Kel laughs as he circles him, taunting encouragement with each word. He has worked hard for this chance to prove himself. The training has been long and arduous, and if he never runs again in his life it will be too soon.
Come on, Ronon, Kel shouts, feinting and hoping Ronon will fall for it.
But Ronon has studied hard, and learned from the best.
And when Kel is on the ground, he simply nods and smiles and welcomes Ronon into the Satedan Guard.
He wasn't there when it happened. Came back through the Stargate to a world in ruins and smoke. The culling on Sateda was still happening when his unit stepped back onto their world; screams and death greeting them like a beloved mistress. Kel's calm yell telling them to scatter carried him through hours of battle, through the feel of Wraith blood running through his fingers.
Carried him through the fear.
Carried him through the destruction.
Carried him through the darkness.
It's a word that's taken him across years and planets.
A word that flows through his body with each ounce of blood.
A word that's what he does, who he is.
It defines him, controls him. And Ronon Dex will never be free of it.
He finds them amusing at first, this group of people who claim to be a unit. A leader who isn't sure of whether he should be leading, Sheppard reminds him of himself when he was younger -- even if Sheppard is the older of them.
Come back with us, Sheppard says.
As much food as you can eat and a safe place to sleep.
We can use someone like you.
He doesn't tell Sheppard he had Ronon's interest from the moment Sheppard held a gun to the Wraith's head and didn't waiver.
He holds back the first time he spars with her. Teyla is precise in her movements and soft in her actions, and Ronon could snap her without thinking. So he holds back and sees the ceiling for the first time that day as he is flat on his back.
Don't patronise me, she says, as she circles him.
So he nods and flips her, breath holding as she slams down hard and Sheppard tenses on the edge of the mat.
But Teyla just laughs, gets to her feet, and starts to circle him again.
He wonders how she would taste when he lies alone. Atlantis is too quiet, and he is used to the sounds of the forest, so his mind fills up the silence with thoughts of his tongue licking over her skin.
He thinks she would take of spice and agala berry, sweet and hot.
She would gasp out his name as he slides into her and would meet him thrust for thrust.
His hand steals down to his hard cock as he thinks of her, soft skin and breasts that would fit his hands perfectly. He thinks of her panting as she surrounds him, his name escaping from her lips in a puff of air and he spills himself on to his fingers.
He can feel the enzyme flowing through him, burning need with each heartbeat. He wants to move, to run, to pin someone down and fuck them until they're broken.
The others are too caught up with who this child used to be to realise that Aiden Ford is dangerous.
He's redeemable if only we can get him back to Atlantis.
We can get him back the way he was if only we can get him to Beckett.
But Ronon knows that Beckett can fix a lot of things, but he can't fix this. He can't fix someone who has seen the darkness and embraced it. Ford has felt the blood run through his fingers, and it's not an easy feeling to let go of.
Ronon has barely been this way for a day, and he doesn't want to lose it, and that must be a thousand times weaker than what Ford is feeling. Ronon knows that he could take on an entire Hive ship like this. He feels unstoppable. The world is his for the taking, all he has to do is reach out.
We should spar, he says, eyes fixed on Teyla's and ignoring Sheppard and McKay.
A beat passes, two, and then she agrees.
Not here, she says, eyes glancing to where McKay is fussing and Sheppard is trying to calm him.
The room at the back of the compound is musty with the smell of sweat and blood, and Ronon revels in it.
Each movement is perfect, each thought is precise as he advances on her.
This isn't about sparring, he says.
It never has been, she agrees.
And then he moves.
She's as soft as he thought she would be as he moves over her. Clothes are torn asunder to get to heated flesh. Her fingers wrap around him as she guides him into her. This cannot last long, perfection never does. Nails rake down his back and he feels the skin split under them, rivulets of blood leaking out.
Ronon, she says, as moves with him, under him.
He would reply but he has no words for this.
Ronon, she says again, his name a breathless plea.
And then he is undone.
He finds her in the gym, skirt flowing between her legs and sweat running down her back.
She nods to him and motions to the sticks by the side of the mat. Picking them up, he steps closer, falling to position.
About what happened back on the planet.
There is no shame in what we did.
I never said there was.
Apologies. I am too used to dealing with those from Earth. They seem -- reluctant to accept that people will find comfort in each other in trying times.
And if I said I wanted it to happen again.
It makes only sense that team-mates would turn to each other for support.
Will Colonel Sheppard have a problem with this?
Since Colonel Sheppard will not be in the bed with us, I do not see how it is any of his concern.
And, like that, they're done.
His forehead touches hers, skin warm and slick. And Ronon Dex knows that finally -- finally -- he has stopped running.