Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis, nor will I try to lay claim to it. That would put me in a lot of trouble with the fans, not to mention the authorities. (Though, if I did own Atlantis, Ronon and Teyla would be happily married with two pretty babies and a dog.) I am making no monetary gain from this venture, so please don't sue me!

Summary: Not related to the season 5 episode. Ronon and Teyla have a discussion about one of the Atlantians' tactics. RononTeyla, friendship with hints of ship. Written for Morgan le Fay810's birthday!

Rating: K+

Pairing: Ronon/Teyla

Warnings: None

Spoilers: Runner; Duet

Title: Tracker

Author: fyd818

Part 1/1

Dedication: To Morgan le Fay810 -- I'm sorry this fic is late, but I hope you enjoy it! And that you had lovely, fun birthday! -hugs-

Author's note: This fic takes place slightly after Duet, in season 2. I thought of this fic very early this morning, when I couldn't sleep because of a thunderstorm raging directly outside, and I got to thinking about a few things. I hope you enjoy this fic, and thank you for reading!



"What did you think of your first mission on the team?" Teyla Emmagan asked. She flicked a strand of hair out of her eyes, watching her companion for his next sparring move.

Ronon Dex thoughtfully spun his rod, then feinted toward her and backed off again. "Do you want the truth, or the nice version?" he asked.

Laughing, Teyla jumped in to whack him on the arm, then slipped away before he could counter-attack. "The truth."

"It was boring." For a moment Ronon was quiet as he and Teyla traded blows. After they'd mutually backed off to pace around each other, he spoke again. "I don't think it helps that I've been constantly on the move for the past seven years. It's – hard to slow down," he admitted hesitantly.

Teyla, not quite sure what to say to that, attacked once more. After once being caught off guard in a sparring match with this man, she'd vowed never to be so caught again. She kept her entire attention on their match, attacking and defending as they moved about the spacious area of the west pier. The day was beautiful, with warm temperatures nicely off-set by a cool breeze: too nice to be wasted sparring inside in the gym.

Ronon pinned her back against his chest with his rod resting gently across her throat; his opposite hand curled over hers on her rod, holding it to her waist. "Give?" he asked.

Teyla evaluated his question for a moment as she ran maneuvers through her mind. One bare foot thoughtfully lifted, finding his leg directly behind hers. Just as she started to hook her foot around his leg to sweep it out from under him, he twisted his hips and moved his leg out of her reach. She wobbled unsteadily, but Ronon held her securely up. Sighing, she held up her empty hand, palm up. "I concede."

Laughing – a very rare sound, indeed, one that surprised her slightly – Ronon let her go. She turned to face him. He was already moving away, though, toward where they'd left their gear on the steps leading back up into the city. Sitting down, he pulled two sweating water bottles out of his gear bag and motioned for her to come sit next to him.

She felt a smile curl her lips when she saw he was still grinning. It made him appear years younger: like he must have looked before his time as a Runner etched age lines across his forehead and stole his youth from his bright green eyes. Teyla sat down and gratefully took the proffered water bottle. "Thank you," she said.

Ronon shifted to lean his back against the railing, facing her as he drank from his own bottle. "Thanks for still being willing to spar with me."

Teyla wished she hadn't pulled her hair back into a ponytail, if for no other reason than so she could hide her face behind the veil it made. Ronon had an unnerving talent of making her feel slightly off her guard with him. Like she'd known him a lot longer than she really had – and like he knew her a lot better than she knew him. Ronon was an intense and guarded man – he observed everything going on around him without giving hardly anything about himself away. "You are welcome," she said. "Thank you for giving me a good workout." She smiled shyly.

Ronon shrugged. "You're not bad yourself." He leaned forward to tuck his empty bottle into his bag, eyes coming level with her bicep as he did so. "Hey!" he said suddenly. "How'd you get that?" He motioned to her arm.

Twisting it to see, Teyla noticed the faint scar showing pale on her arm. From a distance it wasn't noticeable, but from close-up, and just the right angle, the scar stood out clearly from her tan skin. "It is the scar left over from where Dr. Beckett put the tracking device in my arm," she said thoughtlessly.

Instantly, Ronon went stiff and still beside her. His eyes, still focused on her arm, took on an angry smolder. His hands curled into fists so tightly his knuckles went white, as he made a low, harsh, rumbling sound deep in his throat.

Teyla, momentarily confused by his reaction, quickly thought back over her words. Her face flushed, and she wanted to kick herself. How could I be so stupid? Immediately she reached out to place a light hand on his arm. The muscles beneath her fingers felt solid as a piece of iron, giving her the feeling she couldn't even imagine their strength. "Please relax!" she begged him. "It is not like that, Ronon! It is nothing like how the Wraith use them."

"How, then?" The hostile growl from between his teeth made a shudder run up her spine. She wondered what horrible memories she'd recalled in him with her unwitting words.

"It is in case of emergencies," Teyla explained softly. "The members of all the off-world teams have small devices in their arms emitting a signal that can be tracked by the Atlantians. So if anyone is captured, or otherwise in desperate danger, they can be beamed out of trouble by the Daedalus, or tracked by ajumper."

"I won't be captured," Ronon hissed. "I promise you. Never again."

Teyla kept her hand on his arm. "Ronon," she said urgently but without raising her voice. "Please believe me. I would not have allowed them to place the device in me if I did not trust them, if I believed their intentions were anything other than what they said."

Ronon pulled away, visibly putting distance between them. Gaze turned out toward the ocean, he rubbed his hands over his face. His jaw was tightly clenched, locked against any sound's escape.

Teyla pulled her legs up to her chest, resting her arms across them. Placing her chin on her crossed arms, she quietly watched Ronon as a myriad of expressions flitted across his face. Intensity – that was the first word she thought when she'd first seen him. He was an intense man, a person who had been through so much. She felt guilty for her off-handed reply, for making things worse for him. Why, oh why, hadn't she thought before she just popped out her answer? After his time as a Runner, she should have known he wouldn't react well to the mention of any sort of tracking device.

"You're right," Ronon said suddenly.

The words were so soft Teyla wasn't sure she'd heard them. She bit her lip to keep from saying more, patiently waiting for him to say something else at his own pace.

Ronon shifted so he faced her, gaze pinning her from across the stairwell. "I know you're right," he said. "Ever since coming to Atlantis – I can't find a fault with them. I know their intentions are to do good, to save this galaxy from the Wraith." Sighing, he rubbed his eyes. "But there's a deep, terrified part of me that refuses to accept – that doesn't want – that can't take this. I don't want another tracking device. I don't want to be a slave again, even though my mind knows it's not like that." He looked at her from beneath his lashes, surprisingly vulnerable in his pain.

Teyla swallowed hard. She hadn't been sure he'd ever loosen up, be open about the things that were bothering him. Somewhere in her subconscious, she'd always thought he'd quietly suffer through his pains and fears, refusing to disclose them to anyone. What had made her so trustworthy to his eyes? Was she worthy of his trust? She had to say the right things, to make up for her earlier words. To help make things better, not worse.

"You can – take your time, you know," she said softly. "They have already let you go out on a mission without one. The Atlantians are understanding people. I am sure—"

Ronon's jaw clenched. "I don't want them to make 'allowances' for me," he snapped. "I don't want charity." He threaded his fingers through his hair, looking like he was about to scream. "I want to be normal again!"

Quietly, slowly, Teyla shifted across the stairwell to sit next to Ronon. Very carefully, she reached out to wrap her arms around his shoulders. For a moment he sat stiff and unresponsive, his eyes looking at her with wild suspicion. Then he let out a long-suffering sigh, tilting his body to rest his head on her shoulder. He'd yielded to her touch, allowed her to comfort him.

Teyla softly hummed, trying to sound soothing. She carefully pulled one of his hands free of his hair so she could thread her fingers through his. They sat like that for a while as Ronon's breathing evened out, and his body slowly relaxed.

"I can do this," Ronon said eventually. "I won't let them win."

She stopped humming.

"If I refuse this, if I allow myself to continue to live in fear of things – I'll let the Wraith win. They will never win." Ronon's body stiffened again, but this time in resolve. "I am going to allow them to put that device in me. And I will not be afraid."

Teyla smiled. "I admire you, Ronon," she whispered. "In your place, I might not have the courage to do the same."

He relaxed again, shifting so he could awkwardly pat her shoulder with his free hand. "I think you could," he said. "I've got a lot to do – to be normal again."

Teyla squeezed his hand and briefly rested her head against his. "I will be here to help you, if you want."

Ronon smiled wryly. "It'll be a lot of work."

"You are worth it."

Silence. Then, "Thanks, Teyla."

"You are welcome." Teyla let him go when he pulled away. Perhaps it would take a while, but like she told him – he was worth it. She'd found someone she felt like she'd been looking for her entire life. She'd finally found her best friend – maybe more: But for now, at least her best friend.

And, a few weeks later as Ronon's new scar faded to join the rest he'd gleaned over his painful time as a Runner, Teyla knew he'd win his personal battle. For, somehow, she'd become his best friend, too.

-The End-