Live While You're Alive by scrollgirl
Summary: When a diplomatic incident gives Ronon a new perspective on his relationship with John, he decides to seize the day.
Categories: Ship Pairings > Keller/Ronon Dex, Bitextual, Ship Pairings > Ronon Dex/Other, Slash Pairings > Ronon Dex/Sheppard Characters: John Sheppard, Other, Richard Woolsey, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex, Teyla Emmagan
Genres: Episode Related, First Time, Team
Warnings: Non-consensual
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 5653 Read: 7643 Published: 30 Jan 2010 Updated: 24 Jul 2016
Story Notes:
Written for kimberlite for SGA Secret Santa 2009. Some dialogue stolen directly from the extended version of "Enemy At The Gate".
Chapter 1 by scrollgirl
When McKay announces to the team over breakfast that he's going to the infirmary to visit Jennifer, Ronon has to wrap his ankles around the legs of his chair to keep from following. As much as he wants to reassure himself that that back-stabbing Neeva Casol isn't still lurking under her skin, as much as he needs the proof of her smile that she is Jennifer again, he isn't foolish enough to believe that he would be anything but an awkward presence at her bedside. It doesn't matter that he's the one who figured out she'd been taken over by an impostor, or that he destroyed the Ancestor device and saved her life. Ronon knows he's not the one she's waiting for.

Let McKay play dutiful boyfriend and bring her chocolates and flowers. Jennifer has made her choice and Ronon is determined to respect that. No matter how much it burns.

It's been two months of never getting injured on missions or during sparring sessions so there'd be no reason to visit the infirmary. It's been two months of strategic avoidance, unobtrusive absences, and perfectly timed exits. It's ironic: Ronon figures he wouldn't be half so good at this game if it weren't for the Wraith. Sheppard and Teyla have figured it out, of course, though neither have tried to get him to talk, and McKay pretends obliviousness and only flaunts his newly coupled status when he thinks Ronon is out of earshot.

It's been two months of running the length and breadth and depth of the city. Some mornings, when he's already run himself into a rubbery-muscled mess, Sheppard will actually beat him to some arbitrary finish line he's marked out in his mind. He'll turn to Ronon to gloat, his face red from exertion, grinning from ear to ear. It's annoying, and silly, and Ronon is pathetically grateful to him for the small gesture.

"What?" says Sheppard one morning when he catches Ronon staring. They're taking a breather out on the South pier, collapsed against a railing overlooking the ocean, Sheppard's sweaty hair drying in tufts in the brisk wind. "What?" he says again, wiping uncertainly at his chin.

"Nothing," Ronon smiles. He remembers the camping trip on the mainland a few weeks ago, just the two of them, and how John had worked to make him relax and enjoy himself despite the knowledge that McKay and Jennifer were together on Earth. They'd had a great time, once Ronon forced himself to stop dwelling on what he couldn't change, and there had been moments when John had looked at him, a soft smile on his face, that Ronon had wondered...

A cloud drifts overhead, casting a brief shadow, and Ronon breathes in deep, tasting the rain in the air. The scientists predict a squall tomorrow, the first of the summer storms. "Come on." He bumps Sheppard's shoulder. "I'll race you back."

*

The team's next mission is a routine first contact with a mining society on the brink of an industrial revolution. Ronon is familiar with their high-quality steel, and Teyla's been briefly introduced to the Matriarch, but neither of them have had direct dealings with the Holma. Matriarch Honnir is stern-faced and white-haired, and reminds Ronon of his grandmother with her keen business sense, economical movements, and uncanny ability to get Ronon to straighten up from his slouch with a mere look.

At the feast that night in honour of Holma's guests, the Matriarch seats Teyla on her right and McKay on her left, mostly because McKay keeps peppering her with questions about the trinium deposits his scanner has picked up. Ronon lounges in a corner with his beer and a plate of spicy meat, keeping an eye on the room. Across the room, Sheppard does the same, beer in one hand and one eye on the room; his other eye is occupied with the Matriarch's granddaughter, a pretty brunette named Onna Belar.

Ronon doesn't see the trouble before it starts, though he thinks he should have. Everyone's relaxed, friendly, and the town hall's security guards are clustered around the beer keg, laughing it up. It's all good. Then suddenly Sheppard's dinner companion is up and out of her chair, angry, flushed. "How dare you speak to me that way," she says, her tone sharp and accusatory. Ronon moves without thinking, halfway across the banquet hall before silence falls and everyone turns to stare.

"I didn't mean it like that!" Sheppard protests, hands out to the sides, trying to look unthreatening and apologetic. It doesn't work. At the head of the table, the Matriarch rises to her feet with a quick nod to her guards, and they immediately pull weapons and move to converge on Sheppard and Onna Belar.

But Ronon gets there first and puts his back to Sheppard's, his right hand resting on the butt of his gun in its holster. "Try me," he growls, and bares his teeth at the nearest guard.

The Matriarch marches over, Teyla and McKay hurrying behind her. "What is the matter, Granddaughter?" she demands.

"Colonel Sheppard has offered me grave insult," Onna says with great dignity. "I demand that he receive punishment."

"Oh, here we go." McKay rolls his eyes. "Kirk strikes again." Sheppard doesn't shoot a dirty look at McKay like usual, just winces at the remark and ducks his head, guilt written all over his face. Huh, Ronon thinks, and tries to pretend the churning in his belly has nothing to do with John flirting with a pretty woman.

*

Matriarch Honnir allows Teyla to dial Atlantis and apprise Woolsey of their situation, and it's clear that both women hope to salvage diplomatic relations. That hope is why Sheppard vetoes Ronon's plan to make a break for the gate when the guards confine them to guest quarters while the Holma judicial body deliberates on a fitting punishment.

"My choice," Sheppard says, too nonchalant for Ronon's peace of mind. They don't know the Holma, they don't know their legal system. It's a stupid risk to sit on their hands and let an alien court convict Sheppard of the crime of being romantically challenged.

"What do you mean, she's a nun!" Sheppard hisses at Teyla when they're seated in the courtroom before the spokeswoman for Holma justice, to whom their advocate is attempting to make a case for leniency for the ignorant outsider. "She never said anything about being a nun!"

Teyla glances across the aisle to where the Matriarch and her granddaughter, Onna Belar, are seated in the plaintiff's box. "She is a belar. From what Matriarch Honnir has told me, the belar are a religious sect dedicated to serving the poor. They live together in barracks, and take vows of celibacy and asceticism."

"A nun? You were flirting with a nun?" squawks McKay, torn between horror and admiration. "What were you thinking, Sheppard? She's hot, but she's not that hot." He subsides when Teyla elbows him in the ribs.

"I didn't know she was a nun," Sheppard says mournfully, looking so miserable that Ronon almost forgives him for getting them into this mess in the first place.

Up on her dais, the spokeswoman holds up her hand and the courtroom quiets, all parties coming to their feet, all eyes turning front and centre. "I have determined a fitting punishment for the alien defendant, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard," she says, addressing the crowd. "Due to mitigating circumstances, the sentence of fifty lashes is reduced to twenty-five lashes, to be administered by the court bailiff."

"No," Ronon tells her flat-out. "You don't touch him." When Sheppard grabs his arm, Ronon shakes him off. Teyla takes a half-step to one side, flanking Sheppard. McKay's eyes go wide as he takes in their defensive postures.

"Stand down, Ronon," says Sheppard, firm. "Teyla, that's an order."

"Is there a problem, Colonel Sheppard?" The spokeswoman gestures the courtroom guards to step forward and encircle the defendant's box. "Twenty-five lashes with the standard whip is very reasonable, considering the offence."

"Yes, ma'am." Sheppard practically snaps to attention. "I mean, no. No problem, Honoured Spokeswoman. Twenty-five lashes is, is fine. I can handle it." He swallows hard. If Ronon didn't know better, he'd say Sheppard was scared. But Ronon does know better.

Teyla lifts one hand in a placating manner. "Honoured Spokeswoman, surely a more humane sentence can be found that would appease all parties involved." There's steel under her serenity. Sheppard's advocate edges nervously away.

"Teyla, enough." Sheppard puts a hand on her shoulder. "I said it's fine." He turns towards Matriarch Honnir and Onna Belar in the plaintiff's box, offering them a pained smile that's more of a grimace. "But just so you know, I really didn't mean to insult you, and I'm sorry. And so we're clear... I'll take the punishment." He nodded at the Matriarch. "We want to be friends and allies with the Holma people. I think there's a lot we can offer one another."

"I'm not an unreasonable woman, Colonel," says Onna. "As belar, I must defend the integrity of my sect no matter what personal feelings or connections might be involved." Still, she hesitates, softened by Sheppard's sincerity. "Honoured Spokeswoman, would it satisfy the court if Colonel Sheppard could prove that his insult to me stems not from a real sexual or romantic interest in a belar of Holma, but instead was the result of... shall we say, 'cultural differences'?"

The advocate mutters, "Why didn't I think of that?" but Ronon is focused on the spokeswoman as she weighs the possibility of a compromise. Eventually she shakes her head. "I do not see how Colonel Sheppard can adequately prove to the court his disinterest in Onna Belar."

It's a stupid idea. Ronon knows it even as he opens his mouth. "He likes men." Sheppard spins around fast, denial on the tip of his tongue, but Ronon talks over him. "He hides it because same-sex attraction is taboo in his culture and if his superiors found out, they would have to kick him out of Atlantis."

"Ronon--" Sheppard's protest cuts off when Teyla discreetly steps on his foot.

Matriarch Honnir stares at Ronon, wary, but she's quick to take advantage of the opportunity he's handed her. "If this is true, if Colonel Sheppard does indeed prefer men, then his words to Onna Belar need not be taken in the same light."

Onna nods in agreement. "Lack of intent would lessen the insult to a belar and I am, as I said, a reasonable woman." She turns to the spokeswoman. "What say you, Honoured Spokeswoman?"

The spokeswoman studies Sheppard's aggrieved expression, the tight grip Teyla has on his biceps, Ronon's casual shrug, McKay's vigourous nods. "I would need proof," she finally says, faintly, faintly amused.

"Proof?" Sheppard echoes, sounding strangled, a bead of sweat dampening the hair at his left temple.

"We can give you proof," Ronon says, and while he doesn't quite drape himself over Sheppard in a blatant display of ownership, he does lean in enough to send off possessive vibes.

"I would require a witness." The spokeswoman nods at her bailiff, who steps forward with a crisp bow. "Ulaan will accompany you."

Ulaan gestures to one of the courtroom's side exits. "Please follow me."

Sheppard tries to shove Ronon's arm off him. "Um, can we maybe discuss this?" But Ronon is pretty much finished chatting. He's not going to let Sheppard convince the spokeswoman that he deserves twenty-five lashes. For what? Friendly relations with an unknown society and a few trinium samples? Woolsey may be keen on gaining new allies to strengthen their position in the Coalition, but not at this price, not when John's head is in a place where he thinks he deserves punishment for being a bad leader.

Decision made, Ronon puts a heavy hand on the nape of John's neck and propels him forward, leaving Teyla behind to engage the Matriarch in soothing, 'we are civilised, rational beings' patter while McKay interjects with demands for a tour of their mining facilities.

*

"What do you think you're doing?" Sheppard hisses as he's frog-marched down the hall. "You seriously think us giving them proof that I have sex with men is a better alternative than a few bruises on my back?"

"They were going to use a whip," Ronon grits out between his teeth. "I know you think you're invulnerable, but you're really not."

John scowls, then pastes a fake smile on his face when Ulaan stops and ushers them into an intimate room furnished with a wooden desk and rolling chair, a wide, comfortable couch, and a tinkling fountain in one corner. It looks like Heightmeyer's office, after the new psychiatrist took it over and moved the furniture around, only instead of wide windows opening out to the ocean, the glass is dark and somewhat reflective: a two-way mirror.

"This will do," says Ulaan, pointing them towards the couch. "I will monitor you from the next room." A page arrives at the door and hands her a tray on which is a tiny bottle of oil, folded cloths, and a jug of water. Ulaan sets the tray down on the desk and, bowing, closes the door as she leaves.

Ronon and John glance at each other, then away. "I can't believe this is your big plan," John mutters, wandering over to the desk to poke at the items on the tray. "I'm not having sex with you."

Summoning all his patience, Ronon manages just barely to speak calmly and not beat John about the head with his own martyrdom. "Yeah, you are. Unless you really want Ulaan to whip you until you're cut open and bleeding, and Jennifer has to take you off active-duty for a couple of weeks while you heal." He takes a step towards John and watches as John's gaze flickers over him, then away. "You're the one who didn't want to fight our way to the gate. It's this, or we lose a potential ally." He risks another couple of steps, closing the distance between them.

John turns towards him, not quite looking at him, but not ignoring him either. "So that's why you're here, that's why you volunteered to have sex with me," he says, his bland tone giving nothing away. "For the mission."

Frustrated, Ronon grabs him by the back of the neck and reels him in. "You really believe that?" John's gaze is shuttered and there's no give in his body despite the way they're pressed together, and Ronon swears under his breath, not sure what else he can say. "Stubborn bastard."

But John suddenly surges up to kiss him hard on the mouth. It's over almost before Ronon can process it. "What do you want from me, Ronon," he says, but it doesn't even seem to be a question, like he's not quite sure he wants an answer.

Ronon shakes his head. "I don't know. I don't..." But he does know, or at least he knows what's in front of them at this moment. "A blowjob," he says. "I want a blowjob from you, I want your mouth." He figures that should be enough to satisfy Ulaan. It should satisfy him too, if the way his dick starts getting hard at the mere thought of John Sheppard on his knees is any indication. "Wait," he says, and uses the hand on the back of John's neck to pull him into a kiss. It's greedy and aggressive, lips and tongue working to claim John and make this about more than salvaging a mission.

John tenses against him for a few seconds, fighting it, then melts into the kiss, lips parting with a groan. He sucks on Ronon's tongue, then pushes back with his own, tangling them together. Ronon grabs John's hips and yanks him in, breath catching at the feel of John's erection against his thigh. He pulls away long enough to mutter, "Couch, now," before walking John backwards until the couch is stretched out behind them, then stretched out under them.

Rolling on top, John shucks his tac vest, then his uniform jacket. "Take your clothes off," John growls, shoving his hands up under Ronon's tunic. "I want to see you."

But Ronon shakes his head, unwilling to be that vulnerable when they're off-world, on a mission, and a woman is watching them have sex from behind a two-way mirror. Stripping off his belt and setting his gun aside, he works open his pants until he can free his dick. "Suck me," he says, pushing down on John's shoulders.

John stares at Ronon, his expression torn, unhappy, but then he lowers his gaze down to Ronon's hard cock curving up towards his belly. "God, Ronon," he rasps, and squirms down to take Ronon in his mouth. John sucks on the head, hard palate and tongue putting on delicious pressure, and it's good, it's so good, better than Ronon could have imagined. And he admits it now, he's imagined this, John's lips wrapped around his dick, John's fingers digging into his thighs, John's grunts and groans as he ruts against the couch.

"Sheppard," he says, hips jerking up once before John's forearms pin him down on the couch. If Ronon really wanted to, he could move, maybe grab John's hair and shove his head down, or reverse their positions so John is trapped under him. Instead, he lets himself be pinned down, lets John take him deeper in his throat. "Fuck, John, John, s'good--" he chokes off, suddenly on the brink of climax. He tries desperately to keep control, but he's too close, and it's been too many years. "Pull off," he says, breathless. "John, I'm gonna--" He comes, grunting, back arching, John's mouth riding him out.

When John finally pulls off, it's only to stroke the last spurts from Ronon's dick and get his hands slick with spit and semen. Ronon watches as John slowly sits up, straddling Ronon's thighs. John is beautiful, his face flushed and sweaty, eyes almost black with arousal. "Help me, Ronon," he rasps, hands held in front of him like Jennifer scrubbing into surgery. Ronon obeys, unbuckling and unzipping John's pants to pull out his hard, smooth dick. It's beautiful too, warm and incredibly alive in his hands, and Ronon feels desire stirring again, shocking him. He's already been satisfied--he shouldn't be so eager, not this soon. He's not a randy adolescent any more.

He watches as John traces his wet fingertips up his own cock, painting it with Ronon's semen, and Ancestors, it's too much, the naked want in John's face as he stares down at Ronon. "I didn't, this isn't--" He has no words. He used to be good with words, speaking his mind and speaking his heart, courtship poetry and battle epics, and the little silly ones he invented to make Melena laugh and slap his arm--but that had been before.

Now he makes no attempt at eloquence, simply puts his hand on John's as he strokes his erection, tangles their fingers together and feels the slip of his semen on John's hot skin. It feels incredible. "Do it, John," he murmurs, and leans up to press his mouth hard against John's, muffling his yell as he comes.

Ronon has no idea how long they lie on the couch, John's head pillowed on his shoulder, but eventually they remember the mission and the rest of the team. Rolling off the couch, they straighten their clothes and clean up with the water and cloths, John's face a tight, blank mask the whole time. Ronon keeps silent and bides his time.

Ulaan leads them a different way back to the courthouse main entrance where Teyla and McKay wait with the spokeswoman. There's no formal report, no paperwork, just a nod from Ulaan. "We will not forget your honourable conduct in our courtroom today, Colonel Sheppard," says the spokeswoman, bowing her head. "Go with the Ancestors." She takes her leave, and John chooses to watch her walk away rather than face Teyla and McKay.

Ronon has no difficulty meeting Teyla's gaze, and McKay seems more embarrassed than the rest of them combined. "Can we go already?" he asks, plaintive, his cheeks blazing red like he's been sunburned.

"Yeah," says Ronon, and takes the lead. It's the least he can do.

*

Back on Atlantis, Sheppard does a disappearing act the moment Woolsey dismisses them, and though Ronon searches high and low, and even recruits Amelia to use the internal sensors to pinpoint life signs in secluded areas, Sheppard remains elusive. Ronon suspects the city is playing favourites again. The only time he sees Sheppard is in briefings where they're surrounded by people.

He's starting to get pissed off.

Ronon spins to block Teyla's strike, but she slips under his guard and cracks him hard across the thigh. Frustrated, he attacks and manages to drive her back two steps before she turns his aggression against him, sliding close to jab hard at his unprotected belly with the kashira of her sword. Winded, he stumbles back, and Teyla immediately disengages.

"Are you all right?" she asks, frowning.

"I'm fine," he grunts. He moves into a defensive posture. "Let's go again."

Teyla's sword remains at rest. "You are unfocused this morning," she says, her tone carefully neutral. But Ronon knows her too well, knows that her concern is etched in the lines around her mouth and in the furrow between her eyebrows.

"I'm fine, just didn't get much sleep last night." He'd woken early and planted himself outside Sheppard's door in hopes of catching him, but it turns out Sheppard hadn't slept in his own quarters. Ronon is trying not to obsess about where he might have spent the night instead.

He gestures at Teyla to come at him again, but she only sighs and goes to replace her sword on the rack. "Hey! I don't need to be coddled," he says sharply, offended.

"Of that I have no doubt," Teyla replies with dangerously narrowed eyes. "Just as I have no doubt you are merely... sleep-deprived." She walks up to him, puts a warm hand on his sweaty shoulder. "He will talk to you when he is ready to talk."

Ronon frowns down at the floor. "And if he's never ready to talk?" She has no answer for that.

He and Sheppard play cat-and-mouse for six days. On the sixth night, Todd dials Atlantis with news about an experimental Hive powered by Ancestor technology. The IOA, of course, is eager to buy what Todd's selling, willing to believe a Wraith no matter how many times Todd has betrayed them. Ronon knows even before Woolsey sits down to brief them that the decision has already been made.

"I still say he's lying," says Ronon, slanting his eyes at Sheppard, inviting him to agree, support his opinion, declare Ronon a soothsayer. Or, Ancestors, at least look him in the eye. But Sheppard barely seems to hear the discussion going on around him, his gaze turned inward, a pensive expression on his face.

"What about you, Colonel?" Woolsey asks. "Care to voice your objection as well?"

Sheppard shrugs. "IOA says investigate, we investigate." His impassive reply elicits a faint frown from Teyla and a bewildered look from McKay, but Woolsey nods, willing to accept it at face value. When Woolsey dismisses them Ronon lingers at the door, hoping for a moment alone, but John stays seated at the conference table, brooding. After a minute, he gives up.

The mission goes sideways, as it almost always does, but it turns out Todd wasn't lying about the Hive. The Daedalus limps back to Atlantis only to learn that the Hive has taken out the rest of Earth's fleet, and that Sheppard is being recalled so he can defend Earth using Ancestor technology left behind in the place where Atlantis once lived.

"I have to talk to you," Ronon says, catching Sheppard in his quarters as he hastily packs a bag. "We need to clear the air before you head out."

Sheppard doesn't glance up. "This isn't the best time, Ronon."

"Not like you gave me a choice," he huffs, annoyed. "Look, what happened with us, I thought it was the right call. I wasn't going to let you get whipped when there was another choice."

"Yeah, I got that," Sheppard says, curt. He's done packing and Ronon has to plant his feet in front of the door to keep him from fleeing. "What do you want me to say, Ronon?" Sheppard paces back to the bed, then spins around. "We did what we did, and there's nothing left to talk about. I have to go."

Ronon grabs John by the shoulders, shakes him once. "Will you listen?" he growls. But when John stares up at him, wary and distant, Ronon fumbles the words, grasps for them only to find they've slipped like silver coins through his trembling fingers. With a noise of frustration, he bends his head and presses his lips fervently against John's, willing him to hear everything he's not saying.

John jerks back. "Don't," he says. His face is pale. "I have to go." This time Ronon doesn't stop him.

*

Watching John be fed upon again and again by a Wraith had been torture for Ronon, though he doesn't even try to compare his rage to what John suffered in Kolya's hands. After the Wraith had stolen John's life, then given it back, Ronon had been more than willing to kill it and be done. It was a Wraith, and there was only one acceptable way of dealing with Wraith, John's sense of honour be damned.

Now that Wraith has led them here, to this Hive in orbit around John's homeworld, to Ronon's life ending with a knife in his side. It has led to darkness, nothingness, a light, life rushing back into his body, pain slamming into him, and he opens his eyes to find another Wraith, a younger one with far less intelligence, standing over him.

The staccato of weapon fire cuts through the Hive just as bullets cut through the Wraith interrogating him. John's face appears above him, eyes wide and a little terrified. His teammates drag Ronon to his feet, sling his arms over their shoulders, and start running for the stargate in hopes of escaping the Hive before John's bomb goes off. There's a brief moment when it seems like death has come back for Ronon, as though his brief reprieve is merely a nasty Wraith trick to show him hope, then snatch it away.

Still, it's almost worth it to be surrounded by friends, family. It's almost enough to know that they will save Colonel Carter and the others at the SGC, and Jeannie and her family, and John's brother. Almost.

But then the Hive shudders, and Carter is on the radio shouting about Atlantis, telling them Atlantis has engaged the Hive, drone weapons bombarding its hull, buying them time. Ronon grins, blood in his mouth. Another day.

It takes nearly twenty-four hours for the SGC to sound the all clear and let everyone who evacuated to the Alpha site gate back to Earth. To Atlantis, actually, since the city's gate supersedes the one in Cheyenne Mountain. Jennifer settles Ronon into an infirmary bed with a relieved smile, and for the first time since she declared her interest in McKay, Ronon finds himself smiling back freely, without reserve.

John comes to visit as soon as he can, some of that fear Ronon saw on the Hive still lurking in his eyes, unvoiced. He's kind of an idiot that way, Ronon has come to realise. In all fairness, he's probably not much better--but he plans to be. They've wasted enough time already.

"This is my home," he tells John. It's not like he's trying to subtle, here.

"Am I interrupting?" Amelia asks, stopping a few feet away, waiting for permission from her CO to approach.

He's no great actor, but John hides his discomfiture well enough. Thankfully Ronon knows how to read him, and reads his dismay at Amelia's presence.

Ronon told the truth in the Holma court that day, about John liking men and having to hide it. He knew the truth because he's seen the way John looks at him, the way he's been looking since the beginning. It's nothing like the way sweet Melena would gaze up at him, once upon a time, except for all the ways it's exactly the same: hunger, hope, sorrow, joy, friendship, fidelity, love.

San Francisco is a nice looking city. Ronon's heard enough about it from Lorne to know that it's famous for celebrating same-sex sexuality with an annual parade of very colourful and mostly naked people. He decides to take it as a sign.

John's in his quarters when Ronon goes to see him. Of course, given their exhaustion and the early hour, it's not exactly difficult to track him down now that John's stopped trying to hide. "I didn't get to finish saying what I wanted to say," says Ronon, sitting down on John's bed within arm's reach, not willing to give him a chance to escape.

"Ronon, it's like three in the morning," John groans, rolling over and sitting up. "Can't this wait?" There's a pillow crease on his cheek, and Ronon can't help grinning, remembering Melena's tangled hair after a night of making love, waking up in the morning, sleepy and rumpled and reluctant to go to work.

"We've waited long enough, don't you think?"

John freezes. "I don't think we should be having this conversation."

"I think you're lying to yourself," says Ronon. He keeps his tone matter-of-fact despite the hammering in his chest. "I think you've been hiding." He leans in to force John to meet his gaze. "You're my best friend, okay? You shouldn't have to hide from me."

"It's against the rules," John says, eyes hooded. I hide because I have to, is what Ronon hears.

"Screw the rules." Ronon lifts a hand to cup John's cheek, and doesn't let go even when John flinches minutely. "I died, John. People die, planets get destroyed. Take what you can while there's life still inside you."

"Morbid."

"Remember the part where I died?" Ronon grins. "I'm not wasting any more time." He doesn't give John room to think, just leans in and kisses him, as hot and fierce and persuasive as he knows how. They're both panting for air when he finally pulls back.

"Banks," John blurts out, staring down at his hands where he's worrying the blanket. "She seemed pretty interested in the infirmary today."

"You're the one who wanted me to find other friends," says Ronon, amused. "Anyway, I'm not her type. If you get what I mean."

"Oh." John looks startled, then frowns. "Huh. Well, what about Keller?"

"What about her?" Ronon won't deny he had feelings for Jennifer, but he's not wasting his time on what might have beens when what he has with John is already rock solid. "She's got McKay. Teyla has Kanaan and Torren. Who do you have?" When John turns away, face shadowed, Ronon grabs his chin. "I'm right here in front of you." He presses his lips to John's, then noses his way down John's neck to the hollow of his throat, pushing him flat on his back on the bed. "You run, I'll track you down," he murmurs against John's t-shirt, tracing the line of his jaw, feeling the scrape of beard under the pads of his fingers. "But I'll be in a really bad mood when I catch up to you. Just so you know."

When John's hands finally, finally reach out to clutch at him, one hand wrapping around the back of his neck, the other fisting his tunic between his shoulder blades, Ronon lets out a quiet sigh of relief and pulls himself all the way onto the bed, tucking close to John in the narrow bed.

"This is such a bad idea," whispers John after a minute.

Ronon's thumb is brushing the inside of his elbow, feeling the pulse there, the way John shivers at his touch. "I dunno, I kind of like this."

"This?" John's voice is barely audible, like he's afraid of reality crashing down on him if he speaks too loudly. "Lying awake at three in the morning?"

"Yeah," says Ronon. "Only next time we should be naked and sweaty from sex. If we're gonna be sleep-deprived, might as well be for a good reason."

Huffing a laugh, John relaxes his grip on Ronon's shirt enough to stroke a hand down his back. "I'm pretty exhausted, sorry. Maybe tomorrow?" The note of hope in his voice makes Ronon smile softly.

"Yeah, okay." He's drifting off, on the verge of sleep when John heaves a sigh. Ronon bites back a snarl and settles for pinching John's ass. "What."

"Nothing, Christ." John shifts restlessly. "I'm just... not good at this. Relationships." He's silent for a moment. "Ronon, your wife..."

"Melena," Ronon says gruffly. "We weren't legally married." They'd talked about it, unable to decide if they honestly cared about a piece of paper or whether it was enough that their parents wanted a wedding.

John's arms tighten around him. "You guys were happy?"

He'd done most of the cooking, and she'd done all the bookkeeping, and they'd rented a small apartment because they couldn't afford a house yet, though they had been saving up. They'd had a small inheritance from Melena's uncle, twenty-five silver coins, a nest egg. There had been laughter and companionship and a bone-deep assurance that they were with the one they loved, for all the days they had life inside them.

"Yeah, we were happy." Ronon clears his throat. "It's the same thing, John. Be with me, until you can't be with me any more."

John nods, his chin scratching Ronon's forehead. "Yeah, okay."
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