The innkeeper's fingers brush Jennifer's wrist as she hands over the little bronze coins this planet uses for currency. The man's gaze is far too intent for her comfort. "If there's anything you need in the middle of the night..." he says, his tone bypassing suggestive to land on downright salacious.
"No, thank you," Jennifer replies, very firm, and pretends she's Teyla as she walks away, calm and confident. Inside her small room, she immediately fiddles with the lock until she is satisfied that it's sturdy and secure. The innkeeper probably has a master key, of course, but that's what the old chair under the doorknob trick is for.
Two sharp knocks startle Jennifer out of sound sleep, some time later, and she sits up, wary, and reaches for the knife she's taken to carrying off-world. "I don't need anything, thank you," she calls out, hoping the guy will take a hint and leave her alone.
But a familiar voice says, "It's Ronon," and she practically falls on her face, scrambling out of bed to open the door.
"I am so glad to see, you have no idea," she says, perhaps a little too fervently because Ronon tenses up, sharp eyes immediately sweeping the tiny bedroom, then the dark hallway. The inn is quiet, no lights shining from the cracks under the doors of the guest rooms.
When he's satisfied, he turns back to Jennifer with a frown. "You okay?"
Sighing, Jennifer smiles up at him, wan and a bit embarrassed. "I'm fine, Ronon, nothing to worry about."
But he's always known her too well--he knew months before she did that she was going to break up with Rodney. "Who did you think was at the door?"
"The innkeeper," she grimaces. "He was kind of..." It feels silly to explain her unease now that Ronon is here, her own personal bodyguard. She knows, even before he makes the offer, that he won't leave her unprotected tonight.
"Oh yeah, this is way too Harlequin romance," she mutters, fidgeting with her blankets, unable to settle now that sleep is the furthest thing from her mind. Ronon is stretched out on the hard floor with Jennifer's backpack as a pillow, his body long and lean and tempting, and Jennifer is single now, and she knows he's still interested--unless she's wrong. Unless she's just imagining the way he looks at her, like she's beautiful and surprising and the only woman in the galaxy for him. Unless he's moved on and this is all too late.
Screwing up her courage, Jennifer rolls onto her stomach to peer down at Ronon, relieved when he opens his eyes to smile up at her. "Are you comfy down there?"
"I've had worse," he shrugs, then reaches up to tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear. His fingers are warm and callused against her cheek.
Catching his hand in her own, she whispers, "You could come up here." Ronon goes perfectly still. "If you want. With me."
He looks at her for a long, long time without saying a word--so long that she's sure she has read him all wrong, but then he squeezes her hand and smiles, just a little, just with his eyes. "Don't say it if you don't mean it, Jennifer," he tells her, hope and longing and desire threaded through his voice.
And that's the sixty-four thousand dollar question, isn't it? If she'll end up breaking his heart again, or if the heartbreak will be mutual. "This isn't a rebound thing," she says, a bit defensively. But that's not really an answer. "I-- You're my friend, Ronon, one of my closest friends. I care about you, a lot." Ronon's lips press together, the tiniest movement, an unhappy line. Jennifer sees it, wants to reassure him immediately that it's more than friendship, but her words now are too important to rush. "We were so different, Ronon, when we first met. I thought... I didn't believe it was realistic to get into a relationship with you." She's not ashamed of her doubts, not exactly--they were perfectly natural concerns. But she understands now that she was wrong. "And, and you were so serious about it--about me. I could tell that from the start."
"You were serious with Rodney," counters Ronon. It's half-argument, half-question.
"We were," Jennifer agrees. She still cares about Rodney, still loves him in a way, even if she'd been the one to end things for good. "But it turns out that, well, we were too different after all. We wanted different things." She pauses for a moment, then adds, "Like kids."
In for a pound...
She's not surprised that Ronon's not surprised to hear this. "Rodney wants kids," is all he says, but his mouth begins softening out of that unhappy line.
Jennifer snorts. "Rodney wants progeny. Not really the same thing."
When Ronon sits up to lean against the bed, she curls up on her side; their faces are only inches apart, and their hands are clasped and resting on her pillow. "I'm not gonna stop fighting, Jennifer. Not until I can't any more, or until every last Wraith is dead."
"I know." She knows this about him. Doesn't expect anything less. "I know what it's like to watch your team go out on missions. I know what it's like to wait and wait, and worry that maybe this time you won't be coming home. I've put you back together on my operating table, Ronon." He's a soldier; she's a doctor. It's what they do.
Ronon bows his head. "But I still want kids," he finally confesses, as though it were a secret. He doesn't add, "With you," but Jennifer hears it as clear as a church bell.
"I can see that," she whispers, and lifts his hands to her lips, pressing a kiss to scarred knuckles. "I see you with Torren, you'd be a wonderful father. But maybe," she adds hastily, "we shouldn't put the cart before the horse."
She can see it. She can picture it so clearly, Ronon's big hand spread over her rounded belly, a little boy or girl with his beautiful eyes and mischievous smile. But she wants to be careful with Ronon, their second time around. She wants to do it right.
While he frowns a little at the Earth idiom, Ronon nods with understanding. "When we get back to Atlantis..." He hesitates, glancing up at her with the same shyness he first displayed when they were quarantined in the infirmary together. "Will you let me walk with you, Jennifer?" A Satedan idiom, this time, but it translates.
"Yes," she answers him, truthful, honest. Confident. "Yes, I'd like that, very much."
Ronon's eyes really are very beautiful when he smiles.
Summary: After she and Rodney break up, Jennifer realises that Ronon still has feelings for her and that maybe they can have a second chance. Romantic fluff, post-series.