Vala swallowed a flutter of apprehension, and tightened her fingers around her P-90 with resolve. She had been separated from SG-5 for an hour now, her radio was still not working, and instinct overruled protocol as she imagined her future in a cell, or worse, on a pyre. She'd paid for her haste, in that she'd somehow gotten herself turned in the wrong direction, leaving her with no idea where the Stargate might be.
Then there was the tiny matter of the small army of Ori warriors who had been chasing her for the past ten or so minutes. At the edge of a wooded area, she took a strategic position crouched behind a bush, and assessed the situation. The warriors might respectfully bow down in the face of she who bore the Orici, although that plot hadn't worked in some time. More likely, they would take one look at her Tau'ri get-up, the infamous olive drab, the shapeless uniform of the disbelievers, and fire at will. Vala had expended her cartridge back around the time she'd lost SG-5, and now was on her last. The ideal was a firefight she knew she could win. Barring that, an evenly matched altercation was acceptable, since she was usually smarter than anyone she came across. Neither of those were options today, however.
She ducked lower, counting the impending footfalls of her pursuers, and wondered if they might track her into the woods, foolishly bypassing the hiding spot she occupied, leaving her free to head back in the direction from which she'd come. Before she had the chance to weigh the 'run like mad' or 'duck and cover' options fully, however, a hand lay flat on her shoulder, and she found herself looking into the eyes of a dirt-spattered man. "I can hide you from them," he hissed. "Come with me."
It might not have been the smartest move, following this man into the forest. He could have been taking her to some sort of torture palace, or maybe to a set of rings to take her who-knew-where, or maybe he was another worshipper, come to return her to the Prior. But Vala liked options, and she went along anyway, moving quickly and quietly. He guided her in and out of the pattern of trees with his hand on her forearm, firm but not bruising, just below her wrist. Her right arm was free to grab her zat'nik'tel, if need be.
They skidded to a stop with only the slightest ruffling of leaves to mark their arrival at the mouth of a cave. Vala turned first, scanning the surrounding area for any signs they'd been spotted or followed, but she found they were alone for the time being. The man's quick action had, at the very least, bought them some time.
"It's safe," he promised, off her doubtful look.
She had no real reason to trust him. His appearance was timely, yes, but there was a fine line between timely and convenient. On the other hand, he allowed her to remain armed. She liked being armed.
Vala raked her eyes over his unappealing oatmeal-colored pants and tunic (just breezy enough to be comfortable, she supposed, but completely unflattering to the male form), and tried to find any markings indicating he followed Origin. Instead, as she watched his face, she thought she recognized something in his eyes, something which prompted her, however illogically, to bow her head and follow him into the cave.
The tunnel was short and narrow, obviously not intended for humans to pass through, but they managed. It opened into a chamber, far enough away from the mouth of the cave that there was no more backlighting. Vala obligingly shone the flashlight of her P-90 around the small enclosure, allowing her possible captor to see what he was doing as he lit a small fire. This more or less went against everything Colonel Mitchell had taught her, but he'd never listened to anything she'd attempted to teach him, so she thought it balanced out.
"They won't be able to see it from the forest," the man assured her. "I checked."
In the flickering firelight, she took the opportunity to study him further, to place the hint of recognition she'd felt earlier. "I've seen you before," she realized.
"I've been following you," he confessed. "I know you're from Stargate Command."
"No," she said, "that's where I've seen you. I know you!" She was a little pleased of herself for remembering, and also for the SGC connotations indicating he was a friendly, as the Earth military was fond of calling it. "You're from Samantha's picture!" The hair was a little longer, and there were a few more lines in his face, but she could easily place him to the picture on the top shelf of the bookcase in Colonel Carter's office.
"Samantha? You mean Major Carter?"
"Lieutenant Colonel Carter now," she said. He nodded, impressed. She wondered, with only the slightest pang of jealousy, if he'd been interested in Samantha. She felt on occasion as though she was being treated like a poor Carter replacement, even after Colonel Carter had rejoined the team, and she hoped this wouldn't be the case with the new stranger, as well. "You're the one who was on SG-1 when Daniel was dead."
"Ascended," he corrected. He stuck out his hand, and Vala shook it with only the slightest fleeting traces of caution. "Jonas Quinn," he introduced himself. His hairstyle was questionable, matted to his forehead, but he was actually very attractive in spite of it, and she let her fingers linger on the inside of his palm when she finally pulled away.
"Vala, Vala Mal Doran," she said, and maybe struck a tiny flattering pose, purely out of habit. In the resulting half-second or so, the firelight caught the patch on her right arm.
"You're SG-1," he said.
She nodded eagerly, because she was quite proud of herself for making it onto the team. It felt like joining the ranks of a very exclusive club. The way Jonas was looking at her, with respect and even slight admiration, only confirmed this notion.
"How is everyone?" he said. "Colonel O'Neill, Sam, Teal'c? I bet they're all glad to have Daniel back." She regarded him thoughtfully, and he held himself with care, trying to hide the minute note of bitterness that came paired with the statement. He had joined the team after Daniel's death, ascension, whatever, and they'd had no room for him when Daniel had returned. She could understand, wanting so badly to belong, and wondering if Stargate Command would ever truly find a place for the misfits it took in. They couldn't all be Teal'c, after all.
"Colonel O'Neill?" she echoed. She remembered Daniel mentioning him. "You mean Jack O'Neill, the general?"
"General? Really?" He seemed much more surprised about this than he'd been about Samantha's promotion.
"At least, I think that's what Daniel said. He's in Washington now."
Jonas's face pursed. "Then who's leading SG-1? Sam?"
"No, Colonel Mitchell."
"I don't know who that is. Then again, I don't know who you are, so..." He shrugged, the spark going out of his eyes, unless it was just a trick of the light in the cave. "I guess things have changed a lot."
"Well, I couldn't say," she said quietly, trying to keep her tone bright, as it was obviously important he hear some sort of affirmation of his worth. Whether or not he agreed, it was clear from his smile he appreciated her efforts.
"So why are they after you?" Jonas asked, poking at the pooling ashes with a stick.
"Oh, you know, birthing their precious leader, then renouncing the faith, escaping the galaxy, and trying to stop their invasion of this galaxy at every turn."
"That's right. I'm the mother of the Orici. You know, they say you always have big dreams for your children, but commanding one's own army with the idea of universal domination is a bit much."
"Well, let it never be said she's an underachiever."
"I guess not," Vala agreed, but there was a note of melancholy to her voice. She was so surprised by its presence she had no time to attempt to disguise it.
Jonas coughed in a transparent gesture to steer the conversation elsewhere, and asked, "You're really a member of SG-1?"
Gratefully, Vala said, "I have the patches, don't I? Although, I could have stolen them quite easily." Jonas blinked at her with utter bemusement. "What?"
"Nothing. You're just... different from what I'd expect from Stargate Command. I mean that in a good way." Vala decided to be flattered by this, and grinned at him. He returned the gesture, his face softened in the fire, and feeling impulsive, she leaned forward and planted one on him. It was an exquisite move, but a mediocre kiss that did not get the chance to reach its true potential before Jonas pulled away. She noted with some pleasure he seemed to be reluctant about doing so. "I don't understand."
She shrugged, licking her lower lip. "It seemed like the thing to do."
"You know," he said thoughtfully, "this happens to me more often than you'd expect."
Vala made a point of giving him a once-over. "I don't know. I'd expect a high number." Jonas colored, and she decided to cut him a break. "If you'd prefer, I could seduce you for information."
"Nothing much to give up," he said, blushing. "When the Priors first came to Langara, I thought something was suspicious. I still had a few contacts leftover from my time with Stargate Command, but when I tried to reach them, I either got through to a bunch of zealots, or didn't get through at all. I started to realize what the Ori really were, but when I tried to convince some of our planet's leaders, they all but accused me of treason for the second time. I 'gated out kind of blindly, but didn't realize how big the takeover had gotten until the next three planets I visited were all Origin." Vala nodded sympathetically. The Ori certainly worked fast. "I've been trying to do what I can since," Jonas explained, "looking for information on underground movements. I'd heard there was a rebel faction starting on this planet, but it looks like that intel was false. I've been trying to tell people the truth, but it hasn't been easy."
"That's very noble of you," she said. "Although couldn't you do more by coming back to Stargate Command?"
"I don't know." He stared off. "Word is starting to spread about the Tau'ri and the 'threat' they pose. I think maybe I could get more done if I wasn't connected to them."
She wanted to ask if maybe he was just afraid they wouldn't take him back, but she knew she wouldn't get a straight answer. She certainly wouldn't give one herself, if the question was posed to her. She ran her fingers across his temple, originally meant as a comforting gesture, but ended up somewhat seductive.
He colored a little, though he didn't shrug off her attentions. "You do realize there are people out there who are looking to capture and publicly execute us."
She rolled her eyes, because it was just a silly little kiss, a tiny little touch, and there was no need for all of his melodrama. Although, he did have a point. "Yes," she said. "By fire. They've done it to me before."
"They burned you before?" he said, with the slightly wide eyes of one enraptured by a storyteller. She it found quite endearing. Everyone at the SGC had taken to ignoring her tales altogether, except for Mitchell and his team, who took her advice grudgingly at best.
"To death." She tried not to show how affected she still was by the experience, but even the fire at her feet had suddenly grown too hot, and the nightmare was threatening to overcome her: the heat, the pain, the disturbing black of no longer being. She scooted back into the questionable safety of the dark cave walls, because at least with their chilled, serrated surface, she knew where she stood. Fire was so unpredictable, but rock was solid and stable. "Well, I mean, obviously they brought me back. The Ori do have powers, you know. They're not lying about that." She frowned, drawing her knees to her chest and tucking her arms around them.
"You were an example."
For the first time, Vala no longer appreciated his stare. Folding under his scrutiny, she pulled out her battered radio and hunched over it. She decided to use the brief amount of free time and the flickering light to her advantage, and repair the device. She wasn't entirely sure how the cover plate got dented in the first place, but she sensed it was bad. "Death by fire is not an altogether pleasant experience," she informed him, half-hoping the rattles of her jimmying the plate open would cover the sound of her own shaking voice. "I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of going through it again. I'm actually a bit terrified."
Then she giggled unnaturally, a terrible disguise for the anxiety he no doubt saw right through. "I can't believe I'm saying this," she blurted without pause. "I've never talked about it before. I don't know why I'm telling you."
"Because you don't know me," he suggested. "Here, let me." He held out his hand for the radio, and she passed it to him. He held his hands closer to the fire for light, and she watched, fascinated, as the flames licked out tentatively, sensing his presence and trying to draw him in. Their dance cast shadows over Jonas's fingers as they moved, manipulating the wires into place.
"I could mention it to Daniel, I suppose. He'd be the expert on life and afterlife."
She suspected she was talking for the sake of filling the silence, but Jonas cocked his head slightly. "Why don't you?"
"Because he told me I 'bounce back.' Daniel is under the impression —and it's not entirely wrong, mind you— I have remarkable resiliency when it comes to unfavorable situations." Vala knew they didn't think of her as invincible, but she wasn't about to fall short of their impressions of her wealth of inner strength, her survivor's instinct. "I know they keep me around largely for amusement, and perhaps out of guilt for unpaid debts. I saved their lives once. The only reason they don't ship me back where I came from is because I occasionally prove to be useful. Well, that, and I haven't entirely told them where I came from."
Jonas cocked an eyebrow at her last comment, but said nothing.
"Of course, when I do help, it never seems to be in quite the way they want."
"They're a hard bunch to impress," he agreed. His tone was decidedly commiserating, and it filled her gut with a warmth that wasn't frightening whatsoever. Hoping she wasn't being too presumptuous, especially after her earlier failed attempt, she reached out, and curled her fingers around his wrist. At this moment, she was aching for connection and human contact, and she suspected the same of Jonas.
"Here," he said, handing back her radio with his free hand. The dented cover plate was barely hanging on. "I don't know how good of a job I did."
"I'm sure you did fine," she said, surprising herself with the push of sincerity behind it. She could see the heartbreak in this man's eyes, and she recognized a little of it in herself. The SGC treated the both of them with polite interest, bordering on indifference, but it was too late. They'd let themselves get too close, fall too deeply in the romanticism of the family built inside that mountain, and neither of them could quite distance themselves from it anymore.
"You know," she teased, eager to lead herself away from that particular train of thought, "Teal'c has lent me a number of action-adventure films, and the hero and heroine always become intimately involved, in situations such as these."
"Situations such as these? You mean, cowering in a cave with a complete stranger?"
He had a very delicious smile, she thought with satisfaction. "We could work our way towards becoming much more than strangers."
Vala was just recovering from her earlier bouts of embarrassment, and to make it up to herself, she fell slave to the reckless voice within and leaned in for another kiss. Jonas had given himself so badly to the cause, never knowing if his efforts were useful or even appreciated. He was still suffering for it even now. He deserved some sort of reward.
A voice bounced off the cave walls, and knowing her mouth and Jonas's were otherwise occupied, she felt a slight flicker of warning. Jonas pulled away hastily, putting out the fire and accidentally flaring up dust clouds that stung Vala's eyes. "Bad timing," she mouthed at the quick flush of darkness. She'd always made a point of never knowing missed opportunity, and she found it tasted like ash and cave dirt.
A slight smoky smell lingered to betray their presence, but it was the least of their problems, considering they had no exit route, and the search party was coming closer. She felt Jonas's hand on her arm, merely as a point of reference. As she wracked her brain trying to figure out the best strategy, however, the situation worsened abruptly. The radio at Vala's breast at last crackled to life, ninety minutes too late, and much more loudly than she would have preferred. The thick walls of the cave appeared to block the frequency, but not before the device let out one defiant screech of static.
"I hear something!" yelled someone in the tunnel, and the encroaching footfalls sped up.
"We've been made," said Jonas.
"On the bright side, they'll wait until all the villagers are watching, before they put us to death."
"So we have a few minutes," he assessed. "Okay. Sounds like your team is pretty close by. SG-1?"
"SG-1 would've found me by now," she muttered. "SG-5." She didn't fault SG-5 for their incompetence this mission; Colonel Mitchell had warned her ahead of time that she was to keep an eye on Altman, who was on his first official mission since Anubis's son had attacked him in the SGC the previous year. "I'm sorry," she offered, knowing Jonas was probably disappointed that his reunion with his friends would be delayed.
If Jonas caught on, he didn't own up to it. It was just as well, because the soldiers had finally made their way into the cave and stood with their swords at the ready. Vala smiled. "Well, hello, boys."
"The unbeliever," the presumable leader said venomously.
"You know, I don't take kindly to that," Vala said, and hefted up her P-90.
"Vala, don't," Jonas cautioned. She was taken aback by his sharp tone, it seemed more fitting to any of the current members of SG-1.
"And why not?"
"They're just pawns. It's no different from the Jaffa. They're just following a belief, no matter how misguided. You can't punish them for it. That's just sinking to their level."
Vala kept her gun trained squarely on the first man's torso. Sometimes, though she'd never admit to it, she remembered what it was like to be Qetesh. To lord power over others, to be the voice behind decisions which cost people their lives. Men who wrote plays, women who sang songs, children who brought handmade gifts that were cast aside the moment the worshippers left the room.
Vala lowered the gun in defeat. It would do no good anyway, she had ammunition enough to kill one man, maybe two, but others would come, angrier and better armed, and Vala and Jonas would have to fight for domination of the lone tunnel, over the corpses of the others.
As the warriors spilled into the tiny room, took her weapon, and bound her arms behind her back, she threw Jonas a look. "You're just like everyone else at Stargate Command, you know. It's a wonder they ever let you go."
The soldiers were not gentle, nor kind, and they did not guide her loosely as Jonas had. Jagged rock slashed the sleeve of the uniform she'd worked so hard to earn, and a little blood seeped out, staining the gash in the cloth. "We're not struggling, you know," she complained, because it felt good to complain. Sometimes, if she did it often and annoyingly enough, whoever she was with got so frustrated as to leave her alone completely. She didn't think it would be the case here, but it was worth a shot. "You could be a little more gentle. After I went to all the trouble of pushing your beloved Orici out of my—"
"You will be taken to the square, where the Prior will deal with you," was the cold answer.
"Great," muttered Jonas. Vala tried feebly to catch his gaze; they needed a game plan, and so far, her usual skills didn't seem to be working.
Then again, maybe she was thinking a little too outside of the proverbial box. Jonas's plan was brilliant in its simplicity, and what Colonel Mitchell would laughingly refer to as 'old school.' The former member of Stargate Command twisted in his captor's grip, then used his new position to bring his knee up sharply into the groin of the Ori soldier.
The soldier grunted and staggered, which allowed Jonas to fall free, and caused just enough distraction that the man holding Vala was caught unawares. Vala struck her heel into his kneecap, her elbow into his gut, then her shoulder into his face. By the time she was finished, Jonas had already dispatched of the third man, and they were all sprawled on the patchy ground.
Vala glanced over at Jonas. "Very impressive," she said with open admiration. She liked a man who could think on his feet. Or with his feet.
He shrugged. "Sometimes you just have to improvise. Let's get going."
Vala extracted her Earth weapon from the flaccid grip of her unconscious captor, and zatted all three men once for good measure. "I warned you," she told the leader, squared her heel into his crotch. She cast a sideways smirk at Jonas, as if to say 'that is how you dispose of an uncooperative man.' He looked appropriately bothered.
"Now what?" he asked, his voice a little ragged as they hustled away from the scene.
"We find the Stargate, and hope our friends back there don't have reinforcements on the way."
They hadn't made it far when there was a sharp crack to Vala's left. She held her P-90 at the ready, Jonas sinking into an unarmed crouch behind her, but it turned out to only be a muddy and ragged SG-5, headed by Major Harper. "Miss Mal Doran," he said, relief evident even through the dirt caking his face. "And who's this?"
"This is Jonas Quinn, of SG-1," she said. She dared them to challenge her use of present tense. At the moment, as far as she was concerned, Jonas was a far more valuable resource than SG-5. "He helped me escape."
"Sorry about that," Harper said with a slight grimace. "The chip tracker got damaged in the firefight, so we couldn't find you."
"Glad to see you're okay," Altman said, though the obvious exhaustion in his voice outweigh any note of sincerity that might otherwise been lurking. "Can we get out of here?"
"'Gate's this way," Harper said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. "Let's move out."
Vala figured she should have suspected something was amiss when they'd made it all the way to the Stargate without trouble. "You'll come back with us, right?" she asked Jonas. He had already stopped in front of the DHD, and was plugging in Earth's address without much thought. He glanced at her uncertainly, and she added, "I know they'll be glad to see you."
Jonas murmured noncommittally, but he dipped his head to hide a smile. The Stargate roared to life.
Seconds later, weapons fire sliced through the air around them, chipping the stone steps at the base of the Stargate with a minor explosion. "Oh, not again," Vala heard Lieutenant Cooper mutter, right before his voice was drowned out by Harper yelling, "We're under fire! Altman, enter the code!"
Jonas moved for protection behind the DHD, the only one of the team not armed. Harper, Cooper, and Lieutenant Dunlap held down cover fire so Altman could punch in the IDC. Vala expended the last of her ammo, then dove to join Jonas under the swelling curve of the DHD base.
"We're set!" said Altman.
"All right," Harper commanded, "civilians through the 'gate!"
"Go!" Jonas said, huddled next to Vala in the cover provided by the DHD. "I'll draw their fire."
"That's a horrible plan."
"But it's a plan. Just go."
"I don't know how long I can hold the 'gate open for you," she said, but she could tell from the dark flicker in his eyes that he already knew. Another blast from the Ori weapon skimmed the DHD mere inches from her, with a screech-thump of impact. She fumbled at her vest. "Take the GDO."
He shook his head in refusal. "Vala, it's no good. I don't know the code. Look, we're not going to be able to hold those guys off forever. I'll buy you the time."
"Mal Doran, get your ass through the 'gate now!" Harper said. Dunlap and Cooper were already through, with Altman holding position on the stairs.
"Here," she said, pressing her zat'nik'tel in his hand. This time, he took her gift.
"Vala!" This time, it was Altman.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," she grumbled. She nodded to Jonas, and they rose from their position in smooth unison. Jonas immediately turned around and fired the zat in rapid succession. Vala used the break in return fire to make a run for the 'gate, grabbing Harper on the way. "Go, go!" she yelled, as energy blasts from the warriors Jonas hadn't yet disposed of rained around them.
With the last of SG-5 through the Stargate, Vala took a dangerous moment to look back at Jonas. He'd managed to take down every last of the assailants following them, and was the only one left standing. He turned to her with a lopsided grin of relief, and she opened her mouth to beckon him through.
Then a flare of white light assaulted her eyes, and when her sight adjusted, Jonas was crumpled on the ground, struck by a blast. A dozen more Ori soldiers were spilling out of the trees, and with one of their targets down, they started to open fire on Vala. She dove through the 'gate, but not before catching an energy blast on her hip that wormhole travel did nothing to soothe. She felt the rattling metal ramp of the SGC rise up to meet her body, and it knocked the breath out of her just as she wheezed, "Close the iris!"
There was a second splatter of weapons fire that eked through just before the iris swirled closed. SG-5 took up defensive positions, but the blast just bounced off the wall with nothing but a scratch. One of the nurses, a cute new male one, knelt beside Vala to examine her, but she sat up impatiently.
"What about Mr. Quinn?" Harper said.
She shook her head. "They got him." There was one last thump of an energy blast smacking against the iris, then the wormhole snapped shut.
"Major, what happened out there?" asked General Landry, joining the melee on the ramp. Vala flicked off the attentions of the nurse, although her arm was starting to throb from where she'd cut it on the rocks of the cave.
"You'd have to ask Miss Mal Doran, sir," Harper said tightly.
Landry raised his brows slightly. "I intend to. But first, you're all due in the infirmary. We debrief in an hour."
"You know," Vala told the nurse, eying him like a hawk while he put away his black thread, "I've watched enough Earth television to know that I deserve a lollipop for good behavior."
The man looked like he didn't know if he should take her comment seriously or not. In the end, he didn't reply at all, but Vala didn't mind, as her heart hadn't really been in it. "So, how's the patient, Arthur?" Colonel Mitchell's voice carried over the infirmary. The rest of SG-5 had walked away with a few scratches, leaving Vala all by her lonesome with the humorless nurse.
He stood up, shrugging dully at Mitchell, who came into Vala's periphery with some shadows behind him. No doubt the whole of SG-1, eager to track her progress on her first official mission. "Dr. Lam is putting her on standby until the burn heals."
"How's that?" said Mitchell, clapping his arm down on her sore shoulder. "Your first SGC badge of honor."
Vala winced and wriggled out of his grasp. "Second. I have five stitches in that arm, thank you very much."
"So, how'd it go?" asked Colonel Carter.
"It was an interesting mission, to say the least. They like to shoot first, burn later, ask questions never. It's an admirable and time-saving philosophy, I suppose, but less so when you're on the receiving end of it. Major Harper and his men managed to rule out the planet as an Ori stronghold; there were about three dozen soldiers, only one Prior. No indications there were any plans for any more of them."
"Anyone we could find of use?" asked Mitchell. "Underground rebel factions, maybe?"
"None that we found. Although, it wasn't a total loss. I did manage to make friends with one of the locals. Well, a tourist, actually." She looked up, deciding to meet Colonel Carter's eye over the others. "I met Jonas Quinn."
Their reactions were varied, but indicative. Samantha's arms dropped from where they'd been crossed over her chest, Daniel looked at the floor, Mitchell did a double-take, and Teal'c inclined his head. "Jonas?" said Samantha.
"Very nice man. Not to mention an excellent kisser."
Mitchell scoffed at that. "Only you, Vala."
"Did Jonas Quinn return through the Stargate with you?" Teal'c asked.
The fleeting traces of a possible good humor were lost at Teal'c's question. "No," she admitted. "We came in hot, as you like to say. The last thing I saw, he was down. I don't know what they'll do to him." The mood in the room had sobered considerably, the heaviest element in the density of their combined tension being Vala's guilt. "I'm very sorry." Tentatively, not sure she had any right to say the words, she added, "I didn't know what else to do."
None of them said anything, although Mitchell gave her bicep a light squeeze, on her good arm. "Landry wants you when you're ready."
She murmured a response, and wished she hadn't just blown off the hard stuff and went straight to making jokes about her reputation. In the likelihood of Jonas Quinn's death, it seemed like her duty to explain to them how much he respected this organization and its people. She rose delicately from the cot, ignoring the tingle in her thigh from the soldiers' parting gift, and had a momentary flash of jealousy as she passed by the team without a word. Samantha stood immobile, Teal'c close behind, with Daniel keeping his distance, and Mitchell bunching the thin hospital sheets in his fist. Their faces, which she'd come to know disturbingly well, ranged from grief to shock to anger. Vala selfishly hoped they'd showed at least a fraction of emotion for her own dramatic departure from this galaxy, but the moment passed in favor of a deep ache. Jonas would want to know he was missed. She hoped he'd get to find out.