The most profound statements are often said in silence – Lynn Johnston, For Better or For Worse

She wondered how many of her staff it took to wrestle him to the bed to be treated. Had they tranquilized him? Restrained him? Or, sweating, frustrated and likely suffering a bloody nose or split lip for their efforts, finally left him alone?

The medical staff groaned to a man under their breath every time Ronon Dex showed up in the infirmary. Silent signals were passed through the staff to find the CMO and quick. The big Satedan swatted nurses away like flies, growling a warning if any came near him with so much as a cotton swab. Instead, he'd sit on the edge of one of the infirmary beds, drip blood on her floor and wait for her to appear so she could sew up one of the many wounds he received either in sparring sessions or off world missions.

This time, she couldn't help. The alien seed that had taken over her body and parts of her mind had been eradicated from her system with Carson's life-saving virus. However, it had taken a couple of days of drug-induced sleep to fully recuperate. It wasn't like the 24-hour flu. One didn't just spring out of the sickbed after nearly being turned into a Wraith ship.

How odd that she had recovered faster than the others, despite being the one to suffer the most advanced form of the parasite's virulent spread. Jennifer looked over her shoulder as she walked away from the side of the infirmary housing Sheppard. John, speaking quietly and earnestly to Woolsey, still needed at least another 24 hours of medically prescribed bed rest. Major Lorne was in much the same shape. Rodney was certain he was about to die and insisted that Carson give him a full physical. And Ronon…

She took a breath and made her way to the quieter section of the infirmary. Here, most of the beds were empty and the overhead lights dimmed to a faint luminescence. The low chatter of voices faded behind her, leaving only the beeps and blips of monitors and scanners. Were she in a more quixotic frame of mind, she might have fancied the blue and green lights on the medical equipment as faery lights. But Jennifer Keller, CMO of Atlantis, had never been quixotic or whimsical, and the ward was too steeped in the lingering memories of blood and grief to ever be anything other than a brief stopover of respite and healing or a sanctuary in which to peacefully die.

She shook off her morbid thoughts and smiled faintly as she neared the bed where her most recalcitrant patient lay. As she guessed, they'd used restraints on Ronon. She wondered if they'd been employed to keep him from hurting himself as Carson's virus worked its way through his system or simply to prevent him throwing one of the male nurses into the opposite wall while they examined his injuries. She suspected a little of both.

He looked almost peaceful in repose, his lashes dark against his cheeks as he slept. Even sedated, he had a leashed vitality about him; something that announced his presence in a room and went beyond his impressive physicality. She'd never express the idea to anyone, but Jennifer thought Ronon Dex a force of nature.

She checked his monitors, pleased to see his vitals were normal. If he was anyone to judge by, Satedans were a tough lot. He'd nearly been strangled by the alien seed, with a few ribs broken under its crushing grip as an added bonus. Still, he'd refused the help of Marines and the medical staff and insisted on walking into the infirmary on his own, glowering at anyone who suggested he leave Jennifer's bedside so they could see to his injuries.

She hoped she hadn't blushed too hard as Carson described those events as she lay in her own bed, recovering from the seed's parasitic invasion of her body and mind. His words had sent a warmth settling low in her belly. She'd tried to reason to herself that Ronon always stayed by the bedsides of his wounded team members, but this somehow felt different, and her emotions refused to listen to her reason.

The medical tablet near his bedside held his chart, and she scanned the information, eyebrows rising when she read the dosage level of the sedative he'd been given. It was enough to put an Earth human into a coma. She glanced at him briefly, again noting that aura of sleeping power. He snored softly, the sound like the purring of a great cat.

Her nurses had left the restraints in place. Jennifer pushed aside the blankets to release them, fingers gliding carefully over straps so as not disturb him. The sudden cessation of snoring and a light touch on her hand made her look up, surprised.

Ronon was awake and watching her with a glassy-eyed stare. The tip of his tongue ran across his lower lip and he mouthed a single word. "Doc."

Jennifer smiled, reaching for her pin light. "I was just reading your chart. You have a high tolerance to sedatives. You should still be knocked out. Anyone else would be comatose. " He lay still beneath her hands as she checked his eyes, noting the dilated pupils. "You're still under the effects though they're obviously lessening." She resisted the urge to look away as those green eyes pinned her place.

His lips moved again in silent question. "How are you?"

She did look away then, busying herself with moving the blanket aside so she could see the wrap job the nurses had done on his torso. "Good as new." She met his eyes once more. "The voices were the worst."

He nodded once, gaze flickering down to where her fingers glided over his bandages. Jennifer was grateful for her medical training. As a doctor, she could easily distance herself from the subjective view of the human body and see it strictly as an object, a complex machine whose parts sometimes broke or 

malfunctioned and needed repair. She held onto that skill as she examined Ronon's midriff and steadfastly ignored the play of hard muscle that tensed beneath her hands or the contrast of her pale fingers against burnished skin decorated with a mural of scars.

He flinched away when she pressed gently against the edge of the bandages. "Pain?" she asked softly. That penetrating gaze never wavered when he shook his head no.

The air around them seemed to change, pressed down on her like a lover's touch. She straightened abruptly and twitched the blanket back in place. Her mouth was dry, and she swallowed with difficulty.

"I need to check your throat."

Ronon's eyes remained locked on her as she leaned forward once more to examine the circlet of dark bruises on his neck. He breathed slowly, a whisper of warmth caressing her cheek. The slightest movement and his beard brushed the edge of her jaw.

Jennifer froze, images of that ephemeral moment during quarantine when she'd almost kissed him, flashing before her eyes. If she turned her head just a fraction, her mouth would meet his. Time slowed to a near halt, and she succumbed to temptation.

Her lips touched his with a butterfly's stroke, promising more. As in lock-down, that promise was shattered by the intrusion of others. Jennifer straightened abruptly at the sound of voices close by. The shift change was in swing and the current staff walked the infirmary, getting updates from their peers and checking medical tablets at each of the occupied beds.

She clutched her stethoscope in her hands, gripping it like a lifeline as her gaze darted everywhere but to the man lying quietly on the bed. Her cheeks felt hot, and she prayed the semi-darkness in this part of the infirmary hid her blush. A small voice within laughed at her hope. Ronon Dex's gaze missed very little.

His eyes, darkened by his enlarged pupils and the effects of the sedative, watched her with an almost feral focus. She looked down, startled to see his fingers wrapped around her narrow wrist, capturing her. It was a loose clasp but one she instinctively knew would tighten to an unbreakable grip if she tried to move away.

She cleared her throat, gave him a tentative smile and found refuge in her role as his doctor. "I've removed the restraints, but as your physician, I'm ordering you to stay in this bed until all the effects of the drug have worn off. In other words, no leaving here until I say so. Even then, you need to take it easy with those broken ribs. No sparring, no target practice and no off-world missions until I clear you."

His fingers tensed on her wrist, thumb pressing into the pulse point beating rapidly under her skin. He scowled and looked as if he might argue.

Jennifer chuckled. "And no talking. You have a bruised larynx and need to stay quiet." She grinned and his eyebrows rose. "Colonel Sheppard didn't think anyone would notice the difference."

The slight curving at the corners of his mouth revealed Ronon's appreciation of Sheppard's observation.

"Ronon." She hesitated, searching for the right words, words that wouldn't come out awkward or stuttering. His fingers slid from her wrist to lace with hers in an encouraging clasp.

"I want to thank you." He waited, his very stillness coaxing her on. "Teyla told me you volunteered to try the virus first and then volunteered to administer the injection to me." She squeezed his hand. "You risk your life all the time for your team. It's part of your nature. You're a brave man, a good man. I know you would have done the same for any of us, but I want you to know how much it means to me that you came for me, how grateful I…" She stopped, gasping when he nearly broke her fingers in his tightening grip.

He loosened his hold immediately and stared at her with eyes that burned with a black fire. His mouth opened, and he glared when she tried to stop him from speaking. The words were a harsh rasp in the quiet, brief but fierce in their sincerity.

"Always come for you. Always."