A/n: Thank you to the usual people for their help with this chapter. And thank you to all those who added, favorited and reviewed previous chapters.
Chapter 5- What's a Rodney?
Millions of thoughts ran through Jennifer's head as she realized the life she had just saved was Rodney's. Now was the time to ignore the side of her that wanted to take the man she loved into her arms because she needed to get his breathing regulated. The wheezing was improving as it slowly returned to normal breathing, but it frightened her that his lips had a blue twinge to them. "Ronon, can you give me the oxygen?"
Ronon was shocked to see McKay in the bed and he was going to be damned if they were going to lose him now. He bought the pack that had the small tank to the physician and helped her unpack it. It took another thirty seconds before Rodney was receiving oxygen from the tank.
"What happened to him? Is he going to be okay?" Hedda was shaking because she had almost killed the man.
Jennifer refused to take her eyes of Rodney as she stroked the side of his face, praying that he would open his eyes. The color was slowly coming back to his face, but his eyes had yet to open. "What did you feed him?" the anger was very apparent.
The natives were taken aback by the Jennifer's anger, finding it out of place. Hedda was distressed by the way the stranger was touching the Exalted One's face. "He doesn't like it when I do that."
Jennifer ignored Hedda's comment and repeated, "What did you feed him?"
"Why does it matter? I did not try to poison him." The young woman was offended by the suggestion. "I gave him what is in the bowl," Hedda pointed to the bowl next to the bed that contained rice like food with some meat.
The annoyed doctor rolled her eyes, "For someone with food allergies like Rodney's it could be a matter of life or death," Jennifer reached for the bowl and did not smell citrus at first whiff but a small taste of the chicken like meat revealed a distinct lemon-like taste.
"Lemon?" Ronon asked and Jennifer's nod confirmed it.
"What's a Rodney?" Johas asked confused.
"Not a what. A who," Ronon pointed to his teammate. "What is he to you? You said he was one of your people." It was a roundabout way to ask how Rodney came to them without accusing them of kidnapping.
"He is our Exalted One. Someone our ancient texts foretold that will be a gift bestowed upon us and whose coming will herald a great age for our people." The old man was not comfortable that these people were not treating their precious one with the reverence he should be.
Jennifer only half heard the words being spoken around her as she was more concerned about Rodney being unconscious. "We need to get him back to Atlantis," she turned toward Ronon and then quickly her attention was back upon her other half when she felt his hand slip into hers. The relief was only short lived when she saw Rodney was still mostly unconscious.
"Who are you to take him from us?" Hedda wanted to pull the healer away from her future husband. Whenever she tried to get close, he recoiled in disgust.
"We are taking him home," Jennifer was livid. "He needs medical attention. More than I can give him here." She had begun to suspect the warm feeling of Rodney's face was caused by a low grade fever.
"Home?" Johas asked. "This is his home now. We are here to speak for the one who cannot speak. I will be his voice until he can speak for himself again."
"Just because he cannot speak does not mean he doesn't think on his own," Ronon wanted to knock some sense into these people. He was not sure how Rodney came to these people or why he hadn't tried to come home even if he could not talk. The warrior would do whatever was necessary to protect his friend from these fanatics.
"And you know what is best for him? We do not know you. Why should we believe that you are not here to take him away from us?" Johas looked at Jennifer who did not look like she was doing much healing. "I think it is best you leave now. Our savior will heal on his own. We should never have let outsiders try to heal a person of great importance as you now want him for yourself."
Jennifer snapped her head around quickly. "I'm not going anywhere. You almost killed Rodney today," there was great contempt for Hedda at the moment. "He is allergic to the food you tried to feed him. If I hadn't been nearby he would have died for sure." That thought was almost too much for her to think about. Now her attention was on Johas, "Yes, I know what is best for him; as a doctor and as the one person who knows him better than he knows himself." It was time to talk to Saribell. "On the way here you asked about the ring I wear."
Saribell nodded as she recalled the conversation, keeping out of the important matter until she was bought in. "You said it was given to you by the man you are to marry."
"And Rodney is that man. There was an accident about a week ago not to far from the other village. I never gave up hope that he was alive and now that he is here I'll be damned if I'm going to give up now with how ever you brainwashed him into staying."
"Those allegations are ludicrous. How dare you. He has been free to leave at any time and he has chosen not to." Johas was offended by Jennifer's words. "We no longer require your assistance. I want you to leave or else we will make you leave by whatever force necessary. You have desecrated holy ground."
"Like hell we are," Jen and Ronon spoke at the same time.
Jennifer took over as Ronon called John on the radio for assistance, leaving out the reason but emphasizing the need for it to be now. "I'm not leaving until I hear it from Rodney that he wants me gone." Her voice faltered slightly at the idea that Rodney wanted to stay because these people revered him so much. She then launched into a long winded rant about Rodney's health being in danger and that there was no way he would stay here willingly.
"Jennifer..." Ronon interrupted several minutes into the rant.
"What?" she snapped, angry at being interrupted. Clearly, she had picked up some of Rodney's less desirable habits.
"Rodney's awake," Ronon pointed where the man was sitting up and removing his oxygen mask. He saw the look of relief on the Canadian's face at seeing familiar faces.
The last thing Rodney remembered was struggling to breathe after being given the first bite of a chicken and rice dish and the first thing he heard was Jennifer going off on some one. A scathing rant that made him proud. "Home," he tried to say but no sound came out, but there was a wide smile on his face that said that's my girl.
Jennifer quickly turned around and was glad to see those wonderful blue eyes looking back at her and that grin...oh that grin that erased any anger in a second. "What do you mean took us long enough?" She was easily able to read what his expression was saying. "We looked for you. We had no idea this village was here until today." She sat down and placed her hand on Rodney's leg and rubbed.
Big mistake. Pain shot up his leg and Rodney grabbed Jennifer's wrist and pulled it off his leg.
"What is it?" The fear that he wanted her gone showed.
Rodney pulled back the sheet just enough to show his leg which was still swollen and discolored. He was not about to give a free show and show he was naked under the sheet.
The state of Rodney's leg relieved and worried her at the same time. It bought relief because even though the crazies said he was free to leave there was no way Rodney could walk on that leg and worried that the leg went untreated for so long and there was no way to tell how serious a break it was and how it would heal. "Sorry."
Rodney finally caught a glimpse of Jennifer's other hand and that she wore the ring he bought. He firmly took her hand in his and looked between the ring and her eyes.
The natives of the planet moved in to separate the two and remove Jennifer from the room, but they were intercepted by Ronon who stood protectively between the couple and those who wanted them separated.
"Did you really think I would have said no?" Jennifer moved closer and touched Rodney's cheek.
Rodney could only respond with a sheepish smile and a nod as he leaned his face against Jennifer's hand.
Ronon knew Jennifer and Rodney needed some privacy and was sure Johas would not give it to them. "They need a few moments alone."
Hedda was seething as she watched Rodney give Jennifer the looks she had hoped to see from him some day. To make matters worse the other woman was saying she was going to marry the man she was supposed to and Rodney was acting as if he wanted to be with this other woman. It confused and hurt a great deal that her one chance was being pulled out from under her. Hedda had a couple suitors in the past that had been interested in her, but she saved herself for a chance like this. A chance that was about through her fingers unless she did something. "What makes her so special? Has she cared for you when you were ill?" A nod was not the expected response, but it was the one he received. Strike one! "Do you not wish your bride to only have laid in your bed on your wedding night?"
Rodney shook his head in the negative. It did not matter to him that Jennifer would not be a virgin on their wedding night. He respected those who waited and it was certainly nobody's business besides his and Jennifer that she lost her virginity to him after almost two months of dating a little over a year ago.
Strike two for Hedda. She had no idea what to do before her chance would be forever lost. "What does she have that that I don't? And what can I do to make you stay with me?" The desperation reeked with every word.
"My heart," Rodney mouthed as he put his hand over his heart. The heart was not something you chose to give away. When you find the right person it just leaps away to them.
Hedda looked completely defeated and turned to Johas for help, "You promised."
Johas knew once the heart made up its mind that the mind would be difficult to convince otherwise. He had been so wrapped up in the prophecy coming true that he did not stop to think that he came from someplace and had others that missed him. At first he thought the strangers were here to take their Exalted One away from them, but it now was clear he was one of them. They had no right to keep him away from the life he had before. A life he clearly was not ready to give up. "Come, Hedda, Saribell. They need their privacy."
Saribell readily agreed with her husband, but Hedda looked fit to be tied.
Ronon started for the door but stopped just short of exiting, "I'm glad you are okay, McKay. She's the only one who did not fully give up on you." He was relieved that Rodney was alive, but upset with himself that they did not know of this village sooner or else they would have looked for Rodney. He should never have given up hope. The door was shut tightly so the couple could have the privacy they needed concerning Jennifer putting on the ring Rodney had bought her.
Rodney looked puzzled at Jennifer, unsure of why everyone had thought he was dead. With his drifting in and out of consciousness he thought only a day or two passed since the explosion.
"Don't look at me like that," Jennifer dried the rest of her unshed tears. "You were missing for a week. The first few days we thought for sure we were going to find you. Then as the days passed..." She shook her head, refusing to let herself go down that dark path. Rodney was alive and sitting in front of her and that's all that mattered. "We didn't know this village was here. It didn't show up on jumper flyovers. Radek said there was some kind of interference with the life signs detector." The emotional woman's voice cracked when Rodney reached out and touched her face. "I'm sorry I yelled at you the last time I saw you. How could you really think I would have said no to you? You are the only one I want to spend the rest of my life with. The one I want to grow old with. The one I want to have a family with. I could never say no to marrying you."
The temporarily mute man could only smile and reached out for Jennifer's hand and removed the ring. It was not difficult remove and he had it off before Jennifer had time to react.
"What are you doing? Put that back," Jennifer had no clue what Rodney was up to.
Rodney made typing motion with his fingers, hoping that there was a tablet somewhere in the pack on the floor.
"You need a tablet?" Jennifer reached for the bag after the nod. Of course Rodney needed it if he wanted to talk. They knew each other well enough to carry on a conversation without saying a word, but even that was limited. "Here." The small device was handed over. Her heart was beating a million times a minute and her stomach was in knots with worry that Rodney would not return the ring to her.
The tablet was greedily clutched close so Jennifer could not read what he was typing despite her attempts to sneak a peek. Ten minutes later Rodney was done and he flipped the tablet over so it could be read.
I know this is a bit unconventional. I should have done this right the first time, but I was scared that you would say no. I can see now that was stupid, but I know I'm not the easiest person to get along with. Yet you still found it in your heart to love me. For that I know I'm very lucky. No one has ever made me feel the way you do. You let me be myself and don't try to change me into something you think I should be. I love you so much, Jennifer. I don't have to look any further than what it is in front of me to know I've found my missing piece. I want to be with you until the day I die. Will you marry me?
Jennifer's eyes well up as she read the typed missive. There was no need for a verbal response as she nodded and cupped Rodney's face with her hands. The final piece fell into place as their lips met as if it were the first time.
The kiss seemed like it lasted an eternity and like no time at all. Jennifer had to pinch herself as Rodney slid the ring back onto her finger. Now it felt right on its new home.
Neither had time to fully catch their breaths as their lips were upon on another again, almost devouring each other with the hunger of separation and celebration.
The door swung open and the lovers pulled apart, glaring at the new intruder.