She found him standing out on Main Tower, Twenty Seventh Floor, Balcony Five. The new designation was really such a tongue twister that everyone just called it Balcony Five. Since John was on forward guard duty in Jumper Alpha (as even those had new designations), she knew Ronon would be alone since this particular area of the city had become locked down to Staff Only. This balcony, in fact, had been restricted to Only As Needed, which meant that it was pretty much locked down to five people only. Teyla had never come up here, leaving it as a place for Ronon and John to get away. They needed it more than she did. Rodney still had his labs to hide away in when he needed to get away from the tumult of humanity and Woolsey very seldom left his office.
The change in Atlantis was more than just the people filling it to capacity. Everyone was still in deep mourning for those that had been left behind on Earth, their fate undecided as the Wraith continued to bring assault after assault on the millions of unsuspecting people still there. The twenty thousand that had been brought aboard Atlantis had only made a dent. Everyone was well aware of what they had left behind, seeing as the onslaught had started nearly a month ago.
There was also the fact that many of the occupants of the city didn't quite believe that they were hurtling through space, bound for a new home among the stars. It had fallen to a random lottery of the nations in the IOA. Most of the people here had never heard of a Stargate or the Pegasus Galaxy. When they'd found out that there were aliens in their midst, Ronon and the Athosians had become something of celebrities. Most of the Athosians had quickly lost their status as it became clear that they were just as normal as anyone from Earth. Ronon and Teyla now had to bear the brunt of their fixations. Teyla bore it all with the grace and aplomb she had been bred for but Ronon was unprepared for the attention. He became more withdrawn, not even coming down for meals in the Military Mess Hall where he could be assured of some privacy.
He was also dealing with the death of Amelia. They had become close while Atlantis was on Earth, so much so that Amelia had invited the Satedan to her home in Northern California for the holidays. He had been in the beginning stages of coming to grips with the fact that he was in a steady relationship when she'd been reassigned to Cheyenne Mountain. That had kicked everything into high gear as he'd suddenly had to think about the possibility of leaving Atlantis and staying on Earth. Before he could finish up the paperwork that would grant him special status, a phone call came from Amelia's mother. The police report simply said that Amelia had missed a red light on a particularly icy day in the middle of the worst winter Colorado had ever seen, crashing into oncoming traffic with only her seventeen-year-old Honda for protection. Four days later, Teyla and John stood with Ronon as he lay a single red rose to a mound of earth. In less than a week, the Wraith attacked.
"I did not see you at lunch. I thought you said you were going to come down."
She watched for some indication that he'd heard her but Ronon didn't move. It was unnerving to watch him stand so still, not a single muscle moving to show that he was alive. Even though it must have been hard on his muscles to hold a pose that did not look as fluid as the on she used for meditating, he stood here for hours on end. Teyla hadn't heard him utter a single word in a handful of days, his thoughts a complete mystery to her now.
"Would you like me to bring you something? Grant mentioned that he was making your favorite tonight. Roast beef with those green beans that you do not mind eating." When food didn't reach him, she tried a new tactic. It was the only real weapon she had to use so if this didn't work, she knew she would have nothing else with which to reach into her friend's silence. "Torren has been asking for you. He is learning so many new words. John is glorying in the fact that his name came first but he has learned Ronon quite easily. Also, he is found of saying crap to which I attribute purely to Major Cadman. As much as I try, he refuses to leave it out of his repertoire. That word has become his greatest treasure and he uses it with great relish."
While there wasn't an easing of his posture, she thought she might have seen the barest hint of a smile. It was enough to send her scurrying for any other comical moment she might share. For fifteen minutes, she regaled him with stories of her son. He had almost full run of the city, seeing as he had many different watchers, so it was not uncommon to see him playing with his tiny cars in front of the gate or covered in flour in the kitchens. This gave his mother plenty of stories to tell, some that still made her cringe.
Other than a small tweak to his lip on one side, Ronon didn't appear to have any intentions of changing his position or talking. Teyla wasn't sure what she was expecting to accomplish but something made her continue to push. "As you can tell, he never wants for someone to watch him but there is a meeting tonight that I would like to attend. Sam has asked me to oversee... well, that is not important. Those that I normally ask to help with Torren are either going to be at the meeting or are busy. I know it has been several months since you have seen to his bedtime rituals but-"
"Ask McKay. He needs to the practice."
Teyla licked at her dry lips. She was losing him if he was focusing on the fact that Jennifer had recently announced to a few select people that she and Rodney were expecting a baby in a little less than six months. The very last thing she wanted him to think about was what he had already had to give up. It was like singing a Satedan lullaby to him in those early days when he considered Atlantis nothing more than a prison with good food.
"Torren would like to see you."
She let the silence drag on, her words hanging between them as both a reward and condemnation. When he finally turned toward her, Teyla wanted to gasp at the change in her friend in the past week since she'd seen him. His eyes were haunted and there was an unhealthy pallor to his skin. Even after being drugged and tortured by the Wraith, Ronon had never looked this much like a victim before. Even still, he missed nothing in her small reaction.
"I don't want to see him." It was meant as a verbal slap, sending her back towards the door. Instead of letting her make the decision to leave, Ronon stalked after her, each of his words like a knife wound in her gut. "And I don't want you coming up here, trying to act like you're just worried about whether or not I eat. Go away, Teyla. I'm not one of your projects. Seems to me you should have plenty of those down there."
"You are not a project to me," she shot back but now she wondered why John hadn't told her about this change in Ronon. Why he always told her that the man had to figure out his own head before he did more than the occasional guard duty in the middle of the night when he was less likely to draw attention. There wasn't much for Ronon to do these days, not until they were in range of a suitable landing spot and his gun and Runner instincts were needed once again. "You are my friend. While I am worried about you, I have also missed you. All this is..." but her words trailed off as she put a hand up to hide her quivering lip.
Breaking down was never an option but there were more and more times when Teyla felt like a good cry would do her good. Unfortunately, none of those times came in the dark of night where she would be the only one to see the tears and hear the keening whimper that lodged in the base of her throat, making it hard to draw a suitable breath. There was not enough time in her day to take time to meditate and too many spectators stopped by to stare as she worked out with John or Lorne with the Bantos. Still, she held her head up high and did what was expected of her because she felt compassion for the people who couldn't do anything about their sudden lot in life. They weren't sure that this salvation from one enemy wouldn't lead them straight into the hands of another, even worse, threat.
"I did not mean to hurt you." This came out in a whisper but she was proud of the fact that her voice was steady. She took a deep breath and straightened her spine, her chin lifting to its customary spot. As much as it was squeezing every last drop of pain out of her heart to see her friend looking so weary and beaten, she knew that she'd simply run out of words. None of them had been the right ones, though. "I will leave you to-"
He had his arms around her in a fierce hug before she could finish her sentence, his head pillowed on her shoulder. The move took her by surprise, leaving her rigid for a few moments until she realized what had happened. Even then, she was afraid of touching him for fear of reminding him that he'd suddenly acted out of character, until she heard his low mutterings.
"I know you didn't want to hurt me. It's just so hard to look at you. At John. At any of you, without remembering her. It's like losing Melena all over again but harder this time. At least I'd been able to try to save her. But I couldn't do anything. Nothing. And then the Wraith coming, decimating another planet. I can't do anything about any of it. Nothing. And I-"
She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing his face deeper into her shoulder to shut off his ragged whisper. It was all too much to bear at the moment and she knew, with great certainty, that she was going to start weeping if he didn't stop talking. "Amelia wouldn't have wanted you to be hurting like this. She always hated to see you in the infirmary. Do you know what she said to me once? She said, "He looks so alone when he's in there." That's what drew her to you the very first time. Do you think she would have wanted to see you here now, all alone?"
His body began to shudder, the only indication of the silent sobs he was finally letting out. A part of her heart broke as she witnessed his suffering. This was the only thing that would allow him to heal and so she continued to hold him, murmuring reminders of her own care for him from time to time as she finally unleashed her own tears. They fell at a much more sedate rate but they were every bit as healing.
When he pulled away, she let him go without asking anything else of him. The pallor was more pronounced but she caught a glimpse of his eyes and they weren't as full of ghosts as they had been. Still, she knew that he was far from mended. "Come tonight," she pressed as he went back to staring out at the darkness that surrounded the city that had once again turned into a ship. "It will give you a chance to see Torren without any prying eyes."
"I don't want to intrude."
"On what? His play time? His sleep? I assure you, he will thank you for that."
Ronon cracked his knuckles as he often did when he was trying to work through an especially bothersome problem. The physical movement caused by stress made her want to weep further, but out of joy and not stress. "I figured I would just be in the way. Ka'naan wasn't too happy with me the last time I came by."
"The day after the funeral?" He stiffened but it was time that they started easing into talking about Amelia again, even the harsher times. It was his lack of willingness to talk about those harsh realities that were partially to blame for this break down. "Is that why you've never come to see us again? Because of what he said to you?" When Ronon nodded, Teyla had to push down the sudden rage that flared up. "Then you do not know that Ka'naan decided to go with General Caldwell on the Daedalus. It was not made known to many people but I thought you had heard. He left Atlantis very soon after your altercation."
"But that means that he may never see Torren again."
Teyla refused to let the anger rule her the way that it had those first few days after Ka'naan had made his decision. While he said it was made unselfishly, she knew deep down that he had made it just to hurt her. "It was his decision that his paternal rights be renounced. He felt it would be... easier this way."
"Easier for who? You? Asking you to raise Torren alone? That's not easier."
"I am not doing it alone." She smiled a genuine smile as she thought about all the people who stepped up to help her be both a parent and a warrior. "I have my family here on Atlantis. Of whom you are a part. You seem to have forgotten that. No matter that you had a problem with Ka'naan, you would have been welcome in my rooms."
His spine stiffened and there was a strange expression that passed over his face and then was gone before she could decipher it. When it was replaced by the dead look, she started to despair that somehow, without realizing it, she'd pushed him backwards instead of drawing him forward. Ronon turned back to look out at whatever it was that held his attention but he wasn't quite as far away in his head as he'd been before. Still, he seemed unreachable until she heard him murmur, "I'll stop by."
Teyla left the balcony with a smile on her face. It was only a tiny battle that she'd won today in a war that raged instead the head and heart of Ronon Dex. Still, it was something. If he showed up, they'd go from there. She was willing to take whatever victory came her way as long as it meant that Ronon was able to heal.