Title: Where Were You – Chapter 1
Pairing: Rodney/Keller, Ronon/Keller, kind of both but… well, there can be only one.
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. . The idea of the story as well as the story itself – including all possible pre- or sequels published afterwards – are mine.
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 said I wouldn't write for this pairing (or show in general) anytime soon but after 'The Lost Tribe' I just had to do something. I honestly don't know where this story came from. I was wondering why on Earth someone would chose Rodney over Ronon (no offense, but Rodney is just too socially awkward). And I kept thinking about how Rodney reacted in certain situations where he tried to express sympathy and totally failed. In the end I came up with this story. Once again, it will have more than one part (not sure how many yet). Once again I'm not sure this really is something Ronon would do or that I got any of the voices right. So you're warned and if you read the story anyways, it's your own fault. ;)
Oh, and yes, the title is totally stolen from Bonnie Tyler's wonderful song. At least the chorus fits the thought behind this story perfectly.
P.S. The whole story is now beta-read by Jen, for what I'll be forever grateful.
No one had really noticed the difference; no one but her. He didn't show up in the infirmary as often anymore, although from what she'd heard through the grapevine, he was sparring much more. And the few times he needed to be patched up he went to one of the other doctors.
Could it be possible? Had he really intentionally let someone hurt him just so that she could treat him, just to spend a little time with her?
When he glanced up from where he was sitting on one of the beds, a wound on his right forearm being examined by Dr. Hudson, she nodded briefly and gave him a small smile.
The nod of his head was almost unnoticeable before he returned his attention back to the man in front of him.
"Hey, Jennifer!" Jennifer winced a little at the sudden call of her name to her right. She hadn't even noticed Rodney entering the infirmary.
She took a deep breath and smiled at him. “Hey!”
"Are you ready?" Rodney smiled excitedly, rubbing his hands.
Jennifer frowned a little, her brain trying to process the question and find out what it could refer to. When she couldn't come up with a proper answer she carefully asked, "For what?"
The smile quickly disappeared from Rodney's face and his hands dropped to his sides. "Lunch?" he replied. "I… I asked you out," he added, gesticulating a little wildly due to the awkwardness of the situation. "Yesterday?" he added, hoping to jog her memory.
"I… I'm sorry, I…" Jennifer desperately tried to recall the previous day. She'd seen Rodney once in the infirmary when he'd once again thought he had caught some potentially deadly disease. But they hadn't talked much, had they?
"Yeah, I… um… we talked about just seeing each other in the infirmary or on missions lately and… well… then I said something like we should consider meeting outside of the infirmary again and… and you said that would be great and… well, I think I said something about lunch today. I mean, we haven't eaten together in ages and… so I thought… you know. But…but if you don't have time…"
"Rodney!" Jennifer exclaimed, holding a hand up to interrupt his flood of words. Sure, it was great that his brain worked faster than anyone else’s in the city; especially when they were about to die and needed him to save the day. But not when he was trying to form a meaningful sentence. "Lunch would be fine," she assured him with a smile, exhaling the breath she hadn't known she'd been holding, once again overwhelmed by just how fast he could speak.
His face lit up again and he clapped his hands. "Great," he sighed with relief. "Um… great. So… let's go!"
Jennifer slightly shook her head in amusement as she followed him out of the infirmary. Sometimes he was a lot like a child, especially when he was asking for something and got a positive answer. But more so if the answer was negative.
From the corner of her eye she caught a quick glance of Ronon who had apparently been watching the scene between her and Rodney. But when she turned her head in his direction, he quickly looked away. She didn’t understand, it wasn't like this was their first date. They'd been seeing each other for quite a while now and hadn't exactly kept it a secret. But she didn't have time to wonder what it might mean, since Rodney seemed to have had another brilliant idea overnight and had determined that she be the first to hear about it. Jennifer wasn’t even halfway done with her lunch, when her date with Rodney was interrupted by Mr. Woolsey, who, in person, asked her to come to his office immediately. If the look on his face was anything to go by, it wasn’t good. And the feeling only grew stronger when Rodney offered to accompany her and Woolsey told him he needed to talk to her alone.
"What is it?" she asked impatiently, her brain already going through every possibility she could come up with. A disease that quickly spread among the people in the Pegasus galaxy, maybe it had even reached Atlantis already; or maybe a team member that was severely injured on a mission off-world. In her mind she was already packing the backpack.
"You might want to take a seat," he offered, the look on his face a mixture of worry and sympathy. Was she going to be fired or sent back to Earth?
"No, I'm fine," she smiled, feeling more than a little awkward with the situation. Why did he have to beat about the bush?
"Jennifer…" he began.
Okay, that meant that it was even worse than she'd first thought. He never called her Jennifer, ever. It was always Dr. Keller. Had someone died on a mission? Colonel Sheppard? Or Teyla? It couldn't be Ronon or Rodney since she'd seen both of them just minutes ago.
Or maybe he'd gotten her monthly health check and she was terminally ill or something. No, that certainly couldn't be the case because she would have known by now.
"…I just got a call from the SGC," he finished.
So she WAS going to be sent back to Earth. Why? She'd done nothing wrong. In fact, she'd been the one to find a cure for at least four diseases in this galaxy. True, she wasn't exactly a soldier and when she'd started to work here she'd been pretty much a wimp. But she'd taken sparring lessons; which were over now since her talk with Ronon. And she'd proven that she could handle dangerous situations. It wasn't fair to call her back now.
"It's about your father," Woolsey added in a soft tone.
The words sliced through her body like a knife; two actually, one through her heart and another in her stomach. She opened her mouth to ask what was wrong, and how bad it was, but the words stuck in her throat and refused to escape her lips.
"He's… there was an accident," he explained, struggling to find the right words for something that had none. "Another driver lost control of his car and hit your father's. There were three other vehicles involved in the accident and… I'm sorry Jennifer, your father died."
She stared at him for a second. His words echoed in her brain and she knew what they meant, she knew too well. But they just didn't sink in. It felt… unreal, as if it was a dream and she would wake up any second.
"Thank you," was all she said after a long silence before turning to leave. Not sure where she was going, it suddenly occurred to her that there would be a funeral and that she was certainly going to get time off to be there. Slowly, she turned back around. "When do I leave?"
"Tomorrow morning at 0800," Woolsey replied with a sad smile. "And Jennifer…I'm… my sincerest condolences for your loss."
Nodding, she turned and left. She needed to pack some clothes. Did she have something that was appropriate to wear for a funeral? Black dresses weren't exactly what she needed in this galaxy. Maybe she could still buy something when she was back on Earth.
As usual on Atlantis the news spread like a wildfire. She hadn't even started to take out her bag and search through her scantily vested wardrobe when her door chimed.
She smiled when opened it and saw Rodney standing in the doorway seemingly indecisive about what to do. When she stepped aside he cautiously entered.
"I… um… heard about your father," he explained. "And I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry. I really am. So… you're leaving tomorrow?"
"Yeah," she nodded, and turned her attention back to the wardrobe. She really needed to get her bag packed.
"I… um… so… you want me to come with you?" he seemed to force out.
For a brief moment, she was stunned. But the feeling was short lived when she realized that he wasn’t comfortable about the expected answer. "You don't have to," she answered carefully, leaving the choice to him.
"Oh, well…good," he answered with a sigh of relief. "'Cause… see, I don't do funerals. There's always a lot of talking and the mood is so depressing."
She just nodded as she put another shirt in the bag. She wasn't even sure how long she was going to be gone.
"B… but I would of course, come with you… I mean, if you want me to," he assured her.
"No, I'm fine," was all she replied without even looking at him. She needed to get her damn bag ready and still wasn't sure what to wear or how long she'd be gone.
"Okay, well, so… um… oh, by the way, when you're in the SGC you should try and stay away from Dr. Lee," Rodney advised. "I know he's smart and all but he can be a real pain in the ass, constantly telling everyone just how great he is. Even though I think that he's still addicted to Sam in some way. But still it might be better if you…"
"Rodney," she interrupted him again, "I really appreciate that you came here to console me, but I'm fine and I really need to get this stupid bag packed."
"Oh, sure," he smiled in relief. "I’ll see you when you're back."
"Sure," she mumbled once again, still stuck with the dilemma of what to take with her.
Rodney stood in front of the door for a second. Maybe he should have… talked less. But she'd said that she was fine, right? Maybe she just needed some time on her own.
He hadn’t even made it ten steps in the direction of his own quarters before he almost ran into the tall Satedan walking down the corridor. "Jesus!" he cried out. "Oh, hey, Ronon."
"Hey," the other man grunted.
Rodney looked at him then back at the door to the quarters he'd just left and back at Ronon. "You know, if you're coming to see Jennifer, she's not in the mood to talk," he told him. "She needs to pack her clothes to leave tomorrow. Besides she said that she was fine."
"Okay," Ronon shrugged.
"Okay," Rodney repeated with a frown. "Just… well… maybe you should keep it short."
The Satedan didn't answer, instead walking past Rodney leaving him standing in the middle of the corridor watching as he rang the bell and stepped through the door.
Ronan didn't say anything as he leaned against a counter and watched Jennifer jam clothes into her bag. Earth manners certainly expected him to say that he was sorry for her loss, but Ronon knew that those words didn't mean anything. They couldn't bring her father back or ease her grief.
But he should at least say something, right? Not wanting to look like an idiot for saying something inappropriate, he settled for, "I'm sorry." When he saw the expression on her face, he couldn't help but wonder if maybe the words did mean something to her. Maybe it meant something to hear that people cared, that he cared.
"Thank you," she replied without looking at him, "but I'm fine."
"Okay," he nodded, and looked at a picture on the counter that showed Jennifer with an older man, probably her father.
"I'm fine," she repeated as she tried to stuff yet another shirt into the bag. "I'm fine."
Ronon didn't say anything. He just leaned against the counter and watched her struggle with the zipper of the overstuffed bag.
"I'm fine," she said once more before finally giving up on the bag, swearing silently and then covering her face with one hand as she suddenly started to sob. Only then did he step closer and carefully wrap his arms around her.
Jennifer threw both arms around his muscular torso and buried her face in his shirt while she desperately tried to regain her self-control, but it was useless. Once she'd started to sob she couldn’t stop. So she let the tears come and held onto Ronon as if her life depended on it.
She knew that she shouldn't let him comfort her. Not when she was technically seeing Rodney. But Rodney wasn't there…Ronon was.
When he feared that she wasn't able to stand upright any longer, Ronon gently led her to the bed and made her sit down on it without loosening his embrace. He wasn't sure how long they sat there, her sobs being the only sounds that filled the room. But at some point it seemed that there were just no more tears left, at least not for the time being, and Jennifer's sobbing slowly subsided.
She had been sure that the flood of tears would never end, but after what seemed like an eternity she was just too tired to cry anymore. She felt sore and exhausted.
Once she was sure that another breakdown wasn’t imminent, she carefully pulled away from his comforting embrace and let her eyes fall upon his shirt that was soaked with her tears. "Thank you," she whispered.
Instead of assuring her that it was okay and that she was welcome, he handed her the Kleenex box from her bedside table.
"He… he was the only family I had left." Jennifer wasn't sure why she said that or why she told him. She just felt like… she needed to get it off her chest.
Ronon listened as he took the drenched Kleenex from her and handed her a new one. Under any other circumstances she would have felt awkward about him putting away her used tissues. But at that moment his gesture just seemed incredibly sweet.
"You know, when my mom passed away we… we only had each other," she continued. "We supported each other, especially at the funeral."
She was silent for a minute when she noticed that Ronon was holding her hand and gently rubbing the back of it with his thumb. The gesture just didn't seem like him. He was the one to solve each and every problem with his gun or his fists, not to hold a picture of misery like she was right now.
And she wasn't even sure why she'd been crying so openly in front of him. She hadn't felt like crying when Woolsey had told her about her father's death. She hadn't felt like crying when Rodney had been here.
But when Ronon had just been standing there watching her try to pack that stupid bag she'd felt pressed to say anything and her thoughts had been running wild. She'd come up with so much to say and everything had included her father in one way or another and what she'd lost by losing him. She had known that if just one of the thoughts running through her mind was spoken aloud, she'd break down.
In the end she'd done that nonetheless.
Most importantly, she wasn't sure why she was spilling her guts to him. She shouldn't talk to him, not about all this. It was too intimate and she should have been sharing it all with the guy she was dating… not someone else.
But then again, Rodney wasn’t there. So she just kept talking. "And I… I just… I'm afraid I can't do that, you know. I'll have to go to his funeral alone," she admitted in a soft voice. Sure, she'd told Rodney that he didn't need to go with her, but…
"No, you don't." Ronon's words interrupted her thoughts.
Her head shot up and she stared at him. Had he just offered to accompany her? And if he did should she accept it? Why was he so incredibly sweet to her after everything she'd said to him? She'd been sure she'd either broken his heart or really pissed him off. He had been avoiding her until now. And now that…
Thinking about her father's death made her eyes fill with tears again and she looked down.
"I'm sorry," she sniffled.
But Ronon just placed his arm around her shoulders once again and whispered, "Don't need to be."
It wasn't like the first breakdown; this was just silent tears falling on his shirt. She hadn't realized just how much all of the crying had worn her out until she began to fall asleep against his chest.
When Ronon felt her relax in his arms, he gently laid her down on the bed and tucked her in; secretly relieved she had found sleep.
He silently rearranged the jumbled clothes in her bag and closed up the zipper before he left.
Where were you - part 1
Title: Where Were You – Chapter 1