it takes 5000 tries before it works

MEA Fic: All the Time We’ve Got

Characters and Pairing: Ryder/Liam, brief appearance from Lexi

Rating: Explicit

Summary: After the events on the Archon’s flagship, Zoe Ryder gets some down time, and doesn’t want to spend it alone.

Length: ~5000 words

Notes: Spoilers for Hunting the Archon

Due to length, I’m just posting an excerpt here. Read the whole thing on AO3.

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After they’ve cleared the archon’s flagship, for once, Zoe Ryder submits to all the scans Lexi wants to do without complaint. Nearly collapsing once she’d boarded the Tempest can have that effect on a person. She’d stubbornly tried to insist that she was all right, only to have even Liam mutter, “the hell you are,” before Lexi got on the comm and demanded she report to medbay.

So she takes it all, whatever Lexi wants to do: blood tests, x-rays, the works. She inhales and exhales on command, lets Lexi scan her and stick her with assorted things, stares at the wall and tries to keep her breathing steady.

“I don’t understand it,” Lexi mutters at her scanner, drawing Zoe’s attention with a jerk.

“What? Is something wrong?”

“No,” Lexi says hastily. She takes a breath, and her expression drifts back to a professional neutral. “I don’t see any signs of permanent damage to the cardiac muscle, or the brain. I thought I detected an arrhythmia, but your heart seems to have resumed a normal rhythm. But nonetheless, your heart was stopped for several seconds. That has to be taken seriously.”

SAM puts in, “To be precise, six point…”

“Not now, SAM,” Lexi says sharply.

Zoe flinches; or maybe it’s SAM’s silence that’s the flinch. She says wearily, “It’s not SAM’s fault, Lexi.”

“SAM stopped your heart.”

“It was the only way out.” No matter how shaken she feels now, she’ll take it over whatever the Archon had planned for her.

Lexi shakes her head. “Still. I don’t think the Pathfinder implants were intended to function that way.”

“Dad said…” Zoe frowns, trying to piece together what she remembers and what she’s learned from SAM and her father’s files.

“Your father said what?” Lexi asks, coming to alert.

Zoe shakes her head. “I’m not sure. Something about our implants being different. His and mine, I mean.” And Zach’s, probably. Whatever Dad had intended, it could go way beyond what Pathfinder implants were supposed to do. Just one more unsettling thing on the list of things Dad had kept from her.

“Wonderful,” Lexi mutters, making a note. “I don’t suppose he indicated how different?”

Zoe shrugs.

Lexi makes another note and sighs. “I’m sorry, Ryder, I’m going to need some time to process this. Inducing cardiac arrest is not a reasonable response to a tactical dilemma.”

“There wasn’t much choice,” Zoe says, for what already feels like the thousandth time.

Lexi’s lips tighten. “I accept that, but I still need time to come to terms with this… development.”

Zoe nods. That’s fair enough. She sort of needs some time herself. The fact that she… died… isn’t the only thing bothering her, though. “The Archon injected me with something. I don’t know what it did.” She rubs the back of her neck, feeling the phantom sting.

“As best I can tell, it’s breaking down harmlessly in your bloodstream,” Lexi says, regaining some calm. “We’ll need to keep monitoring it over the next few weeks. No ill effects that I can see.”

“Okay,” Zoe says, a little relieved.

“I’m perplexed, though. You seem remarkably well, considering. Sudden cardiac arrest ordinarily has more long-term effects.”

“I don’t remember.” Zoe rubs her chest with one hand. She remembers agreeing to SAM’s plan, and waking up flat on her back on the floor. In between, there’s nothing but blurry, red-tinged memories, and a sense of panic. “But usually if someone’s heart stops, there was something wrong with their heart already, right? I wasn’t sick before.”

Lexi pauses, her brow furrowing. “That’s true. Artificially induced cardiac arrest in an otherwise healthy person could have different effects. Still.” She makes a rapid series of notes on her datapad. “I want you under observation for the next twenty-four hours, Ryder. We need to make sure this isn’t affecting you further.”

Zoe makes a face. “Does that mean I have to stay here?” The medbay beds, for some reason, are less comfortable than anything else on the ship, including Liam’s couch. She’s not sure whether it’s the beds themselves, or the ever-present hum of machinery, or what.

“I’d prefer it,” Lexi says, already bracing for resistance.

“Can’t I sleep in my own bed? It’s right around the corner.”

Lexi sighs.

Continue reading (and find the shippy / smutty part) on AO3.