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Summary: Nobody puts Ronon in a cage...

Categories: Slash Pairings > Ronon Dex/Sheppard, Slash Pairings > Sheppard/Other
Characters: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex, Teyla Emmagan
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, First Time, Hurt Comfort, Romance
Warnings: Adult themes
Chapters: 1 [Table of Contents]
Series: None

Word count: 8038; Completed: No
Updated: 15 Oct 2017; Published: 15 Oct 2017

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Story Notes:
Title is a nod to the Rolling Stones song of the same name.
Quote mentioned is from the Nicholas Cage and John Travolta film "Face Off".


"We should take a jumper." Ronon grumbled as he and Sheppard stepped from brightly-lit gateroom to shadowy forest.

"We've been over this. Teyla convinced Weir trading with these Ollut guys would be worth our while. Something about chocolate berries and a plant Beckett and the botanists want to put under a microscope." John gestured at the trees flanking them on either side like new recruits on parade day. "A jumper'd never fit through, besides a five mile walk in the woods got nothin' on you, Chewie."

Ronon grumbled under his breath as they headed along the dirt track at a pace both of them could sustain without effort.

"You're starting to sound like McKay, might wanna watch that."

Ronon shot Sheppard a glare. It seemed it was one of those days where no matter what Sheppard said, it rubbed Ronon the wrong way. Not that it was Sheppard's fault. He had no way of knowing the backlog of repressed feelings and desires Ronon fought to keep in check. It was easier to harness them when the others were around to run interference; McKay and his complaining, Teyla and her diplomacy - each helping to distract him in their own way.

He'd only been on Atlantis a few short cycles, but he knew deep down the Lanteans and their acquired technology were the best hope of defeating the Wraith. After seven years on his own, he was part of a team again. Something he hadn't known he missed. And there was Sheppard; badass protector and complicated mess, with stupid hair and a body Ronon wanted to pin down and fuck.

Late at night in the room assigned to him, but wasn't yet his, he fisted his cock to thoughts of Sheppard's mouth, Sheppard's hands, Sheppard's cock hidden inside stupid baggy-blue pants. He came hard at the thought of his name uttered, rough and desperate, in Sheppard's lazy drawl.

He was a coward, he knew. But wasn't risking his cause and new home reason enough for hesitation?

McKay had explained the rules under which Sheppard's military operated, and for once, Ronon agreed with McKay. Training alone didn't inspire connection and loyalty.

On Sateda his unit had been his family. They'd trained together, learned each other's strengths and weaknesses. And when darkness fell, they fucked together, discovering new bonds of intimacy and commitment.

Ronon smiled to himself as he strode out to take point, Sheppard's gaze a heavy warmth between his shoulders.

Four miles in, the happy chirping and scurrying of the forest's inhabitants went silent. John slowed to a walk, before stopping altogether. His senses thrown outward as Ronon stepped close to cover John's back.

"You got anything?"

Before Ronon could answer, a fearsome bloodcurdling battle cry echoed through the quiet of the forest.

"Bola Kai." Ronon growled; firing his blaster as he pressed harder against Sheppard's back.

"Bola what?" Sheppard shouted as he followed Ronon's lead, showering shadows and tree trunks in defensive fire despite being unable to lay eyes on a target.

There was no time for further explanations. An onslaught of animal hides with black-painted faces attacked from all points, using wooden clubs and slingshots to subdue their prey.

John got off a second volley, taking out two, maybe three, before he took a stone projectile to the shoulder. He dropped his P90 to swing on its harness against his chest, fingers numb and useless. He stood dazed and confused. White-hot fire blazed a trail across his brow. Pain buckled his knees, felled him like a tree, the loss of Ronon's solid weight behind him a greater agony than the ground smacking him in the face.

"Sheppard!"

He couldn't answer Ronon. The protocol for speech lost in the grey haze clouding his mind. If he just closed his eyes for a sec...

Ronon had known it would come to this. No amount of assurance from Melena, Tyre, or even Sheppard himself, swayed his certainty. When his time came he'd be the last man standing, taking as many as he could with the charges he had left. But with Sheppard dead at his feet and his blaster pinging its low-charge warning, he couldn't help but wonder if his would be a good death.

They swarmed him; sensed their victory close to hand as they beat on him with the same primitive weapons which claimed Sheppard.

He thought of Teyla and McKay, of Weir and Beckett, and the others. He lashed out as his captors dragged him away. His grief a wild wounded animal that tore strips from the tender feelings he'd nurtured in silence. He swore vengeance for the man left motionless in the dirt. He roared at the injustice, only to be silenced by a club to the gut. He coughed up blood, spat onto the dry clay of the trail. A sign he'd passed here should anyone care to follow.

If their reputation were true, he was their prize. A trophy to be presented to the clan leader, then displayed to all until his fate was decided, by whichever primitive god they worshiped. Ronon didn't care. Any spark of redemption for past wrongs he'd seen in Sheppard's mercurial eyes was gone. Hope of a future beyond the Wraith extinguished with Sheppard's last breath.

The village had been picturesque once; nestled in the foothills of a vast mountain range that impaled the sky. Its dwellings constructed from timber harvested from the plentiful forest. Ronon could have made a home there. But the Ollutians were gone; escaped, or slaughtered by his captors. Even with the Wraith scourging their way across the galaxy, Pegasus natives continued to squabble amongst themselves instead of uniting in a single force.

The six Bola Kai it had taken to subdue him came to a halt in the middle of the village common. He kicked out, threw himself into the nearest guard to knock him off balance, but pain bloomed red-hot across his nape and up into his skull. He slumped to his knees and fell sideways on the trampled grass; his captors' taunts and laughter following him into oblivion's seductive warmth.

~*~

He was freezing, and his arm ached like a sonovabitch. But it was the need to puke that pushed him into sitting up. The filtered light had faded into dense shadow. Birds and unseen creatures went about their evening. He'd been out long enough for them to ignore his presence.

Ronon.

He had to find Ronon, and get them both back home to Atlantis.

John staggered to his feet, swayed while the little sparks faded from his vision; his body objecting to the sudden increase in altitude. A pat down confirmed he still had all his weapons, something he hadn't expected.

They'd been four clicks from the gate when the Bola-whatever jumped their position. The Ollut village – according to Teyla's Intel – was five. He sipped from his half-empty canteen, the cool water a benediction on the parched fibers of his throat. Heading back meant reinforcements. But by the time he covered the distance, and Weir approved the rescue mission; Ronon would've been out there alone for too goddamn long.

He hadn't been lying about not getting a jumper through. Any rescue would be on foot, and John already had a head start. He grimaced; pain igniting in his head as he turned his back on the way he and Ronon had come.

The thought of Ronon alone, facing god-only-knew-what made John's gut roil. Ronon had been alone long enough. It made John's heart squeeze in tight on itself when he thought about it. But Ronon wasn't alone anymore; even if all he could look forward to in the way of rescue, was one beat-up lieutenant colonel with a busted shoulder and enough emotional baggage to fill a C130.

A quick inventory of his weapons - P90, two mags, sidearm, one clip, infantry knife at his hip, and a Satedan blade in his boot – and he was off. It was at a wobbly-limp until his body got with the program, but it was forward momentum and that was all he cared about.

Ronon.

He had to get to Ronon.

There were things to say.

Things that'd been left unsaid too long.

It was pitch-black when he decided to risk using the scopelight from his P90. The forest's locals still went about their business, unconcerned by his presence or any concealed threat. The white light made him hiss; sent hot pain to join the pulse-throb already leasing square footage in his skull. But it worth the discomfort.

In his first sweep over the trail he noticed a pair of sharp sickle indents surrounded by the smooth treads of sandals that overlapped each other, as if their makers had struggled with an uncooperative burden. Ronon had literally dug his heels in.

John tried for a smirk and grimaced instead. He prodded the tender swelling at his brow and hissed. Not the wisest move; if the white and gold sparks that danced across his view of the trail like fireflies, and the sudden violent urge to puke were anything to go by. His throat burned and his eyes watered, stomach muscles cramping as he vomited up the water and not much else. Breakfast had been too many hours ago to count.

He shivered, body covered in cold sweat and goosebumps. He swished his mouth with water, conscious of his dwindling supply and spat the foul taste into the dirt. Now he'd ceded to his body's need to purge what little remaining energy stores it possessed sleep looked good, but neither Ronon nor the concussion he had brewing would agree.

He had to keep moving. Had to find Ronon, and get them both back to the gate. On any normal day--John snorted, only to wince at the action--when had any day in Pegasus ever been normal? His best time in basic was ten-ten. These days, allowing for age and his constant fleeing from Wraith, he covered a mile in nine-forty. He trudged on, tripping over his feet and clutching at his still-numb wrist when it flapped out to the side and pulled on his shoulder.

It was hard to think. The village had to be around here somewhere. He stumbled over his feet like a newborn colt and crumpled face first into the hard-packed track. Who was he kidding? Ronon could free himself and be half way back to the gate before John got his shit together enough to be useful.

Ronon was a towering muscle-bound Adonis whose deep voice warmed John to his bones, and dark eyes that missed nothing. Eyes that'd seen more than John could ever comprehend, and looked at him with half-exasperation, half-amusement. Damn he was a sap. The thought of Ronon's full mouth brought the ghost of a smile to John's own lips as his eyelids slid closed.

Just five minutes and he'd be good.

~*~

Ronon startled awake, unaware he'd slept at all. His wrists and ankles were bound with green twine which only bit deeper into his flesh the more he fought to snap it. He was in a cage; well made with straight wooden braces and more of the twine lashed at each intersection. The raised bumps of which dug into his back and shoulders, and the globe of one ass cheek. His head throbbed where they'd clubbed him into submission. He felt the tug-itch of dried blood at his temple, but he ignored it in favor of taking in his surroundings.

The sky had begun to lighten above the towering peaks. It'd been gunmetal-grey the last he'd looked. An entire night's opportunity for escape, lost to forced unconsciousness.

He cursed under his breath as he discovered a change in his position was impossible. A length of twine tied between wrists and ankle bindings kept him immobilized.

The village lay quiet in its slumber. Smoke from dying campfires drifted on the still air bringing with it the sleepy murmurs of his comatose captors and the tease of roasted meat. Ronon's stomach growled, indignant at having missed out on whatever the evening meal had been. The reminder of food brought with it a raging thirst. In an effort to distract himself, he continued his recon. The buildings looked out on the green oval toward the forest. Felled trunks and boulders formed a visual boundary between the cleared land and the shadowy undergrowth.

He trailed his gaze, searching even though he knew it to be a pointless exercise. Sheppard wasn't coming. His CO, team leader, and friend, lay where he'd fallen. His lifeless body left to scavengers.

Ronon curled in on himself as bile rushed up his throat. He rolled; a whimper of grief mixed with what was left of yesterday's breakfast. The cage rocked with his movement, a quiet creak of possibility. He repeated the movement, body coming to his aid despite its exhaustion.

With every ounce of muscle he could summon, he threw his body against the cage; forced it into a full revolution, then another, kept its momentum tumbling ever closer to the boundary. He bounced inside like the bead in an infant's rattle. The impact with the wooden bars knocked the air from his lungs and laid in bruises that wouldn't bloom until later.

Ronon began to hope. The massive fallen tree he planned to shatter his prison against loomed close in his tumbled vision. He'd escape the cage, snap his bonds on the broken frame, and make a run for the gate. Sheppard's face drifted into Ronon's mind. He would take him home for the funeral rites and bear witness to the passing of all hope. He threw himself into the final lunge only to slam against the cage like a wave breaking itself on immovable rocks; knuckles and nose crunching in a bright flare of pain and fury.

"A valiant, if amusing, effort." A voice growled down through the haze of frustration swelling Ronon's senses. "You will honor the trials."

He had no idea what the Bola Kai chief meant, but he wanted no part. He thrashed; growled and spat at the two who hauled him from the cage. They sliced the joining twine and Ronon stood to his full height; ignored the agony of muscle and sinew, forced into movement after too long constricted.

"Prepare him. His challenger awaits."

He staggered; swayed like a stalk in the breeze when his guards deserted him. Icy water sluiced over him, set him to shivering. Mouth open, and eyes wide with the shock of it. He licked his lips, the crisp clean taste of ambrosia on his parched tongue. There was no time to linger on the pleasure of the sensation. His guards returned with a bucket swinging between them. They stepped close and a cloud of powder engulfed Ronon. It clumped in his lashes, and clung to the moisture on his skin to form a paste; adhering itself to the contours of his chest and abs. He sneezed and felt the heavy slap of his dreads drag across his shoulders.

He couldn't help the flinch as the second guard stalked into his personal space; right hand dripping red. It slammed into the center of his chest directly over his scar. Ronon snarled; perfect white teeth feral in the off-white of his painted face. Everything inside him surged in outrage. He was tainted, defiled into the image of his most hated enemy. And all for some joke of a trial.

"Take him." The chief barked, gestured to a stake and rope anchored in the center of the village common.

Ronon bided his time. They'd have to release him if they wished a good contest for the youths cowering by the dead fire pits. There were many warriors looking on. They'd provide him with an honorable fight. His odds were low, but he'd die a Satedan in battle. Not a chained dog attacked by fleas.

His guards were wary, and knotted the tether rope to his ankle before slicing the twine hobbling his feet together. A quick smear of black to his cheek and his transformation was complete.

The crowd gathered. The men wore bulky leather cloaks and furred boots. The women in fur-trimmed tunics, their hair braided with wildflowers for the occasion, gave blessings in the form of kisses to the brows of their sons.

Ronon stood rigid and solitary, wrists still bound. His costume itched and weighed heavy on his lashes with each blink. Rage choked him; burned hot and bright in his chest. He wouldn't kill, but he wouldn't go down easy.

Sheppard's face drifted through Ronon's mind, full lips tugged in trademark smirk, eyes bright and knowing. Grief twisted Ronon's gut and he shook his head to assuage the sting in his eyes. Payment was due, and he would damn well collect.

A staff fell at his feet and the onlookers cheered. It had begun.

The first contender hadn't yet grown into his scrawny limbs and his shock of auburn hair kept falling into his eyes. But he showed no fear as he loped toward the bound and tethered Wraith with his spear before him.

Ronon stood his ground, every inch of his body focused on the tip of his opponent's spear. He sensed the moment the boy made his move, and thrust his wrists up to meet the stone head. The twine snapped, freeing Ronon's hands. Pain surged on a tide of adrenaline as he wrestled for the spear with numb fingers.

The boy saw his advantage and twisted the spear as he lunged back. Ronon hissed at the sting of sharpened stone slicing flesh on its way to freedom. Cheers erupted as the boy hoisted his blood-stained spear above his head.

It was a first-blood challenge. A ritual of passage for the youths of the tribe. Something in Ronon eased. He wouldn't make it easy, but he wouldn't need to kill to survive. Every life was precious in the fight against their common enemy.

~*~

They circled one another; the pimple-faced youth, and the ex-Wraithbringer. Blood trickled in rivulets from the slice at Ronon's hip. He watched with approval as the boy darted back and forth, absorbing what he'd learned from the previous four challengers. The boy kept himself fluid, made Ronon pay attention, waiting for the move that'd bring them together once more. He'd tried twice, each attempted strike blocked by a whack to the ass from Ronon's staff. The laughter from the crowd, and his opponent's quirked brow had the boy flushed but determined.

Ronon could've escaped, could've used any of the boys' spears to sever the rope chafing the skin of his ankle. But despite how things began, he was their teacher. All he had been through, all he had suffered and lost, was being used to train the next generation of defenders.

He would escape. He would punish those who had taken his hope for a future beyond the Wraith. But first, he would pass on what he could and know his life had held some purpose.

The boy attacked, swift and sure, with the agility of a man twice his years. Ronon's knee buckled under the blow. He dropped on his ass, head thunking the ground as the boy straddled his chest, spear gouging a slice through Ronon's forearm.

The crowd cheered; their enthusiasm as energetic as it had been at sunrise. Ronon grunted as the boy pushed off his chest to chant his victory. He hissed through clenched teeth and squeezed a palm over the wound. The boy had gone for the enzyme sac, a risky but effective strategy. There was no denying the boy had promise. But it hurt like the bite of a fire hound. He should know, he'd been ambushed by one the month before he'd run into Sheppard and his people.

Lack of food and water, combined with the exertion and his accumulated injuries, had Ronon closing his eyes.

He'd escape in a minute. Or three.

~*~

John watched the fight from the cover of the ferns at the base of the trees edging the clearing. At first glance it looked as if a kid was going up a Wraith while his family stood by and watched. He'd been up on the balls of his feet, P90 raised, when the fighters shifted position.

Ronon.

John's heart beat hard against his ribs, a cold sweat trickling down his spine. Ronon was alive, made up like a Wraith, but alive. He couldn't think what that was doing to the big guy's headspace. John sent a quick word of thanks to whoever was listening. When he got Ronon out of there and back on Atlantis they were going to have words; words which hopefully led t-

Ronon went down on his ass, his head hitting the ground at the same time. John was up and running.

There'd been no good plan for crossing open ground, outnumbered with a banged up shoulder, to rescue a six-foot Satedan who outweighed him by a good fifty pounds. But John'd never let the lack of sound logic stop him before.

The kid jumped on Ronon's chest, spear raised for the kill. John stumbled in horror, caught his stride, and charged on. In the next breath the kid, to the cheering of his clan, leaped off Ronon; too busy with his victory lap to notice John charge past.

"Ronon!"

Ronon didn't open his eyes. Sheppard's voice sounded so near, so real. Had the boy killed him and he hadn't noticed? Was Sheppard there to bring him to the Home of the Ancestors?

"C'mon, Chewie, get up. Time to leave."

Ronon blinked; Sheppard smiled down at him, hazel eyes alive with urgent humor and something that turned Ronon's insides to marshmallow.

"Cut yourself free, let's go." Sheppard held out a Satedan blade, hilt first. "The natives are gonna notice their pet Wraith is escaping any second now."

In the space between one breath and the next Ronon had slit the rope from his ankle and wrapped an arm around Sheppard's waist. They made a run for the trees and the gate beyond, like they were leading a three-legged race at a Fourth-of-July picnic.

John heard the thunder of their pursuers loud in his ears, and stumbled against Ronon as they made the undergrowth.

"I have you." Ronon's deep murmur kept John moving.

"Same." He whispered, unsure if Ronon heard him.

A mile out from the gate John was breathing hard; a Seattle grunge band bashed out their greatest hits inside his head, and his right arm weighed more than it had any right to. The pattern of their pursuit had changed, fanning out to surround them.

"P90." Ronon ordered; making a grab for the catch holding the gun to the harness around John's neck.

Protesting was a waste of energy. Energy he didn't have to spare. His good arm was cinched around Ronon's back while the bad one had swung limp and useless against his side as they ran. There was no way he could hold a gun, much less fire one.

The gate was in sight when the Bola-whatever broke cover to block their escape. A line two-deep of leather and fur-cloaked cavemen armed with spears and those fucking slingshots. John couldn't help the pissed-off frustration and gut-churning pain that pounded at his temple.

"A rescue would've been good right about now." John felt an exhausted tremor ripple through Ronon as he strained to hold the P90.

As if in answer the gate engaged, chevrons lighting up as the ring turned.

"You guys might wanna get outta the way, unless you'd rather lose your heads?"

A few glanced between John and the gate, and each other, but none moved. The kawoosh ejected from the puddle, decapitating all but two of the Bola-whatevers, leaving a pile of headless bodies decorating the clay track at the bottom of the gate steps.

Teyla came through first, McKay and two squads of Marines on her heels with P90s at the ready.

"Colonel Sheppard, Ronon, you are well?" Teyla blinked at Ronon's appearance, said nothing, and signaled the Marines to fan out.

John smirked; she should've had her own team. "We've been better, Teyla. But I can't fault your timing."

Teyla glanced at the line of bodies at her feet. "It appears not."

"The gate took them out?" McKay asked, though it was obvious to everyone it had. "Serves them right. Don't they know standing too close will get their heads handed to them."

"Apparently not, Rodney."

John felt the chuckle Ronon held back as it rippled through his back muscles. It was good to be back with family, even when said family included Doctor Rodney McKay. "Ah, listen, not that we don't appreciate the back-up, but Ronon's pretty busted up and is gonna need washing up."

All eyes turned to Ronon, whose artificial Wraith skin had started cracking like the surface of a crazed dinner plate.

"Why in the name of Pegasus would you of all people want to play Wraith dress-up?" McKay asked in the half-exasperated, half-condescending way they all knew and expected.

"It wasn't by choice, Rodney." John squeezed tighter and felt Ronon lean surreptitiously into him.

"Then, I say this lot got what they deserved." Ronon gave a surprised grunt at the venom in McKay's tone.

"I suggest you take Ronon to PX-974, Colonel." Teyla nudged her boot against the stone step, deliberately not looking at John. "The planet with the metallic ocean you expressed a desire to one day surf."

"Teyla's right, Sheppard." Rodney agreed as he began punching PX974's address into the DHD. "Elizabeth will have more questions than Conan here is up to answering."

Teyla moved to stand beside John as the gate dialed.

When the kawoosh had settled into a rippling vertical puddle of pretty-blue, McKay shrugged out of his backpack and handed it to John, only to have Ronon take it instead. He raised a curious brow but didn't comment.

"I shall inform Doctor Weir of the change in plans, Colonel."

"Thanks, see you later."

"Just make sure you're back in time for the chess tournament. I've got a vac-pac of Brazilian roast, and a carton of Snickers, riding on your ability to beat Zelenka."

"Rodney!" Teyla scolded.

"Thanks, McKay." John huffed a laugh that made him wince. "Didn't know you cared."

"I don't, it's just the last of the real coffee until the Daedalus can restock and I don't want to-

John stepped across the event horizon, the cool sensation blocking out the rest of McKay's reply.

~*~

PX974's overcast sky and lavender-hued sand had Ronon blinking after the shadowy forests of Ollutio.

Sheppard stumbled down the slabs of sandstone acting as steps for the gate platform.

"We should rest." Ronon announced, including himself in the directive, knowing Sheppard would protest otherwise.

"Away from the gate."

Ronon nodded and took a better hold of Sheppard's shirt and belt to haul his CO toward a cluster of boulders and driftwood beneath the shade of low-hanging palms.

"See what McKay packed for us." John slapped at the midge feeding on the pointy tip of his ear. If there was one thing Rodney could be relied upon, it was over-packing.

Ronon settled John against the fallen trunk, careful not to jar his shoulder.

John sighed. It was a relief to not be on the move. The ache in his temple had increased to an insistent throb that beat in time with his heart, and the desire to close his eyes was tempting.

"Good?"

He arched his neck to meet Ronon's eyes. They seemed lighter, more golden in their concern. John's heart kicked against his ribs, color flushed hot in his cheeks and he ducked to look up through his lashes in the hope Ronon wouldn't notice.

"Ronon..."

"Talk later." It was difficult to tell under the white-grey sludge hiding Ronon's honey-bronzed skin, but maybe he was blushing too.

The air crackled with everything still unsaid between them. John shivered but he was on the opposite side of the galaxy from cold. One minute stretched into four, their gazes locked on each other.

The eternal slide-crash of the ocean filled the expectant silence. Every inch of John's body was on edge. Ronon dropped to his knees at John's hip and leaned close, breath a hot puff of intimacy on John's skin. He couldn't breathe. He'd waited for this, dreamed of it. He tilted his chin, hoped like hell he'd read the situation right.

"I wish to kiss you, Sheppard." Ronon's whispered confession hummed along John's nerves straight to his dick.

"Do it." His voice sounded cracked and desperate. Though he'd had longer dry spells in his career, the year Ronon had been on Atlantis tested his resolve to its limit.

"John." The sound of his name uttered in the intimate space between them had John arching into the rapture of their first kiss. Ronon's lips were full and soft and eager as they pressed against John's, encouraged him to open, to let go of his issues and disregard every single reason the two of them together shouldn't happen.

Ronon deepened the kiss, taking possession of John's mouth. He'd waited too damn long for this; the moment was everything, and nothing, like what he'd fantasied in the dark of his quarters. He wanted all of John, wanted to taste every hidden inch. Lost in a haze of relief and lust that drew every part of him taut with need, it took a while for him to realize John was tugging weakly at his wrist. He pulled back, sucked John's bottom lip until it popped free. The hazel-gold of John's eyes were lost to the wide spill of dark need.

John smirked; hair thoroughly-mussed and lips swollen from Ronon's kissing. "Fuck, dizzy."

Ronon grinned, all primal confidence and satisfaction. John cuffed him on the arm before reaching to press his palm to Ronon's jaw, thumb rasping over his mouth. Ronon darted his tongue out to taste, felt a tremor run down John's arm.

"Damn, Chewie, I've wanted you from the first moment I laid eyes on you." He swallowed past the embarrassment lodged in his chest. Sure, he hadn't meant to say it, but it didn't make it any less true.

Ronon's fingers grazed over the dried blood at John's temple. A gentle caress that spoke to everything he felt. "Thought I'd lost you, Sheppard."

John pulled his lip between his teeth, only to feel Ronon tug it free again. "What happened to John?"

Ronon leaned closer, words a deep rumble in his chest. "You like it when I speak your given name."

It wasn't a question, but John answered as if it was. "More than a bit, yeah."

Ronon laughed, only to grimace as the gunk cracked and white powder fell stark against the blue-grey of John's BDUs.

John slid his good hand against Ronon's, entwined their fingers. "Don't know about you but I could do with a swim."

Ronon squeezed their hands and nodded. All sign of lust and budding intimacy lost to the practicalities of getting clean. The thought of John naked was all the incentive he needed.

~*~

BDUs hadn't been a problem, but it'd taken both of them working together to free John and his injured shoulder from his shirt. Ronon's anger burned bright and sharp when he saw the mass of purple-green bruises tainting smooth pale skin.

"Looks worse than it feels, promise." Ronon hadn't noticed John step into his space and place his palm over Ronon's heart.

He gave a nod and realized John was naked except for his grey under clothing. He'd seen John shirtless before; couldn't be in a military unit and not catch the occasional glimpse in the ready room, but this was different.

"Hey, buddy, I'm feeling a little underdressed here."

John's smirk was back as he waved a hand in the general direction of Ronon's leathers, still laced and riding low on his hips.

"Don't have any..."

John blushed and ran a hand across the back of his neck. "Right, of course. Shall we?"

The lavender sand massaged the soles of John's bare feet as he made his way to the tide line with Ronon at his side. He couldn't shake the image of wet leather suctioned to strong thighs and an ass as round and firm as a peach. The thought of lying Ronon on his back, warm-honey skin smooth and clean and shimmering with the metallic water, his arms behind his head as John peeled his pants off to reveal what had to be a...proportional...cock, left John hot and hungry and impatient.

He gasped; the water bath-warm when it lapped at his balls and John sank in up to his neck. Utter bliss. He felt the heat seep deep into his muscles, loosening the aches which held him taut. John couldn't help the groan as he wiggled the fingers of his right hand, the movement one of relief. He still had feeling; a dull ache that eased itself through his wrist and up into his forearm, gradually working its way into his shoulder. John sighed; his mouth a soft oh of pleasure as he rolled the joint into the coaxing warmth of the water. He'd never experienced anything like it before. Even the PT officer at Ramstein hadn't possessed a healing touch this magical.

John ducked beneath the surface. The water's warm irresistible caress over his face and in his hair lulling him, soothing him, his head wound forgotten until pain flared bright and sharp, igniting each and every nerve. A trail of fire sparked behind his eyes. He thrashed; inhaled water on a silent scream as he searched for the surface. Something snared him around his middle, held him tight against hard muscle, refused to release him despite his weightless struggles. Ronon. John leaned into him, allowed the sense of home and hope to engulf him, reluctant to let go as they broke the metallic surface as one.

The air was cool on his hot skin. An army of goosebumps marched in formation across his bare chest, nipples crimped into hard buds amid the smattering of black chest hair.

"You okay?" Though he felt the rumble of Ronon's words against him, they sounded as if they came from far away.

John nodded; stubbled jaw rasping against smooth tanned skin now cleansed of its white sludge and garish red. "Think so."

Ronon's huge hands cradled his face and John leaned into the touch, only to yawn as his eyes struggled to stay open. He'd never been so tired or felt so safe before. The last thing he heard as he slipped into the welcoming darkness lurking at the edges of his vision was the thunder of Ronon's concern.

~*~

John woke to the gentle flap of a tarp and the rhythmic rustle of palm leaves overhead. A playful breeze chased tiny whorls across the vast expanse of sand. The tide had shifted while he was out cold. He took inventory without moving, but didn't register any pain. He felt better than all right, even the dull twinge in his knee had faded to nothing.

"You're awake." Ronon spoke from a few feet away where he leaned against the same log John'd taken advantage of earlier.

"Yeah." John lifted a hand to prod at his temple, pleased to discover neither his arm, nor his head, filed a report condemning the action. "What was in that water?"

"McKay'll want a sample." Ronon muttered, broad shoulders rigid in the patchy sunlight as he rummaged through the back pack McKay'd thrust at them.

"How long was I out?" John asked in a voice that pitched and wavered. It'd been long enough for Ronon to make camp.

"Too long." Ronon shuddered; his big body hunching further in on itself. He hadn't looked at John yet.

"Ronon."

John leaned up on his elbows and heaved another sigh of relief when his shoulder offered no protest. It was a long moment before their gazes met, but when they did John couldn't look away from the mass of emotion on Ronon's face.

"C'mere."

It was less of a command and more a plea, but Ronon crossed the gap between them and dropped to his knees before John could draw a full breath.

John grabbed a fistful of dreads and tugged. "I said, c'mere."

Ronon let himself be hauled in tight and close. John's chest was cool where his was warm from the sun. A strong arm wrapped across his shoulder blades, fingertips tracing the knobs of his spine. John kissed him, slow at first, then hot and hard, demanding entrance with the quick swipe of tongue and sharp nip of teeth. He opened for John, allowed his CO to explore his mouth, groaned into the sheer pleasure of John's kiss. His fantasies had been of him taking control, of mastering their pleasure; but having John lead him, showing Ronon what he wanted, was the sexiest fucking thing he'd ever known.

John let them up for air. His kiss-swollen lips caught up in a sexy grin, and fingertips edged beneath the waistband at the small of Ronon's back. He rolled his hips and pushed into the touch, only to rock down against the hard line of John's cock; its glistening head peeking out the waistband of his boxers.

"You've taunted me with this gorgeous ass for over a year." John slid his palm further under the soft leather to squeeze one cheek. "Time I got to see it, don't you think, Chewie?"

Ronon groaned in agreement, the slow husky drawl of John's voice melting any shadow of resistance he might've had. The thought of John's hands on his skin, exploring him, giving orders in that seductive lazy murmur, had Ronon scrabbling at the laces of his leathers; desperate to be naked, and eager to bare himself for John.

"So fucking beautiful."

Ronon had barely kicked free of his leathers and John was pressing him down onto his belly. The rosy heat brought on by John's praise flushed him from head to toe. He fisted the tarp beneath him as John lowered to lie full length along Ronon's back. It'd been too long since he trusted someone enough to permit the level of intimacy John asked of him. The slow press of soft lips to the nape of his neck soothed him, almost as if John'd understood and sought to offer reassurance.

"Easy." Ronon shivered at the touch of calloused fingers sliding his dreads aside, and the puff of warm breath against the delicate shell of his ear. "I've got you."

He made an effort to loosen his muscles with every kiss John laid down his spine, inching ever closer.

"Y'know..." John murmured; hot breath ghosting over the top of Ronon's crack. "...I can eat a peach for hours."

Ronon groaned at the image in his head. The quote taken from the movie the team had watched on McKay's laptop the night before. He wriggled as John spread his cheeks. The cool kiss of the ocean breeze emphasized how exposed he was, how much of him could be seen.

John gripped him tighter, fingertips biting into sensitive flesh, holding him right where John wanted him. He felt his hole clench at the thought and shifted his thighs wider. Whether to balance for what he knew was coming, or to show off, he couldn't tell.

"Jesus, fuck, Ronon." John growled, grazing the back of his hand along the smooth stretch of skin between Ronon's ass and the delicate sac of his balls. "That's so fucking hot."

He rocked his hips to make his cock and balls swing, hoping John'd touch him again.

"So fucking hot."

Ronon buried his face on his arms, dreads falling forward. The sound of John shucking his boxers brought it all home, more than anything they'd done so far. He was hot all over; exposed and eager, and scared of what would come after. Would John shun him, switch him to another team, kick him out of Atlantis?

A warm palm pressed to the small of his back, soothed him, anchoring him in a moment where there was nothing but him, and John. "I've got you, okay?"

Nothing happened. The ocean lapped on the lavender sand, clouds passed over the sun in a lazy rhythm, the playful breeze flapped the tarp overhead, and John, waited.

Ronon breathed deep, felt his chest expand to cater for it, exhaled, and nodded. He felt the press of a palm at the top of his crack and spread his thighs further in anticipation of penetration.

He jerked in surprise at the wet heat of John's mouth suckling at his hole. The tip of a playful tongue wiggled to coax him open. He groaned and pushed back, eager for more. It felt amazing; the sparks of fire from John's stubble as his jaw moved, eating Ronon out with an energy and hunger that made Ronon blush to the tip of his engorged cock.

John licked harder, stiffening his tongue so he could shove it deeper inside Ronon. Fuck, he'd wanted this since he'd watched Ronon take down his marines in the gym, the flexing of his peachy ass emphasized by those damn leather pants. He'd jacked off to the image that night in his skinny bed until his cock was raw and exhausted. Every mission where Ronon took point, leaving John to stare; mind lost to the pleasurable possibilities an ass like that offered.

Ronon rutted onto his mouth and John flicked his tongue around the sensitive rim before plunging as deep as he could. The sounds Ronon was making had him harder than he remembered being. His own ass was exposed to the breeze and he squirmed, cock slapping his thigh as if in punishment for him neglecting it.

He got a hand around it and gave himself a squeeze before reaching for Ronon. He licked down from ass to sac, sucked one tender ball and rolled it on his tongue before doing the same to the other, then laved a trail up rigid shaft. He slurped the bead of precome, Ronon's flavor exploding across his tongue making him groan as he worked his way back to press a kiss to Ronon's entrance.

John arched up and laid his body along Ronon's back, fine sweat all that lay between them. His cock pressed along Ronon's ass as he rocked his hips, mimicking the rhythm he wanted to share. "Wanna fuck you."

"Do it." Ronon arched his neck to accept John's hard messy kiss, bucked his hips in silent order.

"Jesus, fuck!"

John scrabbled for the backpack, hands shaky as he wrestled with the zipper. He hunted blind for something, anything, they could use; tossed aside aerosol insect repellant, power bars, an MRE, spare shirt and socks. He groaned in relief at the travel pack of hand lotion.

Ronon sighed and pushed into the slick pressure of John's fingers at his hole; impaled himself before John could do more than line up.

"Fuck, Ronon."

John's voice, think with lust, made him grin. "That's the idea."

John snorted; amused. "Just one of many, big guy. One. Of. Many."

"You ready?" Ronon asked, impatience making his words harsh.

John was too caught up in watching his fingers disappear inside Ronon's body that it was a while before he registered the question. "No condoms."

"I'm clean, so are you."

John swallowed hard around his suddenly-dry throat. "Yeah."

Ronon was gonna let him fuck him bare. He hoped he'd last long enough to give them both what they'd waited too-fucking-long to have.

"Yeah, I'm clean."

"Get on with it, Sheppard."

John chuckled; breathless as he lubed his cock with the last of the lotion. "Yes, Sir."

The press of John's cock against his hole had Ronon shifting his hips, spreading his knees ready for the ride. The burn was relentless. It crested over him in a wave that showed no sign of ebbing. The hard shaft of John's cock stretched him further than his fingers had. It'd been years since he'd fucked, longer still since he'd been breached. No time for fucking when the Wraith were on the hunt.

He groaned long and loud, fists caught in the tarp as he pushed back into the sensation. Pain eased into pleasure as John settled balls-deep, pubes a soft rasp against Ronon's skin.

He felt his body flutter and pulse, taking measure of the man impaling him. He panted with the pleasure of being filled. It was a vulnerability he wasn't sure how to categorize. He rocked his hips, clenched and released to hear his new lover moan.

"Keep that up and this'll be over quicker than we both want." John panted each word, his fingers biting into Ronon's hips to hold him still. "You feel damn good. I want...want..."

John rutted his hips, pulled back and shunted as deep as he could go. "Fuck, Ronon."

Ronon bit his lip and grunted as flesh slapped against flesh. He pushed up on his hands, better to take John's cock deeper on every thrust. He reached for his cock where it slapped against his belly and fisted in time with John. Heat bloomed inside him, blurred his vision and turned his limbs to liquid each time John nailed the sweet spot deep inside him.

"John!"

"Yeah, same." John grunted; his grip on Ronon's hips keeping his ass tipped up, his to use as he would.

Ronon clenched his muscles around the cock inside him, squeezed tight as his orgasm crashed over him, pulsed white onto the tarp beneath him. Body weak, he tried to collapse but John held him in place as his strokes turned ragged. Ronon's name a mess of indecipherable sounds lost in his lover's voice, as John bucked his last, emptied himself into Ronon's willing body.

John slumped onto Ronon's back, softening cock still wedged inside. He kissed Ronon's shoulder as he lowered them both to the tarp. He made to pull free, wanted to kiss, to rest together before reality could claim them. But a large hand reached back to palm his ass.

"Not yet."

He nodded, allowed himself to nuzzle Ronon's neck. He smiled at the deep hum of contentment beneath his cheek and relaxed into a post-orgasmic doze.

~*~

Ronon woke from a sleep he hadn't been aware of taking. A solid weight pressed him into the crisp fabric of one of Atlantis' tarps. Ripping his bare skin free of it would be an unpleasant task. He grimaced at the thought.

"Five more minutes." Sheppard, no John, mumbled against Ronon's ear.

Ronon smiled like he hadn't done in many, many, cycles. "Five more minutes."