One of the things Ronon missed most while he was on the run (besides home and safety and real foodand bed) was painting. He could recite poetry to himself, had made up more poems while he was lying in the dark, waiting for the Wraith to stumble into one of his vicious traps. Sometimes he’d perched in trees and narrated their approaches in a lyrical fashion, watching dispassionately as one of them triggered the switch and its life was snuffed out.
Along it walks, footsteps in the leaves, murder on its mind and death in one sleeve, and -
Painting wasn’t something he could carry on the run with him.
When he first wandered around Atlantis on his own and stumbled across the stained-glass windows, he was entranced by their colors, hues and shades he’d never seen before. He itched for the inks and brushes of home, a good piece of linen so he could capture them and keep them forever. As a soldier he’d rarely had the time to paint; painting wasn’t a necessary skill for a Satedan warrior (but poetry, especially drunken poetry, was always welcome). He didn’t expect Atlantis to be any different. It had soldiers and scientists, but no artists. The only picture John had in his quarters was of a musician. He didn’t have any pictures for the sake of pictures.
So Ronon trained and practiced and went through the gate with John and Teyla and Rodney and slowly became one of their team, and whenever he had the chance, he slipped away and looked at the stained glass windows, imagined bathing in each and every one of their colors until he was camouflaged in rainbow.
His grandfather had taught him the most important things in life - combat, hunting, surviving.
After his grandfather passed, taken by The Second Childhood, Ronon had been shuffled into a home for children in similar circumstances, destined for the military. Grandfather had been a soldier, so Ronon was proud to have the chance to serve and continue his Grandfather’s proud and honorable lineage. He’d fought, he’d trained, he’d practiced, he’d survived. For years. He’d come into the world with paint and blood on his hands, grown from the little boy with the triple-barreled shotgun to the man with the sword and gun and Specialist rank beside his name, and he’d survived a culling.
The others in his platoon thought he loved Melena because she was a doctor, smart and kind and beautiful. He loved her because she was a good woman, through and through. He adored her because she, too, had colors in her heart. He’d first met her not at the annual military banquet (she the daughter of a general, he standing guard beside the buffet table) where everyone thought they’d met, but at a small shop tucked in an alley just off Market Square that sold the best and brightest inks in the city, the finest brushes. She hadn’t been quite able to reach a certain shade of blue, and he’d fetched it for her, and they’d spent almost the entire day talking about their favorite places in the city, the ones they found most beautiful, the ones they wanted to paint if they had the time.
But the city was gone, and she was gone, and the lovely, jewel-tone inks were all gone, and all Ronon had left was fighting alongside John Sheppard and killing the Wraith.
Until one day, when the mess hall was crowded, and everyone had to double up with everyone else, away from their usual mealtime companions, and Ronon found himself crowded at a table with a bunch of young marines and Major Lorne, John’s second-in-command. The marines were engaged in a spirited conversation about something related to the bizarre Earth habit of staring at boxes, and Lorne, who looked exhausted, had his head down and was picking slowly at his food, writing on his napkin. Ronon wondered how important it was, that he had to write it down while he was eating.
Paper was a rare commodity around Atlantis, because it was disposable and wasteful, and whenever John grumbled about paperwork, he really meant filling out forms on his datapad, and Lorne did most of the paperwork anyway (but John somehow always seemed to know, well, everything that happened in the city, anything militarily relevant, at any rate; Ronon suspected John didn’t know the marines had a pool going about whether he was dating Teyla or Rodney).
“Hey, Major,” one of the marines said, “you in? Gonna come watch the Citadel/Air Force game with us?”
Lorne blinked, coming out of a daze. “Hm? Oh, no. Thanks, though, Green. I have...Major-y things to do.” He glanced at his watch. “Speaking of, I’d better go. Maybe next time.” He capped and pocketed his pen, scooped up his tray, and shuffled through the crowd to the tray return.
He left the napkin behind.
Ronon went to scoop it up, because Lorne probably needed it, and he paused. Stared. Lorne hadn’t been writing. He’d been drawing. And he was good. It was a perfect depiction of John Sheppard, from the curious pointiness of his ears to the spikiness of his hair to the sardonic line of his mouth.
All those years alone, missing color, missing lines and shading and beauty, and Ronon had been so relieved to be able to finally stop running that he’d accepted any port in the endless storm that was war against the Wraith, and he’d resigned himself to a world without any of the things he loved, and he’d been wrong. There was beauty in this city. There was lines and shading and color.
Ronon thought of Lorne’s eyes and a certain vial of blue ink he’d bought and kept and never used because he’d never found the right time to use it, and he wondered.
If the art he’d loved on Sateda could live and flourish in Atlantis, maybe other parts of Sateda could, too.
So the next time he went off-world and encountered a Wraith, he killed it, and he took its head.