Author Note: This story is the third in a series. Series Order: In the Dark, Where Ever You Go, Bleeding Love
When he woke she was gone—the bed already cool—and again he was alone. Their relationship was no secret to anyone Atlantis but she always left him in the early morning hours. Ronon spread his hand out over the sheets and for a moment allowed himself to be angry at her. In the two months since they’d been lovers, he’d only woken up with her in his arms once and that was when she’d been so exhausted that she overslept and nearly missed the start of her shift.
He turned his head, his gaze connected with his ear piece. Ronon didn’t reach for it, knew she wouldn’t answer – she never had. He rubbed his face with both hands and growled. Jennifer had withdrawn from him over the past month, she’d lost weight, and often she was so stressed from the infirmary that when she came to him at night she was either too exhausted for anything more than a kiss.
Last night, she’d slipped into the bed long after he’d fallen asleep and woke him with her soft mouth and demanding hands. His cock hardened as he replayed those hot moments in the dark when she had slid astride his hips and had taken him inside her—fucked him. It had been the best sex they’d in a long time and it was almost enough to make him push aside his doubts, his concerns, and his suspicions.
* * * *
Dr. Jennifer Keller had a blessedly full life for the first time that she could remember. A meaningful job filled her days, a man that meant more to her than anything else filled her nights, and now she had the wind in her face. Her body was burning, her heart was racing, and the experience was thrilling. It was the only hour in her life that belonged to just her and it never ceased to help her mind settle. She slowed down, her body humming with adrenalin and bent from the waist.
She glanced at her watch then and grimaced. Shower and then duty called. It was too bad, really, as it would have been great to shower and then slip back into bed with Ronon. Her heart clenched a little as she thought about him – so much had changed between them and she was very grateful for every moment they had together. Though, recently she’d noticed that he wasn’t as attentive as he had been in the past, wasn’t as quick to kiss her, didn’t hold her as tight as he had the first night they’d made love. Maybe that was the nature of any relationship—things were no longer so new between them.
No longer able to push it off, she headed back to her quarters for a shower.
* * * *
“So.” John Sheppard paused as he was loading his gun clip and stared at Ronon. “The woman works all day saving people’s life with the kind of surgical skill that makes all the doctors on this base look at her like she’s heaven sent, slides into your bed at night and rocks your world three ways from Sunday and you’re pissed because she’s never there when you wake up?” He shook his head. “You want to know where she goes every morning?”
“Security reports her running from 0400 hours to 0500 hours and then she reports to work at 0600 hours.”
“I know that but what about the two hours before that?” Ronon rolled his head and refocused on the target in front of him. He rarely used Earth weapons but he had learned to use them on a “just in case” rationale. The weight of the P-90 and it’s recoil as he unloaded into the targets as they popped up on the firing range was strangely satisfying. “We haven’t discussed our arrangement – haven’t made anything permanent between us.”
“Are you ready for that?”
“Even if I were—Jennifer is far too delicate for the mating rituals of my people. I’d never ask it of her and so we’re stuck here in this place – standing still and I don’t know what she fucking wants.” He held is hand out for the other clip and then reloaded the weapon. “I don’t even know why she’s with me – it isn’t like we’re on the same level. I’m a soldier and she’s like…” He paused. “Sometimes I think she should go back to Earth where she would be safe.”
“There are no guarantees that she wouldn’t be killed in the street on Earth—anything could happen.” Sheppard leaned against the partition and watched Ronon for a long minute. “So, you’re that far gone? In love with your little doctor and now you’re trying to find a way or a reason to push her off so you don’t have to deal with it?”
Ronon focused on the target and frowned. “I have no intention of ‘pushing her off’. I told you before, John, losing her would be – more than I could take. We just have all of these differences between us and I’m doing everything I can to meet her expectations.”
“Have you bothered to ask her what her expectations are?”
His stomach clenched at the casual question and he hesitated – he hadn’t hesitated with a weapon in his hand in years and the a red light flashed over the target indicated the failure silently. He put down the weapon and ignored all the men on the range who had been watching his demonstration. John cleared his throat. “Time for lunch, then?”
“Yeah, I’ll meet you in the gym for fighting demo.” He put the gun down on the shelf in front of him, tossed the safety glasses with a growl and left the gun range without another word.
* * * *
“So, they send this new orthopedic doctor in and he spends more time bitching about our limited rehab space than actually listening to me explain how things work around here. He has the gene and got treated like a fucking god as soon as the IOA found out. There is nothing worse than a doctor with that kind of attitude going on.” Jennifer finished taping her wrist. “I had to get out of there or I was going to punch him in his face.”
Cadman laughed. “I think Ronon is a bad influence on you.”
Jennifer smirked. “Nah, it isn’t the first time I’ve wanted to punch a fellow doctor in the face. Let’s remember—I was the youngest resident most of them had ever had to deal with. I barely survived my surgical rotation without burying a scalpel in the head of my so called ‘mentor’.” She tugged on the gloves. “I can’t believe you talked me into this.”
“Thanks for doing this, I know this isn’t how you want to spend your afternoons. There are several men in the new arrivals who actually have a lot of training in kickboxing but you know how men can be.”
“This is good rehab for you and as your doctor- it’s my job to keep you in fighting condition. Just don’t kick my ass too bad today.”
“Is that the only reason?” Laura asked quietly.
Jennifer frowned. “Well, I do the gun training and Ronon has been training me with a few other weapons. I guess I agreed because this is a good chance for me to learn how to use my body.”
“You know we all took the attack on you very personally and considering how well you came out of it—you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Yeah, but you were surprised, right? Everyone was surprised that I didn’t let myself get killed.” She lifted her chin when Laura reached out to fasten her the padded head gear. “Thanks, I forgot.”
“I can’t very well be responsible for giving the head of medicine a concussion.” Laura pushed a mouth guard at her lips. “Let’s keep your mouth pretty too, I’d hate for your man to get mad at me.”
* * * *
“What is this?” Ronon asked between clenched teeth as he watched Jennifer use her knee to send Laura Cadman rolling. When he’d first entered, Cadman had been picking her up off the floor.
John looked towards him. “Kick boxing, it’s an Earth sport. It’s great for agility, body strength, and endurance training. A lot of women use it for a work out. Though I admit, I normally see this level of physical contact in men not women. They both look a little frustrated.”
Ronon leaned against the wall, they were both early for the training session and the last thing he’d expected was to find Jennifer in the gym exchanging body blows with Laura Cadman. It stunned, to say the least.
The new Marines filed in pretty quickly and lined the wall where John pointed and remained silent.
* * * *
Jennifer nudged one of her gloves off and offered Laura a hand. She took it grudgingly, with a glare. She took out the mouth guard. “Sorry, I warned you I was in a bad mood.”
Laura spit out her mouth piece toward her work out bag and grinned when it hit. “Yeah, whatever, doc. Next time you have that much aggression to work out—why don’t you take a ride on your man and leave me out of it?”
“Fuck you, Cadman.” Jennifer tossed her glove at the woman’s retreating back. “I had no idea that made you Marine girls so delicate.”
“Like a flower,” Cadman dropped her gloves and pulled off her head gear, letting a shocking amount of red hair fall free.
“Venus Flytrap?” Jennifer caught the bottle Laura tossed and hazarded a glance at Ronon. He was still silent across the gym and suddenly the large room just wasn’t big enough.
Cadman flashed her a grin. “I don’t why people think you’re so nice.” She jerked her head towards the silent men on the far side of the room. “He looks… irritated. Well, more irritated that he normally looks.”
“Yeah.” Jennifer glanced briefly towards him as she pulled off the cushioned headgear and dropped it in Cadman’s bag, with her gloves. She tucked the mouth piece into her pocket for future use and started wiped her face with a towel. “Maybe the new platoon rotating in ticked him off.” She glanced towards the Marines that were lined up like little toy soldiers on the wall opposite her and Cadman. They were all looking at them and suddenly she felt sort of naked in her workout clothes. She knew Cadman and her were far enough away that they couldn’t be heard by the men. “I wonder why they haven’t started?”
“Ronon likes the room to be cleared,” Cadman murmured. “The training sessions can be intense.”
“Okay, then let’s clear out.”
“Same time tomorrow?” Laura asked as she shouldered the bag of equipment.
“Yeah.” Jennifer dropped the towel into her own bag and picked it up. “Watch your left shoulder and stop by the infirmary sometime today and get a muscle relaxer it’ll help you sleep better tonight.”’
“Yeah, no problem.”
Jennifer sat down on the bench as Cadman left, her gaze drifting over to Ronon before she pulled off her workout shoes. She’d intended on showering in the gym – it was closer to the infirmary and less work that returning to her quarters. With a brief nod in his direction she picked up her stuff and headed off to the showers.
Ronon watched her leave still a little stunned by the prowess she’d showed with the sport, barely listening to Sheppard explain it. Still, it explained how different she was lately—a little stronger, a little leaner but still soft in all the ways that were important to him. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Yeah, like going into the women’s shower won’t be all that obvious,” John muttered and jerked his head towards the Marines.
“It’s a good as time as any to make her status perfectly clear. You want to pair them up and I’ll be right back?”
He found her at the sinks outside the main bank of showers. “You’re alone?”
“Yes. It’s a little early in the morning for anyone to be on a lunch break workout.” She sat down her brush. “Having a hard morning?”
“No rougher than usual.” He walked to her, turned her gently with both hands, plucked her up off the ground and sat her on the sink. “Tell me something.”
Her hands clutched at his shoulders at the sudden change of position but then she relaxed. “Yeah, what?”
“Are you and I okay?”
The look of shock on her face was gratifying. “What? Yes, of course. Why?” She reached out and fisted her hand in his t-shirt. “Do you think we’re not okay?”
“You’re distant lately, tired a lot, and I need to ask you a question.”
“Okay.” She frowned at him.
“You leave my bed every morning hours before you are due at work. Where do you go, Jennifer, and who are you with?”
He watched her go from confused to hurt to furious in a matter of seconds and his world tilted off it’s axis – knowing he’d made a very stupid mistake.
She jerked free of him, pushed him back, and jumped off the counter. “Is that what you think of me? You can go fuck yourself.”
He grabbed her arm and jerked her around to him. “Don’t walk away from me, Jennifer. You’re keeping a secret from me – you don’t even fucking answer your comm. The first time I tried, I was worried—thought you might be sick so I went to your quarters but you weren’t there. The next thing I know I see you jogging on the pier – beautiful and winded and looking far more content than you ever are when you’re with me. I thought what was between us was serious and I’ve done everything I can to make it clear to you.”
Jennifer pulled her arm from his grasp silently and then back to the counter. Her hand was shaking as she reached for her hair brush. “You don’t trust me, Ronon. You don’t trust me at all if you can even think what you were thinking. You also don’t know your own reputation. There isn’t a man on Atlantis that would try to make a move on me because of you and honestly it’s made things a lot easier. I don’t have to worry about Marines playing grabass in the infirmary or in the cafeteria. I know there are rules but we are out here in the middle of nowhere and there aren’t that many women…”
“I do trust you.”
“Do you? What do you imagine I do in those morning hours without you?”
“I’m asking you because I know what ever you’re doing in those hours without me is helping you in ways that I can’t and it’s frustrating the hell out of me.”
“Fine.” Jennifer yanked her top over her head and fired it towards the counter. “Tomorrow you can go with me—it’s obvious something we should be doing together anyways—maybe we can figure out what I have to do to earn your trust.”