By Enola Jones

Jennifer couldn't believe her ears. She just stared at Teyla, who huffed a small laugh and reached out to take Torren from his doctor. "....they did...what?"

"Is he healthy?" Teyla asked the question of mothers all over the universe.

"Yes.... he's perfectly healthy. He should be ready for solid food in a couple of weeks if he keeps on this track. Now tell me I was mishearing you."

Teyla smiled gently. "I am sorry, Jennifer. You were not."

"You mean those -- both of them....have decided to...." She made an exasperated noise and threw up her hands.

"They both care for you deeply."

Jennifer sighed. "Okay....thank you, Teyla. I'm glad you informed me of this."

"You needed to know. It involves you." She pulled Jennifer forward and touched foreheads with her. Then she left.

Leaving Jennifer with a lot to think about.


In the end, she called them separately to the Infirmary, timing it so that they arrived together. Rodney and Ronon looked at each other, then at her. Rodney opened his mouth -- and Jennifer held up a hand. Slowly, silently, he closed it.

"It's come to my attention," she began in a cold voice, "that the flattering attention I've gotten over the last few weeks have been the result of a competition between the two of you for my hand."

"Not just your hand," Ronon said. "The rest of you, too."

She glared at him and he smiled, holding up a hand. The glare didn't ease and she looked at Rodney, who gulped audibly.

"You think you love me," she told him in slow, measured tones, "because you saw it on the tape. But when you made that tape, you were so far gone that you loved me as a mother, not as a life-partner."

"No, Jennifer, I--"

"Shut it, I'm talking." Rodney closed his mouth. She nodded and went on, "I care for you, Rodney. But as a dear, dear friend. I don't love you -- that way. Not anymore."

"But you once could have?"

"Yes. Once. But I've moved on. It's time you did the same." Then she turned to Ronon. "As for you..."

"I'm the best man?" he chuckled.


His smile faded. ""

"No. You and I had something once, but like I told Rodney -- I've moved on. From you, too. We're friends. That won't change."

Slowly, Ronon nodded. "That won't change," he said, drawing her into a hug. She returned it, then hugged Rodney.

As they left the Infirmary, she heard Rodney ask, "So we both lost?"

"Yeah, McKay. We both lost."


Jennifer wasn't surprised when John showed up a few hours later. She looked calmly up at him and before he said a word, said: "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

John was a smart man. He didn't even try to pretend he misunderstood her. "Why'd you do it at all?"

"I've seen friendships destroyed over less than two chasing one woman. I'll not be the cause of their friendship dying."

"You don't know it will."

"You don't know it won't." She crossed her arms. "I'm not going to take that risk."

John studied her for a long moment, then nodded. "All right. I'm gonna go try to put Rodney back together."

"Tell him I'm sorry."

"No." And he spun on his heel, leaving.

With a soft moan, she sank down into her desk chair. That was one of the hardest things she'd ever done.

Let him think that she was a cold-hearted bitch. Or let him think that she cared for their friendship so much that she removed herself from the equation.

It was better than facing the truth -- that she loved them both and just could not decide between them. And that she was too much of a coward to accept them both at the same time.


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