Ronon pushed the body off of him, relieved that his weapon had been set to stun. “He’s not dead.”
Jennifer’s hand fell to her side and his gun dropped from her hand. “Really? I was trying to kill him.”
“I know, little one, I know.” Ronon plucked his gun from the ground and rolled to his feet, determined to ignore the insane amount of blood pouring out of his shoulder. “We need to move towards the gate.”
“I need to dress you wound first.”
“The weapons fire came from the West.” Lorne reported over his radio. “I’m positive.”
“It was an echo.” Rodney McKay pointed out over the radio.
“Echo or no—it was from the West. Trust me.” His stomach twisted as he’d said it. After all he’d left Ronon and the doctor on this planet. It had been the right call, but now in the light of another day he wished he’d stayed behind. Wished he’d ignored his training and spent the night trudging around in the wilderness looking for Jennifer with Ronon.
“You heard the man, all teams rally to Major Lorne’s check point.”
Ronon glanced towards his radio. “Aren’t you going to answer them?”
She frowned, she’d almost forgotten that his wasn’t broken. “Yeah, in a minute. I need to finish this dressing and then we can have them bring the Jumper. You’ll need surgery to remove the bullet.”
“Yeah.” He glanced towards the stunned man which he’d required Jennifer to tie up before she could work on his wound. “You think he works with Michael?”
“I don’t think I care.” Jennifer jerked on the medical tape. “But if he does we can ask him questions about Teyla. Make him tell us where she is.”
An odd hum filled the air around them and Ronon jerked her close and rolled away from their prisoner as if he weren’t injured at all. A white light filled the area where they’d all been just as a Wraith Dart zipped over them taking their prison with it.
Jennifer huddled against Ronon’s chest, her hand still clamped over the wound she’d yet to properly dress, and took several deep breaths. “I want to go home.”
Ronon held her tight and with his good arm reached out for his radio. “Major Lorne, do you copy?”
“Ronon, thank God.”
“We just saw a Dart and we are about ten clicks from the gate to the West and Dr. Keller would very much like to go home, over.”
Jennifer curled around her blanket and closed her eyes. She’d been trying to sleep for more than hour but it wasn’t going to happen. With a disgruntled sigh, she slid from the bed one of her subordinates had ordered her into and looked around the darkened infirmary. She knew from the hushed voices that Sheppard and McKay were sitting next to Ronon’s bed and it was the number one reason why she hadn’t already gone to him. She hadn’t wanted to interrupt, but she was so tired and the dark was unbearable.
Pulling her blanket close, she pushed aside her privacy curtain and went to search for her big soldier guy. She slid between the slits of the privacy curtain and looked him over with tired eyes. “How are you?”
“Dr. Case did a good job and I’m properly drugged.” Ronon lifted one eyebrow at her blanket and her messy hair. “Having a rough night, Doc?”
“Yeah. It’s dark.” She bit down her bottom lip, and ignored Sheppard and McKay completely.
Ronon lifted away his covers on his good side and she gratefully crawled into his bed without another word. She was asleep before he even got the covers settled over her. He met John’s gaze without reluctance and was relieved with the concern and the gentle amusement he saw there. Concern for Jennifer, amusement at Ronon’s predicament.
“She doesn’t like the dark.”
John looked at her face, relaxed now that she felt safe. “I didn’t understand your attraction to her at first. I mean she’s beautiful, no question. Intelligent, determined, and a real power house in her domain. But outside of this infirmary…”
“I sort of figured you’d fall for one of those Marines. The tough ones that fight like a man.” Rodney flushed when both John and Ronon turned to stare at him in shock. “What? Some of those women are really hot!”
Ronon nodded and started to comb her hair with his fingers. “Why would I want a female version of me?”
Rodney’s mouth dropped open but he clamped it shut. “I see.”
Jennifer shuddered in her sleep and all three men grew quiet. Ronon was confident that she could have slept through an attack on the city at this point but he hated the thought of waking her up.
John stood and after a moment fixed their blankets. “We’ll let you sleep. There will be a full debriefing in the morning and I think the new psychologist would like to spend some time with both of you to go over the incident with your…” He looked at Jennifer’s face then. “She meant to kill for you, right?”
She’d meant to kill for him and he didn’t know how she would come to feel about that. Nothing he knew about her said that she would ever be comfortable with that small moment only hours before when she’d pulled a trigger with the intention to kill. People like her weren’t meant for war.
Ronon watched the nurse change his IV bag without saying a word. He figured he would leave off harassing her staff while she was so tired and couldn’t get up to take care of him herself.
“I should move her back to her own bed.” The nurse reached out for the blanket that Jennifer had brought with her.
“Leave her.” Ronon grabbed the woman’s wrist in a gentle grip. “She’ll sleep better here.”
“And you?” she asked stubbornly.
The nurse looked as if she doubted him but with a small smile she nodded. “Alright then. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Okay, so explain it to me.”
John glanced towards Rodney as they walked towards the crew quarters. “She’s soft.”
“A man like Ronon would want a woman who is soft and female – so he can lose himself in her and forget about all of the hard, fucked up things he had to do to survive. She reminds him that there are things here he fights for that aren’t tangible and that are very fragile.”
“She’ll keep him human,” Rodney finally said.
“She’ll hold his heart and be here to make him forget about everything we do out there when we come home.” Sheppard grimaced and pushed down the jealousy of that thought. He couldn’t afford to wrap himself around anyone at Atlantis—wouldn’t let himself take that risk.
“What about you, John?” Rodney asked softly.
“Who holds your heart?”
They paused outside of Rodney’s quarters and for a split second John almost answered his question. It would have been so easy in that moment to say it, to reveal the inner workings of his mind and heart. “Good night, Rodney.”
He walked away quickly, leaving Rodney frowning after him.
Two months later
Jennifer was standing on the balcony, a dress he’d never seen before clinging to everything she had. It dipped down so far on her back that he was sure she wasn’t wearing a thing under it. Her feet were encased in what he was sure some sort of torture device but they gave her three inches of height and they made her legs look amazing.
It had been a hellish week, a mission that should have lasted two days had turned into four and he’d been the only one to come back without some kind of injury. She’d worked most of the afternoon on the platoon of Marines he’d and John Sheppard had all but dragged back through the gate. Thankfully, they’d not lost anyone.
She turned then, the silky fall of her hair grazing her shoulders as she faced him. “Hey, you.”
“Hey.” He shoved his hands into the slacks he’d pulled on after a quick shower. Truthfully, he’d nearly broken his neck to get up their balcony on time. She’d only given him an hour of prep time and he’d spent twenty minutes of wondering what she was up to.
She walked to the table and the pale blue silk of her dress shimmied with each move she made. His throat closed up.
“On Earth, couples have this silly thing they do.” She picked up a small device from the table that he recognized. It held music and most of the Atlantis staff had one; he’d gotten one last year as a gift filled with Johnny Cash. It hadn’t taken him long to find someone to fix it for him… and now it was full of something McKay had called “the oldies”.
“What is it?” Ronon asked softly, pleased that his voice sounded stronger than he felt. The woman was trying to kill him, he was positive.
“They pick a song that’s their song. Something to remind them of each other.”
He didn’t need anything to remind him of her but if the custom pleased her, he would spend the rest of the evening listening to music. “And you want to find one?”
“I found one.” She smiled softly, her cheeks flushed. “But if you don’t agree…” She turned the player on and the speakers on the table activated. “It’s ‘In the Dark’ by—“
“Etta James.” Ronon finished. He walked to her, suddenly relaxed. He could do this. “Yes, I know it.” He took the mp3 player from her hand and put it on the table. “Shouldn’t we dance to our song?”
She grinned. “Yeah.”
Jennifer closed her eyes as he pulled her close and they drifted away from the table. Did the man do everything perfectly? It was insane and she had to ask as he spun her gently and brought her back to his chest. “Who taught you to dance?”
“Katie Brown. I taught her self-defense, she taught me every Earth dance she knew.” He laughed softly at her shock. “I can’t very well romance a woman from Earth if I can’t do the basics, right?”
She relaxed into him and touched his face. “A soldier is always prepared?”
“Something like that.” He kissed her forehead.
Jennifer shook a little as one hand slid down her back and she was suddenly so glad that she’d worn the dress that didn’t even pretend to have a back in it. His skin on hers was amazing. “I have food.”
“In a minute,” he whispered as the song changed. Slow and soft, the song filled the air around them. “I’m pretty sure the moon is yellow on your planet.”
She laughed. “Sometimes.. it’s very rare but our moon will appear to be blue. People consider it a very lucky thing or a sign of something special to come.”
“I see.” He brushed his lips over hers. “I like these shoes of yours. Makes it much easier to kiss you.”
“Thanks, it’s almost worth how uncomfortable they are.” She rested her head on his chest and sighed. “I used to hate the dark.”
“But you changed that. I don’t know when, but you did.” She met his gaze and smiled. “Now, when you aren’t here and I’m worried—I go to your quarters, turn the off lights, and wrap myself up in your blankets and pretend it’s you.”
“That explains why my bed smells like you.” He kissed the top of her head, immediately relieved. He had begun to think he was losing his mind.
“I was thinking after we eat… we could go back to your quarters and wrap up in your blankets.” She raised one eyebrow when he stopped moving. “What?”
“If your saying what I think you’re saying—I’m thinking we can skip the food.”
“You skip a meal?” She teased softly.
“Food could be overrated.” He swept her up off the floor. “Those shoes of yours will just slow you down.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to impede our mission.” She looped both arms around his neck. “Besides, I left the food in your quarters.”
“You didn’t notice the two bags of energy bars on your desk?”
He laughed softly. “You’ll be the death of me.”
She touched her forehead to his as he moved towards the door. “Don’t worry, I’m a doctor. I’ll make sure you survive the night.”
Surviving had never meant more than it did in that moment.