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Last Chance (Keller/Dex, Keller/McKay)

Title: Last Chance
Author: bluflamingo
Pairing: Keller/Dex, Keller/McKay
Word count: 1684
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Future fic, about a year after Enemy at the Gate

Summary: The night before Jennifer's supposed to marry Rodney, Ronon comes to her hotel room.



Last Chance

Jennifer’s just gotten out of the shower, wrapped in a thick hotel dressing gown, with her hair damp across her shoulders, when someone knocks at her door. She’s sort of expecting it to be Rodney, even though he went out with Jeannie a couple of hours ago, so she’s smiling when she opens the door, knowing that he likes how she looks when she’s fresh out of the shower.

It’s Ronon, looking as slightly off as he always does in Earth clothes, dark jeans and a white shirt open at the neck, and Jennifer feels the same shiver of attraction she always does. He’s leaning one hand against the hotel wall, looking down at her. He’s not quite the last person she expects to see, but he’s close.

“Hi,” she says anyway, because it’s not like she’s unhappy to see him. “You okay?”

Ronon nods. “McKay’s having some sort of weird freak-out after seeing his sister, Sheppard took him to the bar.”

Jennifer laughs, because she knows Rodney and she knows Ronon. “So you left them to it?”

Ronon nods. “And Teyla and Kanaan threw me out. I think they wanted to be alone.”

Jennifer knows they wanted to be alone; Teyla’s taken to confiding in her since she agreed to be one of Jennifer’s maids of honor, along with Katie. “You want to come in?”

Ronon looks down at her clothing – or lack of clothing. “You want to get dressed first?”

Jennifer actually thinks she’s perfectly decent as she is, but it’s not hard to do this for Ronon’s comfort. “Hang on,” she says, closing the door in his face. When she opens it a minute later, barefoot in sweatpants and an old t-shirt, he hasn’t moved, but he shoves away from the door and wanders inside, prowls around her room. It’s neat, everything packed except for what she’ll need to get ready in the morning, since the wedding’s tomorrow afternoon and she and Rodney will be on an airplane, on their way to their honeymoon, tomorrow night. The thought still sends a shiver of excited anticipation down her spine.

“Do you want a drink?” she asks. “You can raid the mini-bar if you like.”

Ronon hesitates, then crouches down to open the fridge, riffling through the bottles.

Jennifer blinks, then figures what the hell and says, “See if there’s any white wine.”

There is, of course, but for a nice hotel, they’re missing a couple of things, like actual glassware to drink from. Ronon shrugs and takes a swig of whisky straight from the tiny bottle, eyebrow raised in challenge. Jennifer shakes her head, no way, and goes into the bathroom for the plastic water glass.

Curled up at the head of her bed, Ronon sitting at the foot, legs stretched out towards her, she takes a swallow of too-cold wine. “Now this is glamorous,” she says, laughing at them both. “Drinking mini-bar wine out of a plastic glass. You sure know how to show a girl a good time.”

She regrets saying it as soon as she has – Ronon and Amelia broke up a couple of weeks ago, and the grapevine says she called it off, though not why.

Ronon shrugs. “What’d you be doing back on Atlantis?”

She’d probably be with Rodney, which doesn’t seem the most tactful thing to say, somehow, or in the infirmary, or hanging out with Katie and Evan and Radek, who are all crashed out because apparently being Rodney’s friends gets people out of more than being her friends does. “This,” she admits. “Though not with plastic glasses.”

Ronon laughs. “I’ll get you a real glass,” he promises.

“My hero,” Jennifer says, pretending to swoon and taking another sip of her wine. “When are you going back to Atlantis?”

“Day after tomorrow, with the others.” Ronon takes another swig of whisky.

“It’s weird being on Earth with everyone,” Jennifer says. “Nice, but weird.”

Ronon nods, drinks some more whisky. Given the size of the bottle, that’s probably the last of it. He screws the cap back on and turns it a couple of times in his hands. Jennifer sips her wine and waits for him to tell her whatever it is he wants to tell her, sure that he will. Even after everything, they’re still friends, and she has a weird feeling, sometimes, that there are things he tells her that he doesn’t tell anyone else, including the team and Amelia.

Ronon shifts to sit on the edge of the bed, puts the empty bottle down, and turns to look at her, closer than he was. “McKay’s my friend,” he says.

“I know,” Jennifer says, not sure what Ronon’s getting at. “I’m sure he’d say the same thing about you.” Well, he wouldn’t, but she knows he’d mean it anyway.

“Maybe not in a minute,” Ronon says. Jennifer opens her mouth to ask what he means, except then he’s sliding his hand through her hair, cupping the back of her head, and she doesn’t need to. She should pull away, but she leans forward instead, into what she knows is coming, and Ronon kisses her.

It’s familiar, kind of – they’ve done this before, and more, but it’s never been like this, this feeling of time pressing down on them. She goes with it anyway, tipping further forwards into his embrace, warm skin against hers, his beard tickling against her chin so she’ll never be able to think she’s kissing anyone but him, even when she closes her eyes.

Which she does, when Ronon shifts so he’s straddling her, his hands sliding back into her hair, tangling in it. She tilts her head a little further, just to feel his fingers pull against her hair, because Rodney never does that, is always careful with her, and the tug of tiny pain makes her shiver almost as much as the way Ronon’s pressed against her.

“Hey,” Ronon says suddenly, puff of warm breath against her lips, his hand sliding round to cup her cheek. “What’s wrong?”

Jennifer blinks, feels something wet drop on her cheek and smudge against his fingers, and realizes it’s a tear. Ronon thumbs it away and doesn’t say anything. Jennifer breathes, tries not to cough when it catches in her throat. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this, or more, gone further, and it’s been okay, because she knows Rodney knows, the same way she knows he messes about with Sheppard some times.

But this is different.

“I’m getting married tomorrow,” she says, her voice shaky. In twenty-four hours she’ll *be* married, and they might not talk about it, but she believes in the sanctity of marriage.

“To Rodney,” Ronon says. He’s still sitting across her, but there’s a space between them that wasn’t there before. They still won’t look like anything but what it was. Is.

“You shouldn’t have come here,” Jennifer says, but that’s not fair. “I shouldn’t have done this. I should have stopped you.”

“Did you want to?” Ronon asks.

Jennifer’s not sure which part he’s asking about. She’s not sure which part she’s answering either, when she says, “Yes.” She closes the gap between them again, rests her head on his shoulder. After a moment, he puts his arms around her, hugs her close, like he did when Katie and Evan got kidnapped off-world for three days, and Rodney was too busy trying to find them to hug her and tell her it would all be okay.

“I want to marry Rodney,” she says. In her head, it’s strong and certain, but out loud, it’s wavering, like she’s not sure. Except that she is, she made her choice. She wants to marry him, live with him and grow old with him and maybe have kids. She’s never wanted to change her mind, even when she’s been with Ronon.

Ronon touches her cheek, strokes her still damp hair back from her face. “I think maybe it’s not such a good idea.”

Jennifer closes her eyes. “I want to marry Rodney,” she says, then, because it might be more true, “I don’t want to hurt him.”

Ronon sighs against her ear. “It’s too late,” he says, and for a moment, Jennifer hates him with bright, burning passion, for coming to her room, for kissing her, for putting her in this moment where she has to make a decision she doesn’t want to make.

Except that it’s not a hard decision to make – a hard decision to go through with, but not a hard one to make – and if she’s going to make it, going to go through with it, better to do it now than in a week, or a month, or a year.

“I think you should go,” she says, pulling away from him a little. He moves as well, and then they’re apart, no closer than they are when they’re being just friends. The corner of the bedspread is damp, and she realizes she must have dropped her wine, spilled it.

She really hopes Rodney’s back in his room. She knows Sheppard will figure out what she’s going to say the moment he sees her; it’s part of being in their little circle, how well they know each other.

Ronon stands up, the bed shifting as he does, and walks over to the door, stops with his hand on the door knob. “I’m sorry,” he says, not looking at her.

Rodney knows, about her and Ronon, and even if she doesn’t tell him, he’ll figure out why she’s doing this. She wonders if she and Ronon have wrecked the team, their friendships. Wonders if, in a year, or two, it might be Rodney in her place, him and Sheppard wondering if they’re going to destroy something good.

She wonders when she became the kind of person who’d marry someone so that she didn’t hurt everyone else. “Me, too,” she says.

She waits for the door to close behind Ronon, gives it a few more minutes for him to get back to his room, then picks up her key card and goes to talk to Rodney.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
elkebaby
Sep. 28th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
and it’s been okay, because she knows Rodney knows, the same way she knows he messes about with Sheppard some times.
gah! I imagine it really could be like that, and it makes me hurt a little.

interesting story. so much info packed into a relatively short fic.
bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I imagine it really could be like that, and it makes me hurt a little.

I think they're so tangled up in each other, they just figure they've got the best they can get. Which is pretty depressing :o(
ariadne83
Sep. 28th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Wow. I love how messy and complicated this is. No-one's the bad guy, they're just trying to muddle through and it doesn't quite work.

I'm going to be thinking about this one for a long time.
bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

No-one's the bad guy, they're just trying to muddle through and it doesn't quite work.

I have such a thing for complicated relationships-which is probably why I like writing for Atlantis so much :o)
skieswideopen
Sep. 29th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
Oh, painful! I love how messy a single kiss makes the whole situation, and the decision is simple but difficult to follow through on, and Keller wondering whether she and Ronon have wrecked the team. Beautifully done.
bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

Keller wondering whether she and Ronon have wrecked the team

I think no-for a while things will be god-awfully awkward, but they're pretty strong, and they care for each other.
skieswideopen
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
Now I kind of want to see John's take on things. I mean, if Keller had those kind of doubts, it's obviously better for Rodney in the long run if she breaks things off before the wedding, and she may not even bring Ronon's name up, because it's not really about him. On the other hand, if the two of them start dating soon after... John as friends with both Rodney and Ronon (and a man who is hopefully capable of parsing the subtleties of the situation) would be interesting.
bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
Now I kind of want to see John's take on things

In my head, the Rodney/Keller/Ronon thing is part of a bigger sort of mess of relationships, where Ronon and John are more or less in a committed relationship, but they're as committed as they want to get, which include the acknowledgement that they both have feelings for other people that aren't going away, and Ronon and Amelia was kind of similar except for how they both accepted that it wasn't going to last from the start. And then there's people like Lorne, for John and Ronon, and Cam, who are mostly just their friends, but also sort of not just friends, and Keller and Rodney, who are a little more than not just friends. But actually, Ronon going to Keller is less about 'don't marry him, marry me,' and more,'don't marry him, it'll be bad for both of you,' which he can say to her but not to Rodney.

On the other hand, that's all in my head and the story makes far more sense without all that, in which case, I kind of imagine John and Teyla declaring that they're Switzerland in the whole thing and refusing to talk to any one of the three of them about it, because they're neither of them stupid, and they know the people involved more than well enough to figure out what probably happened.
skieswideopen
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
That's...complicated.

I think John (and Teyla) playing Switzerland would be about right.
scrollgirl
Sep. 29th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)
Wow. Not exactly what I was expecting out of that prompt! But very, very interesting. There's so much going on in such a short little ficlet, I can almost see the years that have passed since we last saw them at the end of S5.

But I think what I like best about this ficlet is the physical descriptions. Ronon leaning in the door, Keller's wet hair, her bathrobe, the way Ronon hunkers down at the minibar, the plastic cups, the tear Ronon brushes away. Very vivid!
bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

But I think what I like best about this ficlet is the physical descriptions

I could see the whole thing in my head as I was writing it, which doesn't often happen to me, which is probably why it worked :o)
goddess47
Sep. 29th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Oh.... just, so well done. Yes, that is the problem with living in a 'small town' -- you know everyone perhaps too well..... and what will happen, no one knows.

bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

Yes, that is the problem with living in a 'small town' -- you know everyone perhaps too well.

Definitely. And you have 200 people watching you when things fall apart.
gaffsie
Sep. 29th, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)
This was really interesting. I'm equally abhorrent of McKay/Keller and cheating fic, so I had to steal myself to read this, but I didn't end up regretting it. I especially like that Rodney knew and that Amelia probably knew too, that this was something that had been going on for a while. It made Ronon look like less of a bad guy for coming to her room the night before her wedding. Because no matter what Ronon might feel for Keller, I doubt he'd do such a thing if he didn't know that she already was conflicted.
bluflamingo
Sep. 29th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks, and I'm glad you didn't regret reading it.

Because no matter what Ronon might feel for Keller, I doubt he'd do such a thing if he didn't know that she already was conflicted.

I think that's *why* he did it-because he knows both she and Rodney are conflicted, and it'll just end in heartbreak if they do get married. I dunno, I just see all of them in this in some complicated mess of relationships: Ronon and John are pretty seriously together, but they both still mess around with other people (including Lorne, possibly both of them), and then there's Rodney and Jennifer, and Teyla just stays well out of the whole thing and is kind of sad for all of them, because she doesn't know how to fix it, and neither do they.
scififreak
Sep. 30th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
I love the self-awareness in this fic. The knowledge that it will all end in tears (and divorce), yet they make a conscious decision to do it anyway. That takes a special kind of bravery. Or stupidity. Maybe both. But what else can they do at this point? If she calls it off and gets with Ronon, it will tear apart the team and all their other relationships. People will have to choose sides, whether they want to or not. Even if they know it's for the best.
bluflamingo
Oct. 1st, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

The knowledge that it will all end in tears (and divorce), yet they make a conscious decision to do it anyway. That takes a special kind of bravery. Or stupidity

I think it's bravery in this case, because it would be *so* much easier to just go on as they are, but it will end up badly, so they bring the bad stuff forward, before it gets any worse.
sajina
Oct. 4th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
Wow, really interesting little fic! It's really amazing!
bluflamingo
Oct. 5th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
michelel72
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
This is really interesting. It's unusual to see Jennifer as the one with doubts. I like the way they're all trying to muddle their way through, not trying to hurt one another but not always sure the best way to proceed. That seems very real and very charitable at once.
bluflamingo
Oct. 15th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)
Thank you!

It's unusual to see Jennifer as the one with doubts.

I know, but I find it so much easier to see her as having doubts than Rodney, because he seems to want the kind of 'normal' life he'd have with her so much, and she's so much younger that she's far more likely to change and want something else.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )