Title: Where were you – part 2
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 FOX. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. The lyrics of the poem belong to Mary Elisabeth Frye or her descendants.
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 know, it took me forever to finally update this story but here you go. All I can do is promise that I’ll at least try to post sooner next time. I know that Jennifer seems a bit OC, but I wrote this from experience and while I’m really not the girl who cries all the time I lost it at my grandma’s funeral. So this chapter is also dedicated to her (I hope she won’t mind that it’s a rather sad one).
P.S. Once again now beta-read by Jen. Thanks so much for it!
Strangely, the first thing Jennifer noticed when she woke up was that Ronon was gone. And the second thing she noticed was that her bag was standing packed on the floor next to her bed.
She realized she still had enough time to take a shower and get some breakfast, but she didn’t want to go to the cafeteria. She just didn’t want to see anyone. So she went to the small fridge in her quarters rather sure to find it almost empty.
Apart from a single apple she’d forgotten and was way past edible, she didn’t find anything, making it worse than she first thought. Sighing she closed the door leaving the rotten apple where it was. It seemed that she needed to face all the pitiful looks from the inhabitants of Atlantis who didn’t know her well enough to actually express their sympathies.
She’d just grabbed a light jacket, the only black clothing in her wardrobe, when her door chimed. Sure that it was either Teyla or Colonel Sheppard, she opened the door and was momentarily puzzled, as there was no one there.
Then she noticed the distinct smell of scrambled eggs and looked down where someone had placed a tray for her loaded with food that was sufficient for at least three people; or Ronon alone. Smiling slightly she picked it up and sat down at her table to eat in peace glad that she didn’t need to see anyone for another two hours; which was good since she wouldn’t have to hear the conversation taking place at the cafeteria at that moment.
“You should go,” Ronon grumbled as he stopped by the table where Rodney and Sheppard were having breakfast.
Sheppard raised his head to give Ronon a strange glance. But the Satedan was too focused on his companion to even notice it.
“What?” Rodney asked through a mouthful of Jell-O when he finally noticed that Ronon’s words had been addressed to him.
“Jennifer,” Ronon simply added, as if that explained everything.
Rodney frowned and swallowed. “You mean the funeral? She said that… Wait! Why do you think this is any of your business.”
“You should go.” Ronon insisted.
“I have a lot to do.” Rodney replied defensively. “I just had this idea of how to increase the energy supply throughout the whole city. The thing is, if anything goes wrong I have to be here so that I can fix it.”
Ronon just frowned at him.
“And I would need to…” he stuttered, “get a proper suit and… pack some things and…”
“She leaves in two hours,” Ronon mumbled and then he left.
John sighed and shoved a fork full of pancakes into his mouth while he listened to Rodney complaining how this wasn’t Ronon’s business and how the Satedan dared interfering in his affairs. “I mean, seriously? What does he think he knows about women – especially women from Earth?” he exclaimed.
“Easy, Rodney,” John scolded; basically because everyone else in the cafeteria could hear Rodney’s complaints as well.
Perhaps John should have told him that Ronon was right and that Rodney should indeed go with Jennifer to the funeral no matter what she’d said. But he’d sworn to himself that he would stay out of anybody else’s love life – especially Rodney’s. So he just listened to him complaining about Ronon’s ‘unwanted meddling’ and then tried to avoid Rodney for the next two hours.
But when John saw Jennifer standing in front of the gate waiting for the address to be dialed he considered ordering Rodney to go with her. She stood dead still, her bag laying on the floor next to her, obviously not wanting to face anyone.
Carefully John stepped next to her. “I’m sorry for your loss, doc.” he said contritely.
Jennifer just nodded and tried to flash him a smile.
Jennifer turned to leave a moment later at the sound of the gate opening, but when she bent down to pick up her bag, she saw a large, tanned hand grabbing it for her instead. Puzzled she looked up, her eyes taking in the tall, slim yet muscular form on their way up to meet his eyes.
John let out a sigh. At least the doc wasn’t going to face all this alone – and even though John had never admitted it, it had helped him a great deal when Ronon had accompanied him to his father’s funeral. But he also sensed a fight coming up. Hopefully, Rodney could at least pull himself together until Jennifer had overcome the loss of her father.
“Let’s go.” was all Ronon said when he looked into Jennifer’s questioning eyes, his voice unusually soft.
She nodded again and took a deep breath before they both stepped through the gate.
It wasn’t as bad as she’d expected it to be when they arrived at the SGC. The appearance of the tall warrior in the dark black jeans, that were just too perfectly clinging to his body, and the loose white long-sleeved shirt made most of the people reconsider their intention to talk to Jennifer. If she was honest, it was probably more the menacing look on his face and the fact that he carried his gun in his waistband for everyone to see.
But Jennifer didn’t care. To be perfectly honest, she was glad that Ronon, never leaving her side even for a second while they were on the base, scared everyone away. She really wasn’t in the mood for talking or for company at all. No, that was wrong. She didn’t mind Ronon’s company. But that was different. He was one of the very few people in the whole universe who could spend an entire day with her and not say a single word. She’d always thought it was a flaw that Ronon wasn’t exactly good at talking. But now she found his taciturnity very soothing. She wasn’t in the mood to talk nor to listen and he just seemed to know.
He took her to the cafeteria and brought her food without ever asking if she was hungry or what she wanted. And even though she didn’t think she could get anything down at all she didn’t argue but ate the pancakes he’d brought her. In fact, it made her feel at least a little better. Not the pancakes, but the fact that he was taking care of her.
He even helped her pick out something to wear for the funeral, which certainly was the strangest thing yet. She’d never let a man pick out clothes for her before, not even the few boyfriends she’d had. But it seemed so natural when he went with her into the clothes shop and held the black dress out to her. Much to Jennifer’s surprise he’d been able to guess her size right. Moreover she really liked the dress, and she knew that her father would have loved it.
Jennifer wasn’t sure whether it was a good or a bad thing that the funeral was so soon. She hoped that she’d finally feel better after she’d had the chance to say goodbye, but she feared that she might not make it ten minutes into the service before she completely fell apart.
The drive back home this time was more difficult. She had suggested taking a cab because she didn’t trust herself driving a car at the moment; which ended up being the right choice since her fingers trembled terribly as she struggled to put the key into the lock.
Ronon silently took them from her and opened the door. “We could stay at a hotel,” he pointed out.
“I know,” Jennifer nodded, taking a deep breath. “But somehow I feel that… I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right.”
He followed her inside the house, taking in how neat and tidy it was,while keeping a cozy feeling. The furnishings were rather old-fashioned which escaped Ronon’s notice since he wasn’t all too familiar with the most recent trend on Earth, but then neither was Jennifer.
“You know, after my mom died dad always said he would never leave the house untidy, just in case he didn’t come back,” she sniffled.
Carefully Ronon sat down next to her on the couch. “That’s why I don’t own anything. No one has to take care of my things,” he admitted.
“That’s really sad, you know,” she whispered, leaning her head against his shoulder.
They sat in silence for a while until Jennifer quietly admitted, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to survive the funeral tomorrow.”
“Then don’t go,” Ronon suggested.
“I have to,” Jennifer explained, “I mean, my whole family will be there and I owe it to my dad to be there to… to say goodbye. And I want to. It’s just… you know, you have to shake so many hands and everyone’s telling you how sorry they are and… and… I don’t know.”
“Worry about that tomorrow,” Ronon said softly. “You need to rest right now.”
She nodded slightly but she refused to move. She just needed the contact, the warmth that radiated from his body, because she suddenly felt incredibly cold.
When he noticed her shiver, Ronon gently wrapped her up in his arms and pulled her close. This time she didn’t cry, but after a while Ronon felt her relax against him. So he laid down with her on the couch where he soon followed her into a deep and dreamless sleep.
She woke up to the sound of his heartbeat, strong and steady and incredibly soothing. Unwillingly, she got up and casted a quick glance at the clock on the wall, which told her that they didn’t even have enough time for a real meal.
But Ronon didn’t seem to care. He prepared some toast while Jennifer was in the bathroom and they ate in silence. She had to admit that it was better to be in a hurry before the funeral. Having had time to get ready would have meant having time to think about what was still to come. She knew it would be the worst day of her life; or at least in the top five.
“Jennifer!” one of her cousins greeted her impatiently, hugging her just a bit too hard. “Thank goodness, we really thought you wouldn’t make it in time! Where the hell have you been?!”
“I…” she tried but when her eyes fell into the chapel and onto the coffin her father was in she felt new tears spring to her eyes.
“Our plane was late,” Ronon lied for her.
“Oh?” the woman replied, eying him up and down. “And you are?”
“A friend,” he grunted.
“Nice. Anyways,” she said, turning back to Jennifer and thrusting a piece of paper into her hands, “here, you have to read this when you’re giving your speech.”
“My… what?” Jennifer choked out in barely a whisper.
“Your speech, silly,” the woman replied, rolling her eyes. “You’re his only child; you’re supposed to give the eulogy.”
“I… can’t…” she objected weekly.
“Hogwash” the woman scoffed, “you’re gonna give the eulogy and that’s that!”
Jennifer’s hands were shaking so badly she almost couldn’t hold the paper in her hands. And even worse she wasn’t able to read a single line since her eyes were full of tears. How was she supposed to give a speech right now when she wasn’t even able to stand upright?!
“And now his daughter is going to tell us about his life,” the priest announced, stepping back from the pulpit.
Jennifer turned to Ronon for help. “Get me out of here, please!” she whispered desperately.
Ronon squeezed her hand briefly, before taking the paper out of her hands. Then he stood up and under the leery eyes of the audience and the disbelief in Jennifer’s eyes he approached the pulpit.
“I didn’t know Jennifer’s father,” he began. Hell, he really wasn’t good at talking. But he also knew that Jennifer wouldn’t survive it if she had to stand here. “But I know Jennifer. She’s the most considerate and most good-hearted person I’ve ever met, so I guess her father wasn’t much different. If he could see her now, he would be proud of her. She saves lives every day, sometimes even risking her life to save someone else. But I’ve never once seen her waver. He can be proud of having such a daughter and of having raised her the best way possible to become one of the best people I know.”
He cleared his throat and then read out the poem that was written on the paper in his hands.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
(Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!)”
Once he was finished, they stood up to follow the coffin out of the hall and to the open grave. Jennifer’s legs felt like jelly threatening to stop holding her weight, and she was sure that any moment she’d just slide to the ground and never stand up again, but Ronon rushed to her side and held her tight and close, giving her all the support she needed. She would later be amazed how he never once left her side, led her to the grave and didn’t say a single word when she completely lost it and started to sob uncontrollably as she had to disperse the soil over the coffin.
He then led her to a nearby bench and held her close to him scaring off anyone who wanted to approach her and offer their sympathies.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffled once she had regained enough control of herself to trust her voice in forming coherent words.
“Don’t be,” Ronon said, brushing a strand of her hair out of her face; a gesture that Jennifer found uncharacteristically gentle for him.
She took a deep breath and freed herself from his embrace. “Thank you” she said, “for… giving the speech, for everything you said, for… for staying with me and supporting me.”
He wanted to say ‘you’re welcome’ but reconsidered that and instead replied: “I hope there’ll be a reception. I’m starving.”
She stared at him for a second – and then she laughed for the first time in many days.