Title: Red Shirt Syndrome
Fandom: Stargate Universe
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Stargate. It's not my toy box and I'm merely playing.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Vanessa James doesn't want to die, but she can't seem to shake the feeling that it's inevitable. Sometimes hope is found in strange places.
A/N: Written for Neotoma for Yuletide. Thank you to midnightclarity for the beta.

Red Shirt Syndrome:

Lieutenant Vanessa James doesn’t want to die. She lets the kino record her saying this when Eli is using them to get everyone to introduce themselves. She’s not sure what Eli’s trying to accomplish with the project, but if she’s going to die at least there will be a record that she was here, that she knew what was coming. Young seems to think they’re trained for this, even though this has never been done before. How does one train to be sent to a failing Ancient starship that’s hurtling itself through space? The truth is none of them are trained for this. Dr. Rush, maybe, could think he was in his arrogance, but someone that’s trained for this doesn’t collapse in a fit of exhaustion, way the rumor mill has it he was mid-argument too. James isn’t sure she believes the rumor mill because really all she can hear when someone is trying to use that to poke fun at Rush is that they’re all going to die out here.

Icarus base was supposed to be safe, they got her to agree to go because it would be safe. She doesn’t want to die. She’s not sure what it says about her that she’s barely a quarter of the way through life and already has a strong sense of her own mortality.

She doesn’t want to die, but she’s pretty sure that aboard Destiny that might be inevitable. She’s just not sure if she’s the one who bought herself the red shirt when she took the assignment to Icarus base, or if Rush gave everyone one when he decided not to dial Earth. She does know that she can’t keep living with the clawing, suffocating fear that’s settled at the base of her chest. If each breath might be her last she wants them to mean something more than fear.

James pauses in the doorway, of the room the crew is relatively certain had once been the medical bay, so she can survey the mess. Johansen is working with Becker, Dr. Park and another scientist she doesn’t recognize to clear the space, though it looks like TJ and Becker are doing most of the heavily lifting while the two scientist are prodding at a piece of equipment.

“Becker,” she teases. “Shouldn’t you be cooking?”

TJ rolls her eyes, but her lips turn upwards. Becker grins. “Technically I’m off duty.”

Vanessa smirks and glances at the doctor she doesn’t know before giving Becker a questioning looking. TJ rolls her eyes again as the two of them finish moving the box in their arms and set it down on the side of the infirmary.

Becker shakes his head. “Way I figured it eventually when this ships decides to let us on another planet someone will bring back something that they’ll want me to cook. I’d rather know the infirmary was up and running before someone has an allergic reaction.”

“Good point,” TJ agrees.

Great, another way this impromptu trip might kill her. James forces her face to remain blank as she frantically reminds herself that she doesn’t have any allergies, that she knows of, yet.

“That’s not a comforting thought.” The scientist she doesn’t know comments.

James snaps her eyes up to take him in. Why can’t she remember his name?

“It’s at least the truth Brody,” Dr. Park admonishes lightly.

“It’s not something I want to think about,” Brody grumbles. “I can’t tell you all the things I’m forcing myself not to think about.”

“Don’t tell Rush,” TJ teases.

Brody laughs, “Well, he’s already decided I’m an idiot.”

“He likes you better than Volker,” Park points out.

“How does that even make sense?” Brody shakes his head. “I’m an engineer, Volker’s an astrophysicist.”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” TJ reminds as she and Becker starts unpacking their box. He hands her supplies and she arranges them on a nearby shelf. “Out here we’re going to need everyone’s skills.”

Park looks around the room slowly and James tries to grab hold of the sinking feeling in her gut when Park grimaces, but then Park says, “You can’t do this alone TJ. I know there are only about eighty of us, but one person to see to everyone’s medical issues isn’t going to cut it.”

TJ gives Park a withering look.

“Oh, I’m sure you’ve brought it up,” Park continues, “but right now if the higher ups think they have something covered they’ve already moved on to the next problem.”

“She’s right,” James finds herself agreeing.

“So maybe we need to be the ones taking stock of who has basic medical training,” Park concludes.

“Get you some help,” Becker nods with an agreeing smile.

“Maybe they think we’ll be able to bring in specialists with the communication stones if things go to hell,” Brody points out.

“Or maybe we use the stones to get people who already have a base training better training,” Becker adds.

“You volunteering?” TJ teases.

“Like they’d let me out of mess if I wasn’t off duty,” Becker teases back, then shrugs. “When I’m off duty, out here it’d probably pay to know something more than basic first aid.”

“Do you think they’d arrange that for us?” Brody ponders. “A day class that’d let us learn a skill we could use out here.”

“We’re not going home anytime soon,” Park puts in. “Might as well train us in some skills we can use out here.”

James finds herself nodding, it makes sense. She startles back when the bed Brody and Park were working near suddenly lights up. The two scientist cheer and scramble forwards to look at the readings in front of them.

“I think it’s a body scanner,” Park says excitedly.

“Hey, TJ hop on the bed so we can try it out?” Brody asks.

TJ hesitates and James steps forward. “Finish putting your things away.”

“You sure?” TJ asks, giving her a grateful look. James nods as she crosses over to the bed and gets onto it. She settles down as the two scientists begin to scan her, watching as TJ comes over to look at the results. A small smile starts to bloom on TJ’s face. “This is…we lost so many people’s records. I could start to get a baseline for everyone.”

James feels herself relax back against the bed as she lets herself settle into the hope that’s starting to replace the fear in her chest. She’s probably still going to die out here. If she does, James decides, she’s going to put up a hell of a fight first. She’s going to help the rest of this crew put up a hell of a fight too.


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