Betrothal

Chapter 8

Ronon Dex leaned against the railing overlooking the Atlantean sea. It was a calm, beautiful day, and the gently lapping of waves soothed the warrior. His gaze was fixed on the horizon, his face serene, but his mind was unsettled.

He had watched with horror as Keir lunged at Teyla, her death in the First Minister's eyes. Never in his life had Ronon felt so helpless. Then, miraculously, he and the others had been engulfed in a shimmering white light, and transported from Caldron to the bridge of the Daedelus.

They were met by Colonel Caldwell and Dr. Beckett, who ran forward as Teyla collapsed on to the cold floor. Within minutes, they were all being rushed to the medical infirmary. While Carson labored over Teyla, Colonel Caldwell had updated the rest of the team on Dr. Beckett's plan.

"He called Dr. Zelenka in, and they determined that it would take the Daedelus about seven hours to reach Caldron, at full FTL speed. Teyla assured us that this Keir guy wouldn't kill you three – he needed you to bargain with. So, she just needed to buy some time."

John nodded thoughtfully. "How did you know where we were?" he asked, adjusting the ice pack on his head.

"Dr. Beckett inserted some kind of tracking device in Teyla's neck. That way, we didn't have scan the entire city looking for your life signs. Instead, when all of you were together, Teyla could switch it on. We would use that beacon to locate you. It took a few minutes, but, as you can see, it worked."

They had remained in orbit over Caldron, and a team was sent down to determine Keir's fate. The First Minister had died from his wounds, and the city was in an uproar. Reluctantly, they determined that trading with Caldron, and acquiring the Genon crystals, would have to be delayed until some sort of order had been restored. Rodney had received the news with surprisingly little complaint, stating that he preferred to take his business elsewhere.

Ronon straightened, taking one last look at the ocean, then, a decision made, he entered the city. Walking briskly, he made his way to Teyla's quarters.

It had been two weeks since they had escaped from Caldron. Teyla had been seriously hurt, but she was healing well. She had been released from Dr. Beckett's care three days ago, but Ronon had delayed visiting her at her home. Conflicting emotions warred within him, and he felt he needed to come to terms with his feelings before he spoke to the Athosian leader.

Ronon stopped before Teyla's door, and knocked quickly. The door opened moments late, and a pale, but smiling Teyla, greeted him.

"Ronon. I am glad to see you. Please, come in," she said, stepping back to allow him entry. She still moved carefully, her broken ribs slowing her down, but the bruises had faded. Her left arm was still bandaged, the slice Keir had inflicted requiring stitches, as well as the cut on her side. Still, for all the damage done, Teyla looked remarkably well.

Ronon stood in the middle of her room, waiting as she returned to face him, a puzzled look on her face. His eyes holding her gaze, Ronon loosened the ties that closed his tunic, and drew the garment open. Teyla's eyes widened, and she opened her mouth to speak. Ronon's voice interrupted her question.

"Teyla, do you know what a blood oath is?" he asked roughly. He watched as her eyes registered confusion, then she shook her head.

Ronon held the tunic open, and pointed at two scars on his chest. One was very old, faded and pale, while the other was more recent.

"On my world, when a soldier pledges his loyalty, he – or she – is required to take a blood oath. You swear to defend all your people, uphold the governmental doctrines and fight to the last breath to keep your world free. These vows are accompanied by the blood oath." Ronon paused, then pointed at the older scar.

"This mark represents my soldier's oath. On the day I was given my command, I made this cut, over my heart, with my own hand. I swore to die before allowing any harm to come to any of my people, or to my world."

Teyla was nodding, comprehension on her face. She reached forward, her hand softly touching the mark on his chest. Ronon stilled himself, the warmth of her hand sending shivers through his body.

"What is the second mark for?" she asked softly, her hand moving from the first scar to the newer, healed wound.

Ronon closed his eyes for a moment, then his gaze found hers. "I made that about a year ago. There had been a team of three Wraiths that I had been running from. I was exhausted, badly injured, and I was certain that I would be captured and killed. For a moment, the thought of taking my own life, and ending my torment, crossed my mind." Ronon stopped, his eyes dark and anguished. Teyla reached out her hand, taking his and holding it tightly. She was silent, her expression understanding and sympathetic.

"I didn't, though. Instead, I vowed that I would fight the Wraith until my very last breath, no matter what the cost to myself. That night, I made my second blood oath." Ronon paused, then he dropped her hand, and slid a small knife from the sheath at his hip.

"I am here to make a third blood oath, Teyla." He watched as she gasped, taking a step away from him. She watched as he drew a slow, deep cut, his blood welling and streaming slowly down his chest.

"I make this blood oath to you Teyla Emmagen," Ronon said, his voice strong and sure. "You have been a true friend since we have met, and your loyalty and kindness are irreplaceable to me."

Tears welled in Teyla's eyes, and she gave him a small, shaky smile.

"You have also willingly offered your life for mine, a debt that I vow to repay. Never again will I allow anyone to harm you. This I swear on my blood." Ronon

resheathed his knife, and watched Teyla.

Twin trails of tears flowed down her cheeks, but she ignored them. Holding Ronon's gaze, she reached down, and took his knife from the sheathe. With a quick movement, Teyla slashed at her left hand. Ronon froze as she lifted her bloody hand, and placed it firmly against his chest, covering the fresh wound.

"I make this blood oath to you, Ronon Dex. My friendship and loyalty are earned, not given. You have no debt to repay, for, in my heart, there are no debts between friends. Instead, you have my admiration and my love. I swear that no one will ever hurt you, if by my action, I can prevent it. This I swear on my blood." Teyla, her voice soft but strong, held her hand against Ronon's chest for another moment, then dropped her arm to her side.

Ronon was speechless. No one – no one – had ever made a blood oath to him. He watched as she stared back at him levelly, her eyes wet. She resheathed his knife, then gave him a small smile and stepped back. Small droplets of blood flowed from her hand onto the floor, but she ignored them.

Suddenly, Ronon took a step forward and gently grasped Teyla's arms. Leaning forward, he bent, covering her mouth with his. Her lips were soft and warm, and he stifled a groan of pleasure. As she started to return the kiss, Ronon broke away, panting slightly. His heart pounding, his eyes fixed on hers for what seemed like an eternity, then he straightened.

"It is good to see you, Teyla Emmagen," he said stiffly. He laced together his tunic with trembling fingers, ignoring the drying blood on his chest. Momentarily confused, Teyla watched him, her eyes shining with passion. Her face was flushed and her heart thrummed, sending warmth to the farthest reaches of her body. Suddenly, she sensed his need to act as if nothing had happened, and, shaking her head slightly, she stepped towards the door.

"Thank you for stopping by, Ronon. Perhaps, next time, you will stay for some supper?" she asked, her expression neutral. Ronon breathed a sigh of relief at her understanding, then nodded. He opened the door, then turned to face her.

"Perhaps…next time," he said softly, then closed the door.

The End