over her snagged the empty glass. “You’re drunk.”
“Yeah. Well. You drink embalming fluid on an empty stomach and see how you do, Sir.”
“And you’d better not be fucking Rodney McKay,” John muttered as he walked away.
She laughed and dropped back on the bed. Then grew quiet, tears streamed down her face. “Those bastards in the Trust used my bomb to kill thousands of Jaffa. Did you know that?”
“Laura.” Jennifer started to get up but Ronon stopped her.
“Now this fucking mutant Wraith is using it to play bio-war games with people who are still plowing their fields with stone tools for fucks sake.” She sat up and rubbed her face. “I’m going to shoot that fucker right in the head the first time I see him. I swear it.”
“Good. Anger and revenge are better than self-pity.” John shoved another glass in her hand. “Might as well finish it off, Laura, you’re going to wish you were dead in the morning anyway.”
“I’ve murdered thousands of people.” She glared at him, grabbed the glass, and downed it. “I think I’m entitled to be a little fucking upset right now.”
She never saw it coming but couldn’t have defended herself from it even if she had. John grabbed a fistful of her shirt and jerked her right off his bed. “Listen to me, Cadman, and as drunk as you are if you forget this ever I’ll make you regret it. You’re entitled to be upset. You’re entitled to be angry. But, you are not allowed to feel guilty about it. You didn’t murder those people.” He shook her a little. “You’ll know it, the moment you cross the line between duty and murder. You’ll know it so deep in your bones that you won’t even be able to look at yourself in the fucking mirror. I know. I’ve done it. With a gun, with a knife, with my bare hands – and I didn’t even blink. Not after the first one and not after the last one—and that’s what a killer is. You’re a soldier, you’ve seen more action that most of the women in the service ever well and I regret that for you—but don’t confuse what you do with something else.”
“You were defending the city,” she finally whispered. “You were defending Atlantis and that makes all the difference.”
His fist loosened in her shirt and he let her go. “Capture or kill… sometimes kill is just fucking easier.”
“Words to live by?”
“Truth and reconciliation with my soul, Lt.” He glared at her and then looked at Ronon. They were both staring at them without shame. “Ronon, why don’t you dump the Lt. in her bed. I’d hate for her to wander the hallways half-embalmed.”
Laura stood and patted his cheek. “Still no bombs for you, flyboy. It’s my only rule.”
“Shitty rule if I say so myself.” He caught her when she swayed and swung her up in his arms when he realized she was unconscious.
“I’ve seen that woman pile away enough alcohol for six men.” Ronon held out his hands and frowned when John glared. “Wouldn’t look very good for you to carry her around the city, John.”
“Yeah.” John handed her over and shoved his hands into his pockets to keep from trying to take her back. “Make sure… shit.”
“Yeah.” Ronon smiled. He glanced briefly at Jennifer and then left with a nod.
“She’ll feel like utter crap in the morning.” Jennifer handed him her empty glass. “But it was good for her to get it out of her system. Course she might really regret telling you that you’re pretty and sexy.”
John laughed softly. “Yeah, I hardly need the encouragement.”
“She’s a great person, John. I’d hate to see her hurt…” She sighed. “I’d hate to see either of you hurt and I don’t see a road for the two of you that doesn’t get someone seriously hurt.”
“I know. Does it matter that I can’t even help myself?”
Jennifer titled her head to the side. “Yes, it does actually. You aren’t the kind of man who normally loses control of a situation like this.”
“It was the only one time.”
“I know.” Jennifer grinned when he jerked and met her gaze. “I’m her best friend, John, and in some cases more relevant I’m her doctor. I’m the one she was rousing out of the bed at the ass crack of dawn for a very serious talk.”
His eyes widened. “I really don’t sleep around. I swear.”
Her mouth dropped open. “I never said you did. As far as I know you’re practically a monk on this city. One of the few mind you- but a monk nonetheless. Remember I’m the one in charge of condoms, oral contraceptives, and lube. If you were doing anyone I’d know.”
“Lube,” John repeated.
“Currently men out number women on this base 5 to 1.” She raised an eyebrow when he flushed red. “Don’t ask, I guess is your policy, remember?”
“Right. Right.” He reached for his own glass which he’d yet to drink from and swallowed it all. “Fuck. Yeah. Don’t ask.”
* * * *
Jennifer was pulling off her shoes when Ronon entered. “Get her settled?”
“Yeah, she woke up and cried on me… a little.”
“Do I need to go over there?” She started to reach for her shoes.
“No. She passed out again. Probably for the rest of the night. She’s going to think she died when she wakes up though.” Ronon sighed. “She’s in love with him, right?”
Jennifer glanced at him startled. “Did she say that?”
“Not out right but she was babbling a little.” Ronon frowned. “You know, relationships on Earth almost sound like war. You weren’t this hard to figure out and get.”
“I wasn’t?” She smiled. “Maybe I wanted to get caught.”
He pulled her into his lap and buried his face in her hair. “You turned around everything for me. I was prepared to die every day and now—I’m prepared to live. To live for you.”
“Make love to me.”
“You’re still very tired, little one.”
“Love me. Make me forget,” she whispered against his throat.
Ronon turned her on the bed, his mouth seeking hers even as his hands made quick work of pulling her clothes up, off, and away. He worked her gently while savage thoughts raced through his mind and when he slid into her she wrapped herself around him and begged for more.
* * * *
“Ow, you bitch.” Jennifer shoved her off and bent from the waist. “You hit me that hard again, Cadman, and you’ll get the biggest needle EVER known to mankind in your ass everytime you come back from off world for like the rest of time!”
Laura spit out her mouth piece and groaned. “Sorry. Shit.”
“Yeah well this is what I get for being in here with you instead of in my nice warm bed.” Jennifer jerked off her gloves and grabbed a bottle of water off the bench.
Laura shuddered a little. She hadn’t slept without the benefit of Radek’s rot-gut for three days and she was doing her best to resist the temptation of a glass full of sleep. “I can’t get those people out of my head.”
“Yeah. I know.” Jennifer offered her a sad smile when Laura looked at her. “I mean, I was UP when you came around and asked if I wanted to kick the shit out of you in the gym.”
“I figured you were up because Ronon was off world.” Laura sprawled out on the mat in front of her and casually removed the rest of her protective gear—the head padding first. “I shouldn’t miss him.”
“Of course you should, everyone should miss my husband when he’s not here.” Jennifer slid off the bench and crawled to her friend.
Laura laughed softly. “Yeah.” They both knew she wasn’t talking about Ronon.
“You can’t help who you love, Laura.”
Laura shuddered a little. Did she love John Sheppard? Christ, if she did it was the stupidiest thing she could have ever done ever in her whole life. “I respect him. I enjoy him, even when he’s moody. Maybe especially when he’s moody but I’m not in love with a man I’ve hit the sheets with once.” She groaned a little thinking about the night he’d come to her quarters – and had taken her over with that quick, greedy mouth, strong hands, and his amazing dick. “And okay I have a passing fancy for his cock.”
Jennifer laughed. “How long do you think it’ll last?”
Laura shuddered. She figured the rest of her life but she wasn’t going to say it outloud.
* * * *
“You know – what you did that night—it wasn’t murder.”
John rolled his head a little and looked at Ronon. “I wasn’t talking about that night. What I did to keep Elizabeth and Rodney—and the city safe was nothing compared to what I’ve done in the past. What I’ve done to people from my own world. Long before I fucked up and got myself thrown to the bottom of the world—I did things that well.. shit.”
“Did you follow orders?”
“Served your country?” Ronon asked. “That’s important to your men- I see it in them. They are proud to serve your country and to serve under you. All of them may not have privy to all of your background but they know enough about you to understand that you’re a good leader and that you’ll never ask something of them you wouldn’t do yourself.”
“I served my country.” He cleared his throat – the darkness that surrounded them wasn’t new – literally or figuratively. “What about you? Did you serve your world? Follow orders?”
“Your military title on Sadeta – it’s more than just a title. It’s a designation… something that sets you apart from the men that you served with.”
“Why do you ask that?”
“I saw you with your own unit—they’d been on their own for years and even though they had some seriously fucked up motives and plans they treated you differently—there was something underneath it all.”
Ronon pressed back against the tree they were both leaning up against. The rest of the men they’d brought with them were in various states of ill at ease sleep. None of them slept well off world and lately many of them didn’t even try. “I was an assassin, Sheppard. Me and others like me were trained for suicide missions and if we managed to get out of it and come back – well all the better for the next time they wanted something or someone blown to fucking hell and back.”
“Others like you?”
“Not all of my people have the high tolerance for pain that I do. At any rate—that’s what I was trained for. Except I kept coming home – dying just wasn’t an option for me because I had a woman who depended on me to come home. The more missions I went on and survived—the higher I climbed in the ranks.”
“And if you still on your world and the Wraith hadn’t destroyed it?”
“I already out rank you on my world, Sheppard.” Ronon answered with a soft laugh. “That’s your real question, right?”
“Yeah.” Sheppard stretched his legs out in front of him. “Wonder what they are doing?”
“Hopefully they are asleep.” Ronon didn’t ask who John meant—it was more than obvious. “Jen has had nightmares since she came back from the plague planet.”
“That’s what I overheard one of the marines that was there calling it. After watching some of the video and seeing the pictures—it makes me want to take Michael to pieces with my bare hands.”
John sighed. “I should have let you kill him when we had the chance. God knows you were more than willing more than once and look where it’s gotten us.”
“Jennifer says regrets are a waste of time.”
“What do you say?”
“I say that regrets can make you think differently in the present.”
“So, what you’re saying is that the next time I tell you not to kill a Wraith hybrid that we experimented on and drove batshit insane you’re going to tell me to go fuck myself.”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“I can live with that.”