Jennifer was having trouble not staring. Okay so maybe ogling was a better word. But damn it, he was sitting right across from her! How could she not notice him? All buff and tan with those sexy bare arms taunting her from the other side of the conference room table. He shifted position and she tried to look away but her eyes kept coming back. She briefly wondered if she used both hands, could she connect her fingertips around his biceps?
"Dr. Keller?" Sam's voice cut through her thoughts and she jumped in her chair.
"I- I'm sorry." She shook her head, her ears warming under the quick flush that spread to her cheeks.
"How quickly can you be ready to leave?" Sam repeated the question.
"An hour." Jen answered, glancing at her watch. "I can have everything ready to go in an hour."
"That's it then." Sam tapped her palm against the table. "Colonel, you'll accompany Dr. Keller to the Lyrian settlement and oversee the inoculations their healer started."
John nodded quickly towards Jennifer before turning his attention back to Sam. "And the device?"
Sam looked at Rodney who was sitting next to Jennifer.
Rodney removed the pen he was distractedly munching on while staring at the computer tablet he cradled. He wiggled the pen through the air while he spoke. "I need to run a few more diagnostics, but the technology is definitely ancient. We're not sure what the ruins were from but of course I have my suspicions. You see it's-"
"Thanks Rodney." Sam interrupted with a smile and a wave of her hand. "Finish your analysis and report back to me if you find anything."
Rodney nodded and spun around in his chair.
Being closest to the door, Jen was the first to escape to the hallway. Chastising herself for allowing her mind to wander – again – she hurried back to the infirmary. Damn Ronon for being so bloody distracting! In the few weeks since they spent all that time sealed in the infirmary, she'd wanted to kick Zelenka's skinny little ass for playing with the power at the exact moment Ronon was about to kiss her. Jen had been walking, working, dreaming of that missed kiss ever since.
And it didn't help that she'd been running into Ronon everywhere now. Or maybe she'd just been noticing him more. She didn't know for sure. It certainly seemed as though he needed more patching up after sparring accidents these past few weeks. And at the weirdest hours, too.
Jen frowned. She was the CMO for heaven's sake! She needed to act like a professional, not some love sick teenager to be pining after the bad boy from down the block. But what a bad boy he was. Then she sighed. Why did she always have to fall for the unobtainable? Ronon was so far out of her league…
At the infirmary she forced herself to concentrate on organizing the supplies. The small Lyrian settlement had lost its second healer in less than a year, and this one ran off right in the middle of inoculating the populace against a nasty flu like virus that was ripping through the village. Jen wasn't surprised a healer might find the task a little too overwhelming. The town housed maybe a hundred people tops, but having most of them sick at the same time, would be damn stressful for any doctor. Especially when they were all looking to that one person for relief. The poor healer probably had a nervous breakdown and ran for the hills.
Jen organized the supplies and crossed items off her list as she packed them into the cases. It was an easy enough task to finish vaccinating the people, and she could have done it without assistance, but apparently someone was worried she might need looking after.
Not that she was going to turn down a little added muscle.
Nope, not at all.
Especially after what happened with the Bola Kai.
Jen shuddered and pushed away the terrifying memories.
Concentrate, she chastised herself.
An hour later she was packed and standing in front of the Stargate, her backpack filled to bursting, a holding a heavy metal case in each hand. John held the third case while Rodney absently tapped away on his computer tablet.
Turning to wave goodbye to Sam who was standing behind them, Jen's eyes were drawn to the man leaning casually against the railing on the upper level. Ronon's eyes locked on hers, and for a brief moment, she swore he was trying to tell her something. But his face remained passive. Expressionless.
He nodded. Once.
Her heart skipped and pattered an unsteady rhythm as she continued to stare up at him. When he raised an eyebrow in silent challenge, she blinked and turned away before he could see the flush creeping into her cheeks. With a deep, steadying breath she hurried after John and Rodney, and stepped through the gate.
Ronon stared at the now dormant Stargate and almost smiled. He hadn't missed the embarrassed color which flushed her cheeks. He was glad to see he was finally starting to get her attention because he was running out of excuses to keep accidentally bumping into her.
Last week John figured out how he'd gotten good enough to make Ronon bleed when they were sparring, and now refused to play along if all Ronon was doing was looking for an excuse to get sent to the infirmary so he could flirt with the cute doctor. So he was having to come up with his own ideas on how to cross her path.
He'd found himself thinking about her more and more lately. Little things kept popping up in his mind. The way she tucked her hair behind her ears when she was trying to concentrate. The way she waved her hands when talking about something she was passionate about. Her laugh. Her drive and determination to help people.
And more importantly, the way she stood up to him.
Not many women – okay well, few enough he could count on one hand – ever took his crap and fed it back to him. His mother. Melena. Teyla – who could not only hand it back to him, she could make him eat it too.
And now Jennifer Keller.
The woman may look petite and harmless elsewhere but in her infirmary she was the supreme ruler. She commanded with authority and didn't take any shit. Especially his. She'd earned his respect several times over already – more so after her latest adventure off world.
It had taking a few days of sorting through the added self positioning embellishments McKay always tossed into his stories, but Ronon finally had a full picture of what she'd gone through when she'd been trapped underground in the mining facility with Sam and Rodney. Jennifer had kept her cool, and come up with a few great ideas of her own. He'd praised her, and tried not to laugh at her stuttered embarrassment. Hell, he'd even grudgingly had to give it up to McKay for ultimately saving her life by holding onto the rope as she dangled over the precipice. Rodney had moved up a notch from annoying know-it-all to slightly less annoying know-it-all.
Ronon's friends on Atlantis were his family, and he cared about each one of them. Some decidedly more than others. But lately it seemed more important that she was looked after. When he'd heard she was being called upon to travel off Atlantis, he'd planted the seed with Colonel Carter that Dr. Keller might rate an escort. An idea to which the Colonel readily agreed.
He'd had no real reason to watch their departure today other than for an excuse to see her again. But something in his chest tightened when he watched her standing below.
When she looked at him he'd wanted to warn her to be careful, but couldn't. Wouldn't. Didn't.
He'd already talked with Sheppard and knew Jennifer would remain under John's watchful eye. Ronon didn't like the fact that the last two time's Jennifer traveled off world, her life had been threatened.
What was that saying John used? Third time's the charm?