Characters: John Sheppard, Teyla Emmagan, Ronon Dex, Rodney McKay, Radek Zelenka, Evan Lorne, Carson Beckett, Elizabeth Weir
Warnings: spoilers for the season 3 episode "Sateda"
Disclaimer: The characters and locales of SGA don't belong to me. For fun, not profit. I just swim in the pool. No borrowed OCs were harmed during these productions.
Summary: After the events on Sateda, Ronon wishes to show his thanks by honoring a member of the expedition, but who is it? Told from Shep's POV.
AN: Thanks to my great and wonderful beta, nacimynom for her suggestions on this story. Thanks for the idea for this story also goes to her as it was one of her comments to me about something in "Lightning Strikes" that brought this story to light. Enjoy!
Ronon was quiet after we returned from Sateda. Not normally garrulous by any means, he took silence to a whole new level. In the couple of days that Carson managed to keep him in the infirmary, I visited him often and found out very little about what had happened.
Once he was cleared for duty, he requested a day off and made a trip to a planet called Errakin. He said it was to perform a ritual of his people. When he came back, there was an air of serenity about him. We went back to working out together and I put the trip out of my mind.
Two weeks after his return, we had taken over the rec room for movie night instead of holding it in my quarters because Carson, Lorne, Radek and Elizabeth joined us. While watching Iron Man, I thought that Rodney and Radek were going to start sketching out plans to build a functional version of Tony's armor. If anyone could bring that fantasy to life, it was those two. I thought about dropping a few hints. I could print off some stills of the closing credits and leave them lying around my office. Neither scientist would be able to resist the implicit challenge.
While we were cleaning up and getting ready to call it a night, Ronon surprised us all. Standing in front of the big viewscreen, he cleared his throat. He looked uncomfortable. It was strange because usually nothing ruffled the big Satedan.
He took a deep breath and said, "I would like to request for all of you to help me to perform a ritual of my people. It is called the Kanata. It must be performed with witnesses present that know both the celebrant and the honoree."
That was the most words I'd heard Ronon use in weeks.
"Okay, buddy." I looked around. Everyone else was smiling and nodding. "We can do that." A thought occurred to me. "Who's the honoree?"
Ronon smiled; a hint of mischief in his eyes. "I can't say ahead of time, but the person is present."
"Well, that doesn't tell us much, Conan." Trust Rodney to say what we were all thinking. "Care to share some hints with the rest of the class?"
Ronon shook his shaggy head. "Nope. Just be on the North Pier at 20:00 hours tomorrow."
Everyone agreed to be there, although Rodney grumbled about it the whole time.
The next day I spent what free time I had wondering who the honoree was. Thinking that it probably had something to do with Sateda, I figured that the honoree was going to be either Carson or Rodney. We found Ronon thanks to Rodney who tracked the frequency of the Wraith device. I would bet my money on Carson though, because he fired the drone that killed the Wraith Commander, especially after he warned us not to interfere.
I spent the rest of my time running all over the city. It seemed that every time I sat down there was another problem that needed my attention. Good thing I had already done all my reports. I only got to eat in peace because I went off radio. Lorne wasn't happy, because it meant he had to field the calls. I had to take a break; otherwise I was going to take the pain from my worsening headache out on the next innocent technician who crossed my path. Two Advil, a cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich washed most of the headache away. After lunch it was back to business as usual. Dinner was a repeat of lunch, except that Teyla and Rodney joined me.
As we ate, we discussed Ronon's Kanata ceremony, wondering who the honoree would be. Strangely enough, Rodney's guesses agreed with mine. Teyla made comments, but she had this little smile on her face that said she knew something that the rest of us didn't. I thought about trying to charm it out of her, but I realized that she would just evade my questions.
While we were discussing the day's events over dessert, Carson, Elizabeth and Lorne also joined us. I put my radio back in my ear and called Control to remind them that Lorne and I had the evening off and that they should only call us for dire emergencies. Liang, the night shift tech, acknowledged and said he would put it on the orders board.
While I spoke to Liang, Radek joined us. Everyone had finished eating by the time we had to head out. As we moved in a group, I looked around. Everyone seemed nervous about the upcoming ceremony. I wasn't nervous at all. My team has been through so many strange rituals that they don't faze me anymore.
Once we arrived at the North Pier, it wasn't hard to figure out where to go. A circle of torches delineated a ten foot wide circle. In the middle of the circle sat a table with two chairs.
Ronon stood just outside the ring of light waiting for us. We approached to about four feet away. He bowed and then straightened to greet us.
"Thank you all for coming. The Kanata ceremony is one of the oldest of Satedan traditions, performed only to honor one whose very being encompasses those traits that Satedans most treasure – fidelity, courage, intelligence and compassion. The ceremony marks the recipient as a member of the clan with all rights and privileges."
I started to speak, but Elizabeth beat me to it.
"Ronon, how is the recipient marked? I only ask because our military has rules concerning visible tattoos."
Ronon smiled. I was grateful that it was his warm, friendly smile, not his 'I get to kill something smile'.
"I understand. The recipient receives a pendant marked with the clan sigil."
Elizabeth bowed her head in acknowledgement.
Predictably, it was Rodney that spoke next. "Well, who is it? Who is this paragon of virtue?" He snapped his fingers twice. "Wait, it's me, isn't it? You're recognizing me for my bravery and genius, right?"
Ronon shook his head, dreads swaying side to side.
"No, McKay, it is not you. You are braver than you know and very intelligent, but it is not you."
Undeterred, Rodney plowed on. "Well, is it Carson? You want to honor him for killing that big Wraith and removing the tracking device – twice."
Ronon shook his head once again. "No, it is not Doctor Beckett, although he does have a part to perform in the ceremony."
Rodney's mouth took off again. "Then it must be…"
Finally I had enough. "Rodney, enough. If you zip it, Ronon will tell us himself. He was telling us about the ceremony, and I for one would like to know what's going on."
Rodney huffed and crossed his arms in annoyance, but he shut up. It was times like this that made me understand why people thought I should be nominated for sainthood for not having shot him yet. I caught Elizabeth with a tiny smile on her face. I rolled my eyes and returned her smile with one of my own.
Ronon continued his explanation, his deep baritone adding solemnity to the occasion.
"The ceremony is performed by a healer, preferably one that knows both persons. The healer marks the flesh on the inner side of the forearm of each participant using a small, sharp blade. The two participants then clasp hands so that the marks overlap, allowing their blood to mingle. In this way, the two are bound through the bond of blood and become part of the other's family."
I watched as Ronon paused. I could tell that he was letting the anticipation build. Finally, he stepped forward to make his choice. I was shocked when he stood in front of me and placed his hands on my shoulders.
"John Sheppard of Tau'ri, Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force, Military Commander of Atlantis, and leader of Atlantis' Prime scout group, I am proud to call you friend and ask that you join your blood to mine in the Kanata."
After being momentarily rendered speechless by the honor, I started to say, "Ronon, I… I don't…"
Ronon gently shook his head as he whispered softly. "Don't say it, Sheppard. You deserve every honor that could be bestowed upon you."
Raising his voice, he continued.
"You are the personification of the traits at the heart of Sateda. You are faithful to those to whom you have given your allegiance and to those that have given their allegiance to you, honoring and protecting them as they honor and protect you. You possess great courage in always striving to do what is right, no matter how difficult the choice or how painful the outcome. You possess great intelligence and wisdom which allows you to see those things others may not and to act as appropriate to the situation. Most of all, you possess great compassion. Your compassion led you to bring strangers with you in their time of need, even though your people were in dire straits themselves. Without hesitation, your compassion led you to offer a home to a man that attacked you because you saw the heart underneath the rough exterior."
As Ronon ended his speech, I took a moment to consider what he'd said. I could try to deny it, but everyone there knew that he had only told the truth. Pushing the part of me that hated being the center of attention into a corner, I mirrored his pose, placing my hands on his shoulders.
"Ronon, I am profoundly honored that you feel me worthy to become part of your family. I will always do my best to honor your clan."
Ronon smiled. "I know you will because it is who you are."
Dropping his hands from my shoulders, he stepped back, gesturing that I should take one of the seats while he took the other; everyone else gathered around us. Reaching over, he picked up a beautiful ceremonial knife and a piece of parchment from the table and turned towards Carson.
"Doc, here's the blade to use and this is the mark you need to make."
Carson accepted the blade while he looked over the design.
"Aye, I can do that." He looked at the two of us. "I'd ask both o' ye if ye want somethin' to numb the area afore I start, but I know better."
The two of us gave him matching grins in reply.
Rodney chose that moment to insert his two cents worth. "Carson, are you seriously going to do this? You can probably tell them how dangerous this is better than I can! What about blood borne viruses or bacteria?"
I started to silence Rodney, but Carson beat me to it. "Rodney, with proper precautions, this is perfectly safe. Considering how many blood samples I get from both the Colonel and Ronon on a regular basis, if either had any blood-borne diseases, I would know about them."
I peered at the design while Carson sterilized the blade and our arms. It consisted of an elongated diamond shape with two protrusions that could be either wings or horns. I preferred to see them as wings. The design oriented along the arm, one tip of the diamond pointing towards the wrist while the other tip and the wings pointed towards the elbow. When finished, the design would be just a bit bigger than an old American silver dollar.
I won't say that having a series of cuts methodically carved into your flesh is pleasant, but I've had a lot worse over the years. Carson did mine first while Ronon watched, then I watched while Carson did Ronon's. Watching the skill and precision that Carson used was mesmerizing; before I knew it he was done.
Ronon reached over with his left hand and picked up a glass vial filled with a thick silver liquid.
"Here, Doc, now pour this over the wounds."
Carson pried the stopper out and sniffed. I caught a whiff of it; the stuff smelled like a spicy antiseptic. Evidently the doc came to the same conclusion because without objecting he carefully poured it over the cuts on our forearms.
Oh, it stung! Spicy antiseptic was right. But I never even flinched; the whiff I had gotten had warned me. After the stinging sensation faded, the stuff surprised me when it started glowing everywhere it touched blood. Ronon smiled at the reaction. After Carson poured the stuff on both of our wounds, Ronon and I reached across and clasped biceps, making sure that the marks met.
"By the blessing of the sukresh, we are now brothers, your blood flowing through my veins and mine through yours."
When our arms met, the sukresh glowed even brighter. We held the clasp until the glow faded. As we released our holds, Carson grabbed my arm and swabbed it with an antiseptic wipe. After a couple of swipes, Carson and I both let out gasps. Where the cuts had been there was now a faint silver scar on the underside of my arm. The design was barely noticeable among my other scars unless you knew what to look for. Carson cleaned Ronon's to the same effect.
Upon seeing the effect the sukresh had, Carson leaned over towards Ronon. "Lad, we need to talk about this sukresh. With healing properties of that nature it could reduce a lot of infirmary visits."
Ronon smiled. "I'll see if I can get you some to study, doc."
Ronon stood, gesturing that I should do the same. He reached across the table and grabbed my right hand.
"I present to you my brother, John Sheppard, member of Clan Daeriguer of the Clans of Sateda."
After the ceremony, we went inside and watched the first two Highlander movies. During the pause between movies, Ronon pulled me aside.
"I almost couldn't find the sukresh. I'm glad I did now."
He seemed mighty pleased with himself, like he still had another trick up his sleeve. His mood had definitely improved. "Why?"
"It will glow for anyone, but unless they're Satedan it's usually real dim. I've only heard of it glowing as brightly as it did tonight when it was used on an Ancestor."
I ducked my head, rubbing my neck in embarrassment. "Huh. I guess only some of the Ancients were too proud to mingle." Ronon just chuckled and walked off to get more popcorn.
As I headed to refill my beer and get more chips, I thought about fate and family. It's strangely ironic that I had to come to another galaxy to find my true family among a group of strangers, while the family I was born to continues to treat me like a stranger. My Pegasus family might seem strange, but we understand, accept, and support each other through thick and thin. After all, that's what family should be all about.
- And life goes on -