Please see first chapter for disclaimer, rating, warnings, pairing, etc.

Part 7/?

-Chapter 6-

Grieving

Revenge. The yearning for it nudged at Ronon constantly, urging him to take action, to find the person who had taken Teyla from him and have his retribution. But there were other things to be done first, little as he liked the necessity of them.

The Athosians took the news – very badly. After what seemed much, much too long a time Ronon finally escaped, leaving behind the mournful wails and songs of his dead wife's grieving people. He couldn't take it; not when part of him wanted to join in, to throw everything else away for a while, and yield to grieving himself. But he couldn't, not yet. Not until he'd thrown the body of his wife's killer at the foot of her grave.

After leaving Athos for Sateda, he walked unseeingly through the spacious streets of the city. Knowing exactly where he was going, he looked neither left nor right; he had, in fact, been there a hundred times before. That fact made it harder for him to stay detached from the world; to live minute to minute and ignore everything around him; to stay focused on what had to be done.

Right now, that meant telling Solen Sincha and his wife of Teyla's death. Solen had been Ronon's best friend since they were young boys, growing up together. They were blood brothers, bonded together by true friendship, not just the pact they'd made while still children. They'd shared joyous times, such as being in each other's weddings; and darker times, killing many enemies as they served together in Sateda's army. Teyla and Solen had teased back and forth like brother and sister, keeping up a rapid fire pace that Ronon barely followed. He enjoyed listening to them banter, finding it a source of entertainment on many a night. Selena, Solen's wife, a placid woman, usually joined him in leaning back and enjoying her husband and Ronon's wife trade comebacks.

Never again. . .

A typically jolly fellow, Solen grinned widely when he found Ronon on his doorstep. "Selena, it's Ronon!" he called back over his shoulder into the house, before facing forward again. "Come in, come in! Teyla not with you?" Then his smile quickly faded as he took in the expression on his friend's face. "Ronon?"

"She's gone." It was all Ronon could find to say. No small talk, no pleasantries. Just the raw, bare truth, and almost more than he could manage. The scents of stew and freshly baked bread wafting through the open door nearly made him gag.

Solen's eyes widened, and his jaw dropped. "Teyla?" he asked in a hushed voice. Behind him Selena, who'd come bustling down the hallway to greet Ronon, stood frozen in shock.

Ronon nodded, once up, once down. "There – was an explosion, in the marketplace on Atlantis. She Saw it coming – her visions – they came back, briefly. She died to keep me from dying, like in her old visions. . ." He stopped. Grief stirred deep inside him, but he slammed the lid shut on it, focusing instead on his hatred to keep himself strong.

Stumbling past Ronon, Solen sat down hard on the top step of the porch, his face sheet white. "Oh Ancestors," he whispered. Selena stumbled to a chair just inside the entryway; collapsing onto it, she raised her apron to her face and began to weep.

Ronon leaned against the post, clenching his hands into fists to hide their shaking. "The funeral – is going to be on Atlantis. Tomorrow."

Solen ran his hand through his brown hair, then over his face, his eyes closed. "Ronon, I-I can't say anything. I can't understand – I can't say."

"I know." Ronon appreciated the effort. He knew his friends felt sympathy – which he didn't really want, but that was moot. "Thanks."

"We'll be there," Solen promised, pulling himself together with a visible effort. He glanced at his sobbing wife. "And – and you know that, if there's anything Selena or I can do, don't hesitate to ask."

Letting out his breath, Ronon furiously rubbed his eyes. He would not cry. Not now. Not yet. "I know. Thank you, Solen. You're – just thank you, brother."

Standing, Solen made as if to reach out to embrace him. Ronon thought he controlled his instinctive wince; but his friend abruptly stepped back and offered him a salute, his sharpest and crispest. "There is nowhere in this galaxy where the person who is responsible can hide," he said grimly. "I will do all I can to help you find him."

"Just promise to save him for me if you find him first." Ronon's fingers twitched, anxious to hold a weapon – more than that, to use his weapon.

Solen's lips twisted into a dangerous smile. "I will, my friend – but he might not be in perfect shape."

Ronon returned his friend's salute. "I don't expect him to be, brother."

-Atlantis-

On the cliffs above Atlantis's magnificent ocean, in full view of the Water City, Ronon stood with his hands in his pockets, long fingers clenched into fists. Narrow-eyed, he stared straight ahead, eyes avoiding the coffin sitting silently a few feet in front of him. Everyone who knew Teyla agreed this would be the best place to bury her, knowing how she'd loved Atlantis, and the wild freedom of the ocean.

To his right, Illydia kept flashing him looks from under her broad-brimmed black hat. Ronon ignored her, mentally all but removing himself from the proceedings. Despite his best efforts to block them, though, images flashed across his mind:

Their first meeting, in the dark of her tent on Athos, and later the long hours they'd spent nursing each other through fever within its confines. He'd so nearly blown everything – or so he'd thought. But, soulmates or not, maybe their love, their total commitment to each other and their purpose, would have somehow been less strong if not for those initial obstacles to trust and acceptance;

The first time he'd brought her to Atlantis. The freshness of Teyla's wonder and amazement had made him feel like he was seeing it all for the first time, too. Pain twisted through his gut. There'd been an assassination attempt during that visit, but they'd survived it. As they'd survived all the dangers inherent in discovering and fulfilling their destiny.

Anger burned along his veins with his heartbeat, throbbing in his temples and his tightly clenched muscles. He struggled with the urge to throw back his head and howl out his pain, his bewildered grief. We were supposed to be living our happily-ever-after! Different images flooded past the barricades he'd built to hold them back: Teyla's eyes, the way they sparkled even when she didn't laugh aloud, and the way they gleamed with a darker fire as he carried her to their bedroom. The subtly spicy scent of her hair and skin, the sweetly rounded warmth and strength of her in his arms, the lilting huskiness of her voice whenever she said, "I love you, Ronon Dex." All gone now, forever. . .

The Athosian elder presiding over the funeral stepped back, head bowed. The motion, noted automatically from the corner of his eye, distracted him from his inward agony. Inhaling deeply through his nose, he focused on holding the breath – and with it, the searing agony – inside, while resuming his mindless stare towards the horizon.

One by one, people began to drift off. Only a few stayed: Illydia and Carson; Solen and Selena; Elizabeth and John; Rodney; even Detective Lorne – the closest of his friends. He felt them watching him silently, perhaps waiting for some sign from him, before they turned their attention to the casket.

"It is not right," Illydia whispered, her voice a harsh rasp breaking the silence.

Ronon barely blinked. "Nothing will be right again."

The Athosian priest sent them a long look, gauging their expressions. Ronon's made him silently turn and follow the others who had left.

Illydia's small, slender hands clenched into fists. "No." Before anyone could guess her intent, she strode forward to the casket and undid the heavy metal latches, throwing open the lid. Ronon's roar of outrage broke off in a strangled gasp.

Horrified, Carson and John jerked forward as one to restrain her. "Illydia!" her husband cried. "What are y'doin'?"

"Proving a point!" Turning back to Ronon, Illydia pointed at Teyla. The high neck of her dress hid the damage to her throat and neck from flying debris, just as long sleeves and opaque gloves concealed the slices across her hands and wrists.

Ronon blanched at the sight of her. He'd tried to keep from seeing her like this in his mind. He stumbled back a step. He wanted to remember her as she'd been in life, not like this: cold, still, dead.

"What are you doing?" John growled from between his teeth, without seeming to realize he'd repeated Carson. Elizabeth, Solen, and Selena had all moved unconsciously closer to Ronon, fresh tears welling into the women's eyes.

Illydia defiantly glared at them all, one against eight. "No matter how well Carson's cure worked, I am still part Wraith inside," she said fiercely. "One of Teyla's gifts was the ability to sense the Wraith. She and I could tell when the other was around, though neither of us understood it at first. I was not sure before, because I wasn't that close to her – but this woman is not Teyla! I cannot sense her at all!" She looked at them all with impassioned eyes, begging them to believe her.

"She's dead," Ronon said lifelessly. He refused to let hope sink in with her words, to think that maybe – somehow, against all odds – Teyla really was alive. He couldn't bear to think of the additional suffering disappointment would cause him.

"He's right," Carson said. "It's logical that such sensin' would apply only if both of you were alive?" He made it sound more like a question than a statement.

Illydia hissed. While not as impressive a sound as when she'd been a Wraith, it still sent a shiver down Ronon's spine. "It is in her life code, my husband. That does not change when someone dies! This woman has never had the ability to sense the Wraith in her life! I do not know who she is, but she is not Teyla Dex! She is an imposter!"

-To Be Continued-

Bunnylass: Oh, thank you! I must admit, though, the last was a very hard chapter to write. I hated putting Ronon through that, all the grief and pain. . . That part, however, I did enjoy. Though Ronon didn't necessarily trust Illydia at first, he knows he has a good, trustworthy friend in her. And he's going to be enlisting some more help in this chapter. Thank you so very much for the review, and I hope you enjoy this chapter!

bailey1ak: Thank you! Yes, Ronon's warrior side is definitely starting to show once more. Though he will have quite a few friends to help him out in his quest – and to help him keep his perspective, when needed. Thank you so much for the review, and I hope you enjoy this chapter!

SpaceMonkey0941: I know! Returning to Dark!Ronon has been quite a refreshing experience – and I promise a lot more of him in the future! Though the last chapter was a little hard to write, considering the depth of Ronon's grief. But this one. . . Well, I think you'll see what I mean. LOL I also think the end of this chapter might help a little on your hypothesis – I look forward to hearing if it does or not! Thank you so much for the review, and I hope you enjoy this chapter! -hugs-

TubaPrincess: I promise, this chapter will shed some light on Teyla's vision, and why the last one didn't come true. It might also help to answer a few other questions. . . Actually, the prologue was a look at the future, and then I went back and picked up time a little before that, then carried it up through and past the "incident." Thank you so much for the review, and I really hope this chapter doesn't disappoint!