Title: Stars Fall Down
Pairing: Ronon Dex/Jennifer Keller
Summary: Post-ep to 4x03 "Reunion"
Etc.: Spoilers through SGA 4x03: Reunion with bits from 3x04: Sateda and 3x17: Sunday. MANY MANY THANKS to wojelah for making it not suck (any remaining logical fallacies are mine) and to raisintorte for audiencing my AIM spam crack pairings.
Stars Fall Down
The stars had stopped moving again.
Seven years of running, seven years of watching the stars shift around dozens of planets.
And then they stopped, for two years. For two years, Ronon went outside every night and looked up and the stars were where they were the night before.
Or, as McKay pointed out, the stars were always where they were the night before and it was Ronon who lacked a point of reference.
But here they were on some new planet, hiding from the Wraith, from the Replicators - even, kind of, from Elizabeth.
Ronon never thought he'd miss Elizabeth.
"Hey, uh, is this balcony taken?"
Light, hesitant footfalls, soft, high voice, smelled like anti-bacterial soap, latex gloves, shampoo like some sort of flower, and peanut butter. Keller.
"It's a free city," he said finally, because he'd heard Sheppard say it to Teyla.
"Well, yeah," she said with a nervous laugh, stepping up next to him and resting her hands lightly on the rail. "But if you came out here to be alone, I'll find another balcony. There's kind of a lot around here."
Ronon turned his head and caught a better whiff of her shampoo. "You can stay," he said before he'd really thought about it. The smell was nice.
Beside him, Keller took a deep, bracing breath. "I just wanted to say," she started, "I'm glad you decided to stay. I mean, I'm sorry that your friends turned out to be..." She turned away from the water and leaned back on the railing, crossing her arms across her stomach. "You know."
Ronon curled his lip against his teeth and he looked down into the water. His people might be out there but he didn't want to know anymore. He didn't want to look at the stars. They no longer held any promise for him.
"I just wanted to say," Keller fumbled, "that your friends just did what they had to do to survive. That's what we're all doing here, and it's scary and I guess I'm just glad you're not, you know. Going anywhere."
"What they did," Ronon said, "wasn't honorable. It wasn't a life a Satedan would want."
The tattoo on his arm itched. He scowled at the brown, sharp points marching up his skin, Tyre's betrayal pounded into his skin. As he watched, Keller's hand folded over his arm. It was small and delicate, fingers for the fine work of healing, but not wide enough to obscure the ink circling his arm.
"We can remove that for you," she said. "We have the technology."
Ronon thought about it. He thought about McKay and the determined clutch of arms and the almost rueful echo of, I hope you don't mind. I just healed them. He thought about reaching for his own back and finding only smooth skin.
He thought about Kell, about the recoil of the rifle and the report in his ears as he shot his former Taskmaster.
He thought about the looks on Ara's and Rickai's faces when they died, about how Marika and Hemi must have looked. He thought about how Tyre was still out there. Still running, still free. Still dangerous.
"Anyway," Keller said when he didn't answer. "I just wanted to let you know that we would have missed you if you'd left. You - I think we feel safer when you're around."
She turned and started to pull her hand away, but Ronon's reflexes were faster and he caught it before she could pull it back.
"I think," he said, "I'm going to hang on to it for a while. Just to remember."
Keller's eyes were wide and green as she looked up to him. She was like Beckett, gentle and unsure, the way he was before Lucius made him angry and determined. She was like Melena, too, the way she was stubborn and brave and did for other people before herself. She'd done her best to save Doctor Weir and she'd done her best to keep everyone in her care alive and well, just like those who came before her. It was the kind of thing Ronon couldn't do - he could shoot things and keep people from getting hurt and scare off the nightmares with threats and violence, but once they were already hurt, that was their job - Melena, and Beckett, and Keller.
Right then and there, Ronon promised himself that Keller would be his own personal responsibility. As long as he was around, she would be safe. Maybe, just maybe, he could keep her safe, safer than the others. He'd told Sheppard that he wasn't ready yet; that it was too soon. Too soon to start another relationship, too soon to love another woman, too soon to care so much about someone who was so likely to slip away too soon. It was still too soon, but he'd been watching Sheppard's back for two years. Sheppard's and McKay's, and Teyla's, and maybe if he'd been watching Weir a little more closely, maybe if he'd grabbed Niam a little faster...she'd still be in charge instead of that Carter person.
"So, uh, you come here often?" Keller asked, glancing between his face and the sky. Her face was flushed and her pulse was racing, but he wasn't sure if she was frightened or excited.
"Every night," he said, tugging her hand around to point to the stars.
"Yeah?" Keller asked, more confidence, no less color in her cheeks. "You know, I've been here for a year and I still don't know any of the stars. Do you have names for them?"
"Every one," Ronon said, because even on other planets, one could navigate by the stars.
"Will you tell me?" she teased, nudging him in the side with her elbow.
"I don't know," he said, pretending to think about it. "You think you can teach me that doctor stuff Sheppard can do in the field? Seems like it might come in handy."
"Yeah," Keller said, her smile both surprised and delighted. "Yeah, I can definitely do that. Tomorrow night? I'll bring the broken bones, you bring the dinner?"
Ronon grinned back, an almost-forgotten sensation of affection and admiration warming him. Maybe it wasn't too soon after all.