Jennifer was running. It felt good to run after such a long and hectic week. The feeling of the wind rushing against her skin, the sound of her feet pounding rhythmically on the ground, the burn of her lungs as they demanded air, were all a welcome distraction. She didn't have to think when she was running. There was no second guessing her actions, no endlessly mulling over words and thoughts long passed. There was only running.
She had run far today. Father than she usually ran, and certainly farther than she had intended. She just didn't seem to be able to stop. If she stopped running, the doubts that had been plaguing her all week would return in a rush. She was trying to outrun them. She had wandered into empty corridors and abandoned halls, into the part of the city that wasn't used, or even explored yet.
Jennifer slowed down to a stop, and leaned against a window frame. Outside the glass, the ocean sparkled invitingly in the light of the late afternoon sun. It looked heavenly. Suddenly, Jennifer was overwhelmed by the desire to plunge her hot and tired body into its depths and coolness, if only for a few moments.
She looked down the corridor. There were no doors to the outside. With a huff of annoyance, she followed the passageway, looking for a pier.
It was only a short jog around a corner to a set of wide double doors. Jennifer waved her hand over the door control and they slid smoothly open, allowing her a full view of the pier that they opened to. It was sun-baked, stretching out till it connected with the water and dropped off suddenly.
A sigh of relief escaped her lips as the cool breeze washed over her. She hurried to the edge, kicking off her shoes as she went. She peeled off her sweat-soaked socks and rolled up track pants, slipping her hot legs into the water.
Jennifer hummed with pleasure at the feeling of the icy water on her overheated limbs. She scooped up some of the water with her hands, and bathed her face and arms, pushing a few straggling hairs away from her forehead.
With a sigh, she closed her eyes and tilted her head back, feeling the warmth of the sun on her face. A smile flitted over her lips as she drank in the sun's rays.
A rumble of laugher from behind her startled Jennifer out of her musings.
Jennifer's eyes shot open, and she wrenched around just in time to see a large figure detach itself from the shadows by the door.
"Ronon! How long have you been there?" Jennifer asked, flustered.
"A while. I come here sometimes when I need to be by myself to think."
Jennifer scrambled to her feet.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know you were here. I'll go…" she looked around for her shoes.
Ronon held up a hand to stop her.
There was something about the tone in his voice that made Jennifer pause.
Ronon flung his tall frame down at the edge of the pier, dangling his feet in the water.
Jennifer sat down hesitantly beside him. Cautiously, she slipped her tired feet back into the water.
They sat in awkward silence. It seemed to stretch out in front of them, thick and palpable. Jennifer hated those kinds of silence. She always tried to fill them with inane chatter.
"How are you doing? I haven't seen you in ages. Well, maybe not ages. It feels like ages. You don't seem to have as many sparring injuries as you used to…" Jennifer trailed off. Ronon was looking at her with an eyebrow raised. Jennifer shifted uncomfortably. She really wished she had left when she had the chance.
She swung her legs in the water, splashing them to cover up the silence which once again descended. Her leg brushed Ronon's.
Jennifer froze. And electric shock shot through her, and her skin burned where his had touched it. Heat flooded her system and she felt a blush creep up the back of her neck. She jerked her leg away as if his had burned her.
Ronon turned to her, anger in the depths of his dark eyes.
"Why did you lie to me?" he asked.
"You said you were interested in someone else," his voice was low and gruff, as if he were purposefully suppressing the volume.
Jennifer repressed a shudder.
"I am interested in someone else," she lied unconvincingly.
"No, you're not." Ronon said, sure of himself now.
Jennifer felt her anger rising.
"Yes, I am!" she snapped.
Ronon suddenly jumped to his feet, and pulled her along with him, holding her to him tightly. Jennifer's pulse sped up even more.
"Look me in the face," Ronon said roughly. "Look me straight in the face and tell me that you're not interested in me."
He was so close, his lips only inches from her own. His proximity made Jennifer feel dizzy, and light headed. If only he would pull away from her, so that she could think clearly! She hazarded a glance at his face, and blushed at the intensity she saw there.
Jennifer looked away. She couldn't do it. Ronon's piercing gaze swept her face. Slowly, he let her go.
"Why did you lie to me, Jen?" he asked. His voice was gentle now. She could hear the hurt in it; the betrayal.
"I… I don't…."
"The truth this time," although his voice was quiet, Jennifer could hear the strength behind it. She couldn't lie to him again.
"I'm scared, ok?" she said, turning away.
"Scared?" Ronon asked. "Scared of what?"
"Of you. You scare me. You get too close, and that scares me to death."
"So you're running away?" Ronon asked. He sat back down on the edge of the pier, his feet back in the water. "I never figured you for a quitter."
"I don't know what else to do!" Jennifer said, sitting down beside him. "You come in with your guns blazing and you sweep me away along with you. And if I don't distance myself from that I'm going to get lost in it."
"You can't run away from people when they get too close, Jen," Ronon said, his eyes fixed on the distant horizon.
There was silence between them for a long moment.
"What else can I do?" Jennifer asked, quietly.
"You could have told me the truth," Ronon said. "I thought we were better friends then that. I thought I deserved that, at least."
Jennifer gave a humourless laugh.
"What was I supposed to say? That you, Ronon Dex, scare me silly?"
"Well, yeah," Ronon said.
Jennifer shook her head.
"And would you have left me alone, if I'd have done that?"
"No," Ronon said. "I would have made it so you weren't scared of me."
"That's why I had to do it the way I did," Jennifer said in a small voice. She was much less sure of her plan now than she had been when she implemented it. "Someone broke my heart, a long time ago. And I never want to let that happen again. So I don't let people get close. But you somehow got too close."
"You can't run forever, Jen," Ronon's answer was quiet, half to himself.
Jennifer kept her eyes on the water rippling around her legs.
"Yes I can."
"Jen," his voice was gentle, almost a caress. "Look at me." Jennifer had never heard that quality in his voice before. She couldn't refuse.
Slowly, she raised her eyes to his. His hands found hers, and somehow Jennifer couldn't bring herself to pull them away.
"I know that you're scared that I'm going to hurt you. I'm scared too. But we can't let that get in the way of what we could have. We can't let the past ruin our future."
Jennifer's breath hitched in her throat, and she felt tears well up in her eyes. Furiously, she blinked them back.
"I have – intentions – towards you, Jennifer," Ronon said, smiling to himself. "And I don't think I could give you up even if I tried. Whatever problems we have, we can solve them together. But don't shut me out."
"I don't want to get hurt again," Jennifer said, her voice wobbling, despite her best efforts to the contrary.
Ronon reached up, and gently stroked the side of her face with the back of his hand. Involuntarily, Jennifer's eyes fluttered closed.
"If I can promise you anything, it's that I won't hurt you," he said. "Not if I can do anything in my power to prevent it."
Jennifer nodded, her emotions getting the better of her.
"Are you willing to give me a chance? Give us a chance?"
His dark eyes seemed to melt her. Whatever resolve Jennifer had been clinging to was slowly melting like an iceberg in the sun.
"I'm scared," she whispered.
Ronon was leaning close to her now. So close she could feel his breath on her cheek.
"I'm scared too," he murmured. Slowly, giving her time to adjust to his nearness, he leaned in even further. It was just like that moment when they were stuck in medical bay under quarantine, only this time, there was nothing to interrupt them. His lips brushed hers in the softest of kisses.
He pulled back, searching her face, asking permission.
Jennifer gave it.
Ronon leaned in and captured her lips once again. This kiss was still gentle, still hesitant, but it became more confident.
Jennifer leaned her forehead against Ronon's.
"Now what?" she asked.
Ronon's chuckle rumbled in his chest.
"I don't know."
"Me neither," Jennifer said, smiling.
"I guess we try this out. No more running away, for either of us."
The reds and golds of the sunset were reflecting off the water. Jennifer admired them for a minute before she realized what the spectacular colours meant. She glanced at her watch and grimaced at the time it showed.
"I should go back," she said, regretfully. "I have work that needs to be done."
She started to get up.
"Stay," Ronon said, for the second time that day. He laid a hand on her arm to stop her.
Their eyes locked, and Jennifer's mouth curved into a smile. She settled herself back down beside him, lying her head on Ronon's broad shoulder. His hand found hers, interlacing their fingers.
Together they sat on the abandoned pier, and watched as the sun went down in a blaze of glory.
Author's Note: I haven't written a Ronon/Keller fic in a long time. Not since "Lost Tribe". It has taken me this long to come to terms with Jennifer's speech in that episode. I've felt as though my imagination was shocked out of working on any Ronon/Keller stories, and it's only just beginning to pull itself together.
Actually, that line made me really mad. Why would she so totally change her tune like that? Jennifer's not the kind of girl to flirt with a guy she's not interested in. It's just not in her character. She's not interested in McKay. She's given no indications that she's interested in McKay, at least not in the way she's indicated that she's interested in Ronon; she shown nothing by compassion and friendship for Rodney. So my theory is that she's just scared. Ronon scared her with his pushiness and his obvious interest, and she ran away. Because really, I can't see any other reason why she would suddenly act the way she did.
Ok, rant over.