Chapter 1 - The First Month
The first time it happened,
Jennifer Keller was sitting in the boardroom listening to Rodney McKay’s explanation
of why blowing up an Ancient research facility wasn't really his fault, since
technically it was Colonel "pointy-fingers" who released the highly
combustible gasses when he ignored Rodney's don't-touch-anything rule.
Up until the exact moment, Jen felt perfectly normal. Distracted, certainly. She mentally scolded herself for not paying as much attention as she should be to Rodney's speech, but he was sitting directly across the table, all leather clad and muscles. Jen honestly tried very, very hard to concentrate on the meeting. She even shifted her gaze to Rodney to see if it would help, but her attention slid right back to those bare forearms, and her mind took a brief foray into longing to slide her palms over the warmth of his skin. His green eyes narrowed as they caught her stare and he issued the unspoken challenge with the barest hint of a raised eyebrow.
She tilted her head and accepted.
She was going to beat him at his little game.
She wasn't going to be the one who looked away first. This time the staring contest would be hers to win.
Maybe it was the intense concentration she was throwing into keeping herself from blinking…or the fact that she hadn't eaten breakfast, again. Or perhaps even a combination of both. Either way, something was not right.
The room suddenly felt lighter. The colors brighter. Heat exploded across her skin. Sounds dropped into a low mumbling murmur. The expression on Ronon's face changed with excruciating slowness. He was saying something. Pointing at her. Yelling at Colonel Sheppard who was sitting on her right. Then the room moved with dizzying speed and the lights on the ceiling flashed with blinding whiteness.
Sound returned first. Voices that were too loud made her head ache. A dream floated on the edge of her consciousness and she swam for it, pushing away from the roar assaulting her ears. Sleep. Needed to go back to sleep.
Uncomfortable. Headache. Noise.
She squinted at the harsh light, confused by the odd assortment of shapes swimming into focus. Chair legs? No, table legs and chair legs. Castors and wheels.
Her mind slowly registered the details through the haze. Boardroom floor. Lying on her side. Arm under her head, top leg crossed over… recovery position? Recovery from what? She blinked again and let the voices mix with the fading remnants of a dream she could no longer remember. She closed her eyes against the dizzying circus ride ringing around behind her skull.
The voices were arguing about moving someone. If it was her they wanted to move then she was okay with that. She wanted to move. She wanted to go to bed. A pillow and blanket would be much better.
Jen opened her eyes again and with a great deal of effort, rolled onto her back.
The voices stopped.
Everything was out of focus.
Everyone was out of focus.
She met his eyes, confused over the raw emotion swirling through the deep green. He was kneeling on the floor next to John, and both men looked as though she'd just awoken from the dead. Their expressions slid between worry to relief then back again when she shivered, the realization of what had just happened twisting her stomach with dread.
How completely, insanely, you'll-never-live-this-down, one hundred and ten percent embarrassing.
She'd just fainted in the middle of a debriefing.
"Oh no." She whispered with a groan, moving to sit up.
"No you don't." John's voice cut through with a that's-an-order ring, his hand on her shoulder. "You're staying right there until Carson gets here."
"Aye now. Did someone request a house call?" Carson's voice came from behind her, but she was too dizzy to look. "Okay everyone. Let's give the lass a wee bit o' air, shall we?"
Jen felt the vibration in the floor as feet shuffled away, voices hushed and whispered.
"Carson, I'm fine." She muttered, trying once again to sit up but unable to move as both her shoulders were gently pinned to the floor by two different hands. One Ronon's, the other John's. She would have glared but her head hurt too much so she decided to just close her eyes instead.
"Then ye won't mind if I do a wee bit of checking." Carson burr rolled softly. "Seeing as how I don't believe either of these two gents are about ready to let you up just yet."
She was too tired to argue. Too tired to speak. Let the gossip hounds unite. Their Chief Medical Officer had just fainted.
She let her mind and body drift on the edges of sleep. She caught fragments and phrases from Carson. Fine. Likely exhaustion. Rest.
Yes, rest. Rest sounded like a really, really, good plan.
As Ronon knelt beside Jennifer, his mind fought to control his running emotions. She'd just scared more years off him than a Wraith ever could. He shuddered at the memory of how quickly the color had left her face and the way her eyes rolled back before she toppled into Sheppard's lap.
She worked too hard. Pushed herself too hard. Rarely stopped, rarely remembered to eat, and rarely, if ever, complained. She'd spent too many sleepless nights looking for cures and solutions, putting everyone else in front of herself. He knew why she did it. Why she pushed. The biggest part – the part that made him notice her in the first place – was her selfless desire to put the value of life above all else. A reckless innocence in her belief that any life was worth saving.
It was one of the many things he loved about her.
But her desire to heal was also plagued with a childlike desire to be needed. To belong. He'd argued with her, reasoned with her, even begged her to see that she didn't need to earn anyone's respect – she already had it. Yet somehow, she couldn't really believe it. She'd spent too many years trying to show she was just as good, just as smart as her older counterparts that Ronon knew she was never going to believe she'd long ago passed any need to prove herself.
And now she'd pushed herself too far.
Maybe this time she'd finally listen to reason.
The second time it happened, Captain Doyle firmly believed his life and career had just come to an end as he dialed the gate because it went without saying that the Atlantis CMO was under the direct protection of SGA-1 and anyone who failed her pretty much had to face the four horsemen. Colonel Sheppard, who was his CO and had the power to end careers; Ronon, who would could kill him half a dozen ways before Doyle could blink; Teyla, who even after having a child could still kick his ass across the galaxy; and McKay, who despite his nerdy brain, could make anyone's life a living hell if so motivated.
Taking a deep breath, Captain Doyle dialed the DHD and as calmly and succinctly as possible, informed the Atlantis control room their CMO was currently lying unconscious in a field of daisies and could they please send a jumper.
When Jen opened her eyes this time she was staring at a sunny field full of colorful flowers, and three very anxious looking Marines. Give them a hoard of gun wielding villagers and they were in complete control. Throw a fainting woman at their feet it was a confused pile of oh-crap-now-what? And of course, Captain Doyle had already run for help instead of just waiting. Now she was oh-for-two. She'd just passed out – and of course she’d forgotten to eat breakfast - again. It wasn't as though she'd had a giant bug attached to her neck. Did he have to immediately rush of and blab to everyone in the control room she'd fainted again? They were going to think she was definitely a week bodied ninny now. Two episodes in as many weeks.
As her mind returned she was eventually able to instruct the three lost souls to help her into the shade, a feat which proved more troublesome that originally intended because her legs just wouldn't work, so Lieutenant Bormann had to carry her.
Once safely bedded down in the grass, with a three point guard, she gave into the urge to sleep.
Warm fingers caressing her cheek brought her out of her doze and she smiled before her eyes opened.
"Hey," Ronon said softly, his eyes assessing her with concern.
"Hey," she whispered. "Fancy meeting you here."
She nodded. "Just… embarrassed. And really tired." She glanced past him hopefully. "Please tell me it's just you?"
"Sheppard's getting soft. He brought a jumper." He grinned, but she could see the smile didn't quite meet his eyes. He scooped her up so she could see the small ship sitting at the bottom of the hill.
"Taxi's here." John said, stepping up beside them. "You okay, Doc?"
She nodded, shifting her grip around Ronon's neck while they moved down the hill. "I'm fine. I just… stood up to fast. Probably shouldn't have skipped breakfast."
The Colonel gave her a look that said he didn't believe a word of it.
Carson's round of tests proved nothing other than she was perfectly fine except for slightly low levels of blood sugar, so he ordered her to go eat something.
The third time it happened, Jen was pretty sure she hadn't been sleeping in her office, but judging from the position of her desk chair—overturned and lying in the corner—and the fact that she was lying on the cold floor next to her filing cabinet, she'd gone and done it again.
Thank goodness she was working alone and it was well after hours. No need to add any more fuel to the fire. It was bad enough her staff had taken to throwing pillows on the floor every time she walked into a room, the Marines wouldn't stop ribbing her about an aversion to blood and needles, and every debriefing now involved her being sandwiched tightly between John and Ronon just in case she decided to 'do it again'.
This time, at least, she didn't have an audience.
The urge to call Ronon to come carry her back to her room was really, really, really tempting.
It took several attempts to force herself upright, and several more to get to her feet. Leaning on the wall for support, and praying for an empty hallway, Jen shuffled her way into the corridor.
She nearly fell over in the transporter, and twice more on the way through the crew quarters, but finally reached her door without losing her footing all together. She collapsed onto the bedding.
As she drifted off to sleep, worry surfaced through the fog.
Something was definitely wrong…
Panicked thoughts of disease and pathogens swirled through the haze of almost-sleep. Then right before she finally succumbed, she smiled into her pillow.
Wouldn't it be funny if she was pregnant?
Thank goodness Carson had already ruled that out.
Sleep called her as the last thought whispered through her sub-conscious.
He had tested her, hadn't he?