Characters: Ronon Dex, John Sheppard, Teyla Emmagan
Disclaimer: Stargate belongs to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., no infringements of any rights is intended.
Author's Notes: trillingstar's prompt request is at the end of the story… Please note: Dialog in Italics taken from transcript of the Episode Duet on Gateworld.com.
Summary: For the first time in many years, Ronon Dex had a choice.
TO FIT IN
Nothing felt right. He walked across smooth, polished floors, not ragged ground. He ate tasty hot food in a spacious dining hall, not berries, roots, or game prepared over a fire. He slept in a comfortable bed on sheets that smelled of fresh air and pine, a soft pillow beneath his head, not on a bed made from broken bundles of leaves. He was no longer in danger and had no need to look over his shoulder for his enemies, yet he did.
For the moment, glancing over his shoulder revealed two somber, focused young men, Marines he learned, who were his constant companions. They reminded him of the soldiers he served with on Sateda, soldiers now dead at the hands of the Wraith. He was still reeling from the vision of Sateda they had shown him. He wanted to pretend that his home world was as he remembered it before the battle with the Wraith, but he was a practical man…he knew it wasn't true.
Reaching his quarters, he passed a hand over the door sensor, and left his escorts behind as he entered the spacious room. He walked to the window, gazing in amazement at the city that lay before him. The city of the Ancestors, a childhood fable he thought, but now a reality. Did he belong here? Sheppard seemed to think so.
Ronon Dex plopped down on the too short bed, as memories of his first meeting with Lt. Colonel John Sheppard filled his thoughts. All he had wanted was to escape from the planet and the Wraith chasing him. All Sheppard wanted was to find his missing friend, and had been willing to let him go. He had learned not to trust anyone but when he asked Sheppard why he would help him the colonel simply replied, "Because I'm a nice guy. Look, I told you. You hate the Wraith, we hate the Wraith -- it's something we all have in common. We just want our friend back."
Sheppard was not only willing to let him go, even after he shot him and Teyla and held them captive, but he had also been willing to help stop the running. He offered to bring a doctor to remove the Wraith tracking device, and he had been true to his word. Now Sheppard wanted him to stay.
He chuckled as he remembered the cringe on Sheppard's face as he ate, purposely forgetting his manners. He wanted them to think of him as a barbarian, not an educated man; they would underestimate him while he had time to decide what to do. He needed to know who these people were before he accepted Sheppard's offer to stay.
The door chimed, then opened, and one of his guards stepped into the room, "Dr. Beckett requested that you report to the infirmary; he wants to check your wound."
Silently, Ronon rose and followed the Marines to the infirmary. As they passed through the corridors, he was aware of the looks he was getting from the expedition members. Military and scientist alike gave him a wide berth, looking at him with wary glances. Sheppard told him that word of his fate as a runner had spread swiftly though Atlantis, creating near cult status for Ronon. He knew what cult meant and what he had been through was anything but something to be revered. He had nearly died on more than one occasion; worst of all, others had died when they had attempted to help him, or simply when they got in the way of the chase. No, cult hero status was not what he wanted.
Entering the infirmary, Marie, the nurse who had taken care of him when he first arrived, greeted him. "Ronon, please come with me. Dr. Beckett just wants to see about taking out those stitches." She led him to a curtained off area and told him to remove his shirt. A few minutes later, Beckett arrived, a big smile on his face.
"Laddie, how are ya feeling today; any pain from the wound site?"
Beckett's smile faded, "Really, no pain? You sound a lot like a certain colonel I know who tells me he's fine when he isn't. Well, let's have a look." The doctor removed the light bandage from the site where he had taken out the tracking device.
"Looks really good, Ronon; you heal amazingly fast despite not having good nutrition in the last few years. Are you taking those vitamins and supplements I gave you?"
Ronon nodded, "Yeah, and I'm eating."
Beckett smiled, "I've heard that the mess cooks are preparing more food at meals to keep up with you, and they thought Dr. McKay ate a lot." He turned to Marie, "These stitches can come out now, he's healing very well." Within a few minutes, the stitches were gone and Beckett applied some antibiotic cream and a light bandage. "We'll leave the bandage on there for a couple of days; your skin is pretty tender."
"Don't need it."
"You might not need it but doctor's orders. Now, you can resume normal activity; in fact, Colonel Sheppard has requested that if I clear you, he would like you in the gym, thinks you can teach his soldiers a thing or two. I'll let him know you are on the way."
"Great," Ronon hopped down, grabbed his shirt, slipping it on. He started to leave, but turned to face Beckett, "Thanks…I…thanks."
Beckett beamed once again, "No thanks necessary laddie, just glad to have you here…and out of that horrible existence." Beckett patted him on the shoulder and walked away, tapping his COM to report to Sheppard.
By the time he reached his escorts, they had received orders to take him to the gym. Ronon was itching for some physical exertion, and felt like running to get there.
The gym was not what he expected; it was a large room with soaring ceilings and a large window spilling bright light into the room. Along the walls were the ornate lighted carvings he had seen throughout the city. Waiting for him were four Marines, all watching him with a wary eye; a moment later Sheppard entered the room, and the Marines came to attention. Ronon noted the casual wave-off that Sheppard gave his men. This was a man who didn't need or want the outward appearance of command; a most unusual trait, and one Ronon respected.
Sheppard grinned, "So, Ronon Dex, meet some of Earth's finest Marines, the toughest fighters in two galaxies. Let's see what you can show them."
Ronon glared intently, "You sure about this?"
"Yeah, show us what you can do."
It didn't take long; he made quick dispatch of the Marines; one remained lying on the mat in pain, while the other three caught their breath. Ronon glanced over at Sheppard, who was leaning against a mannequin, as though he didn't have a care in the world.
The Marines remaining on their feet were soon overcome, Ronon making quick work of one, then taking the other two down simultaneously. Sheppard sighed, "Alright. Let's try that again."
One of the young soldiers replied, "How 'bout you try that again ... sir?
Sheppard smiled, "Maybe that's enough for today.
The Marines picked up their buddy and left Sheppard and Ronon alone. Ronon paced off some energy with Sheppard watching. "You think you could teach my people how to fight like that?"
"Without hurting them?"
Ronon was certain he saw a flicker of amusement in Sheppard's eyes but the colonel simply said, "How 'bout we check you out on some firearms?"
By 2430 hours, as the Atlantians measured the planet's 26-hour day, Ronon was back in his quarters. Stripping off his clothes, he entered the bathroom and turned on the shower. He had to admit, staying on Atlantis would be worth it for the shower alone. It had been years since he felt so clean. While running he had bathed in streams, rivers, lakes, wherever he could find fresh water. On the rare occasion when he was able to stay in a home or once or twice an inn, he had the pleasure of a real bath. But this shower, with its multiple showerheads and steam setting, and the hot air blowers to dry him off, was as close to paradise as he ever thought he would be.
When he had finally had enough of the shower's luxury, he stood as the hot air passed over him until he was dry, then padded out of the bathroom toward the windows. Atlantis was beautiful during the daylight; however, at night, he thought the city spectacular. He also knew that Atlantis was more mysterious than he had imagined. His Marine escorts in the evening were a bit more talkative than his daytime guards, and they had told him about the gene, the gene that John Sheppard possessed more strongly than anyone. He learned that this city reacted differently to those with the gene and that some had been given the gene artificially. Ronon wasn't exactly certain what that meant, but he didn't want any gene.
He yawned and stretched; he was tired from the day and wanted sleep. Sliding between the soft, clean sheets, he marveled at how very different his life was in a matter of a few days. Ronon chuckled as he thought about the day, especially the firing range. He was good with a weapon, winning many marksman awards in the Satedan military. He was quite happy to see Sheppard's reaction to his prowess with a gun, as well as watching him salivate at the blaster that he now possessed. The blaster was a formidable weapon of unknown origin that he acquired from a thug, foolish enough to fight him. All he knew was that the colonel was impressed. Why Sheppard's approval pleased him had been an enigma to Ronon. Yet something about the man intrigued him; an unlikely commander, he appeared too lenient, too undisciplined for command. Then he asked his nighttime guards about their commanding officer. What they told him about the Wraith siege, made him shiver; John Sheppard was willing to die for his people. That made him a commander in Ronon's eyes.
At dinner, he observed Sheppard eating with Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the leader of the Atlantians, and Dr. Beckett. They had been in animate discussion, and Ronon figured it concerned the scientist, Dr. McKay. He had found McKay a fussy, impatient, brusque man; not a personality Ronon took too very well. From his guards, he had learned that a mission had gone wrong and McKay and a Marine lieutenant had been caught in a Wraith culling beam. The Wraith ship, which the Atlantians called a Dart, was shot down, and they managed to recover McKay but the Marines heard rumors that the lieutenant had been trapped inside McKay's body. Ronon didn't understand what had happened; he just knew that being trapped in McKay's body would be a fate worse than death by the Wraith.
From the glances coming his way, he also suspected that Sheppard and Weir were discussing him. Ronon had the distinct impression that Weir didn't know what to make of him. Maybe his barbarian persona was a bit too strong, but his behavior was so ingrained that he wasn't certain that he could change again to become the man he once was. The man that Melena, the woman he loved, had helped create.
He tried not to think of her for his heart broke every time he did; his memories overrun by the vision of flames enveloping her. It was at that moment that the quiet giant as he was called became less the warrior and artist and more the barbarian. The Wraith had created him and he would never be the old Ronon Dex until the last Wraith had drawn its last breath.
Ronon pushed those thoughts from his mind; he had a decision to make. Did he throw his lot in with these mysterious people from Earth…some with the skills of the Ancestors, or did he strike out on his own? Tomorrow, he might have more clues…he was sparring with Teyla Emmagan, a Pegasus native and Wraith survivor as well. She had told him she was sparring with Sheppard and had invited him to join them. She was with these people, and he wanted to know why.
He was waiting for Teyla when she entered the gym, his first thought was how beautiful she was and how powerful. It was a power emanating not just from the strength of her body but also from the determination in her eyes. She was formidable, and he would not forget that.
Teyla smiled, her eyebrow rising in mischief, "I understand that you have tossed many of the Marines around with ease." He shrugged, and she continued, "Let us see how you deal with the Banta rods."
She handed him two rods from her satchel, taking two for herself, "Do not go easy on me, Ronon Dex; I can handle it." He threw one of the rods down, and nodded.
They began to spar; she was right…she could handle him. She was the expert, but he was holding his own with her. He, at first, was concerned as the difference in their size was great, but she was as formidable as he had suspected. She grinned at him, taunting him, raising the stakes. As he was about to strike, Sheppard walked in.
"I thought we were supposed to be sparring today?"
She retorted, "You were late. So Ronon and I…"
Distracted by Sheppard, Teyla was caught off guard when Ronon knocked her sticks from her hands, and grabbed her by the throat. She struggled, but Ronon was past stopping, he roared loudly and threw Teyla to the mat, his hand around her throat and held her down.
Sheppard rushed toward them, "What the hell do you think you are doing?"
Ronon released Teyla and stood up, "I wouldn't have hurt her."
Sheppard was angry but controlled, "You sure in hell looked like you were going to." He turned to Teyla, "You OK?
"I am fine. I told him that he did not have to go easy on me." She was rubbing her throat, watching as Ronon and his escort left the gym.
Sheppard replied, "You've gotta be careful what you say to this guy."
Ronon retreated to his quarters, angry with himself for losing control. He had to remember that these Earthmen…Atlantians…they did not know the ways of the Satedan. Sparring to them was the same as fighting; they just knew when to draw back and not normally draw blood. He needed to remember that Teyla was important to these people, important to Sheppard. He sat down hard on the bed, wondering if he had destroyed what chance he might have to stay on Atlantis, and could he repair the damage. The first thing he decided he had to do was apologize to Teyla, then he would see if Sheppard was still speaking to him.
Later, after gaining Teyla's forgiveness, he needed to bleed off his pent-up energy and headed back to the gym where he began to show a group of Marines how to fight with a knife. He heard the door slide open and looked around to see Elizabeth Weir.
"Ronon, could I have a word?" He handed the knife to a Marine and walked toward her.
She continued, "I understand…Sheppard extended an invitation to you to join his team."
He listened as she explained to him that Sheppard should have consulted her first, and told him that it wasn't that she didn't trust him or value what he could bring to the expedition, just that it was a big decision and one they needed to make carefully. She asked him how he felt, and he had replied he was thinking about it…she replied she was thinking about it as well. She left and Ronon returned to the knife lesson, knowing that Sheppard really wanted him to stay.
It was late, when Sheppard caught up with him. Ronon had wandered out onto the southwest pier and heard Sheppard's lanky gait as he hopped up the steps. He turned around in time to see the colonel motion for the escorts to leave. He noticed however, that they didn’t stray too far and leave Sheppard alone with him. These Marines were protective of their commanding officer.
"Hey, found my favorite spot." Sheppard dropped onto the step next to him, "Amazing sight isn't it?"
"Yeah, this place was considered a fable on Sateda. We thought just a story to bring the Ancestors to life; I never expected to see it."
"Well, it was a fable on our world as well; we thought it was on Earth…we just missed it by a few light years. I guess the Ancients that returned to Earth talked about Atlantis, and that is how our myth was started."
"Why are you here, Sheppard?"
The colonel stretched his long legs out, and sighed, "I've asked myself that question many, many times. You've heard of the gene?" Ronon nodded. "I only found out by accident, ending up on a secret base in Antarctica, that's a really cold snowy place on Earth. I'd flown a general, General O'Neill, to the base, and he invited me in. I was wandering around when I met Carson, who was standing next to an ornate chair. We were talking about a drone that had been accidentally fired toward my helo. For some reason, I felt compelled to sit in the chair; McKay told me later, I was most likely drawn to it by the gene. Damn thing lit up and everyone came running, and I was offered the chance to come here. Nothing left for me on Earth, so I decided to join the expedition, knowing that I might not ever see Earth again."
Sheppard didn't answer, "So, what do you think about this place…really?"
"I like it."
"Okay…you like it, why?"
Ronon stared at the vista of the galaxy's center trailing across the sky above them. He wasn't certain that he wanted to answer Sheppard's question. He asked one of his own, "I heard that McKay had some kind of weird problem, but that it's fixed now."
"Either you've got super hearing, or I need to remind my Marines to keep their mouths shut."
"Neither, I overheard a couple of scientists in the mess hall."
"Yeah, McKay's fine, as is Lieutenant Cadman; just another day in the Pegasus galaxy."
"Stuff like that happen all the time?"
Sheppard laughed, "Not all the time, sometimes it's even weirder around here." He studied Ronon for a second, "So, do you want to tell me why you like it here? I mean besides the obvious…no Wraith chasing you here."
"Weir came to see me in the gym."
"I'm not sure she wants me here; said you should have asked her first before you asked me to stay. She said it was a big decision, and I should think about it, and she should think about it."
"Uh…well…I probably should have asked her first but sometimes getting what you want means not asking for permission."
"Why do you want me here?"
"I told you, we want the same things. We want to stop the Wraith. Besides, from what I've seen, you can teach us a lot." Sheppard stood up, "Look, Ronon; we need you, you know this galaxy, probably better than anyone. We can provide a home for you."
"I had a home."
"It's gone, Ronon."
Ronon got up and walked to the railing, leaning his elbows on it the metal bar. He didn't say anything for a while. He was conscious of Sheppard approaching, and the two men stood quietly.
"Sheppard, the Wraith…they have to be stopped."
"Then help us."
Ronon turned to Sheppard, the man who had already earned his respect, and answered, "I will."
trillingstar gave several wonderful prompts but the very first one grabbed me.
I'd love to read a Ronon-centric story that takes place just after his arrival on Atlantis (everything through his filter! *chininhands*
I haven't written a lot from Ronon's POV and I loved the idea of exploring his first few days on Atlantis.
trillingstar, I hope you enjoyed! Happy Holidays!