Ronon and Jen readied for bed in his quarters. He was disarming himself, which proved, as always, to be a time consuming endeavor. On many occasions she joined in, the search for hidden weaponry turning into something strangely erotic, but tonight she held her distance.

She watched him move around the room, returning each weapon to its particular place. Her mind was stuck on something she couldn't get past.

As he busied himself, she sat cross-legged on the bed, asking him the question on her mind for the last three days. She didn't have the right words, so she went with the ones she had.

"Do you hold back?"

Ronon didn't feel the weight of the question, not even looking to her. He thought back on his day and smiled as he answered, "I didn't stun McKay in the jumper today."

She couldn't help but chuckle, remembering the stories when he got back from a short mission this afternoon. She was determined, though, and continued her line of questioning, clarifying her intent.

"No. I mean with me. Do you hold back with me."

Ronon was careful to steady his face. Sheppard had warned him that Earth women had an overdeveloped need to discuss relationships. There was no hint of frustration when he looked at her and tried to explain.

"I don't talk that much about life, Jen, I just live it. It isn't that…"

He stopped talking, realizing she was shaking her head. She hadn't meant that either. Ronon was at a loss. He couldn't read her awkwardness.

"Physically." Her voice was soft, with a hint of embarrassment. She looked down and then back up as she expanded on her question. "When we're together, …physically. Do you hold back?"

The question caught him completely off guard. His first reaction was to smirk, a million quick-witted responses rolling through his mind. He wore a mischievous smile as he came to sit beside her on the bed, one leg on the ground, the other bent in front of him. His hand touched her face as he tried to move the evening in a different direction.

"Why, do you need more of me, little one?" That seductive tone had been enough to make her lose her train of thought more than once. But not tonight.

She gave a defeated sigh, Ronon still not getting her meaning. She took his hand in hers and held it between them, trying one more time to get to the point of her question.

"A couple of days ago. The village with the grain shortage and the mercenaries."

He nodded his head remembering the mission.

"When you came back, you didn't stay with me." It sounded like a statement, but the question was clearly implied.

Now Ronon understood her, but he was further from having words to explain then he was when he started. He had no phrases to convey the way he felt knowing the villagers had left that woman and her two children to die because they were afraid of strangers – a hungry and scared innocent and two helpless little girls on the side of the road for mercenaries to victimize. When they found the bodies, the torment to the young mother was so obvious.

And Ronon made sure the mercenaries paid in full.

His blood boiled just thinking about it.

And true to form, when he had those feelings of rage – of anger and helplessness – he pulled back from her touch.

"You're doing it now," she pointed out.

He shook his head as a reflex before he realized she was right. He purposefully placed his hand back in hers to reconnect, and tried to explain.

"Sometimes what we see – what I do - it fills me with … things I never want to touch you – us – this," he said his hand gesturing between them.

She placed her hand on the token of her will as it hung around his neck. For just a split second his breath hitched that he had disappointed her – that he didn't have the words to tell her he held back to protect her. His muscles tightened that his inability to articulate what he meant would somehow cost him her love.

But that couldn't have been further from Jen's mind.

"You tell me that this means that you're mine. If that's true, and I want it to be true, then you can't be afraid to let me be there for you."

"You deserve the best part of me."

"I want you. All of you. You don't have to be anything other than yourself."

He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. He had never met another like her, the generosity of spirit, the quiet strength. In some ways, though, she was just like him. Opposite but the same, if that made any sense. For him, there were pieces of himself that he tried to hide to be more what she deserved. For her, there were ways she stretched beyond her normal boundaries to be more of what she thought he wanted, needed.

It was the same, just different. He wanted her to see it.

"Do you push yourself?" Ronon stroked her hair as her head rested against his chest.

"Hmm?"

"Physically, with me. Do you push yourself?" There was no hint of the embarrassment that had accompanied her inquiry. He knew the point he was trying to make and had no problem driving to it.

"No." She sounded sure, but he knew better.

"Yes you do," he corrected her. "That night on the east pier in the rainstorm?"

He felt her face smile against his chest as she remembered, causing a smile to spread across his own. He continued his list.

"And that thing with the railing off that south balcony?"

"I didn't know I had that kind of balance." Her voice was husky and filled with pride.

He continued.

"The night with the three moons we took the jumper to the mainland?"

She actually chuckled out loud remembering that night. "That's … creativity. That isn't pushing myself."

And then it dawned on him. It was so Jennifer he had no idea how he'd missed it. Her doubt wasn't in him, or in them – it was in herself. He steadied her shoulders in front of him and looked her straight in the eye.

"You are everything I want, little one. You must see that by now."

"I want to be everything you need."

Ronon didn't respond, but his eyes told her what he needed at that moment. She moved towards him, climbing onto his lap. She straddled him, kissing him deeply as his arms came around her back and crushed her to him. When she came up for air, he lifted her off the bed, repositioning them. He laid her head softly on the pillow and traced kisses slowly down her body. Freeing her of the cute but in-the-way pajamas she wore, Ronon worshiped her up and down.

Patient. Attentive. Generous.

They had only been sharing her bed for a month – she had only been back from SGC for two, but he was certain there wouldn't be time, in this or any lifetime, to get enough of her.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

It was only a week later Ronon found himself walking her back to her door, his emotions not that different from the night she had asked about the week before.

He moved his hand past the sensor, opening the way, intent on placing her safely inside before he went to exercise his demons without her audience.

"Are you gonna…" She motioned inside her quarters with her head, the invitation of the unfinished sentence obvious.

He shook his head quickly. It was a short motion, his eyes never leaving hers, even when she looked away. He stepped backwards out the doorframe when she quickly looked back to him. She reached, placing her hand his chest.

"Stay."

The day replayed in his head. A crappy mission to a wet and cold planet where a small party of Wraith were hunting something.

Jennifer was nowhere near the danger. Safely tucked away in the village with SGA-2 while Sheppard's team had been investigating a report of Wraith at the gate – she kept healing the people she had been brought to help. Not deterred by the danger, completely focused in the commotion.

Jennifer had been on the planet, though, and even one Wraith making it to the village, to her, was unthinkable.

Not that Ronon needed a new reason to kill Wraith. The old ones were still more than enough.

But now there was Jennifer.

From a distance and by his hand, he watched the Wraith die, repaying each for the things their kind took from him he would never recover. For the danger they still posed to his future. The team never figured out what the Wraith goal had been – they were just happy the Wraith party had been small and seemingly alone. Sheppard's team killed eight Wraith that day, but it was more Ronon than the others.

They had been through medicals and the debrief, and his bearing hadn't changed. His breath was too even, his expression too blank. He was unsettled by this day, and while he could shake off danger that surrounded him, it was impossible when she was there to not feel it – the fear of loss that as a runner he never knew.

Her smile reminded him that he suddenly had something valuable they could take away from him again.

Which had brought him here, still wanting to protect despite the danger being passed.

To her door, where she had no idea what she was asking of him.

"Stay."

He shook his head again, desperate to leave. He wanted to run. To fight. To yell. Anything that might dissipate the intensity building inside him.

"Let me be what you need, Ronon."

It was just seconds after his name left her lips that his resolve broke.

Without a word, he walked across the threshold. Ronon covered her mouth with his as he lunged for her, crushing her lips. He continued to move in the same direction, pushing her entire body until it hit the wall behind them with a crash.

His large hand traced her jawline, the touch becoming a grip as his fingers tightened on the side of her face. He held her head against the wall as he continued the assault on her mouth

He was rough as he discarded their clothing, lifting her from the floor and entering her. Her legs came up and wrapped around his hips, and he again pushed her into the wall with his motion, thrusting into her body with more strength and depth then she could remember.

She moaned, an involuntary reaction to feeling him so completely inside of her. When she moaned the second time, he turned her head to the side and placed a finger over her mouth. He couldn't hear her now. He wouldn't survive the supple mew of her accepting body without it reminding him of her softness. He was in a dark place, and intent on pouring himself into her with power and authority.

He wrapped his arms around her body and moved them to the bed – his body on top of hers. He settled her with no gentleness and buried himself again. She kept her eyes closed, riding the sensations in silence.

She didn't know what she was expecting when she asked him to stay, but it wasn't this. Even positions they had been in, speeds they had rocked together, locations in the room they had already christened with their love, all of it felt new under the intensity of this joining. Not violent despite its power, not forceful despite its domination. Completely different. And intense.

And with a purpose that she didn't understand.

She would have given anything to have been able to read his mind at that moment – to hear the meaning of his unrelenting assail to every nerve in her body. But the message his body delivered through hers was not for her to hear.

It was a declaration to the Wraith that had destroyed his world and set him on a seven year journey of danger and solitude. Each stroke screamed that he had survived. Started over. Rebuilt a life for himself in every way that mattered and they had not beaten him.

It was a warning to the forces of luck, or the gods, or the ancients, or fate itself, that they Jen and Ronon were one – that their bodies and souls were joined, and that whatever twisted plan or pattern continued to lead this angel into harm's way would face nothing but opposition, violence and pain.

It was an assertion of possession. She belonged to him. Her struggles were now his. Her enemies were now his own. Her security was his divine responsibility, and no one or nothing would not go unchallenged if they attempted to bring her harm.

It was an affirmation to himself that she was alive, and safe, and here.

And his.

His hand grabbed one hip roughly, some well placed pressure explaining he wanted her to turn over. She followed his silent commands, settling on her hands and knees, pushing back to find him with her body. She aimed to prove he had not made a mistake in believing she was strong enough to share this moment.

He again found the slick path of her heat. Holding her hips firmly in place he increased the force of the strokes, the pressure of his hold on her. The relentless rhythm drove right through her senses, clouding her ability to feel anything but his body as it drove into hers. The feeling was total surrender, giving every fiber of her body over to his control.

And that was when the sensations began. The unmistakable coiling of tension, the tightening of her muscles, the heat and the shaking. Her last coherent thought was of trying to contain the sound she was sure would accompany her climax. She pulled the pillow from the head of the bed and curled it beneath her, burying her mouth to muffle what she knew she could not contain.

But he knew her body as well as she did. Releasing one hip from his grasp, Ronon traced a trail up her back. He found her long hair, and fisted his hand, pulling her up from the pillow she had just secured. The time for her silence was over.

"Scream it."

If Jennifer had needed any encouragement, the rasp of his command would have done it, but she was beyond the point where it was necessary. As her body went over the edge to release she cried out every wave of emotional and physical realization, her pleasure as total an experience as her soul had ever known.

Her neck now before him, he kissed it roughly, his beard scratching her sensitive skin. Her body was still shaking from release as his own rumbled through him, emanating possession and love.

As he lowered back to her original position, he pushed her hair off to the side and stared at the back of her neck.

For weeks now when he looked at it all he saw was the Mark of her Will so stark against the paleness of her creamy skin. But tonight, on her, in her, surrounding her – tonight when he looked at her neck all he saw was the bareness of the skin beside it. His eyes stared into the space until, in his mind, he could see the mark of his family on her – imagine a time when she wore his mark with as much pride as he wore her token.

He should have done it by now, marked her as his own, honoring her and her place in his life, but he hadn't. He had been determined to show patience – not to rush her when she had so recently been through so much – to better understand her culture before binding them to his. But all such reasons seamed meaningless in the face of this moment.

As surely as he claimed her body he was intent on claiming her life – binding it to his forever.

Ronon held her close against his chest, naked bodies entwined. Her words were sometimes unclear, her emotions sometimes hidden, but her body – he knew her body. The beat of her heart, the pace of her breath, the tension of her muscles – they were as clear to him as words – sometimes even more so.

And as she drifted to sleep in his arms he could feel her peace – even after seeing the darker side of his soul. She was carefree and relaxed, wholly given over to his embrace.

It was time for him to find out how a man asks a woman to marry him on Earth. He would bind them in the traditional ways of Sateda, mark her skin with the crest of his family and sanctify them, but she deserved some act to honor the customs she set aside to be his.

It was all about timing now. He had found a true and worthy mate.

And he wouldn't hold back anymore.