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[After this, but before this...]

He didn't look up until Ronon's share of the gear landed beside him, nearly clipping him in the process. John looked askance at the Satedan, but his towering friend was as silent and stoic as ever. John was grateful for the silence, and the pair continued to sort packs.

John was in the middle of mentally cataloguing what was missing and cross-checking it with what he knew Teyla and McKay were in charge of when Ronon finally said something. "Do I want to know what happened back there?"

John smiled ruefully. "He just hit a little too close to the mark," he replied, and Ronon knew he was refering to [PLANET]. "I'll be fine."

"And her?"

John took a ragged breath and ran a hand through his hair. "I uh...I'm not righfully sure."

Something in the Colonel's eyes made the Satedan give him a hard, appraising look. He merely raised a brow at the statement.

Jon continued when Ronon wasn't forthcoming with a remark. "I mean, I just met her. I barely know her, and I know we talked and...and..." slight shrug. "I suppose if her and Mal are...I guess I'll just have to get over it."

"She liked you better."

"She what? No. She can't like me better. She doesn't know anything-" he trailed off as Ronon shook his head.

"Listen, she might love that Mal guy, but she feels something just as strong for you. You could see it in the way she moved around you two. I would't give up on her just yet."

"Right. This from a guy who has a bigger fan club than I do." John grinned.

Ronon grinned back. "Hey, they'd all be yours if I weren't around."

"I know! And, you know, I can handle that..." vague gesture toward his friend, "having you as my competition. You know what? We'll have a Ronon Appreciation Day, how's that? A day dedicated to just you. And you can invite my fan club to the party, too." As he spoke, he resumed work, and Ronon chuckled.

He knew that whatever happened, Sheppard would be okay. Losing someone you loved stung, but it went away. If not completely, then enough to live with. Ronon knew from first hand experience.

The Satedan pointed over his shoulder towards the door. "I'm gonna go back and make sure everything's settled. If you need..."

"I'll call."

The two men exchanged smiles and Ronon pat John on the back affectionately before he headed back into the cafe...


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