Episode Four- Veritas- Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

The small niche off the main Infirmary doesn’t get much light except for its lines of chiclet sconces, even then some Earth-made metal desk lamps are required.  They don’t put out much light and neither do the monitors that are turned on around the room.  No one’s working at the smaller of the two metal roller desks, the largest of which is stationed in the very middle of the room, Jennifer’s desk.  Behind it is a shelving/refrigerated unit housing row after row after row of large, medium, and small labeled bottles, some glass, some soft plastic squeeze.  On the bottom  shelf of the desk are large frosted plastic containers that look like plastic spare gas containers, some of them hold red colored fluid, others bright blue, and a bright red colored container is labeled with a large yellow hazardous material label.  Next to the desk are a couple of red plastic drums with equally large yellow biohazard labels on them.  Jennifer, sans her white lab coat more formally called a smock jacket, which is lying on her desk’s top beside her, sits at her desk on her simple metal stool with the laptop open on the desk’s top amidst the numerous medical supplies and two other spare laptops as well as a couple of desk lamps, continuing to review the database as she has been for the last three hours, almost going on four now.  She had to move here to her desk in the Infirmary, staying any longer in Rodney’s lab…it was reminding her too much of him…and how he isn’t here right now, how he’s in danger right now.  It was becoming too distracting.

Ronon hobbles into the eternally open doorway and waits there, watching her.  Jennifer’s elbow rests on her knee, courtesy of her semi-powder blue shirt with the zipper back being sleeveless.  It’s one of his favorites on her, Rodney’s too, because the cuts of the shirt’s pattern angles her figure and accentuates in all the right places on her.  Always making her look her best…or at her best.  She leans forward towards her desk, the butt of her hand’s palm holding up her chin.  Her eyes are focused intently on the computer screen, her middle finger moves the mouse cursor and her thumb clicks the pad’s left button to move to the next ‘page’ of information.  He clears his throat.  She looks up at him.

“Uh, um…do you need any help with that?”

There’s no warmly receptive, sweet smile for him.  “Do you want to help,” she asks.

Ronon takes the dig on that, he starts to hobble into the room.  After a few heartbeats of watching his struggles, he never was any good at using a cane, always felt it was a sign of weakness he couldn’t show, Jennifer always considered it a sign of pigheadedness, Jennifer’s compassion steps in and she hurries to his side.  Quietly she slips his arm around her shoulders and wraps one of her arms around the back of his waist and begins to help guide him to the guest chair, exactly like the ones in the computer lab he’d left about ten minutes ago, beside her desk he had been aiming for.  The one she’d pulled over to put her feet up on when they had been bugging her an hour ago; she never did like balancing them on one of the stool’s footrest bars, they never actually made her feet rest, just get achy.  Ronon keeps his eyes on her.  Her golden brown eyes are focused intently on the goal of the chair.  Giving her normally smooth porcelain skin and skittish facial features a calm, confident intensity that one would normally find on the faces of powerful Queens ruling on behalf of their people, well and strongly.  Her strawberry blonde-brown straight, shoulder length hair is pulled back into a bouncy, doll-like ponytail by a small brown hair band, and her forehead-covering bangs are swept over to the side.  He always thought that’s a pretty look on her, that it hid more about her than people realized.  Made her a sort of enigma.  Like there’s something under the surface if you cared to look or asked her to show you, and after talking to her for a few moments, you realized that she probably didn’t even know what was underneath her surface even though everyone else could see that there’s more to her than what her surface shows.  As they walk over to the chair borrowed from the little niche desk stationed in the niche beside the left side of the door…

“I never not wanted to help,” he tells her features.

Jennifer stays silent.  Stays focused on the goal.

“It’s just, you know, I’m not good at this stuff.  I’m not good at computers.  That’s always been McKay’s thing.”

He and Jennifer successfully plant him in the white mesh and silver metal roller chair then she goes around him and gets back on her stool beside him.

“But it’s not just that, is it though?”  She asks him.  Still with nothing of her usual kind and smiling nature that reminded him so much of Melena…although how she’s treating him when she’s angry with him is really similar to Melena’s nature of being very emotional and argumentative with him when she was angry with him too.  Something his Earth friends called a Fighter’s Spirit, on Sateda it was simply called time wasting, to him it’s irritating.  Always riled him up more than it should, made his and Melena’s arguments very heated…and of course the making up was very heated too.  He puts the old ideas that resurge in his mind of what it would have been like for him and Jennifer to make up aside.  But in doing so it brings up other old ideas…

“No,” he admits.  He looks down at his hands again, fidgeting again.  He was never any good at saying this either…“I’m sorry for punishing you and Rodney.”

Jennifer finally looks at him again.  A humble Ronon, a nervous Ronon…is not a usual sight.  He really is trying though, meaning it, that’s why he can’t look at her.  Emotional or moments he didn’t want to happen but knew had to are likewise not his strong suit.  She had always chalked it up to his being a Runner for seven years.  Day and night running from planet to planet across the galaxy, running from Wraith hunters whose sole purpose was to find him and kill him…for sport.  It really didn’t make for bonding experiences with other humans.  Too dangerous, he didn’t want to bring Wraith down on other people needlessly.  But when Tyre was here, one of Ronon’s dearest friends from before the Wraith destroyed Sateda, detoxing from being a Wraith worshipper since the fall of Sateda, Tyre had the same tendency to be embarrassed during apologies or, now that it occurs to Jennifer, the shame.  Maybe it’s a habit of being ashamed not embarrassed?  Ronon doesn’t have to be ashamed for saying he’s sorry anymore than Tyre had to.

“Thank you,” she says.  Really that’s all she had wanted to hear from the very beginning.  Just an ‘I’m being an ass, sorry, and things’ll get back to normal when I’m done being that ass’.  Nothing else really, just a timeline.  And a light at the end of the jerk tunnel.

The more she analyzes his humility, his humbling, the more Jennifer thinks of Tyre.  Tyre had quickly gotten over his embarrassment of shame by rededicating himself to helping the team find wherever the Wraith that Tyre had handed Ronon over to was and helping the team go there and free Ronon.  The other Satedan man had made it his life’s mission.  When the team had come back with Ronon but without Tyre, Jennifer had feared that Ronon had killed his own childhood best friend.  But when Ronon himself was detoxing from being turned into a Wraith worshipper, he’d screamed things in his drugged-out delirium.  He screamed one night, one of the worst nights, that Tyre had died saving him…and then Ronon kept screaming out to his friend that he was sorry Tyre had to do it, begging Tyre to forgive Ronon’s weakness…and to forgive Ronon for not being there to protect him and his other Satedan friends from being turned into Wraith worshippers in the first place.  That night was so heartbreaking for Jennifer to watch that when she tried to call in another nurse to take over for her, Jennifer was crying so hard she could only get choked squeaks out.  In the end, both the nurse and Richard Woolsey had come to take over for her, the nurse to escort Jennifer back to her quarters through a back way so that no one would see the doctor so distraught and worry, and Woolsey stayed to watch over Ronon personally.  That’s something Ronon never knew about, still doesn’t know about.  Jennifer doubts anyone but she, the nurse, and Woolsey know.

Ronon’s apology now is a similar sign to her as Tyre’s pledges had been.   Some sign that he wanted to help Rodney when Rodney was in danger, a way she’d know for sure that when the team was out on a mission everyone was looking out for everyone…and that he wanted to help her too.  That’s always nice to know too.  Safety, and comfort, in numbers.  Among friends…

She slides over the laptop to be between them.  Ronon turns, with a struggle, his chair to look at it.  Jennifer, discreetly smiling, gets comfortable on her stool again.  They both focus in on the database page on the screen.  Rededicating himself to finding and saving a friend, she can’t help thinking.

“You know that’s why he’s having you do this, right,” Jennifer comments in her normal casual tone of voice without taking her eyes off the screen.

“What,” Ronon asks, watching the screen and trying to figure out what the hell he’s seeing.  It just looks like a bunch of blocks stacked in lines or side by side or…it’s just a bunch of Ancient.  He doesn’t know Ancient, doesn’t pretend to know it—well, actually, he is pretending to know it right now.

She gestures at his injured body, Ronon looks down at himself, “That,” she says.  “You’d only be in the way because of how the training injuries are affecting the way you move, but rather than have you sitting around doing nothing because he knows you don’t like that and can’t stand it, Woolsey decided to have you help me so that you’d at least be doing something to help them out that would be effective and not a hindrance.”

Ronon nods at her, “I’m good with that.  So…,” he returns his eyes to the computer, again the irritation is creeping into muscles at the base of his neck and spreading into his shoulders.  He decides to tell her exactly how he feels, “What exactly are we doing?”

Jennifer turns back to the computer, her smile isn’t discreet anymore.  Its broadness is dimpling her cheeks as deeply as it normally does and her pink lips spread thin, “Searching for any helpful references to that hologram room being a gateway to wherever the Ascended Ancients are.”

“I’m not sure how much of a help I’m going to be here, I can’t read Ancient.”

Jennifer’s smile suddenly turns bittersweet in the glow of the computer screen, “You know, I bet if Lieutenant Kenmore were here she’d probably be able to have an Ancient computer translate all this into Satedan for you.”

Ronon starts nodding, feeling kinda bittersweet too at the thought himself, and who’d have ever thought that, “Yeah, I bet she could,” he says.

They keep analyzing the ‘page’ of the database.

“You know, I think those…squares say ‘altitude’,” Ronon points out with his usable hand.

Jennifer, finding humor, looks over at him with playfully furrowed eyebrows, “I thought you said you couldn’t read Ancient?”

“I don’t, but I think I recognize that one from all the times I’ve seen it on the Head’s Up when Sheppard’s piloting the jumper.”

She nods.

“Recognize anything else,” she asks.

He shrugs and keeps looking.  Maybe…

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