Title: Not Yet Lost
Pairing: Ronon/Melina, slight-but-ignorable hints of Ronon/Teyla
Prompt: lost at sea
Warnings: Minor character death
Word Count: ~ 5400 words
Summary: Well, look at the prompt. I mean, “lost at sea”? You've got to realize that's a pirate AU begging to be written, and who was I to refuse? XD
A/N: Set during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714). I did research a little, but don't count on historical accuracy. Also, I've no idea if you can really survive for three days at sea on a piece of driftwood – but hey, it's Ronon. ;D
ETA: Yes, I know that technically, "Melina" is the incorrect spelling for Melena. But TPTB are idiots and didn't even bother to look up what melena is. Seriously - go look it up in a medical dictionary or something. I changed the spelling because I just couldn't stand it. XP
~ Not Yet Lost ~
The water was rough, salty, and cold. The sharp shock from the icy temperature made his body still momentarily, and the ocean wasted no time in dragging him down. Invisible hands drew him in deep, the pitch-black water obscuring his vision as panic pounded like a drum in his chest. He struggled, fought, clawed his way back to the surface, spitting out water so saline it stung his lips and left his mouth dry as parchment.
The ocean frothed and tumbled around him, wrathful and godless; above, a black sky was shattered into a thousand pieces by lightning, rain lashing down viciously. It looked like a war between two elements: the sea and the heavens fought bitterly, locked in a battle that would leave destruction and death in its wake.
Not that humans needed any help in killing each other – they were far too accomplished in that as it was. Another flash of lightning lit the sky, revealing the two ships below; one little more than a wreck of splintered wood and burning bodies, the other sailing under a sinister black flag.
In the water, the sole survivor of the ship the Saramaria spat out seawater and grabbed hold to a piece of driftwood, clinging on for dear life.
* * *
He wasn't sure how long the storm raged. It seemed to last forever, dragging on into an eternity of thundering skies, rolling waves, and harsh rain. Each swell of water tossed him to and fro effortlessly; he was little more than a child's doll in the jaws of a dog. More than once, more than a dozen times, the sea forced him underwater. He didn't dare try and swim for the surface, for fear that he would loose hold of the driftwood; and if he lost that, he would drown for sure.
So he held on. He endured. And eventually, the black clouds cleared away to reveal the weak but sure strains of a rising sun; the massive waves shrank into quiet laps; and he sent a fervent prayer of thanks to whatever deity was listening, closing his eyes as an exhaustive sleep claimed him.
When he awoke, the sun was high in the sky, sending down waves of heat on his bare back. He'd lost his shirt at some point, whether from the pirate's attack or the storm, he didn't know. His legs hung into the water, his torso buoyed up by the driftwood; experimentation revealed that it was too small to support his entire body, and only tipped over when he tried to climb completely on top of it.
The sun was hot on his back. His mouth was dry, and he was thirsty, very, very thirsty; but he knew better than to try and drink and seawater – it would only serve to make things worse.
Instead, he looked up at the sky, then around him; nothing but ocean as far as the eye could see. He wished he could tell which way was east, not that it would do him much good – true, the Saramaria had only been at sea for two days before the attack, but he doubted he'd be able to swim back to shore. He'd never been the kind of man to give up easily, but he couldn't see a way out of this.
The sentiment of impending death should have inspired despair – with him, it only incited fury. He hated the pirates who had attacked the ship – despised the recruiting officer who'd convinced him to join the war – even hated Melina, because if she hadn't fallen ill he never would have left home.
Immediately after that thought he felt a pang of shame so strong it threatened to drown him like no wave ever could. How could he blame her for this? What had happened was not her fault, never her fault... only his for being so weak as to leave home.
* * *
He wandered. Up and down the countryside, traveling without aim, without a destination, only a purpose: to forget. To remember. To numb the pain. To sharpen it, because sometimes it felt like pain was the only thing grounding him to this world.
He ran. Ran from the memories, the good ones, the bad ones, but especially the ugly ones; of Melina coughing up blood, of the doctor's pity-filled eyes, of a freshly-dug grave. Of the tiny, fragile body of the babe, limp and lifeless. He didn't want to remember.
He avoided settlements and towns. People were easy to live without. He didn't need their condescension, their scorn... their pity. He hunted – he gathered – he survived.
Coming across the town was an accident. He'd been tracking a stag and lost the trail when he caught the faint sound of drums. He followed the noise; it was impulsive, thoughtless. The beat was one of summons, and he came.
The town was small, but buzzed with excitement. A crowd of people had gathered around the center, where a uniformed man commanded their attention.
“... and the good Queen needs men to serve her country. To serve our country, to defend it from the French King. Enlist now for you honour; for your country; for your Queen; for the wealth and riches!”
Off to the sidelines, a group of very drunk men sang loudly and sloppily to the drummer's beat. It took him a just few moments to pick out the words to their song:
“And we shall live more happy lives
Free of squalling brats and wives
Who nag and vex us every day
So it's over the hills and far away.” *
He listened to the verse twice before turning away, his lips curled into a scornful sneer. So these fools thought they would be happier fighting in a war than at home with their families? Fine. Let them go.
“You! Lad, come here!”
He paused without turning, debating whether he should stay or run. The choice was taken from him when two rough sets of hands grabbed his arms.
Perhaps the two soldiers had simply wanted to try and convince him to join the cause. Perhaps they wanted to offer him some drink in order to help... persuade... him. He never found out. The minute he felt their hands on him, he reacted.
Within a few beats both men were unconscious on the ground and he was sprinting away, heart hammering in his chest as he realized he'd just assaulted two soldiers.
The penalty for which was death.
The realization had no sooner crossed his mind when one of the singing drunkards from before stepped out from behind a cottage, crashing a bottle against his head. He was out cold before his body touched the ground.
When he came to, the recruiting officer was standing beside the cot he lay on. The cell was dark, damp and cold; and while he'd expected to be in jail, his heart sunk just the same.
“You attacked two of my men.”
He shrugged. “Didn't mean to.”
The officer looked at him incredulously. “You didn't mean to,” he echoed disbelievingly.
“It was impulsive.”
“You've been a soldier before?”
He hadn't, but maybe letting the officer know that his men were crap at fighting wasn't the best idea. He settled on shrugging again.
The officer studied him. “You should enlist. Serve the country. The Queen. Forty shillings when you join, not to mention the booty and women,” he tempted.
He sat up, eyes hardening.“I'm not joining the war,” he said flatly.
“Then you'll be hung for assaulting two soldiers,” the officer said. “It's the gallows or soldiering. Your choice.”
Which was how Ronon Dex found himself signing up for a war which he wanted no part of.
* * *
Ronon was beginning to think he should have chosen the gallows.
Certainly, it would have been a better death than being ripped to pieces by sharks.
He eyed the triangular fin, practically holding his breath in an effort to be as still as possible. So far he'd only spotted one, but who knew how many more lingered underneath the water's surface. He was tempted to duck his head and look, but at the same time, sensed that would be better not to move. Maybe it would take him as part of the driftwood.
The fin drifted closer; Ronon suppressed a shudder. He wracked his mind for what he knew about sharks – not much. Just that they could smell blood from miles away, and once they did, they were as vicious as piranhas. He didn't bother to acknowledge the fact that they were ten times more deadly, because really, there was no getting deader than dead.
Another fin appeared, and Ronon's heart lurched when the newcomer's head peeked out of the water. It stared at him with a curious, hungry eye, jaw curved to form an unnatural smile that sent shivers down his spine. It seemed to meet his eyes, and Ronon thought for one terrifying moment that he never knew sharks were so smart, because this one definitely knew that he was no piece of driftwood.
The shark dipped back down underneath the water, and Ronon drew his legs up to his chest, bracing himself to feel sharp teeth against his flesh at any moment – but the moment never comes. Instead, he felt a probing nudge against his back. Turning swiftly, he looked at the creature behind him – and frowned.
Not sharks. Dolphins.
The dolphin made a clicking, chirping noise and swam away, rejoining its partner. Ronon would feel stupid for his mistake, but he had only heard of sea creatures, never seen them, so the mix-up was understandable.
The dolphins seemed too wary to approach so boldly him again, and Ronon decided to memorize the way they moved, how they looked, so that he wouldn't mistake them for sharks again. No point in having a panic attack if they showed up again later.
Eventually the dolphins swam away, leaving Ronon feeling strangely bereft. Despite the heart attack they nearly gave him, they were a welcome distraction, and kind of interesting. Ronon didn't know if animals could think or reason, but if they could, he figured that dolphins would be among the smartest.
* * *
The Saramaria was a proud ship, rocking gently in the harbor as laborers scurried about the dock in preparation. Ronon studied the scene, taking in the unfamiliar, salty scent of the ocean, the shouts and cries from the workers, the hustle and bustle of a hundred men at work. At his wrists and ankles, heavy chains clunk together softly, connected to a dozen other prisoners; despite his agreement to join the army, he was still treated as a criminal. He's also willing to bet that three-quarters of the other “criminals” with him haven't so much as stolen a loaf of bread in their lives.
The English Army must be getting pretty desperate if they've been reduced to charging innocent people of crimes in order to scrounge up more soldiers for war.
“Come on, men! Move!” The officer in charge of the unit called impatiently, gesturing for a couple of the soldiers to lead the prisoners to the dock. Ronon followed obediently, though not willingly; given half the chance, he would run far away from here. He had no desire to go to sea, and even less to go to war.
The officer must know it, because he refused several requests from the prisoners to release them from the chains. They are taken into the ship; Ronon was surprised, because he didn't think that they'd be leaving land right away. Apparently, they are.
As the soldiers began to hustle them below deck, Ronon took one last glance at land. He had a feeling it'd be a while before he saw it again.
* * *
That night, there was another storm.
It was a thousand times worse than the first one. At least in the first one, he could breath most of the time. Not so much the case this time.
The sea pushed him down what seemed like every minute, and kept him down. In those times that he was underwater, the seconds trickled past, his world narrowing down to the feel of the wood under his palms and the burning, tightening sensation of his chest as his lungs cried for air. Eventually another swell brought him up again, and he gasped and coughed, breathing in a mix of air and sea spray, waiting for the next wave to take him under once more.
The worst part was the lightning. It was terrifying enough to be stuck in the middle of a tumultuous ocean in the dark of night, knowing that his life was at the mercy of a pitiless sea, feeling and hearing it rage around him; it was worse to actually see it. The lightning provided split-second flashes of the chaos, fleeting glimpses of thirty and forty-foot waves, towering over him like mountains.
He wondered – in the detached, distant way that a man who knows he's about to die wonders – if the pirate ship was destroyed yet. He didn't see any way for it to survive, not in this storm. Unless it sailed away, escaping the storm – but he hoped, prayed it didn't.
* * *
Once Ronon can feel the full swaying of the ship, can smell only the salty sea and no hint of land, a sailor comes to release them.
“No point in keeping you chained up now. There's nowhere to run, 'cept for straight down into Davy Jones' locker,” he laughed.
Ronon rolled his shoulders and rubbed his wrists to get rid of the hated, lingering feeling of being shackled. Several of the former criminals were doing the same, readying themselves to go above deck; the rest remained in their places, curled up into miserable little balls. Ronon frowned, wondering why anyone would want to stay in the moldy, dark, damn hold when there was fresh air and freedom above; when the sailor laughed again, though, saying, “You'll all get your sea legs soon enough,” he realized why.
Well, he'd always had a strong stomach.
The sailor's name was Ford. He was friendly, with an open face that seemed to perpetually sport a grin, and Ronon found himself being drawn into the man's easygoing optimism. Ford taught him a few things about sailing, even though technically Ronon's enlisted as a foot soldier and will serve as one when they reach France. Ronon didn't mind. It felt good to be doing something with his hands again – he could still feel the ghost of the chains around his wrists if he concentrated.
They had barely been at sea for two days when the pirates attacked. Ronon remembered waking to screams and shouts – remembered the sight of Ford's wide, blank eyes as blood pooled slowly from the spot in his chest where the pike was buried – just before he'd been thrown overboard into the black, endless waters.
* * *
Strangely, Ronon woke up the next morning to find he had survived the storm.
He wondered if he was supposed to be happy about it. Yes, he was alive, against all odds – but for how much longer? His body felt battered and sore and drained, his stomach ached, and his mouth felt raw from the salt water that had been repeatedly shoved down his throat.
And he was thirsty. So agonizingly thirsty. It was like a fire that consumed his body and his very mind – he couldn't rip his thoughts away from the image of freshwater, the memory of it – cool and smooth, soft on the throat and skin instead of abrasive.
The irony of craving water so much while being surrounded by a sea of it did not escape Ronon. Unfortunately, it only made his suffering that much more unbearable.
Eventually, when the sun was at its hottest, scorching and burning down with such intensity that Ronon was surprised that it didn't simply evaporate the entire ocean, he gave in and hesitantly lapped at the sea water.
Predictably, it only made things worse. Ronon spat it back out and let his head thud against the driftwood as bone-deep exhaustion took over.
He'd survived the storm, only to look forward to dying of thirst.
* * *
Smiling, laughing, flirting Melina; hand resting protectively over her swollen belly, eyes bright and happy when she looked at him.
Crying, sobbing, bleeding Melina; fists clenched in agony, eyes closed tightly shut from pain, body wracked with the tremors of labor.
Cold, lifeless, silent Melina; body wrapped in a white sheet because he couldn't afford a coffin, the premature body of the babe buried with her.
Along with, he was sure, his heart.
* * *
“Sheppard! There's a man in the water!”
John Sheppard glanced up to where Lorne stood, practically hanging off the side of the ship as he looked down at something in the water. “Is there now?” he questioned in a drawl that most would have taken as unconcerned; those who knew him personally knew better, could pick out the hint of interest in his tone.
“Yes, sir. He's holding on to a piece of driftwood. I think he's still alive.”
Carson appeared, peering over the side and exclaiming with surprise. “Bloody hell! There is a man down there! Well, he won't be alive for long if we don't do something.”
Lorne looked up. “Sir?” he prompted.
John considered it for about two seconds. Elizabeth might be annoyed if he gave an order like this without consulting her; on the other hand, it was a man's life at stake.
Plus, it was kind of fun annoying Elizabeth.
He straightened decisively and nodded to Lorne. “Well, get him out, then.”
* * *
There was water dribbling across his lips – Ronon clenched his jaw tighter. He couldn't drink seawater, shouldn't drink seawater. Then he realized that the water was different, didn't sting his lips like salt water would, and opened his mouth.
The realization that it was fresh water, that the hard surface beneath him meant he wasn't in the ocean anymore, that he wasn't going to die set him spluttering and coughing as his eyes snapped open.
“Whoa, whoa, relax, we've got you.” A woman was speaking, holding out her hand cautiously – Ronon blinked blearily at her golden hair and delicate white skin, mumbling, “Melina?” in a croaky voice that hurt his throat.
The woman looked puzzled, and when Ronon's vision focused he realized why. Not Melina. “No, I'm Jennifer.”
The woman – Jennifer – was saying something else, asking his name, but Ronon didn't pay attention, getting lost in his disappointment and pain just before he passed out.
* * *
He woke slowly, recovering his senses one by one. First, touch: the feel of soft cloth enveloping his body, of a cot supporting him, of the gentle, constant rocking of the ocean. Next, sound: the murmur of voices in the background, the creak of the ship, the distant cries and shouts of laboring sailors.
Also, a whining, unfamiliar voice that grated on his nerves and made him frown with annoyance.
“I'm mortally wounded, and you won't even give me something to dull the pain? What kind of voodoo practitioner are you?”
There was a sigh, just before a voice heavy with Scottish brogue replied, “It's a splinter, Rodney. You're fine.”
“A painful, painful splinter! I can't use my right hand at all!”
“No, really. What kind of friend are you? Here I am, in pain, and you just roll your eyes. I mean, really. Try not to be so concerned, okay? You start to get overbearing.”
“If I give you something for the pain, will you shut up?”
There was a rustle and the sound of footsteps coming towards him, and Ronon forced his eyes open. The woman who'd walked in – Jennifer, he though – jumped slightly. “Oh! You're awake!”
Ronon wet his lips and tried to reply. At first, nothing came out but a hoarse gasp; but his second try was more successful. “How long was I out?”
“A week, give or take,” she said, sitting by his bed and holding a cup of water to his lips. “You've been drifting in and out of consciousness; we weren't sure you'd make it. Here, drink slowly.”
Ronon ignored her and drank deeply, finishing the cup quickly and craving more the minute it was empty. “More?”
“Only if Doctor Beckett says it's okay,” Jennifer replied apologetically.
As if on cue, a man stuck his head into the room. “I see our patient has awakened. How are you feeling, lad?”
Ronon gave a half-shrug. “Okay. Thirsty.”
The man chuckled. “Aye, I imagine so. Do you know how long you were drifting at sea?”
Beckett shook his head in amazement. “And through all those storms we've been having? That's quite astonishing.”
“Unbelievable, more like.” The man with the grating voice had appeared, nursing a bandaged hand. “How did you survive? Pretty sure most people would've drowned. Especially with those – you know – dread things weighing you down.” He gestured towards Ronon's hair.
“Tactful, Rodney,” Jennifer said dryly, at the same time Beckett snapped, “Out. Now.”
“Fine, fine, going now.”
Beckett rolled his eyes. “You'll have to excuse Rodney, Mr... ah...”
“Dex,” Ronon answered automatically. “Ronon Dex.”
“Well, Ronon. Do you feel up for a meal?”
Food. Ronon didn't even need to answer. His growling stomach did it for him.
Beckett smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Well. I'd better call for the cook, then.”
The cook turned out to be a woman. Teyla, Beckett called her. Carmel-colored skin, soft tawny hair, serene brown eyes. She carried a heavy-looking pot of soup with ease while Rodney trailed in after her, watching him with mild curiosity.
Teyla smiled at him but didn't speak, seeming to sense his desire to eat, not talk, and handed him a bowl of soup.
It was cold. It was lumpy, gooey, and smelled funny. It was too spicy.
It was also the best thing Ronon had ever tasted.
He wolfed down the first two bowls and asked for more. Teyla beamed. “He appreciates my tuttleroot soup,” she said to Rodney pointedly.
Rodney snorted. “He has been starving for god-knows-how long. He would appreciate a raw sheep's heart and stomach for dinner.”
Carson shouted indignantly from the next room. “I heard that, Rodney! Haggis is not served raw!”
“Whatever. It's still absolutely disgusting,” Rodney said dismissively, waving a hand. He froze when Teyla pinned him with a stare. “Right. I'll just be, um, going now,” and fled.
Ronon took a moment to appreciate the weirdness of these people, just before holding out his bowl for helping number four.
* * *
Teyla came again every mealtime after that. She seemed to enjoy spending time with someone who so relished her cooking, and he liked that she didn't ask him probing questions or send him sympathy-filled glances, not like the others did. She didn't constantly try to initiate a conversation with him; in fact, she seemed comfortable with silence. She sometimes hummed softly to herself, and often Ronon found himself drifting off to sleep to the sound of that humming.
But by day five, Ronon tired of being in bed. He wanted out; he felt good enough to be up and walking again. Carson wouldn't hear of it, though. Teyla didn't seem convinced, either.
“I'm fine,” Ronon growled. “I just need to be let out of this room.”
Teyla raised an eyebrow.
“Look, I'll prove it,” Ronon said, pushing himself up and throwing the covers aside. The room swayed dizzyingly around him, but he ignored it, beginning to stand up -
- and nearly falling flat on his face.
Teyla helped him get back in bed. “You are not fine. You are still weak and need to recover your strength,” she said firmly.
He let her tuck the covers around him, glaring the entire while. She smiled pleasantly in return.
“Perhaps you just need something to distract yourself with,” Teyla suggested thoughtfully. “Do you draw?”
“You do now,” she said decisively. The next time she came, she brought a sketchpad and piece of charcoal with her, spending an hour by his side as she patiently taught him how to draw the ocean.
* * *
He was drawing on Teyla's sketchpad when they visited him. One of them was a man – tall, lean but not thin, with wild dark brown hair that seemed to stick up in a million different directions like a rebellious porcupine. The other was a woman, with sharp green eyes and an aura that demanded respect, making Ronon sit up just a tad straighter.
“Hey,” the man with the hair drawled. “How're you feeling?”
Ronon swallowed thickly. “A lot better. You the captain?”
“No. I am.”
Ronon blinked in surprise as the woman stepped forward. “Didn't expect that.”
A wry smile twisted her mouth. “No, I thought not. I'm Elizabeth Weir, captain of the Atlantis. This is my first mate, Lieutenant John Sheppard.”
“Used to be in the English navy,” Sheppard explained, bouncing on his heels lightly.
He smiled easily. “Now I'm... otherwise employed.”
Ronon blinked again, a slight frown creasing his forehead. “As what? Merchants?” He doubted it, though; merchants wouldn't have bothered to pull him out of the water. No need to carry around extra weight. He'd bet on a slave ship, but if that were the case, he'd be chained down below, not resting comfortably on a bed.
“Not exactly,” Weir said evasively. “We're explorers.”
“Explorers,” he repeated doubtfully.
“Yeah. You know, charting the seven seas, discovering new territories, making friends with the natives, that sort of thing?” Sheppard said.
Ronon didn't, but just shrugged. “Sure.”
“Glad you understand. But enough about us. Care to tell a little more about yourself?”
Instead of replying, Ronon angled a look at Weir. “If you're the captain, shouldn't you be doing the talking while he shuts up?”
This seemed to amuse Weir greatly, who raised an eyebrow while Sheppard pulled a wry face. “That's a good question,” she said, mouth twitching. “Lieutenant?”
Sheppard sighed, resigned; Ronon had the feeling he already knew what was coming. “Yes, ma'am?”
Sheppard sighed long-sufferingly, but Ronon was glad, because Weir avoided asking him anything about his past. He answered a few questions - was he any good at sailing (not really), did he feel up to learning (yes please; anything to get him out of this room), etc. He kept his answers short, which either annoyed or unnerved most people, but Weir seemed satisfied.
“I'll talk to Carson and see if we can get you on your feet again,” she told him, just before leaving. John gave him a lazy nod and followed suit.
Ronon sat back, pleased and more than a little relieved, listening as Sheppard accosted Carson in the next room, not realizing he was still within earshot. “Carson, what did you do to the man, cut out his tongue?”
“I did no such thing! What gave you that daft idea?”
“He barely spoke a word. You sure you didn't mess him up or something?”
Carson spluttered, and Ronon was surprised to find a half-smile playing across his face.
He could, maybe, possibly, get used to these people.
* * *
He was on the Atlantis for three weeks before he discovered the truth.
McKay had needed somebody to go to the hold and fetch some special instrument or another (“No I can't do it myself, can't you see I'm busy?”) and Ronon had volunteered – he hadn't seen the hold yet, and was curious to see what, exactly, explorers needed to store in a hold.
He went. And when his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he stumbled back from a mix of shock and cold horror.
There were cannons. There were weapons – blades and axes and scythes and daggers and pistols – and he wondered, as the twisting, rolling feeling in his gut began, why explorers needed so many weapons.
Or why they needed the ominous black flag, folded neatly amidst a sea of weaponry.
He barreled back up to the deck, nearly running right into Sheppard. Before the man could speak, before he could blink, Ronon had him pinned to the side of the ship by his throat, nearly snarling with fury. “Pirates,” he spat out. “You're pirates.”
Sheppard grimaced and made a choked sound that could be translated into “No, we're not,” or “You don't understand,” or “Could you let go of my neck so I can explain, please?” or a million other things – but Ronon wasn't interested in hearing excuses or reasons, he just wanted to squeeze the life out of the man who could very well be a pirate, who might even be the pirate responsible for the sinking of the Saramaria – responsible for his three days of hell at sea.
“Ronon! What are you doing?” Teyla's hands grabbed at his shoulders and forced him to release Sheppard, who crumpled to the floor, gasping for breath. Teyla immediately knelt to examine his neck; Ronon didn't interfere, instinctively scowling to cover up for the flash of guilt he felt.
Teyla looked up at him with confused eyes, only worsening the guilt. Ronon glared back, his gaze hard. “You lied. You're not explorers – you're pirates.”
Sheppard winced. “We prefer to go under the name of privateers,” he said horsely. “And that's not even our full-time job.”
“So what?” Ronon growled. “Privates, privateers – same thing. You attack ships and kill people for money.”
“They are not the same thing,” Teyla said firmly. “We serve under the Queen. We only attack ships that are enemies to the Crown – and as Lieutenant Sheppard pointed out, we only do it on occasion, when we are in need of money to support our travels. We are not pirates. We do not kill unnecessarily.”
Ronon sneered disbelievingly. “So killing is necessary when you need the loot?”
“Killing is necessary when the other person is trying to kill you too,” Sheppard rasped, pushing himself to his feet. “In case you haven't noticed, we're at war. We fly under a British flag. We get attacked. And I don't know about you, but I prefer to be able to defend myself and my crew when that happens.”
“He speaks the truth,” Teyla said quietly. “You've known us for several weeks now. Did you ever believe us to be pirates before?”
Ronon stared at them, feeling his heart rate begin to slow down as his anger lessened. “No,” he admitted.
“Good.” Teyla lifted her chin, her eyes calm and clear. “Then do not start now.”
For a moment, Ronon said nothing; then he nodded slowly. “Fine. But I'm leaving as soon as we get to land.”
“Fair enough,” John replied. “You're always welcome to change your mind, though. We could use a few more hands on board.”
Ronon bared his teeth in a not-smile. “Sure.” He wasn't going to stay, though. He didn't care what fancy name they stuck on it, what justifications they used – in his mind, privateering was equal to pirating. End of story.
* * *
Except it wasn't. Damn Sheppard, for his spiky hair and easy smile and willingness to grant second chances. Damn Weir, for her wry humor and strength and compassion for lost strays. Damn Rodney, for his snappy sarcasm and biting comments that left him more amused that annoyed. Damn Carson, for his concern and mothering and fussing. Damn Teyla, for her spicy foods and quiet serenity and acceptance. Damn them all.
He was going to stay. It wasn't like he had anywhere else to go anyway. He kind of liked Carson, for all his fussing; Sheppard, for all his crazy hair; Rodney, for all his snark. Really liked Teyla, although he knew his heart was still too hurting for anything more than friendship. But maybe one day – well. Maybe one day.
He turned his head east, savoring the cool sea breeze and the bright streaks of morning sunlight spread across the sky.
~ Fin ~
* I did not make this up. They apparently really sang that ditty back them. XD
A/N: I AM NOT WRITING A SEQUEL. So don't even ask, Meridith. ;)