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Where were you - Part 4

Title: Where were you – part 4
Pairing: Rodney/Keller, Ronon/Keller, kind of both, but… well, there can be only one
Rating: T
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to FOX. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
Summary: She’d made her decision for a very good reason – at least that was what she’d told herself. But suddenly, she realized that maybe she had been wrong.
Warnings: some angst and hurt/comfort
AN: Okay, I know this took me forever, but here finally is the fourth chapter. I haven’t forgotten about the story, I was just pretty much stuck with it. I certainly still am, because I know where this story is supposed to go, but I have no idea how to get there.

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She didn’t need to worry about anyone addressing the death of her father, or the fact that she’d gone with Ronon to the funeral when they arrived back at Atlantis. They hadn’t even left the hall, when the alert activated, signalizing an incoming wormhole.

“Sir, it’s SG-5,” a young soldier called out from the platform to John, who had been about to bid his two colleagues welcome. “They’ve been attacked by the Wraith, we have six seriously injured.”

“Six?” Jennifer called out. How was that possible? Usually, there were only four people on a SG-team.

“SG-5 had been searching the planet for resources,” John explained. “There were four scientists and a bunch of technicians with them to mine the metal we found there.”

There wasn’t time for further explanations, as a dozen people rushed through the Stargate, one of them shouting, “Shut it down! Shut it down! They’re right behind us!”

His face was burnt, blood was dripping from his chin onto the floor of the hall, but still he was on his own feet, carrying one of his comrades with more extensive burning, as far as Jennifer could tell.

The med-team rushed into the hall, pulling the soldiers on stretchers; the most seriously injured first. “Take them back to the lab, fast!” Jennifer’s colleague, doctor Angela Seavers, shouted.

“Hey, Jen, good to see you again,” she greeted over her shoulder, while examining one of the soldiers.

Jennifer dropped her bag, and rushed to a soldier lying on the floor. He was badly burnt and his pulse was shallow. “I need a stretcher over here!” she shouted.

A few seconds later two of her colleagues came rushing through the hall with the requested stretcher. Even as they heaved the patient onto it, Jennifer could literally feel the life leaving his body.

“To the lab,” she shouted, climbing on the stretcher and starting CPR.

“Tell her I’ll take care of her stuff,” Ronon told Dr. Seavers.

“Oh, I’m sure she will be grateful,” the woman replied with a knowing look.

Ronon frowned at her. “What?”

“Never mind,” she replied with a shrug, pushing another stretcher through the hall.

Ronon looked at John. “What?” he repeated. He was sure John knew what was going on.

Sighing, John put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “You know, Rodney wasn’t exactly happy that you accompanied his girlfriend to the funeral.”

Clenching his fists and jaws, Ronon snarled, “I told him to go.”

“I know,” John assured him. “But you know Rodney.”

“Where is he?” the Satedan wanted to know.

John grimaced. “You really shouldn’t talk to him right now – and not in the near future,” he advised. “Give Jen some time to sort things out with him on her own.”

Frowning, Ronon nodded and grabbed Jennifer’s bag, heading for her quarters. On his way, he passed the infirmary. Nurses and doctors were rushing through the room, all dressed in grey suits, most of them covered with blood. Taking a deep breath, he moved on. Jennifer shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t be confronted with so much injury, certainly death, so shortly after her father’s funeral. But he also knew there was no way to talk her out of trying to help. He would just stand in the way.

Jennifer saw Ronon walk past the infirmary and she took a second to look at him before returning her attention to her patient. They had already lost two of the six injured victims, and she didn’t want to lose another one.

The infirmary smelled of burnt flesh and blood, a scent she had learned to live with but never entirely got used to. It still made her feel sick.

She watched Angela trying to reanimate another patient, a young scientist, not much older than herself.

“Dr. Keller,” she heard a voice behind her, “how much adrenalin?”

Jennifer shook her head to clear her thoughts; she needed to switch back to work-mode. There would be time to be emotional later. So she took care of the adrenalin herself, gave more orders and cleaned more wounds, trying to stabilize as many patients as she could.

Three hours later, she was sitting in her office, her head in her hands, trying to keep the tears at bay that threatened to fall. Exhausted didn’t even begin to describe how she felt. They had lost four of the six injured; four.

“I see you’re back,” she heard Rodney’s voice behind her.

She took a deep breath before she turned around to face him. “Rodney,” she greeted, trying to give him an honest smile.

“So… How was your trip with Ronon?” he asked. The disdain when he said Ronon’s name was hard to miss.

“Rodney, please,” she whispered with a sigh. “I really can’t do this right now.”

“Oh, sure, you don’t have time for me,” he complained. “I completely understand.”

“I lost four patients,” she told him. “I’m really not in any condition to discuss all this now.”

“Really? Well, there isn’t much to discuss,” Rodney replied. “Just answer one question. Why did you have to take him with you of all people?”

“Maybe because you had more important things to do; once again,” she replied, her voice harsher than she’d intended it to be.

“I… You… You told me it was fine if I stayed,” he defended himself.

Jennifer stood up, tears now clearly visible in her eyes. “Because I knew you wouldn’t come with me anyway,” she replied in a low voice. “I just wanted to spare you of making the decision on your own.”

“Well I guess you weren’t too distraught about it since Ronon kept you company,” Rodney snarled, wanting to kick himself the moment he said it.

Jennifer stared at him for a second before responding quietly, “I’m sorry, Rodney, but I can’t handle this anymore. I think it’s better if we… just… don’t see each other for a while.”

That being said, she stormed out of the room.

He followed her a few seconds later, sure she was heading for her quarters. He wanted to apologize. He knew he needed to apologize.

But the only person he met at her quarters was Ronon. “What? Did you move in with her?” Rodney spat out.

“You should have gone with her,” Ronon told him sternly.

“When did my relationship with Jennifer become your business?” Rodney grumbled. “She told me it was fine to stay here.”

Ronon crossed his arms in front of his chest. “She needed you. You weren’t there.”

“And I’m sure you only considered it your duty to take my place,” he snorted.

“I told you to go,” Ronon replied.

Rodney had to admit that he couldn’t argue with that. And he wasn’t mad at Ronon because he had accompanied Jennifer to the funeral. He was mad at himself because he hadn’t had the sensitivity to accompany her himself.

Plus, he knew that Ronon still had feelings for Jennifer. How sure could he be that the other man hadn’t acted on his feelings in the meantime? Jennifer had been vulnerable, and it would have been easy for Ronon to take advantage of her.

Because he had let him. This was all his fault. He needed to find Jennifer to apologize.

So for the first time in his life he swallowed his pride and his jealousy, and asked, “Where is she? I need to talk to her.”

Ronon frowned at him, concern shining in his green eyes. “You don’t know where she is?”

“No,” Rodney replied. “I… When she left the infirmary, she was pretty upset. I thought she was here.”

Ronon ground his teeth. He didn’t need to ask Rodney why Jennifer had been upset. He needed to find her. In her condition, with everything she’d been through lately, he knew she shouldn’t be alone.

“Hey,” Rodney protested as Ronon rushed past him.

It took him nearly an hour to find her. In fact, he almost didn’t find her at all. But when he passed a door in one of the uninhabited parts of the city, he saw a figure on the stage.

Carefully stepping closer, Ronon realized that she was crying. Without saying a word, he sat down next to her and put his arm around her.

“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, leaning her head against his shoulder. “This was just… too much.”

“You lost patients,” he guessed. From her behavior, it was obvious to him.

Jennifer nodded in the half-embrace. “Four,” she said, sniffling. “They were… too seriously injured.”

“What happened?” Ronon asked.

Jennifer raised her head to look at him. It really seemed like he wanted to know. Would he even understand what she told him? What did it matter?

She laid her head against his chest and started to tell him what had happened in the infirmary. She tried not to use any technical terms – and if she did, she tried to explain them.

“We tried adrenalin,” she told him, sniffling again. “You know, that’s the hormone your body produces when you’re…”

“Yeah,” he interrupted her, “I… I know adrenalin pretty well.”

Jennifer’s heart skipped a beat. He was listening to her, really listening. “It’s supposed to keep the bloodstream running, but… It didn’t work. They were too badly wounded. You know, we’re not only breathing through our lungs but also through our skin. So, when too much of the skin is too badly burnt, the patients simply suffocate, and there’s not much you can do about it.”

“You tried,” he whispered in her hair. “That’s all that matters.”

“Is it?” she asked, sniffling once more. “I mean, what do I tell the families?”

“You don’t have to write the letters,” he told her, his voice unusually soft. “Sheppard can do it.”

“I know, but… they were my patients,” Jennifer objected. “It’s my duty.”

“Then tell them the truth,” Ronon said. “It will help them to read that someone cared and tried to save their family members.”

“I don’t know,” she whispered against his chest. “I think it’s cold comfort.”

“If I had lost someone I loved,” Ronon softly objected. “I would want to hear that someone cared about them until the end. That someone fought for their lives and tried to save them.”

She just nodded in his arms, knowing that he was right. Even if it was cold comfort, at least they would read that she truly felt sorry for their loss – and for not being able to save their loved ones.

“And then Rodney came to see me, and… he only cared about you accompanying me to my father’s funeral,” she continued. She wasn’t sure why she told Ronon of all people, but she needed to get this off her chest.

“We were fighting,” she added. “At least, I think we were. Rodney was complaining, and I just wanted to make him understand that it was a bad time, but… he wouldn’t listen; and in the end, I… kind of split up with him.”

“I’m sorry,” Ronon mumbled, even though he wasn’t sure he really was. Did that mean he had a second chance? Not right away, of course, but maybe in the not too distant future. Or would they reconcile?

“Really?” Jennifer whispered. “I honestly don’t know if I am. I just… Don’t get me wrong, Rodney is a good guy, but I can’t handle his emotional ineptness any longer. So I told him that it was better if we didn’t see each other anymore. I mean, I didn’t mind being there for him when he needed me, but… I always thought that… it would be mutual, you know?”

“It should have been,” Ronon confirmed.

Jennifer smiled bleakly. Was it just her or was Ronon trying to talk her into believing her actions had been right? Or maybe this was his way of offering her comfort.

“I don’t know,” she said with a sigh. “Maybe I should talk to him again. I just… I don’t know.”

“You don’t want to hurt him,” Ronon stated. “You should ask yourself if he would do the same for you.”

She raised her head to look at him and saw something in his eyes she had never seen before. She knew Rodney loved her, but when he was upset, it would never occur to him to think before he spoke to avoid hurting her feelings.

But looking at Ronon now, she realized that he would never knowingly hurt her. She felt a sudden urge to lean up and kiss him. Maybe it was just because she had always wondered what it would feel like. Or maybe it was because this particular moment made her realize that she was in love with him.

New tears filled her eyes and she leaned her head back against Ronon’s chest, feeling incredibly stupid. She’d had a crush on Ronon from the moment she’d first laid eyes on his godlike appearance. Who wouldn’t?

But she had chosen Rodney over him thinking that he didn’t love her, but knowing that Rodney did. She liked Rodney, maybe even loved him. Their relationship had been too short and Rodney had too often been himself for her to really fall in love with him.

And now she was in love with Ronon.

“You should try and get some rest,” he whispered into her hair.

She shook her head, trying to regain her self-control. “I have to write to the families.”

“That can wait until tomorrow,” he stated, instinctively reaching out and brushing away her tears with his thumb.

Leaning into his soft touch, Jennifer closed her eyes for a moment, and suddenly realized how exhausted she actually was.

“Okay,” she whispered, fearing that she would destroy this moment of intimacy if she spoke louder.

Nodding, Ronon rose to his feet and helped her up, frowning at her in concern. She suddenly looked incredibly pale. “Are you all right?” he asked carefully.

She nodded, as she let him pull her to her feet, but moments later, realized that she actually wasn’t. Her head was spinning, and she suddenly felt weak, too weak to remain standing. She needed to sit, even better, lie down. It was most likely just due to the stress. Maybe it was the scent of burnt flesh she’d had to inhale for hours that now made her feel sick. Jennifer opened her mouth to say something, but couldn’t get a single word out.

She felt tired, weary and sick. She noticed that she was swaying, and then felt two strong arms wrap around her, before everything around her went black.

Ronon broke her fall, and immediately lifted her up. He considered taking her to the infirmary, but dismissed the idea, knowing that when she woke up she shouldn’t be confronted by the sight that had caused her so much misery.

So he took her to her rooms instead, calling Dr. Seavers just to make sure Jennifer would be all right.

“Do you know when she last ate anything?” Dr. Seavers asked only a few minutes later after having checked on Jennifer.

“No,” Ronon replied with a frown. “Before we left earth, I suppose.”

Dr. Seavers gave him a sympathetic smile. “Well, if she hasn’t eaten properly since then, it’s no wonder she collapsed. Her body needed to rest, so it made her rest.”

Ronon nodded absentmindedly.

“You know, she shouldn’t be alone,” the older doctor told him. “In case she wakes up feeling sick or doesn’t wake up at all; which I doubt will happen. Shall I inform Rodney?”

Ronon chewed on his lower lip. “I don’t know.” He really didn’t. They’d split up, after all.

Smiling, Dr. Seavers placed a hand on Ronon’s arm, leaning in a little. “I’m sure she’d rather have you around,” she said in a low voice. “But I didn’t tell you that. Call me if you need anything.”

That being said, she was gone.

Sighing, Ronon checked on Jennifer again, before settling on her couch for the night, hoping she really would be glad that he had stayed instead of calling Rodney.