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It had been two days since Dr. McKay had fallen through the Stargate high as a kite on an alien enzyme. Forty-six hours since Colette had started cross-checking Carson’s findings and expanding what scant information they’d already had.

She could not have said, later, if it was the lack of sleep, the tenth cup of Athosian pekoe, or something else. From one second to another she was no longer fascinated by the biochemical intricacies. Every wall she’d ever built up was gone, and all she could see were all the ways this was going to hurt her people, and worse, what this must have already done to Lt. Ford, and she couldn’t do this anymore.

Colette pushed her chair back violently, slammed out of her lab and just ran. She didn’t know what excuse she’d given Carson, didn’t know if she’d secured her work as it had been drilled into her since academic infancy. She threw herself into the nearest transporter, ignored any looks and questioning shouts that chased after her, and didn’t stop running until she reached Phys./Eng. I and Radek Zelenka looked up at her in alarm.

Eight months. She refused to think about what a spectacle she must make and how her appearance had to alarm Zelenka’s team just when they already had every reason to be distraught. Her vision swam and she couldn’t blink away the image of what the lieutenant’s nervous system must look like after this long.

Ninety-five hours and counting.

Colette nearly started to cry when a slim hand circled around her wrist and a soft voice whispered, “Come.” She followed its owner back into the hallway and fell into the hug.

Silence.

Blessed blankness.

The unsettling reality under her microscope had not changed. Now, Colette knew that she’d be able to envision herself going back. She’d face any embarrassment and whoever might have misgotten the impression that Dr. Biro did feelings.

Four of her people were out there. Everything was still horrible, but for the moment she could breathe.

Miko was here.

 

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