XXXV. Staring

Teyla awoke to kisses on her bare shoulders and she smiled without opening her eyes. She snuggled close to Ronon and sighed against his skin, not wanting to know what time it was, for she didn't want to get up. She wanted to remain as she was, wrapped up in the warmth of the man who was her other half.

He rubbed her bare back and she felt him shift so that their faces were level and she opened her eyes. Daylight streamed into their room and she knew morning had already passed. She didn't look at the clock for her gaze was locked on the jade green eyes of her lover's. "I'm bound to you," he said hoarsely.

"And I to you," she replied with a smile. Her happy expression faded as she realized there were tears in his eyes. "Ronon?"

"You have given me everything… you have cared for me more than I could ever imagine. And I just want to be with you. Forever. The thought of not seeing you again…" His words were cut off as his throat tightened.

Teyla rested a hand on the side of his cheek and wiped away one of his tears with her thumb. "Shh. Why would I not see you again?"

"I don't know," he squeaked. "But bad things happen. And I love you more than anything. I miss you even when I'm looking at you."

She gave him a pained smile and hugged him tightly, realizing that the same irrational emotion was beginning to stir inside of her, as well. "I love you, too, Ronon. More than anything. Ever. And I will not leave your side."

His arms tightened around her and he held her for several long moments before he pulled back to look at her with a sniffle. "I'm so tired. I'm afraid to trust anything good. It has always been a lie."

"This is no lie. You have endured more hardship in your short life than most people ever experience in a long life. It would be foolish to deny as such. But you must never give up hope." He nodded, swallowing hard. "We can never know what lies ahead, so we must live each day as if it is our last, for one day it will be."

His steady expression crumpled at her words as more tears escaped and she realized she had said the wrong thing. "I don't want this to end."

"No, Ronon…" Her own throat was growing tight now and she fought to keep tears from her eyes. "Let us not talk of such things. We are here, we are young, we are alive." She kissed away his tears. "And that is all that matters. We have many happy days before us."

Ronon shifted to clasp her hand between his and hug it to his chest. "Teyla, I want to bind myself to you. Forever. Will you have me?"

A wide grin split her face. "Yes, of course I will." She kissed him on the lips. "You fool, of course I will," she added with a laugh which he cut off with a kiss.

Sheppard and McKay sat on the couch, waiting for Ronon to come online to play Halo with them. "This is a waste of time," McKay griped. "Just text him."

"I already did."

"And he didn't answer?"

"He didn't get it. His phone's off."

"Then just go to his room. What else could he possibly be doing that's more entertaining than Halo?"

Sheppard sighed and rubbed his eyes before glancing at the time. They now only had about forty-five minutes of playing time. "Just forget it. I'm gonna go for a run."

"What?" McKay looked as if Sheppard had just threatened to kill his cat. "No. Fine. I'll go talk to him. The lazy ass is probably still asleep. Just… give me a minute."

McKay bustled out and Sheppard got himself a drink of water. He knew that Teyla and Ronon had attended celebrations on the planet of their enslavement and wondered how late the two had been out. It was already 1:15 in the afternoon and Ronon was usually an early riser. The realization of how uncharacteristic Ronon's behavior was began to set in, and Sheppard worried that the Satedan had been injured offworld. Just as visions of gunfire and blood streaked across his imagination, his door swooshed open.

A very stiff Rodney entered and slowly stepped into the room. His face was pale and he didn't look at Sheppard as he awkwardly sank onto the couch.

Sheppard felt cold panic wash over him. "Oh my God… he's dead."

"No…" McKay said so quietly that it was almost a whisper. "Definitely not dead."

Sheppard furrowed his brow and took a step forward. "Is he in the infirmary?"

"No," McKay answered, still sounding detached. "Though he likely will be soon judging by what I heard."

Sheppard stared at his friend, his panic beginning to subside, yet McKay's stiffness still alarmed him. "Rodney?"

McKay reluctantly looked to Sheppard, his cheeks coloring ever so slightly. His usual cadence returned to his voice. "Look, I only listened because I thought someone was getting hurt, okay!"

"Listened to what?"

"Outside his door! It sounded like a beating but…" He made an odd gesture with his eyes.

Sheppard thought Rodney was gesturing to the portrait on the wall and turned his gaze to Johnny Cash. He looked back at Rodney, even more confused. McKay let out an exasperated sigh. "They were… you know…"

The puzzle pieces finally slid together and Sheppard laughed, both at his own unexpected naiveté and at McKay's awkward discovery.

"It's not funny!" Rodney squeaked. "They're acting like wild animals – I thought for sure one of them was being killed!"

Sheppard held up a hand. "Okay, no more details. That's freaking hilarious, Rodney."

"No, it isn't! Now I'm going to have the mental image in my head!"

"It'll probably do you some good."


"Nothing. Listen, Rodney, just pretend you didn't hear anything. You'll just embarrass yourself."


The two didn't see the lovers until the they finally emerged for dinner. They strolled into the commissary hand in hand, not appearing any worse for wear. Sheppard and McKay were seated on the other side of the dining area. Sheppard gestured to the two by tipping his head and when McKay caught a glimpse of them, he turned red and nearly choked on his hamburger, making Sheppard chuckle.

"God, I can't even look at them…" Rodney muttered.

"Uh oh…"

McKay's frown deepened at Sheppard's expression and he glanced over his shoulder to see that the two were making their way over to sit with them. Sheppard arched a brow in warning to McKay and the balding man scooted over to make room.

Sheppard wiped the cautioning expression off his face just in time to shift it into a smile as the two Pegasus galaxy natives arrived. "Hey you two, how were the celebrations?"

"Wonderful," Teyla said as she sat down next to Rodney, who was staring at his plate. Ronon took a seat beside Sheppard who clapped him on the back. "We very much enjoyed ourselves," the Athosian continued.

"Did you?" McKay asked. His voice was higher-pitched than normal, causing the other three to look at him. His pale cheeks colored and he hunched over his food once more.

"Well, you're a hero, Teyla. And I mean that. You deserve every happiness that comes your way. Both of you do," Sheppard said with a look at Ronon, as well.

"Thanks, Sheppard. Right back atcha."

Teyla sighed and winced a little as she stretched her back, and Sheppard shot Rodney a warning look as he caught the other man wincing and looking away from her. "Though I must admit, it is pleasant to be back to much quieter surroundings."

McKay cleared his throat after he took a sip of water.

Ronon noticed the odd glances the scientist was giving his soon to be wife, and despite the fact that he counted Rodney as one of his closest friends, he bristled inside and realized he was ready to pound the other man if need be. Sheppard could feel the Satedan tensing beside him and cleared his throat, as well. "What sort of celebrations did they have, Ronon?"

"I dunno."

Sheppard slowly looked to him, dismayed to see that Ronon's gaze was still locked on Rodney who was trying to finish his meal without looking at anyone. "You don't know? Weren't you there?"

"Dancing," Teyla said with a slight line between her brows as she looked at the three men. "Dancing, singing, feasting. There were many who wished to make my acquaintance."

Ronon's face suddenly softened as he returned his attention to Teyla with a smile in his eyes. "Not just many. About the whole planet wanted to meet you."

Sheppard's shoulders relaxed as Teyla's simple words managed to deflate the tension building in Ronon. Teyla smiled shyly. "You must be proud of her," Sheppard said.

"I couldn't be prouder."

"Yes, it's quite…" McKay stuttered without looking at anyone. "Quite the thing to be proud of."

Teyla spared the scientist a sidelong glance then went back to eating.

"Hey," Ronon said to Sheppard. "Sorry I missed your message. I keep forgetting I have that com device."

Sheppard smirked. "It's a cell phone."


"Eh, don't worry about it."

"I'm sure you were busy," McKay added, glancing up and giving them all a fleeting look. When everyone just stared at him, he raised his brows. "You know… doing… things that busy people do…"

"How about you, Rodney?" Teyla asked. "What have you been up to?"

"Me? Oh, well, I happen to have come up with a new system code to re-route the power from the sublight generators to be more efficient. It's quite ingenious, really. That computer virus we got last week really ravaged the system…" He trailed off, his cheeks tinged with rose. "I mean, it didn't really ravage it, but it did its best to bring the system to its knees… no, not knees… but it hammered it hard… oh, God." He stared into space.

"Sure," was Ronon's only response. He shared a confused look with Sheppard.

Teyla shook her head. "Ronon, would you like some dessert?"

"What is it?"

"Jell-O. I find it far from satisfying, but there are always other options," she said with a smirk, lifting her hand to point at the kitchen where brownies were being baked.

"Oh God!" McKay cried, dropping his silverware and holding either side of his face. "Can you at least avoid talking about it at the dinner table?"

Ronon furrowed his brow and leaned over to whisper to Sheppard. "So, is he on a diet or…?"

"No, Ronon, I am not on a diet! Wait, why? Do you think I should be?" McKay suddenly looked like a deer in the headlights.

"No, Rodney," Teyla assured him. "Though I am sorry if my mention of brownies in the oven has upset you."

"Literally," Sheppard growled, trying to avert what he knew was about to happen.

"Oh…" McKay said, suddenly contrite. "Right. Chocolaty squares of goodness. Mmm. Delicious."

Teyla furrowed her brow and shook her head. "I am sorry, Rodney… is something wrong? You seem most uncomfortable."

"No…" he said in a high-pitched voice, his eyes wide. "Nothing is wrong, why would you think that?"

Teyla and Ronon exchanged a glance.

McKay's face crumpled as he broke. "All right! Fine! I admit it! I heard you two this afternoon. There, I said it! Can I leave now?"

Sheppard hung his head and the two warriors narrowed their eyes. "Heard what?" Ronon asked.

"You two!" McKay shouted. "Going at it like lions! Or… rabbits… rabbits that sound like lions…"

The two shared a confused glance, each trying to remember what a lion and a rabbit was.

McKay looked incredulous to their ignorance. "Oh, for God's sake. Sex! I heard you two having wild sex!" Teyla's eyes widened as her cheeks flushed and Ronon dropped his fork and froze. Sheppard hoped neither of them noticed that everyone at nearby tables was staring at Rodney's outburst. McKay immediately lowered his gaze. "Look, it's not like I meant to. I was coming to see if you wanted to play Halo… oh God… coming…" He held a hand over his eyes.

"Rodney," Sheppard growled before glancing at the two natives. He'd never seen them look more mortified in his life. Teyla appeared incapable of speech and Ronon looked like a cornered child. He flipped his plate of food onto Rodney then sprinted out of the cafeteria. "You shouldn't have said anything," Sheppard snarled at his teammate.

Teyla slowly tucked her hair behind her ears and rose. "Colonel Sheppard is correct." McKay tried to fling Ronon's food off of him. "Though I never intended to share that aspect of my life with you, I for one am not ashamed. We are to be wed and have every right to make love. The fact that you find it so distasteful says more about you than it does about us, Rodney."

"That is true," Sheppard said, raising his brows.

"Ronon's gonna kill me," McKay murmured under his hands. "He'll hang me by my you-know-whats and torture me."

Sheppard nodded. "That's true, too."

Teyla narrowed her eyes at Sheppard then turned to Rodney. "I will make sure he does not. He is merely… shy."

"Are you kidding?" McKay said, finally looking up. "He was growling."

Sheppard smacked him hard enough to make McKay cry out.

"Thank you," Teyla said to Sheppard then looked back to McKay. "Just because you have never experienced something so satisfying, Rodney, does not give you the right to mock us." She arched a brow then strode calmly off.

Sheppard laughed once Teyla was out of earshot and McKay frowned deeply. Count on Teyla to make an insult sound like an understanding statement. "Wait… did she say they're getting hitched?"

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