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Where were you - Chapter 7

Title: Where were you – Chapter 7
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: I’m sorry it took me so long again. I don’t know what I already told you about my current situation and I don’t want to repeat myself, but here’s what kept me from writing for so long: In January, my dad was diagnosed with lymph node cancer and no one knew how bad it really was until in April, he suddenly needed to get surgery. He died a week later, presumably of a pulmonary embolism or a heart attack. We don’t know for sure and it doesn’t change anything.
Only a few months later, in August, I lost my job. It was okay, because I already had a new one. The problem is that I really don’t like it. It was even making me sick.
With that situation I just couldn’t get myself to write anything. I guess I was pretty damn close to a depression until I got really sick myself. I had a severe bronchitis and needed medication which I didn’t tolerate too well. My mom wanted to take me to the hospital, because she really thought I was going to die. Stuff like that makes you think, I guess. I realized that instead of mourning over the job, I just need to keep looking for a new one – and that having something to help me escape again might do me good as well. So here I am, trying to get back to writing after such a long time.
Hope you enjoy the chapter.

Ronon stood dead still for a few seconds, unsure of the proper reaction to the situation. Eventually though, he decided that it would be appropriate to hug her back.

Jennifer’s heartbeat began to speed up as his arms encircled her waist and pulled her closer to him. Either she hadn’t realized it until that moment, or hadn’t allowed herself to, but it felt incredibly good to be so close to him.

But realizing that yet once again, she was reading way too much into the situation, and that she had yet to talk to him to find out where they stood, she broke the embrace, albeit a bit too abruptly.

“I…um…you’re welcome,” Ronon muttered uncomfortably, hesitant of what to say.

Maybe coming here hadn’t been a very good idea. He could have left his gift at her door. If it hadn’t been for Teyla and John, he would have done exactly that.

Why did they have to tell him about Jennifer breaking up with Rodney at all? It wasn’t like it was any of his business. Not that he didn’t care, but…what did it change, anyway? Did it change anything? Teyla had told him that Jennifer might be interested in him. But maybe that wasn’t true. What did she know, anyway? On the other hand, Jennifer might have told her. They were friends after all. Girls talked about stuff like that, right? He had told Teyla…

“Ronon?” her soft voice interrupted his thoughts.

He cleared his throat, “Yeah?”

“I just… I was just about to make coffee. Would you like some?” she offered.

He knew, he shouldn’t accept. He should tell her that he had something important to do and run before anyone got hurt; like he usually did. But he felt himself agreeing nonetheless.

What was he doing? What was he thinking? Hell, he didn’t even drink coffee. But maybe he’d find that he liked coffee…and that maybe there could actually be a future for him and Jennifer.

‘Just tell her the truth’, Teyla’s voice whispered in his head.

Yeah, that was easier said than done.

A somewhat awkward silence descended between them as they sat down at her table. After making the shrine for her and her hugging him in gratitude, one would expect the situation to be…easier. He had held her for three nights straight, sharing a bed with her, and now he couldn’t get a single word out. He simply had no idea how to start a conversation like that. ‘So, I heard you and Rodney finally broke up’, just didn’t seem like the right thing to say. But somehow he couldn’t come up with anything else. How was he supposed to be honest, when all he really wanted to tell her, was that he was glad Rodney was finally out of the way?

“So…where did you learn how to do that?” Jennifer asked, finally breaking the silence. “How to carve, I mean.”

“My dad showed me,” he replied. “When I was a kid, he used to carve toys for us, my brothers and me. We had wooden swords and little puppets that looked like animals.”

“Did you have a lot of siblings?” she asked, sipping her coffee.

“I don’t know,” he replied with a shrug, taking a sip of his own coffee, finding it bitter, but tasty. He could probably get used to it. “I mean, for a human I probably had a big family, but for a Satedan…rather small, I guess. I had three brothers and a sister.”

“Only one girl,” Jennifer remarked with a smile. “She must have had a rough childhood.”

“Not because of us,” Ronon assured her. “We would have died for her right from the start. She was the oldest, and after the Wraith took our mother during one of their feedings, she…kind of took over the role in many ways.”

“You know, you can add milk or sugar if you don’t like it that way,” she suddenly said.

Ronon turned his head to raise an eyebrow at her.

“Your coffee,” Jennifer specified. “This is the first time you’ve had it, right?”

“Yeah,” he admitted. “Sheppard’s made me try beer, wine and something he called Whiskey, but never coffee.”

“I like mine with milk,” she told him, holding her cup out to him. “It’s not as bitter that way. Try it.”

Reluctantly, he took the cup from her and took a sip. It felt…unusually intimate to drink from her cup, but he had to admit he liked the bitter drink better with milk, so he added some to his own after handing hers back to her.

“How old were you when you lost your mom?” she asked, returning to their original topic, “If you don’t mind me asking.”

“No, it’s okay,” he assured her. “We measured age a little differently than you do, but I guess in human age I must have been around ten or eleven.”

She nodded as a serious expression crossed her face and her eyes became distant, as if she were a million miles away. “I was eight when my mom died,” she told him. “She had a special form of cancer that had no treatment. The doctors gave her three months when she was diagnosed with it. I was two then. She managed to survive almost six years though, before the disease won.”

“She must have been some hell of a fighter,” Ronon remarked.

“She was,” Jennifer whispered. “She fought till the very last.”

“Was that why you decided to become a doctor?”

Jennifer nodded. “Well, not at first. I took it really hard and…my dad was overwhelmed. He was hardly able to deal with his own feelings, but with an eight-year-old girl who suddenly locked herself in her room and hated the whole world and everyone in it… I just didn’t know how to handle the pain, you know?”

“What changed?” he asked.

“Her doctor, the one who had been with her through it all, came by one day to see me,” she explained. “I yelled at her, told her I thought that it was all her fault.”

“You needed someone to blame for your mother’s death,” he said. “I understand. I was luckier, though. I had the Wraith to blame.”

She smiled sadly. “Well, she basically said the same, minus the Wraith, of course. But she told me that she understood my anger. And for the first time, someone sat down with me and really explained to me what my mom had, and why she died. That was when I decided I wanted to be like her; a doctor. I wanted to find a cure for that; which of course was ridiculous, as I had to learn.”

“But you save people every day,” Ronon objected. “Your mom would be proud of you.”

She smiled. “And your family…” Jennifer started reluctantly. “Are you certain they’re all dead?”

“Yeah,” he affirmed quietly. “I watched most of them die.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“It’s okay,” he told her. “For the first time I feel like I’ve found some sort of a new family.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” she mumbled, drawing her eyes from him when the urge to touch him suddenly overwhelmed her. “It’s easier if you’re not alone.”

“I’m sorry Rodney wasn’t sympathetic enough to go with you,” he suddenly said before he even thought about his words.

“Well, I should have known, I guess,” Jennifer replied with a shrug. “A leopard can’t change its spots.”

“What’s a leopard?”

She looked up at him, puzzled for a second, before replying, “It’s an animal that… never mind. I’m sorry; I tend to forget that you’re not from earth.”

He couldn’t help but smile at that. Even though he was proud of his origin, it felt like a compliment.

“It’s just a saying that means we can’t change who we are,” she explained.

“I see,” he mumbled, emptying his cup. “Are there still leopards on earth?”

“Yeah, we have them in zoos, but there’re some left in the African wilds as well, I believe.”

“Then you can show me one when we visit earth next time,” he suggested.

Jennifer had to giggle at that. She just couldn’t imagine taking Ronon to the zoo.

“What?”

“Sorry, it’s just that…well, you certainly wouldn’t like our concept of zoos,” she told him. “You know, even though they have improved over the past century, it’s still…basically locking them up.”

“Why do people lock animals up?” he asked.

Jennifer sighed, “Because unfortunately, animals are much safer in cages being cared for, than they are in the wild. There’re just too many people on earth who like to kill for fun.”

“Yeah, some humans are a lot like Wraith,” he mumbled. “I’m glad most of you guys are different. I can’t imagine killing for fun. Not even Wraith.”

This time, it was Jennifer who raised an eyebrow at him.

“It’s true, I like killing Wraith,” he said with a shrug. “But not without a fight. I would never kill anyone or anything that couldn’t defend itself.”

“I’m sorry,” Jennifer suddenly mumbled. “I really misjudged you.”

He frowned at that. “How so?”

She took a deep breath, looking down. “I really thought you solved all your problems with a gun,” she murmured, suddenly feeling terribly embarrassed.

“I used to,” he admitted with a shrug. “It was the fastest way to survive. But shooting the drive after the Wraith had taken over the Daedalus was stupid, I know that.”

“Not stupid,” Jennifer objected, “maybe…ill advised.”

Ronon smirked at her. “It almost got us killed,” he reminded her. “So I guess it was downright stupid.”

“Well, you obviously weren’t thinking ahead when you did it,” she muttered.

Ronon took a deep breath. It was now or never. This was his chance to take the conversation into the direction he wanted it to go. But did he really want to go down that road?

‘She really likes you’, he heard Teyla’s voice again. ‘Show her what kind of man you can be.’

He sighed. Why had he asked her for advice anyway? Well, because he’d known she wouldn’t sugar coat it and would tell him the truth, instead of what he wanted to hear. He had asked for her advice, so he might as well take it.

“Was that why you told me you weren’t interested?” he finally asked.

Jennifer’s eyes widened. This certainly took the conversation to a whole new level; one she had never expected Ronon to take it to.

She opened and closed her mouth, unsure of how to reply, before finally answering, “Well, I… it was when I started thinking that you…solved all your problems with your gun,” she admitted. “And I…was wondering if I really wanted to be involved with…someone like you.”

“A killer?” he offered.

“What? No,” she hurried to assure him. “A…soldier, I guess fits best. You know, someone who’s constantly in danger, shoots before thinking about it and…well…doesn’t even seem to fear death.”

He frowned, but nodded nonetheless. He could understand why she wouldn’t want to be with someone like him. He was good at shooting and killing, as well as pushing people away. What he wasn’t good at was talking, feelings and letting people in. Certainly not the kind of guy a woman wanted to be with.

“But you showed me that there’s another side of you,” she added in a soft voice. “A side that cares enough about me to even try and reason with Rodney.”

He raised an eyebrow at her, but then nodded. “Teyla told you.”

“Yeah, and I’m glad she did,” she continued. “I… it helped me understand that Rodney not accompanying me wasn’t only because I told him not to. He just couldn’t understand, maybe he didn’t even try. I guess that doesn’t matter much anymore though.”

She looked at him again and her heart started pounding like mad, knowing she was about to talk herself into trouble. “But you cared,” she whispered. “You cared even though I had pushed you away.”

He smirked again, this time not daring to look at her. “I always cared about you.”

“So…when you said…you weren’t interested…” she started.

“It was a lie,” he admitted. “I knew Rodney was interested in you too, and…well, I thought he’d be a better match.”

“Seems like we were both wrong,” she whispered in reply.

Ronon turned to look at her.

Jennifer swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat, realizing that he probably expected her to say something, or admit her feelings for him. On the other hand, he had yet to admit any feelings for her. Well, he’d revealed that he had lied when he’d said he wasn’t interested. That certainly meant…

Unable to think straight, she began to babble. “You know, I’ve always wondered how things would have turned out if we hadn’t been interrupted when we were in the infirmary. I mean… I always asked myself whether it was just the situation; the prospect of dying in there, that made us want to kiss each other, or if there really was something between us. And after you took such good care of me, I realized that…it was a mistake to tell you I wasn’t interested, because I was…am, I mean. You know, I just… it felt so good to be close to you and have you hold me, but… it also felt wrong, because I was still with Rodney. But now I’m not and…”

Not really knowing what else to do, only what he felt he had to, Ronon chose that moment to stop the flood of words coming out of her mouth by pressing his lips against hers.