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Fanfiction: Broken Wings, Chapter 17

For author's note and disclaimer see Chapter 1

Part 4: Mayday

They exited the car. John fed the meter and they headed across to the coffee shop. Both of them blatantly checked out the immediate area; the Lucien Alliance would expect them to and, frankly, they'd be doing it whether there was a known threat or not. John spotted Kyle Baker leaning against a rental car further down the street, the open oversized map gave him cover as a tourist who'd stopped to figure out where he was or where he was going.

Mitchell led the way into the café. There were only a few tables left and they slipped into the nearest by the door. Mitchell took the chair facing the entrance and John took the chair to his right at the top of the table. It gave him a good view of the door and the rest of the coffee shop.

There was a woman reading a book, a cappuccino cup in front of her and a half-eaten pastry of some kind. John recognised her immediately as the Alliance spy Vanoit, the one who they'd planted in France. She was pretty; brunette, dark eyes, pouty lips. She reminded John a little of Nancy. He let his eyes linger as much as they ever did on an attractive woman before flicking a glance at the guy with the laptop – Bill Hargreaves. He noted the angle of the monitor and the cell phone sitting beside, calculating the shot he'd need to make to take out the technology and Bill himself.

There was a couple on a table in the far corner and John frowned. They looked like students; girlfriend and boyfriend of the hand holding and flirtatious smiles were anything to go by. John sighed. They couldn't keep innocent members of the public away without it looking suspicious.

He pulled out the Sudoku book from his inner jacket pocket and a pen. Mitchell reached for the menu and pursed his lips at it as he considered what to order.

'What can I get you?' Sergeant Dusty Mehra appeared by the table as though by magic.

John schooled himself not to react to the sight of the NCO chewing bubble-gum and looking very much like a harried waitress and not the tough soldier he knew her to be. "Coffee. Black, please."

"Yes, sir." Dusty said automatically, scribbling it on the order pad she held.

'I'll have the same.' Mitchell muttered, sliding back to fold his arms tight across his chest and stare unhappily at the entrance.

'Sure thing.' Dusty said. 'Any cakes or pie?'

'No, thanks.' John smiled to soften the refusal. 'Just the coffee for me.'

'I'll take a slice of the pecan.' Mitchell said as though to make up for John's lack of appetite.

Dusty nodded and moved away, back to the door that separated the kitchen from the front of house.

Mitchell gave a sigh and lowered his voice so it wouldn't carry within the coffee shop. 'I have a bad feeling about this.'

John lifted his eyebrows. 'It'll be fine.' He didn't want to give too much more of a pep talk while everybody else was listening in.

Mitchell nodded quickly, getting the message.

John raised the Sudoku book. 'You want to help me with one of these while we wait?'

'Oh no.' Mitchell raised both his hands as though in surrender. 'The last time I helped you, you argued with me.'

It was the wrong number.' John countered, unconcerned at Rodney's snort of amusement in his ear.

'It was the first number.' Mitchell said dryly.

John shifted on his chair. He didn't want to reveal that he could do the puzzles in his head in about a minute but he'd spend the next five or ten minutes pretending to ponder and filling the boxes in with ink to be normal.

Luckily, Dusty returned with their drinks and Mitchell's pie. She gave them a smile and hurried back to the waitress station on the other side of the coffee shop where Anne Teldy was already pretending to clean cutlery.

'She's late.' Mitchell noted as he blew on the surface of the coffee. He tugged the plate with his pie on it closer to him.

John took a moment to inhale the scent before he took a sip. 'I'm sure she'll be here.' He took another quick glance around the tables.

'I'll be glad to get back to our vacation.' Mitchell forked up some pie.

John huffed in agreement. The days without flying had been torturous. It would be good to get in the air again.

'You still OK on the next destination?' Mitchell asked.

'Fine with me.' John said. They'd decided on the small Sheppard airfield an hour away from Colorado Springs. They'd spend the night at Mitchell's house. They didn't think anyone would expect them to return there although Sam had sounded smugly knowing when they'd informed her.

Mitchell stiffened and John's eyes flitted through the window to the outside. A blonde woman hovered outside the entrance; John assumed she was Amy. There was a couple, another blonde haired woman John knew was Keene and a man who had to be Gus, just behind her.

They both got to their feet as Amy pushed open the door and walked towards their table. She paused by the side and smiled.

John could see why Mitchell had fallen for her; she was a pretty woman; a keen intelligence shone from her eyes, and her smile, while nervous, was warm and friendly. She wore a simple blue dress that accentuated her slim figure but was in no way revealing. On paper, she was exactly the type of woman he thought Mitchell would end up with.

'Amy.' Mitchell greeted with a tentative smile.

'Cam.' Amy's smile brightened for a moment. 'Thank you for seeing me.' Her gaze slid to John.

'This is John Sheppard.' Mitchell introduced him awkwardly.

John held out his hand and wasn't surprised at the firm but solid grip that Amy shook his hand with.

Her head tilted to the side although her hair remained held tightly by the clasp at the back at the nape of her neck. 'Mitchell mentioned you're another pilot?'

'That's right.' John produced a charming smile and let his own eyes flicker behind her to her friends.

'Oh, I'm sorry; let me introduce you.' Amy motioned to the couple with an apologetic wince. 'My friends Lucy and Gus.'

John shook hands again, wary that the couple might strike immediately since the Alliance had their main players all in place.

'Cam.' Lucy nodded toward Mitchell. 'It's good to see you again, despite the circumstances.' She placed a hand on Amy's shoulder in support.

John was impressed; he could almost believe she was genuinely concerned for her friend. He caught Mitchell's eye. 'I'll just go over there and…' he gestured with the Sudoku book.

'Why don't we sit together then,' suggested Gus, 'give these kids some space?'

John smiled thinly. He didn't intend getting trapped at a table with them. 'Thanks, but if it's OK with you, I've been looking forward to doing these all morning so…'

Gus's answering smile was completely false but he nodded. 'Lucy and I will take another table and leave you to it.'

John slipped into a seat at the table next to Hargreaves, taking his coffee with him. He saw Dusty move in as Amy got seated and heard her order a latte. Gus and Lucy had taken the table next to Vanoit near to Mitchell and Teldy moved to take their order. He took a sip of his drink, opened his Sudoku book and tuned in to listen to Cam.

'Thank you for meeting with me,' Amy began hesitantly, 'I wasn't sure you would.'

'I know my decision took you by surprise and I'm sorry about that.' Mitchell said bluntly.

There was a pause as Dusty delivered the drink.

'I need to know why.' Amy said firmly.

'They're actually going to make him go through with having to talk with her before they make their move?' Rodney noted over the open comms channel, horrified. 'That's so evil.'

John hid his smile by taking another gulp of his coffee. He spared a glance at Mitchell who shot him a look that said 'I'm going to kill McKay and you're not going to stop me.'

Mitchell turned back to Amy. 'I'm not sure I know how to explain it.' He shifted on the hard wooden seat and kept his attention on her. 'Mostly, I realised that I felt trapped and…' he sighed as he met her eyes, 'and I knew that's not the way you're supposed to feel when you're about to get married.'

'Did I do something to make you feel that way?' Amy's fingers wrapped around her cup tightly.

John let his gaze drop to the Sudoku book before he took another glance around the coffee shop. Gus and Lucy looked deep in conversation; Vanoit hadn't looked up from her book; Hargreaves looked like a businessman engaged in deep thought over an email. There was no sign that they were about to attack. John thought Rodney was right; they planned to humiliate Mitchell with forcing him to talk with Amy over the cancelled engagement and wedding before they attempted to take him. It was a good strategy; it would have Mitchell emotionally off his game.

He frowned into his Sudoku book and carefully completed one puzzle for the sake of appearances.

Across the shop, Mitchell cleared his throat. 'It's a cliché but this really is one time when it's not you; it's me.'

'I just don't understand,' Amy pressed, 'we were happy; I thought we were happy.'

'I thought I was too until I realised I wasn't.' Mitchell murmured quietly.

John gave another surreptitious look around the tables. The Alliance operatives remained completely still as though they had no intention of moving. Maybe he should give the order for their people to move, John thought idly; just spring the trap and grab the Alliance operatives; save Mitchell from having to reveal the truth about his personal relationship to his team, to John's team, and the Atlantis Marines in the kitchen.

'Amy, why did you ask me to marry you?' Mitchell's question almost made John start and he threw a look over to the table to find Mitchell looking at Amy intently.

Of course, John determined; Mitchell was trying to ascertain whether Amy was an innocent in the plot to kidnap him. He'd hold off on the order and allow his friend the leeway.

'Why did I…' Amy frowned at Mitchell. 'Why ask me that now?'

'Please, Amy.' Mitchell implored her. 'I need to know. Why did you ask me?'

'It just…it felt like the right time.' Amy said defensively, leaning back and folding her arms across her chest. 'We'd been dating for a while.' She paused. 'I knew I loved you and I believed you loved me.'

John could see Mitchell flinch at the accusation from where he was sitting. It was a good volley.

'So why not wait for me to propose?' Mitchell asked, firing right back.

'Seriously?' Amy said sharply. 'Is that what this was about? You wanted to be the one to ask?'

'Yes. No.' Mitchell sighed heavily. 'It's…I've just been thinking about it, and you never indicated you wanted me to propose. No hints, no discussion about kids or the future.' He splayed his hands wide. 'You took me by surprise.'

Amy leaned forward again. 'Cam, I guess I thought we'd already talked about the future right at the beginning when you were recovering from your injuries at your folks' house. You talked about getting a less dangerous assignment especially if you'd had that surgery the doctors recommended. You talked about settling down and having kids. I thought we were on the same page that it was something we both wanted.'

John kept his gaze on his Sudoku book because he was too tempted to send Mitchell a look of compassionate support that would give away that he'd overheard what Amy had said.

'I was waiting for you to propose,' Amy admitted, 'and I was talking it over with Lucy when she pointed out that women could propose too and…' she sighed. 'You could have said no.'

So, it had been Lucy who'd made the suggestion for Amy to propose, John pursed his lips as he slid a look to Lucy's table. She and Gus had seemingly fallen quiet.

'I know.' Mitchell murmured. 'But you're right even if we hadn't talked about it right before you proposed I knew it was where we were heading.'

'I'm confused.' Amy said after a long pause. 'You didn't want me to propose; you say that you were surprised because we hadn't talked specifically about it in the days before I did, but you admit it was something that was on the cards?'

Mitchell blew out a long breath. 'I was confused too. I think that was part of the problem.' He leaned back and picked up a coaster playing with it absently. 'Why did you suggest getting married this past month? I always wondered why you chose these dates.'

Vanoit's tea cup crashed back into its saucer. John's eyes flickered over to her. So they were all listening in and Mitchell's question had just alerted them that Mitchell might have worked out Amy could be involved.

Amy looked bemused, not guilty though. 'It was timing, you know that. I had that big commission Lucy helped me get and the end date of that was a couple of weeks before our…our wedding date.'

Another Lucy influence established, John thought; maybe Amy had only been manipulated. The scrape of chairs against the floor had him looking up swiftly, just in time to see the young couple exit, payment and tip left behind on the table.

Hargreaves's cell phone vibrated against the wooden table and John knew it was their signal to move.

'We're trying to trace the call.' Rodney confirmed in his head.

John tapped his earpiece surreptitiously. It was their own signal to get ready.

The call on Hargreaves's side was terse and gave nothing away. John didn't bother listening to it. He was readying himself; as soon as it was over, he would give the order to move in on them. He trusted Teal'c and Ronon would take care of Kyle outside; Teldy and Dusty were on Vanoit, Gus and Lucy; he had Hargreaves and Mitchell would take care of Amy. Regardless of what they'd learned, John knew they couldn't know for certain Amy's involvement until Lam ruled out brainwashing and Goa'uld infestation.

Hargreaves's call ended. He put down the phone and his hand shifted over his laptop.

'Now!' ordered John decisively, pulling his weapon and firing on the computer at the same time.

The effect was immediate.

All pretence was dropped by the Alliance operatives as John moved in to subdue Hargreaves. He ducked the phone the other man threw at him and the punch; he neatly turned aside and delivered his own punch to Hargreaves's jaw. Hargreaves staggered back briefly but charged at him.

John saw Dusty exchanging some complicated martial arts moves with Vanoit before Hargreaves's tackle took him backwards to the floor; Teldy was struggling with Lucy; Gus had gone for Mitchell and they were wrestling by Mitchell's table, leaving Amy crouched under the table and looking bewildered.

He dragged his attention back to his own fight even as he heard the storm of footsteps from the kitchen coming to help them. He kneed Hargreaves in the groin; slammed the heel of his hand into the other man's nose breaking it with a substantial crack and threw him off him. He got up swiftly and hit Hargreaves over the back of the head with the butt of his gun. Hargreaves went down.

There was a startled cry behind him and John turned, aiming his gun, to see Lucy grabbing Amy by the arm, using her as a shield, a knife held at Amy's throat warningly. John searched immediately for Teldy; she was down, blood seeping from a wound on her back.

Lucy's attention was on Mitchell who had knocked out Gus.

'Don't come after us!' Lucy warned. She was out of the entrance before any of them could move.

John intercepted Mitchell at the door. He firmly planted his free hand in the other man's chest and pushed him back. 'Stay here; take care of Teldy. I'll get Amy back.'

Mitchell's blue eyes flashed with anger, hands balling into fists beside him, but he nodded. John didn't bother wasting any more time arguing. He flung himself out of the coffee shop and into the street.

He could see Lucy dragging Amy towards a car. Teal'c, Ronon and Kyle were involved in a three-way fight by Kyle's car.

'Keene!' John whirled around, aiming his gun and Lucy froze for a second.

But only a second.

In the next, she was yanking Amy along with her, down the street towards an alleyway. John swore under his breath and raced after her. He slowed as he got to the narrow entrance of the alleyway. He could see it was a dead-end; a high brick wall on the far end cast a long shadow. Lucy stumbled to a halt in front of it, hauling Amy back in front of her, continuing to use her as a shield and a piece of leverage.

John walked in slowly, his gun held firmly in both hands. 'Let her go, Keene. It's over.'

'I don't think so!' Lucy snarled. Despite the jeans and prissy lavender blouse, she moved with the lithe deftness of a soldier. John was reminded of Teyla rather than the suburban girlfriend that Lucy had played in the coffee shop during their introduction.

'Lucy, what's going on?' Amy gasped.

'Shut up!'

'Amy,' John drew her attention, 'just stay calm; this will all be over soon.'

'It'll be over as soon as you let me leave with her.' Lucy's eyes darted around the alleyway, looking for a way out.

'So you can take her and continue to use her as a pawn to get to Mitchell again? That's not going to happen.' John said firmly.

'Use me?' Amy twisted her head and stared at Lucy. 'What's he talking about and what are you doing? Why are you acting this way?'

'Please.' Lucy sneered. 'You really think I'd want to be friends with you?'

Amy's mouth dropped open.

'I only befriended you to get close to Mitchell.' Lucy stated cruelly. 'And God knows I can't blame him for backing out of your wedding. You're so insipid. Why would he want to marry you?'

John wondered whether he should interrupt the incipient cat fight but he held his tongue. If Amy could distract Lucy, she might lower the knife an inch and then John could shoot Lucy cleanly…

Amy's mouth gaped open again before it snapped shut. 'You know nothing about my relationship with Cam!'

'Of course I know!' Lucy snarled right back. 'We've done nothing but talk about it endlessly. What a good lover he is! What a good man! How he'd be a wonderful father and a wonderful husband! Whether you please him in bed, out of bed! God, you're so boring!'

'I'm boring?' Amy struggled in Lucy's hold. 'Well, you don't know everything about me!' She sagged suddenly and at the same time drove her elbow hard into Lucy's sternum.

Lucy jolted back and Amy yanked herself forward.

John couldn't get a clear shot as Amy ran toward him, obscuring Lucy but he could see Lucy react, raising the knife to aim at her. John lowered his gun and sprinted, closing the gap as Lucy launched the knife…

A sizzling bolt of red shot from the top of the wall and impacted Lucy as she threw; she collapsed on the ground, stunned.

The knife sailed past John's head as he took down Amy with a desperate tackle. John felt the shock of the fall jar his body; the ground impacting his elbow, knee and hip as he landed on the rough concrete.

Amy gave a cry but she gripped him tightly.

He took a moment to recover his breath and checked Lucy was down. She remained crumpled in a heap on the ground. He raised his gaze and found Ronon on top of the wall, twirling his stunner with a confident swagger.

Ronon jumped down. 'You OK?'

John ignored his injuries as he got to his feet and helped Amy to hers. He debated whether to treat Amy as a potential spy; they hadn't ruled out her involvement although her conversations with Mitchell and Lucy had gone a long way to alleviating suspicion that she knew or was a willing participant under their brainwashing. He secured his weapon. 'Amy?'

'I'm fine.' She raised her scraped hand and gave a brave smile. 'Nothing a little disinfectant and a band aid won't cure anyway.'

John noted a thin cut on her neck from where the knife had caught her when she'd pulled away. She was also trembling he realised. Shock. He smiled reassuringly at her. 'We should get you to a medic.' He turned back to Ronon.

'I'll take care of this.' Ronon pointed down to Lucy with his weapon.

John nodded as Teal'c arrived in the alleyway. 'Thanks.' He waved at the Jaffa and placed his hand under Amy's elbow, ushering her back out of the alleyway. He made back to the café, ignoring the police cars that had arrived and cordoned off the area in line with their plan. They were barely at the door of the coffee shop when it opened and Mitchell hurried out.

Amy immediately pulled away from John and Mitchell stepped forward to tug her into an embrace.

'Are you OK?' Mitchell hugged her tightly for a long moment before he eased back, scanned her and grimaced. One hand rose to gently touch the cut on her neck. 'You're hurt.'

'I'm fine. Your friend saved my life.' Amy gestured back at John.

Mitchell threw him a grateful look.

'She did a good job of saving herself.' John replied easily. 'She needs to get checked out.' There was a warning in his words and he knew it struck home as Mitchell gave a terse nod before escorting her away to the waiting ambulance.

John watched him and sighed. He couldn't blame Mitchell for not keeping his distance especially when the evidence all seemed to point to Amy's innocence in what had happened. He wasn't sure he could have been objective if it had been Nancy, even after all the years they'd been apart. He shook himself and went to find Rodney.

Chapter 18




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