Ronon strode into the gate room, nodding at the Colonel, who stood in front of the silent ring.
"Didn't think you were gonna make it." John smirked.
Ronon scowled. "Me either."
"Sorry, Chewy." John nodded knowingly, and glanced up at Woolsey's office, barely visible from the corner of the main floor. "If I had my way…"
Ronon snorted, knowing damn well Sheppard hated negotiations almost as much as he did.
Teyla and Rodney entered from the back of the room, quietly arguing over just why Rodney was expected to accompany them on a trade negotiation.
"It's an aquifer." Rodney whined. "Hell, even Zelenka could fix it in his sleep."
"Rodney," Teyla smiled patiently. "You volunteered."
"I was being sarcastic!" Rodney exclaimed.
"Well apparently Mr. Woolsey did not see the sarcasm." Teyla suggested.
Rodney harumphed and stopped next to John and Ronon.
Teyla looked at the trio of men, and the accompanying scowls. "Must you all look so…"
"Grumpy?" John suggested, raising an eyebrow.
"Irritable?" Rodney added.
Ronon just glared.
Teyla rolled her eyes. "The Lorians are a wonderfully friendly people, and this trade agreement is very important to Mr. Woolsey."
John snorted. "Only because they make a damn fine red wine."
"Actually, they do." Rodney agreed, earning him a sharp glare. "What?" The scientist scowled. "Well, they do!"
"I'm quite sure we will have no trouble negotiating a quick settlement." Teyla continued.
"That's what you said last time." John reminded her. "Right before the Sorcerer over there got us all arrested for witchcraft."
"Oh come on!" Rodney muttered. "That was so not my fault…"
Ronon stepped away as the argument persisted, catching a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye. Jennifer walked into the gate room and hesitated, her gaze immediately picking out his. Dressed in her uniform, her hair pulled hurriedly back into a ponytail, she stopped beneath the overhang and waited for him.
Ronon continued towards her, wondering why she wasn't coming forward. In her left hand she held a swatch of white material, her arm hanging stiffly at her side. As he closed the distance, she shifted her weight nervously, glancing over his shoulder at the others. He quickly followed her gaze, and seeing them still arguing, dismissed them.
"You find it?" He stopped in front of her, his brow furrowing at the odd expression on her face. His gaze dropped to her hand but she didn't lift it.
"I… what? Yes… I… um… yeah." She nodded quickly, her bottom lip disappearing between her teeth.
Ronon stared down at her, his hand landing against her upper arm. "What's wrong?"
"What?" Her eyes snapped up to his. "No… nothing… not…"
"Jennifer." He pleaded. "Something is wrong."
"Oh hell." She exhaled, her eyes wide as she stared up at him.
Ronon could see the pulse hammering at the base of her throat and his chest tightened with worry. "Are you sick? Do you need to go lay down? Want me to call Marie?"
"What?" She squeaked, jumping slightly. "No!" She inhaled sharply and took a step back, snapping her right hand up. "I just… wanted to… Needed to… give you this. Before you go."
Ronon stared down in confusion at the handful of material clutched behind her fingers. She wanted him to take the cloth? Where was his knife? When he lifted his hand to take it, she didn't open her fingers. He glanced up and felt the worry growing to see that she'd turned slightly pale.
"Open it first." She ordered, her voice wavering.
Ronon frowned but pulled the delicate material back, wondering why she'd wrapped it in something so lacy. It was just a knife. As he moved the cloth, he could see the edge of the blade appearing beneath, but the one he'd lost was brown… why was this one so shiny? Something pulled at the edges of his mind but he stuffed it down, worry at her incredibly odd behavior jumping to the forefront.
When he finally pulled the last piece of soft cloth away he inhaled sharply, the memories surfacing with a snap.
The four inch knife that lay in the folds of the cloth was silver in it's entirety. Intricately carved, delicate etchings traced up along the shining flat blade. The hilt was heavy and thick with carvings, the tip of which appeared to be the head of a wolf.
He glanced up, his hand hovering in the air above the gift she presented him.
Jennifer's eyes were wide, filled with worry and hesitation while she stared up at him, her body stiff with nervous energy. Her pulse slammed against the base of her throat, her lungs barely moving.
"Ronon! You comin' or what?" John called.
Ronon ignored him.
His eyes dropped back to the blade she held in her stiffly outstretched arm. A gift of silver. A gift of life. Wrapped in something that could only be hers. The beat of his own heart skipped into a higher mode with the realization of what she was doing.
Somehow… some way… she knew.
She was finishing his promise.
Her arm wavered and he slipped his left hand beneath hers, holding it steady. He didn't touch the knife with his right hand… not yet. Not until he was sure she understood.
"You know?" He managed to ask.
She nodded, the barest of movements as she stared up at him wide eyed. "Revel told me everything. It has to be silver that's mine to give. Wrapped in a mother's cloth, given with a father's blessing, and.. um… it has to be done with permission of the elder." She whispered, quietly listing the traditional elements needed to complete the promise. "The veil was my grandmothers, and then my mother's. It's part of their w-" She swallowed and continued quickly. "Part of a dress they handed down. To me. And the um.. the knife… It's… it's made from my silver. Melted down and um… re-forged."
Ronon angled his head, hesitation hanging in the air between them. She'd learned everything… but did she truly understand what she was promising?
He saw the flash of fear and uncertanty in her eyes and closed his left hand over her wrist, keeping her from fleeing. Revel was Satedan. Revel had given her the instructions. Jen offered him silver, but didn't touch it herself. It was still in the cloth, not in her own hand. By tradition there were two ways she could have proceeded. Take the knife from the cloth and place it in directly in his hand and the deal was done. She'd already had his pledge whether she knew it or not. Placing the knife in his palm would accept his promise with no exception. But to leave the knife in the cloth and offer it up made it his choice, not hers. A choice he could refuse, should he so choose.
And if Revel told her everything…
Tightness clutched his abdomen as he slowly moved his left hand, gently tipping her right hand over until the folds of material fell away under the pull of gravity, revealing the back of her hand, and his ring, which now adorned her left thumb.
She'd had it resized.
Resized to fit her finger.
She'd taken ownership of the ring.
She'd taken ownership of him.
She truly knew.
She knew what he'd promised her. That he'd given it all and expected nothing in return. Yet here she was… standing in front of him… offering him everything. She'd accepted his pledge, and offered her own.
And the damn fool woman was still worried enough to give him an out.
She knew that all he had to do was cover it back up and the bargain was void. He could walk away. Take his ring back and set himself free. Set her free.
His right arm twitched, but remained frozen in the air.
"I'm sorry." She whispered, panic stumbling her speech as she stared down at the knife. "I shouldn't have… I just thought… I…"
"Jennifer." He swallowed hard, his voice commanding her to look up.
She obeyed his order, hazel eyes heavy with worry, her heart lying raw and exposed to his intense gaze.
He lowered his right hand, and slid his left back, clasping both the knife, and her fingers, between his. She jumped at his touch, but didn't pull away. He slid his thumb across hers, rubbing the heavy set ring. It looked too big for her delicate hands… it looked chunky and awkward… it looked… perfect.
"Ronon?" She whispered, her free hand landing tentatively across the top of his as he slowly closed his fingers around the exquisitely carved knife.
"There's no going back." He said quietly.
She shook her head slowly, hope springing into her eyes. "I don't want to go back."
Sliver. Cloth. Blessing. Elder.
She'd completed what she could, to his traditions and culture, and not her own. With that knowledge, and the strength of her words warming his heart, he took a deep breath, and lifted the knife off the cloth, separating it from her hand.
Jennifer inhaled sharply, her eyes jumping from his face, to his hand, then back again.
He rocked the knife against his palm, the perfectly balanced blade a testament of a true craftsman. It matched the dimensions of the blade he'd misplaced – the one she'd obviously hidden on him as part of her ruse. Her hilt was heavier, carved with symbols and ending with the fanged head and open snout of a growling wolf. Meant to be a showpiece – yet fully functional should it need to be used. There was definitely quite a story here… a story that might take time to tell… if her three weeks of nervousness had anything to say about it.
He smiled slowly and slipped the blade behind his back, sliding it into the sheath behind his belt. He leaned down, lowering his head until his mouth hovered just above hers.
"I love you, Ronon Dex." She whispered, her fingers pressing lightly against the front of his shirt.
"And I you, Jennifer Keller." He answered, kissing her softly.
"Hellooooo! If you two are done over there…" John called, and Ronon smiled against her mouth.
"I should go…" He sighed, debating on whether or not shooting Sheppard would get him out of the mission.
"Wait." Jen commanded softly when he moved to turn. She dug into her pocket and handed him a small note card.
Ronon accepted the heavy paper with a curious frown.
"A father's blessing." She whispered, her eyes warm and hopeful.
His smile faltered. He hesitated only a moment before flipping open the fold and reading the brief message.
Love her. Respect her. Protect her. She's my baby girl.
Hurt her, and I'll bury you alive.
Ronon couldn't help but laugh. A worthy blessing if he'd ever heard one.
"I think I'm going to like your father." He grinned. "You sure he's not Satedan?"
Jen laughed, her fingers cool against the side of his arm. "I think he's going to like you, too. And no. But he is from Wisconsin."
Ronon kissed her again, earning him a chorus of groans from the floor of the gate room behind him. He stepped back, unable to wipe the grin off his face. He knew he probably looked like a complete idiot but to hell with it.
At this point, he didn't care who saw.
He backed towards the others, unable to take his eyes off the flushed face of grinning woman who still stood in the shadows, a lacy piece of white cloth dangling from her fingertips. He stopped when he reached Sheppard's side. The Colonel gave him a knowing smirk before turning to Chuck up on control level and circling his index finger in the air.
"Ronon?" Jen called out, and he looked back towards her as the gate began it's dialing sequence.
"The city Elder." Jen pointed to a spot above his head.
Ronon turned, and glanced up into the masked face of Richard Woolsey, who was leaning on the railing outside his office, overlooking the gate room floor. Richard angled his head slightly, giving him a respectful nod.
Ronon turned quickly towards Jen, who shrugged and grinned widely. In two quick strides he had her up in his arms, spinning her in a tight circle while she laughed, her arms clutched tightly around his neck. He set her down with a hard kiss.
"Two days." He growled.
"Better be." She said firmly. "Or I'll drag your ass back here myself."
"Of that, I have no doubt, little one." Ronon laughed, then spun and ran up to the others. Teyla and Rodney glanced up to make sure he was following before crossing the event horizon.
"So, Chewey…" John raised both eyebrows and eyed Ronon with a smirk. "Wanna tell me what that was all about?"
Ronon grinned and clamped John on the shoulder as he passed, heading towards the liquid blue ring. "I just got married." He announced, then disappeared through the gate.
"WHAT?!" John's shouted exclamation echoed through the gate room. "Now? Here?! Ronon? Ronon! Get back here!" He shouted, his head spinning around to take in the laughing woman standing in teh shadows at the back of the room. John spun back around with a curse and ran at the event horizon after the disappearing Satedan. "God damn it! Ronon you can't just-"
The rest of the cursed sentence was cut off as the gate closed behind them, leaving only the sound of Jennifer's happy laughter, and the squeal of glee from the redhead who ran out of the shadows and nearly tackled her.
"Congrat's, J!" Laura giggled.
Jen grinned at her best friend, and waved a thank you up to Richard Woolsey, who shook his head with a good natured smile and a roll of his eyes, before disappearing into his office.
"Come on…" Laura urged, pulling Jen away from the gate room and into the hallway. "We've got a honeymoon to plan."
Well thank you kindly for coming along on this (rather drawn out) tale! :P It took us a while to get there... but we made it! :P - Nika