Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate Atlantis or its original characters. I do not own the song "Fields of Gold" nor the book Cold Mountain. They are the property of their owners, and I am making no money off of this.

Author's Note: I'm trying to develop style, so please feel free to let me know what's working and what isn't. Feed me constructive criticism and I will love you. ;o)

You can also read this story with music and pictures at my site: (usual http world wide web tag that this site won't let me post!) angelfire . com/planet/whereoncewasgold/WhereOnceWasGold.html without the space in-between "angelfire" and "com," of course.

I. Prologue: Firefly Light

"And then she thought that you went on living one day after another, and in time you were somebody else, your previous self only like a close relative, a sister or brother, with whom you shared a past. But a different person, a separate life." – Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain (p. 422).
The smooth metal beneath his cheek hummed with the warmth of the jumper's engines. His fingers gained sensation next, chilled in contrast to the floor. Something was bumping against his neck, attempting to tease him onto his side. He blinked. The blurred, muted colors were unmoving and he felt no threat from their static, mosaic shades of grey. Exhaustion tugged at his mind once more before it was interrupted by an onslaught of fire from what felt like everywhere at once. He would have gasped but his ribs grated against each other and the floor, limiting his air. Images of heat and fear flashed through his mind: the clawed-hand of a Wraith reaching for him, the jagged itch of tweezers probing for shrapnel in his leg, his throat burning in a howl. His heart leapt with the remembrance that he was once again hunted, that the chilling ice of death waited for his wrong move so it could creep into his chest.

He could not lie still. He could not rest – not now. He had to get off the ground and keep moving. He had to hide and fight. Run. He had to run.

Something pressed against his neck again, coaxing him to roll over. Muffled voices wafted overhead and the tickling of hair slithered across the bridge of his nose. The sensation brought to mind the hoary hair of the Wraith, the tugging at his neck a clawed hand. His cry for solitude came out as a half-strangled gasp and his attempt to rise as a slip of the palm against the floor.

A warm hand fell on his bare shoulder and a rolling, accented voice undulated before him with the blurry visage of a man. He blinked again and piercing blue eyes became clear, their compassion identifying themselves as belonging to Dr. Beckett. Confusion swam in his mind and he tried to sit up again but another pair of warm hands stilled him. A melodic female voice danced on the fringes of his senses and he fought to focus on it above the din of the blood rushing past his ears. He blinked again, his head lolling helplessly as he attempted to view the owner of the voice, his heart begging for whatever light present to catch upon the curls of Melena's golden tresses. The warm hand upon his forehead was soothingly familiar, and though the face was still blurred, he felt his muscles begin to unknot from the affection he felt from the woman.

Carson glanced to Teyla as Ronon ceased his weak resistance. Her brows were furrowed as she studied the Satedan's lost eyes, sharing a concerned expression with the doctor.

"That's it, lad, it's alright. It's just us. Everything's going to be fine."

Ronon blinked lethargically, his fingernails lightly dragging against the metal of the jumper's floor as pain threatened to steal what little breath he had. Teyla shook her head, removing her hand from the Satedan's forehead. "Why can he not focus?"

Carson glanced at her as he hastily teased the knots at the seam of the Satedan's breastplate. "The medicine's starting to take effect. He'll be out any minute now, and more the better. The sooner we can get him out of this bloody thing," he gave the armor a yank and Ronon's head lolled with it, "the sooner we can get that device out of him."

Teyla unsheathed the knife on her calf and handed the hilt to Carson who took it with an appreciative smile, immediately cutting the leather lacing of the chest armor. When she looked back to Ronon she smiled for his unfocused gaze was on her. "You are safe now, Ronon." She rested her hand on his forehead again, running her thumb across his crown. He swallowed as he looked at her, as if wishing to speak. She took his hand in hers, careful of the scraped knuckles, hoping that her touch would communicate what her words undoubtedly couldn't since the anesthetic was taking hold of her friend.

His lips moved a little and she tilted her head for his eyes were still latched onto hers in a need to communicate. On an exhaled breath he whispered "Melena?" Her mouth opened slightly in surprise and she slowly withdrew her hand from his forehead, her mind arrested in its vicious struggle to understand who or what he'd meant by the question. He continued to lazily watch her through eyes of glazed green jade, consciousness flickering behind them like the flame of a candle in the breeze.

Carson let the blade drop to the side as he finished cutting the bindings and lifted the breastplate off the Satedan, breaking Teyla's eye contact with him. Before she could form an answer to Ronon's strange utterance, Carson was soliciting her help in removing the Satedan's vest. Her fingers nimbly worked at the brass buttons as she glanced to Beckett who was removing supplies from his medical kit. "Dr. Beckett, did you not just hear-"
"Aye, I did, love, but I haven't the slightest idea what to make of it, either." He set out a makeshift supply tray. "And neither does he – he's been sedated... in fact..." he leaned forward to peer at Ronon's face. The Satedan's eyes had slipped shut and Carson listened to his heart rate. "He's out now."

She undid the last button. "Good." She tried not to look away when she parted the leather. The ugly bruising and swelling of his chest left her to wonder just how much that armor protected. Carson seemed to share a similar thought for he sighed and muttered "Good God."

Teyla purposely kept her attention on the Satedan's arm as she removed it from the clothing. Having watched him as the victim of a Wraith's cruelty was painful enough. She didn't need to see the visual reminder of it. And yet she was met with it again the moment she helped Carson roll his patient onto his front, exposing the back of his neck where they were to operate. The pink scars crisscrossed each other in a grotesque design, the thinnest lines being the most recent, left from Carson's delicate scalpel.

Dr. Beckett adjusted the light and magnifying glasses on his head, disinfecting the area with a gloved hand before leaning over with a scalpel in hand. Teyla remained where Carson had instructed her, on her knees with her hands lightly resting on the Satedan's shoulder blades, parting his hair. When Beckett pressed the blade to Ronon's skin she closed her eyes and looked away.

Ronon's voice echoed in her mind and she attempted to escape thoughts of what was going on beside her by focusing on the possibilities of what Ronon could have meant by his barely-audible question. The way his eyes, though unfocused, had remained on her told her that what he'd said was more than a random, unintelligible mumbling as Beckett would have her believe. The firefly light she had seen in his eyes haunted her.

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