Doctor Jennifer Keller stood on the bridge of the Daedalus along with a couple dozen Marines - both men and women. The ship was orbiting a planet where a floating city / spaceship named Atlantis awaited their arrival. They all were waiting to be transported down to the city to start their new assignments. Jennifer could not believe that she was actually standing inside an honest to goodness spaceship that had traveled light years from one galaxy to another. Even at light speed it had taken three weeks to get here. The government can sure keep some secrets! she thought.
She was proudly wearing the official SGA uniform and had her standard issued gear - extra uniforms, boots, equipment, etc - in one bag; her personal items in a smaller one. She traveled light. It couldn't be helped. She was really nervous about being beamed down. First time ever on a spaceship; first time ever being 'beamed' down from one. If the tech who operated the controls was named Scotty, she was going to lose her lunch right then and there.
While waiting to get the green light to beam down, she went over in her head the turn of events that brought her to this moment in time.
Time, what a concept. Einstein's theory of relativity. The best definition that she'd ever heard was from a movie years back - although coming from a man's view point it was still the best explaination - "Grab hold of a hot pan, a second can seem like an hour. Put your hands on a hot woman, an hour can seem like a second." Her situation with time was with the former. She had held onto that hot pan for seven years which seemed like an eternity. It had taken a little over seven years to finally get away from him. Not just leave, but to get away and disappear!
Brian Masters was his name. When they first met she was outgoing fun loving and yes a naive virgin. A mutual friend hooked them up at a party they both were at. Brian was the guy every girl wanted to be with and every guy wanted to be like. He was the tall good looking quarterback with blonde hair and blue eyes. The All-American type. Jennifer had been 23 years old and had been finishing up her residency. Brian was 27 and had a promising career with the military as a consultant.
Jennifer had been thrilled that he had asked her out on a date that night, then another and another until they were a full fledged couple so much in love. He was her first date and her first and only lover. Within a few months they moved into a small one bedroom apartment together close to his work. However, it did not take long for him to show his true colors. That is when he became her All-American Nightmare!
It started with small things like "That guy's looking at you!" "Do you have the hots for him?!" "You been sleeping with him haven't you!" It escalated to the point of if she were late coming home by his standards then she'd been out two-timing him. There was nothing she could say or do to put to rest his suspicions. She was young and naive and thought that with a lot of love and understanding she could change him. How blind and stupid she was to stay with him for so long.
The most scary times were when everything seemed to be going well. They'd be at a party together laughing and having fun then she would look at him and those icy blue eyes of his would be staring back at her silently accusing her of something. She knew that when they'd get into the car he would start in ranting and raving about an incident at the party that mostly was her fault - which she would rack her brain and replay over and over in her mind to try and remember what little slip up on her part had set him over the edge.
Once at a Christmas party he suddenly demanded they leave. She had been talking to a female relative - she knew better than to even look at a man - when Brian turned and walked out the door. Standing on the porch she was saying her good-byes when he simply drove off. Left her there. The relative was dumbfounded and she was mortified. He had driven around the block several times and finally stopped at the curb. She waved and laughed at the confused relative saying he was just joking around when in fact she knew she must had done something to set him off. Once in the car he told her if she did not come when he told her to the next time he'd leave her wherever they were and she could find her own way home.
Their sex life was just as messed up. He was never gentle or attentive. He got what he needed and then was done with her. Being a doctor she knew about intercourse - the biological function of it and how not to get pregnant. But how a man should make love to a woman, one had to experience first hand. There were no medical courses for that! She would listen to nurses at work when they thought she was writing in the patient's medical records. She would listen on how they would have multiple orgasms and the ecstasy they would experience until her face was so red, she'd have to leave the area.
Along with everything else he would verbally abuse her: call her a pathetic whore or tell her that she was worthless and who'd want her if she'd left him. He was doing her a favor being with her. Over time she believed him to the extent that she had no self confidence. The only place she felt worth anything was at the hospital and in the operating room.
Being brought back to the present by a crew member bumping into her, Jennifer apologized and moved off to the side to get out of everyone's way as the tech's began preparing the first group of Marines for transporting down to Atlantis. Her mind once again drifted to the past.
As time went on she stopped going out with her friends - hell she stopped going out all together. She hadn't many friends to begin with because everyone she'd went to school with had been older than her.
She was labeled a genius, which she hated with a passion! She graduated high school when she was 13; college breezed by and she graduated at 16 with honors. Medical school at 20 years old - graduated top of her class and then her residency and fellowship - done by age 26. She did not know how she made it through her last three years of residency with Brian brow-beating her. Her work was her safe haven. There she could lose herself in her job.
She took up a surgical position at a top military base - which he resented her for. He'd been trying to land a job there for years and she just fresh out of school blinked her eyes and bam got the job - how she wished it had been that easy! Well, he wanted to know who she had been on her knees for to get the position. She learned long ago to keep her head down and to not say anything because he would never believe it anyway. She just kept quiet and let him run out of steam.
Her friends - the two she had left - told her to leave him. She had tried twice and both times he transformed into the man that she'd fallen in love with in the beginning. Promising that he'd change - which he did - all of two weeks worth and then back to the abuse. In the beginning she wanted to make it her mission to fix him. But, in the long run, her mission was killing her soul.
He would tell her "Never trust anyone, they are always out to get you!" or that whatever she did reflected on him so she had better watch herself and not fuck him over and make him look bad or she'd be sorry!
At times when on her way home from the hospital, she wondered, would he be home from work and if so what mood would he be in. Her moods were a shadow of his. If he was in a calming mood then that night would be good. But more often than not, he was angry and so she walked on eggshells so that his temper wouldn't be directed to her. The outcome for those days were never good. He had to have an outlet for his anger and she was it.
His military work luckily did not require him to move around the country. It did require him, however, to be gone from home a week or two every so often. During those weeks that he was gone she could breath! It felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. There were times though that he would call at odd hours of the night - 2 in the morning for example - and if she did not answer the phone within 3 rings he was screaming at her "Who do you have at the house?" She wanted to say "You try waking up from a dead sleep after working 12 hr shifts to answer such questions." Most of the time she'd just lay the phone down and let him rant with her occasional "yeah" or "okay" into the receiver.
The nurses knew to get her right away when he called work. They did not know exactly why but they had their suspensions. One time a new nurse on the floor answered and told him that Dr. Keller was busy. When she got home he'd let her have it. Telling her that she was having her staff lie to her.
She often times wondered why Brian was the way he was. Was it due to nature or nurture? He had once spoke of his mom's anger towards his dad. His mom would throw things and scream that his dad was cheating on her. His dad would just take it Brian had told her. His mom petitioned for divorce while he was young. Afterwards his mom could not hold down a job for long. Always telling him that everyone she worked with was talking about her. Bad mouthing her. Just like he was telling her!
She had not known if she were coming or going at times. She supposed it was due to her being a doctor. A healer. She was suppose to fix people that were broken. Bind their wounds, set their broken bones, stitch their cuts. She just did not know how to heal a soul.
And so her schedule went: she awoke, went to work, hurried home and then started all over again the next morning! Until her 30th birthday. On that day everything changed!
Her 30th birthday sucked from the get go. He'd forgotten her birthday - AGAIN. Hadn't given her a gift - AGAIN. And then it got a whole lot worse!!
He had come home early from one of his trips to an empty dark house - a house that they could not even afford. He called the hospital. They told him "Dr. Keller's in surgery. Would you like to leave a message?"
When she finally came home she was tired. All she wanted was to take a hot shower and crawl into bed. But that wasn't to be. The minute she walked through the door he started demanding to know who she'd been fucking this time. Brian told her that he'd been told by several people that they'd seen her with someone else. She knew that was a lie. He had no friends - at least any real friends. So she waved him off telling him that she was tired, was going to take a shower and was going to go to bed.
Angered that she was ignoring him, he had grabbed her by the arm and that's when she smelled that he'd been drinking. She tried to calm him down and reassure him that there was nobody else and that she loved him. She had went into the bathroom and locked the door. Terribly shaken.
Sitting on the edge of the tub fully clothed, she'd wadded up a towel and just sobbed - gut wrenching sobs - into it. She knew that she had to leave him, but that thing deep down in every woman - that primal nurturing instinct - was always there pushing her to change him for the better.
After done crying, she had looked up and studied her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The mirror went from ceiling to floor on the wall opposite her. The mirror was to suppose to make the room look bigger. She hated that damn mirror - it seemed to always make her look bigger instead. She had hated it because Brian would have her stand in front of it - clothed or naked - and tell her how fat she looked. At five foot six and 120 pounds her medical knowledge told her that she was in the range she should be - actually she could gain a few pounds - but nothing she did was ever good enough.
Outside the bathroom he was fuming because she had walked away from him while he was talking - yelling - at her. He had broken down the bathroom door. She turned and faced him. Those cold blue eyes just made her sick to her stomach because she just knew that he was gearing up for one of his rants. No lectures this time however. For her 30th birthday her boyfriend tried to kill her.
He had lunged at her and wrapped his hands around her throat then had flung her back into the wall mirror with such force it broke. Her right shoulder was on fire and she could not breathe. The look that he had on his face was pure evil - what she could see of it anyway. The floating dots had started to obstruct her vision. Through the blood pounding in her ears she had heard him say, "If I can't have you, no one can!" Her mind for a split second thought "You couldn't come up with a more original line dumb ass?" Then survival mode had kicked in and she hammered her knee right into his balls. He had doubled over in pain and she made her escape to the neighbors.
She had called the police. They came and escorted her back to the house. He was standing in the doorway as if nothing happened. "Honey there you are! I was wondering where you'd went!" She heard the veiled threat of "When the cops leave we're going to finish this!"
The police had separated them - her inside the house; him outside. Jennifer told her story. Showed them the broken mirror. The police asked if she wanted to go to the hospital. She said she'd go because of her shoulder which more than likely needed stitches. The police asked her what she wanted them to do. Did she want to press charges? She told them no because he'd be even more furious with her. She knew that she should but had been too scared. She told them to just take him to his brother's house who lived in the next town over. That he was drunk and needed to sleep it off!
The officer asked her again before he walked out the door - by this time two more squad cars were in their driveway - was she sure that she did not want to press charges. She nodded, she was sure. Closing the door and locking it she realized that he had the keys to the house. If they dropped him off at his brother's place he could return and as he said finish the job!
She had run back outside and told them that she wanted his house keys. She didn't want him coming back during the night. The police assured her that he wouldn't be coming back tonight because he'd just been arrested. What? Why? Apparently he'd said something to the police officer that the officer did not like. The officer would not tell her what it was but she could only imagine.
She drove herself to the hospital and had a female colleague stitch her up. The four inch gash on her right shoulder took thirty-five stitches. She would carry the scar for the rest of her life. Just one on the outside; too many to count on the inside. Scars could always be concealed, but they were always there.
While she was being patched her up she had remembered the high ranking military official from a couple weeks back coming in to speak with a group of doctors about an opportunity to become Chief Medical Officer at a new remote top secret military base. At the time of the meeting she had thought it was cool, but knew Brian wouldn't go for it. But now?
The only two words that kept going over and over in her head was REMOTE and TOP-SECRET. Remote meant away from him. Top-Secret meant he'd not know where to find her. The next morning she contacted the recruiter. He had told her that there were over one thousand applicants, and that there was time enough for her to apply. Her heart sank. One thousand people stood in her way to freedom. She needed help. She needed to call in a favor and she knew just who to ask.
~Group 2 step forward. Group 2 step forward~ A crew member announced walking by them holding an electronic clipboard and checking off names.
They had been divided up into four groups. She would be with the last ones transported down. Down to a new home; a new beginning. Six Marines with their gear slug over their backs gathered together in the designated spot that the first group had just occupied before they disappeared in a flash of light. They all looked a little green behind the gills. This did nothing to help calm Jennifer's fears of having all her molecules being jumbled around then put back together - hopefully in the right exact order! Lt. Jensen who had briefed everyone on the procedure assured her "We have not lost anyone yet, Ma'am!" Wonderful! thought Jen.
She leaned her head back against the wall. With her arms folded across her chest, her eyes closed, she once again let her mind drift to the past.
Several months before Brian lost control and tried to kill her, she had been getting ready to leave for home when she was notified of an auto accident involving a 38 year old female and a six year old male. ETA: Five minutes. The on-call doctor was stuck in traffic and would not arrive for another 20 minutes. A lot could happen in that time frame - seconds mattered. She went to see what help she could provide until the other doctor got there.
A drunk driver had lost control of his truck and plowed into their car. The mother, knowing that they were going to collide, steered the car so that the drunk driver would hit her side of the vehicle and not her son's - who was asleep in the backseat. However, she had not realized that her vehicle would be sandwiched in between the truck and a light pole.
The six year old was in critical condition when he got to the ER. He was unconscious and unresponsive to stimuli. He had a possible concussion, a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding.
The EMT informed Jennifer that the mother was DOA by the time they got her to the hospital. It had taken the jaws of life to get the unconscious boy out of the backseat. It was a miracle that the boy was even alive - the car had been so badly mangled. The mother had sacrificed herself to save her child.
The doctor on call still had not made it in so Jennifer then took charge. She shouted out orders to take the boy to the first available operating room while she scrubbed up. He was in critical condition; she had to find and stop the internal bleeding or he was going to die. The surgery took several hours and was a success. Now all they could do was wait for him to wake up.
Once she had cleaned up, she went to tell the boy's father that his son made it through surgery just fine. That his son was in serious but stable condition. She was sure he would make a full recovery. He thanked her for saving his son's life. He did not know how he could ever repay her. He was animate about if there was anything that she ever needed all she had to do was ask! She had saved his son and for that he was grateful.
Three weeks later the little boy was being discharged. Both the boy's father and grandfather told her that they were forever in her debt for saving the child's life. The older gentleman had handed her his card. It read: SG Director / Maj General Jack O'Neill on one side with a phone number on the other. Again they both stated if she ever needed anything; all she had to do was just call. She had thanked them and placed the card in her locker and forgot about it.
After the incident with Brian, she remembered the offer and called the General. She had told him everything. She also had told him if he did this for her then - just as she had saved his grandson's life - he would be saving hers in return.
And so it happened. She disappeared from the face of the earth.
She had completed eight weeks of top-secret training at Cheyenne Mountain Central Base in Colorado Springs, CO and signed a stack of legal paperwork before she boarded the Daedalus.
During the trip she had kept to her allotted room for the first few days of her journey. Too scared to really go exploring except to get something to eat and bring it back to her quarters. She would always leave her room when she thought she would be less likely to run into people. She did not want to be pulled into a conversation. Unless it was work related, she hated talking to people and avoided them like the plague.
She had offered her medical services but not much happened on the ship. So she had time to relax!. She was glad she brought books to read. She had left everything back at the house. A house that she would never walk into ever again. She had taken only a few personal items - her keepsake box that her father had given her which had been her mother's, a few photos of her and her father and the clothes on her back. She had bought clothes and other items at the base PX before boarding the spacecraft.
She was jarred back to the present with the following announcement:
~Group 4 step forward~ ~Final Group step forward~
Final group? Crap! She had been so caught up in her thoughts that she had not noticed that the third group had teleport down to the city already. Her group was next. Grabbing her things she realized that she was now free. What a weird feeling! She stifled a giggle. FREE! Free to do anything she wanted. She could come home whenever she wanted. She did not have to tell anyone where she was going or why. She could have friends! She could date! NO!! That would not happen for a very long time - if at all! She was not looking for a relationship what so ever. She did not what to have anything to do with men! Not now; not ever!! No matter how handsome they were! Never again!
That was until she teleported right in front of one Ronon Dex!
Elizabeth Weir, Colonel Sheppard, Teyla, Dr. Beckett and Rodney McKay were in the conference room waiting to start their meeting before the Daedalus teleported the new personnel and supplies down to Atlantis.
Ronon was late - which wasn't like him. He was military - always punctual. John tried contacting him several times on the radio, but no response. Being on base, he normally did not wear the ear piece as often as he should. Sheppard was going to have to talk to him about that – again.
"Well, let's get started." Elizabeth began, "Colonel you can fill Ronon in when you see him."
John nodded and made a mental note to find out what was up with the big guy lately. He did not seem himself. Ronon seemed distracted and being distracted was dangerous when it came to the safety of the SGA teams.
"We are expecting new recruits as you all know." Elizabeth began. "We are also expecting a new doctor to come aboard!” Elizabeth placed her hands upon a file that was lying on the table in front of her. She continued, “Her name is Dr. Jennifer Keller. She comes highly recommended. She beat out over a thousand applicants for this position!"
"Very impressive!" John voiced, nodding his head.
"I cannot wait to meet her!" Teyla said.
"Really? A thousand?" Rodney said arrogantly. "That’s good and all….but please, I once beat out nearly five thousand applicants for a physics grant pertaining to...."
"Rodney!" Elizabeth interrupted.
"What? I'm just saying one thousand applicants isn't that big of a deal. Doesn't make her a genius or anything like that!" He pouted.
"Actually it does!” Elizabeth informed him. “She graduated top of her class from medical school at age 26, had several articles published in major medical journals and she has worked in one of the top military hospitals in the country. I'd say she's right up there with you Rodney!" Elizabeth smiled at the scientist.
Rodney opened his mouth to argue the point, when Beckett said in his lilting voice, “I canna wait ‘til she gets here. I could really use the help. We’re understaffed, what with Drs. Ramsey and Beggs heading back to earth!” Looking at his colleagues he continued, “I read o’er her credentials, she has impeccable references. She’ll be a welcomed addition to the team!”
"Then let's make her welcome!" Elizabeth said.
Everyone was leaving when she asked Dr. Beckett to stay. Elizabeth needed to talk to him.
“Yes, ‘Lizabeth what can I do fer ya?”
Handing him a file she said, "You need to read this."
"What is it?" Carson asked while taking the file folder.
"Dr. Keller’s personnel file. You'll find it interesting and very disturbing!" They both sat back down.
With a puzzled look on his face Beckett flipped through the thin file. It did not take him long to understand why this was her first assignment. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph! The poor lass!" Handing the file back to Elizabeth, Beckett assured her that he would take care of her. "Dunna worry! I'll take good care of the wee lassie! A new beginning is what she needs. A fresh start!" He got up to go.
"Carson." Beckett turned back around. "This stays between you and me. If Jennifer wants to tell her story, then that will be up to her. Understood?"
"Oh aye! Completely!" Beckett left to join the rest of the group down stairs.
Ronon had been up hours before the dawn. He had been awakened from a sound sleep by a dream. A dream that somehow, he felt, was of great importance. However, the memory of the vision eluded him. The remnant shadows danced in and out of his subconscious until the tiniest whisper of the dream evaporated like a morning mist.
He had gotten up and went for a run; trying to shake the feeling of concern – of urgency. He had passed the gym; stopped to spar with a couple of Marines and lost track of time.
When he realized that he was late for the morning meeting, a Marine got in a lucky hit with a bantos rod across Ronon’s face. The soldier turned pale because he was sure that he was a dead man. No one drew blood from Ronon Dex and lived to tell about it! Ronon assured him that it was okay; that it was his fault for not paying attention. The Marine sighed in relief – he got to live another day!
Leaving the gym, Ronon ran down the hallway towards the Gate room. Everyone knew to get out of his way or get plowed down when he was in such a hurry. The gash across his left eyebrow was deep and hurt like hell but he did not care. He'd have it looked at afterwards.
By the time Ronon made his way to the Gate room, three groups of recruits had already been ushered through for processing. Everyone was waiting on the fourth and final group.
"Sorry I'm late!” he mumbled an apology to Sheppard.
Colonel Sheppard made a face seeing the gash and asked, "What happen to you Chewy? Not watching where you were going again?”
Ronon glared at Sheppard.
"It would appear he was not paying attention - again" Teyla chimed in.
Ronon snorted at Teyla but did not say a word. She had been right though. He had been distracted by that damn dream. The emotion he felt earlier when he awoke was still with him. It wasn't a feeling of foreboding but more like anticipation – of what though?
Sheppard edged over to stand next to Ronon and spoke in a hushed tone. “You okay?”
Frowning – which caused the cut above his eye to start bleeding a bit – Ronon answered, “Yeah why?” He felt a trickle of blood run down close to the corner of his eye. He swiped his hand over it; wiping it away.
“’Cause you’re never late and what’s up with the ….” John pointed at the gash on Ronon’s forehead, “You don’t ever get walloped that badly by anyone except maybe Teyla” The gash over his eye made him look more intimidating, John thought.
“I’m fine” was all Ronon said. With that look on his face he was not going to elaborate any further. John would try again later.
“Colonel the last of the recruits, along with the new doctor, are next to teleport down.” announced the control room tech.
Sheppard nodded his head, “Proceed.”
There were times when Ronon liked to intimidate – okay scare the crap out of – the new recruits right when they materialized into the gate room. He thought it was good training for them to expect the unexpected. Besides John did not see any harm in a little hazing! Nobody ever got hurt. Furthermore, it was freakin' hilarious! There had been a few times that a couple recruits fainted dead away!!
And so Ronon stood near where one of the Marines was going to appear – giving his best Ronon Death Stare and this time with a little blood mixed in for good measure.
Jennifer was on the ship one minute – nervous as hell – and the next she was standing in front of a wall of pure solid muscle no more than a foot from her. Slowly raising her head she took note of the man. She was certain that she was face-to-face with a Greek god or something! Men that looked like him were only in cheap dime store romance novels or on the cover of GQ!
He radiated lethal power. He had a tan body honed by discipline – broad chest and shoulders; well defined arms. The male specimen possessed strong features. His dreadlocks were tied back out of his face enhancing his rugged and masculine jaw which was covered with a dark mustache and goatee. His cheeks were clean shaven though. The beard gave him a devilish look she thought.
Did the temperature in the room go up a few hundred degrees? Jen was blushing because she was openly staring at the most handsome man she had ever seen – except for that God awful scowl he had on his face.
He towered over her by nearly a foot. His scorching green eyes bore into hers. The look he gave her was stern and hard. Her heart sank! The look he was giving her reminded her of Brian! Leave one and run across another - in another galaxy no less! When would her luck change for the better?!
The team was busy greeting the last of the new Marines with friendly smiles, except for Ronon. He was glaring down at a blonde recruit who was slowly accessing him. He was ready to give her a shock of her life with his death stare, only to have the tables turned on him. When the young woman’s gaze made it to his face he was held spellbound by a pair of alluring blue eyes. They reminded him of a mountain lake where he used to swim as a boy. He could blissfully drown in those eyes he thought.
Tearing his gaze from hers, he looked her over. He noticed that her uniform showed off her curves perfectly. She was not tall nor was she short of stature. He imagined her fitting perfectly within his embrace. She would be just the right height for him to lean down and rest his chin atop her blonde head. Even so, the young woman would have to stand on her tippy-toes and he would have to lean down to kiss her coral tinted lips. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail showing off a blushing angelic face shadowed by regret. His eyes narrowed at that.
Standing so close to her, he could not help but inhale her intoxicating scent which was calming, sweet, exotic and sensual all at the same time. She smelled like a field of Trivydia blossoms from his home world. Apparently the blossoms smelled much like jasmine. There were a few jasmine bushes growing in Atlantis’ botanical gardens. Sometimes, late at night when sleep eluded him, he would find himself wandering the gardens just to find some kind of peace. The fragrant flower would bring memories of happier times to his heart.
Suddenly a whisper of a dream floated through his consciousness – she is the one. The memory came and went so quickly he brushed it aside with no real concern. However, the feelings that were swirling around inside Ronon - fascination, longing, wariness, desire, anxiousness - had him quite mystified and annoyed with himself.
Ronon slightly shook his head to bring himself out of the daze he found himself in and back to his surroundings. Furrowing his brows deeper made the cut over his eye hurt worse and bleed a bit more - he did not care. He felt a little trickle of blood start to run down by the corner of his eye and onto his cheek. He did nothing to wipe it away.
He cautiously took a step back from the young temptress. He had to step back away from her – she was driving him insane with her very presence and he could not understand why! He was scowling at her now not to intimidate her but because there was something about her that he could not figure out - yet!
Jennifer did not know what she had done to warrant such a look from tall, dark and scary. An old feeling started to slither its way through her. It was the feeling she had when Brian thought she'd done something - been with someone else. This man was very intimidating! He was way too handsome with a whole lot of scary mixed in – a dangerous combination!
When he backed up, so did she - right into her duffel bag that lay on the floor. She caught her heel on the luggage which in turn had her losing her balance and falling backwards. Instantly her arms reached out to grab hold onto anything to stop her embarrassing fall. The anything that she happened to grab onto were two strong arms – bare to her touch.
When he saw her starting to tumble backwards, Ronon lunged forward. His hands whipped out and caught her by her upper arms before she fell. Standing there looking into those lake blue eyes as her touch scorched his skin brought forth an incredible urge to kiss her!
The whole encounter - from him glaring at her once she materialized to wanting to kiss her - lasted less than a minute. It was like they were the only two people in the room until both heard someone clearing their throat. Jennifer and Ronon let go of each other, as if they had been two teenagers caught in a very compromising position. Ronon growled, turned and left the room without looking back.
Dr. Beckett and Sheppard watched Ronon storm out. Both men looked at each other and shrugged. John whispered, “It’s Ronon…what can I say?!”
Smiling a greeting, Elizabeth came to stand in front of Jennifer. She held out her hand and welcomed Dr. Keller to Atlantis. “Hi, I’m Elizabeth Weir commander of Atlantis! I’d like to welcome you to our fine city!”
Jennifer quickly composed herself - hoping that the blush on her face wasn't at all noticeable - and gave everyone her brightest fake smile. “Thank you! I’m happy and excited to be here!” she said shaking Elizabeth’s hand. Dr. Weir introduced everyone to her in turn.
"This is Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. He is our second in command of Atlantis.”
“Nice to meet you, doc. Welcome to our home away from earth!”
“Thank you.” Jennifer smiled and nodded. Trying to look him in the eyes – very hard to do after seven years of keeping her head down and mouth shut where men were concerned.
“And this is our current CMO, Dr. Carson Beckett.”
"Welcome lass! Welcome to your new home Atlantis! Glad to have ya aboard. I’m sure ya’ll make a fine addition to our team!” he beamed. She smiled at his lilting accent. “Thank you!”
Next Elizabeth introduced Rodney. "And this is Dr. Rodney McKay, our self-appointed Chief Science Officer.” Dr. Weir and everyone smiled at her comment – everyone but Rodney.
"I am earth’s top astrophysicist and the most qualified science officer here, I’d like to add! Oh,” he held up his index finger to make the following point, “and resident genius”
“Ow! What?" Rodney exclaimed. John had elbowed Rodney in his side and gave him a look that said, "Shut up!"
“And last but not least”, Dr. Weir stated, "This is our lovely Teyla Emmagan.”
"I am so happy to meet you! You may call me Teyla. On behalf of everyone on Atlantis: Welcome!"
“How was your trip?” Teyla inquired.
“Long!” Jennifer replied. She liked Teyla instantly. She seemed genuinely interested in what Jennifer had to say and her voice was comforting. Jennifer knew they would become fast friends.
Major Lorne was entering the Gate room after ushering the last of the recruits to in-processing. John introduced the Major, “Dr. Keller; Major Lorne. Major Lorne; Dr. Keller.”
After the pleasantries were over and done with, John reached down and picked up both her bags then said, “Shall we show you to your quarters?”
Jennifer nodded and smiled.
Walking down the long corridor, Jennifer questioned, "Um...if you don't mind my asking who was the gentleman that..." she indicated waving her hands way above her head “….gave me such a warm welcome?!”
“Pffftt.....gentleman - that's a good one!!” Rodney said rolling his eyes.
"Oh that was Ronon Dex.” The Colonel answered. “He's kinda like our mascot around here!"
Elizabeth scolded, “Colonel!”
“Well he does other things to like….”
Rodney interrupted John by saying, “kill people!”
“What?” Jennifer said looking at their faces.
They all stopped outside the doors to her new living quarters and Elizabeth, after giving everyone a very stern look said, "They are just joking with you!”
Jennifer could have sworn she heard Rodney mumble under his breath, "Not really!”
Elizabeth continued, “He’s a part of Colonel Sheppard’s Recon Team.”
“Yeah, we kinda adopted him when we found him running from the Wraith. He’s from a planet called Sateda”, John stated.
Teyla added, “The Wraith decimated his planet. We are his family now.”
He’s an alien?? Was the only thing that popped into her mind – and he looks like that?? Oh my!
John swiped his hand over the key panel and the doors opened up. "Doc after you!"
She entered into the living area of her quarters which comprised of a desk and chair, a recliner, bed and nightstand. There was a closet for her clothes and a bathroom off to one side. There were windows stretching from floor to ceiling to her right. It was sparse, but she didn’t really need much because she didn’t have much.
John put her bags off to the side and once again said welcome to her new home. He then ushered Rodney out the door. “See ya later doc!” Teyla invited her to join them for dinner later and then left too.
Doctor Beckett and Elizabeth were the only ones left in her room.
Carson smiled and said, “Alright then lass, you get yerself settled in and I'll come back fer ya in about say an hour or so. I'll give ya the grand tour of the infirmary; introduce you to the staff and then we'll get a bite to eat."
“I'd like that!” She was tired, but she wanted to see where she’d be working and she was also starving!
Dr. Weir informed her that if there was anything that she needed, all she had to do was ask.
Elizabeth and Carson turned to leave her room when she asked, "Do you know about everything? I mean my past. Why I'm here?" She needed to know.
Turning back Elizabeth nodded and Carson voiced "Aye". Elizabeth assured her that they were the only ones who knew and if Jennifer wanted anyone else to know of her past then it was up to her to tell them.
"Thank you!" she said.
They left and Jennifer stood alone in the room. She walked over to one of the windows and looked out. She saw a spectacular city surrounded by a vast ocean – an ocean in another galaxy. It was all so surreal. It would take some time, but she was confident that she could forget the past and become the person she knew laid buried deep within her.
All she had to do from now until then was avoid one tall, very handsome, green-eyed alien by the name of Ronon Dex!
Today Jennifer was up before the dawn and nervous as hell. Dr. Beckett had assigned her to a mission that would take her off-world for the very first time. She was to provide routine medical services at a remote village a couple of clicks from the stargate. He told her it was a routine mission and that he would go but was too busy with his work. Colonel Sheppard’s team would be accompanying her. “Nothing to worry about lass” he said in his lilting Scottish brogue, "It'll be like clinicals back on earth!" She had packed all of the medical supplies she would need for the trip the night before. Looking at her watch she had three hours to kill before the trip at 0800 hours.
So to try and get rid of the ball of nerves rolling around in her stomach she decided to go for one of her early morning jogs. She got dressed and left her rooms while Atlantis still slept. She had become familiar with the layout of the very beautiful and complex city. What with its intricate twists and turns, someone could easily get lost - such as herself on the first couple of days she'd been here nearly a month ago.
Jennifer could not be happier with her new job! She got along great with the entire medical staff and they seemed to like her. Dr. Beckett was a great mentor; and was becoming a good friend to her as well. He was like a father figure at times not just her boss. Carson was there when she needed advice and gave her encouragement.
Jennifer was amazed at how confident she had grown during the short period of time living and working in Atlantis. She grew more and more relaxed around these people. She felt more comfortable in her own skin so to speak. Back on earth she was always confident at work; it was just outside of work that she had her difficulties – namely Brian. But on this floating city millions of light years away, she was blossoming outside of her work environment; she was becoming more outgoing. Jennifer was still a bit shy, but she was working on that. She was fitting right in with everyone – except for the ever brooding Satedan. She had avoided him quite easily enough since their first encounter – or was it the other way around?
Like when he was always volunteering for off-world missions that took him away for days upon days. Then on his returns, Ronon would visit the infirmary for the mandatory off-world check-ups when it seemed he knew that Jennifer was not working at the time.
Then there was the time when she was in the mess hall having lunch with Teyla. Jennifer had looked up at the precise moment Ronon walked in with Colonel Sheppard and Rodney. Green eyes met blue and she could have sworn something passed between them; but Ronon spoke a few words with the Colonel without taking his eyes off her, then turned and left the room. When Rodney and Sheppard were seated, Teyla asked why Ronon had left so suddenly. John shrugged and said, "He just happened to remember that he had a sparring lesson he was late for." All at the table were confused; all but one.
It did not take a genius such as herself to realize that he was avoiding her just as much as she was avoiding him – and somehow that made her a bit sad. She made a mental note to start getting to know Ronon - the demi-god. If everyone around here trusted him, then so should she.
Her jogging path led to the east pier; she preferred this path to any other. It seemed the most isolated. Jennifer also loved to watch the spectacular sunrises from here. The blue of the ocean contrasting with the golden sun that slowly rose and stretched its rays over the horizon. It was as if the sun itself was trying to awake for a new morning; for a new beginning of the day. It was just breathtaking. The area was quiet and peaceful. However, this morning standing next to the railing, Jennifer felt as if someone were in the shadows watching her. Looking around she saw no one. She just attributed the feeling to nerves and turned her attention back to the sunrise.
Ronon sat on the edge of his bed. He was in a foul mood. He had tossed and turned most of the night getting little sleep due to the fact that he was to escort the good Doctor Keller off-world in the morning to some remote village. That would mean being in her company for most of the day. He growled and clenched his jaw. He had been successful in keeping his distance from her all this time until now. Ronon did everything he could think of to get her out of his mind. Nothing worked! He would volunteer for any type of mission to get off-world and away from her. He would run or spar with anyone fool hearty enough to think they could beat him. He sent a good number of Marines and civilians to the infirmary during the month. The number of sparring partners were dwindling. They stayed clear of the fierce Satedan when he entered the gym because they valued their life. The young doctor was driving him insane and for the life of him he did not know why.
Another reason for his restless night's sleep was that damn haunting dream. It was occurring more often and would wake him from a sound sleep only to fade from memory no matter how hard he tried to hold onto it. He furiously pushed himself off the bed, got dressed and headed out for his morning run to clear his head.
Running his usual route he thought of the beautiful woman that sneaked her way in under his defenses. She had been at Atlantis no more than a month and he was so confused he could not think straight. What the fuck was wrong with him. She made him feel like a teenage boy drooling over his first encounter with a girl. He was a seasoned warrior dammit! He could easily take what he wanted when he wanted - not that he would nor had he ever force himself on a woman. There were more exciting ways to entice the fairer sex to his bed. He'd been with a few females from the base. The encounters were both mutual, one needing something from the other - him release and them the bragging rights of having slept with Ronon Dex. However, none stayed too long by his side. Once they got to see his real emotions - his real self - they backed off and said that he was too dangerous and complicated to be with any woman. But there was something different about Jennifer Keller. No matter how hard he fought to control his feelings Ronon was being drawn to her.
Lost in his thoughts he realized that he was coming upon the east pier. He frowned at himself because he never ran this way. His route normally consisted with running the north wing twice around and then entering the gym to get in a good workout - hopefully a nice sparring match. He had just rounded a corner and stopped dead in his tracks. He had planned to turn and go back the other way but the vision standing at the end of the pier had his feet rooted in place.
Jennifer stood facing the rising sun. With her head slightly tilted back and her eyes closed, the warm rays bathed her in soft golden light. He was awestruck. Her beauty lifted his foul mood much like when the sun burns off a morning mist. Ronon stood perfectly still; he did not want to disrupt the perfect scene before him.
The ocean breeze played with the wayward strands of hair that had come loose from her ponytail. Her forearms were supporting her as she leaned over the railing. Her hands were clasped together. The white sleeveless t-shirt clung to her torso accentuating her full breasts and narrow waist. The black shorts she wore revealed long sexy legs. He thought that the shorts were way too short. By leaning forward as she did, he could see where her long legs ended and the cheeks of her ass began. Desire and anger clashed within him. Desire because he had the urge to hold her in his arms while his hand slid down her shorts to cup her ass. He felt anger because he would have to kill any other male who even thought of doing such a thing.
The enchantment was broken when she turned in his direction. He stepped quickly back hiding behind the wall. After a moment he peeked around the corner. She was back to watching the sunrise. Right then and there Ronon made up his mind. It was time for him to face whatever it was between them but first he needed some information. A warrior does not go into battle unprepared. He needed to get all the intel he could on Dr. Jennifer Keller so that he could plan accordingly.
Jogging back the way he came he headed to the first person on his list that would know something about Dr. Keller - he would start with Dr. Carson Beckett.
Ronon found Beckett in his office and entered without knocking. The doctor was so engrossed in his research papers - files and graphs were strewn everywhere - that he didn't notice Ronon at first. Not until he placed his hands upon the edge of the desk and leaned down, startling Carson. "Ack! Ronon! Ya scared the ever livin' life right out o' me." Catching his breath, Carson greeted his friend with a cheerful smile. "Yer up early this mornin'. What brings ya here?"
"Dr. Keller." He answered gruffly.
Worry etched across Dr. Beckett's face as he suddenly stood, "Is there something wrong with the lass?"
Ronon stood back and with a keen eye studied the emotions that traveled across the man's face. "She's fine." he finally said. Ronon could see the tension ebb from Beckett at his reply.
Once again wearing a cheerful smile he asked, "Oh good! What then about the dear girl? Is she still nervous about her first jump? Is that why you're here?"
Ronon being Ronon spoke what was on his mind. "What's her story?"
"Story?" Carson frowned as he shuffled through some papers. Looking at the large man standing in front of his desk, he asked "What do you mean?"
"I mean all that anyone knows about her is that she's an excellent doctor that came highly recommended."
"Oh aye she is that. She's a great surgeon and – “ Carson jumped a bit when Ronon slammed his fist down on the desk.
"That's not what I mean and you know it." he said. "You are hiding something! She's hiding something! What is it!" Ronon demanded.
Beckett's Scottish temper was rising right along with Ronon's. Stepping from behind his desk to face the larger man, Beckett said, "I am bound by honor Ronon not to say anything. I gave her my word. If Dr. Keller - Jennifer - wants you to know about her past then - "
"Her past? What happened?" Ronon was ready to ring Carson's neck to get the truth out of him. He had to rein in his emotions before he regretted something - "What about her past?" He asked in a more controlled tone.
"Ronon, I canna tell ya. Her files are sealed by the higher ups. And I made a promise to the wee lass not to say anything. When she wants you to know she'll tell ya herself I'm sure of it. I can say this though...trust is hard for her."
Trust. Ronon left Beckett's office with that word filtering through his thoughts. Trust was hard earned. He should know. After the life he had led as a runner, it took him some time for him to trust the people of Atlantis. What was her reason for not trusting anyone? What had happened to her before she came here? Shit! More questions to the one's he already harbored.
Colonel Sheppard checked over his team while standing with his back to the inactive StarGate. Teyla and Rodney were all geared up and ready to go. A very nervous Dr. Keller was in the middle of the platform kneeling down next to a rather large medical bag - the damn thing was nearly as big as she was. The Doc was going over the contents making sure, he supposed, that she hadn't forgotten anything. By the looks of it she'd packed everything that was in the infirmary. Another backpack was by her side which was filled with medical supplies also. Sheppard walked over to her and looking down asked, "Sure you have everything there doc? I don't see the kitchen sink."
Blushing slightly Jennifer said, "This being my first time off-world I didn't know what to bring or not to bring. I just don't want to be unprepared." She stood up and slung the rucksack over her back. "Are we ready?" She asked while adjusting the straps.
"Not quite doc." John frowned looking for the last member of his team. "We're waiting on......."
Ronon strode into the Gate Room at that exact moment. He took the stairs two at a time and stood in front of Sheppard.
"......the Satedan devil himself!" Waving his arm in a flourish Sheppard sarcastically said, "Glad you could join us. Where you been Chewy? Oversleep again?"
"Was having a conversation with Dr. Beckett." He replied not taking his eyes off of Jennifer.
Jennifer hadn't noticed Ronon looking at her. She was trying to concentrate on balancing the overstuffed medical rucksack on her back and not tip over while grabbing for the straps of the larger bag on the floor next to her. Maybe she did overdo it on packing she thought. Smiling triumphantly she finally snagged both straps and started to lift the bag.
Ronon thought to himself how did the woman think she was going to be able to carry all of that. Dr. Keller may need the supplies but she also needed help carrying them. Apparently she wasn't going to ask for any help. Stubborn woman - he thought staring at her. Then he remembered Beckett’s words: trust is hard for her. Without speaking Ronon bent down and took the over sized bag from her grasp, then stood without saying a word. Jennifer was wide-eyed and shocked for a second or two. Ronon actually paid her some attention – sort of. She squeaked out a "Thank you" to the stone faced man.
"Okay, I think we're all ready now?" Sheppard looked up at the control room and with his finger made a circular motion, "Dial us up Sergeant!"
Facing the star gate, Jennifer tightly gripped the straps of her medical backpack to the point that her knuckles turned white. She watched the gate turn and click at certain points then what looked like water exploded outward. At which point she stepped back into Ronon and right onto his foot. Horrified, she turned and apologized profusely. He only grunted, pursed his lips and stared straight ahead. Her attention was drawn back to the gate when the “water” was sucked in the opposite direction. Once the cycle was complete there was a shimmering blue wall where there was none seconds ago.
Teyla stood next to Jennifer, "The first time is always a bit frightening. You will do fine! We are right here with you." Teyla indicated the recon team.
Without looking, she could feel Ronon standing behind her and somehow that made her feel safe.
Jennifer jumped when Sheppard commanded "Let's move out people". With his P90 at the ready he walked right into the wall of water and disappeared. Rodney was next. Teyla walked along side of her, "We will go together"
Jennifer turned her head to look behind her. Ronon was looking down at her. His look was like that of someone who was in line with someone else backing things up. In her mind she could imagine him yelling, “Go Dammit! I haven't got all day!" And so she faced the shimmering star gate, closed her eyes, held her breath and walked through to the other side.
When she felt warm sunlight and a soft breeze on her face she opened her eyes in astonishment. She stood on a well-worn path which led away from the star gate and into dense woodland. Jennifer looked around anxiously. She had read reports stating hostiles being on the other side of the jump or ambushes or even Wraith. She bit her bottom lip and tightened her grip on her backpack. Her nerves were going into overdrive when a tall shadow blocked out the sun. She turned to see Ronon looking down at her. He leant in so close to her ear that the breath of his whisper gave her goose bumps as he declared, “Don’t worry, Doc. I won’t let anything happen to you. Trust me. ” he then simply walked away to talk to Sheppard.
The one thousand and one butterflies in her stomach were going coo-coo over that simple statement whispered in her ear. She could not think straight; she scarcely could breath and she had clinicals today. God give her strength because she was going to need it!
Ronon sat leaning back against a large shade tree. Everyone that passed by thought he was asleep with his arms crossed over his chest, long legs stretched out before him and his eyes shut. But anyone that knew the Satedan also knew he was far from napping. He was watching Jennifer through hooded eyes. The spot under the tree gave him the perfect vantage point to see who came and went from the temporary medical facility that the village had set up for her. His instinct to protect her and keep her safe was stronger than ever because he had come to the conclusion that the good Dr. Keller attracted trouble like a magnet.
The first realization came after leaving the gate and following the path for about a mile. The team had come upon a swollen river along with its washed out bridge.
"Rodney!" Sheppard exclaimed looking at the raging river in front of him.
"What? How was I suppose to know that the bridge got washed out? Hmmm?!"
"Find us a way around this Rodney, please." Teyla asked so diplomatically.
"Yeah. Yeah." Waving his hand next to his head, "Just hang on. Give me a second." Recalculating the scanner Rodney stated , "If we travel up river about two miles, there should be a place to cross." Rodney sounded dejected - two miles! "Sheppard why didn't we just take a jumper. We could be there by now!" Rodney said in a whining tone.
Sheppard surveyed his surroundings and told Rodney, “I informed you that the gate was too close in proximity of trees and that it would be impossible to bring a shuttle through. You didn’t have to come along you know.” he said while ignoring the scientist.
“I know but one never knows what great discovery I could find and then I could become even more famous!”
Sheppard frowned, “When did you first become famous?”
Rodney huffed and followed the Colonel who had started walking along the riverbank, “I’ll have you know I’ve saved not just one but two galaxies…remember that time.....”
Jennifer leaned over to Teyla and inquired, “Is Rodney always this….” she was trying to pick out the best word possible without sounding mean.
“Conceited? Arrogant? Self-Centered?” Teyla replied smiling.
“All of them?” she sheepishly answered.
Without batting an eye Teyla said, “Yes he is always like this. But you will get used to him. He rather grows on you after awhile.”
Teyla trailed after the two men shaking her head and her smile growing wider listening to them bicker.
Jennifer watched the three leave then turned to Ronon. He was examining the rope bridge that was being tossed about by the swift current of the river. Only one guide rope kept the primitive bridge from being carried down stream. Ronon had a strange look upon his face. She was about to ask him what he was thinking when the ground beneath her gave way. She had been standing too close to the washed out bank. Jennifer would have surely been swept down river if not for Ronon’s quick actions. He had grabbed hold of the rucksack she carried and hauled her to safety.
With his heart nearly pounding out of his chest, he turned her around to face him. He seized her by the shoulders and ground out with much more force than he had intended, “You need to be more careful and watch where you’re going dammit!”
He had said it possibly with a little more emotion than he should had but she had nearly given him a fuckin' heart attack! One minute she was standing right in front of him and the next she was nearly snatched away by the rapidly moving river.
The butterflies from earlier when he'd whispered to trust him were all but dead now. Jennifer should had known it was too good to be true. Handsome faces hid ugliness inside - always! She glared at him her voice rising, “Oh like I did that on purpose?” She shrugged off his hold, turned and stormed off after the rest of the team. Ronon followed keeping an eye on her.
The second insight to her trouble-prone-self was during the two mile hike from the bridge to the shallow crossing upstream. Jennifer had stumbled several times half way along their route there; nearly falling flat on her face two of those times. Finally realizing it was due to the pack she carried, Ronon stripped her of the rucksack – the damn thing was so heavy for her small frame it was throwing her off balance. Ignoring her protests, he carried the load himself along with the bag he already was hauling around for her. He could see in her face that she was not happy.
The third incident of trouble came as they successfully crossed a shallow part of the river and were walking through the forest. Sheppard gave the call to take 10 and rest. Ronon shucked off the load he had been carrying and stood a few feet opposite Jennifer who happened to be leaning against a tree with her eyes shut. She was ignoring him and enjoying the tree's cool shade when he saw something else enjoying the shade right along with her.
A well camouflaged snake - a good six feet if not more in length - was hanging from a branch just above and to the right of her. It seemed content being where it was until the good doctor started to fan herself with her hand. The movement seemed to either peek the serpent’s curiosity or had agitated it – either way it was slithering to get a better view or bite. Ronon slowly unsheathed his knife from behind his back. Flipping the weapon so he held it by the blade he threw it right when the snake reared back to strike. Ronon embedded the blade cleanly through the snake's head and into the wood. He literally nailed the serpent to the tree.
Jennifer opened her eyes and turned her head to see his knife still vibrating mere inches from her head. She had stared at the snake then turned to look at Ronon. Once again she nearly stopped his heart. He gave her a look that conveyed to watch what she was doing and where she was going!
What did the woman do but push herself from the tree and in a sarcastic tone said, “Nice throw Rambo!” and walked off to stand with Teyla and McKay.
Hearing Sheppard laugh Ronon turned his attention to him. Sheepishly John shrugged and said, “Gotta admit that was kinda funny!”
“Who the fuck is Rambo!” Ronon demanded to know.
“Don’t worry about it Big Guy. You’d like him.”
As the sun made its way across the sky, Ronon’s thoughts drifted like the clouds above him. He still sat underneath the tree in front of the make-shift infirmary thinking about this morning’s trek from gate to village. The final leg of their journey had been traveled in silence – he took note that Dr. Keller was very good at ignoring him. He chuckled. The thought of someone his size being ignored by one so tiny; it also made him smile.
Ronon took a deep breath in and shook his head to bring himself back to the present. He continued to watch her through the open doorway. Ronon could tell that Jennifer loved what she did. She loved being a doctor and it showed by her compassion and gentle touch. She was always smiling and reassuring the patients that everything was going to be fine. She gave her full attention to them. She was kind and he felt that he had treated her badly on their way here. It hadn't been his intent. It hadn’t started out as such.
He’d meant what he had whispered to her once through the gate. That he wouldn’t let anything happen to her and for her to trust him. He rolled his eyes and shook his head. Did he think by just that simple statement – trust me – that she would? What had gotten into him? Why had he said anything to her in the first place? Resting his head back against the tree he knew the reason. It was because he had seen the panic on her face once through the gate. He just wanted to calm her fears. He felt the need to calm her fears.
He knew that he had pissed her off with his brutish behavior but he did not know any other way. He was Ronon Dex - a Satedan Warrior - a Soldier - a Runner. He may not have the tracking device in him any longer, yet he still harbored a small amount of fear and a lot of anger. The fear and anger that was always there nudging him to the edge of insanity. Until she came, he had no anchor; no compass. Of course, there was Atlantis and the people, but at times they were more like a thin fragile thread keeping the dark beast at bay from him. With Jennifer though, the fear and the anger – his dark beast – lay dormant or at least content. He realized that just by being in her presence brought him peace of mind.
Unfortunately, today having her nearly swept away by the river and then the encounter with the snake; the beast awoke. He did not want anything to happen to her and …..
Ronon's wandering mind was abruptly halted by his radio crackling and Sheppard's voice coming in over the ear piece, "Ronon you copy?"
"What Sheppard." he grumbled.
"How's the Doc? No major accidents?"
Once arriving to the village this morning, Ronon had relayed his concerns about the doc and all her mishaps to Sheppard.
"She's still breathing if that's what you're asking."
"Ha Ha very funny"
"She's in her natural environment - a medical setting - so I think she's fine, for now."
"Well, keep a close eye on her. McKay is tracking a power source. We're about 2 or 3 miles from the village. We'll let ya know what we find. Sheppard out."
Ronon stood and stretched. Hooking his left thumb in his gun belt and resting his right hand upon the weapon’s grip, he watched as doc soothed a small child.
The small child was sitting on his mother's lap with tears running down his face. Jennifer pulled a sucker from her pocket and held it up to the boy. She’d encouraged him to take a lick and once he did the tears dried up and a bright smile crossed his young face. She had given the boy a shot of antibiotics then given his mother instructions with the oral medication. The child had an ear infection which was causing mother and son sleepless nights. For payment the woman gave Jennifer a beautiful scarf and left thanking her over and over again. Jennifer put it with all the other items that she was given for payment – jams and jellies, bread, a bangle or two, cloth. The majority of the populous, however, showed their gratitude with repeated “Thank you”s, and that was enough for her.
She’d been performing clinicals now for 4 hours straight. She had seen children and adults alike - mostly with the same puzzling ailments - a hacking cough, a rash and a low-grade fever. Some patients told her that it was a re-occurring illness. They also told her that their healer had cured them in the past, but wasn’t able to this time. Two villagers had died.
Jennifer decided that she would relay the information to the Colonel when he and Rodney returned from their scouting trip. Teyla was somewhere in the village and Ronon, well he had been sitting outside her door sleeping ever since they got to town. Jerk!, she thought.
A woman carried in a little girl no more than 3 or 4 years old into the make shift hospital followed by a man. She presumed it was the woman’s husband and the child’s father. The woman sat down in the chair holding tight to the child; she seemed frightened.
“So what seems to be the problem?” Jennifer asked the woman.
"The girl has the cough. I was told we do not have to pay."
Jennifer replied slowly, "That's right."
"Well then give her the cure so we can leave."
“I’ll have to examine the child first to know what medicine to treat her with.” Jennifer reached her hand to place on the girl’s forehead. The man grabbed Jennifer’s wrist and yanking her from the girl barked out, “Just give us the cure. You said we did not have to pay!”
Jen was about to say something when she heard what sounded like a battery being charged. With her eyes wide and mouth ajar she saw Ronon standing behind the man with one big ass alien gun pointed at the villager’s head. In a low and threatening tone he demanded, "Release her or lose your head." Pushing the barrel of the gun a bit more at the man Ronon continued, “You decide quick or I will.”
Earlier Ronon had noticed a family, comprising of a husband, wife and little girl - or so it would seem - make their way to the clinic and Dr. Keller. Seeing that she was about to have more patients, he decided to go and find Teyla. What trouble could Doc get herself into being in her own environment, he thought.
While Ronon walked past him, the well-dressed man politely smiled and nodded. Ronon just glared back at him. After passing them, the Satedan stopped, turned and silently surveyed all three. There was something off. The couple did not match up. The man seemed on edge and the woman looked terrified – clutching the child to her. She was briskly walking ahead of her husband. Ronon noticed that sweat soaked the young man’s shirt and ran down the sides of his face. He kept looking about like he was nervous. He wore fine tailored clothes – shirt, pants, boots – while his wife and child wore nothing but barely held together rags and were barefooted.
Tilting his head to the side, Ronon also was aware that the man was very clean compared to the two in front of him. It was as if he had picked them up from right out of the gutter not moments before. It appeared as if the man did not want to touch the woman more than he already had to for fear of catching something. He did no more than poke a single finger in the middle of the young woman’s back to herd her where he wanted her to go. Ronon carefully kept sight of the young family as they entered the clinic.
The dark beast stirred within. Once the family had gone inside, Ronon silently made his way back to the infirmary and stood next to the doorway - out of sight. Leaning with his back against the outside of the building he listened to their conversation with Jennifer. He was not at all pleased with the man’s tone toward her. When he heard the man gruffly order Jen to give him the “cure”, Ronon looked around the door jamb. The beast roared inside him and his mood went from curious to deadly in a millisecond.
The soon-to-be dead man was holding tight to Jennifer’s wrist. In one fluid motion Ronon pulled his gun, flipped the weapon from stun to kill, and took a couple of steps through the door to stand arm’s length behind the well-dressed idiot. Aiming his gun at the guy’s head, Ronon wrestled with the dark beast within him. It was clawing to get out. Fueled by anger, the beast wanted blood! Ronon wanted to pull the trigger after telling the man to choose life or death. Ronon wanted to kill the bastard for touching what he deemed his. The man finally let go of Jennifer’s arm and held his hands up in surrender.
The young woman quickly got up from the chair and cowered in a corner with her daughter far away from the two angry men.
Without looking at her, Ronon asked, "You okay Doc?"
Rubbing her wrist she nodded and glanced at him. Ronon hadn't realized just how close to the edge he was until he turned to look at her. There he saw his anchor; his compass. The dark beast curled into itself and was quiet and content once more. Taking a deep breath in, he holstered his gun. He then seized the guy by the back of his neck and grabbing hold of his right arm, Ronon pinned it behind the husband's back.
Looking at Jennifer, Ronon instructed her to stay here. "Do not leave the building for any reason. Do you understand?"
Ronon stared at her for a moment, then steered the reluctant man out the door. "You and I are going to have ourselves a little chat!"
“Ronon?” Jennifer’s voice sounded concerned.
Without looking back at her, he said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill him. Just maim him a bit.” Outside the door Ronon halted and inquired over his shoulder, “It is possible to fix a broken neck, right Doc?” The man paled and Ronon smiled.
Ronon had his prisoner out the door and down the street before she could stop him. Ronon asking about fixing broken necks had her worried. She knew he was kidding. He had to of been kidding she thought. She was biting her bottom lip, contemplating of going after him, when she heard the whimper of a child. Turning her attention towards the two in the corner she went over to them.
"Are you okay? I'm so sorry!" Jennifer said while helping the mother and child back into the chair.
"He made me do it. Please forgive me." Tears were welling up into the woman's eyes. "He made me come to this place. I had nothing to do with it!"
Jennifer frowned and said, "Your husband made you come here? Why? Are you ill? Your baby?"
The woman shook her head, "No, we are fine and he is not my husband."
"Then who is he?"
The woman explained that the man was the local Healer’s son. He had scooped her up from their tiny home and made her come with him.
“Okay, but why?” Jen asked
“For your cure to the illness.” the woman wept. “They ran out of the cure and wanted what you had brought with you.”
Jennifer was confused. Why pretend to be sick in the first place? Why not just ask if she had any medicine for this mysterious illness - the Cough - that was going around in the village. Jennifer could have told them that she didn't have anything with her, but she was planning to take some blood samples and run some tests back at Atlantis. See if she and Dr. Beckett could come up with some sort of vaccine.
“Where is this healer at? Where does she live?” Jennifer demanded. She needed some answers and she wanted them like five minutes ago!
The woman looked petrified.
"You don't have to show me just tell me where she lives and how to get there."
Even though she had been forced to participate in trying to steal the cure from the off-world healer, the girl felt obligated. She promised to show Jen where the Healer lived.
"The Healer has a very bad temper if you cross her." The woman said while she and Dr. Keller slipped out the back of the building.
Jennifer told the woman, "Sounds like someone else I know!"
Jennifer thought to herself Ronon is going to go ballistic when he returns and finds out that I disobeyed his order to stay put! Oh well! She was tired of overbearing men telling her what to do. She was a grown woman. She could take care of herself. What was he going to do about it anyway?!
For a town that seemed run down this woman lived rather well Jennifer thought. The house was made up of brick and mortar, not wood like the other dwellings. Trees, flowers and shrubbery decorated the front yard. A wrought iron fence ran the perimeter of the house. Jennifer opened and walked through the waist high gate, then followed the path up to the front door of the dwelling. She was about to knock, but an older woman opened the door.
“Yes? May I help you?!”
“I’m….I’m Dr. Keller. The healer from Atlantis.” She held out her hand in greeting. The older woman just looked at it then back at Jennifer.
“Um” putting her hand back down to her side Jennifer continued, “Are you the healer of this town?”
The woman nodded.
“Can we talk?” Jen asked.
The woman’s eyes narrowed then she smiled brightly but the warmth of the smile did not reach her eyes. “Come in dear. Welcome.”
Jennifer entered the charming little home. Before shutting the door the old woman leaned out and looked around. Seeing no one else, she quickly shut the door and locked it.
Ronon escorted the young man to an abandoned building that he’d noticed this morning on their way into town. The building was not too far from the clinic. The door was nearly hanging off its hinges. Ronon kicked at the door to open it further and it toppled over onto the wooden floor. Standing in the middle of the one room dilapidated shack Ronon told the man, “Before I let you go, know this. If you run, I will kill you!” Ronon forced the man’s arm up higher behind his back to get his point across. Crying out in pain the man nodded that he understood.
After a second Ronon let loose of him and the man turned rubbing his shoulder.
“What is your name?”
After a brief hesitation and a low rumbling growl from Ronon the man answered. “Jabari”
“Why do you think our doctor has a cure for the illness plaguing this village?” recalling Jabari’s previous conversation at the clinic.
“She is a healer is she not?” he asked. Furrowing his brows, he continued, “All healers are knowledgeable in restorative plants and herbs. How can she be a healer and not know such things?”
“She is different from what you know as healers. She is unique.”
“Ah yes we heard she was called by another name – a doctor.” He pronounced the last word slowly.
Ronon crossed his arms, “We?”
“My mother, the current healer.” Jabari said, rubbing his wrist where Ronon had held a tight grip on just moments before.
“There was another here to help these people?”
Jabari smiled shrewdly and nodded. The young man leaned against the wall opposite the opening to the outside. He wasn’t fool-hearty enough to think he could get past the huge man. He and his mother had not made it this far in life by being stupid.
“Let’s just say he disappeared. Here one day and poof gone the next.”
Ronon wanted to smash this male’s face in.
“Look, we just did not want you and your friends cutting in on what we have already established.”
“And what was that?”
“Really? Have you seen these people?” Jabari tapped his finger on the side of his head, “Not very bright! Easy money.”
Now the young man was smiling and boastfully explaining to Ronon how his mother would make the people sick with some of her tinctures unbeknownst to them of course. Then they would pay to get cured with the antidote – the cure.
“Then you and your friends had to show up. Mother knew that our time here was done, so she had me slow you down.”
“You’re the one who cut the ropes to the bridge.”
“Yes!” the young man smiled proudly. Then he sighed, “However mother got the notion that possibly your doctor had the cure. We could make a bit more money before we leave. She got greedy!”
“That’s about it. I went to the clinic with a dim wit and her brat. I was waiting for you to leave like the rest and leave your healer alone, but you would not leave her side.” Jabari shrugged. “I could not wait any longer so…..” Jabari shrugged and said, “You know the rest.”
Ronon pushed the overly confident man towards the door.
“I can go?”
“No! We’re going back to the clinic and you’re going to tell the Doc what you’ve just told me. You’re going to tell her what poison you and your mother have been giving this village.”
Jabari was disappointed that he could not go home, but lit up when Ronon told him that they were going back to the clinic and the beautiful doctor.
Walking through the doorway, Jabari turned to stop and stand in front of the Satedan warrior. The young man was smiling and rubbing his hands together when he excitedly proclaimed, “Oh I get to look at that fine piece of ass again! You know I wouldn’t mind bedding that bitch many times over!”
The dark beast within Ronon reared it's head and those were the last words out of Jabari's mouth before Ronon’s fist connected with it. The young man went sailing backwards. He landed at the feet of Sheppard and McKay.
John looked down at the groaning man then at Ronon.
Sighing Sheppard said, “Before I left didn’t I tell ya to play nice with others, Chewie?”
The Colonel hurriedly stepped over the man, whom he was sure had a broken nose, and stopped Ronon from continuing his assault on the fellow - at least until John could figure out what was going on.
Pointing a finger at the man on the ground, Ronon ground out to John, “He’s DEAD!”
“Whoa now, hold on. Let’s start from the beginning.” While Rodney helped the guy up, Sheppard maneuvered Ronon off to the side. The Satedan kept eyeing Jabari daring him to run.
“Ronon! Hey!” snapping his fingers in front of the Satedan's face to get his attention, John asked, “What's going on?”
Ronon explained everything and said "I was about to take Jabari to talk to Doc when he said something I didn't like!" After thinking about the little prick’s remarks about Jennifer, Ronon was wanting to hit him again.
Stepping in front of the big guy, Sheppard calmed him down with, “You can beat the shit out of him later. We need to get to the doc and see what she can do for these people. Okay?!”
Ronon didn’t like the option but he knew John was right – help the people first, then kill the little fucker!
All four walked back to the clinic. Teyla was waiting for them in the infirmary. She asked her three teammates where Dr. Keller was. Frowning Ronon looked around. “Dammit!” he ground out. She was gone and the back door to the place was wide open. He had told her to stay here! Not to leave!
Ignoring everyone else, Ronon headed out the back. He thought when he found Jennifer – and he would find her – he was going to make sure that she understood what staying put meant right after he strangled her pretty little neck for driving him to the brink of insanity!
Once inside the little house Jennifer noticed it had charm but was in an untidy mess though. The interior looked like the occupants were in various stages of moving out. Things were strewn all over the place. It appeared that they were picking and choosing what to take and what to leave behind indicated by the varying stages of piles. Jars filled with tinctures and bundles of dried herbs were everywhere. There was a whole treasure trove of natural pharmaceuticals here to test and explore. Jennifer's fingers itched to examine the contents of the bottles. Maybe take some samples.
"Please...sit....sit!" The woman's voice drew Jennifer's attention away from the medicinal concoctions. She pulled out a chair and motioned Jennifer to have a seat at the kitchen table. “Cookie?” she offered once Jenn was seated. Jennifer shook her head and politely declined. "I hope I’m not bothering you." she said as she sat down. "I'm not interrupting you am I?" Jennifer asked looking around the room.
“Oh no, dear. My son and I are just packing to move tis all.” Looking around the room, the older woman uttered, “Jabari and I are going to miss this place and the villagers.”
"Does your son help you....a....umm....I'm sorry I don't even know your name."
Suddenly placing her hand over her heart the woman declared, "Oh where are my manners! My name is Kaya."
"Kaya." Jennifer smiled then asked, "Have you been the village healer for long?"
"Long enough it would seem." The woman mumbled underneath her breath.
"Yes, for a few years now.” Kaya told Jenn, then turned towards the kitchen counter. “Can I get you something? Are you sure you wouldn't like some cookies? I just made them this morning. They are very good. The townspeople love them!", she said sitting a large plate of what looked like sugar cookies on the table in front of Jennifer.
Shaking her head Jenn declined again and politely gave a No Thank you to the hostess. The woman seemed a little miffed at her polite refusal, Jennifer thought.
"Well then some tea." Before Jennifer could decline the offer Kaya held up her hand and declared, "If you refuse, then it would be considered a great insult. It is our custom to offer at least something to a new guest that enters ones home. It would be rude and an insult to decline such an offer."
Not wanting to be rude towards Kaya, Jennifer smiled and said, "Tea would be lovely. Thank you!"
“Wonderful.” the old woman clasp her hands together and busied herself with preparing the drink. “So what brings you to my humble home?”
"I wanted to talk to you about the sickness going around. The villagers call it "The Cough"."
"Oh yes that.” The older woman replied while taking a steaming kettle of water off of the fire and putting it to the side. She rummaged through several canisters until she found the one she had been searching for. "Ah-ha!" She exclaimed.
"Your son came to see me today."
“Mmmm? Did he now.” Was the woman's reply as she busied herself with making their tea.
"Yes he was asking for, actually demanding", Jennifer corrected herself, "that I give him what he called the cure."
"Really?" Kaya sounded surprised. Jennifer couldn't gauge the woman's reaction because her back was turned to her.
"Yes. He came into the clinic with a young woman and child."
Kaya turned a bit towards Jennifer with a frown on her face, then turned right back around to continue making the tea.
"He was animate about wanting the cure."
"Did you give it to him?" Kaya inquired.
"I don't even know what plagues these people so I couldn't give him what I didn't have."
A spoon clattered to the floor. Without picking it up, Kaya faced Jennifer, her hands gripping the back of one of the kitchen chairs. "So what you are saying is that you have nothing to help these people. No medicine at all."
Jennifer felt a little indignant. Kaya made her feel like she was a failure for not being able to help these people. “No,” she said shaking her head, "Nothing here. But I plan to take some blood samples back with me to my lab and possibly create a vaccine to stop all this."
As if Kaya hadn't heard Jenn's response, she asked, "Where is my son now?"
"Ummm...." Jennifer wiggled in her chair a bit then said ".....My colleague is talking to him."
The woman's hand came up to stop a gasp from partially escaping. Her eyes wide with concern. She looked around the room. She seemed troubled.
"Please don't worry." Jenn said, "Ronon won't hurt him." Much, I hope!
Turning back to the counter the woman finished making the tea, and then brought a delicate cup full over to Jennifer. "Here you go dear, drink up. Drink till the last drop is gone. The cup must be completely empty so as to bring me and my son good luck."
Ronon made his way down the back street of the clinic towards the main thoroughfare of the village. The street was bustling with citizens who were shopping or peddling their wares. He stopped passersby to ask if any had seen Dr. Keller – the Atlantis healer - just recently. The townsfolk were either too busy or afraid of him to speak or they had truly not seen her. All shook there head to his inquiry - they had not seen her. It was as if she had just vanished.
As he searched up and down the street, the dark beast’s fear leeched into his heart – making him think the worse. He had to find Jennifer before anything happened to her. If he had to, he would go house to house banging on every door looking for her. The beast's anger started mingling with the fear. He would raze the city to the ground to find her. He would stop at nothing to have her close to him again.
Then out of the corner of his eye, Ronon spotted the young woman and child that had been with Jabari in the clinic. The determined warrior walked straight for her. His long purposeful strides chewed up the distance quickly. The young female hadn’t noticed his approach; she was too busy begging for a scrap of bread from a patron of the bakery. The shopkeeper came storming out to shoo the beggar woman away, then stopped short of seeing Ronon bearing down on them all.
“Kind sir, what may…may I do for y..you?” the baker stammered while wringing his hands.
The young woman holding the child turned and gasped. The look on the huge man’s face made her quake with fear. He was upon her before she could run and hide. She fell to her knees, cradling her child to her breast, and crying over and over “Please do not harm us! Please do not harm us! Please!”
Ignoring the patron and shopkeeper, Ronon looked down at the girl and snarled, “Get up. I mean you no harm.”
With terrified eyes, the young mother looked at Ronon’s face and literally shivered from fear.
“I need to know if you’ve seen Dr. Keller – our healer.”
The girl nodded.
Relief washed through Ronon. “Where?”
The girl just continued to stare up at him.
“Where dammit!” he grabbed her by the arm and hauled her up to a standing position. The child hid her face in her mother’s neck and clung tight to her.
The young mother swallowed and said, “We…we…are hun…hungry.”
Narrowing his eyes Ronon turned his attention to the patron who wasn’t wise enough to leave the scene when he had the chance. The man had purchased a loaf of bread from the store. He also carried a bag of cheeses and meat. Without letting go of the young woman for fear she might run off, Ronon snatched the bag of groceries from the man. The male customer protested hotly until Ronon gave him his 'don't-fuck-with-me' stare. The customer said, “She can have it.” And ran off. The baker followed suit by going back into his store.
Ronon held the bag of food in front of the young mother. The woman’s mouth was salivating from the aroma and thought of such a meal. She reached out for it, but Ronon jerked it back. “Information first, then payment.”
The young woman thought it over for just a few seconds, then nodded her head. "I will take you to where I last saw her." She gestured down the street and Ronon indicated for her to lead the way.
On the outskirts of the small town the young woman pointed out the healer's brick house with a nod of her head. Before Ronon gave her her reward he told her that if Jennifer wasn't in there he was coming back for her. He let the veiled threat sink in before letting go of the merchandise. The young mother nodded and ran off with her bounty.
Stealthily Ronon walked up to the door and closely listened. He could hear voices, but he could not make out if one of them was Jennifer's or not. He reached down and gently tried the door knob. Locked. The dark beast growled. Panic rose from the pit of his stomach. Ronon unholstered his weapon which was set to stun. With the element of surprise he drew back and threw his entire weight into the door - busting it nearly off its hinges. Upon entering the house Ronon's heart sank. Jennifer was looking at him with a terrified expression on her face. One of her hands was around her throat as if she were choking and she held a cup in the other. The cup's contents poured out onto the wooden floor. He was too late. The witch had poisoned her!
Jennifer nodded a thank you to Kaya when she sat the steaming cup of tea down in front of her. Kaya also gently nudged the plate of cookies even closer to Jennifer. The woman must really be superstitious, Jennifer thought. Wanting her to either drink or eat something since she was a new comer in the healer’s home.
“Aren’t you having any?” Jennifer questioned looking up at the woman. She was standing far too close for comfort. A tiny alarm bell chimed in Jennifer’s head.
“Yes, of course.” Kaya went to retrieve her own cup from the counter and sat down adjacent to Dr. Keller.
Admiring what looked like fine bone china Jenn picked up the delicate blue tea cup. “How lovely.”
Beaming, the older woman said, “Was payment for saving a merchant’s daughter from the illness.”
Jennifer brought the cup of sweet smelling tea up to her nose. “This smells delicious.” she told Kaya. The steam from the tea wafted in front of her. Blowing off the beverage to cool it a bit, Jennifer inhaled the heady aroma again. Another silent alarm bell went off in her head – a bit louder this time. She had smelled this before. How could an alien tea be familiar to her? It smelled oddly of almonds. Bitter almonds. Arsenic! Jennifer sat ram-rod straight and forced a smile upon her face. Was this woman trying to poison her or was her imagination running amuck? If she was trying to poison her, then why?
Smiling back, Kaya held her cup between her hands and stated, “The recipe has been in my family for generations. Taste it. It’s very good.” The twinkle in her eyes seemed malevolent.
While trying to figure out a way of not partaking in the arsenic-laced beverage, a loud pounding noise came from the front of the house. BOOM! - and the front door came crashing open. Both women literally jumped out of their chairs. Kaya dropped her cup and it shattered on the tile floor. Jennifer had stood up so quickly, she sloshed the deadly concoction all over herself. Staring wide eyed in disbelief, Jennifer placed her hand upon her throat. “Ronon?”
She saw Ronon’s large frame taking up most of the front doorway. The door he’d just demolish was hanging haphazardly on its damaged hinges. A piece of the splintered wood swung precariously from the top of the doorjamb then clattered to the floor behind him.
Frowning, she softly spoke his name “Ronon?” Jennifer then realized the mess that she had made with the tea. She swiped her hand over the wet stains dotting her uniform; her other hand still held the cup.
Kaya had never seen such a large and determined man before in her life. She quickly looked around for a way out.
Ronon’s heart caught in his throat. He holstered his gun and with a couple of strides he was standing in front of Jennifer. He whispered “Are you alright?”
“Ronon, what are you doing here?” she asked staring up at him.
Seeing that Jennifer still held the now empty cup, he wrested it from her grasp and brought it to his nose. He sniffed it then glared at the healer.
Jennifer was going to retrieve the cup from him but he moved it out of her reach.
Glaring at the healer he demanded, "What is this?"
"Just tea" she meekly replied.
At Ronon's hard stare, Kaya turned pale and backed away keeping the table between her and the furious giant.
“I am sure that the tea she was serving you was poison. She is getting rid of the competition. Am I right?” Ronon glared at the healer.
“Competition? What are you talking about?” Jennifer looked from Ronon to Kaya and back again.
“Her and her son have a nice little scheme going on here. They make the villagers sick with some sort of herb and then turn right around and sell them a healing cure from another herb or plant.”
Kaya fidgeted at the end of the table. She did not say a word as Ronon continued.
“Unfortunately, they ran out of the cure. When they heard that we were coming, she had her son slow us down by cutting the ropes to the bridge.”
“What?” Jennifer glanced at the healer.
“Yeah, but when she realized that you might have some medicine that could take the place of hers she sent her son to steal it from you.”
With her hands on her hips, Jennifer turned to glare at Kaya and asked furiously, “Why?”
As a doctor, she took an oath to help people not harm them and she couldn’t understand how someone would take advantage of people like Kaya had done. The more she thought about it the madder she became.
“It doesn’t matter now.” Ronon interjected. “The townspeople know the truth now and are coming seeking justice.” It was a lie but the healer didn’t know that. The look on the woman’s face was worth it. If Ronon had the time, he would dish out the punishment of the two crooks himself, but as it was he needed to get Jennifer back to the others.
Dropping the fragile china cup to the floor and hearing it shatter; Ronon gave Kaya one last lethal glare then guided Jennifer by her elbow out of the house.
Once in the front yard of the house, Ronon halted. Still holding onto Jennifer, he turned her to face him. He sternly looked down at her and commanded “Why didn’t you stay in the clinic like I told you to?” The tone of his voice demanded an answer. “I told you to stay there and not to leave!” His emerald green eyes were ablaze with anger.
Jennifer jerked free of his grasp and walked off. She didn’t have to take that from anyone anymore. She was done with egotistical assholes telling her what to do. She would have gladly explained everything to him if he had kept his caveman attitude to himself!
Fuming Ronon came up behind her and grabbed hold of her upper arm this time and hauled her infuriating little ass down the street. Jennifer had to run to keep up with his long strides.
"Let go of me! You over grown belligerent alien asshole!", she shrieked and tried to pry his fingers loose. When that didn’t work, she bit him.
Growling, Ronon – who still held tight to her arm despite the pain of her bite – ushered her over to and down an alley. Once he was sure no prying eyes could see them, he let go of her. Both faced each other. Both were furious. The battle was about to begin and he smiled.
Jennifer stood in front of Ronon seething at how he had man-handled her through the street. She had been humiliated in front of people running their errands. The villagers had glanced at the couple but kept to themselves and went about their business. She was sure the village rumor mill was in over drive by now. Jennifer had felt like a wayward child being taken to task for a wrong done. The shadow of her past seven years with Brian washed over her, but she willed the feeling into a tight compressed ball of rage which she nestled in the pit of her stomach.
She was angrier than she had ever been in her life. Jennifer Keller was normally a quiet demure individual; however, for some reason being around Ronon Dex, turned her into an entirely different person. Avoiding him since being stationed at Atlantis apparently had been a wise choice on her part. Forget about getting to know the arrogant bastard; if he was going to treat her like this, then she didn’t want to be around him let alone know him.
Anger flowed through her and she had to hold herself in check because Jennifer wanted so badly to reach up and slap that smirk right off his handsome face. Crossing her arms over her chest to keep from following through with the impulse, she wondered what had gotten into her. Jennifer never acted like this before. She had actually bit the man's hand for chrissake because she had been so angry. The norm for her after so many years with Brian was to keep her head down, mouth shut and do as she was told. She never made a scene because she didn't want to be lectured back at home. But here, with Ronon, she wasn't herself.
She took several deep breaths to try and calm herself, then made to move around the six-and-a-half foot wall of muscle and power. Ronon moved to the side and blocked her escape from the alley. Stepping back she glared at him. "Move Ronon, I'm going back to the clinic." She tried again and yet as before he blocked her way with his massive body.
She looked behind her but that was no good. He had maneuvered her into a dead end alley. The only way out was where Ronon was standing and it didn't look like he was going to be moving anytime soon. Not with that look on his face and the stance he took which screamed "I dare you to leave". She stepped back with hands on her hips craning her head back to glare up at him.
She didn't want any part of this right now. She didn’t want a confrontation. She just wanted to go back to the clinic, pack up her stuff and head back to Atlantis.
"Let me pass!" she insisted.
"Not until we get some things straight."
Crossing her arms over her chest, "Yeah like what?"
"For starters like doing what you’re told. Why didn't you stay at the clinic where it was safe?" He ground out; pointing his finger at her, demanding to know the answer.
"I went in search of the healer. To see why she needed my medicines and what she knew about this illness." she hotly replied.
Stepping up to him so close she had to crane her neck even further back to look at him. "I can damn well take care of myself."
Ronon barked out a short laugh then said, "You have no training to go off on your own! Hell, this was your first off-world mission. You could have gotten yourself killed!" He said heatedly. "I told you to stay and I meant it dammit!" He said stepping closer to her.
Now they were mere inches apart from each other. A David and Goliath face off.
“I just went down the street to talk with the healer. It wasn't like I was going off into the woods and wandering around getting lost."
"The tea she was serving you was poison. Did you know that?"
"Yes I did! I thought as much! That's why I didn't drink it. I was planning somehow to refuse the drink but then you showed up like a bull in a china shop scaring both of us half to death!"
She poked him in the chest as she said, "Do you think I'm stupid? I am a doctor or did you forget that piece of information?!"
Ronon clenched his fists at his side and growled, but did nothing.
She turned away from him, throwing up her hands. "You're just like him you know. Brian was domineering. I couldn't do anything right. He had to have things his way. Nothing I did was good enough. He always made me feel worthless; useless. Getting away from him was the best thing I’d ever done. Then what happens," she turned and looked at Ronon, “I run into another overbearing jerk in another galaxy no less!”
So that was her secret. Someone from her past had hurt her terribly. Ronon tucked the information away and concentrated at the irate woman before him.
Wiping away angry tears, Jennifer blurted out, “You act just like him – a handsome face to hide the ugliness inside.”
It was out of her mouth before she could stop it. She had cut to the quick and both knew it. He clinched his jaw; the dark beast within hissed and retreated deeper into Ronon’s soul. His eyes were a dark emerald color holding so many emotions.
Ronon quickly advanced on her backing her up against one of the alley walls. He placed his hands on either side of her - caging her in with his large frame. With their bodies in such close proximity she felt the heat radiating from him. Felt the immense power he possessed. She swallowed and her anger was slowly being replaced by something else – desire.
Leaning down, he brought his face level with hers to look into those lake blue eyes of hers. He inhaled her jasmine scent. He softly spoke; his voice reminded her of a soft caress upon her bare skin, “I am sorry another has hurt you so deeply, Jennifer. I am sorry that I was not there to protect you. I'm here for you now."
He brought his hand up to touch her check. She flinched. Frowning he asked, "Do you think I would strike you?" Images of this other male hurting her had the dark beast seeing red. If ever they were to meet....
Turning his attention back to her he declared, "Know this I would kill myself before laying a hand upon you in anger! I swear upon my honor I will never do you harm!"
He took his hand and gently placed it on the side of her face. Looking down at her lips he ran his calloused thumb over them. He looked into her eyes and smiled.
"Let's go." he softly spoke, "Sheppard's waiting on us."
Leaving the alley they walked side by side. Jennifer was confused as to what just happened, but Ronon smiled from within. This battle he had won without her knowing. He had gotten his answer to his question about her story. Now the real war was about to begin – the war to win over her heart.
Jennifer had awoken early and couldn’t go back to sleep. Looking at her bedside clock, she calculated that it would be nearly another four hours until her shift started. Sighing, she got up to go for a run. Thoughts of a certain tall, green-eyed warrior danced through her mind as she jogged her route. He was off-world on a trade mission. He’d only been gone for two days; and, yet it felt like months since last she’d seen him. She expected him back sometime today. She was glad about that because she missed him terribly.
Coming to the east pier Jennifer stood at the railing and watched the sunrise. She watched the horizon as the pale golden orb slowly rose over the depths of the calm blue ocean and began stretching its rays out towards her as if in need to touch her; to make sure she was really there watching its grand beginning of the day. As the sun lovingly kissed her skin, she stood pondering the last two weeks since returning from her first off-world trip. She caught herself smiling a stupid silly grin. A lot had happened since then.
After the confrontation in the alley, Ronon had become more attentive towards her. Once back through the gate, he had continued to carry the medical bags to the infirmary. She had assured him that she could carry them now. She had felt guilty because Ronon had hauled the heavy bags for miles. However, he refused to relinquish the burden to her and waved his hand for her to lead the way to the infirmary. The man was insistent that was for sure. Having deposited the bags to the medical stock room; he had offered to help her put everything back. She thanked him but politely told him that she could do it. He had nodded and left.
After restocking the medical supplies, Jennifer went to her office and had gotten caught up on some paper work. When she had looked up an hour later, Ronon had been standing in the doorway to her office watching her. Ronon did not have to make a grand entrance anywhere, she concluded. All he had to do was just stand in any spot and his presence alone commanded attention. He had asked her to join him for a late dinner and impulsively she’d agreed. Since then they had hardly been apart from each other.
Her smile broadened when she remembered just last week the incident at the Atlantis bar. Ronon had gone off-world for a couple days. Lieutenant Laura Cadman had come by the infirmary and had invited Jennifer to the newly established bar. Jennifer liked Lt. Cadman – Laura. They were becoming fast friends. She was outgoing, fun-loving and very adventurous. Cadman would not take no for an answer. So she went.
While there Jennifer actually had fun. She had laughed at Cadman’s rather off-colored jokes and was just having a relaxing good time. That was until two Marines had come up to both women and pulled a Maverick / Goose re-enactment of Top Gun – singing ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ to them.
Jennifer’s face was beet red with the attention. Cadman just rolled her eyes, shook her head and ordered two more shots of whiskey. Jennifer wondered what Ronon would do if he were here to witness this spectacle. She didn’t have to wonder for long. As if she’d conjured him up just by her thoughts, he was suddenly standing behind the two annoying recruits. With his brows knitted together, he had looked from one to the other, and then finally stepped in between them disrupting their pick-up routine. Ronon took Jennifer’s hand and led her out of the bar.
One of the Marines had decided to flirt with disaster when he heatedly claimed to Ronon that Jennifer was with him. She had her mouth open to deny such a claim, when Ronon stopped, turned and just glared at the man. Jennifer was terrified. If the Marine had said such a thing to Brian, he would have been grilling her once out of ear shot of everyone. But Ronon was not Brian she reminded herself for the hundredth time. He just silently glared at the man who was doing a terrible job at posturing his dominance over the situation. Finally after a tense moment, Ronon just looked the guy up and down then snorted and walked out of the bar with Jennifer in tow.
Ronon still had that gruff exterior, but she started to see through it to a more intricate man. She realized he shielded himself from others so that he would not hurt them emotionally nor be hurt by them. There were only a handful of people that Ronon lowered the shield a bit for, and there was only one that he let it fall completely away – that was with her. He trusted her. He had trusted her enough, in their short time together, to tell her of the dream that always woke him from a sound sleep. A dream that he never remembered, but somehow knew was important.
At the end of only two weeks, she had fallen madly, completely, and hopelessly in love with Ronon Dex. Shaking her head she just couldn’t believe how intense the feelings she had towards the man had become. Being around him made the one thousand and one butterflies in her stomach multiply to about a million. She felt like a giddy school girl. She never felt like this with Brian; not even when they first met. This was something special with Ronon.
The sun was just barely skimming the horizon when she felt him standing behind her – silent as always - he was back early. She still hadn’t gotten used to that – knowing when he was near. She didn’t know what it was; if it was his alien DNA or the galaxy itself, but she knew when he was close – just as he knew, more often than not, where to find her. It was like they were somehow connected. She could not explain it nor did she want to. She just accepted it as a part of them.
“Beautiful.” he whispered, his strong arms wrapping around her from behind. He pulled her close; molding their bodies together.
“Yes. Earth’s sunrises are beautiful but here on Atlantis the sun is spectacular.” She leaned back enjoying his closeness.
He nuzzled her neck. His warm breath tickled as he spoke, “I wasn’t talking about the sun sweetling, I didn’t even notice it there.”
She just smiled and thought how someone the size of Ronon could have such a soft and romantic side. His touch was always gentle with her. But he possessed raw power that if provoked could demolish an opponent or enemy without blinking.
She turned around in his embrace. Looking up at him she frowned. He looked drained. She placed her hand on the side of his face. “You look tired. Is it the dream again?”
Sliding his hand along her bare arm, he lovingly wrapped his large hand around her tiny wrist. He smiled slightly when he felt her pulse quicken. Turning his head he kissed her palm, and then placed her hand over his heart. Sighing, he nodded. “The dream comes more often now.”
“And you still can’t remember anything about it.”
He shook his head no, but in truth he remembered one part of the dream – a most disturbing part. It was where Jennifer was falling into a dark abyss – reaching out to him, calling his name and he was powerless save her.
The dream was once again upon him. A dream that had haunted his sleep since just before Jennifer's arrival to Atlantis. A dream that always wrecked havoc upon his mind and troubled his soul.
Ronon was back on Sateda before the Wraith had decimated the planet. It was a bright summer's day; he was casually walking through a field of Trivydia blossoms that adjoined woodlands at the far end. By his side a rather large wolf-like creature kept pace. Looking down at the dark beast, he saw that its fur was black as night, and when it turned it's huge head towards Ronon, he could see that its eyes were light grey such as the color of an early morning mist. Ronon did not fear the beast for he knew it was a part of him. Glancing back up he saw Jennifer at the end of the field standing close to the treeline. She was waving and smiling at him. Seeing her there brought a smile to his face. She wore a white flowing gown made from the finest Satedan silk. Her golden locks were pinned atop her head in cascading ringlets. A few stray curls escaped their bonds, framing her face. She was so beautiful. In slow motion, Jennifer beckoned him to come to her.
As he walked closer, the beast by his side stopped and growled a warning. Concern quickly over shadowed Ronon's joy. He saw what the creature had sensed; something moving through the woods. It was a shapeless black shadow gliding effortlessly over the forest floor. As the specter stealthily made its way to Jennifer, Ronon urgently motioned for her to come to him. He tried to warn her. Tried to yell for her to turn around but no words came from his mouth. In his dream Jennifer kept smiling and motioning him to come to her - oblivious of the danger. He tried running to her, but his legs were like leaden weights - he and the dark beast could barely move.
Ronon thrashed about in bed caught up in the throes of the dream.
Once it emerged from the forest, the black mass began to slowly take form right behind Jennifer. Ronon was shocked at what - or rather who - he saw. Melena! She wore the same white flowing silk gown as her counterpart. Her light brown hair was styled the same too. She was just as beautiful, Ronon thought. She came to stand beside Jennifer. Both were now smiling and motioning him to come to them. When he finally got close enough to the two women to almost touch them, they turned and quickly ran into the woods.
Jennifer and Melena softly laughed as they darted through the forest - weaving in and out of the tall pines and oaks. As they ran, their gowns - which had changed from white to crimson - gracefully flowed behind them. "Come, Ronon." Both said in a sing-song voice "Come, find us. Catch us if you can! Which one will it be?" Standing at the edge of the forest, he called out their names. But the two women continued to weave in and out of the trees as if they played a child's game of tag and hide-n-seek combined.
When Ronon took a step forward the dream suddenly took him to the burned out city from which he had lived and worked before the Wraith destroyed it. Jennifer and Melena stood before him. He could not tell who was who because the two were draped from head-to-toe in heavy black laced veils. Both had their arms out stretched, opened wide for him. Both spoke in unison, "Ronon, come to me." The beast by his side growled at one and then the other.
Ronon tried to go to them to lift their veils and see who was who. But he could not move from the spot where he stood. He yelled out his frustration to the smoke filled skies of the ruined city. Instantly the ground started to quake and split open wide between him and the women. As the ground beneath their feet crumbled away, Jennifer and Melena screamed as they fell.
He lunged forward in an effort to grab them. Catching each by their hands, he kept them from falling into the dark abyss below. They made no effort to help him by clasping tight to his hands.
Writhing as if in pain, Ronon fisted the sweat-soaked bedsheets as the dream carried him along.
He lay upon his stomach nearly half-way hanging over the crevasse while holding onto Jennifer and Melena for dear life. He gritted his teeth and summoned all his strength to hold onto the two women that meant the most to him. The dark beast next to him growled.
Their veil coverings were gone.
Two pairs of eyes - one lake blue and the other soft brown - stared back at him. Jennifer pleaded, "Choose Ronon!" Melena chimed in, "Choose one of us!" Both then cried, "Ronon you must choose. Choose now!"
"I CAN'T!" he yelled as he sat up in bed completely awake. He was breathing heavily as if he'd just run through the fires of hell. He looked around his dark room. He was alone. Violently flinging the tangled covers from around his legs, Ronon sat at the edge of the bed.
He rubbed his hand down his sweaty face and across the back of his neck. Breathing deeply, he tried to slow his hammering heartbeat. The dream once again had woke him, but this time he remembered it. He remembered it all. Every detail and it chilled him to the bone.
Why was Melena haunting his dreams? Why did he have to choose between the two. Melena was dead. Jennifer was living and breathing - he had just spent the day with her! Growling in frustration, he pushed himself off the bed and started to pace. Why was this happening?
Going over the dream in his head, he hadn't heard the chime to his door. When the annoying noise finally registered with him, he was in a fouler mood than when he awoke just moments before. Who needed him at this hour of the night? Snatching the blanket from off the floor, he wrapped it around his naked torso. Stalking over to his door, he swiped his hand over the key pad. The doors swished open to reveal Sheppard standing impatiently for him.
"Oh hey there! Sorry to have interrupted your beauty sleep Big Guy, but I thought you would want to know this." Sheppard said.
"What" growled Ronon.
"SGA-3 just came back from their mission."
"Yeah" Ronon shrugged his shoulders. He wanted to be left alone. He had things to figure out. "So?!"
"Well, they have intel on a settlement that you might be real interested in."
Ronon just stared at Sheppard, his patience was wearing thin.
"It's a settlement of Satedans. Your people Ronon. There are others."
It had not taken Ronon long for him to get dressed and pack a few things after Sheppard left his quarters. He told John that he'd meet him in the Gate Room to go over the details of SGA-3's mission report and make plans. But first Ronon had to - needed to - see Jennifer. To tell her the news that there was a possibility of survivors from his home world living on another planet. Satedan survivors that had found sanctuary and started over.
As he left his rooms, he realized that it was still very early in the morning and that Jennifer would more than likely be sound asleep after coming off a double shift. Nonetheless, he had to see her. A few minutes later, he was second guessing his decision after his hand made its third swipe over her door chime. Shifting his backpack from one shoulder to the other, Ronon was getting ready to turn and leave when the double doors finally swooshed open.
There before him in the entryway stood Jennifer rubbing the sleep from her eyes with one hand and trying to hold back a yawn with the other. Her golden hair was a lovely bed-head mess. He watched as one of the thin straps of her top slowly slipped off her shoulder. The silky material drooped a bit exposing the soft slope of her breast. As his gaze fell further down, Ronon glimpsed her lower midriff peeking out from between the bottom of the shirt and just above her pajama bottoms - which hung seductively low on her hips.
She is a temptress, he thought, and does not even know it!
"Ronon," she asked in a sleepy voice, looking up at him, "is everything okay?" She stepped to the side to let him enter.
He took a couple of steps into her room and stopped just past the entryway. He swiped his hand over the key panel to close the doors. Letting his backpack slide off his shoulder, he tossed it over towards the wall. Looking around he saw the trail of clothes she'd removed when she had gotten off work. It began from the door where he stood then trailed off towards her bed - shoes, socks, shirt, pants, lacy bra and panties - all haphazardly strewn about.
The door to her bathroom was open slightly and the light was still on - illuminating her living area with a soft glow. Ronon smiled and took note that she slept with the lights on. Looking over to her closet he noticed the towel that she had apparently dried herself off with - he was jealous of that damn towel. He turned his attention back to the woman standing in front of him.
While waiting on his reply, Jennifer crossed her arms over her chest, which in turn made the other tiny thin strap start to follow suit with its twin and fall off her other shoulder as well. Instantly his gaze went to her lovely breasts that were being pushed together by her upper arms.
Talking through a yawn she once again asked him if anything was wrong.
Beautiful Temptress, he again mused. Then clearing his throat, he reluctantly brought his gaze back to her face and told her, "I just stopped by to tell you that I'm going off-world."
"Another mission?" She frowned. "So soon? You just got back yesterday morning." She said as she wrapped her arms around his waist. Jennifer laid her head upon his chest listening to the strong steady beat of his heart.
Holding her tight to him and kissing the top of her head, he replied "Yeah. I'm sorry."
He had come to see her - to apprise her that possibly his people lived - that some had survived the culling. But standing here with her in his arms, he wasn't sure about telling her. What if this was - how did John phrase it - a wild goose chase? What if he went in search of something that did not exist? Something that he'd constantly wished for with all his being ever since crossing paths with his three colleagues. He would once again find himself the lone survivor of his world's destruction. So he decided to kept everything to himself until he had solid proof, because if these truly were his people - were really Satedans - then the question next would be "Where would he call home?"
Jennifer's sweet voice shook him from his thoughts. "Promise me you'll be careful." She whispered as she tilted her head back to look into his soft green eyes.
During their short time together, Ronon had let Jennifer set the pace. He did not want her to feel uncomfortable in their relationship. He had never asked her about her past. He waited for her to tell him when she was ready. Their time together mostly consisted of being in each others company. Holding hands. Holding each other. Talking about everything and sometimes just not talking at all.
But now, all he wanted to do was kiss her before he left to find his people. He didn't know how long he would be gone. He wanted to remember the taste of her lips.
Ronon was drowning in those lake blue eyes of hers as he looked into her lovely face. He slid his hands up her arms. Hooking the thin straps of her top with his thumbs, he resettled them back on her shoulders. He then rested both hands on either side of her slender neck. He inhaled her jasmine scent as he leaned his head down. Ronon softly claimed her lips in a tender kiss. She fisted the back of his shirt as he finished the kiss by gently sucking on her bottom lip.
With his hands still resting upon her neck and his forehead touching hers, he smiled down at her. "I promise. I will be careful."
He placed the barest of kisses on the tip of her nose and turned to exit the room. But she grabbed his arm and stopped him.
Standing on her tippy-toes, Jennifer reached up and urged his head down to hers for another kiss. A very different kiss from before. One of her own choosing. She kissed him with a passion and fire that stole his breath away.
"Come back to me!" she fiercely whispered. It was a plea. A plea from the heart. Her heart.
Not trusting his own voice, Ronon only nodded that he would. He quickly kissed her again, picked up his backpack and left her quarters. Once her doors had shut he placed his hand upon them thinking, I am already home.
John was on the second level landing of the Gate Room talking to Major Phillips when Ronon entered. John waved for him to come up and join them in the conference room. Ronon's massive frame sprinted up the stairs; taking the steps two at a time with ease. Once at the top he followed the two men into the meeting room; where Elizabeth was standing near the large conference table reading a debriefing file.
As Ronon walked in, he heard Dr. Weir ask, "How certain are you about this information Major because it’s rather unbelievable."
SGA-3's team leader, Maj. Andrew Phillips stated, "I can't be 100% certain Ma'am, but this is the Pegasus Galaxy anything’s possible. It's all in the report there.” Phillips nodded to the file Elizabeth held.
“So now tell us what isn’t in the report, Major.” John knowingly said.
Phillips looked at each individual in turn. “Well the off-the-books version” Phillips reluctantly said, “is that there is a chance that survivors of Sateda have built a small community –“
“That’s great!” John said enthusiastically.
“ – on a planet that actually doesn't exist." Finished the Major.
Ronon was frowning at that last statement as he said, “Doesn’t exists? That makes no sense.” Maybe this was going to be a wild goose chase after all, he thought.
“You mean that it isn’t charted yet?” Elizabeth asked.
“No Ma’am. According to one of the local vendors I questioned, the planet simply doesn’t exist."
"But my people do?" Ronon asked confused.
Trying to explain himself, the Major continued. "It all started when we had some down time during the mission and so some of us walked through the city market place. I wasn't planning on buying anything. I was just killing time – until I saw this.”
Maj. Phillips reached into one of his side pockets of his pants uniform. He pulled out a silver ring – like the think silver bands that Ronon wore in his hair – and handed it to him.
"The intricate design was what caught my attention. It reminded me of the design on one of your daggers you showed me once, Ronon." Phillips shrugged, "And so I bought it."
"Well, where did he get it from?" John questioned, “This vendor.”
"I asked the guy that exact same question Colonel. He told me that it had been forged just last week by a Satedan craftsman."
Looking at Ronon, Major Phillips added, "I thought that was rather strange since your planet was destroyed by the Wraith years ago. Now he could have made the whole thing up. You know to boost the sale, but I don’t know.” Phillips said shaking his head. “There was something about the design etched on it. I told him that the silver was beautifully made and that I would like to get in direct contact with the craftsman for possibly more purchases. Unfortunately, he wouldn't answer my question about where he'd gotten it from and I didn't want to push the matter. The guy seemed to get a little spooked with me being so interested in Satedans."
While the Major told them of his encounter, Ronon stared at the wide silver band. He never thought that he would see such a thing ever again. The outside of the ring was masterfully designed with dark etchings of lines that swirled about and were made to look woven together. Inside the ring were words written in Satedan. The others wouldn't have known this for it looked to them much like the design on the outside of the ring. Ronon read silently to himself the inscription etched upon it - an old Satedan saying, "Your heart holds the truth."
Maj. Phillips shook his head when Ronon tried to return the item. "Naw, you keep it." The Major rubbed his hand over his military high-n-tight buzz cut and chuckled. “I don’t think I have enough hair for it.”
Smiling, Ronon silently nodded a thank you and placed the silver band in his coat pocket.
Maj. Phillips continued, "I don't know if the merchant had traded it for something else or really did get it off of a Satedan. I just thought you should know Ronon."
Turning to Elizabeth and John, the Maj. continued, "Seeing that he wasn’t going to talk, I canvased the market area asking questions about survivors and a non-existent planet.”
“And the answers to your questions were…” inquired Elizabeth.
“Most were really strange looks, Ma’am.”
“But?” interjected Sheppard.
“Well, there was one individual that was a bit more talkative than the others. I think it had to do with the fact that he was a rival of the jewelry merchant I bought the ring off of.” Then smiling a bit more mischievously said, “And a few coins in his pocket could have made the difference too.”
“The informant claims that the jewelry merchant who I got the ring off of knows how to get to this planet and the Satedan settlement. The merchant hops through different rings so as to cover his tracks.” Major Phillips shrugged and said, “That’s about it.”
"And he knows this how?" Ronon asked.
"It seems that the jeweler likes his drink. And he was slightly drunk when he supposedly spilled the beans about his merchandise and craftsmen."
"Thank you, Major. You may go." Sheppard said.
Before Phillips left the room he stopped adjacent to Ronon and said. “Hope you find what you’re looking for.” Then he left the three alone.
Once the officer was out of ear shot Ronon stated, "I'd like to go alone. This is something I need to do by myself. I'll have the handheld radio with me if anything goes wrong." Standing in front of John and looking down at him Ronon said, “I can go with or without your permission. I’d rather have it though.”
John looked at Ronon, then to Elizabeth who was standing next to him. When she nodded ever so slightly, John said, "I don't see anything wrong with that. It's just a recon mission – a personal recon mission – and besides nobody is dumb enough to fool with you."
"However, if it doesn't feel right, get back here asap. You understand?" Dr. Weir warned.
"Yeah. And we’re keeping this between us, right?” Ronon more or less stated.
“Roger that.” John confirmed.
“Of course, Ronon.” Elizabeth agreed.
As they made their way to the Star Gate, Ronon informed the two, “I don't want anyone to know about this – any of this! It could be all for nothing.”
“Understood, but if for any reason you get the feeling this is a trap.” John let the sentence hang.
"I know. Get my ass outta there.”
“Keep your guard up, Chewie! What with all the enemies that we've made over the years, can never be too careful. You never know, this could be a Geni scheme cooked up for some reason.”
“Okay dad. I got it!”
“Well, ya know….we kinda like havin' you around, Big Guy. We'd really miss ya if you didn't show back up after this.” John said slapping Ronon on the back.
Ronon didn’t miss the double edged meaning. Was this a trap of some kind? Was he walking into danger? Or would Ronon find his people. And if he did, would return to Atlantis?
Questions swirled around in his head as he walked through the Star Gate and towards his fate.
8 hours later
Ronon quietly sat in the far corner of the town's bustling tavern with his chair leaned back close to the wall – balancing it on two legs. A tankard of cheap ale sat on the table in front of him. His elbows rested on the arms of the wooden chair, his fingers laced together. The tan leather duster, that he occasionally wore, lay across his lap. The coat concealed his gun; which, at the moment, was snug in its holster. The backpack he brought along lay on the floor next to him.
He was waiting for one particular individual to enter the establishment. The gypsy merchant himself. The one that Major Phillips bought the silver band from. The one who had declared that the piece had been hand crafted by a Satedan artisan. Several planets back Ronon had found out that the man's name was Crieve. This Crieve was known to sell unique pieces of jewelry besides the average run-of-the-mill cheap trinkets as so many others sold.
Ronon was exhausted. Ever since he'd left Atlantis, he had been gate hopping from one planet to another – traveling from one town to the next. He was following every lead he could uncover about the merchant, his possible knowledge of Satedan survivors and a fucking non-existent planet. The town he was in now was Ronon's last stop. If he did not find any answers here, then he would shoot the proverbial wild goose he'd been chasing, then head back to Atlantis and into the arms of one beautiful blue-eyed doctor.
Ronon had paid the barkeep, rather well, for him to occupy the corner spot indefinitely. The tavern owner was thrilled for the extra under-the-table income, but he had been cautious of the big man. The barkeep had the notion that big warrior type men like Ronon brought along big trouble too. However, greed eventually won out over caution and the barkeep agreed to the deal. After all money was money, who cared how one came about it. So for the past two hours since arriving on NRI-4, Ronon had been watching through hooded eyes as the bar's clientele came and went.
Along with purchasing the seat at the table, Ronon also paid the barkeep handsomely for information about Crieve. Luckily the Fates were shining down upon him or the universe was in sync with him, either way, Ronon was hopeful that he'd caught a break in the search. According to the tavern owner, the merchant was due back sometime today. It seems that an order had been placed by a wealthy citizen for an expensive one-of-a-kind necklace that Crieve was delivering. Ronon was informed that after a big sale like this one, Crieve normally visited the tavern to celebrate his good fortune.
The barkeep described Crieve as being nearly the same height and build like Ronon but with long brown stringy hair and wintery-blue eyes that could pierce right through you. He sported a scar, barely an inch in length, on his left cheek. He dressed like one of the Kultara tribes. The Kultara were rather like nomads; they were a people that rarely stayed in one spot too long. They wore dull brown hooded robes cinched at the waist with a red sash. Crieve was all about peace. He hated to fight or so the rumors went.
With his attention focused on the entrance of the tavern, Ronon vaguely noticed one of the tavern wenches coming up to his table. The same one that had visited his table for the third time in the past hour. She probably came to see, once again, if he needed a refill. Ronon frowned because along with paying for the spot, he had also paid not to be disturbed. He was guessing the tavern wench hadn't gotten that particular memo yet or else loved playing with disaster.
The woman stood off to the side of him. Ronon quickly glanced at her. She wore a very low cut white blouse, which left nothing to the imagination, and a scarlet red thigh high slit skirt. Turning his attention back to the door, Ronon gruffly asked, "Do you know of this merchant – Crieve?"
She smiled at him. "Maybe." was her coy reply. She sat her pitcher of ale down next to his tankard and ran a finger along the table as her hips swayed suggestively.
"What do you know?" he asked. Ronon was in no mood to be playing games.
"What do you have to offer for such information?" she asked as her eyes looked him up and down nearly devouring him.
Ronon reached into the side pocket of his vest and pulled out a few coins, tossing them onto the table.
"That's a good start," she said while ignoring the money, "But that's not what I had in mind." Taking a step closer to him, the woman trailed her finger starting from his knee to mid-thigh. Her finger skimmed the leather coat and continued its journey up Ronon's arm. "With someone as handsome as yourself, we could work something out. Yes?" When she got half way to his shoulder, Ronon's hand shot out and seized hold her wrist. It was done so fast the woman gasped – not from pain but shock. Ronon finally turned his attention to the woman. His cold gaze spoke volumes such as I'm not in the fuckin' mood. He simply said, "Leave." Ronon surmised that the wench didn't have any information that would help. She just wanted to get laid.
With the glare that he gave her, she knew that he meant business and so with a frown she swiftly scooped up the coins and left Ronon alone. This one was dangerous, she thought as she left, too bad he was so serious.
As Ronon watched her storm off, two men came up to his right. "We hear you're looking for Crieve." a pudgy middle aged fellow said.
Ronon did not say anything but just looked them over. The one closest to him, and that had asked the question, was heavy set, short and bald. His companion was of a thin build with lean hawkish features. Both were a scruffy looking pair. Both posed no threat to Ronon.
When Ronon made no comment the pudgy man continued, "Well, we might be looking for him too is the reason I'm asking ya see."
"What for?" asked Ronon
"Oh let's just say he owes us." The taller man said.
"Yeah," the bald man added, "He's got something we want back!"
The thin man pulled over a chair from another table - making himself at home. He informed Ronon, "So we're just going to wait here with you – if that's okay, hmmm?" It was more or less a statement rather than a question.
Before the man could sit down Ronon declared in a soft but deadly tone, "I suggest that you find somewhere else to sit and wait. I'm not up for company at the moment." he warned the two imbeciles.
Ronon was tired and in a foul mood as it was; he did not need any more aggravation especially from the likes of these two.
"Oh well that's not very friendly of you! Is it Pelay." the chubby one, who was still standing to the side of Ronon, said pulling a knife from his waist.
Pelay snickered and said, "No it isn't!" and started to sit down in the chair he had settled next to Ronon's table.
Ronon uncovered his gun without taking his eyes off of the two. Placing his hand upon the butt of the weapon Ronon said, "Who wants to be the first to die?"
Both of their faces went from cocky to stone-cold sober at Ronon's deadly question. The two misfits were debating whether they could take on the giant with the big gun, but what little common sense they had between the two of them won out.
"Com'n E'dru." Pelay said pushing the chair away from him. He grabbed his bald companion's shirt sleeve, "we'll wait by the bar. It's more friendly over there!" The scrawny man left Ronon be.
E'dru sheathed his knife and just stared at Ronon then sneered, "Next time." He turned and joined his friend.
Ronon decided that he'd had enough sitting around waiting for this Crieve to show. He thought his best bet would be to canvas the market for information. So Ronon donned his coat and grabbed his backpack from underneath the table. As he slung it over his shoulder, he noticed the tavern wench from before trying to sneak out the back door of the tavern unnoticed. His instincts had him following her.
The tavern girl kept to the shadows of the building and disappeared down an ally. Ronon was close behind. When he looked around the corner, he saw the woman talking to a man dressed in a brown robe with a red sash. Crieve!"
Facing the couple, Ronon stood blocking the exit of the alleyway. "You certainly are a hard man to find, Crieve." he declared.
From behind Ronon another voice seconded his statement, "Yes you are. Now where is our merchandise?"
Swiftly turning around Ronon saw Pelay and E'dru with swords drawn; ready to do battle. Well, today just got a little more exciting.
As Ronon took a few steps back from the sword wielding idiots, he slowly un-holstered his gun – which for now was set to stun – and held it down by his side. He positioned himself with his back against one of the alley walls. The two halfwits were to his right and Crieve along with the girl to his left. Ronon watched and listened to their conversation.
"Pelay. E'dru. Long time no see." Crieve said while placing himself in front of the frightened bar maid. Ronon noticed that he was navigating her towards a pile of overstuffed grain sacks by backing up and moving to his right. The girl wasn't stupid. She realized that the situation could become dangerous and so she quickly took cover.
"What brings you two assholes here?" Crieve asked smiling. However the smile did not show warmth in those ice blue eyes of his. The barkeep was right. Those eyes could pierce right through someone's soul and place within it deadly fear. "I see you have acquired another partner." Nodding his head towards Ronon but never taking his eyes off of Pelay and E'dru.
Taking a step forward Pelay stated, "He's no partner of ours. Seems he's been looking for you too. Did he take some of your merchandise to friend?"
Ronon said nothing but glared at the scrawny man; it took all he had to keep himself from shooting the little prick.
"Crieve, you know exactly what we're here for. You've got something that belongs to us." He motioned to E'dru and himself. "And we want it back now!"
"Now fellas you know the woman wasn't yours to begin with."
"We three caught her fair and square. Then you had to get all self-righteous and love struck over the bitch." E'dru said in disgust.
Woman? Frowning Ronon ground out, "You three are flesh peddlers?" His inner beast was stirring. Flesh peddlers were scum. They would kidnap women and sell them to the highest bidder before or after they had their way with them.
"Oh yeah! Damn good ones too." Pelay said. "We came upon a ragged bunch some 6 years ago. Nearly 100 - men, women, children. The women were all ripe for the taking!"
E'dru stated, "By the gods, we had hit the mother load! The men of the group were either too old or too young to protect the women. It was an easy mark. Unfortunately there were only three of us to capture what we needed. So we had to choose the best of the lot."
Pelay was nearly drooling as he spoke, "Yeah. Yeah. There was this one, you see, who stood out amongst the rest. She had long silky hair black like a raven's wing and a body to die for. This woman had flawless skin that was so soft to the touch."
E'dru began, "And her face..."
Pelay chimed in, "Men would go to war for a face such as hers. Her eyes were dark emeralds and her lips were like the ripest berries just waiting to be tasted. Oh so perfect."
As the two men told their story, the beast within Ronon became more agitated. He fought with his anger and disgust to whether or not to keep the gun on stun or switch it to kill and rid this world of them.
E'dru dreamily spoke, "She was the most beautiful creature we'd ever seen in our line of work. In our entire lives."
Looking past Ronon, Pelay wickedly grinned and said, "She had a mouth on her that could be taught many talents - especially the kind on her knees." Both men laughed at that.
Ronon was about to stun the filthy bastards when he heard a Satedan war cry from Crieve. Confused, Ronon watched as Crieve slowly untied the sash from around his waist, then shrugged off the plain robes. Underneath he was dressed all in black. From his leather boots, pants and vest. Leather gauntlets covered his forearms. Reaching behind him he withdrew a rather large wicked looking sword - which had the same intricate designs as one of Ronon's dagger.
He looked at the merchant and the expression on his face even had Ronon on guard. Crieve said nothing. He was trying to contain the anger that threatened to spill forth at any moment.
The idiots kept goading the man by continuing to tell their story to Ronon. Oblivious of the danger they were courting.
"We had captured four of the females and had successfully taken them to the trading auction on Zempora." E'dru informed Ronon.
"We were to be rich men until this one", Pelay pointed his sword at Crieve, "grew a conscience! He took the bitches back to where we found them, but when we went to get them back the next day the whole place was deserted."
"Now thanks to you, you fucking bastard, we have Giard after us since he was to purchase the girl for a handsome sum."
Crieve finally spoke, "Well if you had given the money back and called off the deal, your lives would not be in danger. Very simple, for a couple of simpletons!"
"No the way I see it", Pelay sneered, "is that you give us the girl where ever you've gotten her hid and then we kill you and then we'll be even. She was to bring a nice price, Crieve. You cheated us out of our money. We're here to get back what belongs to us!"
"Hate to break the bad news to you fellas, but she has been taken."
"Taken?" Both men said simultaneously.
"She's been bonded." Crieve smiled and this time the smile reached his eyes.
"We want the Satedan bitch Crieve. Where have you hidden her."
At that last statement Ronon raised his gun to the two men while keeping an eye on the other. "Satedan?"
"Yeah, the group we captured was diffently Satedans. He stole our most prized female – a young, very pretty Satedan"
Ronon's heart was racing. Could it be? "How do you know she was Satedan."
"Of the mark on her neck." Replied E'dru.
Ronon's coat and dreadlocks hid his mark so they had no clue that he was Satedan.
"That planet was culled by the Wraith years ago. The people no longer exist." declared Ronon.
"Apparently some survived and fled." Pelay responded.
Ronon had enough of the two scumbags. In quick succession, he stunned Pelay and E'dru into silence. Ronon then turned his weapon and attention on Crieve who was standing staring at Ronon.
Seeing her chance the barmaid ran past the two men and back to the tavern.
The two warriors glared at each other until Crieve broke the silence by saying, "You are from the house of Al'drid"
Shocked, Ronon demanded "How do you know that?!" He raised and aimed his gun at the merchant.
"You have been tracking me for nearly half a day now. I had thought it was for the necklace I was to deliver here, until I saw your tattoo a couple towns back.
Ronon raised his hand to the mark on his neck. The tattoo that declared that he was from the house of Al'drid - one of the oldest families on Sateda or was one of the oldest.
Sighing, Crieve sheathed his weapon. "I can take you to your people."
"Why should I trust a flesh peddler?"
"Because I am bonded to a Satedan woman. And as a Satedan I give my word as a warrior that I will take you to your people or may my honor be stripped."
A warrior having his honor stripped was one of the most humiliating and disgraceful things to happen. It brought shame to the family.
Ronon thought for a moment, then holstered his gun. Looking at Crieve he said, "Lead the way, but take heed if you're leading me into a trap, I will not hesitate to kill you."
Crieve gave a chuckle, "If you were to kill me, my mate would be quite angry with you. And I assure you, you do not want her wrath focused on you."
Crieve could not stop laughing and Ronon had second thoughts about killing him just to shut him up.
Ronon followed Crieve from the alley way to the congested market place. People from many different cultures bartered, haggled, bought and/or sold nearly anything and everything an individual could possibly think of ever obtaining. There were vendors with fine silk cloth of every color imaginable, numerous carts filled with produce and meats, pastries and pies. There were hand carved statues, scented candles, hand-woven rugs, and many more things from across the galaxy here on display. All of which went unnoticed by Ronon. He walked close behind Crieve keeping a keen eye on him. At this moment in time he did not trust him. He was a flesh peddler or had been by his account. Either way, Ronon kept his guard up; keeping in mind this might be a trap of some sort. The two warriors shouldered their way through the crowd and away from the hustle and bustle of commerce.
Once outside the town limits, Ronon took stock of Crieve as they walked side by side in mutual silence to the Star Gate. Crieve once again wore the plain robe and red sash of the Kultara tribe. Ronon figured it was to conceal the outfit underneath. One doesn't take much notice of another dressed in drab clothing. However, if they were dressed ready to do battle with a big ass sword on display, then that could possibly cause some problems. It would seem his weapon of choice was a long narrow double-edged sword which he carried slung crossed his back with the hilt at his right shoulder within easy reach. Ronon had not seen any other weapons on the man, but that did not mean they did not exist.
Ronon noted that Crieve was nearly as tall as he was and built like a warrior - lean, muscular and powerful. The man's brown hair fell just past his broad shoulders. He sported three small braids - two plaited starting from his right temple and the other his left. Each braid had woven within them two thin red and black ribbons. As he'd seen with other cultures, Ronon assumed the braids showed rank or a status of some sort.
After a mile or so, Ronon finally spoke. "You're not Satedan by birth."
"No, I am not. I was born to a world long since gone now. Just as your planet, mine was destroyed by the Wraith also. Family and friends long since dead." Crieve spoke without any sorrow in his voice. He said it as if he were just stating a historical fact. "I am the last of my kind."
He continued, "I am Satedan by life bonding with one of your women. I adopted your culture which was not so different from my own." Crieve squinted one eye, thinking then said, "We have been bonded nearly over five summers now. She is a very spirited woman. Very opinionated. Very passionate." Crieve smiled, his arctic blue eyes seemed to brighten as he spoke of his mate. Chuckling he said, "The first time I laid eyes on her I knew that she was the one. I knew I had to have her, no matter what. However, it took her a bit longer to realize that we were meant to be together."
Sounded like another couple Ronon knew. "Why was she so reluctant?" he inquired.
"Well, my mate was the Satedan woman that Pelay, E'dru and I kinda kidnapped along with three of her friends."
Ronon stopped in his tracks. Glaring at the hated flesh peddler who also had stopped.
"When I went to steal her from the auction house she would not go. The crazy woman would not go! Not unless I helped her free her friends also. We had no time to waste before the guards that I paid would return. So I attempted to take her by force. Well she was not having none of that. Somehow she had smuggled in a knife."
"Did she gift you with that?", Ronon pointed to the scar on Crieve's cheek.
With a lop-sided grin, the man nodded his head yes. He seemed to relive the private moment, then said, "After lashing out and branding me as hers", sliding a finger over the faint scar, "I finally wrested the knife from her and the love struck fool that I was agreed to return them all. Once back at her camp, I knew the two village idiots would soon be coming after us. I convinced them all to come with me to a safe haven. All were skeptical, of course."
"And you won her over with your wit and charm?" Ronon sarcastically stated.
"But of course!" Crieve's face was stone cold serious just for a few seconds until he started laughing.
Ronon just glared at him.
Crieve continued, "She was argumentative. She kept telling me she knew what was best for her people. Stubborn wench that one! But finally she agreed and well the rest you know."
Starting to walk down the path again towards the Star Gate, Crieve spoke over his shoulder, "She made me want to be a better man. Let us just say I was not a very nice person until I met her." Ronon could relate to that also. Jennifer made him want to be a better man just to please her.
Ronon fell into step with him and asked, "So those two dumb asses have been tracking you for six years trying to get this woman back?"
Ronon wondered about the beauty this woman possessed to have men still tracking her for all this time.
They finally made it to the Star Gate and stood next to the DHD.
Focusing on the situation at hand Ronon asked, "You took the group of Satedans some place safe? Some place," Ronon couldn't believe he was about to say it, "that doesn't exist?"
Crieve had a devilish smile on his face. "A planet that does not exist. Makes you wonder, no?"
"Makes me wonder what the hell you're up too!"
"Still you do not trust me, friend?"
"No. And stop calling me your friend before I blow your fool head off!" As Ronon spoke, he placed his hand upon the butt of the gun.
Raising his hands in compliance Crieve said, "Well, my friend - um...sorry - let me show you the way to no where!" Crieve slowly pulled from his robe pocket a slender red crystal. He held it up for Ronon to see but just enough out of reach. "This is the key to our survival. Your people's survival!"
When Ronon frowned, the man continued, "I acquired this rare gem some time back.", he said while holding the crystal up and twisting it back and forth. The sun's rays refracted through the crystal giving off several different shades of red. "The creators of these star rings made only a few of these or so legend has it, to escape if they were to be over powered by the Wraith or any other foe. This crystal would take them to a planet that would be undetectable by any and all technology."
"That's impossible. A Star Gate can only dial seven chevrons any more than that and there would be an overload of power. The system would fail."
Crieve smiled that lop-sided grin of his and wiggled his eyebrows. "Have faith my friend. Have faith."
"So how does it work?" Ronon being skeptical and cautious of Crieve, took a step closer. If he were to make a run for it, Ronon was ready.
"Well, I dial up the coordinates to the planet. You know the non-existent one like so." Crieve punched the coordinates in, the chevrons clicked into place one by one. Both men walked to stand in front of the DHD. Once the wormhole stabilized Crieve told Ronon, "Then I take the crystal and place it first into the event horizon and then step through."
Ronon was waiting on the man to touch the crystal to the event horizon, but he just stood there looking at Ronon.
"Before I am to take you to your people I am to ask you something."
"Do you have on you a silver band with a certain inscription on the inside of it?"
Frowning, Ronon pulled the silver band from his coat pocket and showed it to him.
Amazed, Crieve looked at it and said, "Well by the gods! The damned old crone was right!"
"Right about what?"
"Follow me and you will see." When Crieve touched the crystal to the event horizon it turned from blue to red. He then looked at Ronon and said, "Let's go home."
Even though Crieve said he was Satedan by life bonding to a Satedan woman, Ronon certainly wasn't taking any chances. Claiming to be Satedan and actually being one were two different things. Glaring at Crieve, Ronon unholstered his gun and gestured for him to go through first. Ronon was making damn sure that the bastard didn't have plans of deep-sixing his ass into space. Laughing and shaking his head, Crieve went through without any hesitation. After the merchant disappeared, Ronon quickly followed.
He was alert and had his gun at the ready when he emerged from the other side of the Star Gate. With a quick flip of his thumb, Ronon set the weapon to kill just in case there was an ambush or if Crieve finally decided to make his move. Ronon scanned the area for any threats. His keen senses did not pick up any signs of danger. Nothing. Nothing except Crieve casually standing several feet away by the DHD with his arms crossed over his chest and a smug look upon his face.
"Satisfied?" he said looking around then back at the gun wielding Satedan.
"And you would have trusted me if it'd been the other way around?" Ronon growled at the merchant.
Eying his traveling companion, Crieve leaned his head slightly to the left as if pondering the question then replied, "Not in a million years."
Satisfied only with the adequate answer, Ronon slowly holstered his weapon.
Walking up to the gate, Crieve touched the red crystal to the event horizon once again and the gate closed. He explained, "By shutting down the gate in this manner, the coordinates that I had entered are now erased from the DHD's memory on the other side. No worries about being followed. We have just simply disappeared." He placed the crystal back in the pocket of his robe, smiled and faced Ronon with his arms spread open wide and exclaimed, "Welcome to the New Sateda."
The late afternoon sun shown down upon them. A light wind escorted thin white clouds lazily across a polished blue sky. Ronon looked the terrain over. It was like any other habitable planet he'd been to before - nothing special.
Standing next to the Star Gate, he saw rolling green hills and valleys to his right. In the distance he could see snow-capped mountains. To his left there stood a massive dense forest. The wind brought the smell of an ocean not too far off. A small flock of birds flew chattering over head. Ronon noticed several deer peeking out of the forest before the scent of the two men had them scurrying back for cover.
New Sateda. Ronon was excited but still very skeptical.
Shucking off the robe and sash, Crieve flung them over his left shoulder. "No need for these anymore. Now are you ready to meet your people?" Frowning and looking at Ronon he asked, "I do not even know your name."
"And there's no need for you to; not until I see for myself that this isn't some sort of trap you're leading me into."
"Trap?" Crieve sounded insulted. "You were looking for me, remember? If anything, I should be weary of you."
Both men faced each other. The unspoken truce between them was on shaky ground. A muscle in Crieve's jaw ticked as he glared at Ronon who had his hands fisted by his sides. Each daring the other to make the first move. Finally the tension was broken when Crieve stepped back, mumbled something about keeping a promise then turned and started walking down a well worn path away from the gate. Ronon thought the merchant referred to the alley way and the promise made there, but the look on his face before he turned away had Ronon doubting it.
"How far to this settlement?"
"Nearly six leagues from here." Crieve replied over his shoulder.
Looking up at the single sun in the afternoon sky, he added, "We better hurry. I would like to make it back home before dark. My wife gets quite lonely without me and I have been away from her for far too long." He chuckled to himself as he strode along the path.
As before the two men walked in mutual silence for most of the way. Finally Ronon's curiosity got the better of him and asked one of the many questions tumbling around in his head, "Are there any men my age among the survivors?"
"Not many. As E'dru had mentioned before, the men were either to old or too young when we came upon them those six years past. Out of the nearly 100 Satedans maybe eight were warriors in their prime as you are now. Luckily for us, that day most were out hunting game and the four women were off alone away from the camp and their protectors."
"So the rumor is true? There are nearly one hundred of my people?" A hundred out of millions! Ronon thought.
Crieve remained silent to the point where Ronon thought he hadn't heard the question.
Eventually Crieve softly spoke, "There were a little over that number when all came to live here. However, with the hardships endured - constantly moving from planet to planet, little to no food or water during that time and just the heartbreak of losing everything - nearly 25 to 30 people died the first year here. Another 10 or so the next. Some died by natural causes and others by their own hands."
Ronon frowned. He couldn't believe that any true Satedan would take their own life. They were a proud people. Honor above all else. However, that was before the wraith; before everything was stripped from them.
Crieve shrugged, "As we both know, life happens. Old ones die. New are born. The community is growing on its own now. Births are beginning to out number deaths. " Crieve smiled at the latter statement. "And when I travel for supplies, I also search for other Satedans."
"Have you found more." Ronon asked with some measure of hope.
"Unfortunately, no. You are the only one I have come across in all this time."
Crieve suddenly stopped at the base of a hill. "Do you hear that?" the man asked excitedly.
Ronon tensed and looked around for danger; his hand resting on the butt of his gun. He saw nothing out of the sorts, but heard a slight roar of a river. He looked at Crieve who had a huge grin on his face, he clasped Ronon on his shoulder and said, "Just over that hill are your people and your destiny." Without another word, Crieve sprinted the short distance to the top of the hill. As he looked down to the other side, his face lit up.
Ronon cautiously followed. He kept his eyes on the other man as he crested the hill, then turned his attention to the valley below them. What Ronon saw took his breath away.
A river that started several miles up a small mountain stair-stepped its way down at different intervals towards the valley below. Once closer to the base of the mountain, the water fell a good 300 feet over a rock ledge creating a spectacular waterfall. Faint rainbows danced above the mist as the river fell and collected into a small crystal blue lake which then drained off into a slow flowing river that cut through the lush valley. Ronon expected that the river drained out to the nearby ocean.
Ronon saw people swimming in the lake, women washing clothes along the rocky edge of the waterfall and children playing throughout the village. Their laughter brought a smile to his face and hope to his soul.
"Welcome home!" Crieve stated as he walked down the slope of the hill and onto a dirt road leading into the settlement. He turned and saw Ronon still standing in the same spot. Crieve yelled over his shoulder, "You coming? Are you not in the least bit interested of who you might find here?"
So many emotions washed over Ronon as he stood awestruck at the sight of the tiny village below. He felt elated that he might have finally found people of his own kind. He felt sadness and regret too. Sadness that there hadn't been more who survived the devastation and regret that he had not been a part of the group from the very beginning.
Along with feeling this way, Ronon was also extremely cautious and on guard as he watched Crieve descend the hill. There was still a part of him that did not trust the man completely. He was hiding something. In the end, Ronon thought, this all could possibly be an elaborate trap.
Scanning the area with a keen military eye, Ronon took note that the settlement had been situated in a crook of the steep mountain. No enemy was going to attack the village from behind nor was it going to attack from either side. The people had built the settlement so that the base of the mountain nearly surrounded it. They used the mountain itself as a natural barrier. If an enemy were to attack from the front, it would have to cross the river – which would slow it down – and then make its way through a narrow out-cropping of solid rock. The enemy would have to march its troops through the narrow passage way which then would force it to become bottle-necked and slow its advance. With this natural line of defense, it would take fewer Satedans to defend the village if they were ever set upon by a foe. It was a smart strategic move, Ronon thought. He also wondered if it had been Crieve's idea.
Ronon let his gaze travel over the area. He noticed a large structure that seemed to be the heart of activity for the small community. The building was closest to the mountain and had been built on a rise which had it overlooking everything. For extra protection, a wooden fence nearly ten feet tall, surrounded it. The gates were open wide and people came and went with purpose. Ronon concluded that the building was the people's last stand of defense if everything else failed them.
It seemed that the single story building had been erected from the timber harvested from the nearby woods. Its length was three times that of its width. Ronon estimated that it could easily house fifty people at once. Two massive stone chimneys stood guard on either side of the long house. Numerous windows were evenly spaced out along the length of the structure with their shutters open. Two heavy wooden doors graced the middle of the building and were also open wide to let the late summer breeze flow through the interior to cool it off and to air it out.
Off to the side of the Common structure was a slightly smaller building. It appeared to be the cooking area. Women toiled over fires and steaming kettles as children were tasked at turning the meat over the roasting spit. The breeze carried to Ronon the smell of food cooking – and his stomach growled in response. Ignoring his hunger, Ronon continued his analysis of the village.
Scattered outside of the wooden gates of the Common building were nearly twenty smaller structures. These were constructed from stone with the roofs made of earth and moss. A shuttered window or two along with a simple wooden door completed the house. Those structures seemed to be made for individual families.
Along the outskirts of the village sat a few outbuildings that resembled the long house but much smaller. Chickens and pigs could be seen in pens next to the barn-like building. Ronon heard the hammering of a smithy. The rhythmic 'tang' 'tang' of the hammer connecting with the anvil brought back memories of when he was a boy and spent summers with his grandparents.
They preferred to live in the country away from the city life. They sustained themselves on what they grew and what nature provided for them. Occasionally his mother's parents would leave their farm to come into the city to visit with Ronon and his siblings but not too often. His grandfather would always tell him that if nature did not provide it for you then you did not need it to begin with.
Scanning further past the buildings Ronon saw fields of golden grains and corn being harvested by men, women and children alike. He saw livestock - cattle, goats, and sheep - grazing in the emerald pasture lands and being tended by a few youths.
The sight of the rustic village below him was so surreal to Ronon. He was reminded of his world's long forgotten past – a past when life was much simpler. A past before his time, before the Wraith and before technology. His people were not as advanced as Atlantis – not many cultures were – but to see his people having been stripped of their hard earned progress was bitter-sweet. A lot had been lost the day the Wraith came but at least there were survivors that could begin again, he told himself.
Eager to get a closer look, Ronon jogged down the hill to come up alongside Crieve. The two men made their way to the village. Walking through the narrow passage way with its sheer cliffs on either side of them, Ronon once again admired the strategic move to build the village in such a well-protected place.
Once through to the other side, they passed people that were harvesting the fields. Everyone was curious at who entered the village along with Crieve. Some would stop their task to wave and say a greeting to the merchant, then just stand staring at Ronon before going back to their task.
Ronon was more than positive that these were his people by the mark of the Ny'dar. Most of the men wore the mark – their family's house glyph or crest – tattooed on the side of their necks like Ronon. It was or it had been law that once a male turned 13 they were considered a man and marked with the family symbol. Females were also to be marked but the placement of the tattoo was situated over their left shoulder. It was placed there because, once a female chose her mate, she then wore his family glyph on her neck. It was permanent because Satedan’s bonded for life. It was a decision not made lightly by either party.
Narrowing his gaze at Crieve, who walked a few steps ahead of him, Ronon wondered about what he had meant earlier by a possibility of finding someone Ronon once knew in the settlement. Before he could question the merchant, a young boy no more than 10 or so jumped out from behind some boulders and stood in front of them.
“Halt!” The boy spoke in a very authoritative voice. He brandished a wicked looking spear. It was aimed at the men who had abruptly stopped at the command. “What business do you have here?”
Ronon quickly looked over the boy. He wore just a pair of pants and his feet were bare. The boy’s long blond hair was tied back away from his face. Ronon surmised that the boy probably spent most of his time outside by the way his skin was a deep bronze color. His brown eyes held no play; he was being deadly serious with the question and the spear.
Crieve held up his hands in mock surrender and stated, “We come in peace. May we pass?”
The boy nodded his head toward Ronon and asked, “Who is he?”
“Hey. I’m Ronon. Ronon Dex. I’m…”
“Dex? From the house of Al'drid?” the boy asked astonished. He then looked at Crieve, “Is this the one mother sees in her dreams? You found him?” The boy took a cautious step forward, looking over Ronon, accessing him.
Ronon narrowed his eyes at the child then looked at Crieve. But before he could ask what the boy meant, Crieve intervened, “Enough Thane! Be off with you boy. Go tell the others that we have arrived. Go. Go!” Crieve waved his arms to shoo the boy off.
Taking one last look at Ronon, Thane turned and ran off to deliver the news.
“Come.” Crieve motioned for Ronon to follow as he started off again towards the village just a short distance away.
“What did he mean when he said his mother sees me in her dreams?”
The merchant kept walking.
“Crieve!” Ronon stated in a low threatening tone.
Ignoring Ronon’s question, the jeweler kept walking and without looking back spoke, “Come. The sun is fading behind the mountains, I am tired and I am starving. I will explain everything once we get home.”
Ronon hadn’t moved from his spot. Too many thoughts were swirling around in his head. Who was the boy’s mother? Did Ronon know her? Did she know him besides in her dreams? What was the dream about? Was it anything like his?
Ronon began walking the remaining distance to the village. There he would either find a trap or an explanation; but, whichever one, his questions would be answered this day or someone was going to pay the price.
It was nearing dusk as the day's fading sun grudgingly relinquished its rule of the summer sky over to the ascending twin moons. For the briefest of moments the heavenly bodies shared the encroaching night before the sun finally departed behind the ever vigilant mountain. By the time Ronon and Crieve made their way through the gates of the stronghold that surrounded the Common House the warmth of the day was gradually being chased away by the mountain's shadow.
The court yard was a buzz with activity. Ronon watched as people went about their chores. Some lit torches to illuminate the outside area, others rang dinner bells to indicate to the surrounding area that it was time to come and eat. Still others came from the cooking area carrying heavy trays laden with food while others were getting tables ready inside the lodge for what looked like a feast. It seemed everyone was assigned a task and it was all done proficiently. Not too far away Ronon caught sight of Crieve greeting people through all the hustle and bustle. They laughed, shook his hand and patted him on the back in a friendly welcome home gesture. It seemed the people trusted the merchant.
Scanning the area a certain group of villagers caught Ronon's eye. They were standing off to the side near the fortress gates. The villagers were whispering amongst themselves and casting suspicious looks at Ronon. The group fidgeted when he glared at them overly long. He started walking over to them when Ronon's attention was suddenly drawn to the doorway of the Common House. Nearly a dozen overly excited children came spilling out of the building. They immediately honed in on Ronon and Crieve. The men braced themselves for the onslaught. The children jumped up and down, touching and tugging at the men's clothes. They were in awe at seeing Ronon because they had never seen such a giant before in their lives.
Sensing after a moment that Ronon would not hurt them, the younglings squealed, laughed and danced all around the two men. Their laughter and playfulness caused the corners of Ronon's mouth to slightly curl into what possibly could be called a smile. He just stood taking everything all in. Ronon did not think he would ever see again Satedan children experiencing joy and laughter; not after the destruction of their world. Ronon watched as Crieve greeted the children with playful teasing. He chased and grabbed for them which in turn had them running away, screaming and returning for more.
Looking towards the Common House Ronon noticed Thane remained in the doorway of the lodge. His arms were folded across his chest; his face held no emotion which made him look very serious and dangerous. He reminded Ronon of a mini Satedan warrior - cautious and ready to do battle in a split second.
Crieve picked up a little girl and tossed her high into the air. She giggled, squealed and yelled, "More Da-Da!"
Ronon took a closer look at the child. She was possibly 4 years old with jet black curls and eyes as wintery blue as her father's. Her cheeks were a rosy red from all of the excitement. The laughter of the children brought the adults to a halt of their chores taking in the joy of youth. Ronon remembered an old Satedan saying 'The most valuable treasure was that of a child and their laughter'.
"How is my lil one? Hmm? You have been good for your mother while I was away?"
"Yes Da-Da. I have been good. Thane has not." The little girl pouted prettily.
Crieve chuckled at that little information. "No? He has been bad?"
"Yes. He hid my doll from me again!"
The little girls silver eyes bore holes into her brother as he still stood in the doorway. "You must whip him father but not until he tells me where my doll is."
Trying to suppress the laughter Crieve mustered up as much seriousness as he could, "I shall talk to him lil one. I shall get to the bottom of this." Crieve tousled her ebony curls and said, "Lil Melena Da-Da will find your doll. Yes?"
The little girl nodded and smiled.
The color drained from Ronon's face upon hearing the child's name. Crieve had called the girl Melena. It was not a common Satedan name. What were the odds?
Taking control of the horrific memory of his Melena's last moments that threatened to overwhelm him, Ronon silently uttered, "Melena?"
Crieve put down the little girl so that she could go play with her friends. He looked at Ronon and said nothing.
"Is this some sort of sick game?" Ronon questioned.
"Game?" Crieve asked tilting his head puzzlement.
"Why name the child Melena?" Ronon demanded taking a step closer to Crieve his tone threatening. Feeling the tension between the two warriors the children backed away and sought protection from the adults that were gathering around the men.
"Because I am rather fond of the name." a soft female voice came from behind Ronon.
Ronon froze – his heart nearly pounding out of his chest. The familiar voice uttered behind him had the fine hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. It was a voice that he had not heard in nearly a decade – a voice that haunted his dreams and memories on occasion.
He swallowed and then slowly turned to see for himself the true owner of the voice. Standing in the doorway near Thane was a beautiful petite woman. Ronon's knees nearly buckled under him when he laid eyes on her.
"Alianna?" the name was just barely a whisper escaping from his lips.
The petite woman smiled, "Ronon."
Alianna walked the short distance to stand a few feet in front of Ronon. She looked him over not believing that the Satedan warrior that she knew and loved all her life actually stood before her. Ronon did the same. He looked her over from head to toe. Her long black hair was plaited in a braid that hung nearly to her waist. Unshed tears made her dark green eyes even darker. Her lips trembled as she looked at Ronon.
"I thought you were dead."
"And I you, sweet Alianna." Ronon said – his voice cracking with emotions.
They embraced each other trying to think back to happier times together. They hugged each other and thanked whatever gods there were in the universe for such a miracle.
"Ronon." she whispered softly. Now her tears fell down her cheeks. "It really is you." She placed a trembling hand upon his cheek still not believing he was really here.
The last time Ronon had seen Alianna was when the Wraith had come. She had been 18 then.
He wrapped his arms around her again. He had found his family. His actual blood family. He wasn't alone in the universe anymore. He had found Alianna, his baby sister.
"Brother" she whispered. "I only dared to dream for such a day."
Ronon stepped back to look over his little sister.
"You are with child!" he said surprised.
Laughing Alianna stated, "You were ever the astute one, big brother."
"You have bonded?" He looked at her neck but there was no Ny'dar there. "You are bonded, right?" He looked down at her swollen belly, then to her face. She was avoiding his gaze.
"Alianna? Who is responsible for this?" Ronon demanded to know.
Crieve was standing a few feet behind Ronon when he said, "Umm that would be me. I am responsible for putting the babe there."
Ronon turned to face the man who was dumb enough to be smiling with pride.
Ronon clinched and unclenched his fists at his sides. When he spoke he was barely able to contain his anger. "This is the woman you - - you fuckin' stole - -!"Ronon said in a deadly hushed tone.
Ronon was so angry that he was at a loss for words but not for action.
Before Crieve could answer the question, Ronon had nailed him with a right cross; solidly connecting with the man's jaw.
The punch had Crieve reeling back and to the side. He regained his balance and righted himself rather quickly. Moving his jaw back and forth to make sure it wasn't broken he spat blood onto the ground then wiping his mouth gingerly with the back of his hand, he smiled at Ronon. His wintery blue eyes twinkled wickedly as he exclaimed to Ronon "Is that the way you treat family? After all we are Brothers!"
Ronon saw red. He quickly unholstered his gun and aimed it at Crieve. "Time to say good-bye asshole!"
Shocked gasps from the people could be heard throughout the court yard as the furious Satedan drew his weapon. Adults began to frantically scurry about gathering up all the children and quickly usher them either into the Common House or out through the gates of the stronghold.
Ronon paid little heed to the villagers running for safety; they were none of his concern. His focus was on the bastard standing a couple yards in front of him; that was until his attention was drawn to a handful of foolhardy young males – no more than teenagers – trying to sneak up on him from behind. They were determined to defend one of their own. The boys were coming to Crieve's defense armed only with primitive spears and naïve bravado.
With a firm shake of his head, Crieve ordered them to draw back from the tense situation. He knew – without a doubt – that their fighting skills were no match against a seasoned warrior such as Ronon – with or without the deadly weapon he wielded. Reluctantly the young men dispersed but were at the ready just in case an opening to take down the enraged Satedan presented itself.
Now having Crieve dead in his sights, Ronon could feel the beast stir deep within him. He glared at the man who had the audacity to kidnap his sister years ago in the hopes of selling her to the highest bidder. She would have been passed around like some common whore – to be used and abused at will. The mere thought of what could have happened to Alianna if Crieve hadn't stolen her back had the beast clawing to get out. Ronon gripped his gun even tighter. His anger rising.
It did not help matters any that she was now heavy with child – Crieve's spawn no less. Ronon was positive that the bastard had forced himself on her since his sister would not, in her right mind, choose this piece of flesh peddling scum as a mate and father to her children. The beast roared its frustration. Ronon felt its thirst for blood – its need for revenge for the injustice done to his sister. The fucker needed to die - had to die - and the beast had no qualms with spilling Crieve's blood to make things right.
Ronon tried to gain control of the violent nature of the dark beast by thinking of Jennifer - his anchor; his compass. He desperately tried to recall the sound of her sweet voice, her gentle touch and her serene lake blue eyes; but, without her actually being there to sooth his inner madness, he felt himself losing his hold on his sanity. The beast within snarled its hatred at Crieve. It demanded to be set free. To extract justice!
Ronon was slowly squeezing the trigger, ready to put an end to the piece of shit, when Alianna appeared in front of him. He blinked several times before his sister's face came into focus. She had watched the situation escalate and knowing Ronon's temper from past experiences, she had run as fast as a pregnant woman could to put herself between the two men. She grabbed Ronon's wrist, which held the death dealing weapon, and tried to move it to the side. Ronon stayed the course and kept the gun trained on Crieve.
"Alianna! No! Get out of the way!" Crieve ordered. "Go inside with the others!"
Ignoring the man behind her, she focused her attention on her brother. "Ronon! Please, no!" she pleaded. Tears glistened in her eyes, "Please don't!"
"Move aside Alianna." Ronon demanded not taking his eyes off of Crieve. He placed his left hand upon her shoulder to gently move her out of the way.
As all three focused on each other, none of them saw Thane quietly sneak up behind Ronon with his knife drawn until it was too late. The boy pressed the tip of his blade just below Ronon's left rib cage and flank – a deadly strike to be sure. If the boy followed through with the strike, then Ronon would be soon dead. The Satedan warrior stiffened and turned his head to glance down at the boy who stood slightly behind him. Ronon's eyes held admiration for the courage the lad showed and annoyance because now he had to deal with this problem.
Crieve shouted for Thane to get out of the way for he knew the deadly strength Ronon possessed and that the warrior was close to losing control. He would have taken action against Ronon but now there were three lives at stake – Alianna, Thane and the unborn babe. If he tried something rash, he did not know what would happen to them, so he stood still waiting for an opportunity to make his move.
Alianna was still holding fast to her brother's wrist when she realized what Thane was up to. "Thane put the knife away! Now!" she sternly told the boy.
"He is a threat mother." He said while pushing the tip of the blade a bit further into Ronon's side. Thane knew he had pierced flesh and drawn blood because he saw Ronon's shirt starting to turn red, however, the massive warrior never gave any indication of the pain.
"Boy," Ronon finally spoke in a steady unemotional tone, "are you prepared to follow through?" Ronon's green eyes were dark with pent up emotion as he glared at the mini-warrior who still stood slightly behind him. "Have you killed anyone before?" Ronon questioned.
Thane did not say a word.
"To be a true Satedan Warrior" Ronon continued, "one must have honor. Killing another from behind holds no such honor. This is a coward's way. Is that what you are? A coward?"
Thane pursed his lips, gripped the handle of the knife tighter and took into consideration what Ronon had said.
"Put away your gun and I might let you live."
"Are you man enough to look your enemy in the eye and take their life? Are you prepared to do that?"
Thane thought a moment then moved so that he faced Ronon, the point of the blade still drawing blood from Ronon's side. Thane had to switch hands to get a better angle and when he did like a flash Ronon grasped the boy's wrist that held the blade. With strength that amazed even Crieve, Ronon lifted the boy a good foot up off the ground. He applied enough pressure so that Thane had to drop the knife or have his wrist shattered. Once the boy had dropped the knife Ronon took his boot and slid it closer to him. Ronon easily tossed the boy away from Alianna and himself. Thane stumbled then fell face first into the dirt but was up within seconds - eager to finish what he had started. However between the time Thane got back up Ronon had picked up the knife and tucked it away in his belt.
Before the boy could charge Ronon, a by-stander grabbed Thane and pulled him out of harm's way kicking and screaming.
Without looking at his sister, he still kept the gun trained on Crieve. Finally getting his anger under control Ronon spoke through clenched teeth to Alianna, "You are with child and are not yet bonded. He must die."
"I have asked her many times over to be my mate and she refuses. That is no fault of mine brother."
Ronon growled at being called brother and stepped forward.
"Ronon stop!" Alianna pleaded. "I do not want to be bonded."
"What?" Frowning Ronon looked down at his sister as if she'd lost her mind. "You what? I don't understand."
"This isn't the Sateda that we once grew up in. It is all gone. Things are different." She said as she urged him to put his gun away.
"You know the child cannot hold the title of Al'drid if you are not bonded to the father." Ronon informed her.
"If you haven't noticed brother there is no need to have titles any longer. Our world is gone." With her hand still holding his wrist she placed her other hand upon his chest. "Everything is gone."
Crieve made his way slowly to stand directly behind Alianna. He placed his hands protectively upon her shoulders.
Looking into his sister's emerald eyes, Ronon lowered his gun and holstered it.
After several minutes of thought Ronon finally stated, "No. The tradition stands. As the elder of the house of Al'drid I decree that you will bond with this…this low life flesh peddler."
Hearing what sounded like an ultimatum, she placed her hands on her hips and brought herself to her full height of five foot five. She glared at her older brother. Taking a few deep breathes she angrily stated while poking him in his chest with each word uttered, "Elder? Elder you say?!"
Ronon was shocked at his sister's demeanor. Crieve just rolled his eyes, shook his head and announced, "You stirred up the nest now dear brother." Crieve laughed at the puzzled look on Ronon's face – which was priceless – and cautiously took a few steps back.
"I'll have you know Elder Dex that I have been taking care of these people for a very long time. More or less all by myself. I did not need a man to protect me then nor do I need one now to tell me what I can or cannot do!" she fumed.
Crieve frowned at that statement but wisely kept his mouth shut and let his better half continue her hormonal rant.
"I got them to safety when the Wraith came. I fed them. Kept them clothed. Saw to it that they were always one step away from any type of foe. Organized everything!" Alianna was beside herself with anger being told what to do from a brother that just walked into her life just this afternoon.
Ronon simply stood there not knowing what to do or say. His inner beast had crawled deep within him wanting nothing to do with this type of confrontation.
Emotional tears rolled down her face as she continued, "I did things Ronon; things that I am not proud of just to keep these people alive. I made sacrifices."
Ronon frowned at what she'd meant by that and planned to ask her once she'd cooled down which by the looks of it could possibly be next week.
She continued, "And you have the nerve to stand there and proceed to order..." Alianna's face grimaced. "Oooohhh!" She placed her hands on her stomach and doubled over gasping in pain.
Both men were by her side in an instant.
"Alianna!" they said simultaneously.
"Is it time?" Ronon asked as he took hold of her arm to support her..
Crieve took hold of her other arm. "No" he replied, "Tis too soon." Concern laced his voice when he whispered, "My love."
"I just need to lay down a bit. I need to rest. Please take me home Crieve."
Alianna and Crieve's dwelling wasn't too far away. Thane followed. He too was worried for his mother.
Once at the front door of the house Alianna turned and faced the men. She pleaded with them to get along if not for her sake then for the babe.
Both Alpha Males reluctantly agreed to try and get along.
"Go find Melena and introduce her to her Uncle Ronon." Alianna told Crieve. "Thane go with them. Make sure they keep their promise."
"Yes mother I will." Thane gave Ronon a look that could had frightened a Wraith to death. He was beginning to like this boy more and more.
Alianna kissed Ronon's cheek and then she placed a kiss on Crieve's lips. Seeing the worry in his wintery blue eyes she reassured him that she and the babe were fine. "Just let me rest a bit. And remember no fighting!"
Both men nodded.
Alianna walked into the house and after closing the door behind her she smiled a mischievous smile.
The fear of her going into premature labor should settle down the two hot headed men until they got to know each other better.
Now, she thought, what to make for dinner - she was starving!
Hope you enjoyed this chapter. Sorry it was so long but I just couldn't stop writing! As always I would love to hear from you. Tell me what you think. Reviews motivate me to write more! Thanks again! ~DW~
Thanks for reading! Would love to hear from you guys. Let me know what you think.
New Sateda - 1 week later
Once again, the dream came to haunt his sleep for the third time since being here. It had awakened him shortly before the sun made its appearance in the eastern sky. Alianna and little Melena were still asleep. Thane awoke and left the house undetected or so he thought. Ronon was surprised the boy hadn't woke up everyone in the house with his fumbling about. Feigning sleep, Ronon heard every move the boy made. Thane needed some training on stealth. As for Crieve, he had not returned from an errand that he had left to run late last night. Ronon would talk to Alianna about it later when she awoke.
Getting dressed, he quietly left his sister's house to witness the village slowly coming to life. He watched as men went about their daily chores – feeding the livestock, herding sheep out to graze in the pasturelands, getting nets ready to fish in the nearby lake, and gathering materials together for the unending repairs to the surrounding buildings. He saw women getting breakfast ready for everyone at the Common House. They instructed groups of children to go gather eggs from the coops, bring milk up from the barn, and gather wood for the cook fires.
Ronon learned that the village as a whole shared in the morning and evening meals. This was because by having everything they loved and knew destroyed by the Wraith years ago the people did not want to take anything for granted ever again. This day – right now at this moment in time – could possibly be their last, so they honored the day by being together and sharing their meals. The mid-day meal however was normally shared by the families in their own private dwellings. Once again appreciating their time together for it could instantly be cut short.
Ronon recalled the first night here when he nearly killed Crieve. After leaving his sister to rest for a couple of hours, the men and Thane returned to find Alianna sitting down at the dining table eating. Looking up, she smiled at them. "How was your walk together?" she sweetly asked. Both men concluded, then and there, that they had been tricked into getting along. At their accusation, Alianna looked at them both with shocked innocence. She claimed that she felt much better and would they like something to eat too? After that incident Crieve and Ronon started to trust each other for Alianna's sake, if nothing else.
During his short stay here Ronon helped out the people by hunting, harvesting the crops, and building more dwellings for the expanding families. In the evenings he would tell them stories of his adventures with SGA and of his sister when she was little. More often than not the latter stories were usually cut short by a well thrown plate or cup at Ronon's head.
All in all Ronon felt comfortable being here with his people but the tug of Atlantis and Jennifer were growing stronger as the days went by. He had decided to stay until the babe was born which would be in a week or two. He hadn't told Alianna or the others of his plans yet; he didn't want to upset her, but his home was with Jennifer.
Ronon was brought back to the present when he heard an all too familiar sound. THWACK! The sound could be heard coming from the far edge of the village near the barns and a group of trees. It was the sound of some sort of weapon hitting a target – a knife more than likely. It was probably his nephew practicing what Ronon had showed him yester eve. With nothing else planned for the day, Ronon went to check it out.
Several months past Crieve had constructed a wooden panel wall nailed to a tree so that the boys who were coming of warrior age – fourteen summers and older – could practice throwing various weapons in their spare time. The practice area was situated close to a stand of pine trees and out of the way of the general public so as not to cause injury by a stray throw.
Thane was too young to train with the older boys, but that did not stop him. He would sneak out early in the mornings to practice. He wished to be a great warrior someday – now so more than ever after meeting his uncle Ronon.
The hunting knife Thane threw hit within the designated target but not within the center liked he had hoped. He kicked at the ground in anger while voicing his frustration out loud, "Shit!"
Thane stormed up to the wall and angrily yanked the weapon free. Marching back to where he had marked off ten feet, he grasped the knife by the end of the steel blade, drew back his arm to throw his weapon again when a flash flew past his head.
Shocked and in disbelief he stared at a rather large knife buried dead center of the target. The knife's hilt was still vibrating from the throw. The boy spun around to see who had thrown such a weapon and spied Ronon leaning casually against a tree. Thane was in awe. His uncle had thrown the blade from a good twenty-five feet away hitting the bulls-eye dead on.
"Close your mouth boy before your mother blames me for you choking on a bug or something." Ronon said with a serious look on his face as he walked past Thane to retrieve his weapon. Ronon hid his smile once he turned back towards his nephew; his blade in hand.
"Your stance is off. And you're thinking too much before you throw." Ronon instructed as he sheathed his knife.
"You know how far that was?" Thane craned his neck to look up at the giant Satedan with a wide-eyed stare.
"That was nothing. I once threw a blade a 100 yards hitting a Wraith right between the eyes. Dead instantly!"
Thane was captivated by his uncle and whispered, "Wow!"
"Did you then wake up brother from your dream of killing this so called Wraith at such a great distance?" Alianna said from behind them.
Looking at his sister Ronon sheepishly smiled at her, "Well it may not have been 100 yards, but" he shrugged then laughed out loud.
Turning his attention back to the boy Ronon placed his hand on Thane's shoulder and told him, "If you practice throwing the knife the correct way like I showed you yester eve, you should be a master in no time."
The boy grinned, turned, and using the moves Ronon had taught him, threw the blade. Even though it didn't hit dead center it was pretty damn close.
Ronon tousled the boy's hair, "Good job!"
Alianna gave her son a hug. The ten year old turned red faced and wiggled out of her embrace, "Mother!" he scolded.
"Oh sorry my apologies. I forgot such a warrior as yourself should not be shown affection - especially by his mother - in public. Very embarrassing to be sure. I shall try to remember that next time." Alianna held back the laughter and smiled at her son.
"Keep practicing boy. I'll come back later to see how you're doing."
Leaving Thane to his training, Alianna and Ronon walked along a path that lead to the edge of the waterfall. Ronon slowed his pace to match his sister's as she waddled her way along. Coming to some rocks she sat back upon them taking the extra weight off her feet and strained back.
Sighing she proclaimed, "If this child does not make his entrance into this world soon, I believe I will go insane." she said while rubbing her hands over her swollen belly.
"Mmmm...here." Smiling, she took Ronon's large hand and quickly placed it upon her stomach. Ronon's face was knitted in a frown then suddenly brightened in wonder a few seconds later when the tiny person from within kicked at his hand.
"He will grow to be a great warrior someday." Alianna stated.
"And how do you know this." he asked as he situated himself on a fallen log opposite her.
"I have seen it - dreamt it."
Ronon looked at her. She so resembled their mother to the point that they could had been twins. "So you inherited our Mother's gift of foresight."
Alianna nodded and looked at her brother. "I have also dreamt of a woman with hair the color of the sun. You are together? Mated? She belongs to you?" she inquired.
Ronon smiled, "She is special to me. I can't explain it. And no we are not bonded nor mated."
"You love her." She said matter of factly.
Alianna was silent for a while as she looked at Ronon.
"You are troubled. A dream haunts you – a dream of this woman and Melena."
Ronon picked up a few small stones, stood up and throwing them; skipped them over the smooth glass surface of the lake. Silence befell both siblings. Alianna waited for Ronon to gather his troubled thoughts.
He finally turned to her "I don't know what to make of it. Melena is dead; Jennifer is alive." Throwing the rest of the stones as hard as he could into the lake he demanded, "Why must I choose? There is no reason for me to choose!" Frustrated he started pacing.
"Ronon," Alianna said softly; cautiously, "The only way to know what the dream means for sure is to see the Vi'denus."
Abruptly stopping in front of his sister Ronon glared at her. Memories came flooding back that he had long ago buried. The last and only time that he had went to seek the advice of the Vi'denus was shortly before the Wraith invaded. Ronon had wanted to know the outcome of Melena and himself. He wanted to know if she was his one true mate.
Just thinking about the advice given to him by the Vi'denus still chilled him to the bone. He was told that she was not his true mate and if he bonded with Melena, then she would die and he would endlessly wander many lands being chased by evil.
Ronon had ignored the Vi'denus' advice and bonded with Melena soon after the meeting. He never told her of the warning he was given. They were happy for a while in their new life. Then several months later their world was destroyed, and the prophesy had come to fruition - Melena was dead and he was being chased by the Wraith.
With a look of disgust, Ronon firmly stated, "I hold no faith in such nonsense!" Wondering to himself if he had not ignored the advice, would Melena still be alive. "I will not go visit the Vi'denus.", he continued. "I will not go see an old fucking witch even if my life depended on it."
"And what if your woman's life depended on it? Would you then?" was Alianna's solemn reply.
"And what if your woman's life depended on it? Would you then?"
To Ronon's ears, the seriousness conveyed in those words was louder than the roar of the waterfall. And just as turbulent to his soul.
Alianna's inquiry also wreaked havoc on his state of mind by burrowing its way into his thoughts like some sort of parasite. Relentless. Annoying. And all-consuming. The only thing Ronon could think of now was the safety of Jennifer - his woman. During his time away had anything happened to her back at Atlantis? The beast within snarled its displeasure at such a thought.
Dropping to his knees, Ronon urged his sister, even pleaded with her, for an explanation regarding the cryptic warning. But whatever Alianna had seen in her visions, she kept to herself. All she would tell him was "You must go seek the Vi'denus, brother."
When Ronon realized that he was getting no where with his stubborn sibling, he growled his frustration. With hands clinched in fists of rage, he quickly stood up and stepped back from her. He would never hurt his sister - not as long as he drew breath - but right now all he was concerned with was Jennifer and her well-being.
Ronon breathed deeply to control his anger; relaxing his hands, he hastily formulated a plan. He would escort Alianna to her dwelling, then go in search of Crieve, and make him open the gate to NRI-4. From there he would travel back to Atlantis - back to Jennifer. Back to what was his. Ronon would return with her by his side in time for the birth of the babe.
That plan was shot to hell, however, when Alianna informed him that Crieve had traveled off-world late last night. She couldn't tell him why nor where because she herself did not know. Having been informed of that bit of news, Ronon wanted to shoot something - preferably Crieve who had the crystal which could open the gate. Ronon was stuck here with no way off this planet until the bastard returned.
The thing, which Ronon feared the most from the start of this mission, had just happened. A trap. An unintentional one; however, a trap nonetheless.
Ronon wrestled with his frustration as he paced once again.
After a few moments, Alianna calmly spoke, "You must go seek the Vi'denus."
Ronon stopped and glared at his sister upon hearing those damn words repeated.
Not one to be intimidated by another - especially her six-foot-five older brother - Alianna glared right back.
"What choice do you have Ronon?" she questioned while awkwardly pushing herself from the rock she'd been leaning against.
"You cannot leave until Crieve gets back anyway, so go find the answers you seek."
Ronon let her physically maneuver him in such a way that he now faced down river - away from the village.
Standing behind him she said, "The Vi'denus resides not but an hour's walk from here, deep in the southern forest." Alianna pushed at Ronon's back to get him walking, but he was like trying to move a brick wall - both were solid and going nowhere.
Alianna coyly peaked from behind her brother to try and gauge his temperament. With his head down and turned slightly towards her, she could see his face. He still was angry, but there was hope before he hid all emotions from his face.
"If you hurry, you can make it back before the evening meal." she enticed.
Reluctantly Ronon went in search of the Vi'denus, but not before making sure Alianna was back home safely.
The start of Ronon’s journey resembled a pleasant afternoon’s walk through a picturesque forest. Flowers of all colors had dotted the meadow that led up to the tree line; their sweet smell reminded him of the one waiting for him back on Atlantis – both in beauty and scent.
Entering the woods, Ronon barely noticed the birds that flew overhead or the small animals scurrying about the ground; everyone, animal and man alike, were too busy with their day to give each other a second glance. A slight westerly wind persuaded the branches of the trees high overhead to wave greetings to the bright blue sky.
Catching his scent upon the wind, several deer darted through the woods away from him; while others just stood staring with their soft brown eyes. If he had been on a hunt, a couple of the deer would be a part of tonight’s meal. However, Ronon was on another kind of hunt – that of the Vi’denus.
With no set path to follow, he kept the river to his right and the sun to his left. Just head south – his sister instructed him – you’ll find her. Or she’ll find you.
As he made his way through the scenic forest, Ronon tried to recall what he once knew of the Vi’denus. It had been years since he had even thought about them.
There had been several thousand on his home world; a small number compared to Sateda’s total population of 2 billion. He wondered how many were here on New Sateda now. He also wondered if the Vi’denus that Alianna had sent him in search of was the one from his past. If she was, could he keep himself from wrapping his hands around her neck and choking the life out of her for prophesizing Melena’s death?
The beast within was more than eager to go the choking route, but the man knew that it had not been her fault for his mate’s death. The Wraith had come and Melena happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. To the beast’s disappointment the decision was made – the witch would live; unless there was news of Jennifer’s demise, then the bitch would breathe no more.
Shuffling those thoughts off to the side, Ronon pulled forth more information from his past.
He remembered that the Vi’denusi were great mystics that lived in harmony with nature. They knew of the medicinal properties of all plant life and used those plants for healing, glimpses into other realms and, on rare occasions, for dark magic. If a person wanted their dreams interpreted or be told their possible futures, then they would have to come to the witch.
Ronon was curious how this particular Vi'denus survived being in close proximity of others while escaping Sateda on a space cruiser. The Vi’denusi were loners. They isolated themselves from others – even from their own kind. They chose to live that way because of their unique powers of prophecy. They had to stay away from large groups of people or they would be bombarded by the visions of everyone around them. From the stories Ronon had heard, it was very painful for them; and, very quickly, could drive a Vi'denus completely insane.
Their society was made up solely of women. No male born to them had the ability to prophesize and so was worthless. The mother would show some compassion and leave the male infant on a couple’s doorstep – preferably a childless couple – to be raised as their own. With a culture of only women, it was rumored that in order to conceive a child the Vi’denusi would seduce men to their beds, then vanish by morning’s dawn – never to be seen or heard from again.
The Vi’denusi were among the oldest living Satedans – at least they were a decade ago before the Wraith. So from generation to generation, the Vi'denusi passed along their knowledge of mysticism from mother to daughter.
Ronon’s rambling thoughts came to an end when he realized that his pace had slowed considerably. He had been walking due south when the area became extremely dense with over grown vegetation. It reminded him of a place he would have chosen back in his runner days – it was a good place to hide. Something or someone could be standing several feet away and no one would even know it. Stopping to rest a bit, Ronon rested his hand upon his weapon and looked around.
It was virtually impossible to get his bearings because the crowded, overlapping branches were acting as a shield that kept the warm nurturing sun from peering down into the woodland domain – a domain of decaying foliage and thick underbrush. The woods were so dense that the wind barely made its presence known causing the stale air to hang close to the ground enhancing the ever present stench of rotting soil. Twisted vines seemed to slither up the trunks of trees, trying to make their way to the top in order to see if the sun was real or just a myth.
Ronon gazed up at the thick green canopy. The majority of the trees were close to 100ft tall and it would take at least three adult men with their arms opened wide to span the circumference of the base of these majestic giants. There was no way to climb the trees unless one had a rope; and even then the nearest branches were a good forty feet from the ground.
He had been in this primitive gawd-forsaken forest for over an hour and still had not come across any signs of the Vi’denus or a dwelling.
He began to think that his sister was terrible with directions or perhaps playing some sort of prank. He was about to turn around when he spotted a faint narrow path cutting its way through the overcrowded trees. If it weren't for his keen eye sight and military skills, he would have missed it.
Standing completely still Ronon fell silent. He could hear the hypnotic ping of wind chimes not too far away and a lilting voice of a woman.
So with his hand still resting on his weapon, Ronon followed the trail. Soon it would be decided if a Vi’denus lived or died this day.
The beast was hoping for the latter.
Ronon unholstered his gun and checked to make sure the weapon was set to stun before following the narrow path. Being ever vigilant, he slowly weaved his way through the dark forest heading towards the faint duet of wind chimes and singing that his keen hearing had picked up.
After a half mile or so, the trail became a bit easier for Ronon's hulking frame to navigate. The trees and underbrush gradually thinned out. Pale shafts of sunlight gently caressed the rough peeling bark of the ancient living sentinels as it filtered down to the forest floor. Where darkness had loomed, brightness now governed – gone was the dreary feeling and stench of decay. To Ronon the forest once again offered a far more welcoming tone.
A little over a mile later, the path finally ended at the edge of a somewhat secluded clearing. As a precaution, Ronon stayed in the shadows while surveying the area.
Timber-land encircled the glen. Lush grass and wildflowers swayed gracefully back and forth in the gentle wind. Bees made their way from flower to flower gathering sweet nectar. While birds dipped, zigged and zagged through the air performing aerial acrobatics. Hundreds of dragon flies and other insects swarmed the area, darting all about, trying to avoid being snatched up by the ravenous dive bombing birds.
Just a few yards from Ronon, a shallow brook cut a winding track through the small narrow valley and disappeared further down the tree line. The unhurried movement of the brook was only hampered by the smooth river stones that unsuccessfully tried to block its determined path. The sound was a relaxing one. The water's pacifying song seemed to meld perfectly with the sporadic pings of the silver-toned wind chimes and the sweet-sounding voice of a woman.
Ronon felt a sense of inner peace wash over him, which had the beast within baring its teeth and growling softly. Closing his eyes, he mentally shook off the feeling. Focusing once again on the task at hand, he continued scanning the area.
Ronon noticed on the opposite side of the stream, further back, was nestled a tiny cottage. The exterior was a hodge-podge color of stone – light greys and dark browns with a few pale yellows peppered throughout for good measure. The roof was in need of some repair though. Ronon had spotted several holes in the thatched roof that required some type of container to catch the leaks whenever it rained. The cottage shutters and door were painted a brilliant red. The latter was swung wide open – giving the impression that any and all may enter.
Dark green ivy crept up the south side of the house – the side closest to the stream. The foliage clung to the stone wall, as if trying to consume the structure - trying to make the cottage its own. A stone walkway trailed from the stream to the open door. Wisps of smoke came from a blackened chimney on the opposite side of the house. He could smell food cooking. Someone definitely lived here.
Behind the cottage, Ronon caught sight of a rather large garden. A primitive fence - made up of saplings - surrounded it. The six foot poles crisscrossed each other and seemed to be used for an ornamental purpose rather than a functional one. The fence barely, if at all, protected the garden.
Turning his attention to locating the source of the singing, Ronon's hand gripped the handle of his gun a bit tighter. His brows knitted into a scowl. The late summer breeze played with two wind chimes. One hung from the eaves of the cottage and the other from a branch of a shade tree that grew near the cottage.
Those freaking chimes! He wanted nothing more than to shoot those damn hollow clanging tubes. Such an annoying sound, Ronon thought. He was still debating whether or not to flip his gun from stun to blast, when the source of the singing - which had now dwindled down to a soft hum - appeared.
A young woman, close to his sister's age, walked from behind the cottage. A produce laden basket was braced upon her shapely hip. The warrior watched as her dainty bare feet carried her and her burden to a weathered work bench situated under the shade tree.
Still hidden from sight, Ronon watched closely as she went about her business sorting through the vegetables, oblivious of being watched.
He regarded her with care - wondering if this was the Vi'denus his sister mentioned this morning. This woman was unlike any Satedan witch he had heard of and definitely was not the one he had visited all those years ago.
She wore a sleeveless dress that barely fell to her slim ankles and absolutely left nothing to the imagination. The pale blue material gently hugged her curves while the low-cut neckline – which fell open slightly – had her top-half nearly spilling out of the damn dress. A leather belt - which sported a small sheathed dagger - was cinched around her waist.
Ronon heard a soft jingling sound as she walked. He narrowed his eyes when he realized more damn chimes. This time though the annoyance was created by countless little sea shells sewn onto the dress. Strands of tiny shells also adorned her loose rich-copper tresses. Her thick hair cascaded in waves about her slender shoulders and down her back.
As she worked, the woman softly hummed a melody that was both soothing and haunting to Ronon. A melody that seemed to brush across his soul. And as she hummed, the gentle wind accompanied her by touching the wind chimes and urging them to sing along. The melody and mood of the tinkling ornaments seemed to match that of the woman – alluring, serene, and beautiful.
After her task was complete, she placed both hands on her hips; then, leaning backwards, she stretched trying to relieve the stiffness in her back. Her rich-copper hair slid well past her ass as she tilted her heart-shaped face up to the sky - arching her slender neck gracefully. Ronon shook his head and looked down at the ground – pissed at himself for getting sucked in by her beauty.
It certainly did not go unnoticed to Ronon how beautiful this woman was. This Vi'denus. This witch. He looked back up at where she stood. It was the way she carried herself – regal and self-assured – that gave her an air of power. And that, to Ronon, seemed more dangerous than the dagger she possessed.
The anger, the fear, his instinct - that which was Ronon's inner beast - rumbled its disdain for the Vi'denus. The beast felt something the man did not quite yet understand and was loath to share.
Deciding enough was enough, Ronon left the shadows and silently walked up behind the young woman. Standing no more than a few feet from her he was about to make his presence known when she unexpectedly turned to face him. Staring right at him, she did not seem frightened at all.
The woman's warm honey-colored eyes peered at him through long dark lashes. Tiny black swirls were tattooed near the corners of her eyes. The twin designs started at the corner of her eyes and ended just below the apples of her cheeks. The black tattoos along with her coppery red hair contrasted to her flawless porcelain skin.
Fearlessly standing in front of the towering Satedan warrior, the young witch raised a brow when Ronon growled his annoyance at the wind chimes hanging in the tree.
Her soft laughter had him quickly looking back at her. The coldness in his stare did not phase her a bit.
In a silky voice she pointed out, "The tones of the chimes call to those who are in need of my services." - her voice completed her beauty, he thought as she went on.
"They also help keep darkness and evil at bay." Turning back to her work she continued, "I believe, however, the chimes call and annoy you at the same time." She laughed again, "What an absolutely wonderful conundrum that makes for you!"
When she had turned once again to face him, she held up to her mouth a perfect red apple. Looking at him, she hesitated for a moment. It was as if she were trying to figure out a complex puzzle in record time. Finally she asked, "May I help you in some way warrior or did you just come here to stare at me?" The witch took a bite of the sweet fruit and waited.
Ronon narrowed his eyes, he did not know what to make of this woman. He wanted to ask her about the dream, get whatever answers he could and then be gone from here. Be gone from this non-existent planet. To go back home. Back to Jennifer.
"I'm here to seek advice from the Vi'derus.", he said looking towards the open door of the cottage, expecting any minute now for an older woman to appear.
"I am Vi'derus", she informed.
"No...the one I seek is older...much older", he said shaking his head.
Looking away, she replied, "That would be my mother or would had been. She left for the next realm a summer past. She is dead."
Running his hand over his face, Ronon turned to look out at the forest. He had hoped that this was the same Vi'derus from years past. It might well have been, but there was no way to know now. No way for him to get absolution for not listening to her prophecy. For not keeping Melena from getting killed. Guilt weighed on him even more.
Getting ready to leave, he felt a gentle touch on his arm. Turning, the young woman stood at his side. With a genuine smile upon her lovely face she said, "I can help you with your dream if you will let me, Ronon."
With that said, she turned and walked into the cottage. She did not glance back to see if he followed her. Of course he did.
If not to get to sort out his dream she thought then to find out how the hell she knew his name.
A sly smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. Soon they would each get what they both were in search of.
Night was soon coming.
And soon all would be as it should.
Ronon remained standing underneath the shade tree as the young Vi’denus disappeared through the open doorway of the cottage. He had stared at her through narrowed eyes as her hips swayed seductively under the form fitting dress. She never once turned to see if he followed her; for the young seductress knew he would, and that annoyed him tremendously.
So much so, that it took him a few minutes to become conscious of the fact that he was still staring at the entrance way; his breathing heavy. Casting his gaze to the ground, he breathed deeply – in and out – trying to get control over his mind and body. Both were equally traitorous at the moment.
Ronon realized that the Vi'denusi were notorious for enticing men to their beds. If his brief encounter with this woman was any indication, he now understood how easily the art of seduction was for them. A hesitant glance. A flirtatious smile. The slight teasing sway of their hips. A male could quickly become ensnared by a witch's subtle charms and beauty; just to be used, then set free by the morning's dawn to deal with the ramifications of a single night's folly.
Both, man and the inner beast, were alert to any dangers of enticement. Ronon would follow the witch to solve the riddle of his dream; to find answers to his questions. He would not, however, allow this woman to tarnish what he held most dear to his heart. He would never do anything that would jeopardize his relationship with Jennifer. Ronon silently vowed not to fall prey to the witch's charms. Her seduction. He would hold fast to his unspoken devotion to Jennifer. His cor'amare. His heart's love.
He made a lone pact between himself and whatever Fates existed. If he felt that at any time he was falling under her spell as to where he could not return, he would leave without getting the answers he so desperately sought. He would leave before the witch had him completely wrapped up in her web.
Or, he thought, he could just shoot the bitch. Either way, Ronon would stay true to Jennifer - his woman.
Meanwhile, in addition to the captivating siren, another threat was apparent. The Vi'denus called him by name and knew his reason for being here without him telling her. Ronon stood racking his brain as to how the witch possibly knew that.
Holding a tight rein on his thoughts and urges, he wondered if it was possible that they had met before on Sateda. Before the Wraith attacked? Seven plus years ago was a long time, but it could be possible that their paths had crossed, he grudgingly thought. But he did not know how.
Thinking hard upon the idea, Ronon was positive that he had never met this woman before in his life until now. He certainly would have remembered a creature with such beauty as she possessed. She could not have easily been forgotten - not even in passing. He could not remember, yet she acted as if they were old acquaintances.
He squeezed shut his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand, and took a deep breath. He had to concentrate. To think.
The Vi'denusi were not telepathic, he knew that. They could not read thoughts; just predict snippets of future events. There actually were a select few, he remembered, that also had the capability of contacting and communicating with souls living in the afterlife. These Vi'denusi were a rarity.
Was it possible that she was a different type of Vi'denus; one he had not heard of – one with special talents? He softly snorted. Special talents indeed. He was sure reading minds was not one of her many gifts; however, she was greatly endowed with others.
Opening his eyes, Ronon growled his frustration. He clenched his fist and clutched tightly to his gun with the other. He glared up at those damn clanging wind chimes. They swayed like her hips and rang through his head like a hypnotic cadence. He shook his head trying to clear his mind of her and the noise. It was becoming more difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. All he had to do was decipher the dream, return to the village, say his good-byes and gate back to Jennifer. He loosened the chain on the dark beast – his anger – which helped him get some control over himself.
Letting out a low rumbling growl from deep within, he pushed all reasoning aside, and against his better judgement followed her. Curiosity propelled him – curiosity and a need. A need to know, if she could help rid him of his dream – help him to make a choice. Who should he choose? Ronon was sure that the witch would give him the answer. One way or another he would get an answer.
Making his way towards the dwelling, his warrior instincts were on edge. The hairs on the back of his neck bristled. Ronon turned and scanned the area making sure that she did not have an accomplice or two hiding somewhere ready to ambush him. What were the odds that this was a trap of some sorts? Extremely high, he warned himself. Ronon stood just outside the doorway for a few moments more, then having decided that everything seemed safe enough; he holstered his gun, and entered the cottage.
Ronon had to duck his head as he passed through the doorway. His hulking frame dominated the rustic one room cottage and his towering height nearly had the top of his head skimming the crossbeams of the ceiling. Standing just inside the dwelling, his eyes slowly adjusted to the dimness of the interior. He looked around – taking in the quiet solace of her quarters.
Herbs and long stemmed flowers were in various stages of drying as they hung from the rafters overhead. The fragrance of the bundles permeated the room giving off a rather pleasant woodsy floral scent. To his right he noticed several wooden shelves that held numerous books which seemed to be well read by the looks of their tattered and faded covers. Next to the book shelves a small cupboard with stain glass doors held neatly organized jars, of what he assumed to be medicines – tonics, powders and elixirs.
A stone fireplace occupied the opposite wall. A small blackened cast-iron pot sat off to one side of the hearth with the smell of stew simmering. The fire’s smoldering embers kept the meal warm, while several logs burned slowly off to the other side of the fireplace warding off the soon to come night chill. Upon the mantle, more jars of dried herbs and powders along with two box lanterns which sat on opposite ends of each other finished off the meager decor.
A wooden table, with two mismatched chairs, was situated near an open window across from him. A slight breeze ruffled a vase of wild flowers that sat upon the table – their fragrance pleasing. Peaceful.
A narrow bed occupied the corner closest to the fireplace. A multicolored quilt covered the bed along with too many pillows for one person to sleep upon.
It seemed that there were various bleached skulls of small animals everywhere - on the beams, the window sills and shelves. Smaller chimes resembling the one's outside hung from the beams. These were made from bone, shells and sticks but equally as annoying as he bumped into them with his great height.
The entire place was well suited for a solitary soul, Ronon concluded. This place was perfect for a Vi'denus. A witch. A seductress.
At that thought, Ronon caught her looking at him with those honey-colored eyes as she stood next to the table.
The beast strained to be set free. Ronon struggled to keep control.
Grinding out through clenched teeth, Ronon demanded, “Who are you!” His voice gruff.
The witch just smiled sweetly and replied, “Come. Sit.”
She motioned to one of the chairs at the table, and then continued, “We have a lot to talk about.”
Ronon remained standing just inside the doorway. To his way of thinking, they actually had very little to talk about. A quick glimpse of his future then his dealings with the witch would cease. A question or two on his part; an explanation on hers, and that would be the end of it.
He ignored her request to sit, but instead, stared at her intently. Ronon's somber green eyes shone well past a level of fury; they now bore the resemblance of Death itself – cold, dark and merciless.
A low rumble came from deep within the man. The growl was certain proof that the beast strained against its bonds. Any fool – even a blind one – could pick up on the warning signs. What with his ridged stance, the rhythmic tic of the muscle in his jaw and the unholy expression etched upon his face, Ronon barely held the beast in check.
Had there been a colleague of Ronon's in the room, they would have immediately informed the witch that her life was in grave danger. Hell any sensible individual – friend or foe – who might wittiness that look - and who might also wanted to continue breathing - would have tread with caution.
However, at the current moment, there was only the witch and Ronon in the cottage. And this certain Vi'denus, with her unwavering smile, seemed oblivious to the danger. She looked so serene. So calm. Ronon's fingers twitched with the urge to wring the woman's pretty little neck for being so at peace. So in control. The briefest of sneers crossed his lips at the thought but was quickly gone before Ronon spoke again.
"I will ask but once more, woman." he commanded in his low resonating voice. "Who. Are. You?" He greatly emphasized the last three words to get his point across which was tell me sooner rather than later.
Narrowing his eyes, Ronon watched as she tilted her head slightly to one side. She seemed to be deciding on how much or how little information she planned to tell him. With a coy smile upon her beautiful face, she at least graced him with her name.
"My name is Dusana", she announced in a sultry voice.
"I am the last descendant of the House Au'den."
And with that said, she fluttered about the room, gathering together a mortar and pestle, a small wooden bowl, and various sized jars of herbs and powders from the cupboard. Then setting the items upon the table, she began measuring out the different ingredients – a pinch of this, a palm full of that. Her attention riveted to her task.
Taking a step towards her, Ronon continued in his dangerous do not fuck with me tone.
"How do you know me?" he inquired.
It seemed that Dusana again paid no attention to his question for she was too busy with her ritual of grinding, measuring and mixing. The urge to strangle the bitch flowed swiftly through him yet again. Ronon took yet another step closer to her, placing him at arm's length from her. If he wished, he could just grab her and shake her until she told him what he wanted to know.
While he considered that particular action, Dusana glanced over at him. Her honey-colored eyes followed Ronon’s hand as he placed it upon the grip of his gun. He had decided that shaking the answers out of her was not as much fun as scaring the answers out of her. However, the deliberate movement did not seem to bother her at all, he noted. She was either very stupid or very confident. Or both. Stupidly confident.
Once more Dusana tilted her head to one side considering his question before answering.
"We have met twice before, Ronon Dex."
She could see the great warrior trying to place her by sorting through his memories. Ronon's puzzled look had her grinning.
"You do not remember", Dusana said as she lay the pestle down upon the table.
Brushing her hands together to clean them, she flipped her copper hair back over her shoulder. Facing Ronon, she went on talking. "Of course you would not,” shaking her head and waving a delicate hand in the air, “It was many years ago,” she said absentmindedly as she made her way over to the hearth.
Dusana picked out a ruby red jar which sat upon the mantel and removed its shiny silver lid. Ronon watched as the witch poured a small amount of the jar's contents into her cupped hand. After placing the lid back tightly upon the jar, she tossed the herbs that she held in her hand into the fire. The dried plants flared for a second before being consumed by the flames. Straightening, she turned to face Ronon again, continuing, "Why would you? I was but a small child then. No more than seven summers in age."
"I was on an errand for my mother," she stood in between Ronon and the table, calling to mind the encounter. "It was the season of the rains.” the witch began as she absently played with one of her copper tresses.
“However, on this particular day the rain had stopped. Even with the sun shining brightly the street was a muddy mess. Anyway I was crossing one of the main streets of the city. I had not looked as carefully as I should before crossing."
Dusana's eyes focused on a memory of long ago, "I would had surely been run over and killed by the speeding vehicle if it were not for a young brave warrior who scooped me up and surely saved my life." With her thoughts returning to the present, she finished with a bright grin upon her face.
Ronon traveled back through his memories trying to recall such an incident. He remembered horsing around with his buddies from the academy one such day as they walked along the sidewalk. He remembered a young child crossing the street as a military class A schooner headed right for her. Out of instinct he ran and grabbed her. Spiriting the child to safety before a tragic accident occurred.
"You remember." she said clasping her hands together in delight. She had been watching his face while the memory formed in his mind.
"Vaguely.” Ronon mumbled. Her enthusiasm made him nervous.
“When was the second encounter?"”
"I was several years older when we next met -" she paused a bit and shrugged her slender shoulders, "- actually we did not really meet face to face." She laughed - a tinkling sounding laugh. "I was thirteen summers maybe then. My powers were starting to reveal themselves to me. Mother would not let me stay and watch as she glimpsed your future and that of your woman's."
Ronon remained silent; remembering that event with more clarity.
A soft sigh brought his attention back to the present and the young witch that stood before him.
"Please do sit”, Dusana coaxed. “Looking up at you at such a height is starting to give me a sore neck."
She motioned for him to take one of chairs as she sat down opposite him. Grudgingly Ronon did as she asked – his gaze traveled to the fireplace and the crackling logs. The flame’s soft orange glow was the only light illuminating the room because the night had chased the sun from its realm some time ago, Ronon realized. He slowly became mesmerized by the fire.
Frowning, he breathed in deeply to clear his head. The heady pungent smell of the herbs and flowers that she had thrown into the fire earlier surrounded him. Still staring at the hearth he became aware that he could not feel the fire’s warmth. A chill went through him – through to his very core.
Ronon tried to stand but his vision blurred. Sitting back down, he pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed tight his eyes. He shook his head to try and clear it but everything was distorted.
From a distance, he heard the dark beast growl. What the fuck?, his cluttered mind thought.
Ronon felt weak. He felt like all the muscles in his body had lost their power to move. He felt like he had sparred with the entire occupants of Atlantis and ran the entire length of it.
For the first time in his life as a warrior, if he had to fight right at this moment, he knew that he would lose. His mind seemed to be filled with shadows. What was wrong with him?
He would have physically jumped if his muscles would have obeyed his command because now the witch stood directly behind him. Her warm breath tickling his neck and cheek as she softly whispered his name close to his ear. Her hands rested upon his broad shoulders.
Closing his eyes, his mind raced. Wasn’t she just sitting in front of me? When did she get up to stand behind me?
Seeing him trying to figure out what was happening, Dusana confessed.
"The herbs.” she cooed next to his ear. “The herbs that I placed upon the fire earlier,” switching to the other side of his head, she continued. “They are a combination of things that I will not bore you with, but I assume by now you feel as weak as a newborn babe." She gently brushed a stray dreadlock from his face.
Ronon could only glare at her. Why wasn't she affected?, was his only thought he grasped onto.
“I am a Vi’denus. We are immune to such things.” she whispered as she ran a finger along his jaw.
Had he said that out loud or had she read his mind?
Ronon willed his muscles to respond as he clumsily reached for his gun.
“Oh! No, no, no. I will take that from you."
She brushed his hand aside and removed the huge weapon. It was heavier than what she thought. The warrior made it look so easy to use.
"I will just put this over here." She said walking over to the hearth and placing it upon the mantel. "You can have it later," looking him over, she devoured him with her eyes.
Dusana scurried about straightening up the cottage, putting things back in their places. All the while chatting to Ronon as if he were a close acquaintance who’d just come by for a casual visit.
"You do realize that it was my mother’s powers that brought you here?" she informed him as she placed the jars of herbs back in the cupboard. A giggle escaped her – a sound which grated on Ronon’s nerves.
Standing next to him, she pointed out cheerfully, “Her powers brought you to me!”
Leaning down, she whispered in his ear, “After all these years.” He growled when she ran a slender finger along his jaw.
Undeterred by his black mood, Dusana looked around the room. With her hands on her hips, she surveyed her handy work. The only thing she left sitting on the table after cleaning was the bowl of grounded mixed herbs.
With the cottage organized once again to her satisfaction, the witch bragged, "Even now as mother walks the death realm, she is still able to work her magik!" Everything was falling into place, she thought.
Ronon narrowed his eyes and glared at the Vi’denus, but said nothing.
Looking over the proud – and very pissed off – Satedan warrior, the witch mentally took assessment of him. He indeed was a fine specimen of male flesh in his prime. Strong. Masculine. Lethal. She smiled as she could feel her body respond to his essence.
Dusana had to caution herself though that he was dangerous. Her lips curled up. Oh so very dangerous, she thought. If the drug were to wear off before she got a chance to make him hers, he would surely end her life. But until then, she was going to have fun and enjoy herself.
Ronon sat at the table helpless, watching and listening. His vulnerability fueled the anger of the beast. Oh how it wanted to rip the witch’s throat out.
Mentally he brought forth Jennifer's image. His anchor.
"Why are you doing this?" Ronon finally ground out through his clinched jaw. Deep down he already knew the answer, but had to ask anyway.
"It is very simple sweet Ronon.” Placing her hands upon her stomach, she confessed, “I want a child and as you well know there are no males lurking in the woods-save one."
Positioning herself directly behind him, she placed her delicate hands upon Ronon’s shoulders. Her touch revolted him, but there was nothing he could do about it – for now.
Dusana revealed to Ronon how several months ago her mother – with the aid of Crieve – set out to find Ronon and lure him here. Her mother knew that he was still alive and that he lived in a bright shiny city.
“My mother knew that you used the ancient rings quite often to travel and so in using her powers of prophecy, knew just how to tempt you to me.”
One word traveled through Ronon's mind TRAP!
Still behind the man, Dusana reached over him and patted his vest pockets – first one then the other until she found what she was looking for. She held in her hand the silver Satedan ring that Major Phillips bought at the market then gave to Ronon.
With her breasts pressed against his back, the witch brought the side of her face close to his. Holding up the silver ring up for both to view, she murmured, “Ahhh, my mother’s silver bonding ring that my father gave her.” Her warm breath tickled his ear.
“He gave it to her before they became one, before they mated.” The dark beast roared his anger.
Turning her head, she kissed Ronon lightly upon the cheek, “Thank you for bringing it back to me.”
Ronon tried. He tried to move. He willed himself to move so that he might choke the life out of this infuriating woman, but it was useless. Whatever magik the demon witch cast had a tight grip on him.
Thinking about what she had just told him, Ronon mentally planned on killing Crieve right after he dispatched this bitch to hell. Then it dawned on him that his sister had sent him here. She had told him to seek out the Vi’denus. Alianna hinted that Jennifer’s life might be in danger. His sister wouldn't do this to him. She had to have been tricked such as he was.
Still holding the ring in front of him as she leaned against his back, the witch continued.
“Crieve came to see me in the wee early hours this morn. He told me that the man I sought was in the village, staying at his house no less. You could just imagine the delight I felt. It was then that I gave my blessing to his unborn child.”
She stood and walked to sit opposite Ronon. Placing the ring in the center of the table, Dusana looked at Ronon.
“He so wishes for a son.” she divulged.
“Crieve already has a son. Thane.” Ronon replied heatedly.
The witch wore a small frown upon her lovely face. "Oh dear me, your sister had not told you it seems.”
"Told me what, bitch."
Ignoring the insulting word, Dusana began toying with the silver engraved ring as she spoke, "Thane is not Crieve’s. You would have figured that out by counting the years and months. When Alianna met Crieve, Thane was just a wee one."
Ronon's brows knitted. Realizing the Vi'denus was correct. There was no way Crieve could be Thane's father.
Shaking her head slightly, she filled in the blanks for him. “Do you really believe they – the ones in command – would let just anyone aboard their shuttle craft when escaping the Wraith those many years ago?”
She stared at him for a brief moment, and then smiled. However, Ronon noticed that the smile did not reach her eyes as she continued, “A passenger would have to be very rich, very powerful or very useful in more ways than one to book passage on such a ship. Your sister, well shall we say, was a prize possession among the higher ranking officers aboard.”
Ronon willed his body to move. Demanded his muscle to work. He clenched his teeth so tight that the muscle in his jaw seemed to go into uncontrollably spasms.
He ground out, "You lie! It's a lie! Alianna would never…"
"Do not” she interrupted Ronon, “ever underestimate what one would or would not do for survival. Not when their lives or the lives of others depended on it."
"Who? Who was the bastard?!"
"I believe his name was Kell. Yes, Kell."
Ronon's blood ran cold. Kell, he was the bastard that ordered thousands of soldiers to their death just to save himself from the culling.
"Kell is Thane's father?" Ronon uttered the words softly. Denying such a thing possible, but knowing how true it could be.
The witch looked at Ronon for a moment then whispered, "Yes"
Ronon strained against his muscle. He tried to get up. He leaned with his forearms upon the table.
The witch was astonished, such strength and determination to fight the drug. Very impressive, she thought
Reaching into the bowl, Dusana took a generous pinch of the ground up herbs and placed them in the palm of her hand. She then blew the powder into Ronon’s face.
He coughed and shook his head. He tried not to breath in the powder, but it could not be helped.
Losing strength and sitting back down, Ronon's world began to spin around. He shook his head.
He heard the witch’s voice as if it were far off in the distance.
Trying to focus, he turned his gaze upon her as her image wavered in and out.
“You possess a strong will.” she stated as she got up from her chair. Keeping a keen eye on the warrior, Dusana walked around the table to stand at Ronon’s side. His arms still rested on the table with hands fisted and shoulders slumped, his head bowed.
He could not fathom how he stayed upright in the chair; what with the room spinning around him in such a manner.
“Wh…what…is…” he stammered as he raised his head.
“Shhhh…..” the young woman gently captured Ronon’s jaw and turned his face easily towards her.
His vision blurred. He tried to focus. Frowning he thought he saw Jennifer. How did she get here?
The beast within clawed, growled, snarled and snapped his jowls warning Ronon of the danger, but Ronon could not stay focused. He was slowly sinking into oblivion.
Dusana leaned down to steal a kiss from him. However, once her lips touched his it was as if Ronon had been scalded. Somehow he found the strength to jerk his head back away from her hold. Ronon focused and glared darkly at her.
The witch let out a small amused chuckle.
“Besides your strong will, something holds you back from surrendering to me.”
Ronon mumbled under his breath, “Dream. Must choose.” Was he saying these things out loud or thinking them. Shaking his head he tried to clear it.
Sitting back down at the table, Dusana took hold of Ronon’s hands.
“Show me Ronon this dream you mention. Show me so that I may rid you of the dream and of the hold your strong will has on you. Let me help you forget everything and everyone.”
With that Ronon sank into the welcoming darkness.
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Clawing his way out of the depths of darkness, Ronon slowly became aware that he was lying on his side upon a hard smooth surface. It was not the rough-hewn wooden floor of the cottage, but something more akin to marble, he thought. Ronon attempted to open his eyes but his lids felt very heavy.
Where was he? How did he get here? Had the witch placed him upon an altar of some sort? He dismissed that idea as quickly as it entered his muddled mind. There was no way the slip of a girl could lift him let alone carry him anywhere. And he knew from when he surveyed the glen earlier that there had not been any other persons around. So there could be no one to aid her.
Groaning, he rolled over onto his back and tried to get his bearings. Steadying his breathing, he focused on his mysterious surroundings. Ronon surmised that he was no longer in the cottage due to the fact that the music of the wind chimes or the crackling and popping of the fire could no longer be heard. All that could be heard was silence. Deafening silence.
Ronon had no concept of how much time had passed, if any at all.
Once again he attempted to open his eyes. They were still so heavy, but from sheer will he forced them open. Lifting his hand to his face, he began rubbing his eyes trying to get them to focus.
He realized then that he was able to move. Ronon was not restrained by the witch's drug anymore. He tested his muscles. They were a bit stiff and weak, but moved on their own accord.
Looking around he had been right. He was not in the cottage. He was in a vast room made up of shiny black stone. The room seemed to have no beginning or end - it went on forever. The interior was very dark. He could barely see his hand before his face. Slowly getting up, he stood on shaky legs. Ronon stood within a black void of nothingness and silence.
It felt like he was halfway in between a dream world and reality. Turning around in complete circles, he saw that there was absolutely nothing. No way of knowing which direction to head off to.
"Hello?...Hello?...Hello?" The echoing of his voice throughout the vastness was the only answer to his greeting.
Suddenly his attention was caught by a bright light far off in the distance. It started out as a tiny speck but grew bigger and brighter as it got closer to him. His hand automatically went for his gun, but it wasn't there. Neither was his knife. He stood ready; his warrior instincts on full alert. Ready to do battle if need be with his bare hands.
The light was becoming so bright that he had to shield his eyes from its brilliance.
Then he heard it. A familiar voice softly called out his name.
He knew that voice.
He tried to peer into the shining light, but still it was too intense.
As if sensing his discomfort, the light slowly began to dim; enough so that he saw a woman standing before him.
She wore a white flowing gown made from the finest Satedan silk. Her dark brown hair were pinned atop her head in cascading ringlets. A few stray curls escaped their bonds, framing her face.
Ronon frowned. It was like in his dream.
"Ronon." she called his name again.
His breath caught in his chest as he stared at the woman standing before him.
"Melena?" Ronon softly gasped. "How is this possible?" he remarked as he took a step back, "Tis a trick of the Vi'denus!" he angrily said.
"Nay, this is no trick nor an illusion of any kind." Her soft voice was reassuring.
"I am dead then?"
Melena's soft laughter was like a long forgotten melody to his ears.
"Nay, you are not dead either love." She took a step closer to him; her soft brown eyes warm and gentle as she looked up into his face.
"Then how can you be here. How can you be standing before me as you are." He hesitantly reached out his hand and brushed a stray curl from her face then tucked it behind her ear as he had done many times before.
Taking his large hand into her smaller ones, she placed a loving kiss upon the back of his hand. She then held it close to her heart, saying "We were given this small gift granted by the Fates to have one last brief moment together; to properly say our good-byes to one another."
Ronon's heart was racing. The woman that stood before him was his wife – his Melena. But that was impossible. He saw her die.
He reached out with his free hand and tenderly cupped her warm soft cheek. Melena closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, as she always had done .
"Melena is it truly you." Ronon whispered, still not believing what was happening.
Opening her eyes, she looked at him with those soft brown eyes and nodded, "Yes."
In an instant Ronon fell to his knees and wrapped his arms about her waist.
He hugged her tight as she cradled his head to her breast and ran her fingers through his hair. Leaning down she kissed the top of his head and rested her cheek there. Content.
"Forgive me?" he pleaded.
Lifting her head and placing her fingers underneath his chin, she guided his gaze to hers, "There is nothing to forgive." she said gently shaking her head.
"I am so sorry! I could not protect you!" His voice cracking. He buried his face into her gown. Tears of sorrow staining the material.
As she cupped his face in her hands, warm brown eyes stared intently into tear-filled green ones.
"We do not have much time Ronon."
His grip on her tightened. Shaking his head, "No!"
The tone of her voice left no thought of rebuke when she spoke again, "Listen. I know of the dream that haunts your sleep. For the dream to end Ronon you must let me go."
Ronon closed his eyes and a single tear ran down his cheek.
"There was nothing you could have done or said to have made me leave. I chose to stay and help others when the Wraith came. I, myself, chose to stay, Ronon. I made the choice."
Opening his eyes, he felt once again the helplessness of not being able to protect her from harm. The feeling was nearly unbearable even now.
"You must let go of the guilt which you harbor deep in your soul. There was nothing you could have done or said that would had changed my mind, my dearest Ronon."
Gently wiping away his tears from his face Melena continued, "And I believe deep down you know that. It is your strong stubborn pride that refuses to see it. You feel guilt because you felt helpless. And it is this guilt that torments you so."
She continued, smiling down at him, "You know the one in your dream which you must choose."
She urged him to his feet. Looking up at him, she beamed, "I am happy Ronon. You need not worry for me. You need but let me go so that you may live your life."
Ronon placed his hands on either side of her face - committing her beauty to memory. Oh how he missed her.
"Your heart still holds on to what we had together. But now another has come into your life. Another that completes your soul. She is your other half. You have found a woman and she makes you happy. "
At the thought of Jennifer, a genuine smile crossed his face.
"What we had Ronon was special. However, what you have with Jennifer is something beyond understanding. It is something beyond our comprehension. You both are Ta'Li Dhulsa."
Frowning. "I don't understand"
"The Fates have granted you..." Melena halted. She looked around becoming nervous.
"What is it?" Sensing nothing, he turned his attention back to Melena.
"Ronon, listen to me. We haven't much time.", Melena said urgently.
"No!" He wanted more time with her.
"Shhhh, my love!" placing her finger upon his lips to quiet him. "Always remember. I love you. I will always love you, but for now you must live your life."
"But the dream. I have to choose."
"You already know the answer. And besides, there is no more choice to be made because I have just made it for you."
Melena assured Ronon that they would meet again, but not for a very long time.
Laying her hand upon the side of his face, she whispered, "Until then live your life as the Ta'Li Dhulsa and be happy."
Pulling his head down to hers, she touched her forehead with his. Ronon's eyes closed as he told her he loved her and would never forget. Another single tear slowly rolled down his cheek.
She sadly spoke, "Our time is nearly up."
She was slowly starting to fade. Ronon tilted his head and captured her lips in one final kiss. A kiss that she returned with just as much love that they both held in their hearts.
Without warning a brilliant flash of light occurred and Ronon was once again back in the cottage sitting across the table from the witch.
His eyes narrowed. Many thoughts went through his mind at the sight of her. Most were on the order of how to kill her. Slowly or quickly. His dark beast opted for quickly. Rip her throat out and be done with the bitch.
Just for a few seconds Ronon considered it, but there were answers he needed from her. Such as what the hell was Ta'Li Dhulsa and what did it have to do with him and Jennifer?
He looked the woman over before him and felt nothing for her as before. She was still a beautiful woman but the attraction was gone.
Dusana had her eyes closed as she held his hands, her lips moving silently in ritual.
When Ronon's grip tightened their hold on her hands. The witch's eyes flew open.
"Impossible!" she gasped right before Ronon let loose her hands, grabbed her by her forearms and dragged her up onto the table before she knew what had happened.
Her upper body was leaning upon the table with his face mere inches from hers.
She swallowed visibly and shock was written all over her face because what she saw before her was an extremely pissed off Satedan. Dusana knew her life would end this day that was until he demanded
"Explain to me Ta'Li Dhulsa and be quick about it. Or I'll be more than happy to dispatch you to the death realm to join your mother. You fuckin' Demon Witch!"
The young witch had been in a trance traveling through Ronon’s mind; watching the unfolding of his dream, when the connection had been lost. She did not comprehend what had just transpired until she felt his hands tighten on hers. Her eyes flew open.
“Impossible!” she gasped.
Within the split second it took her to open her eyes, Ronon let loose her hands and grabbed her by her upper arms. Acquiring a tight hold upon her, he easily yanked her out of the chair and hauled her none too gently across the table. She was in shock.
Dusana’s face was mere inches from his while her hands pushed against his biceps. She was in such close proximity of him that she could feel his warm breath fan across her face. And the rage that radiated off of the great Satedan was like waves from an ocean storm crashing against rock.
Ronon's steely expression was formidable and unforgiving. He roughly jerked the witch even closer towards him and literally snarled at her. With his brow furrowed, his upper lip drawn back; Ronon seemed more animalistic than human. Her mind suddenly made a mental connection with the menacing, beastly glare Ronon's jade-colored eyes held.
Dusana visibly paled. While traveling through his dream, she happened to see an enormous shadowy creature walking along side of him. Her insight told her that this great beast was a part of him. It was a part that resided in a very dark and dangerous place deep within the man. She realized that the gleam in Ronon’s eyes twas the dark beast rising from the depths of rage, intending to take over. Intending to do her grave harm. It sought retribution.
Her stomach knotted in fear. Her heart nearly pounded out of her chest as she gazed upon a true Satedan Warrior ready to kill.
Terrified at the sight before her, the witch frantically pushed, pulled and clawed at Ronon's arms and chest to break free of her captor. Unfortunately, his hands were like two steel bands upon her arms – unyielding.
Staring at the woman, Ronon could see the worry and fear in her eyes; could feel her trembling – but cared less. Watching her struggle, Ronon compared the Vi’denus to a wild animal caught in a snare trying desperately to escape. He felt no pity for her. Even though she was a woman, he really did not care if she was frightened of him or thought that he would do her harm or worse kill her. The bitch had brought this all upon herself.
Ronon's large hands tightened to the point where he was positive that the imprint of his fingers, which dug into her tender flesh, would leave dark bruising marks on her for days to come. If he still let her live after all of this, the marks would not be soon forgotten – a reminder of her treachery.
The more he thought of her drugging him - of her tricking him. Of her trapping him – the tighter his hold became until her cry of pain brought him back to the present. Breathing deeply, he commanded the beast within to back down.
"Explain to me Ta'Li Dhulsa and be quick about it. Or as I said before I will be more than happy to dispatch you to the death realm to join your mother for all eternity.” he stated, but this time in – what he hoped was – a more controlled manner.
Ignoring his question and despite the pain shooting up her arms, Dusana nevertheless kept trying to twist free of Ronon. She realized now that Ronon Dex was a male she no longer controlled, but a tried-and-true warrior who was in control of her instead. She was the one at his mercy.
He shook her once hard to get her attention. In a thundering authoritative voice, Ronon roared, "Cease your struggling woman!"
Still holding onto her, he pulled back from her a bit to get a better look at her. She was on the verge of hysterics.
Dusana's face was so pale that her honey-colored eyes took on the shade of dark amber and glistened in the firelight from unshed tears. He could see her questioning look - He wants to know about Ta'Li Dhulsa?
Finally feeling the beast settling down a bit, Ronon, for the third time, asked as calmly as possible, "Ta'Li Dhulsa. What does it mean?"
"Who…..who m….men….mentioned su…such a thing?" was all the foolish woman could stammer out of her mouth.
Ronon was in no mood to be questioned. He had been under her control long enough, but now the tables were turned. It was her time to answer him.
He felt what little restraint he had gained earlier disintegrated. Ronon roughly shook her for a second time.
"Tell me now what it means or, by the gods, I will choke the life out of you this very instant." He seethed – his words dripping venom and holding promise.
To prove his point, with his lightning fast reflexes, Ronon let go of one of her arms, wrapped his hand around her slender neck, and squeezed.
"What is Ta'Li Dhulsa, bitch?" he again demanded.
Her slender hand clawed at his strangling grip. She grappled with his wrist trying unsuccessfully to pull his hand from her throat. She tried to pry his callused fingers from her neck as black dots danced before her eyes.
In punishment, he squeezed harder. This was no idle threat. Ronon meant to crush the life out of her if she did not start explaining herself.
Dusana's pale skin started turning a slight pink color then brighter red. She tried to speak but only gurgling, gasping sounds spilled forth. Her survival instincts took over with the lack of oxygen denied her body.
She feverishly tugged at Ronon’s arm with one hand while using the other to grab hold of his vest and pull. With the death grip she had on him, her knuckles turned stark white. The unshed tears spilled forth and the pleading look she gave Ronon indicated that she would willing answer his questions.
Finally letting go of her throat, Dusana coughed and gulped in precious air.
Despite what just occurred, Ronon still held onto her other arm as she lay across the table. Ronon waited for her to regain her composure before continuing.
His dark green eyes narrowed as he glared at her. Silently telling her that he was not about to ask her the question again and, if he had to, he would make it so that she would not see the sun rise.
The warrior's look was enough for her to spit out, "It.....it...means....mm...means –“
She looked down and away from him – avoiding his gaze. She was stalling. The bitch was either trying to find the words to tell him or was scheming something. Ronon opted for the latter.
With all his patience just barely hanging by a thread, Ronon slammed his free hand down hard upon the table.
Dusana jumped and shrieked simultaneously. Looking at Ronon she could see the glare of the beast rising again. She panicked and began to stutter; trying to get the words out before the creature appeared.
“Sss….Sacred - " she uttered. "Ss…Soul. The words mean Sacred Soul." she whispered.
Frowning, Ronon let go of Dusana's arm with a disgusted growl. He stood – angrily sending his chair skittering and toppling across the floor behind him.
What the fuck? Sacred Soul? More witchcraft nonsense, he thought.
Turning around, Ronon walked over to stand in front of the bookshelf. He had to think. Facing the wall he placed one hand upon it. Leaning forward with his head bowed he ran his other hand over his face trying to make sense of it all. He could not remember a time where he was so irritated or so perplexed. What the hell was this all about?
With his back towards her, Dusana saw her chance. She scrambled off the table and darted to stand near the fireplace mantle where she had placed his weapon earlier.
When Ronon turned around he froze. There at the fireplace stood the witch cradling his gun against her breast. After all what had happened he had forgotten about her placing it out of his reach.
And the worst thing about the situation, the damn thing was set to kill.
Dusana was whispering to herself. "This cannot be! Cannot be! Impossible."
Ronon took a couple steps toward her, then halted because she turned the gun on him.
"Easy." Ronon gently cooed in his deep mellow voice to calm her. He slightly held up his arms to show her that he meant her no harm. Dusana was too far away to rush her and get the gun. Ronon was fast but he wasn't that fast.
Tears falling down her face, she cried, “You cannot be a Ta’Li Dhulsa!” She shook her head in denial.
Trying to stay calm and keep her calm in the process, Ronon softly asked as he took a few more steps towards the woman, "Why, Dusana? Why can I not?”. Just a few more feet and he could snatch the gun from her.
In a bewildered state of mind, the Vi’denus looked at him as if he were the one that had just lost his mind. She gripped the gun even tighter. The weapon shook as she pointed it at him.
"Easy. Easy now." Ronon spoke in a hushed reassuring voice. A soothing voice.
He could tell that the weight of the weapon was taking its toll on her already fragile strength. She would catch herself lowering the weapon then bring it up - back aiming it at him.
“If you are a Sacred Soul – if you are truly a Ta’Li Dhulsa, then I have disgraced my people.” she sniffled.
Ronon stood barely just out of arm's length now. It would be a gamble, but....
"I defiled the Sacred Soul and for me to meet my ancestors in the death realm I must die."
Before Ronon knew her intentions, the young woman placed the muzzle of the gun just underneath her chin. With tears streaming down her face, she looked at Ronon and begged him to forgive her before she pulled the trigger.
All thoughts and images went through Ronon's mind within a span of micro-seconds. Time itself seemed to coast to an agonizing crawl as he assessed the situation unfolding before him.
Ronon witnessed Dusana holding the gun with both hands. The muzzle of the weapon positioned under her chin while tears fell from her soulful eyes.
He witnessed her whole body tremble as her slender finger slipped off the trigger guard and come to curl around the trigger itself.
He witnessed her take in a shaky breath – a breath to summon the courage and strength to finish her purpose. A shaky breath to still her nerves and try to bury the fear that he knew she felt. The fear of desperation - of hopelessness – of that pivotal moment in one's life when there is no other way out.
Ronon remembered during his seven year ordeal as a runner when he had been in that same exact position of hopelessness - seeing no way out. Wanting to give up; wanting to end it all just to have some sort of peace. But he never went through with it, of course.
Because during those dire moments, unbeknownst to Ronon, his newly acquired inner beast would always come to the forefront and take control. The beast would not allow the warrior to end both their lives; no matter how hopeless things seemed at the time.
Knowing Dusana harbored no such entity to stop her, Ronon took it upon himself to act as her protective beast for the moment.
Pure adrenaline kicked in and instinct took over. He acted without thought. Within an instant, Ronon was standing before the distraught woman, close enough now to grab the barrel of the gun.
Just mere seconds before she pulled the trigger to end her own life, he managed to redirect the weapon's aim.
Having been set to kill, the gun's discharge blasted a rather large hole in the thatched roof instead of the intended mortal target of the witch's pretty little head. Debris lightly rained down from the roof; dusting them both with bits of dry grass and slivers of wood.
Sensing its assistance was no longer needed, the beast slowly sank into the darkness of Ronon's soul. But before curling in upon itself – becoming once again dormant – it gave a dissatisfied-snort at the outcome. The witch still lived.
Dusana was still gripping the gun while Ronon held fast to the barrel. He disarmed her by roughly twisting the gun from her grasp.
His hand hurt like hell! It stung from having contact with the barrel of the large powerful weapon when Dusana got a shot off. While rubbing the palm of his hand against his thigh, Ronon forcefully slammed the gun back into its holster with his other hand.
Standing facing Ronon, Dusana's eyes were wide with shock and disbelief. The great warrior that she had planned to seduce for her own selfish reasons had just saved her life. From the time she positioned the gun under her chin to when Ronon holstered the weapon, no more than a few seconds had passed, but for Dusana it felt like an eternity.
Uttering a few choice colorful words under his breath, Ronon glared down at the witch from his towering height.
At the look he gave her, the young woman crumpled to the floor at his feet much like a marionette when the puppeteer would let loose of the doll's controlling strings.
In whimpering tones, Dusana begged him for mercy.
Ronon frowned down at her. What the hell was going on. First she was going to kill herself. And when he prevented it, she's begging for mercy.
Maybe he should had let her complete her task.
Getting frustrated by the whole ordeal, Ronon reached down and none to gently hauled her to her feet. She was shaking so badly that he could literally hear her teeth rattled in her head. Was she upset from the failed suicide attempt or was it something totally different.
Determined to get some answers, he guided her over to the table and commanded her to sit in the chair she had occupied earlier. Dusana instantly obeyed. Her hands were folded in her lap, her head bowed.
Long strands of her copper hair shielded her face from his view, however, he could hear her sniffling and on occasion she would raise a trembling hand to wipe away tears from her cheeks.
Ronon started to pace back and forth in front of Dusana.
His mind raced. There were questions to be asked and answered, but glancing at the woman now sitting so docile, he knew that his former tactics would be of no use. She would just become hysterical all over again.
Ronon took a step back and examined the situation in a more calm manner instead of a military strategic one.
Stopping to stand in front of the witch, who still visibly shook, Ronon slowly knelt down on one knee. He rested his tattooed forearm upon his left leg. He didn't want to frighten her so he moved cautiously.
There were forces at work here that was beyond his understanding, and this woman was the key to unlocking the mystery.
He raised his hand to place over her trembling ones. She instantly pulled back from his touch. Understandable, not but a few minutes ago his hand was wrapped around her throat choking the life out of her.
"Shhhh...I will not harm you. My word as a warrior. On my honor." He said in his soothing, gravelly voice.
Her honey-colored eyes peered up at him through a thin curtain of copper hair, then quickly back down.
"I am sorry...so sorry...if I had known." she softly whispered.
Again he tried to gently place his hand upon both hers.
A small gasp escaped her lips, but she did not jerk away this time. His large hand - warm and callused - covered both her hands which were ice cold.
Taking a few steady breaths, Ronon asked "I need to know what Ti'La Dhulsa - Sacred Soul - is and what that has to do with me."
Carefully he reached up to brush her hair from her face so that he could see her expression. Eyes still downcast she was biting her bottom lip. Ronon tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear so that he could keep an eye on her face.
"Shhhh...It's okay. I will not harm you."
He swore she gave a little snort at that statement.
Ronon looked at the bruises upon her neck. They had already started turning a deep purple. And on her arms he saw the imprints of his fingers.
He was beginning to feel guilty about being so rough with her. He felt bad about nearly choking her to death. He had let the beast have more control over him than ever before. Ronon had nearly lost all control. He had needed Jennifer's presence to calm him - to calm and control the beast. He had needed her.
With the thought of Jennifer, a slight pain centered in his chest. Ronon grimaced and placed his hand over the slight pain.
The witch looked up seeing this and whispered, "You have already found the other."
Seeing his confused look as he continued to rub his chest, she continued, "I saw her in your dream. The woman with hair the color of gold and eyes as blue and clear as a mountain lake."
"She is your other. She is your Ti'La Arccusi. Your Sacred Heart.
"Hair the color of gold and eyes as blue and clear as a mountain lake."
Ronon closed his eyes and he saw an image of Jennifer standing at the east pier of Atlantis dressed in her uniform. She watched as the sun was setting. Its fading crimson rays softly bathed her in a rosy glow while a gentle ocean breeze played with her long silky hair. The pain in his chest slowly subsided.
The corners of his mouth lifted into a smile as he watched the image. She looked so beautiful that it nigh took his breath away.
She turned her head in his direction, as if sensing him there in the shadows; watching her as he would often times do. His heart beat faster but his smile faded. Tears stained her cheeks and her lake-blue eyes shimmered in the fading light with more unshed tears. He could have sworn that, for the briefest of moments, he’d heard her softly whisper his name.
She then sighed, turning her attention back towards the now darkened night sky of home and, with that, the image of Jennifer faded.
Gasping, Ronon opened his eyes with a start. He was in the cottage kneeling in front of Dusana, his large hand still covered both of hers resting in her lap.
Ronon softly spoke, "What just happened?" he asked more to himself than to the woman sitting in front of him.
Though he knelt before her, Ronon was still at a height that when she didn't answer, he lifted her chin so he could see her face. Nonetheless, she kept her eyes downcast.
"Dusana, look at me." his voice softly rumbled.
His tone, when he spoke, was neither threatening nor kind; yet held a hint of importance. It held the urgency of a man wanting answers and he wanted them now. That she was certain of.
Taking a deep breath, she slowly raised her eyes to look into his.
"What just happened?" he repeated. Squeezing her hands slightly, "Please tell me." he coaxed.
"What...what you just felt was the ba'ni." she faintly said. From his touch of her hands, the witch had felt rather than witnessed Ronon’s vision of Jennifer.
Even with his acute hearing, he had to strain to hear her words, "It is an invisible bond...a connection between you and who is the other."
"I've never felt this before. Why now?" Ronon asked confused.
"You most likely have, but did not know the signs of it." Dusana's voice grew stronger as she became more comfortable in Ronon's presence – more comfortable knowing that his beast slept.
Shaking his head and frowning Ronon was about to speak when Dusana asked, "This woman – you always know where to find her?"
Ronon’s curt nod silently answered her question.
"And you are very protective of her." Dusana stated.
"Yes, but I've never had any..." Ronon tried to grasp the word..."discomfort or pain like this before." He indicated by touching the center of his chest.
"That was because you were near your Ti'La Arccusi. You have been from her for some time now. The bond pulls you back to her."
Frowning, Ronon stood and walked to stand in front of the fireplace. He reached out with both hands and braced himself against the mantle. Looking down into the dying embers of the fire, he tried to comprehend what was happening.
With the faint image of Jennifer's tear streaked face in his mind, Ronon turned to look at the witch and with a slight nod of his head, he motioned for her to continue, "What else?"
"For you to understand Ti’La Dhulsa and Ti'La Arccusi , you must first understand their origins which date back to the ancient Satedan legends."
Taking a deep breath to gather her thoughts, Dusana repositioned herself in the chair more comfortably, and then began, “Among my people it is said that eons ago, even before time itself existed, The All Knowing created the many galaxies – each with the beginnings of abundant life. There was an even balance.
When he had finished his work, The All Knowing realized that there was, in fact, an imbalance. His mate longed for a child – and he could deny her nothing. Soon they were blessed with a daughter that they named Morrah. She became known as the goddess of purity, joy and peace. She grew to be quite beautiful. The All Knowing and his mate loved her very, very much.
After several millenniums had past, the first of the immortal gods emerged – created out of the erupting fires of a young Satedan sun. He took for himself the name Belignis and became known as the god of War."
Ronon stared into the hypnotic embers as Dusana spoke; not moving since she’d started her tale.
He too knew of the god of war from childhood stories and being Special Forces. The war god's symbol adorned the uniforms of the elite fighting warriors of Satedan's military. Two flaming lightning bolts - resembling swords - crisscrossing each other over the Satedan symbol for infinity.
Ronon absently nodded.
“Once Belignis laid eyes on Morrah,” Dusana continued, “he fell instantly in love with her. The god vowed to claim her for his own no matter what the cost.
One day Belignis secretly trailed Morrah into the forest. He watched from the shadows as she made her way to a shaded pool surrounded by rock and trees. She thought it to be private, so discarded her clothing and frolicked in the cool waters. Belignis was mesmerized by her grace and beauty.
He realized that Morrah was his total opposite. Where he destroyed and conquered, she gave hope and serenity. She was his other.
Suddenly sensing him there, she called out to him.
Emerging from the shadows, he gazed upon her beauty and felt at peace. She felt protected and safe.
After spending the day together, she loved him just as much as he loved her, if not more so. Their love was so great that they became as one. Morrah was frightened, however, because they had yet to get her father’s blessing for their bonding.
When he found out that they had become one without his consent, his fury was so great that he violently ripped the pair asunder.”
Ronon looked over at Dusana. Her voice had gotten louder; she was so caught up in the telling of the tale. Her cheeks were flushed with exuberance. The witch’s honey-colored eyes shown brightly as her hands gestured the story’s details.
Looking at Ronon intently, Dusana stood. Walking towards him, she resumed the Satedan legend.
“Their love was so intertwined – that their essence shattered into millions of pieces.
These pieces were scattered throughout the vastness of space and time – throughout all the galaxies." The witch spread open wide her arms. "Morrah’s father knew that this way, the two would never become one ever again. And thus ending their love, or so he thought.” The Vi’denus said smiling. Her hands clasped over her heart.
“The All Knowing's wife took pity on her beloved daughter and, with her limited powers, made all of the shattered pieces that had been flung out into the vastness mortal entities. Each having a mate - somewhere. Each with a tiny sliver of the couple’s love to hopefully guide them back to each other.
Once her husband found out what she had done, he could not be angry with her, for he loved his wife deeply. So in addition, he decreed that if any of the mortal beings his mate had created were ever to happen to find each other, they may fall in love and be forever together. They would become two hearts; one soul.”
However, in punishment for not getting his blessing first off, he declared: That once bonded and mated, if one being was to proceed the other in death, then the remaining would soon follow – starting the process all over again.
Pushing off from the fireplace mantel, Ronon stood his full height. He stood looking down at the Vi'denus.
"Great!" he bellowed, "So what you've just told me is that if Jennifer and I become a couple, then we are bound together until one of us dies or gets killed," taking a deep breath, Ronon pushed that image of Jennifer out of his mind, "then the other follows."
Ronon paced to the bookshelf on the other side of the cottage and back. He ground out, "What if I refuse to become bonded and mated to her? What then?"
She'll live if you die. was the answer that went through his mind. And with that thought, the pain returned to his chest. His heart.
With his hand clutching his chest, he looked down at the witch, he whispered softly, "What then?" His green eyes searching for the answer he sought.
Dusana laid a gentle hand upon his arm. "Tis too late." Seeing him splay his hand over his chest she confirmed what he knew, "The ba'ni even now pulls at you to return to her. Two hearts. One soul."
Ronon sank into the chair Dusana had previously occupied. He would fight it - this pull ! He would stay on New Sateda. Away from Jennifer. She would stay safe.
The pain intensified.
A moan escaped his lips.
He would fight it! He had his inner strength. He had the beast inside to help him.
The one thing Ronon always counted on was the dark beast which now remained deep within him.
In total silence.
The beat of Ronon's heart pounded hard and fast within his chest while his lungs labored for precious air. His warrior's body was covered in a slight sheen of sweat. His chest ached. However, this pain was not caused from the ba'ni, as before, but from the exertion of running head long through the dense forest. Once Ronon had decided to leave Dusana and the secluded glen, the discomfort of the ba'ni had lessened considerably.
Dawn had yet to make its appearance in the dark easterly sky as he made his way back to the village. Back to Atlantis. Back to her – his other.
After garnering the necessary information from the witch, Ronon had concluded that his dealings with Dusana had come to an end. He had come seeking the Vi'denus for answers. Answers to his dream, but he was leaving more frustrated than ever before.
And now, in true Ronon fashion, the Satedan plowed through the thick underbrush of the forest fueled by his dark anger. With no regards to his safety and without breaking his stride, Ronon ducked low hanging branches, hurtled fallen logs and weaved in and around massive trees in the predawn darkness. His foul mood was his constant, silent companion along the way.
As he ran, Ronon tried to escape the truth. Truth that flooded his troubled mind with thoughts that grated against his psyche, engraving worrisome dread into his heart and soul.
He heard Dusana's sultry voice in his head, "The ba'ni is the connection. It will always pull you and your other together until it is once again broken by death."
She had told him that it was useless to fight what the Fates had already set into motion. What is done is done - the Fates themselves cannot undo the bond, she had informed him. Coming to realize that in the short time Jennifer and he had spent together on Atlantis, they had become bonded without their knowing. Thanks to the damn ba'ni, he could not resist its pull no matter how hard he struggled against it.
And unfortunately, it appeared that their relationship had been preordained many a millennium ago to be forever cloaked in a shroud of death. If they were to sleep together - to mate - and if she happened to die first, it would matter naught to him. He would gladly follow her into the next life. He had lived many years as a warrior, a fighter, a killer and would welcome the embrace of death; the peace of it. No one would miss his passing; at least, not as much as they would surely miss hers.
It could be a possibility that he just might die an old man. At that thought, an image passed through his mind of him as an old weathered Satedan asleep in bed with Jennifer - who would have aged gracefully - wrapped in his arms. The vision made him smile and melted his thundering heart. Then he quickly ripped such a foolish idea from his head as he gave a gruff laugh. What was he thinking? He attracted the shadow of death like a drunkard to a well-stocked tavern. Old age was not part of his future. It never was. The twin moons of Atlantis would come crashing down from the heavens and sink deep into the sea before the Fates saw Ronon Dex become a grey-haired fossil of a man.
He was a warrior. The odds that he would die in combat were stacked against him. If he were killed in battle after becoming mated to her, then his love for Jennifer would see her to the next realm. Ronon could not accept the possibility that he would be the cause of her demise.
Trying his best to ignore the pesky thoughts hammering within his brain, Ronon surmised he was half way to the village. By the position of the early morning sun, he figured he had been running for a little over an hour. Drenched in sweat from his demanding physical exertion his overworked muscles in his legs began to ache and burn. His body begged him to stop this madness, but his spirit refused. He could not stay away any longer. He wanted to get back to Jennifer; to be near her, to keep her safe. Reluctantly realizing he needed her.
So with determination born of his warrior class, Ronon ignored his body's silent pleas to cease and pushed himself harder. Pushed himself to keep going. Forced himself to reach his goal.
An hour later, he noticed the trees thinning out and the sun shining more brightly overhead. He had been running for a good two hours non-stop, when he finally broke free of the forest and stopped to catch his breath. He needed to keep going but his body refused to go any further. It demanded rest.
Staggering a bit, Ronon's legs ultimately gave out from underneath him and he fell heavily to his knees; exhausted.
As his arms lay limp by his sides, he leaned back upon his shaky legs. He concentrated on bringing his heart rate and breathing back to some semblance of normalcy.
Wiping sweat from his face, Ronon scanned the meadow before him as he sucked in large amounts of air into his oxygen-deprived lungs. It was the same meadow that he had walked through just only yesterday on his way to find the witch. Beyond the field were the waterfall and the village. Then home.
Closing his eyes, he lifted his face up to the bright morning sun. Ronon tried to clear his mind, but growled in frustration instead. For no matter how hard he tried to erase Dusana's words, they echoed effortlessly through his thoughts.
Tis too late.
The ba'ni even now pulls at you to return to her.
Two hearts. One soul.
Dropping his dark head to his chest, Ronon sat in the morning silence. The weight of hopelessness that he felt was comparable to a large stone tied to his soul – dragging him down.
Fuck the Fates, he thought, and their callous intrusion on their lives – his and Jennifer's life together.
Ronon threw his arms open wide and lifting his head up towards the heavens; he let out a mighty roar which was directed towards the fucking gods themselves. Frustration and pain – that's what he poured forth from his soul. He had told himself over and over that he needed to stay as far from Jennifer as possible, but Dusana was right. It was an impossible task.
If Ronon took Jennifer to his bed – as he so longed to do – then their fates would be forever intertwined. His death would be hers.
Ronon conceded two options that would rectify the situation he found himself in.
Luckily – depending on whose point of view it was he supposed – they had not mated; had not slept together, so the ritual was not yet complete.
One option he came up with was that he could end his own life and the cycle would be broken – simple as that. However, who would protect Jennifer from harm if he were gone. He trusted no other male to keep her safe. He wanted no other male even to touch her let alone be near her. The silence of the dark beast within was broken by a low rumbling growl.
The other option: to break things off with her. Ronon knew it would more than likely hurt her emotionally, but the outcome would keep her safe. He'd keep his distance from her, but yet remain close enough if she needed his protection. The will power on his part to do this would be tremendous, however, necessary to succeed.
Getting to his feet, Ronon knew what he had to do once he got back home. His decision would make him a shell of a man, but it would guarantee Jennifer's safety and it had to be done. The relationship had to end. There was no other way.
As he was striving to come to terms with his decision, Ronon heard his name being called. Frowning, he scanned the meadow before him. He spotted Thane who was running towards him as fast as his young legs could carry him. As the boy got closer, Ronon knew something was wrong. The look of worry and fear on the boy's face had Ronon's heart racing once again.
"Thane! What's wrong?" Ronon questioned when the boy stopped and stood in front of him. "What is it boy?"
"It is mother!" he said breathlessly.
"The babe comes. And….and…."
Ronon took hold of the boy's shoulders, "What?!" worry now seeping into Ronon.
The crest fallen look on the boy's face was all Ronon needed to spur him into action. Leaving Thane to catch up, Ronon ran to his sister's house.
When he got there he found Crieve outside pacing in front of the dwelling, running his fingers through his hair and pale as a ghost.
"What? What has happened?" Ronon demanded.
Crieve ceased his frantic pacing only when Ronon placed a none-too-gentle hand upon his shoulder. The man had not even noticed the Satedan standing before him, so caught up with concern for his wife and child.
"The babe comes early. It is turned; it comes feet first. The midwife is nearly two days ride from here." Crieve looked into his brother-in-law's eyes, "They are dying."
For a split second Ronon thought Dusana might have caused such a thing and, if so, the bitch was as good as dead. But the idea was discarded along with the reckoning when Crieve informed him that Alianna's last birthing had been hard on her also. Apparently this one was even more so.
Entering the house, Ronon went to stand at the foot of his sister's bed. She was in the throes of a hard labor. Sweat-drenched sheets were tangled about her legs. The nightgown she wore clung to her damp body and strands of her dark hair were plastered to her pale face. She looked exhausted.
Ronon's attention was drawn to the bright red stain betwixt her legs; her life's blood saturated both the bedsheets and her gown.
Raising his eyes to look into his sister's tortured face, he saw Alianna looking back at him. Her eyes pleading for help. She opened her mouth to speak, but her words were abruptly cut off by a contraction. Her back arched as she fisted the sheets and pulled at them. Pain contorted her lovely face into a mask of agony.
As the contraction strengthened, Ronon could actually see her swollen abdomen harden. Her body was trying to expel the child – trying to unsuccessfully push it forth into this new world. She withered in pain as she let out an agonizing scream of pure suffering.
Feeling a moment of helplessness Ronon now knew what Crieve was feeling. Seeing what he loved the most slowly passing from this world to the next. Ronon would assuredly feel the same way if it were Jennifer laying there instead of his sister.
That image spurred Ronon into action. Going back outside, he grabbed Crieve by the front of his shirt.
"Where's the crystal. I need to get back to Atlantis."
The man just stared at him then turned his head towards the open doorway of the house when his wife once again let out another agonizing wail.
"Crieve dammit!" Ronon angrily said shaking him. "I need to get back to Atlantis. I can bring help. They both can be saved!"
"Tis too late. The gods have cursed me." the devastated man hopelessly whimpered.
As he tightened his grip on Crieve's shirt, Ronon ground out through clenched teeth, "The gods may have cursed you, but I'm going to kill you if you do not give me that crystal key!"
Ronon jerked Crieve closer. The two men were nearly nose-to-nose with each other now. Ronon shouted so that he might penetrate the dense mental fog Crieve found himself in, "Brother," Ronon demanded, "give me the crystal so that what we both love might still have a chance to live! Time is running out!"
Both men's attentions were drawn to the house when they heard Alianna's weak, but commanding voice.
"Oh for fuck sake, Crieve! Give him the crystal or I am going to get up from this bed and rip a couple of jewels from your body that you treasure dearly!"
With that threat, the man hurriedly handed the crystal key to Ronon with a statement on the order of "Please hurry. For everyone's sakes!"
The heavens of Atlantis were a spectacular wonder to behold on any given night to be sure, but it seemed that tonight was extra special though. For when the sun slowly started its ritual descent below the horizon; pulling the dark velvet mantle of night down along with it, every celestial body seemed to battle for attention - all eager to be seen. Activity was abundant in the skies this night.
The stars above gleamed with brilliance, like little tiny shards of diamonds, rubies and sapphires that had been haphazardly scattered throughout the sky. Millions of them winking down to whoever admired them from below.
A lone comet slowly trekked across the infinite expanse of the skies with its long feathery tail of gases and dust leaving a fiery streak in its wake. Several meteors zipped past the mighty comet at speeds that far exceeded its own. While still others seemed to tag along with the great blazing rock as to keep it company. Somehow they all seemed to know which invisible path to follow to get to their specific destinations.
The twin moons of Atlantis also garnered attention this night. They both shown full and bright in the nighttime sky; illuminating the great silver city of Atlantis below in all her glory.
The calm sea beneath the sparkling heavens was like a mirror; reflecting back the beauty from above. It was nearly impossible to tell where the darkness of the heavens ended and where the dark ocean waters began.
Reflections of the city and twin moons shimmered hypnotically upon the ocean's surface; distorted by the sway of the water.
However, all this grand beauty was lost on the sole individual that quietly stood at the end of the east pier. Absently listening to the serene sound of the sea as it gently splashed along the base of the city's pillars, the rhythm of the small waves almost lulled Dr. Keller into a sense of comfort and peace.
Looking up towards the stars; up towards the many planets unseen from where she stood, Jennifer wondered where Ronon could be. On which distant planet he was on. She wondered if he was alive or injured or possibly captured or - even worse - dead. She wondered if he was, at this very minute, trying to contact Atlantis for help or to say good-bye.
Lifting her hand up to her left ear, Jennifer double checked that she was wearing her radio. If a distress call of his were to come in requesting help, she would be the first one at the gate all packed and ready to go. She had prepared medical bags and they were at-the-ready; stocked full with the necessary meds and equipment needed for any type of emergency. She had made sure of that weeks ago. Jennifer now just waited patiently for his call. No matter either call, she would be there for him.
She waited for some sort of sign. Some sort of indication that he was coming back to her. But nearly a month later, the call never came. She began to accept, as time slowly dragged on, that there wasn't going to be any word from him. That the possibility of him returning was never going to happen. He was never returning to Atlantis or back to her. She had to accept that. Because Jennifer may not know which planet he was on; she knew, however, where he had gone.
Ronon had went in search of his people.
With all of the ramblings and doubts skittering through her thoughts, she was certain of that fact anyway. And obtaining that golden piece of information cost her dearly. Not money or the like, but more along the lines of her newly acquired self-esteem.
A couple of days after he had left, Jennifer started asking Colonel Shepperd when would Ronon return. His reply was always, "Soon."
After nearly a week and no Ronon, she had had enough of 'soon'. Jennifer became more demanding - which was out of character for her, but dammit she wanted answers. She hounded the Colonel for answers constantly. She needed information on where Ronon was and when he'd be back. She even at one point begged him to tell her. To tell her anything at all concerning the man she was in love with.
However, she had to give it to John, the man preformed his duties as military commander quite well. He refused - nicely of course - to tell her a single thing. Even when she threatened to halt all further expeditions - to ground all gate travel - for medical reasons. John called her bluff on the threat and did not budge. No information was forthcoming and, of course, gate travel continued uninterrupted.
She decided then to go straight to Elizabeth. If Jennifer couldn't get answers being professional, then maybe woman-to-woman would work better. Elizabeth wasn't talking either. However, that was until the tears started to fall. Tears Jennifer couldn't hold back any longer.
Dr. Keller pleaded and begged for any news about Ronon. She admitted to Elizabeth that her heart was breaking.
Dr. Weir finally broke down and told her that there had been some intel in regards to Satedan survivors. At Jennifer's question of why hadn't she'd been told. Elizabeth stated that it was Ronon's wish that no one, except the Colonel and herself, know anything about the secret mission he was on.
Ronon had gone in search of his people; entrusting only two people with such life altering information - John and Elizabeth.
Not a single word to her. Apparently he didn't trust her as much.
She looked out over the dark waters, and wiped away a tear that started to travel down her flushed cheek.
She was happy for him that he had a chance to find others from his own planet. His own people.
If, in fact, Ronon found his own kind, Jennifer wondered who he would find. Her thoughts ran wild. She was more than positive that he would meet a woman. A Satedan woman. A beautiful Satedan woman who he would hold in his arms, kiss her passionately, and whisper endearments to just as he had done with her not so long ago.
Jennifer tightened her grip on the railing at the thought of another woman taking her place. To be his new girlfriend. His new love of his life.
She snorted unladylike. Who was she kidding? She never was really his girlfriend per se. They just hung out together and it all had been fun while it lasted. Thank gawd she hadn't thrown herself at him; hadn't jumped immediately into bed with the man. Not to say that on several occasions she hadn't been tempted. But she just wasn't ready yet.
Frowning a bit Jennifer wondered if that was why he left the way he did - to find another woman to settle down with. Whom better than someone from his own world - his own culture - to start a family with.
Laughing softly to herself, she thought What a joke! I am as much an alien to him as he is to me. We would had never worked out.
Jennifer felt like she had been punched in the gut. Her whole being - heart, soul, mind and body - was numb. Numb to all the natural splendor surrounding her. Numb to the inevitable - that she was alone, but this time not by choice.
Her thoughts roamed aimlessly but always came back to one certain focus as they always did ever since that night he'd left. Her thoughts were always of him - of her Ronon.
Even though at this very moment he was probably with another, she missed his touch and the sweet love that she quickly grew to recognize in his green eyes - or thought she had recognized.
Looking back up at the heavens, she closed her eyes and pretended that his hands gently caressed her body and his fingers tangled through her unbound hair. She pretended it was him and not the cool ocean breeze touching her in such a loving manner. After a few moments, Jennifer reluctantly returned to reality.
Sighing, she wiped another tear from her cheek. She stood quietly; her hands relaxed now on the railing. This had once been her favorite place because of him, but now it was a sad reminder of what once was. Even though she felt that it was over, her heart still ached for him and her soul wept.
She had thought things would be different with Ronon. He had been so different than Brian. Brian manipulated her to the point of where she all but lost who she was as a person.
Ronon was suppose to have been different. She had been so sure that what they felt for each other was something special. His touch had sent tiny sensual electric shocks throughout her body. And when he would looked at her with those beautiful green eyes of his, her heart would race and the butterflies in her stomach would go completely wild. The look of love she thought she had seen in his handsome face made her feel safe.
A long ago thought came crashing into her. She once had told him a handsome face to hide the ugliness inside. Jennifer so thought she had been wrong, but...? She didn't know anymore. She was empty inside. Empty save for the spark of love that still resided deep within her. A spark that she would guard forever no matter the outcome. A spark that she'd hope would come back to life.
It was well into the night when Jennifer decided to go back to her quarters. She was tired of thinking and wondering about things she had no control over. She had waited long enough. Ronon wasn't coming.
Like every night since he'd left, she had waited for him at the east pier. It was their spot. Their favorite spot, but now it was just a sad reminder of what once was.
Jennifer shivered. She hadn't realized how cold it had gotten. She was dressed in her civilian clothes - an old faded pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She hadn't bothered putting on her shoes so her bare feet were now nearly frozen.
Sighing, she turned to leave and immediately ran into a wall of muscle. Strong arms quickly grabbed hold of her as she nearly lost her balance. In turn, Jennifer reached out to catch herself from tumbling backwards and secured hold of some rather muscular arms.
"Are you alright?" a low rumbling voice inquired.
Looking up into a familiar face, Jennifer blurted out, "Kyle?! What are you doing out here at this hour?"
"Looking for you, Doc."
Getting stationed on Atlantis was an out-of-this-world dream come true for Lieutenant Kyle Masterson.
Growing up in a small podunk town located in Harlan County Kentucky, Kyle dreamed about getting out of his fish bowl town and seeing the world. Little did he know that when he joined the military right out of high school, ten years later he would literately be getting the chance to see other worlds!
A couple of days after Ronon left in search of his people, Lt. Masterson had just arrived and was assigned to the med lab research department on Atlantis. He proved himself a valuable asset to the department and on a few occasions he got the opportunity to work side by side with a few of the medical doctors.
On one such occasion he hopelessly fell head-over-heels in love with one Dr. Jennifer Keller. Unfortunately for him, she had made it clear that they were just colleagues when on duty and just friends on their down time.
Being born and bred a southerner, he politely accepted her restrictions. He was a professional when he needed to be and a friend just to talk to at other times with Dr. Keller. However, Kyle planned to slowly whittle his way into her life and remain there permanently.
He didn't tell any of the few friends that he'd made on base about his feelings for the good doctor. And so he never inquired about her personal life. All Kyle could see was her belonging to him.
So one night after nearly three weeks of working together, he had decided to take things a step further and test the waters with Dr. Keller to see how far he could get. He had gone in search of Jennifer and found her alone at the east pier staring off into space.
When she had pleasantly and unexpectedly bumped into him, his reaction was entirely instinctual - grab hold of her and never let her go. When she did the same, a thrill shot right through him.
"Are you alright?"
She looked up at him and he was lost. When she asked him what he was doing here all he could reply was:
"Looking for you, Doc."
At Kyle's reply, Jennifer's grip tightened on his arms as fear shot through her; sending her heart into her throat.
Why was Kyle looking for her? Was it Ronon? Was he back? Was he hurt? Had the med lab tried to call and in her melancholy stupor she'd missed it somehow? It must be bad if personnel had been dispatched to search for her.
Jennifer had tuned him out - along with everything else around her. Her mind was traveling at light speed; coming to so many conclusions about Ronon all at once that she lost track of reality.
Concerned, Kyle gently shook her, "Doc?!"
Even though he was wearing his standard issued jacket over his uniform, Kyle could feel Jennifer's fingers digging into his flesh through the fabric.
Doc!" The sound of his stern voice finally penetrated through her frantic mind and her grip lessened.
Jennifer looked up at Kyle as if he'd just suddenly appeared before her.
"Dr. Keller, ya okay?" Kyle's deep southern drawl was tinged with worry and fear. The look on Jennifer's face was pure terror bordering on hysterics. She was beginning to scare the shit out of him. What just happened?
"Is he hurt?" The words rushed out of her mouth so fast that it took Kyle a few seconds to comprehend what she'd asked.
Now Kyle was even more confused. He didn't know who Jennifer was talking about.
Placing his hands upon her shoulders, he bent down slightly so that he was eye level with her, and asked softly, "Who doc? Who do you think is hurt?"
As if she hadn't heard the questions, she rambled on. "Why are you out here looking for me? Something must be wrong. Is there something...anything wrong in the infirmary?"
A tiny spark ignited in her gut, "Did someone come through the gate?" It was possible that Ronon had returned and was taken straight away to the infirmary. She wasn't the doctor on call tonight so there wouldn't be any reason to be summoned.
Nonetheless, hope started to shine deep within her. That tiny spark of love, that she harbored and protected viciously, started to grow a little brighter; but, then was quickly extinguished by Kyle's simple reply.
"Oh! No...no doc," Kyle stated as he rubbed his hands over her bare arms. "Nothin's wrong. Everythin' is right as rain." Believing that Jennifer was being her normal 'Florence Nightingale'-self - always wanting to help others - Kyle missed the sadness in her eyes and the disappointed look on her face before she quickly covered it up with a slight smile.
Jennifer let the stress and worry drain from her along with a breath that she hadn't realized she'd been holding in for what felt like this whole time.
"Sorry if I scared ya." Kyle softly whispered as he reached up and gently cupped her face with one hand while the other settled at her waist. "Truly sorry for scarin' ya."
Straightening to his full height of a little over six feet, the blond haired southerner looked down at Jennifer, "I just come lookin' for ya to see if'n ya'd like to be my date for a late night lunch..." he frowned, "...or an early breakfast sort of thing?" he then smiled at his silly explanation for seeking her out.
Kyle Masterson had a smile that could warm the coldest of hearts and a southern good ol' boy drawl that already had gotten more than a few hot blooded women on base swooning like Scarlet trying to get Rhett's undivided attention. But it seemed the Lieutenant was dedicated to his work. He never dated.
Letting out a small nervous laugh, Jennifer reached up, placed her hand over his and after several seconds of finally getting her heart rate to a slower pace, she gently removed his hands from her cheek and waist. Where his hands had been warmth had seeped in. Jennifer shivered from the night chill.
"You're freezin'." Lt. Masterson stated as he proceeded to remove his jacket.
Before Jennifer could object, she was snug in the over-sized garment. The inside was warm from his body heat. She hadn't realized how cold she had been apparently.
Jennifer stepped back from the man and looked up into the most startling blue eyes. They were a mixture of blue, green and golden hues that reminded her of turquoise gems sprinkled with flicks of gold.
"So yes to lunch? Breakfast?", he asked ending in a laugh.
"A...No," Jennifer said as she tucked a wayward strand of hair that annoyingly kept blowing in her face, "not tonight." She looked up at him and politely smiled, "I'm not really hungry. Thank you anyway." she added.
"Doc ya gotta eat," tilting his head slightly to one side he playfully continued, "on a regular basis ya know."
"Yes, I've been told that on a number of occasions." From Teyla, Shepperd, Loren, Rodney and anyone else who liked to throw their two cents worth into the mix.
"Well, if ya won't keep me company for supper, then at least let me walk ya to your quarters."
"You don't have to do that." shaking her head as she nervously pulled the jacket tightly around her. She was becoming extremely cold all of a sudden, as if there were a chill in the air. A frigid chill. A chill that slowly crawled up her spine. Trying to focus on what Kyle was saying, Jennifer tried to keep her teeth from chattering.
"Now I kinda have to insist on that Doc. 'Cause ya see, if my momma were to find out that I let a woman walk home alone….well," He shook his head slowly in mock seriousness; a grim look on his face. "I'd never hear the end of it."
"This is Atlantis, Lieutenant, and we're in another galaxy no less, I don't think you have to worry about your mother finding out." Jennifer said without showing too much discomfort to the cold.
He chuckled a bit and with a lop-sided grin confessed, "Doc, ya apparently don't know my momma. That woman has better radar than any Class-1A battle cruiser and would know if I did not do my gentlemanly duties. It's the principle of the matter, ya see." Kyle turned and offered the crook of his arm to her and a warm friendly smile. "Besides as ya said, this bein' another galaxy and all, I would never forgive myself if any harm were to come to ya."
"Like?" Standing with her arms folded across her chest and his jacket nearly swallowing her whole, Jennifer challenged his argument.
"Oh I don't know." Kyle's brows knitted together in thought. "Some rabid, demented creature might find its way here to base and could possibly be lurking in the shadows. Or…" seeing that she was unconvinced of any danger, "some sort of sea creature may of slithered from the depths of the ocean here and without your knowin' is slowly…slinking…up…behind you." The last few words were spoken in a cautionary whisper as he glanced behind her.
Kyle said and acted in such a way that Jennifer actually looked behind her, and then felt like a fool for doing so. Turning back around she saw the hint of merriment on his face.
The corners of Jennifer's lips started to twitch into a small smile, then she giggled and hooked her hand within his arm. They made their way back to the main building and her quarters.
Passing through the entrance into the corridor, the feeling of icy fingers traveling up her spine to rest over her shoulders had her shivering despite the warm jacket. Concerned, Kyle wrapped his arm around Jennifer's shoulders. She was rather uncomfortable with the gesture, but his warmth seemed to chase away a bit of the chill.
Once the two were well out of sight, a shadowy being slowly emerged from behind one of the huge pylons. Unbeknownst to the couple, the rabid and demented creature that they joked about earlier had been watching and listening as they talked, laughed, and held each other close.
Ronon's keen hearing heard most of the conversation between the two and he was not laughing at all. He was filled with a boiling rage that he barely contained. It had taken all the strength Ronon had not to make himself known and rip the throat right out of the intruder; this strange male that seemed to think he could possess what belonged to him.
The dark beast inside was furious and pulled at the restraints holding him back. It snarled and bared its teeth at the interloper; wanting desperately to tear the male to shreds.
For a second, Ronon had thought of letting the beast have its way the moment the male laid a hand on Jennifer - his other, but thought better of it. Stealth was to Ronon's advantage.
First things first: Ronon had to get Jennifer and travel back to New Satedan as quickly as possible to save his sister.
Afterward, there would be time enough for a reckoning between Ronon and this male who blatantly thought Jennifer could be his.
Ronon was sure that his finely honed ten inch Satedan blade would easily remove that misconception; along with the man's beating heart.
***Would love to hear back from my readers. What do you think of the story so far?
It's almost coming to an end, but I do believe that there just might be another adventure lurking around in my unpredictable imagination - somewhere.
I have to have enough incentive to uncover it though.
What say you?!
Another story after this one or not?***
After gliding her hand swiftly over the entry panel to her quarters, Jennifer stood motionless in the open doorway for a moment. Her rooms felt more like an empty, lonely crypt than anything else of late. It seemed like life had plopped her down right in the middle of her own little safe haven of hell and was patiently waiting for the outcome.
Glancing around the disheveled room, Jennifer saw that everything was just how she had left it – in utter chaos.
Reports were strewn everywhere. Papers from a number of different sources littered the floor. Some covered her nightstand and unmade bed. While others, she thought, might possibly be hiding in her bathroom. She wasn't quite sure on that though.
Fortunately, the main portion of the files rested next to her laptop that sat upon a small grey metal desk at the opposite side of her room.
Sighing heavily, Jennifer immediately headed to that all too familiar cluttered work space where she'd spent many an hour going over the contents of each file.
Picking up one of three medical reports from her desk, Jennifer's mind absently registered the sound of the double doors to her living area closing behind her. Closing her in; locking her away once again – alone – in her rooms.
Laying the unopened file back down, she pushed the well memorized pile of data around a bit; trying to make some semblance of the cluttered mess.
How wonderful, she thought, if she could do the same with Ronon and her feelings for him. To rearrange what she felt for him so that she didn't hurt so bad.
Closing her eyes, she sighed once more.
For her not to hurt, she'd have to do more than just arrange her feelings into some sense of normalcy. She'd have to erase Ronon and everything about him from her heart and soul, and there was no possible way to do that; not without losing a part of herself.
From the whole of Atlantis to the small living space she occupied now, Jennifer was hopelessly cocooned within her memories of Ronon.
She gingerly touched her lips, remembering his kiss and the tender touch of his good-bye. Jennifer also remembered her brazen move; kissing him passionately, pleading with him to return to her safely. She could feel her face flush and her heart race even now with just the thought of that kiss. She remembered the taste of him on her lips and the warmth of his strong embrace as he met her with equal passion.
A mischievous smile briefly played across her face. She hadn't kissed any man the way that she had kissed Ronon that night.
Not even Brian.
Picking up the same file that she'd just laid back down seconds ago, Jennifer blankly stared at it. She had to get her mind off of Ronon and the only way to do that was with work.
Since he'd been gone, she had kept herself busy in the infirmary to the point of exhaustion at times. However, Jen had been keeping more to herself for the past week or so – tucked away in the privacy of her rooms.
One of the reasons for doing so was because of Lt. Kyle Masterson and his unwanted advances towards her.
It wasn't anything to complain to Dr. Weir or Col. Sheppard about, but it seemed that he hadn't gotten the message that she wanted to be left alone. That she wasn't looking for someone to be with romantically. Jennifer had told him just as much the moment she'd figured out that Kyle was attracted to her. She had quickly put a stop to it, or so she thought. She had told him that they could only be friends and that was it. Nothing more.
Kyle had smiled and nodded, saying that he understood.
Apparently he hadn't understood because after ushering her in from out of the cold earlier tonight and waiting for the doors of the transporter to open, he had tried to kiss her. Not a friendly peck on the check either, but a full-on, up close and personal lip lock.
She was so stunned that it took her a few seconds to register what he was about before she firmly pushed him away. Right at that moment the transporter opened and she immediately entered, closing the doors quickly behind her.
She'd left him on the lower level to either wait for the transport's return or use the stairs. She hadn't cared which.
Also another reason for working from her quarters was that Dr. Beckett had put her on medical restriction. She was under strict orders not to over exert herself. Evidently reading medical files and compiling reports was about all that he'd let her do.
Jennifer was lucky that the good doctor let her do that much and hadn't put her on total bed rest. They had argued vehemently over that particular restriction for a good thirty minutes before she won that battle.
The reason for the lite duty was of the scare that she had given everyone in the department head meeting a few days ago.
It all started simple enough with just a little discomfort right in the middle of her chest. A twinge really. Jennifer had thought nothing of it; self-diagnosing it as stress and worry over Ronon's absence. She hadn't told anyone about it. She figured it would go away.
However, the discomfort started slowly to travel up the pain scale prior to the incident. It seemed like what started out as a slight twinge had gotten stronger within a short amount of time.
Jennifer actually thought that she was having a heart attack that morning - the pain was so great in her chest it brought her to her knees as she entered the conference room.
John himself had carried her to the infirmary with everyone else following or clearing the way for him. Everyone had been concerned and they still were.
Opening the file she held, Jennifer glanced over one of the test results that Carson had ordered. She knew the end result from memory – on all of these damn pieces of paper.
Nothing was showing up for the cause of her chest pain. Nothing abnormal stood out to any of the medical professionals stationed on Atlantis who read her files. Every test and procedure that she and Dr. Beckett thought of ordering had come back with the same results – normal. She was as healthy as a horse, but the pain still lingered. Not as strong since that day, but still noticeable.
Then yesterday morning, oddly enough, the pain simply went away. It was a puzzle to be sure with none of it making any sense.
Out of anger and utter frustration, Jennifer swiftly relieved the desk of its work load - laptop and all. She took her hands and swept everything off of the piece of furniture. She sent everything flying across the room.
Still facing the desk, Jennifer firmly planted the palms of her hands upon its cold surface and hung her head in defeat. She was tired. She didn't want to do this anymore. She was done. She just wanted to...
Jennifer's thoughts suddenly skidded to an abrupt halt. She lifted her head, slid her hands from the desk and slowly stood up straight.
With her back to the closed doors of her quarters, she felt a familiar flutter in her chest. Not the pain as before, but something different. Something else. Something that she had felt before. The feeling of knowing that he was in the room with her.
Spinning around, Jennifer stood and stared at the man that seemed to guard the entrance and exit of her makeshift crypt.
Her dark angel.
His name escaped her lips on nothing more than a whispered breath; yet he had heard it, and that one softly spoken word nearly reduced his self-control to mere ash as he stood mesmerized by her beauty.
Situated in front of the tightly sealed doors of her quarters, it took every ounce of willpower Ronon possessed to remain motionless.
He wanted to rush across the room and envelop her in his strong embrace – to wrap himself around her. He wanted to kiss her until they both were breathless and weak from it. He wanted to bury his face in the silkiness of her hair. He wanted to let his large calloused hands roam over every inch of her soft body while his mouth nibbled the crook of her neck.
He battled so hard to restrain himself – from taking what he wanted – that beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. The desire to touch her was growing stronger. Ronon didn’t know how he was keeping his hands by his side – they itched to caress her – to feel her surrender to him.
With that thought, Ronon nearly took a detrimental step towards her.
Realizing that he was quickly losing the war, he let out a low rumbling growl and shook his head trying to clear his thoughts of her. He struggled to control his pounding heart and keep his face void of any and all emotion.
The Satedan warrior appeared calm on the outside, but on the inside? The woman was driving him to the brink of insanity.
Even though Ronon stood a good ten feet or so from her, he could easily smell the trespassing male on Jennifer. By all the gods, she still wore the man’s jacket from earlier for chrissake. That, in and of itself, helped Ronon get a better grip on his wanton desire of her.
The strong scent of an adversary had the dark beast within snarling and wanting vengeance. Had it wanting to claim what belonged to him.
Clenching tight his jaw, Ronon remained a statue – lifeless – as he strengthened his resolve by summoning to the surface the image of Jennifer in the arms of this other rival.
By bringing the bastard's face to the forefront of his mind, Ronon was able to override his want for Jennifer and replace it with rage for the lieutenant who thought to come between him and his other.
Ronon had seen for himself how far the son-of-a-bitch would go.
The Satedan had quietly followed the cozy couple when they had made their way to the transporter. He had kept to the shadows as the intruding male leaned in to kiss Jennifer.
At that point in time, Ronon nearly lost it. His hand had been gripping the butt of his gun so tightly that his knuckles turned white and his jaw still hurt from clenching his teeth so hard together.
He had watched as Jennifer stepped back into the transporter and left the man standing alone.
Seconds had ticked by with excruciating slowness as Ronon watched Masterson wait for the return of the transporter.
If looks could have killed, the young lieutenant would have been dead a million times over. In a million different ways.
It took a great deal of effort to finally force himself to leave the man alone. Ronon wanted to kill the prick so badly.
Since Masterson was waiting for the transporter, Ronon had to take the stairs to get to Jennifer's quarters.
Disgusted and angry with himself for having left Masterson unharmed, Ronon took the stairs two and three at a time. He reached the fourth floor just as Jennifer was exiting the transporter.
Ronon stood just out of sight as she made her way to her room. When the doors had opened and she walked through, Ronon had barely enough time to enter right behind her before the doors closed shut again.
Jennifer hadn't even noticed that he was in the room with her because she was so focused on all the paperwork on her desk.
So now, without taking his eyes off of her, Ronon extended his left arm and forcefully placed the large palm of his hand upon the access panel of the doors - locking them.
No one was entering and no one was leaving.
It seemed Jennifer's dark angel was about to set a few things straight.
Reviews would be most welcoming.
The last thing Ronon expected to see on his return to Atlantis was Jennifer and a strange male laughing, smiling and walking arm in arm together. The instant Ronon had spied the two it felt like a dull, rusty blade had been plunged deep into his gut and left there to fester. Shock, then rage, had flowed through Ronon searing the image of the couple deep within his soul forever.
If he had been told such a prophecy existed, Ronon would have sworn upon his life that it would never come to fruition. However, seeing now that such a wager would have been lost, Ronon struggled with his decision on keeping his distance from Jennifer, and still keep her protected and safe. The warrior in him had been so focused on keeping Jennifer from death's door that it hadn't occurred to the hot-blooded male Satedan within that she would eventually turn to another male for comfort and other pleasures.
The more Ronon thought of her seeking out another, the more his hold on his emotions slowly eroded away.
The realization that she possibly cared for someone else, caused Ronon to cease being a rational individual and become more like a crazed beast – wounded to its core. He tried to stay in control, but he barely held tight to the reins of his primal desires and anger. If he were to let loose both the ba'ni and his dark beast, Ronon would - without a doubt - make Jennifer Keller his in every way possible.
A mixture of white-hot rage and desire slowly burned within Ronon as he stared at the beautiful and maddening tormentor from across the room. Clenching his jaw and taking a deep breath, he couldn't help but imagine – or selfishly plan – what he would do to her.
The first thing Ronon would do would be to divest them both of their clothing. First item to go would be that fucking jacket which she still wore. Once naked, he would take - without hesitation - what he deemed to be his. Ronon would in one fluid motion turn her around, bend her over the desk and take her from behind. There would be no need for any preamble or foreplay; her body would easily accept all of him without much resistance. Jennifer would be ready for him, just as she was now.
With his keen Satedan senses, Ronon could smell her enticing essence from all the way across the room. The scent of her arousal began to surround him; to shroud him in an overwhelming state of erotic intoxication. Breathing in deep, he knew that Jennifer would be ready for him - slick and wet - even now if he were to put into action his thoughts. She smelled like a heady mix of Trivydia blossoms and sweet sensual female. She was like a drug, he the addict. And like any devout addict, Ronon never wished to be without his drug of choice nor far from the source of it.
Somehow holding himself back, Ronon's thoughts continued their wanton travels. After bringing her to climax bent over the desk, he would not give her a chance to assemble a single logical thought before he would forcefully throw her onto the nearby bed. With his larger frame easily pinning her to the mattress, Jennifer would protest at the rough handling until his hands, mouth and tongue would start to pay homage to her entire delectable body. Which in turn would have her objections become enticing cries of passion.
The corners of his mouth twitched and his gaze narrowed as he imagined her begging for mercy within a matter of minutes of his enthusiastic endeavors. Then with her soft pleadings whispered next to his ear – and only then – would he swiftly bury himself deep within her folds once more.
He imagined her wrapping her legs tightly around his waist while she would mark his back with her nails digging deep into his flesh. Jennifer would ride wave after wave of pleasure that he would generously gift her with until she'd slowly float back down to reality. However Ronon would not relinquish possession of her body so easily. No, not until he reached his own orgasm. His own pinnacle of pleasure. He would take her with him - again - riding yet another wave of bliss. He would bury himself deep within her very core this time and fill her with his release. He would let her wet heat pull every drop he offered from him. And at the crest of such a climax Ronon would look deep into her eyes - into her very soul - and fiercely whisper, "You fucking belong to me!" as they both would fall together over the edge of exquisite ecstasy.
Ronon inhaled deeply to try and steady his thundering heart and to control his wild thoughts. And also to have an excuse to drown himself in her addictive scent. Inhaling deep her unique sensual smell, Ronon thought of how he would finish his fantasy.
He would carry her listless body to the bathroom and under the hot, steaming water Ronon would rid her of the opposing male's scent. Once again aggressively replacing it with his own. By the end of it all, they both would be sated and weak from experiencing wave after wave of pleasure. So much so that the morning would find them both wrapped up in each others arms still lying on the bathroom floor; too exhausted to have ever made it to the bed.
By the time his thoughts ended with their bodies entwined on the bathroom floor, Ronon was in a painful state of arousal.
By the gods, he thought, the woman before him was surely driving him insane. One minute he was seething with anger and the next lust flowed through his veins like a Fra`kretian whore house.
What was he suppose to do? He didn't have time for this.
Ronon didn't have time to hold her in his arms and confess his heart to her; to bare his soul and tell her how much he had missed her. How much he needed her. How much he loved her.
Alianna needed him more at the moment and here he was lusting after a woman he couldn't have. Ronon needed to adhere to his previous plans of keeping his distance from Jennifer and to keep her safe.
So Ronon gathered his emotions as best he could and locked them away deep in the recesses of his heart.
Would there ever be a right time to tell Jennifer how he felt; how he really felt despite what he started to refer to as the curse of the ba'ni harbored within his being.
Ronon felt a slight tug; an invisible pull deep from within him. He knew it for what it was: Jennifer's gentle soul silently reaching out to him; calling out to sooth his tormented one. Her soul beckoned him to merge with her so that they both could become one. The ancient power of the ba'ni, which coursed through his veins like fine, aged Ri'marian whiskey - warm, mellow and smooth - was trying to connect the two separate entities.
Ronon ignored the strong urge to obey, however, and hastily constructed a powerful wall of rage around his heart. He fortified it with the knowledge that another man had briefly held in his arms what rightfully belonged to him. Ronon's dark gaze narrowed at the thought of the young officer touching Jennifer. The beast within impatiently growled; its hunger for vengeance steadily growing.
Nonetheless, Ronon would have to deal with the little prick at a later date. His focus was on Jennifer at the moment.
With the images of the desk, the bed and shower still fresh in his mind, Ronon slowly approached his other.
At the mere sight of him, Jennifer's knees had gone weak. She hadn't trusted herself to stand on her own accord so she used the desk behind her for support. Jennifer remained transfixed by the intensity of the brooding Satedan's heated stare. His face was unreadable – like a mask void of all emotion. After several minutes of him just staring at her, Ronon slowly made his way towards her.
Jennifer's gaze never left him. She had once read somewhere that a person should never take their eyes off of a predator if they valued their safety. A dangerous, unpredictable beast of strength and cunning was what he now reminded her of – a very lethal predator stalking its prey.
As he made his way across the room, Jennifer's heart beat faster, her breath quickened. A shiver ran through her; not one of fear, but of anticipation. The hibernating butterflies in her stomach sprang to life with such force that she laid a hand upon her stomach. Suppressing a joyful giggle, Jennifer barely could hold down the pure excitement that she felt. Her soul cried out in joy. Her Ronon was back.
However, something was different. This was not the same man that had left three weeks ago. There was something about him that she couldn't quite put her finger on. Then Ronon stopped just out of arms reach of her. His domineering presence made her heart skip a beat and the tingling between her thighs started to build.
Jennifer needed to touch him. Needed to see if he was real or just a figment of her imagination. She took a tentative step forward with her hand raised. Yet, before she could make contact, Ronon swiftly grabbed her wrist. His hot breath fanned over her face as he looked down upon her.
Seconds ticked by until he let lose his grip and told her in no uncertain terms, "Take off that fucking jacket!"
Jennifer took a step back from the man standing in front of her. The dark current that flowed through Ronon's deep, commanding voice had her heart nearly pounding out of her chest. In addition, she was floored by the heat and harshness of his words. She had seen Ronon like this a few times before; when he was extremely angry. But that anger had always been directed at other people, never towards her. Not until now it seemed.
As she shrugged out of the over-sized jacket, Ronon watched as she tossed it onto a nearby chair. How he wanted so badly to set fire to the hated piece of material and burn it to ash along with the memory of seeing her in another man's embrace.
When Jennifer's soft inquisitive voice brought his attention back to her, he noticed her questioning stare of why he was angry.
Ronon wanted to tell her that seeing her wearing another man's clothes was like waving a red flag in front of a raging bull. And that he could not stand the offensive stench of another male surrounding her any longer. Suddenly the urge to grab her and make his fantasy a reality swept over him. It took everything Ronon had to ignore such a reckless impulse. He had to put some needed distance between them, even if it was only a few feet.
Before Jen could bombard him with verbal questions - ones he didn't feel much like answering - Ronon deftly stepped around her to stand at the foot of her bed. With his back to her, he stared down at the chaotic mess of papers at his feet. This was the same mess that had previously occupied her desk before she apparently lost her temper and sent the pile flying. What could had made her so angry? He frowned at the thought.
In the short time that Ronon had known Jennifer, he had never seen her lose control like that. The warrior in him wanted to seek out and annihilate whatever problem she had. The protective male in him wanted to sooth her and make her feel safe - to make everything right again. Unfortunately, Ronon didn't have the time; Alianna needed him.
"We need to go." He said without even turning around. Ronon knew that if he looked at Jennifer now, he'd see those hypnotizing lake-blue eyes of hers staring up at him. And at the moment, he couldn't afford to take the chance of drowning.
"Leave? Why? You just got back!" She nearly stomped her foot in annoyance at his announcement. What the hell?
"Medical Emergency." was his reply.
Jennifer perked up. Her professional instincts kicked in, overriding the desire to hit Ronon over the head with whatever was close at hand – pillow, book – preferably a brick! Anything to snap him out of this dark distant mood he'd maneuvered them both into. Why was he acting so standoffish?
"Who? Where at?" She hadn't wanted to utter the words because deep down she didn't want to know the who.
"Doesn't matter." he absently informed her as he continued to eye the paperwork at his feet. One file in particular caught his attention. "Get your shoes on; we need to go." His voice was gruff, urgent and commanding.
Jennifer sighed in frustration. What was wrong with him? He seemed to keep her at a distance with both his words and actions. She didn't understand it. Didn't he realize how much she had missed him? How much his being away had hurt? Had nearly torn her apart? What had happened to him within the weeks he'd been gone? Maybe he actually did find someone else and doesn't care for her anymore? At that thought her mouth went dry and her heart plunged into her stomach, crushing all the million and one butterflies under the heavy weight of loss.
Thoughts tumbled around in Jennifer's head as she went to her closet and grabbed her boots. She sat down in the chair where she had flung Kyle's jacket and proceeded - for a second time - to do as ordered. She would do as he said for the time being, she told herself, and then she would demand answers to all of this. Even demand answers to questions she really didn't want answered.
Ronon turned his dark head to the side and out of the corner of his eye saw Jen's choice of seats. Of all the places to sit her pretty little ass, the woman sits there? The dark beast within growled his disapproval.
Turning his attention back to the mess at his feet, Ronon crouched down and picked up one of the folders that had caught his attention earlier. It was a file with her name on it.
After having pulled on her boots with a little more force than needed, Jen stood, glanced over at Ronon – and froze. He was holding one of her medical files. Actually had it open and was reading the damn thing.
Crap! She needed to get that away from him and fast.
Jennifer tried to distract Ronon with humor. So looking around the room, she forced a laugh and said, "Will you just look at this mess."
Jennifer spoke a bit louder, "I guess it must be the maid's day off." That caused some reaction from him, but not what she had intended.
Ronon slowly stood to his full height and turned towards her; his pale green eyes never left the page that they were focused on.
The fake laugh died in her throat and was replaced by a soft exasperated growl since Ronon was still ignoring her. At that moment she so wanted to punch the big brute.
Jennifer made her way to where Ronon stood and nervously blurted out, "That's...that's nothing, Ronon." She reached out her hand to take the file from him, but was met with his strong, broad back. Ronon had turned from her as he continued to read the report unimpeded.
"Ronon," she protested, "that's personal! You are not allowed to read that. It's classified." She added the last for good measure. The file really wasn't classified, but it sure as hell was personal.
She tried to reach around him to snatch the report out of his grasp, but that was like playing the child's game Keep Away with a rather large mountain. So she stood back with her arms crossed and her petite booted-foot tapping on her living room floor. Waiting.
"Don't we have to be somewhere?"
Ronon finally faced her, looked up from the folder and asked, "You're ill?" His dark gaze traveled over her; assessing her.
Jennifer's breath hitched in her throat. Her heart fluttered back up to her chest while she felt a slight tingling sensation deep in her stomach. She wondered how someone with just a look could make her melt all the way to her very core.
"Wha?" She blinked. "Huh?" It took several seconds to find herself on solid mental ground again before she could answer him. "Uh...No." She blurted out, shaking her head. Jennifer tried once again to pluck the file from his hand, "I'm perfectly healthy."
Ronon countered her attempt to relieve him of the information this time by simply holding the folder at arm's length behind his back. He then proceeded to stare at her waiting for a more thorough explanation.
Vexed, Jennifer placed her hands on her hips. "I'm fine." At the doubtful look upon his face, she assured him, "Really I am. There is nothing wrong with me. The tests all came back normal. Besides the pain has gone away."
His eyes narrowed at that last statement. "Pain? What pain?" In all honesty, Ronon had merely skimmed through the folder not knowing any of the medical terms he was seeing. He just recognized both Carson's name and hers along with a lot of text, script, graphs and numbers then deduced that she was unwell.
Wanting answers, Ronon decided to use intimidation to get them. He purposely took several steps forward causing Jennifer to take an equal number of steps back until the wall impeded her retreat.
Predator and prey, she thought as Ronon's hulking frame towered over her. A thrill went through her.
He repeated his question, "What pain?"
"Umm...a few days ago I...I...uh...it doesn't really matter, Ronon." she answered, "The pain is gone. That's all that counts right?"
"Where?" he persisted.
"Where?" she replied dumbfounded, "The conference room. There was a...a department meeting and..."
"No. Where was this pain located?" Ronon already knew the answer, he just needed to hear it confirmed.
"Oh...uh..." She became tongue-tied. She couldn't think; not with him looking so intently at her and standing so close. God she missed his smell. All male. All rugged, intense, masculine testosterone-drenched male. Jennifer swallowed the moan that wanted desperately to escape her. Closing her eyes she tried to gather her words and thoughts. "Between my brea...ummm...I mean..." she flushed a pretty pink. Taking a deep breath she placed her hand over her heart and simply said, "Here."
This piece of information sobered Ronon immediately. The ba'ni. It had awakened in her due to the fact that he had stayed away for so long.
Growling, Ronon dropped the file, took Jennifer by the arm and guided her to the locked doors of her quarters.
"We have to go."
"And where exactly are we going?"
"The Med-Lab." He said after unlocking the doors and walking out into the empty hallway with Jennifer in tow.
"And then?" She rolled her eyes at his short, clip answers.
Stepping into the transporter Ronon's face was once again void of all emotion as he looked down at her and said, "My new home."
It was an unusually slow night in the infirmary when Jennifer and Ronon entered the facility. They found only one nurse on duty and absolutely no patients. The young woman was sitting at the small admittance desk. She was basically twiddling her thumbs waiting for something to happen or for anyone to show up.
After briefly talking to her, Jennifer found out that she was waiting for her two co-workers to return from lunch. She had drawn the proverbial short straw and got stuck with keeping watch in the deserted infirmary. She was awaiting their return so that she might then run and get something to eat herself. Seeing an opportunity to gather supplies without having to be questioned, Jennifer gave permission for the young nurse to join them.
"It's okay. Go get something to eat. I'll hold down the fort until you return." Jennifer told her with more exuberance than she felt. She also made a mental note - this was her first lie of the night.
"Are you sure, Dr. Keller?" the young brunette mumbled, as she eyed the man-candy that had followed the doctor into the infirmary. She was hoping he was a soon-to-be patient. If he was, then she was first in line to examine him. Thoroughly.
The man positioned himself near the supply room door and, even though he was just standing with his arms over his massive chest, his whole being emanated power and control. The look he was giving her reminded her of an ancient guardian – foreboding and unwavering. She softly sighed. This guy was by far the most sinfully, the most handsome man she'd ever seen in her life. She was positive that she hadn't seen the good-looking hunk around Atlantis before now. Damn! Where had he been hiding all this time?
"Nurse Simmons, is it?" Jennifer questioned as she smiled and tilted her head to block the other woman's view of Ronon.
The young nurse blushed at being caught ogling the tempting demigod and, turned her attention back to Jennifer and nodded, "Yes, Ma'am. Constance Simmons" she volunteered a little too loudly in hopes that the stranger would take notice.
Jennifer wanted to roll her eyes but instead insisted, "It's okay. Go. Get something to eat. I'll keep an eye on things while you're gone." Jennifer forced her brightest smile as she guided the young nurse past Ronon and towards the infirmary door. Jennifer was surprised that the girl's neck didn't snap off as her eyes stayed glued to Ronon while her body moved past him.
"We have no patients," Jennifer pointed out, "so, no worries there. Go get lunch."
Reluctantly turning her attention back to Jennifer, Nurse Simmons hesitated for a few seconds then said, "I won't be long, Dr. Keller." With one last long look at Ronon, she disappeared out the door and down the hallway to the cafeteria. She was eager to find out if any of her colleagues knew who tall, dark and handsome was and if he was spoken for. Gawd she hoped not!
It wasn't a total lie, Jen told herself after she and Ronon were completely alone. It was just a little fib really. She would be managing the med-lab while staff was at lunch. However, she would be packing. And, when she had everything packed up that she needed for the off-world mission, she would desert her post.
Sighing, Jen made a note to make sure that Nurse Simmons would not be reprimanded for leaving her duty station if it ever came to that. After all, Jennifer told her to leave.
Unlocking and entering the store room, Jennifer started gathering supplies for a breech birth. She garnered that little bit of information from Ronon just prior to entering the infirmary. In typical Ronon fashion and before she could ask what type of medical emergency she should be packing for, he had told her, "A woman is in labor. The babe comes into the world feet first. Pack what you need. Hurry!"
Being proficient in her selection of supplies, it only took several minutes to collect and pack nearly everything in a large duffle bag. Jen quickly zipped it up and, gathering the straps, walked out of the store room. She quickly side-stepped Ronon's attempt to take the heavy load from her and placed it next to the infirmary door. Going back to get more supplies, she completely ignored the infuriating Satedan. Her lips twitched into a phantom grin when she heard a growl coming from him as she walked right past him. Good, she thought, let him be pissed.
Again inside the well-stocked room, Jennifer quickly filled a smaller medical bag with the remainder of the supplies. As she angrily stuffed them into the backpack, she mulled over the second lie of the night. That was the lie where she told herself that Ronon's words hadn't hurt her.
My new home. Not 'our' new home, but 'my' new home he had said.
My new home. It appeared Ronon had found what he had been searching for those weeks away. And, apparently, it didn't include her.
Those three tiny, emotion-crushing words rumbled around in Jennifer's mind and ripped at her heart; shredding it little bit by little bit, until she was sure there would soon be nothing left.
That simple declaration also dealt an agonizing blow to Jennifer's soul. It felt as if all her hopes and dreams had been wounded and left to slowly die; to eventually become extinct. All her possibilities at happiness had been taken from her with those three simple words. She resigned herself to the fact that there was never going to be a future with Ronon.
She blinked back the hot tears that sprang up at that thought. Focus Jen…Just focus. You're needed. You can break down later. When he's not around. When you're alone.
She sniffled and somehow kept the tears at bay. Her pride would not let him see her cry. She would let the tears fall after their trip.
When she would come back alone, she would go to her living quarters alone and there she would cry all alone. Jennifer once more rapidly blinked back tears.
Waiting for Jen to gather all the supplies, Ronon leaned back against the wall and stared up at the ceiling.
My new home.
As he replayed those words in his head, Ronon closed his eyes. With each word echoing in his mind, he wearily hit his head back against the wall.
Bam. Bam. Bam.
My. New. Home.
What the hell had made him say that? The words had just slipped out of his fool mouth before he could stop them. Maybe a small part of him wanted to hurt her as she'd hurt him by being with Masterson, he thought as he angrily pushed away from the wall. He didn't really know. What he did know was that with one little heat-of-the-moment statement, he had succeeded at cutting her to the quick.
Good job dumbass!
Ronon knew that Jen was trying to keep secret the pain and hurt she was experiencing. However, the woman was doing a terrible job at it. He didn't miss the occasional sniffle coming from the other room. He would bet a month's wages that her lake-blue eyes shimmered with unshed tears. Unshed tears that he was the sole cause of.
To top it all off, she was pissed at him.
Ronon figured that out several moments ago. Jennifer had come out of the storage room carrying a bag nearly as big as she was and twice as heavy from the looks of it. As she walked past him, he tried to help her, but the stubborn woman moved from his reach to deposit the load near the infirmary door. Yup, pissed, he thought. She became very independent when she was mad.
A low rumbling growl escaped him as he had watched her walk back into the store room. With her back stiff and her gaze focused straight ahead, Jennifer had paid him no mind. At that moment Ronon had the urge to punch a hole in the wall. He was so frustrated. He could handle pissed. He could fix hurt. He couldn't, however, tolerate being ignored – even though he was a master at it himself.
With his arms folded over his chest, Ronon stood just outside the supply closet. His dark head tilted slightly towards the doorway. He listened intently as Jennifer rushed around gathering the remaining items needed to aid Alianna.
She finally exited the room carrying a backpack slung over her shoulder. Passing Ronon without a glance, she headed for the bag near the exit. But before she could even get to it Ronon was there and grabbed the oversized duffle. He heatedly stared at her; challenging her to try and take the bag from him.
They stood as such for a few moments; staring each other down. He had noticed that her eyes and the tip of her pert little nose were slightly red. He tightened his grip on the bag. He was the cause. Ronon would have won the bet. Unshed tears glistened making her blue eyes a deep rich indigo color. They matched the deep blue of the Gondorian Sea and they were just as turbulent.
Ronon finally turned and headed for the transporter. He couldn't stand looking at her knowing that he'd put that pained expression upon her beautiful face. Without looking back he knew she followed by the loud sniffle he heard not too far behind him.
Both stood in awkward silence as they waited for the doors to the transporter to open.
Ronon needed to tell her everything. He needed to tell her about the ba'ni, about his people and the new world that they'd found. He needed to tell her how much she meant to him; how much he loved her. To tell her that she was his home.
Ronon needed to tell her everything so that the hurt he caused could be forgiven. He turned to face her and was about to tell her how sorry he was when the transporter doors swooshed open and there stood Lt. Masterson.
The dark beast snarled. A rival male was near what belonged to him. That was unacceptable. He barely held tight to the beast's chain. Hell Ronon scarcely held himself in check, but somehow he managed. That was up until the moment Masterson left the transporter and stepped between Ronon and Jennifer.
With Dr. Keller at his back, Kyle's attention was fully on Ronon. He began backing up; maneuvering her away from the rather large menacing stranger.
The beast within roared at the silent challenge made; a confrontation that had Ronon seeing red. In the warrior's mind, he had just been challenged for what rightfully belonged to him. Ronon instantly let loose his grip on both the bag and his self-control.
Unfortunately, in his gallant effort to protect Jennifer, Lt. Kyle Masterson had just signed his own immediate death warrant with an extremely irate Satedan as the executioner.
This chapter took me some time to come up with. I would write then re-write then re-write some more and re-write even more. Finally I said screw it...and so here it is. I hope you enjoy it. Reviews would be welcome as always. Also I would like to thank all the readers who have stuck with me thus far. Writing is a joy to me and writing to entertain others is even a greater joy. Once again, Thank you all!
After Kyle had stepped from the transporter, everything happened rather quickly for Jennifer. One minute she had been standing alongside Ronon; and the next, she found herself situated behind the young officer. Before she could ask Kyle what was going on, he started backing up. Jennifer had to follow suit if she didn't want to be stepped on.
A few seconds later she came to an abrupt halt when the closed transporter doors ended her retreat. Instinctively Jennifer brought up her hands. She placed them upon Kyle's back, indicating that there was no more room and for him to stop before he squished her.
Kyle was acting so strange. He glanced back at her. His face showed determination and purpose. Gone was the laid back, good ol' boy personae from earlier. Standing in front of her now was a soldier ready to do battle. Lt. Masterson's entire body language spoke of a man on high-alert; of someone who was preparing for the worse. But why? And why pin her up against the transporter doors?
The reason was soon evident when Kyle raised his hand to swipe the transporter's operating panel. Jen realized that he was about to open the doors and usher her inside. What was going on? It was as if he sensed some type of danger; some threat and was getting her away from it.
They were on Atlantis. What sort of trouble could they possibly encounter while here in the city? What foreboding concern had Lt. Masterson using his own body as a shield? And why make such an effort to escape in the transporter?
A frown crinkled her brow. Jennifer’s thoughts raced. The possibility of danger was overshadowed by confusion. The only other person around was Ronon. And, of course, he was no threat. Maybe he sensed something too.
Jennifer tried to see if Ronon was acting the same, but Kyle temporarily blocked her view of the man. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. Jennifer's puzzled look faded as it finally dawned on her that maybe the question shouldn't be what Kyle was shielding her from but more along the lines of whom. Jennifer probably would have figured it out a lot sooner if she'd not been so damn upset with Ronon in the first place.
Apparently Kyle regarded the big, bad-ass looking Satedan standing in front of them as the danger he’d been sensing; the threat that he needed to protect her from. Jennifer couldn't help but grin. How could anyone fault Lt. Masterson for mistaking the stranger before him as a threat? Any sensible individual would have thought and done the same thing.
Ronon was, by nature, a dangerous man. By adding his military training and years of being a Runner into the mix, his volatile personality was primed and ready to explode with the slightest of provocations.
In spite of this, Ronon always gave fair warning to the individual who was coming close to crossing the fine line of pissing him off; the fine line of life or death.
Ronon simply conveyed the warning with his customary dark, brooding glare. The look was to strike caution, fear and dread within the hearts of the bravest – or most foolish – of men. It was meant for them to change tactics; to get them to back down.
Even individuals who were familiar with the Satedan and his ways were taken aback at times with his foreboding presence; especially when he bestowed the look on them.
It was something that Jennifer had been first made aware of those many months ago when she'd beamed down from the Daedalus to stand before the most frightening man she'd ever seen. Luckily Ronon had been fooling around at the time with her. However, the long and short of it, the look was Ronon's silent way of declaring, "I am pissed and you will suffer because of it."
Cautiously Jen peered around Kyle to judge Ronon's reaction to the whole situation. What she witnessed was indeed the look on his face.
To his credit though, Kyle stood steadfast in the decision of grabbing the damsel in distress and squaring off with the fuming alien. He was not backing down. On the contrary Lieutenant Masterson was doing a bang up job for his first time coming face-to-face with the scowling force of nature known as Ronon Dex. Very impressive by anyone's standards to be sure.
Yeah, great job, Jennifer thought, if one had hopes of a swift and not-so-painless death. The verdict was still out on if Kyle was fearless, foolish or a little bit of both.
Highly aware of his signature I'm pissed glare, Jen immediately dropped her pack just at about the same time Ronon dropped his.
To prevent Ronon from getting his hands on the younger man, Jen somehow managed to get from behind Kyle and squeeze herself between the two testosterone charged males before either of them had a chance to kill the other. Or to be more precise, before Ronon could kill Lt. Masterson.
Why was Ronon so angry? It wasn't as if Kyle was a stranger. Yes, to Ronon he was, but the man did wear the Atlantis uniform for chrissake! That should have given him some sort of clue that Kyle wasn't part of any enemy invasion. Possibly Ronon was angry due to the fact that he was in a hurry to get back to his sister and was being detained. Ronon's patience must be wearing thin to become so quickly angered. Jen rolled her eyes. What was she thinking? Ronon had very little patience if any. So why was he so angry this time?
An odd thought popped into Jennifer's head. Could it be that Ronon was pissed at how Kyle had man-handled her. How he had shoved her behind himself? How he had kept her away from Ronon. Kyle had done it so easily and unexpectedly. Yeah, that might have prompted the look on the warrior's handsome face. After all she was one of his team mates and Ronon had always been a bit overly protective of her.
As Jen stood between the two men, keeping them apart, she thought no that couldn't be it and opted for the prior explanation. That Ronon was more than likely concerned about his sister's well-being than with her. Jen told herself that she had to accept the fact that she wasn't Ronon's concern anymore. With him leaving Atlantis to be with his people, Jennifer had just been another female to hold his attention while here. The perfect woman for Ronon was waiting for him back at his new home.
Blinking back the tears, Jennifer had to quickly defuse this mess. She raised her hands to the southern bred good ol' boy in a "let's all calm down" type of gesture. Kyle stood just a couple feet in front of her; his eyes glued to Ronon. She couldn't tell what he was thinking, but he didn’t look all too happy with her putting herself between himself and the menacing stranger.
As for Ronon, he stood so close behind her that she could practically feel his chest rise and fall. Feel his hot breath fanning the back of her head and neck. It just barely disturbed her hair when he exhaled. But the steady breath was just enough to let her know he barely held his emotions in check. Jennifer knew exactly what Ronon was thinking the minute she tried to explain the whole situation to Kyle.
"Lieutenant Masterson, I can…"
Ronon's threatening growl cut her off. Jen shuttered. Not from fear, but from a little spark of excitement. The sound he made seemed to be sort of territorial; so intimidating but kinda sexy at the same time. Being so near him she had felt the rumble of the warning as well as heard it. Jen also felt the heat of his anger. It radiated off of Ronon in waves. It was as if a dark emotion fueled some sort of raging beast inside the warrior – a beast that fought to get out.
Along with the warning, Ronon had stepped forward. He inadvertently pushed Jennifer closer to Kyle. With such a force behind her, Ronon's action caused her to instinctively stretch out her arms once again so that this time she wouldn't get squished between the two hot-headed men. Alas, Jen's hands landed upon the young lieutenant's solid chest.
Embarrassed, Jen hastily removed her hands after regaining her balance. She kept a smile plastered on her face as she forcefully took a step back. The step pushed against Ronon causing him to yield and to take a step back also. Jennifer was trying to put some space between her and Kyle, but the big idiot behind her was slow on the uptake.
Once again standing a couple of feet from Lt. Masterson, Jen forcefully planted her left elbow right into Ronon's midsection. The brute didn't even flinch as she turned her head to give him a withering look.
The proud warrior stood tall…shoulders back…hands fisted at his sides. His dark head was slightly tilted down, but his pale green eyes were riveted upon Kyle and no one else. Ronon's brows were knitted together so tightly into a scowl that the scar above his left eye became more pronounced. It was an expression that could have put fear into the devil himself.
Jen knew the rumbling sound behind her was a sign of Ronon's impatience to be going; a sign of his impatience of the whole situation. She had to find a way to tell Kyle what they were doing without giving away where they were going. She figured it was up to Ronon to tell whomever he wanted about his new home.
"Ronon!" with another elbow to his gut and a more heated glance at him, Jennifer said through gritted teeth, "Stop!" His gaze – which never left the lieutenant – narrowed, his jaw tightened. He did as she asked and stood quiet – for the moment.
Turning her attention back to Kyle, she smiled again as best she could before asking, "Kyle, what are you doing here?"
A lop-sided smile crossed his handsome face but the warmth of it never reached his eyes. They were as cold as the turquoise stone they reminded her of.
When he spoke Kyle’s voice held a hint of anger, “I was about to ask ya the same thing doc.” he said in that thick southern drawl, “Ya wanna introduce me to your friend or do I have to make my own personal introductions?”
Jen closed her eyes when she felt Ronon once again growl behind her.
Great! The proverbial shit was about to hit the fan and she was in the middle without an umbrella!
Kyle, what are you doing here?
Apparently that was the million dollar question at the moment for Lt. Masterson.
Dr. Keller had been on his mind ever since she'd left him alone on the lower level of Atlantis less than an hour ago. During that time he had mentally kicked himself many times over for what happened, or to be more precise, for what had nearly happened.
He had tried to steal a kiss. Nothing more, nothing less. However, when he had just barely grazed her lips with his, she'd quickly stepped away from him with shock and disdain upon her face; her expression forever etched into his mind. That one look alone had made him feel lower than a snake's belly crawling through a tire rut. All he had wanted was a sweet, gentle kiss. He should had known better though, but being so close to her had the rational thinking side of him being quickly outflanked by his love struck impulsive side.
Deep down Kyle knew that he had broken a very important and fragile truce between them with that brazen act. And he hated himself for it. He'd been such an idiot. What had he been thinking? They had a good working relationship together. Why ruin it with such an impulse?
Because Kyle wanted more. He wanted all of her. He just had to keep reminding himself that it would take time. It would take time for him to chip away at Dr. Keller's resolve. To wear her down. To get her to come to him. With his charm and persistence, eventually she would let down her guard and he'd slip right into her life and stay there permanently. Until that time presented itself, he just had to have patience and curb his wayward impulses.
So after having admonished himself for the hundredth time, Kyle had gone in search of Dr. Keller under the guise of getting his jacket back. Once inside her quarters, he had planned to apologize for his actions and then cautiously make his intentions known. In time she would be his, but first and foremost he had to apologize; to set things straight. His deep seeded southern upbringing wouldn't let him do anything less but to make amends for acting so bold. A gentleman did not take advantage of a lady – no matter how tempting the situation.
When there had been no answer he had assumed that she'd gone off to get something to eat. When he had entered the mess hall he had noticed that the only occupants of the dining area had been a handful of giggling, gossiping women. They were seated at one of the corner tables near the door. Jennifer hadn't been among them. He had even checked the balconies overlooking the ocean. He knew that at times she ate her meager meals outside as she stared off into the night sky.
Kyle had begun to worry as to where Jennifer might be. As he passed the table full of women, Kyle smiled politely, nodded, "Ladies" and walked on. A pretty little nurse with dark brown hair caught his attention. She was talking to her friends about the most gorgeous man she'd had ever seen before in her life.
Sheer masculinity...Dominance...He could tie me up in bed anytime.
Kyle just shook his head, smiled and kept walking. He was nearly out the door when he overheard her say, "I don't know what he was doing with Dr. Keller in the infirmary, but..."
That was all Kyle needed to hear as he had raced for the med-lab.
After the transporter doors had opened, what stood before him was the most intimidating individual he'd ever come across in his life. The stranger's eyes fairly shot daggers at him. What shocked Kyle the most was when the stranger literally bared his teeth and growled at him. This was no man Kyle thought, but a beast in disguise.
Kyle tried to protect Dr. Keller from the danger, but, without warning, the insane woman positioned herself in the middle of him and the devil incarnate towering over them.
Coming back to her earlier question about what he was doing here, Kyle simply smiled and confessed, "I was about to ask ya the same thing doc." And when Kyle inquired about the other man, Dr. Keller glanced from Kyle to the stranger and then back at him. She looked worried and it seemed that she'd been crying. What the hell was going on?
Jennifer stood in the middle of the two men, with Ronon to her left and Kyle her right. She was determined to keep them apart until they both calmed down. Taking a deep breath, she took a moment to gather her thoughts.
The atmosphere was so thick with tension it nearly overwhelmed her. Instead of a knife, Jennifer imagined herself having to use a diamond-tipped buzz saw to cut through the hostility. It hung in the air like flammable gas. Jennifer knew that with one tiny spark - one wrong look, one misplaced word - tempers could ignite; escalating things to a whole new level and with her in the freakin' middle of it all.
Taking a deep breath, Jennifer made the necessary introductions before things got worse – if they weren't already.
"Kyle….uh I mean….Lieutenant this…" Jennifer said pointing to Ronon "…this is Ronon Dex. Ronon, Lt. Kyle Mast…."
"I know who he is." the warrior grumbled; his voice low and threatening.
Kyle was surprised that the missing link could speak. He also wondered what other tricks he was capable of preforming. Perhaps tying up women? At that thought, Kyle's jaw tightened and he fisted his hands by his side. He could feel his blood beginning to boil at the thought of this over grown neanderthal even touching Dr. Keller.
"Oh? Okay." She was confused. How did Ronon know who Kyle was? She was sure that this was the first time that both of them had met. Her thoughts were shattered, however, when Kyle spoke again.
"Goin' somewhere doc?" He tried to keep the anger from his voice but he failed miserably.
"Uh…yes actually…well…you see…." Jennifer turned to face Kyle now with Ronon once again at her back. She bit her bottom lip and was debating on what to tell him when a soft growl came from behind her. Jennifer elbowed Ronon before he could say anything.
"Uh…yeah I was just about to head off-world. There's this…"
"Alone? At this hour?" She wasn't actually thinking of leaving base with this devil was she?
Another growl. This one a bit louder.
"What?" Jennifer put a bit more power behind the jab that she delivered to Ronon's gut with her elbow. "Alone? Oh..no…no..umm…you see...actually we" Jennifer motioned indicating herself and Ronon "….we were j-just about to leave."
Having never taken his eyes off of Ronon throughout the whole conversation Kyle simply stated, "I see." She was going to leave with this man. Alone. He was sure that Jennifer Keller had lost her mind. Or else the dangerous looking individual was forcing her to go with him for some reason. Forcing her against her well.
"Medical emergency." she continued explaining. "Soooo as you can see" pointing to Ronon, "I'm in capable hands."
"Are ya sure Jen?" concern laced his words.
Before Jennifer could answer, Ronon growled, "She's sure." Those two simple words and the tone he used spoke volumes. He did not appreciate the casual use of Jennifer's name by the young officer. It seemed too intimate for his peace of mind.
Kyle was sure that the towering caveman was trying to intimidate him; but he wasn't backing down. He hadn't been in a good fight in quite some time. What was it his grandpa always said? The bigger they are, the harder they fall. This one was going to fall real hard!
At Ronon's tone, Jennifer turned to see the look on his face. Crap! Somehow things just got worse.
Bright blue eyes seared into pale green ones as the two men stepped closer to each other. And once again Jennifer was sandwiched in between them.
"Enough! The both of you!" Turning completely around to look up at Ronon she stated, "We don't have time for this."
"You're right." Ronon snarled without looking at her. He stepped to the side at the same time that he moved Jennifer out of his way. With speed born of skill, Ronon's fist connected with Kyle's face. His head snapped back with the force of the punch and he crumpled to the floor unconscious.
Adrenalin coursed through Ronon as he stood over the man. His stance resembled that of a dominant male who just laid claim to what was his in the first place - Jennifer. Ronon felt satisfaction knowing that he'd broken the lieutenant's nose. He recalled the crunch of cartilage underneath his fist and smiled.
"Ronon!" Jennifer gasped as she came to stand by him.
When Ronon looked down at her, she had one delicate hand covering her mouth and her eyes were wide from shock. Quickly composing herself, Jennifer smacked Ronon across his chest with the back of her hand and gave him a I can't believe you did that look before she knelt down next to the lieutenant.
"Kyle?" Jennifer spoke softly as she patted the side of his face. His nose was undeniably broken. However, before she could see to any further damage Ronon's fist might have caused, she was being hauled up off the floor by her arm.
"We need to go." Having already picked up both bags, the angry Satedan stepped over the body on the floor and dragged a reluctant Jennifer along with him.
"Ronon Dex!" Jennifer tried to get free of his grip and at the same time tried to keep up with his long strides as he headed for the gate room. "Kyle was just concerned for my well-being."
"You didn't have to hit him."
"I should have shot him instead." Ronon stopped abruptly and pushed Jennifer against the corridor wall. His massive body pinned her there as he leaned down close to her face and angrily whispered "Maybe I should go back and do just that? Blast a hole right through him."
"What? No! You can't do that." Jennifer tried to get free by pushing at the hulking Satedan, but he wasn't budging.
Ronon narrowed his eyes and looked deep into Jennifer's startled blue ones. She would have him spare the asshole? Did Jennifer have feelings for this man?
If it weren't for his sister being in a life-or-death situation, he would go back and pummel Kyle to a bloody pulp then shoot him.
"Ronon what is wrong with you?" Jennifer had never seen him like this…so very…angry. He reminded her of Brian but more dangerous – if that was even possible. Yes, with a man like Ronon she thought, it was.
He ignored her question as he once again headed for the gate room with Jennifer in tow.
Making their way to the platform Ronon dropped the bags at her feet and ordered her to stay. He bounded up the stairs to the control room. There was a new crew member on duty; one Ronon hadn't seen before. He told the tech to enter the following set of coordinates. Before Ronon could give him the sequence, the poor private stuttered that he couldn't do anything without proper authorization.
Watching from the platform below Jennifer could see that Ronon was not very happy with that answer. Before Ronon became more upset and did something foolish, Jennifer called up, "I authorize the jump Private. It's okay."
"You heard her. She's the CMO and this jump has just been authorized." Unceremoniously Ronon shoved the tech out of his chair and dialed the Chevrons. He was opening the gate to New Sateda. As Ronon ran back down to Jennifer, the wormhole materialized, shot out and then stabilized.
Gathering the bags, Ronon and Jennifer were less than a foot from the gate entrance when they heard a familiar voice giving an ultimate command.
"Cease and desist!"
Looking back Ronon made eye contact with Sheppard. Jennifer had turned to face the Colonel when the shimmering stargate blue turned red. The next thing she knew Ronon had grabbed her around her waist, picked her up and stepped through the gate.
Sheppard ran up the ramp to the gate, but it was too late, it had closed.
He commanded the new tech to dial the gate back up to the last coordinates entered and wait for further instructions. John then got on his mic and ordered Teyla, Evan and Rodney to the gate room on the double.
They had a rogue Satedan on their hands and he'd just kidnapped their CMO.
After having been given a direct order to open the Star Gate, the new recruit scrambled back up into his chair and resumed his post. He was still a little stunned after being shoved out of the way and onto the floor by some big burly guy he'd never seen before - and hoped to never see again. Gathering his wits about him, PFC Redmond entered the code to do as ordered and open the gate. However, the damn thing didn't seem to be working properly. He entered the code again. Then again and again. Nothing. The ring remained silent.
Redmond was confused. Each time he entered the code that was meant to bring up the last known coordinates, his computer screen showed the day's last off-world jump. An off-world jump from twelve hours ago. The system shouldn't be doing that, Redmond thought. It shouldn't be trying to initialize a jump from earlier in the day when Dr. Keller, along with the stranger, had left just moments ago.
Flustered, Redmond tried a different code, but with that the panel before him now flashed a systems error – a rather strange error. DESTINATION NOT FOUND. What the heck?! Something wasn't adding up. There had to be a glitch in the system because he knew that he was doing everything right. So why wouldn't the chevrons repeat the sequence and initialize the gate?
"Private what's the hold up?" the Colonel demanded as he stood looking up at the new tech on duty. "Why isn't the gate open yet?"
"Sir, I…uh…I don't know. The StarGate seems to be malfunctioning." Redmond answered nervously. This was his first time at the controls. It was the night shift and it was supposed to be quiet. If this was quiet for this place, he'd hate to see what chaotic was like.
"What do you mean malfunctioning? You can't dial up the gate?" Sheppard questioned as he bounded up the stairs and now stood next to the Marine.
"I'm sorry Sir, but I can't bring up the last known coordinates. I mean I can but the coordinates that the other guy entered…they just don't show up. The system only shows the last five off-world jumps. And as you can see," Redmond pointed to the screen as proof, "the very last one was the jump headed by Cpt. Smythe nearly twelve hours ago."
"What? That's impossible!"
"Sir, I can tell you where the guy…"
"Beg your pardon, Sir?"
"The big guy. His name is Ronon Dex."
"And he's a part of Atlantis?" asked skeptically.
"He is for the moment." Sheppard mumbled under his breath. "Continue." he urged the young Marine.
"Um…well as I was saying, Sir, I can retrieve the address of the planet the guy…uh…I mean Mr. Dex jumped from to get here. I can't, however, pull up the location of where he and Dr. Keller jumped to. The system is showing an error."
And with that Redmond entered the code and just as before the DESTINATION NOT FOUND flashed upon the computer screen.
Sheppard was about to ask what planet Ronon had jumped from when his team - Rodney, Teyla and Evan - entered the gate room. Even though it was only zero two hundred hours, Teyla and Evan were suited up and ready to go. Rodney, on the other hand, looked like he had just rolled out of bed, grabbed his gear and slept-walked here.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Rodney spotted John standing at the control panel on the second tier. Crossing his arms over his chest, he frowned at the Colonel.
"This had better be important." he said through a yawn. "I was having the most wonderful dream about a swimming pool filled with, of all things, blue jell-o. Can you imagine that." The scientist spoke dreamily. "There was this really pretty technician there too." McKay smiled broadly, unfolded his arms and held out his hands, "She had these really big…"
"Rodney!" Sheppard scolded.
"Hmm?…What?!" Looking up at John and the warning look in his eyes had Rodney exclaiming, "I was going to say snow globes. Large snow globes!" Frowning and tapping his index finger on his chin the scientist wondered out loud, "Blue jell-o I get, but I don't know why I was dreaming about globes?" he mused. "So strange."
"McKay, we don't have time to analyze your jell-o dream." John stopped for a second. There was a joke in there somewhere but he was too pissed off to follow through with it. Instead he stated, "We've got a major problem here."
Teyla rolled her eyes at Rodney while Loren snickered. Both turned their attention towards John. Teyla was the first to ask, "Colonel, what has happened?"
"Ronon happened." was John's vague reply.
"He's showed back up?" Major Lorne inquired.
Everyone on Atlantis had been curious as to what had happened to the Satedan. He'd been gone for so long. They wondered where he had went off to because it was as if he'd just disappeared.
"Yeah he showed back up, and then left again it seems." Col. Shepperd stated as he paced back and forth next to the control panels, "and this time he took Dr. Keller with him."
At that precise moment Kyle stumbled into the gate room holding his hand over his still bleeding nose.
Teyla had seen the lieutenant enter and immediately went to where a first aid kit hung on the wall near the stairs. Retrieving it she rushed over to him. "Lt. Masterson," genuine concern etched upon her face as she asked, "What happened? Who did this to you?"
"I don't know; some big ass guy." Kyle said as he leaned his head back to try and stop the bleeding. His voice came out nasally sounding as he pinched his nose shut and said, "I tried to stop Dr. Keller. I tried to keep her from goin' but then the asshole sucker-punched me." Kyle was still seeing stars. The man had a fist like a 9 pound sledge hammer.
"That would've been Ronon." Rodney interrupted as a matter-of-factly.
With the look Teyla gave him, Rodney said defensively, "What? Ronon is rather big and Jennifer was with him, so you do the math."
Turning her attention back to the lieutenant, Teyla fished out a small pad from the first aid kit and handed it to Kyle. The pad was infused with CELOX granules that helped stop nosebleeds. He took it, put it up to his nostrils and applied pressure. Within seconds the bleeding had stopped.
Seeing that Lieutenant Masterson wasn't in dire need of attention, John turned his attention to the more pressing matter at hand. "Rodney get up here and see what you can make of this." Sheppard ordered.
"What is it?" McKay asked annoyed as he climbed the stairs.
"The Private here keeps getting some sort of systems error when he tries to dial up Ronon's off-world location."
"System error? What system error? It has to be an operator error if anything."
PFC Redmond took offense to that statement, but kept quiet and stood so Rodney could take over.
After several minutes had passed Rodney turned to Sheppard asking, "Which do you want first – the good news or the bad news?"
"Let's go with good just for the hell of it." John said.
"Okay. The good news is that I can tell you where Ronon jumped from in his return to Atlantis. It's some sort of backwater planet in the Carina Omega sector. NRI-4."
Redmond thought, I could had told you that.
"And the bad news?" John closed his eyes waiting for it.
"The bad news is that it isn't a system error that Private Redman..."
"My name. Redmond."
Rodney waved his hands dismissing the Marine. "Yeah well whatever. Anyway, somehow Ronon has erased all traces of his travels." Rodney had sounded very impressed at that aspect.
"What? How? So what your saying is that you have no idea where he and Jennifer went?"
"Uh..yeah pretty much. Whatever Ronon did, the system has no record of his latest jump and so we can't follow."
"Then fix it Rodney. Find a way to figure out where he went so we can go after them."
"Oh, okay!" the scientist answered indignantly. "Let me just wave my magic wand and…oh wait a minute...I forgot this kid stopped by a couple days ago and I loaned it out to him. You might know him. He wore round rimmed glasses, had a scar on his forehead, and talked with a cute British accent. Went by the name of Harry I think."
"Ha. Ha. Very funny."
"Look, if I knew what was wrong I'd fix it." Rodney huffed, "But I can't. The address Ronon punched in before they left is not in the system. It is not in the archives. It's as if it had been erased or something! There is no way of following them"
John thought out loud, "I wonder if it had anything to do with the event horizon turning red?"
"Red?" Rodney's curiosity was peaked.
"Yeah, it went from blue to red before Ronon and Jennifer went through."
"You didn't say anything about it being red. Interesting."
"Why? Is that important?"
"It might be." Rodney was already scrolling through his handheld computer, inputting data and ignoring everyone in the room.
"Well, figure out what's going on and fast! Ronon doesn't know that Jennifer is sick. She might have one of those attacks again and we have no clue as to where she's at to help her."
Nearly an hour later, Rodney slammed his computer shut; frustrated that he hadn't even come close to figuring out why the gate had turned red or why Ronon's coordinates didn't show up.
Seeing the defeat on the scientist's face, Sheppard made an executive decision. He gathered the small team together and told them the reason why Ronon had left Atlantis weeks ago without telling anyone. Teyla, Evan and Rodney were all in shock when John informed them that Ronon had gotten word about survivors from his home planet and that he'd gone in search of them.
John told the team that he'd bet a months wages that Ronon had succeeded at finding what he'd been looking for. Now as to why he'd taken Jennifer forcefully off-world with him was still a mystery within itself. One John was determined to solve.
So at the moment the only plausible plan Sheppard could come up with was to travel off-world to NRI-4 and wait. Wait for Ronon to show up.
As soon as the order was issued, Rodney piped up in that whiny voice of his which grated against Sheppard's last nerve, "But why do we have to go there? This planet is probably infested with some sort of man eating leprechaun or something!"
Everyone in the room looked at McKay like he'd gone insane.
"What? I've only had a few hours sleep okay. It was the best analogy I could come up with on such short notice. Besides I'd watched that B-rated flick a couple nights ago. It was rather scary!"
Shaking his head, John asserted, "Look, it's the only lead we have. Ronon jumped from NRI-4 to get to here. The odds are he'd have to do it again. When he does, we'll be there to see what the hell is going on."
"So Colonel is it only the four of us going?" Teyla questioned.
As if on que, six well armed Marines entered the gate room. Earlier Sheppard had taken Maj. Lorne off to the side and ordered him to call in a few more men to add to their team. John wasn't taking any chances. He didn't know what he was getting into and he'd rather play it safer than sorry.
PFC Redmond was ordered to immediately let the team know if Ronon and/or Dr. Keller returned through the gate while SGA-1 was off-world.
John was going over his gear when Kyle stepped up to him. "Colonel Sheppard permission to come along."
John looked at Lt. Masterson. His nose had stopped bleeding, but from the looks of it Ronon had done a number on the poor guys face. "Don't you think you should get to medical and have" John grimaced and pointed to Kyle's face, "that looked at lieutenant?"
"I will Sir on our return. Permission to speak freely Sir."
"I fee like it is my fault that this Ronon took Jen...I mean...Dr. Keller off-world against her will."
"I don't see how that it's your fault lieutenant."
John sighed. The look on the man's face had him nearly begging and John wouldn't put it past the kid to fall to his knees pleading to come along.
"Okay. You have less than a minute to suit up and get back here. We're leaving in two minutes."
"Yes Sir! Thank you Sir!" and with that Kyle left and returned in record time ready to go. Ready to get Jennifer back. Ready to beat the shit out of Ronon.
Finally when all the members were assembled and their gear triple checked, John gave the go ahead to open the gate to NRI-4.
It was mid-day on the planet when they stepped through the gate.
Rodney scanned the area for Ronon and Jennifer via their locator chips, but nothing showed up on his hand held device. The planet had no magnetic resolution or any other type of disruptive properties to interfere with his equipment. The two were not on the planet.
Since the couple wasn't on NRI-4, Sheppard decided to follow a well worn path which lead them into a fairly large bustling city. John let his crew leisurely roam the city, but reminded them to keep an eye out for the pair and to report in every half hour.
John didn't know what had gotten into Ronon for him to act the way he did, but he was as sure as hell going to find out. He would either sit the big guy down and talk with him or if he had to John would put him into a cell until he got the answers he sought.
Either way Ronon had a lot of explaining to do.
Ronon emerged from the Crimson Star Gate with the medical bags and one very irate Dr. Keller in tow. He quickly dropped the supplies where he stood and, with his free hand, removed the crystal key from his pocket. Without letting go of Jennifer, he closed the portal by touching the crystal to the surface of the gate; insuring that no one from Atlantis followed.
After returning the key to his pocket, Ronon deftly picked up the supplies at his feet and, with his arm still firmly around Jennifer's waist, guided her straight to the DHD. He tossed the bags onto the ground next to the device, but refused, however, to relinquish his hold on the squirming, agitated woman. And for good reason too. Ronon could've sworn that he had heard Jennifer mumble the word "castrate" from underneath her breath right before he pulled her into the event horizon. He doubted she'd do anything so drastic, but to err on the side of caution, he wasn't about to take any chances and let her go. Not yet anyway. Not until she calmed down a bit. Besides he liked his prized body parts right where they were, thank you very much. So with that in mind, Ronon tightened his hold about Jennifer and, with her back to his chest, hefted her up against himself. As a result, and at his great height, her feet dangled several inches from the ground.
Ronon could tell she was none too pleased with this arrangement because, in spite of being suspended in mid-air, Jennifer didn't cease her struggles of trying to break free of his iron grip. If anything, it seemed to make her even more determined to get loose. "Ronon," her threatening tone held promise of retribution towards him, "let me down. Now!" she demanded as she tried to remove his arm from about her. Apparently Jennifer didn't realize she was fighting a losing battle; though, she was soon to find out.
"Let go of me you over-grown Satedan bast…" Ronon's arm, like a snake wrapped around its prey, squeezed tighter about her waist, literally forcing the breath from her and effectively halting her insult. She pushed and tugged at his arm while, at the same time, kicking her legs. His grip did lessen slightly when a booted heel made contact with his shin. The grunt that escaped the great warrior was but a slight victory for Jennifer. Her attempt to free herself was all in a vain. She still dangled several inches from the ground and was powerless to do anything about it. She was at Ronon's mercy.
Even with her futile attempts of escape and the slight pain in his leg, Ronon refused to release his squirming cargo. If truth be told, Ronon's reluctance had nothing to do with the tone of her voice or the idle threat to make him a eunuch. No, it had more to do with the untamed darkness deep inside of him awakening. A darkness whose shackles were being secretly unlocked by the ba'ni. The beast was being set free to gradually gain control over Ronon. It was slowly becoming master.
In return, the ba'ni was gathering strength from the deepest, darkest parts of Ronon. It was swaying the beast to its side in order to weaken Ronon's resolve of protecting Jennifer from himself. The ancient power was focused on one thing and one thing only - to join the two halves and see the ritual completed. To see Ronon and Jennifer become one – no matter what. No matter the cost. Sooner or later, the fated couple would be both bound and mated. The ba'ni would see to that. Even if Ronon's darkness had to be made to take control and complete the ritual itself.
Quite frankly, it wasn't that difficult for the beast to claw its way to the surface and take charge. Jennifer was doing a pretty good job of enticing the beast and, at the same time, having the man lose his self-control. Ronon knew that Jennifer didn't have a clue how she effected him. Having her temper overshadow her logic thought, she was blinded to the fact that her body seductively pressed against Ronon as she tried frantically to get loose. With her soft curves - which were in complete contrast to his hard physique – rubbing in all the right places, he was easily becoming aroused. His heart pounded, his blood raced through his veins, and an overwhelming need to take what was his consumed him. Ronon closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, trying yet again to gain control of himself. He needed to let her go, but it felt so damn good her being this close to him.
He warred with himself. Having Jennifer pressed up against him in such a fashion was putting a strain on him. He wanted to give into his desires. The feelings she stirred deep within him had Ronon focusing on only one thing. The one thing that could never happen! The one thing that he would never let happen! But, at the moment, he barely held onto his control by a thread.
Still trying to free herself, Jennifer unintentionally pressed her shapely ass firmly against Ronon's semi-hard length. He sucked air between his clenched teeth and swallowed the moan that threatened to escape him. Didn't she realize what she was doing to him? If not, then she was soon going to find out because he felt himself becoming even harder as her ass continued to tease him. It was a matter of time before the evidence of his excitement prodded her backside. Ronon knew, once that happened, her face would be flushed from embarrassment, anger, and a bit of wanton excitement.
The moan he tried to suppress seconds ago came spilling forth as she arched her back against him trying to dislodge his arm.
Jennifer immediately froze. With her head thrown back against his shoulder, Ronon's hot breath fanned next to her cheek and down her neck. He felt her shiver and heard her tiny gasp of surprise. He was quite certain that she had felt his arousal twitch to her reaction.
In a seething whisper, she ground out through clenched teeth, "Ronon Dex, put me down this instant!"
Angry and independent - always a lethal combination where she was concerned, he thought. He was glad that she couldn't see the briefest of grins that flashed across his rugged face at her realization of how she affected him. Reluctantly Ronon released Jennifer but he couldn't resist on letting her slowly slide down the length of him. The beast within was not pleased that Ronon didn't take advantage of the situation before him but grudgingly understood that time was of the essence. It'd been close to an hour since he'd left Alianna. Ronon had to get his mind back on the mission and not have it muddled with soft curves and lake-blue eyes.
As soon as her feet hit the ground, Jennifer whirled around to face Ronon. For a split second she thought about grabbing his gun and stunning the shit out of him, but couldn't bring herself to do it. Besides, he was more skilled than her at disarming an opponent. More than likely she'd find herself hoisted up against him once again. Or worse yet, thrown over his shoulder until she calmed down. Oh good lord! She could feel her face turn bright red just at the reminder of how hard his body was - every last inch of it.
Closing her eyes, she tried to focus on reining in her embarrassment along with her rising temper toward the Satedan. What had gotten into Ronon? First he assaulted Lt. Masterson for no apparent reason, disobeyed a direct order from Col. Sheppard no less, then, before she could explain the situation to John, Ronon had taken it upon himself to usher her through the Star Gate somewhat against her will. In a way, Ronon's actions reminded Jennifer all to well of her previous relationship with Brian. He always dictated to her what, who, when, where, why and everything else in between during their time together. Now it was Ronon dictating her actions and she was not about to stand for it.
"What the hell is wrong with you?!", she demanded. "Have you lost your mind?"
Lake-blue eyes battled with soft emerald green.
"And what is up with the Star Gate?" she asked waving her hand towards the silent ring, "Why was it red instead of blue?"
Without saying a word, Ronon bent down and picked up the supply bags. Slinging them over his shoulder, he opened his mouth to answer her but was cut off by an all too familiar voice.
"By the gods, brother, does your woman's tongue never cease to wag? No wonder it has taken this long for you to return to us."
Crieve came from the woods riding a black stallion and leading another. "Be quick Ronon." Crieve instructed as he halted the horses near the ring. "The one we love is knocking at death's door and I am afraid the bastard is eager to welcome both her and the babe into the afterlife."
Icy tentacles of fear wrapped around Ronon's heart while guilt shrouded his soul. Crieve's cryptic declaration gave birth to a legion of worries and concerns that ran rampant through his mind. Such as, had he put his sister's life and the life of her unborn child in danger because of his insatiable desire for Jennifer? Sadly enough, it was a desire that had him struggling to retain his self-control. A desire, that more often than not, had him battling jealousy when another showed interest in what he deemed his.
Had he jeopardized everything due to his selfish needs and his wanton weakness for Jennifer? Was it possible that his blinding rage and heated confrontation with Lt. Masterson had taken away precious moments - life saving seconds even - from the family that he had just found? A family that he had believed lost forever. A family that, if the fates decreed it, could very well be taken from him once again. This time forever. Ronon could never forgive himself. Nor would he, if anything happened to his sister because of...
Mentally extinguishing the dreadful thoughts from his mind and ignoring the foreboding feeling of loss, Ronon marched over to his brother-in-law and flung the medical bags, one at a time, up to him. He then snatched the reins of the second horse from Crieve, tossed them over the animal's head and, grabbing a handful of mane, swung himself smoothly up onto the horse's bare back.
The animal was spirited, but Ronon easily kept his balance as he sat upon the great beast. It nickered, side-stepped and tossed its majestic head showing its rider how eager and willing it was to run; to leave and head back towards the village.
But, of course, Ronon was having none of it. Pulling slightly upon the reins to show who was in charge, Ronon leaned down, firmly patted the stallion's sleek neck, and spoke softly to it. When the agitated steed calmed down, Ronon reined the horse over to where Jennifer stood next to the DHD.
Stopping just a few feet from her, Ronon held out his hand so that he could assist her up onto the back of the animal. "Take my hand, Doc, I'll help you up."
Nervously rubbing the palms of her hands up and down her jean-clad hips and biting her bottom lip, Jennifer shook her head, stubbornly refusing Ronon's offer.
The huge black stallion sensed the urgency and impatience of its rider and once again pranced about. And once again Ronon took control, settling the horse down with his commanding voice. "Whoa, boy. Stand." The animal immediately obeyed the order and stood perfectly still.
Turning his attention back towards Jennifer, Ronon noticed that she'd retreated further away from him. Apparently the agitated animal had frightened her. Holding out his hand yet again, Ronon motioned for Jennifer to do as he'd instructed earlier. "We have to go, Jen. Now."
Slowly shaking her head, Jennifer stood with her arms crossed defiantly over her chest, eyeing both rider and mount with caution.
While deciding how to approach the situation, Ronon caught sight of Crieve out of the corner of his eye. The man sidled his mount closer to Ronon and urgently stated under his breath, "Ronon, we have no time for this."
After shooting a deadly sideways glance at Crieve, which simply translated into shut the fuck up, Ronon again turned his attention back to Jennifer.
"Umm...I hate to break it to you Ronon, but I'm not getting on that monstrosity!" Jennifer declared, her voice slightly shaking as she firmly stood her ground.
The huge stallion tossed its head and pawed the ground as if offended by Jennifer's reference towards him. Snorting, the animal shook its head in protest. Ronon crooned to the beast as he firmly patted and stroked its sleek neck, "Easy, boy. Easy now."
"Ronon, I don't believe I've ever told you but I'm deathly afraid of horses. Especially very big ones. Like that one!" she said pointing an accusing finger at the animal in question.
"We have to go, Jennifer." Ronon said ignoring her confession. It was an acknowledgement that he'd already figured out. Ronon had not missed the nervous glance she'd given the horses when Crieve first arrived. However, he hadn't given her apprehension much thought. Why would he? Ronon would never let any harm come to her. But now that little nervous glance had turned into a look of fear covered by a mask of willful refusal to comply. He knew that she warred with her inner-self. Jennifer was caught between her fear of the animal and her need to help his sister. And at the moment, Ronon could see quite clearly that fear was winning.
"Ronon, I am not getting on that thing." Jennifer looked towards the hills where the faint path leading from the gate trailed off into the distance. "How far is it to your sister's?" Looking back up at Ronon she suggested, "I'll be more than happy to walk."
"It is too far to walk when time is against us."
"I'll jog then." she informed him.
"It is over ten miles." Ronon countered. He didn't know why he was arguing with her; she was getting on the horse one way or another.
She shrugged her shoulders, "I'll jog fast."
Sighing loudly, Ronon stared at Jennifer. Trying to keep his growing agitation out of his voice Ronon insisted as he stroked the horse's neck, "Look, he's quite calm and is a gentle mount. There is nothing to fear."
Hearing her unlady-like snort, Ronon knew he was getting no where trying to reason with the woman. He didn't want to force her to get on the horse like he forced her to enter the Crimson Gate, but he had no choice. So, swinging his leg up and over the animal's neck, Ronon slid from its back. The horse was well trained and stood where it's master had ordered it to stay. With head held high, ears pointed towards the couple and a soft whinny, the horse watched as Ronon walked over to Jennifer.
Standing slightly behind Jennifer, Ronon spoke softly as not to spook the horse, or the woman for that matter, "See. He will not hurt you. I promise." Ronon laid his hand upon Jen's shoulder. Partly to gain her trust and in part to keep her where she stood. "Trust me Jennifer."
Before she could reply Ronon made a twittering sound with his mouth that startled Jennifer but had the horse slowly walking up to them. If Ronon hadn't been standing behind her with his hand upon her shoulder, Jennifer would have backed up further. As it was, she now stood between the four-legged Goliath and Ronon.
"Nice." she laughed nervously, "But I am still not getting on…ooohhhhh!"
Ronon could not waste any more time. He simply placed both his hands on either side of her hips and easily deposited her onto the animal.
"Ronon? Oh no, no! Ronon!" she whimpered as she sat petrified, straddling the back of the powerful beast with her hands fisted in its mane.
The horse turned its great head to see what sort of creature was perched upon its back. Sensing Jennifer's fear, the stallion's muscles twitched and shivered. Over one thousand pounds of well-honed power pawed the ground. The horse was becoming uneasy and was ready to rid itself of the nervous woman upon its back when Ronon's deep, commanding voice had the animal obeying.
"Whoa. Be still now. Stand easy."
With the animal standing completely still again, Ronon could see that Jen was about to take the opportunity to throw her leg over the horse's neck and dismount. Before that could happen, however, Ronon grabbed the reins and fisted a handful of the silky black mane and swung up behind her. Putting his arm about her waist, he held her securely to him so she couldn't go anywhere.
Even with Ronon's commanding presence, Jennifer's anxiety was still making the animal skittish. The woman sat rim-rod straight before him. He could feel her heart pounding, hear her rapid breathing and feel her body tense. She was on the verge of hyperventilating. Ronon leaned his head close to Jennifer's ear and softly whispered, "Shhhhh. Easy." He spoke to her as he had done the spirited horse just moments ago; crooning to it to quiet it down. "Relax doc. Breath, Cor'amare." His heart's love. "Trust me."
The smooth gentleness of his voice seemed to calm her for he could feel her relax against him and her breathing slowed.
With one arm tight around her waist as before and the other holding the reins, Ronon gave the horse his head and the stallion took off like a bullet. Jennifer let out a squeal and held onto both Ronon and the horse for dear life.
The Satedan looked to his right and saw Crieve easily keeping pace with them. He also saw the worry in the man's ice-blue eyes that mirrored his own thoughts. For a split second Ronon felt the pain of loss when everything had been taken from him all those many years ago. And as the stallion flew across the terrain, Ronon hoped and prayed to the gods that he was not too late. He hoped and prayed that Jennifer could save his sister and the baby because to feel such agonizing loss again would be like adding another jagged rip to his already tattered soul.
But this time it wouldn't be the Wraith's fault, but his own.
By pushing the horses far past their limits; Ronon, Jennifer and Crieve quickly arrived at the village. Jennifer could not have been more grateful when she saw signs of civilization. Ever since they had left the Crimson Star-Gate, she had been scared half out of her mind sitting on top the powerful stallion. Now, silently proclaiming it a miracle that she had made it without falling off the damn beast, her grip of the animal's mane loosened. Jennifer assumed the pace would somewhat slow a bit.
She was mistaken.
It seemed that the men were hell bent on reaching their destination as quickly as possible, no matter what. So that meant continuing to let the horses run at a full gallop through the settlement. Ronon and Crieve did not even bother to slow down for villagers that happened to cross their path. Luckily, for those unfortunate souls, they heard the thundering hooves of the horses and quickly got out of the way. Angry shouts for the riders to slow down only made them push their mounts that much faster. The men, along with Jennifer, had only one objective and that was to get to Alianna before it was too late.
Alas, when they neared Crieve's house, an unwelcome sight greeted them. A gathering of close friends and neighbors stood off to the side of the dwelling. The expressions upon their faces spoke volumes to the new arrivals. A feeling of sadness hung in the air.
Were they already too late?
Reining in their mounts, Crieve was the first off his horse even before the animal came to a skidding halt. With the medical bags slung over his shoulder and fear fueling his steps, he raced through the front door to his beloved.
Dismounting mere seconds later, Ronon reached for Jennifer to assist her in getting down. The Satedan was stunned when she refused his help by slapping away his hands. Then, to Ronon's surprise, Jennifer - in a not so graceful manner - slid off the sweat-lathered horse by herself. Facing Ronon and rubbing her hands gingerly over her sore rear end, she shot him a withering stare. Oh, the things she wanted to say to the egotistical jerk, but knew now was not the time or place to do so. Right now Alianna needed her help. So, biting back the words, Jennifer mentally filed her scathing lecture away for a later date.
Taking a deep breath, she turned and, making sure to give the monstrous stallion a wide berth, trailed after Crieve. Ronon was right behind her.
Entering the house, Jennifer nearly tripped over the medical bags laying haphazardly on the floor. It seemed that in his rush to get to Alianna, Crieve had simply dropped them right inside the doorway.
Picking up the smaller bag, Jennifer made her way down a narrow hallway. The sounds of hushed arguing, boots pacing upon wooden flooring and a woman's cries of pain easily guided her to Alianna. Without any hesitation, she entered the room and took a quick assessment.
The room was stifling, the air thick and hot. On the far wall, the bedroom windows were closed and the curtains drawn prohibiting the bright afternoon sun from entering. Beneath the windows was a rather large bed in which Alianna lay. Her face contorted in pain as her body experienced yet another strong contraction. The moan that escaped her was that of a woman who was giving up. Of a woman who had had enough.
Jennifer noticed three women standing next to the bed. Two were at least in their fifties or sixties – maybe the town's mid-wives? The third woman was close to Alianna's age – a friend perhaps. All the women had been huddled together, softly arguing until they noticed Jennifer in the doorway; then silence befell them. The older two eyed Jennifer suspiciously. The youngest held a gleam of hope in her eyes.
Turning her attention to Crieve, Jennifer watched as he paced back and forth in front of the bed. He had been doing so ever since she had entered the room. Suddenly the man stopped and was at Alianna's side in a fraction of a heartbeat when another contraction hit. Holding her hand, he spoke words of encouragement to her and helped her ride out the pain. As he kissed Alianna's hand, Crieve looked over at Jennifer. Getting up from the bed, he stalked over to her, yelling, "By the gods, woman, do something!"
Before Crieve passed the foot of the bed, however, Ronon was standing in front of Jennifer, blocking Crieve's advance. Ronon said nothing, but Jennifer easily imagined the trademark dark look he was giving the other man. Tense seconds passed, then she barely heard Crieve's heart-felt plea, "Help her. Please. I cannot lose her."
Walking out from behind Ronon, she saw that Crieve had went back to Alianna's side and was kneeling next to her bed, lovingly holding her hand again. Glancing up at Ronon, Jennifer saw something she had never seen before. His eyes glistened with unshed tears. Instantly forgotten was the scathing lecture, the one she had filed away for later. Jennifer realized now why he had done all the things he had done. His actions were, of course, for his sister, but it was also for the future of his people and for the child yet to be born. Witnessing his sadness, Jennifer vowed that Ronon would not suffer a loss today or any other day, for that matter, if it were in her power to prevent.
Gathering herself together, Jennifer switched to Dr. Keller mode. She instantly became assertive and demanding.
"First things first," Dr. Keller proclaimed as she went to stand next to the bed, "We need some light and fresh air in here. Ronon, would you please open the window."
A gasp came from the three women. "Nay!"-exclaimed one of the older females, who foolishly stepped in Ronon's way as he proceeded to do as instructed. "It is forbidden. Windows are always closed and the curtains drawn so that mischievous spirits do not know a child is to be born."
Ronon snorted at the same time Jennifer questioned, "What?" She was not surprised at the superstitious belief after traveling off-world to other cultures, but really?
Not wanting to hurt the woman, Ronon tried to step around her. Blocked yet again by her, Ronon grabbed her by the arm. While she tried to wrest her arm free she continued, "Bad spirits cannot enter through windows. You do not understand. If you..."
"Oh, shut up you old bitch!" Crieve yelled. Getting up, he threw back the curtains and opened the windows himself. Cool, fresh air immediately filled the room.
"You fool!" the woman screamed at Crieve when Ronon finally let her go.
"You have just condemned your mate, and possibly the life of the child, to the evil." The other woman screeched, pointing an accusing finger at him.
Before either of the men could utter a word, Jennifer spoke up. "Out! The two of you." Standing with one hand on her hip, the other pointing at the bedroom door, Dr. Keller stared at the shocked women. "Go on. You heard me. In fact, I need both of you entirely out of this house!"
Looking at Crieve, the women waited for him to take charge of the newcomer and put her in her place. But what happened next stunned them even more. "You heard the healer. Get your asses out of here. Now!"
Red faced and indignant, the older women started to leave, with the younger one following. "No. Not you." Jennifer said to the younger woman, "You stay. I will need your help."
The young girl was not about to argue with the golden haired lady and swiftly came back to stand next to the bed again.
As the two women were exiting the room, Jennifer spied a pile of bloody sheets near the door. "Take those bed sheets out of here as you go, please." Angered because they were being ordered about by a complete stranger, the women grabbed the sheets and left in a huff.
Turning her full attention to her patient, Jennifer carefully sat next to the exhausted woman, smiled and introduced herself. "Hi Alianna, my name is Dr. Keller. I'm here to help."
"By the gods, it is about time." she said through clenched teeth, "The babe is taking the life right out of me." and with that, another contraction took over her body. Jennifer timed the labor pains and knew the moment for delivery was getting close.
"Well, let's see what's going on here, shall we?"
Retrieving what she needed from the medical bag, Jennifer listened to the baby's heartbeat. "Nice and strong. That's good." She then placed her hands upon Alianna's distorted belly and felt for the baby's position. Reaching into her bag once more, Jennifer pulled out a small hand held device. Holding it up, she told the soon-to-be mother that this was a portable ultra-sound. "I'll be able to see the baby while it's still inside you."
"Will this harm her or the baby?" Crieve asked, placing his large hand protectively upon Alianna's swollen stomach.
"No. It's perfectly safe. If I had more time, I'd explain how it works, but..."
Crieve looked at his mate and gave his permission with a curt nod as he removed his hand.
Scanning Alianna's abdomen, the result on the screen confirmed what everyone already knew. The baby was defiantly breach.
"Do you know when your baby is due? When you should give birth?"
"I am early," Alianna tiredly confessed, "but only by a couple weeks or so."
"Good." Jennifer nodded, "That will be to our advantage. It'll be easier to turn the baby." Smiling brightly at the worn out woman, Jennifer patted Alianna's hand, "But before we do that, I have to go get the other medical bag." Standing up, Jennifer remarked, "I won't be long."
Walking towards the doorway, she glanced over at Ronon, who stood nearby, and secretly motioned him to follow her. Once in the hallway, she took his arm and guided him towards the main room. She did not want the couple to hear what she had to say.
"Ronon," Jennifer whispered, "If I can't turn the baby properly, then I have no other choice but to deliver it feet first." Letting go of his arm, she picked up the bag from off the floor. "In a perfect world I would perform a C-section," she informed him as she placed the large bag upon a crude dining table and started unpacking it. "But I don't have the necessary equipment to do so." Stopping her task, she looked at Ronon, "Not safely anyway. And it would take too long to get your sister back to Atlantis in time. She's too far along."
With her hands on her hips, she faced Ronon and admitted, "Either way, the baby is in distress and has to come out now."
Taking a step closer to Ronon, Jennifer reluctantly spoke her next words. "Also, Alianna has lost a lot of blood, Ronon."
Staring up at him, Jennifer lightly touched his arm. She hoped to silently convey her warning to him because she did not want to speak the words aloud. Alianna was close to death and all Jennifer could do was deliver the baby and hope that everything went as planned.
Ronon must have sensed her reluctance to tell him the dire news for he took her hands and, rubbing the back of them gently with his calloused thumbs assured her things would turn out all right. "My sister couldn't be in more capable hands. I have faith in you doc."
His words gave her some measure of hope, but what she saw when she looked into his soft green eyes gave her something more. It gave her a reason to go beyond her best. A reason to strengthen the vow she made earlier; to not let him suffer loss again if it were in her power to do so.
Nodding, she squeezed his hands and smiled, "Thank you."
"What can I do to help?" the gentle giant asked.
Pulling her hands from his, she bit her lip a second or two then replied, "Well, there is one thing I need done, Ronon, before I can begin."
"Anything, just name it." He declared, folding his arms over his massive chest.
"I need you to get Crieve out of the house." And with that, she grabbed the supplies she had unpacked and headed back to the bedroom leaving Ronon to stare after her in disbelief.
Smirking, Ronon mumbled, "Me and my big mouth."
Let me start off by saying how sorry I am to have left you hanging with this story. You have to believe me when I say it was not my intent at all. I have to admit to writer's block in the beginning, but when I was starting to write again tragedy struck. My dear sweet husband was diagnosed last year with AML. If you do not know what that is, it's the big, bad 'C' word - CANCER! (leukemia).
Ever since finding out, he has been in and out of hospitals. It is one crazy ass roller coaster ride I can tell you that! I've started back writing to try and 'escape' from reality for awhile.
I don't know how long it will take me to wrap this story up, but I promise that I will finish it. All I ask is for your patience.
We have a gofundme page if you want to see our progress. The link is: https://www.gofundme.com/tom-romanos-medical-fund
As the sun slowly dipped behind the mountain range, the fading light of day found Ronon outside, seated on his sister's doorstep. With his hulking frame blocking the entrance and his blaster set to stun, the brooding Satedan was an effective deterrent for anyone considering entering without his permission.
Anyone, that was, except for Crieve.
In the front yard, just a stone's throw from where Ronon sat, the impending father-to-be paced back and forth. He reminded Ronon more of a caged animal trying to escape confinement than a man eagerly awaiting the birth of his child. Crieve's wintry blue eyes smoldered with rage and contempt each time he passed by the well-guarded entrance.
As his brother-in-law strode impatiently from one side of the small yard to the other, Ronon leaned back against the dwelling's weather-worn door. With one long leg stretched out before him and the other bent at the knee supporting his tattooed forearm, the stone-faced sentry appeared relaxed and at ease. Ronon gave the impression that he did not have a care in the world; yet, looks were deceiving. Anyone who knew him was well aware of Ronon's skilled deceptions.
Indeed, the warrior was anything but calm. Underneath his peaceful, relaxing facade every muscle was strung taut. Every nerve charged. At the slightest hint of defiance from Crieve, Ronon was ready and primed to spring into action. He knew that the man was biding his time. Simply waiting. Waiting for the right moment - the right opportunity - to somehow maneuver past him. To charge into the house and be by his true love's side.
Breathing in the cool evening air and gazing up at the fading streaks of twilight, Ronon estimated that it had been several hours since he had inadvertently volunteered to remove Crieve from his own home. The task in and of itself had not been too difficult. Yet, he would have preferred to do battle with a horde of soul-sucking Wraith than to feel the guilt that needled him now because of the deed. Ronon knew, related or not, Crieve would not forgive such a transgression so easily. After all was said and done, retribution lay in wait for him.
Nonetheless, it could not have been helped. Ronon realized that if anything were to happen with the birth – if anything were to go terribly wrong – then it would not bode well for the lot of them. Crieve may not have been born a Satedan, but he was of a warrior class. A most unpredictable class, as Ronon well knew. If Alianna, the babe or both died and called to the afterlife, Crieve would become so troubled - stricken with grief - that he would, more than likely, lose all control, become crazed and extremely lethal. He would blindly wreak havoc on anything – or anyone – in sight who he deemed responsible for his loss. And that surely meant Jennifer.
Truth be told, if their roles had been reversed, Ronon would feel the same way. If anyone were foolish enough to separate him from Jennifer, or worse, spirit her away from him, Ronon would undoubtedly turn killer. If he were to ever lose her, it would be the end of him. Ba'ni or not, deep down Ronon knew that he would rather die than live without her.
At the thought of Jennifer lost to him, a sharp pain shot through him. Clenching his teeth and sucking in his breath, Ronon clawed at his chest. He fought to get control over the stabbing pain. It felt like his heart was being crushed. After a few minutes of deep, steady breaths, the ache finally started to subsided. Then, without warning, a startling image whirled through his mind. It had him sitting bolt upright on the step; all pain forgotten. From the vision, he'd seen Jennifer heavy with child.
Scowling, Ronon shook his dark head ridding himself of such a notion. Reaching down, he picked up a pebble that lay near the step. Tossing the small rock half-heartedly away, Ronon realized Jennifer and he could never have any kind of relationship other than just being friends. They definitely could never have a relationship such as his sister and Crieve shared. Such a thing could never happen and Ronon silently vowed, once more, to make damn certain of it.
Turning his attention towards his surroundings – and away from the forbidden image still lurking in his thoughts – Ronon took quick note of the handful of villagers milling about the yard. Several well-wishers stood at the far end of the house. They seemed smart enough – or more than likely frightened enough – to keep a healthy distance from the formidable guardian and the agitated, expectant father.
Having given the small group a brief once over, Ronon narrowed his eyes as he spied two women standing off from the others. They huddled together under a nearby shade tree. He recognized the women as the self-proclaimed midwives that Jennifer had ordered out of the house earlier in the day. With their heads bent close together, the two crones whispered their hate for the healer inside and her protector barring the entrance. Ronon was certain of their disdain since, every so often, one of them would direct a scathing glance his way.
What was the saying he had heard Sheppard remark on occasion? If looks could kill? If that were the case, without a doubt, Ronon would be six feet under - twice over - by now. With a disgusted snort, he dismissed the women from his thoughts.
Suddenly, both men's attention turned towards the house; or more precise, the sound that came from within it. A loud, agonizing moan. Alianna's distress had Crieve halting in mid-stride and Ronon bounding up from the step. Battling between the urge to barge inside or stay where he was, Ronon noticed Crieve's tentative move toward the door. He tensed, placed a steady hand on the butt of his gun; sending Crieve a silent warning. Short of killing the man, Ronon was willing to keep Crieve from entering the house by any means necessary. No one, not even himself, was entering until Jennifer gave the go ahead or the wail of a newborn beckoned.
When no joyous cry was heard and the door remained shut, the frustrated father-to-be once again resumed his pacing and Ronon settled back down on the step and kept guard.
As the moments ticked by, Ronon knew that there was nothing either of them could do to hasten the situation. He tried his best to ignore the feeling of helplessness by shifting his gaze to the mountain's ever-growing shadow. It inched its way across the valley floor. Closer and closer the eerie darkness came. It reminded him of an old gnarled hand reaching out, begging him to surrender the small sliver of hope that he fiercely guarded. This tiny gem of light within himself was a prized possession to Ronon. And he was not about to give up such a treasure so readily to the coming darkness.
A soft, cynical chuckle escaped the fierce warrior at the thought of that simple, sweet word. Ronon ran a calloused hand down over his face and sighed. Leaning back once more against the dwelling's door, he closed his eyes. What an absurd notion, he thought. The aspect of a former runner clinging to hope. It was a delusional emotion. One Ronon rarely believed in anymore, much less experienced throughout the years. Nonetheless, it was there. Inside him. Nestled close to his heart and protected by the beast within.
Ronon knew that the reason for harboring such an all but forgotten emotion was because of Jennifer. For as long as she was doing everything humanly possible to save his sister, and the life of her unborn babe, Ronon, the untrusting warrior that he was, could once more have faith in the gods.
Faith? Ronon frowned. In the gods?
No, not in the gods, but in Jennifer. He had faith in her. Fuck the gods. What had they ever done for him? He would put his trust in her and, for everyone's sake, not let hope, nor faith, slip from his grasp. He'd keep alive the desire that everything would turn out well for all concerned and that there would be a bright outcome to this madness.
There was simply no other way.
Regrettably, Ronon began to realize that time was fast becoming the enemy. He was also painfully aware that hope was swiftly vanishing like that of the dwindling light of day. No matter how hard he tried to protect it, Ronon knew hope was slowly dying.
With his eyes still closed, Ronon mentally fought back the dire feeling that had begun to seep into his soul. He sensed grief and heartache waiting just at the edge of his defenses. Waiting and plotting to breach the protective barrier of the ever watchful beast within and destroy everything that he held dear. How much longer would it be? When would the cries of a newborn babe be heard?
Hesitantly, and with a heavy heart, Ronon sadly thought perhaps never.
While Ronon sat outside clinging to hope, inside the house, Jennifer was struggling to stay true to her word. She was trying desperately to fulfill the promise that she had made earlier in the day. The promise where Ronon was not about to suffer another loss of a loved one. Not today. Not if she could help it.
Jennifer knew in her heart that only by the grace of God, Ronon had found his people. And, on top of that, he had found a connection - a physical connection - to his past through Alianna. That, in and of itself, was an absolute miracle. What were the odds, Jennifer surmised, that out of this vast universe Ronon would have ever found his kind? Let alone a member of his family?
Who was she kidding? This was Ronon Dex. Who else was capable of beating such odds?
So fueled by determination, Jennifer's plan was to give Ronon back some measure of joy and awe in his life. And to do that she had to save the lives of Alianna and her baby.
Having been by Alianna's side for what seemed like hours, Jennifer went to stand near one of the open bedroom windows. The cool evening air was refreshing as it caressed her flushed skin. Closing her eyes, she wiped her hand across her brow. Even with the windows open the room was once again becoming stifling. Rivulets of sweat ran down Jennifer's back and her shirt adhered to her damp skin. She was tired and longed for a nice shower to wash the tension away.
Instantly feeling guilty she turned her gaze towards the bed. Jennifer knew that she should not be complaining.
For with her dark hair plastered to her face and her skin so pale, Alianna looked near death. Sweat and blood soaked the bed sheets, but there was no time to change them again. Lilly, the youngest of the midwives that Jennifer had ordered to stay and help, was sitting on the side of the bed closest to the wall. The girl was placing cold, damp cloths on Alianna's forehead, face, and arms trying to give a bit of comfort to the exhausted woman.
As time ticked by, Jennifer knew the chances of mother and baby surviving were decreasing. It all was coming down to the wire. Even with the equipment and medicine that Jennifer had brought with her, none of it was what she needed to aid her in delivering a breech birth. Jennifer even tried several times to turn the baby by firmly, but gently, putting pressure on Alianna's tummy. Jennifer was trying to encourage the baby to literally do a somersault inside the womb. Despite all her efforts, though, nothing had worked. The baby was still in the breech position. Something had to be done and soon.
Looking at her watch, Jennifer knew that in a minute or so a contraction would grip Alianna in another wave of agony. So she returned to the bedside.
Having set up her equipment earlier on a nightstand, Jennifer, for the hundredth time, took an assessment of everything.
Laid out on the makeshift workstation were a few simple surgical instruments. The standard amount of drugs to help with the pain and infections. A pair of scissors for cutting the umbilical cord and kelly clamps to tie off the cord once cut. Lastly, suction bulbs. These were to be used to clean the infant's airways once in this world and hopefully crying at the top of its lungs. It wasn't much, but it would have to do.
Finally, making sure everything was in easy reach, Jennifer placed the last of the four saline bags she had packed on the table. Hours ago when Ronon had escorted Crieve out of the house, she'd immediately started Alianna on an IV drip. Now eyeing the nearly deflated saline pouch hanging from a nearby window latch, Jennifer knew that she would have to change it out soon. And with that, a critical decision had to be made.
Jennifer would have to decide whether or not to give Alianna more pain medicine. Earlier after hanging the third IV bag, she had injected a mild painkiller into it. However, the drug seemed to have little effect on her. In fact, the painful contractions showed signs of becoming more intense. And that was not due to labor naturally progressing.
Professionally Jennifer had known before giving Alianna the medicine that without a baseline reading she had no clue as to how the drug would affect the woman. All she wanted to do was give Alianna some relief from the severe discomfort. Even though the pain medicine was for humans, not aliens, Jennifer assumed it'd work the same way.
In spite of Jennifer's new way of life, it was still easy for her to forget the fact that she now lived and worked in a different reality. Things were not the same here. Take Ronon for example, she mused. If any human being were to get into a situation like Ronon regularly did, they'd either be hospitalized forever or six feet under. That was due to Mr. A1 Alien Extraordinaire - Ronon Dex - being an honest-to-God alien. He never requested any meds. Typically the Satedan ignored the hurt and took extreme offense at being offered anything. It's just a scratch she had heard him say on more than one occasion.
But that was Ronon, being all warrior - gung-ho and all. This was his sister. Same DNA, of course, but Jennifer just didn't know what the outcome would be if she'd give Alianna more of the drug. So for now, under the circumstances, Jennifer decided to error on the side of caution and not give her patient anything else unless absolutely needed.
Deciding to take yet another reading of the baby's heart rate, Jennifer picked up the fetal monitor from the table. She already knew what the results would be. Same as the others of late. With each contraction, the infant's heartbeat was dropping dangerously low then would climb back up once the contraction subsided. She knew that couldn't happen too many more times.
Sitting down next to Alianna, Jennifer smiled trying to put the woman at ease.
"Let's check this little guy's heartbeat again. Hmmm?"
"Do what you must healer," Ronon's sister barely spoke above a whisper. "I will just lay here…in agony...thinking up ways...to neuter Crieve."
Jennifer heard Lilly softly snort at Alianna's comment. "Yes, well," as she tried to hide a grin, "I might have something in my bag for that, but first let's deliver this baby."
After quickly taking the reading, Jennifer turned off the machine and tried to hide her worry. Alianna had her eyes closed, enjoying the slight reprieve between contractions. Looking over at Lilly, the girl's knowing stare had a chill running down Jennifer's spine.
She knows. Lilly knows that I will soon have to make a decision.
Alianna's growing moan had Jennifer's full attention. She dropped the monitor next to her on the bed, then grabbed Alianna's hand as another contraction hit.
As she helped Alianna breath through the pain, Jennifer estimated that Ronon's sister had been in labor well over a half a day before he even left the planet and sought her help. Now, several hours later, the progression of the birth was taking its toll. Jennifer felt that in spite of her best efforts she was letting Ronon and Alianna down. She was failing.
Finally, when the contraction had passed, and Jennifer extracted her sore, tortured hand from the woman's grip, she picked up the monitor and stood. Frustrated at the slow progress and lack of supplies, she tossed the device onto the nightstand. The loud thud had Lilly practically jumping out of her skin.
Jennifer mouthed the word sorry and flashed her a half-hearted, apologetic smile.
Walking over to stand near the open window as before, Jennifer tried to center herself by inhaling the crisp night air. The feeling of defeat was starting to build inside her, but she quickly stomped it down as best she could.
Alianna's voice caught her attention as the woman began to speak to no one in particular.
"As a child, I remember the stories of how it only took my mother a couple of hours to birth all her children." Placing her hands on her stomach, Alianna grumbled, "This...this one, however, must take...uugghh...after his father." Her face contorted as another contraction started to build. "Stubborn," she continued through clenched teeth, "Always wanting to do things...in his...aaahhhh...own way!"
As she hurried over to the bed, Jennifer got that familiar pain in her chest. Please, not now, she thought, I don't need this happening now! Then just as she got to Alianna's bedside, an alarming image fluttered through her mind. So startling, in fact, that it had her stopping dead in her tracks. Jennifer saw herself pregnant. Pregnant! And the strange thing, Ronon was standing directly behind her smiling. His strong arms wrapped around her, his large hands lovingly caressing her swollen belly. It was as if he was protecting them both or something.
Both? There was no both. What the heck? Fatigue was getting to her that was it. With her hand, she rubbed the center of her chest. The pain and image quickly faded. However, the vision had left an impression on her heart. One which she wouldn't soon forget.
Focus Jen! Just focus.
Getting on the bed and kneeling in front of the laboring woman, Jennifer lifted Alianna's nightgown up past her bent knees. She could see the proof of a breach birth – two tiny feet.
"Come on, Alianna you're almost there. You can do this!" Jennifer coaxed. Time had run out. It was now or never.
"Lilly." Jennifer said to the girl, "Get behind her. Support her in an upright position."
When the girl did as she was instructed, Jennifer smiled, "Good. Good. Yes, that's it." Directing her attention back to Alianna, Jen encouraged her, "Okay now. This little one is about to make his or her entrance into this great big world." Placing a gloved hand on the pregnant woman's knee, Jennifer asked, "Ready?"
"I have been ready near six months ago," Alianna said tiredly, each word sounding raspy and raw, "But I do not think I have any strength left in me."
"Yes, you do."
"No." she shook her head, "I cannot. Please," Sitting up as best she could, Alianna grabbed Jennifer's hand with a surprising amount of strength, "You...you are a healer, just take…take the babe." Squeezing Jennifer's hand, Alianna pleaded, "Just take him." As if that took all of the remaining strength she had, Alianna let her hand drop to her side, leaned back onto Lilly and closed her eyes.
Jennifer knew exactly what Alianna was asking. C-section. But without any anesthesia or the right equipment to attempt the procedure, it was a death sentence. For both mother and child.
Ignoring her request, Jennifer insisted, "Alianna, I know you're tired, but you have to push."
The woman shook her head, "I cannot." She barely whispered, "Cut the babe out."
"I can't. I won't do that. Besides I don't have the right equipment."
"All is needed is a good, sharp knife," Lilly stated innocently. "I can quickly go get one. I am sure that one of the men outside..."
Jennifer's resounding "No!" had the girl looking confused and a bit scared. "That's not going to happen." Jennifer declared before turning her attention back to Alianna.
Pushing aside her personal feelings, Jennifer pulled the persona of Doctor Keller to the forefront. Jennifer reached for the fetal monitor. After placing it on Alianna's distended abdomen for a few seconds, it read: FETAL DESTRESS.
Throwing the device behind her, not caring that it hit the floor, Jennifer grabbed Alianna's knees and spread them wide. In a domineering, authoritative voice she ordered Alianna to "Push! Now!"
The woman barely put in the effort. "For Chrissake, Alianna, push! If you want to see your baby come into this world alive, you've got to push with all you have!"
"I cannot." the woman sobbed, "I simply cannot."
"Then you don't want this baby."
"What?" Alianna gasped.
"I will go and tell Ronon to start digging a grave since you have given up on your son's life." Jennifer knew she sounded heartless, but she didn't know how else to get the woman to do what she wanted.
At those words, however, a look came over Alianna. A look Jennifer was all too familiar with. It was the same determined look Ronon always got when faced with a challenge he was sure to conquer.
Alianna angrily stared right at Jennifer, grabbed the back of her knees, took a couple of deep breaths, and PUSHED.
As Alianna summoned her last remaining strength to bring forth life, strange things began to happen.
Dark, ominous clouds started to gather along the border of the mountain range. Rolling and tumbling about, the clouds formed a massive wall of energy that grew in intensity. Soon the brilliant glow of the twin iridescent moons, which earlier graced the night sky, were hidden from view. Great bolts of lightning forked and whipped throughout the dark heavens, and in reply, the low rumbling of distant thunder made itself known. Sporadic gusts of wind carried the sweet smell of rain down from the mountains, along with another scent. One that was not so well-liked. It was the unmistakable odor of decay.
With the moist cooler air flowing down into the valley, a dense fog rose from the warmer waters of the nearby river and lake. Like an eerie Halloween night, the thick, ghostly haze hovered no more than a few feet from the ground as it drifted across the valley floor. Within minutes the entire village was blanketed in a gossamer sea of mist.
The fine hairs on the back of Ronon's neck stood on end, even the hackles of the beast within were bristling at the unusual events. Both sensed danger. Besides the unsavory aroma that clung in the air, Ronon couldn't quite put his finger on what it was that had his well-honed instincts on full alert. Something about the fog along with the chill in the air seemed odd to him. Seemed sinister. It was as if a strange force was seeking out something. Or someone. A storm was coming, that was for certain, but something trailed in its wake.
Ronon wasn't the only one feeling uneasy. It was evident that the villagers were equally as nervous and on edge.
The cook fires outside the Common House burned brighter than usual, and a great number of lanterns lit nearly every building.
Though it was still rather early in the evening, most individuals had retired to the safe haven of their homes after finishing their chores post haste. The few that braved the outdoors warily looked over their shoulders and spoke not above a whisper to one another. They gave the impression that the mist shrouded something hideous. Something that was lurking; something that was waiting to strike.
The feeble attempts that the villagers made at trying to keep a calm façade about themselves were a waste of time. Nothing was going to take away the uneasiness and fear they felt because as soon as the storm clouds had started to gather, the fear of the unknown had dug its claws deep into the heart of the small settlement and it was not about to let go anytime soon.
The only individual that seemed oblivious to the unsettling weather was Crieve. He still stalked back and forth in front of his home with a deeper scowl etched upon his face than before. Crieve paid no attention to the nearly dozen or so lit torches that had been placed around the perimeter of his property or the brightly burning bonfire in the middle of his yard. His sole focus was on what was going on inside, not the weather.
Ronon who still sat quietly guarding the front door, kept mental tabs on the storm, Crieve, and the remaining well-wishers who were gathered by the fire.
Tuning out the storm and Crieve for the moment, Ronon focused on the small group instead. Out of the crowd, there were two individuals, in particular, that caught his attention. They were the two women who Jennifer had earlier in the day kicked out of the house. It was the midwives that Ronon warily watched.
As a whole, the crowd huddled together whispering, but Ronon noticed that the two women seem to control the topic of conversation, steering it in a direction that had him hating the women even more. The two bitches were plotting. Their grim, tight-lipped smiles and condemning looks conveyed to everyone that all was not going well. And their wagging tongues laid all the blame at Jennifer's feet.
Tilting his head to one side, Ronon intently listened. One woman was telling the others that instead of the foreign meddler that they, the experienced healers, should be inside helping deliver the baby.
"She has no business taking care of one of our own." The oldest of the two harshly whispered. Apparently not wanting to be overheard, she leaned in further, "They will regret their decision soon enough I fear!"
"How does one not know to keep the windows shut during the birthing time?" a young woman gasped after hearing the story.
"And what purpose do strange devices serve in delivering a baby?" questioned another woman in the group.
The other midwife stated in a stern yet hushed tone, "See! She does not know our ways. The babe is for sure dead by now or soon will be."
"Poor Alianna and Crieve. Such sadness." a young woman softly said as she bowed her head and wiped away a tear.
Ronon clenched his jaw so tight that it hurt. He was doing his best to hold back his temper. Now was not the time to set straight the midwives' way of thinking. That would come later when things calmed down.
Trying to decide how to handle the matter, the sound of cussing brought Ronon's attention back to Crieve. The man was sorely agitated as he raked his fingers through his hair and muttered to no one in particular, "What the fuck is taking so fucking long?!"
Not knowing if Crieve had overheard the pot-stirring bitches or not, Ronon tensed but kept quiet.
Listening to the father-to-be's one-sided conversation Ronon quietly sat on the step and watched and waited as Crieve's long strides took him from one end of the house to the other all the while his voice growing louder and louder as he rambled on.
"Little Melena did not take this long to come into the world! It was a difficult birth, aye, but by no means did it take this long!"
As if just realizing that Ronon was a few feet away, Crieve halted his steps and turned his anger on him. "Does your healer even know what the fuck she is doing?!", he spat out in an accusing tone. Crieve's wintery blue eyes near turned white as he took a step towards the hulking Satedan. "By the gods, if your woman…" Crieve could not finish his sentence; emotions overwhelmed him.
Slowly standing, Ronon narrowed his eyes and fixed Crieve with his own cold, threatening stare. The people who were gathered around the fire fell silent. Even the two midwives were wise enough to keep their gossiping mouths shut.
Ronon inhaled several deep breaths keeping at bay the urge to smash in Crieve's face for doubting Jennifer. He knew that the man's patience was wearing thin. But so was his dammit! Having sat guarding the front door nearly all day and into the night hearing his sister's agonizing screams and knowing that he could do nothing to ease her pain was pure torture. But to have Crieve imply that Jennifer was not doing her job. That she was incompetent, well that was something Ronon would not stand for.
Narrowing the distance between himself and Crieve with a few long strides, Ronon was about to set the belligerent man straight when Thane came running up into the yard. The boy had been instructed by Ronon earlier to go and take care of the horses; to see that the animals got fresh hay and water and a good rub down after their hard run from the Star Gate. Ronon had also talked to the blacksmith, who had been part of the waiting crowd, to keep the boy busy as long as he could. Ronon wanted to keep Thane from getting under foot and from hearing the suffering coming from within. Apparently, the smithy had run out of tasks, and so here the boy stood eagerly waiting for some good news.
Having raced back to the house, Thane breathlessly told his uncle. "Finished with the horses and all the other chores that the lazy ass blacksmith had me do for him." Turning towards his father, the boy eagerly asked, "Has the babe come yet, father?"
When Crieve simply turned away not saying a word, Thane looked over at his uncle. The boy's slender shoulders slumped, and disappointment showed on his young face when Ronon merely shook his head and stated, "No."
Seeing sadness flood Thane's eyes, Ronon tried to soothe the hurt and reassure the lad. "But soon, boy. Your brother or sister will be here soon."
Crieve turned back to Ronon and bellowed, "Soon?" With just a few strides Crieve stood toe-to-toe with Ronon. Thane stepped back, wide eyed, as the two men faced off. Crieve stated with contempt, "It has been hours and still no news. No cry." Crieve waved his hand towards the door in frustration, "All that's been heard is Alianna's screams of pain."
The two midwives, sensing that all hell was about to break loose, threw caution to the wind and chimed in. "You were warned that this would happen." said one.
"But, no, you did not listen. What befalls your mate and the babe now will haunt you all your days." reprimanded the other.
Still standing with his back to the door, Ronon shot the two women a withering look over Crieve's shoulder. He was about to tell them that they needed to shut the hell up when Crieve's fist connected hard with his jaw. The unexpected punch had Ronon staggering back against the front door. Quickly recovering from the blow, Ronon was able to dodge Crieve's hammer like fist connecting a second time. Having lost his balance with the last swing, Crieve stumbled, and Ronon took the opportunity to shove his brother-in-law away from him. Crieve hit the ground hard. Ronon did not want to fight but was prepared to keep Crieve from entering the house.
Getting up Crieve roared and came storming towards Ronon like a charging bull.
Ronon unholstered his gun to stun Crieve, but he was too late. Crieve tackled Ronon, lifting him from off the ground and slamming him up against the side of the house. Unable to get a shot off, Ronon doubled his fists and pounded on Crieve's back. The hold Crieve had on Ronon loosened, and he was able to push him far enough away to finally raise his gun towards him.
"I am going in," Crieve informed Ronon. "I am going to see Alianna before it is too late."
Ronon was torn. He completely understood the man's emotional state, but the trust he had in Jennifer had him blocking Crieve's way. "I can't let you."
"Then you will just have to fucking shoot me."
Crieve started for Ronon once more, but a loud, angry squall of a newborn stopped him dead in his tracks. The child had made its entrance into the world and by the sounds of its wailing was none too happy about it. Ronon lowered his weapon, and for a moment both men just stared at each other, not yet comprehending what they were hearing. Then the tension of the day seemed to instantly melt away as relief washed over the whole lot of them. The yard erupted in a chorus of cheers and shouts of congratulations.
Grinning from ear to ear, Ronon put away his gun and hugged Crieve, slapping him on the back in a congratulatory sort of way like all men do at times like these. Stepping back, with his hands on Crieve's shoulders Ronon chuckled, "A father for the third time. You should be proud."
"I am, brother. I most certainly am!" Crieve beamed with pride.
Suddenly, without warning, the storm broke, and sheets of wind blown rain fell drenching everything and everyone in sight. A massive, brilliant bolt of lightning flashed across the night sky immediately followed by a clap of thunder that seemed to explode just overhead. Most of the people in the yard ran for the shelter of their nearby homes while just a handful of others hurried inside Crieve's home since it was the closest place of refuge from the rain.
Leaving the small group to dry off in the living quarters, Ronon, Crieve, and Thane made their way to the bedroom. Upon entering the room, they saw Alianna sitting up in bed trying to soothe the crying bundle of joy that she held in her arms. The look on her face as she gently brushed the baby's tawny thick head of hair from its eyes was that of pure love and happiness.
Alianna looked up as the men walked in. Smiling she quietly, yet proudly, informed Crieve, "You have a son, my love. Come and welcome him."
Crieve made his way towards the bed and sat down next to Alianna. Ronon watched as she handed the baby over to its father.
Ronon could see the pride and awe on Crieve's face at seeing such a miracle. The sight warmed Ronon's heart; this was his family.
"A healthy son." Jennifer chimed in after hurrying to shut all the windows against the wind and the rain. She looked over at him. Ronon watched as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. He could see she was exhausted and that the whole ordeal had taken its toll on her also. Jennifer may not have brought life into the world, but she worked nearly as hard in helping keep mother and son safe. And for that, he would be for ever in her debt.
Crieve got up from the bed with the tiny infant cradled in his huge arms. Ronon walked over and stood next to the new father. Both men could not stop smiling at the little miracle. Crieve leaned down a bit so Thane could get a better view of his new sibling. The boy was just as thrilled as everyone around.
"You did great, my love," Crieve whispered to his mate as he tried to calm the fussy newborn.
Alianna nodded and softly smiled at Crieve. She turned her head, and mouthed the words thank you to Jennifer then her eyes slowly shut. Her head lolled forward on her chest.
Jennifer frowned. "Alianna?", She said as she patted the woman's hand. It was as if the new mother had drifted off to sleep. "Allianna!" Jennifer shouted. No response.
Everyone's attention was now centered on a pale Alianna lying motionless in bed; the newest member of the family temporarily forgotten.
Stepping closer to the side of the bed, Crieve worriedly asked, "What is wrong?"
Lifting Alianna's head back, Jennifer leaned down and placed her ear close to the other woman's face. The room was eerily quiet other than the loud wailing of the newborn.
Quickly glancing over at Ronon, Jennifer exclaimed, "She's stopped breathing."
Stunned, Ronon stood frozen, mesmerized by the surreal scene playing out before him. A million thoughts ricocheted throughout his mind as Jennifer climbed upon the bed and, kneeling next to a lifeless Alianna, began CPR.
Noooo! his mind screamed. This couldn't be happening dammit! Alianna wasn't dead. She just wasn't. Not when only moments ago she'd given birth to a healthy baby boy, who, along with his siblings, needed their mother. And Crieve? Crieve needed his wife. A wife that loved him just as much as he loved her. So Alianna couldn't be dead. Especially not after all these years of thinking that the Wraith had killed her, and then finding her very much alive. So no, his sweet baby sister couldn't be dead.
Running his hands over his dreadlocks, Ronon took a deep breath in and let it out trying to quiet down his frantic mind. The Fates, those sadistic bitches, loved playing rough. Putting Alianna back into his life just to snatch her away once more. Yep, the Fates were real pieces of shit.
Ronon shut his eyes and repeated over and over to himself - Alianna. Was. Not. Dead.
In spite of trying to fortify his optimism, though, his worries grew and swirled in his head like a destructive tornado - tearing him apart at the core and letting dread rush into his soul. He could feel icy cold talons of fear seize the sliver of hope that he'd been religiously guarding and crush it to dust.
Blinking back tears that threatened to fall, Ronon was pulled out of his reverie by a faint whimper. To his right, Crieve stood, eyes fixed on Alianna. His young son lay content in his arms, exhausted from the arduous journey into this world. The child, who smiled dreamily as he slept, was oblivious to what was going on around him. However, Crieve's older son, Thane, huddled close to his father. Fear and grief etched across the poor kid's face. The boy knew exactly what was going on and his expression mirrored nearly everyone in the room. Everyone, that was, except for Jennifer. Her determination to save Alianna was written all over her face.
"Come on, dammit! Breathe!"
Her plea had Ronon's full attention again and, at the same time, had Crieve taking a step forward.
Placing a firm, yet gentle, hand upon the man's shoulder, Ronon halted him. "Let the doc do her work, brother," he said while giving Crieve a reassuring glance. "Let her do what she does best."
The shriek from one of the midwives shattered the room's somber silence. "And what is that?," the woman questioned with her hands on her hips, "Hmmm?" Stepping from the doorway and closer to the two men she scoffed, "Her best? What exactly is that?"
Ronon had forgotten about the old crones. He vaguely remembered both of the women following Crieve and himself into the bedroom when the cries of the babe had begun. Now they stood in the doorway with the younger girl, Lily, close by. Their tear-streaked faces made it clear that all three women were already grieving the loss of his sister.
The midwife became bolder by wagging an accusing finger towards Jennifer and saying, "Is it how to send a loving wife and mother to the afterworld?"
"I'm sure," the second midwife chimed in from the safety of the doorway, "her best, sister, is how to leave a family in mourning on what should have been a jubilant occasion?"
Without taking his hand from Crieve's shoulder, Ronon turned his head to give a murderous glare towards both women. He silently dared them to make another such scathing accusation about Jennifer and her lifesaving skills again. Just one! Please.
That look had the closest midwife taking several steps back towards the safety of the doorway, but not before adding, "I am just saying what we all are thinking."
Not even bothering to comment, Ronon mentally dismissed both women and turned his back to them.
Ronon wasn't surprised at all that Jennifer continued working during the accusing outburst. He knew that she was giving her all to the situation at hand. In fact, so much so that he was becoming concerned. Her movements were slowing down, and the sweat that beaded on her forehead began to run down the sides of her face. How long had Doc been at it? Long enough for everyone to realize that Alianna was gone, however, not long enough for Jennifer to give up yet.
With a heavy heart, Ronon left Crieve and made his way to the opposite side of the bed, closer to Jennifer. "Doc," he said, his throat growing tight with emotion as he stood behind her, "She's gone." He wanted to take back those words, but instead reached out his hand and placed it on Jen's shoulder. He heard her defeated sigh and soft "no" as she ceased her efforts. Breathing heavily, Jennifer got off the bed and turned to look up at him. Her sorrowful face and unshed tears nearly did him in. He wanted to tell her that he didn't blame her even though he knew that she blamed herself for the loss of his sister. That was something they would talk about later in private.
Ronon looked away from Jennifer and gazed out the window. The rain was still coming down. It was like mother nature herself also mourned the loss of Alianna. And judging by the sound of it, she was seriously grieving.
As if to demonstrate, a blinding bolt of lightning was hurled, making the three village women gasp as the bolt seem to find its target right outside the house. A deafening boom followed. It resonated throughout the building with such force that the windows rattled and the rumbling could be felt through the floorboards.
Without warning, the windows flew open, and the storm's fury came barreling inside. The wind roared throughout the house, and, within seconds, the windblown sheets of rain drenched the curtains and wooden floor. The bed where Alianna lie became soaked as well.
Being closest to the windows Crieve did his best to shield both of his sons from the storm. Ronon did the same with Jennifer using his body to deflect the onslaught of rain.
Caught off guard by the intensity of the storm, no one was prepared for Lily's blood-curdling scream.
Ronon looked over at the girl. She was standing near the doorway wide-eyed and pointing at the bed behind him. The other two women stood huddled together entirely speechless for once.
Confused Ronon turned to see what had the women so frightened. There, in the middle of the bed, sat his sister, who moments ago had been lying dead.
With the rain still coming in through the windows, Alianna was drenched. Her head was bent down, and her wet hair hung like a curtain about her face hiding it from view. She rocked slowly back and forth.
Everyone in the room stared in shock. Even Crieve kept his distance.
"What the ...?" Ronon exclaimed.
At the sound of his voice, Alianna lifted her head and sought out her brother.
Jennifer started around Ronon to get to her patient, but he quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the bed. Seeing the puzzled look on Jennifer's face, Ronon shook his head, "Her eyes. Look at her eyes Doc." he cautioned.
Alianna's green eyes were covered in a milky-white film with black slits for pupils. She was nearly as frightening as a Wraith.
This wasn't his sister. Instinct – and the agitated beast within – told him that much. Something from the other side was in the room with them, and it was using Alianna as a vessel.
Focusing her terrifying eyes on Ronon, Alianna began speaking in a language that no one in the room understood. She repeated over and over the same words.
Toides de'nel mae'kas! Toides de'nel mae'kas! Toides de'nel mae'kas, Ronon!
With each word spoken the rain and wind intensified to the point that it felt as if the house would be torn asunder and everyone inside would perish.
Suddenly, as if a switch had been turned off, the rain stopped and the wind was sucked out of the room, slamming the windows shut in its retreat. All was quiet once again.
Everyone was motionless. Their attention was on Alianna who still sat up in bed, her eyes shut.
"Alianna, my love?" Crieve cautiously made his way to the side of the bed holding the infant tight. Thane remained where he was.
With his hand resting on his blaster, Ronon whispered, "Alianna?"
His sister opened her eyes and looked around the room. Confusion contorted her lovely features. "Crieve? Ronon?" She looked from one to the other, "Wh...What happened?"
To Ronon, Alianna looked perfectly healthy. Gone was the death pallor from earlier. She now had a rosy hue about her, and her eyes were once again like his, the shade of emeralds.
What did just happen? What did his sister say to him? The language sounded ancient and it had also sounded like a warning. But of what? He needed to find an elder, if there was such a person on the planet, and ask them. They might possibly give him some insight into the words spoken. Until then he was just happy that his sister was once again with the living.
What were the odds of finding a place hotter and even more humid than Kentucky in the summer? A trillion to one? A billion trillion? Whatever the odds Kyle Masterson lucked out and found himself in hell. He'd been on this god-forsaken rock, along with the rest of the team, for the past four days.
Four freakin' days.
Four days of patrolling this backwater-dot-on-a-star-map town and lying in wait for Ronon Dex to bring Dr. Keller back from wherever he took her.
Four days of planning. Planning on rescuing Jennifer when she shows up, then swiftly escort her back to the safety of Atlantis. And once there, filing charges against the alien asshole who nearly broke his nose. Ronon Dex would be charged with assaulting a superior officer, he would see to it. And if for some reason that didn't happen, Kyle would personally settle the score, even if he'd have to wait forever to do it. The bastard would get what's coming to him.
Wiping the sweat from his brow, Kyle looked up into the cloudless sky. The three pale suns of the planet still amazed him. Actually, there were two suns. The third was a dwarf star that meandered across the heavens like a child trying to keep up with its parents. And even though the two larger suns were finally starting to disappear behind the horizon, it was still hot. The only consolation was that the heat and humidity were almost becoming a little more tolerable. Almost.
Irritated and a bit pissed off for being here this long, Kyle shouldered his way through the crowded marketplace. The hustle and bustle of the city were adding to the pounding in his head. What he wouldn't give for a couple of aspirin and an ice-cold beer right about now.
"Lt. Masterson." Sheppard's voice came over his earpiece bringing him back to the present, "any sign of Dr. Keller or Ronon?"
The Colonel, immediately after arriving on NRI-4, made it clear to everyone that he wasn't taking any chances after witnessing firsthand the gate change colors back at Atlantis. For all they knew, he told them, Ronon had the ability somehow to pass through the gate undetected. So, the instant they stepped foot on NRI-4 Sheppard ordered Major Lorne and five other Marines to stay behind and guard the StarGate. The remainder of the team were spread throughout the city, alert for any sign of Dr. Keller or her kidnapper.
"No Sir. No sighting of them yet, Sir." Kyle answered back.
"What's your 20, Lieutenant." With the team spread so thin, there was a lot of ground to cover.
"North side of the marketplace, Sir. Right next to what appears to be a tavern." The temptation was great, but Kyle was on duty. Maybe later.
"Keep your eyes open, Masterson. Report the second you spot either of them."
"Roger that Colonel."
Kyle tapped his earpiece off and resumed his patrol through the sea of people. Vendors and customers alike yelled back and forth at one another trying to make the best deal possible. The day's temperature and lack of shade didn't seem to bother them. Many of the booths sported awnings to shade a customer while purchasing an item. However, the thin material of the cover offered very little relief from the heat. A breeze would have been nice; something to at least circulate the air. But that was apparently forbidden by nature.
Turning a corner, Kyle stumbled upon McKay. He was seated at what resembled a street side café. Food and drink laid out before him.
Looking up Rodney nodded, "Lieutenant…ummm…Lieutenant?" snapping his fingers repeatedly, his face scrunched up in concentration, Rodney tried recalling Kyle's name.
Four days in each other's presence and the man still didn't know what to call him. "Masterson."
"My name. It's Lieutenant Masterson. Kyle, if that's easier for you to remember." Probably not.
"Oh, yes of course, of course." Turning his attention back to his food, Rodney popped a small chocolate-looking pastry into his mouth and rolled his eyes in pleasure, "You have got to try one of these. They are heavenly."
Sitting down opposite the scientist, Kyle shook his head, "No thank you."
"Suit yourself." And Rodney proceeded to eat nearly a dozen sweet treats one after another. Keeping silent for as long as he could, Kyle finally asked, "Tell me about Ronon."
"Ronon? Like what? And why do you want to know about him anyway?"
Because the bastard clocked me in the face; then, left with the woman I might be in love with.
"Oh, I like to know a little about the people I work with or am going to be working with."
Satisfied with that answer, Rodney pondered for a bit "Well, let's see," then began after wiping his mouth. "Ronon was once a runner."
At the puzzled look on Kyle's face, Rodney went on to explain how Ronon came to be on Atlantis.
"You see," Rodney finished by saying, "he is a vital part of our team, but don't tell him I said so. Anyway, he's important to the military side of things; science not so much. In any case, he's extremely scary, but in the long haul," Rodney picked up the last treat on the plate and studying it, continued, "I'd like to have him on my side if you know what I mean." Then popped the tasty morsel into his mouth.
"What about him and Dr. Keller? What's their story?"
Nearly choking, Rodney asked confused, "What? Who?" he then chuckled, "Ronon and Jennifer? Pfffftt…" waving his hand as to shoo a pesky fly away, "there's nothing there. She's dedicated to her work. And him?" Rodney shrugged, "Well, Ronon is just Ronon." At that moment a woman who apparently worked at the little café distracted Rodney. "Oh, Miss? Miss. Could you bring another one of those," pointing to the empty plate on the table, "whatever you call them. Thank you."
The woman nodded and, taking the empty dish, went to fill Rodney's order.
"Is Dr. Keller safe with Ronon?"
"What? Oh," shaking his head at the absurd question "you don't have to worry. Ever since those two met, Ronon has been very protective of Jennifer. I mean Dr. Keller. Come to think of it Ronon's kind of like her very own…oh, I don't know…like her own personal bodyguard."
Rodney leaned in closer to Kyle as if to tell him something serious. "Did he really do that to you?" Rodney asked wiggling a finger at Kyle's bruised face.
"Well, you know, between you and me, maybe Ronon thought you were a threat or something?"
"I am no threat! Not to anyone. And I gave Dex no reason to haul off and deck me. Besides I would never hurt Dr. Keller!" Kyle got up from the table, a bit more pissed off than when he'd first sat down. "If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna make another sweep of the area."
Leaving as the waitress brought the second round of sweets, Kyle hoped the man would at least choke on a couple.
"Be sure to radio in if you see Jennifer or Ronon." Rodney reminded Kyle.
With a curt nod, Lt. Masterson left, hoping Rodney choked on the whole plate.
Making his way through the crowded streets once more, Kyle seriously thought about backtracking and hitting up the tavern he spied earlier. An ice-cold beer, or whatever, sounded so good right now. That was if this place had even heard of ice. It was a chance he'd be willing to take.
A gentle tug on his sleeve had Kyle spinning around, alert and ready for battle. His P90 was raised and pointed only inches away from the most beautiful face he'd ever laid eyes on; almost as gorgeous as Dr. Keller's.
Still mesmerized by her beauty, Kyle wasn't paying attention to the fact that she was frightened by his threatening demeanor. She backed away from him and the weapon and stumbled over a pile of rugs just behind her.
Instantly Kyle slung his weapon over his shoulder and, with both hands, reached out to keep the woman from hitting the ground. "It's okay," He said as he stood with her, "I gotcha." As she was clutched his arms, he could feel the heat of her hands through his uniform. What a strange feeling.
Reluctantly Kyle let her go and apologized, "I'm awfully sorry for scaring you, Miss."
In a voice of pure silk, she begged, "I beg your pardon, sir, tis my fault." Tilting her head slightly, she smiled up at him and coyly batted her eyelashes. "I must be the one to apologize, kind sir, for sneaking up on you."
Wow. Those eyes. They were the color of a warm summer's day. And her lips, full and ripe. This woman was a woman who could capture a man's heart without even trying.
Her soft giggle made him realize that he'd been staring. He could feel his cheeks heating up. Good God he was blushing. Shit. He hadn't been this embarrassed since he was six and Sally, the girl next door, cornered him on the back porch and kissed him.
"No…no," he cleared his throat, "I mean..." Hell, he was as tongue-tied as a wet behind the ears schoolboy, "…umm…ya don't need to apologize. Ya just caught me off guard is all."
Sticking out his hand to her, he told her his name. "I'm Lieutenant Masterson. Kyle Masterson. Kyle. Yeah, that's me." He said fumbling over his introduction.
She placed her dainty hand into his, and her smile grew brighter. Without replying in kind, she shyly told him, "Come." She motioned towards the welcoming shade of her booth. "Relax."
It wasn't but a few yards away from where they were. And unlike the other merchants, her stand was more inviting. It was situated in the shade of a building that made the temperature under the awning several degrees cooler. And stepping in the shade, Kyle enjoyed the reprieve from the heat.
The woman's booth was full of baskets of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. She must be a gardener. There were also different colored bottles that lined several shelves. Perfumes maybe?
As the woman straightened up a few things, she asked, "You are a soldier?"
"Yes, ma'am I am." Kyle proudly pronounced.
Turning around she scrunched up her lovely face, "I do not recognize the uniform or the strange accent. You are an off-worlder?"
"You are here then to trade?"
"No, I'm here looking for someone. As a matter of fact, maybe you can help me."
"I shall try. I most definitely will try." Turning her back to him once more, the woman bent down and lifted a cloth bag from underneath one of the tables. Opening it, she pulled out a couple of wind chimes and hung them up. The wind that had been nonexistent the past couple of days began to gently blow and make the chimes sing.
Kyle remembered his grandmother having a couple of chimes back home when he was a kid. He always considered them just noisy pieces of metal that kept him awake at night. But these? These were different. They sang a sweet song. A song that called to him.
Grabbing an apron, the woman put it on and stood in front of Kyle
"Greetings Kyle Masterson." She smiled, "My name is Dusana. It is such a pleasure meeting you."