Title: Where Were You Chapter 9
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.
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 fluff, because it was about time ;)
AN: I know it’s been a long time again. I just wasn’t in the mood to write and when I was, my muse wasn’t in the mood to inspire me. But here we finally go again! Thanks so much to my wonderful beta-reader mfaerie32 for the fabulous work she has done.
Hope you’ll enjoy this chapter!
“Are you sure about this?” Jennifer mumbled, trying to examine herself. An act that she was finding difficult, as these people didn’t seem to know how useful a mirror could be.
Ronon had picked a plain, but very figure-hugging, long brown dress; which was a little too low-cut for her liking.
“Perfect,” was all Ronon replied. But it sounded so honest, that Jennifer believed him.
“Okay, then,” she said and gave him a smile. “I’m going to trust that you think I’m dressed for the occasion.”
He smirked at her. “You should always trust me.”
She opened her mouth to say something in return, but reconsidered and instead smiled at him. “And since I’m also not familiar with the regional fare, I’m going to have to trust you with my dinner choice as well.”
The smile on his face became somehow mischievous as he led her out of the small clothing store.
“So…you’ve been here before?” Jennifer asked while they walked down the narrow street towards the restaurant.
She was surprised how much this place resembled Earth. The small houses and the surfaced roads all reminded her of the small towns on her home planet.
“Couple of times,” Ronon answered.
“Have you been to the restaurant before?” she questioned.
Ronon shook his head. “I mostly came here for trading, but I heard people talk about it and always thought I wanted to try it myself sometime.”
Jennifer turned her head to smile at him. She felt honored to be the first that would accompany him there.
“So…what kind of stuff did you trade here?”
“Mostly weapons,” Ronon answered, much to her surprise. Seeing the questioning look on her face, he explained. “There’s a market not far from here. You can get pretty much everything there – as long as you have something they want. That’s basically how they were able to build this village.”
“I see,” Jennifer mumbled. If he came here to trade whatever he could offer for weapons, it must have been during his time as a runner – and she knew he didn’t like to talk about that time, so she decided to let it go.
The restaurant was cozy, but Jennifer quickly realized that she would have to rely on what Ronon chose for her, because she wasn’t even able to read the menu.
“This almost looks like Egyptian hieroglyphs,” she mumbled, looking at the strange signs on the paper they had handed her.
Ronon chuckled. “And this is the interplanetary menu.”
“Seriously, I have to learn read this sometime,” Jennifer told him with a sigh. “So…anything you can recommend?”
“Sure,” he said, putting the menu down and grinning at her. “You’ll have to trust me though.”
She opened her mouth to reply, but was interrupted when someone next to her suddenly mumbled something she couldn’t quite understand. At first she thought it was one of the waiters, but the expression on Ronon’s face told her that the words spoken had either been insulting or lewd. Either way this certainly wasn’t going to end well.
“Leave her alone,” Ronon grumbled.
“Oh, sorry,” the man replied with a leering grin. “But I’m sure we can find something worthy of trading for the young lady.” He turned to Jennifer. “What do you think? Why don’t you blow this blighter off and we go have some fun?”
“I’m flattered, really,” Jennifer answered, trying to sound polite, but definite. “But I’m afraid I have to decline.”
“Come on man,” the man insisted, leaning down to put an arm around her shoulders. “I’m sure I can offer something worth a pretty girl like her.”
Ronon jumped up from his seat, knocking over the chair in the process.
“Don’t,” Jennifer hurried to keep him from launching at the other man and starting a fist fight.
“Is there a problem, sir?” one of the waiters asked, glancing firmly at the man who had started the altercation, and then at Ronon.
“It’s alright,” the other man said, raising his hands defensively and stepping backwards. “Didn’t mean to piss you off.”
Ronon glared at him until he had left before sitting back down at the table. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
Jennifer smiled at him. “This wasn’t your fault. Let’s just forget about him.”
He sighed, and then nodded. The man wasn’t worth it.
An uncomfortable silence slowly built between them, only to be interrupted when the waiter brought what Ronon had ordered.
“You were right,” Jennifer said once she had taken a bite. “This is delicious. Even though I can’t determine whether this used to be an animal or a plant.”
“A plant. This is a people of vegetarians. They worship all animals. Basically because they’re pretty rare here, I guess.”
She nodded. It hadn’t escaped her notice that most of this planet looked like barren desert. “What happened to it?” she asked carefully. “I mean, the climate is neither hot nor dry enough for this planet to look like…this.”
Ronon shrugged and shoved another spoonfull of his food into his mouth before mumbling, “They wanted to be the dominant race in this galaxy, so they decided to try to invent weapons powerful enough to defeat the Wraith. Didn’t go so well.”
“You mean their own weapons caused this?” she whispered.
“Yep,” he affirmed. “At least that’s what I heard. All I know is even the Wraith don’t have weapons that can cause…this.”
“Wow,” Jennifer muttered. “Makes you wonder what would have happened if it hadn’t gone wrong.”
Once again, Ronon shrugged. “I don’t know if they’d been that much different from the Wraith. I mean, the main reason the Wraith destroy whole civilizations is…because they can.”
“Yeah, you definitely have a point there,” Jennifer replied with a nod. There were always people seeking to overpower and exploit other people. If it hadn’t been the Wraith it would certainly have been someone else.
They remained silent for the rest of the meal. But this time, it wasn’t uncomfortable to either of them. A smile lit Jennifer’s face. It pleased her immensely to find that they didn’t always need words to be able to enjoy the time they spent with each other.
“You were right,” she whispered, linking arms with him as they left. “This is a great restaurant. I don’t know if it’s the best in this galaxy, but it’s definitely recommendable.”
“Glad you liked it,” Ronon replied with a smirk.
“Can I…speak openly?” she asked reluctantly.
Ronon frowned at her. “I thought we could always be open with each other.”
“Of course, it’s just…” She took a deep breath and then sighed. “I just wanted to tell you that…once again you proved me wrong. I really enjoyed this evening.”
The furrows on his forehead deepened. “You thought you couldn’t enjoy an evening with me?”
“No,” Jennifer hurried to assure him. “That’s not what I meant. I just…I wouldn’t have thought that you… I…”
“Relax,” he interrupted her stuttering. “I won’t be angry.”
She couldn’t help but smile at that. “What I wanted to say was that I hadn’t thought you were…the dating kind of guy. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could enjoy spending time with you. I knew I could. But I never thought you would ask me out at all, you know.”
He smirked at her. “It’s been a while.”
“Well, I have to admit, I didn’t notice,” she replied, giggling softly.
He turned toward her and leaned down slowly as if to kiss her, but stopped last minute.
“What’s wrong?” she whispered. She could tell from the expression on his face that something had caught his attention – something he didn’t feel good about.
“Not sure,” he mumbled, listening carefully. “I thought I heard something.”
The tone of his voice made Jennifer’s heart beat faster. It seemed as if he was expecting an attack.
She heard a noise behind her and turned around just to freeze the next second. It was the man from the restaurant again, but this time, he wasn’t alone.
Instinctively, Ronon grabbed Jennifer’s arm and gently pushed her behind him. “What do you want?” he snarled.
“I already told you what I want,” the man said, his grin wide. “But since you obviously weren’t up for trading, I had to think of something else.”
“You can’t have her,” Ronon insisted.
The man laughed. “Do you know what she would bring on the market? Hell, why am I even askin’ you? Of course, you do. So you probably understand why I can’t let such a chance pass.”
“Leave her alone, this is not about her,” Ronon said.
“Well, no, it’s not.” His grin disappeared, giving way to an expression of anger. “This is about what you still owe me.”
“I don’t owe you anything,” Ronon replied, his hand sliding down to where he had stored his knife. “I overbid you. It was a fair deal.”
“What was fair about that?” he insisted. “I only wanted back what belonged to me in the first place. And since you can’t give her back to me, I’m gonna take what I can get.”
The man launched forward and Jennifer instinctively stepped back. She watched Ronon’s hand shoot forward, stabbing the man with the knife Jennifer hadn’t even noticed he had.
“Run,” Ronon ordered, his voice much too calm in Jennifer’s opinion.
She didn’t even know where to run. The Stargate was too far away to reach it and dial Atlantis without the men catching up with them. Fighting back was out of the question as well. They didn’t have any weapons apart from the knife; or more likely knives that Ronon had with him, and it was them against six or seven men. Besides, Jennifer definitely wasn’t trained for a fist fight.
“I’ve got an idea,” Ronon panted rather than said, grabbing Jennifer’s hand and pulling her with him into the woods.
She couldn’t help but wonder how many times exactly Ronon had been here before. At least, he seemed to know where he was heading. She on the other hand, wouldn’t even have been able to find her way back to the gate.
A shot rent the silence around them and Jennifer yelped.
“You okay?” Ronon asked in concern, not slowing down.
“Yeah,” she panted. But to be honest, she was far from okay. She was running through woods she didn’t even know while someone was shooting at her.
“This way,” Ronon told her, pulling her to the left and towards a stone wall.
When they got closer, Jennifer realized that it was a rock of some sort, pretty steep and not exactly inviting. He didn’t expect her to climb up there, did he? If he did, she was screwed.
Much to her surprise though, there was a small gap in the wall which Ronon seemed to know the location of. He pushed her inside before using his knife to loosen some of the rocks so that the gap closed behind them.
“Please tell me there’s another way out of here,” Jennifer panted.
“Don’t know,” he answered. “But at least we’re safe in here.”
Yeah, until we run out of air, she thought. Of course, she knew that Ronon was right. If they hadn’t found a way to hide from the men, they would have been shot. However, Jennifer couldn’t help but wonder if being shot wasn’t the better alternative to death, than asphyxiation.
“I’m sorry,” Ronon mumbled, sinking against the stony wall.
Sighing, Jennifer sat down as well. Thankfully, the gap hadn’t closed completely, leaving them some light and maybe even enough oxygen to survive until someone came looking for them.
“This is not your fault,” she replied quietly.
Ronon ran a hand over his head, adjusting his hair in the process. “Actually, it is,” he told her. “That was what Lorel was talking about.”
“The guy from the restaurant?”
Ronon nodded. “Like I said before, I came here to trade – a lot. While I was trying to hide from the Wraith, I needed new weapons all the time. And this was the easiest way for me to get them. They trade in almost anything for some meat.”
Jennifer opened her mouth to tell him that he didn’t owe her an explanation, but then reconsidered.
“One day I found out that some people don’t only trade things,” he muttered.
Jennifer’s eyes widened. “Slaves?”
“Not exactly,” Ronon replied. “And it’s not approved. These traders are banned from the market as soon as someone finds out, but…they’re smart and careful. I overheard a conversation between Lorel and someone who wanted to sell a woman to him.”
Jennifer took in a deep breath. She had a feeling how the story ended. But since Ronon had obviously decided to open up to her, she wasn’t going to interrupt him.
“I bid more so the trader would sell her to me,” he went on. “I thought that was it, but Lorel vowed revenge. He was banned from this planet when we told the government what he had tried to buy. I had no idea he was going to be here.”
“What did you offer to overbid him?” Jennifer asked quietly.
“Quite an amount of meat and three of my knives,” he replied. “I just… I knew that if I’d gone to the government beforehand he would have been miles away before they started to go after him. I…had to do something right away.”
“You’re amazing, you know that?” Jennifer whispered.
He raised his eyes to frown at her. Wasn’t she mad at him because this mess was all his fault?
“You didn’t have anything yourself,” she answered the unspoken question. “You needed the weapons to survive and hide from the Wraith. Yet you spent everything you had to help a woman you didn’t even know.”
“I’ve seen what slavers do to people,” he said voicelessly. “Couldn’t let that happen to her.”
Smiling, Jennifer moved to straddle his lap, and then leaned in to kiss him passionately. “I really thought it wasn’t possible, but I think I just fell more for you,” she whispered, snuggling against him.
He gently kissed the top of her head, before mumbling, “This wasn’t how I pictured our first date, you know?”
She chuckled slightly and then shrugged in his arms. “It could have gone a lot worse.” There was a moment of silence before she asked, “Do you think they’ll come looking for us?”
“I told John we’d be back before midnight,” he replied. “I’m pretty sure he’ll send someone if we aren’t.”
“Or he’ll come looking for us himself,” she added.
Ronon nodded and wrapped his arms tighter around her. “We should wait until one before we switch on our trackers,” he suggested. “I don’t want the wrong people to find us first.”
“Okay,” she agreed. “Until then though, I know something we can do.”
Ronon’s brows furrowed in confusion momentarily, before his lips curled into a smile as her hands cupped his face and she moved in for a gentle, lingering kiss.
He could get to like this kind of distraction.
Where Were You - Chapter 9
Title: Where Were You Chapter 9