A/N: A one-shot that is loosely a follow-up for the episode Quarantine. It was inspired by a prompt. I'll list the prompt in the author's notes at the end of the short story. The story has not been beta'd, but hopefully there aren't any glaring mistakes that I missed after all of the edits I did do.
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Stargate Atlantis or its wonderful characters.
Spoilers: Through Season 4 episode Quarantine
Dr. Jennifer Keller sighed as she rounded the doorway into the mess hall. Eating could be such a pesky thing. Putting it off only made things worse and more troublesome, but she'd found that this fact didn't keep her from skipping meals or saving them till more convenient times, constantly.
Of course now that she'd left the infirmary for the evening she just wanted to get to her room, shower and go to bed. Or maybe even just go to bed and bother with the shower later. If it weren't for that darn skipping meals thing, that is what she'd be doing right now. Instead she was headed into the mess hall to retrieve a sandwich that she'd asked one of the kitchen staff to set aside for her.
It'd become such a habit for her to postpone meals that the kitchen staff hadn't even hesitated when she'd called down a few hours ago.
As Jenn crossed the threshold she heard voices and cringed as she looked across what she'd hoped would be an empty mess hall. Sitting up against the windows on the far side of the room was Colonel Sheppard and Ronon Dex. She couldn't even hope that they hadn't noticed her since she found them looking right back at her.
"Late evening, Doc?" John called out to her.
"Yeah, time got away from me." Which was almost the truth, she thought as she quickly slid around one of the counters and moved into the bowels of the kitchen. Due to the countless trips she'd made in the past, her steps were sure as she walked up to and opened the refrigerator.
She smirked slightly as she saw not only a wrapped sandwich with the word 'Keller' scrawled across it in black marker, but two others were sitting next to it. One with the word 'Carter' marked on it, the other said 'Collins', who Jennifer thought worked in engineering.
Jenn hesitated for a moment while she considered taking Sam's belated dinner to her. Eating dinner with Sam in her office would be kind of fun, and a nice way to unwind, but on the other hand it was getting kind of late. If the woman hadn't found time to make it down here yet, Jennifer didn't want to bother her and cause her to have to work any later than she already was.
The doctor reached in and snagged her own sandwich instead. As she made her way back out of the kitchen she slowed her steps, hoping to detect whether Ronon and Sheppard were still in the mess hall, but with the hum of the refrigerator and probably a freezer or two, it was impossible to hear anything.
She signed in resignation, it'd been a few weeks since the moment that'd become known as the 'infamous almost-kiss', at least that is what she was calling it in her head. She and Ronon had had this moment when they'd been trapped in the infirmary during the city-wide lockdown and they'd very nearly kissed. It was this one magical moment when she'd felt like they'd been so in sync, sharing intimate details of their lives with each other. She'd literally never heard Ronon speak so much in one sitting. It was one of those perfect times when you could almost forget that the rest of the world, or in her case the rest of the expedition, even existed.
The pinnacle of those precious and perfect few hours, had been a moment when she'd looked into Ronon's eyes, totally caught up in them and felt an inexplicable pull. She'd noticed his face begin to blur as he'd angled his head in toward her's and she'd felt herself reciprocating with her head tilting in toward his.
Although they'd been interrupted and freed from the locked infirmary, the rest of the night she'd continued to feel a link between them. When she'd made it to dinner later that night he'd saved her a seat and even walked her back to the infirmary when she'd finished.
The next morning however, it seemed the spell had been broken. She knew for herself it was nerves. Did she assume that things would be the same today as they were last night? Would he save her a seat to ensure she ate with him? Would he want to kiss her?
Of course her self confidence began to wane the more time that passed. She didn't catch a glimpse of him until dinner time in the mess hall and by then all the doubts that'd been niggling her during the day came flooding back in that one moment. Instead of proceeding to the table Ronon sat at with his team and pulling a chair from a nearby table up to theirs and joining them, she'd chickened out. She'd struck up a conversation with one of the gals from the botany lab and by the time they'd finished moving their way through the line for dinner she'd had an excuse that would make it seem natural for her to find a seat with Trish, who really was a sweet woman.
If asked Jennifer wouldn't say that she was avoiding Ronon, but she definitely wasn't seeking him out either. In all fairness they'd both been busy with missions and work. They did live in a dorm like setting though and with minimal effort she knew she could bump into the Warrior and have it seem casual and random, but she was willing at this point to admit she was definitely a chicken. The fact that he hadn't sought her out or 'bumped' into her around Atlantis in the last couple of weeks didn't help her confidence either.
Jennifer shook herself from her thoughts and took a stealthy step forward and found herself plunged into complete darkness. The suddenness of it had her heart skipping a beat and a shriek escaping her lips. She literally could not see anything, not even her fingers she noted when she brought her hand up and touched her own nose.
"Jennifer," "Doc," she heard called into the darkness. It seemed deafening, but that was probably because of the sudden absence of any other noise, the loud clatter of chairs banging into each other punctuated John and Ronon's yells of concern.
"I'm fine, I'm fine." She reached out trying to feel her way to the edge of the kitchen area and out to where the worried men were. She could hear them making their way towards her as well, obviously experiencing the same issue with suddenly losing all visual references.
"I'm fine, Sheppard," Jennifer called back noting that they were getting closer and obviously making better head way toward her than she was toward them.
Her eyes were finally adjusting to the darkness and she could see a faint 'less dark' area ahead of her and when she made it to the counter that separated the kitchen from the seating area she realized that the two moons peaking in through the large windows were illuminating the mess hall a bit.
She was now able to also make out the distinct outline of each man standing in front of her.
"Well, this is kind of a bummer." Dr. Keller said as she stopped in front of the two men grateful for the darkness. It hid the blush she could feel rushing up her face at the awkwardness and awareness she felt standing this close to Ronon.
"I can already hear McKay claiming that this is not his fault," John grumbled as he turned slightly away from them and tapped his ear piece. "McKay."
There was a long silence while Jenn looked at her toes, waiting for John to turn back and let them know what was happening. She thought about making her excuses to Ronon and slipping away when she heard the Colonel begin to argue with the scientist, but by the time she finally worked up the nerve to do just that he turned back around.
"McKay says an hour, maybe less," John said in a chipper voice.
Jennifer smirked at his words even though it wouldn't be seen. She was sure that wasn't exactly what Rodney had said, but Sheppard had a very unique, if not comical, way of interpreting McKay-speak.
Sheppard put one hand on the doctor's shoulder, but turned toward the big guy, even though he couldn't see his team mate's face. "I'm just going to go see if I can give him a hand. Ronon, see that the doc makes it back to her room safely."
It wasn't really an order, but before Jenn could even begin to protest she heard John call out a few steps away, "Good," as she saw his darkened figure lope it's way out of the room much quicker than should be possible given the darkness.
"You really don't need to escort me to my room. I know the way and once there I have candles and stuff, I'm good." When Ronon didn't even flinch she couldn't help herself, "Really," she assured, trying to sound confident.
Ronon contemplated the woman in front of him for a moment. She obviously didn't want his help and in reality, probably didn't need his help. On the other hand, he'd wanted to talk to her for a while now, but something had kept him from seeking her out. Now the task had been taken out of his hands. "Ready to go?"
He heard her let out a sigh when she turned toward the door and the faint grumbling that sounded like maybe the word seriously.
They walked down the hall in silence and Jennifer couldn't help but wish they could move faster. The darkness though made them move with more caution and they'd already passed a few personnel trying to find their way in the dark to unknown locations.
With her hand stretched out to feel the wall as they walked, Jennifer rounded a corner on her way to the transporter and almost ran into one of the many Atlantis plants. Ronon's quick reflexes pulled her away from the tree, but up against him, which was a little uncomfortable for Jenn.
"I know it didn't jump out at me, but it's funny how in the dark I completely forgot we had trees in the hallways." Jennifer chuckled a bit nervously, "Sounds kind of funny when you say it out loud, 'trees in the hallways'."
"And," Jennifer added as they made it to the transporter, "It seems like I'd also forgotten that no power means no transporter."
"Just a few flights of stairs, Doc. Won't be bad."
Jennifer was so glad they didn't' have far to go, because right now she felt so self-conscious. The conversation was stilted and she seemed only able to blurt out the most obvious of things.
When they turned into the stairwell it became even darker if possible, bringing Jennifer to a complete stop. A moment later she barely kept from screaming when something touched her arm.
"Just me, Doc. Don't want you getting hurt." Ronon slid her hand into his before slowly moving forward. "First step up," he instructed while his free hand took hold of the hand rail on his right.
Jennifer lifted her foot up and forward slightly, bringing it to rest on the first step. Although holding Ronon's hand was just about doing her tightly wound nerves in, she also felt the flutter in her chest that brought with it memories from a few weeks ago in the infirmary. Jenn again thanked her lucky stars that it was pitch black in the stairwell.
"Next step," he instructed, glad that she wasn't trying to pull back or do this on her own. He really didn't like the idea of her on the stairs in the dark, especially since he couldn't see her, but he could also admit to himself that holding her hand felt right, actually better than right. When he finally felt her firmly return his grip nearly 4 steps higher, he couldn't keep the smile from whispering across his lips.
They traversed three flights of stairs and Ronon never let go of her hand, but the minute they emerged into the crew quarter's corridor, Jennifer extricated her hand from his. "I can definitely make it from here. Thank you"
Maybe it was the sudden loss of her hand, or maybe it was that she was dismissing him so completely, but whatever it was, Ronon felt the need to speak rise up and he couldn't contain it. "I'm sorry." Although he couldn't see her turn, he could sense it.
"For what?" she asked in a voice just barely above a whisper. She could feel her breath being held, waiting.
His response was so slow in coming she almost felt the need to repeat her question.
"For making it too uncomfortable to be around me," Ronon stated, finally figuring out what words would best convey his turbulent thoughts.
She heard the regret in his voice and it had her taking an unconscious step toward him. Her need to comfort him and minimize his regret was strong. "I'm sorry too. You didn't make me uncomfortable, I think I just took what almost happened the wrong way and didn't know what to do or say when around you. But… I never thought it was your fault, Ronon, honest."
Ronon wasn't sure what to say next, words didn't always come easily for him, and this was definitely a moment when they were desperately needed, yet horribly absent. When the silence stretched on and nothing sounded in his head like what he wanted to convey, the restless side of him took over. He placed his hand on the small of her back, not even taking the moment to wonder at his own accuracy and began to guide them down the hall. Maybe nothing else needed saying tonight.
Jennifer let Ronon lead her, her hand gliding along the wall to her left, counting each door and keeping track of the number of rooms they passed in her head, leading up to hers. She felt like an opportunity was slowly slipping through her fingers, yet she was want for how to stop it.
"This is my room," she declared as her hand landed on the ninth door. She turned slightly toward Ronon to thank him and felt his hand slip away. The loss of warmth punctuated his withdrawal and imminent departure.
"So, we're good?" Ronon asked, although he wasn't sure he could be satisfied with things going back to normal.
She wanted to be honest with him, and she did feel better about everything now that they'd talked… well kind of talked anyway. "Sure," she responded absentmindedly. She had a feeling though that she'd still feel uneasy around him, at least for a while.
Ronon heard her word, but with the inability to see her face or read her body language, he felt like the conversation was incomplete… like they weren't actually done. Talking in the dark was frustrating, he was growing increasingly agitated by the conversation and in actuality all he really wanted to do was go back to that night in the infirmary and kiss her. He should have done it then. He wanted to do it now.
"Ronon?" She knew he deserved the truth and telling him here in the dark, where she wouldn't be able to see his reaction might spare her a degree of the embarrassment. "Umm… I might need just a little time… just to, you know," she shrugged her shoulders, but then closed her eyes in frustration when she realized he couldn't see the finish of her sentence. "It's just that day… I kind of thought or actually hoped… anyway, I'll be fine," she lamely finished.
Jennifer couldn't help her quick intake of breath when Ronon's hand returned to her lower back, startling her. She let her breath back out, only to pull it back in swiftly when she felt him apply a bit of pressure and guide her body toward his, slowly… until they were toe to toe.
Ronon didn't feel any resistance, although he gave her every opportunity to move away or protest. He reached out with his free hand and set it next to his other hand at the small of her back and waited. He may not be able to see, but with his other senses heightened he could hear and feel her breathing, within the loose circle of his arms. In and out, in and out… it would have almost been hypnotic, if not for the hammering of his own heart, throwing off the rhythm… and still he waited.
The warrior grinned into the dark a few moments later, unable to contain the feeling inside when he first heard what must have been her wrapped sandwich hitting the floor before feeling Jennifer's hands tentatively set atop his forearms. He tried in vain to regulate his breathing while he continued to wait for her.
When he felt the pads of her fingers slide slowly up his arms, as if testing to see if it was okay for her to be touching him, he felt his restraint begin to give. With pressure against her lower back he used one hand to pull her in closer and with the other hand he trailed up her back and into her hair.
"Ronon," Jennifer whispered, not sure what she wanted to ask, or maybe confirm.
"I hoped too… when we were locked in there," he huskily admitted. He used his hand that was tangled in her hair as a guide and brought her lips to his.
Jennifer was afraid to move, afraid to breathe. She went from about to go into her room, to wrapped Ronon's arms and wasn't even exactly sure how it had happened. Although the kiss felt more about exploration and testing the waters, she could feel the thrill of it winding through her body. Without the aid of sight, this kiss had the exaggerated elements of touch, sound and smell. The scent and heat of him enveloping her as much as the arms around her.
Jenn felt the kiss ending, just before he leaned back, putting a little bit of distance between them while still maintaining his hold on her. She stared straight ahead, while not perceiving anything with her eyes and after a moment began to quietly laugh. She felt his body tense for a moment before his hold on her seemed to relax.
"Why are you laughing?"
She heard the warmth in his voice and was glad she hadn't offended him. "Just happy. I can't even see you, yet you're holding me in your arms and you kissed me. Specialist Ronon Dex just kissed me, or at least I think it's you." She laid her hands against his chest and slowly skimmed them up until they crossed his shoulders and found his dreads. She gave one a gentle tug, "Yep, its you," she confirmed with a grin.
He gave a playful growl at her before pulling her in for a short, but thorough kiss. "I better be, Doc."
She laid her head against his chest and listened to the beats of his heart. Her arms encircled his waist as she relaxed in his embrace.
"Now we're good?" he asked.
She nodded her head before wincing slightly. "But I'll probably feel a little unsure once the lights are back on, especially the first time I see you tomorrow."
"Just the insecure worrier in me, wondering if this really happened… wondering what this actually means tomorrow."
Ronon hated to admit it, but his uncertainty had played a roll in keeping them apart these last few weeks too. "Means we spend our time together." He didn't want to think of himself as less than confident, but he found himself relaxing when she tightened her hold on him.
Jennifer pulled back reluctantly when she felt her stomach growl, "I guess I should eat and get some sleep. I'm not sure what time it is, but I didn't have a lot of hours to sleep before the lights went out." She cautiously knelt on the floor feeling around for her sandwich and beginning to laugh again.
Ronon lowered himself to the floor too and couldn't help but grin at the sound of her laughter as he tried to help her find the wayward sandwich. Their hands bumped into each other several times in the dark, which only made her laugh all the more, making him wish he could see her. "Here it is," he declared once his hand landed on the wrapper, then he searched for her hand and helped her to stand.
After he'd handed her the sandwich, Jennifer palmed the sensor by her door and heard it slide open. A very faint moonlight cast into the room from the balcony and Jennifer could almost distinguish the outline of her larger pieces of furniture.
"Walk with me to breakfast before your shift?"
Jennifer turned back toward his voice and grinned happily, "Yes."
"Good." Ronon leaned over her and kissed her lips, lingering for a moment when her hand caressed his upper arm. "Night, Jennifer."
"Goodnight, Ronon." She paused for a moment longer, before stepping backward over her threshold and allowing the door to close in front of her.
A/N2: This was written for the Intention Day celebration today over on the Gateworld Forum for Ronon Dex/Jennifer Keller Appreciation/Ship/Discussion (Doctor & Wild Man). Come on over and help celebrate our favorite couple now or anytime.
The prompt for the story was - A kiss in the dark.
Hope you enjoyed the story!