Rating: NC-17, just to be safe
Summary: Even though John had been in the room at the time, he was still not entirely clear on how Teyla had managed to convince Woolsey to let them go on what was essentially a weekend getaway, to a music festival no less.
Spoilers: Spoilers for everything up to and including Remnants, 5x15.
Author's notes: The title comes from the wonderful song, Sunlight in a Jar, by the Lucksmiths. It served as inspiration for this story. This story is an AU where the team got together sometime between Quarantine and The Kindred.
"Almost done packing?" Ronon asked from the doorway.
John jumped, and spun around so fast that he almost tripped over his own feet. That had to be the fifth time that someone had snuck up on him and spooked him in the last four days; he really needed to get his shit together. He couldn't even blame this one on Ronon's ninja skills, because he should have heard the fucking door slide open.
John smiled at Ronon, and eased into a slouch as casually as he could. Ronon, unsurprisingly, didn't look like he was buying it.
"Yeah, I'm just about done. You?" John said. Ronon nodded and moved past him to sprawl on John's bed, nearly kicking the backpack off in the process.
"Hey!" John grabbed for the pack and managed to deposit it safely on the ground. Two seconds later, Ronon's fingers curled tightly around John's belt and he was flying forward and crashing down onto Ronon with a distinct lack of grace.
"Hi," Ronon said, and grinned at him from a few inches away, that slow, utterly confident grin that always made John shiver just a little bit.
John raised an eyebrow. "There are easier ways to get my attention, you know." He shifted, trying to find a slightly more comfortable position, and then huffed out a surprised, "Ahh!" when Ronon pushed his thigh up between John's legs, pressing firmly and very, very nicely on John's cock.
John closed his eyes for a second, planting his hands on either side of Ronon's head. "We're going to be late. Teyla'll be pissed."
Ronon's response was to move his hands to John's ass, and pull John down as he grinded up, and that - okay, that was actually pretty convincing.
"This is fun," Ronon said between kisses to John's jaw. "And Teyla will forgive us."
John snorted, but thrust against Ronon's thigh anyway. "Sure, until she makes us pay later."
Breath hot against John's ear, Ronon said, "Yeah. That'll be fun too," and bit his earlobe. John groaned and shoved down hard, 'cause what the hell. The man made a good point.
When they hurried into the gateroom, Teyla took in their flushed faces and dishevelled clothes, and gave Ronon a particularly arch look. Ronon shrugged. John cleared his throat and said brightly, "Okay, are we all set?"
"Well, Teyla and I are all set because we've been standing here for twenty minutes, twiddling our thumbs and trying to reach you on the radio, while you two were off - what the hell took you so long anyway?" Rodney asked, poking John's shoulder.
John stared at Rodney for a few seconds. He smirked when Rodney swallowed and said, "Oh. Well -"
Teyla shifted Torren in her arms and said pointedly, "Now that we are all here, perhaps we should go?"
"Right," John said, and waved at Sergeant Campbell. "Ready for dial-out!"
From the balcony, Woolsey called down, "Remember to use the recording devices! And - and have a wonderful time!"
Ronon and Rodney rolled their eyes practically in sync, but Teyla smiled up at him. "We shall, Mr. Woolsey."
Even though John had been in the room at the time, he was still not entirely clear on how Teyla had managed to convince Woolsey to let them go on what was essentially a weekend getaway, to a music festival no less. Teyla had used a lot of phrases like "social networks" and "cultural celebration" and "recordings for the anthropologists", and by the end of the meeting Woolsey had been so worked up about the damn festival that Teyla had had to do some more fancy verbal footwork to keep him from coming along with them.
John also had an uneasy suspicion about what exactly had prompted Teyla to decide that the team needed to take a vacation - ahem, to go on a mission to listen to a bunch of concerts on Wolas. No one had mentioned anything about alien time capsules or hallucinations, but all three of his teammates had been doing their own versions of the mother hen act for the past five days.
Not that John actually minded spending a weekend hanging out listening to music with his team, away from the watching eyes on Atlantis. He leaned back on bench and watched Rodney trying to detach the toddler that was clinging to his pant leg like a very determined baby sloth. His eyes lingered on Rodney's ass, nicely displayed in the dark pants that he had borrowed from Rathal.
Yeah, this vacation thing wouldn't be too bad.
Alaya swept in and scooped up the kid, smiling apologetically at Rodney. "Getta is very fond of you, Dr. McKay."
Rodney grimaced back at her, brushing at his pant leg. "Yes, I can tell."
Fortunately, Teyla chose that moment to emerge from the tent, followed by Kanaan.
"I am ready to leave now. Where is Ronon?" Teyla asked.
Rodney mumbled something about beer and took off towards Halling's tent, leaving John alone with Teyla and Kanaan.
"If Torren gets restless at night -" Teyla began, but Kanaan shook his head at her, laughing.
"Then I will sing to him, and pace the entire settlement until he rests. And if anything unexpected happens, I will send Jinto through the portal to find you. Do not worry, Teyla."
Teyla grasped Kanaan's shoulders and they leaned in to one another, foreheads touching, both of them smiling. They looked - comfortable together, close.
John looked away. He adjusted the strap of his pack, and then fiddled with his shoulder holster, trying to get used to the feel of it under his arm, rather than as a familiar weight on his thigh. At least the Athosian jacket covered it well; the material was loose enough to drape over the holster and thick enough to hide the bulge. They might be going incognito on this mission/vacation, but none of them had been willing to go weapon-less, not even Teyla
Ronon and Rodney showed up, and John breathed easier. Kanaan was a good guy, aside from his time as Michael's zombie minion, and he'd been pretty cool about the whole 'coming back from imprisonment and genetic mindfuckery to find his girlfriend sleeping with her teammates' thing, but it was still awkward to be around him.
Teyla pulled away first. "Goodbye, Kanaan, and thank you. Take good care of him."
"Always," Kanaan said softly, and then smiled stiffly at the rest of them. "Enjoy yourselves. Wolas is - very pleasant during this season."
John smiled his best fake smile back at him. "Thanks, I'm sure we'll have a good time."
He turned and headed towards the path leading back to the gate, Teyla beside him and Rodney and Ronon following along behind, bickering quietly about something. John could have sworn that he heard Kanaan mutter something that sounded like, "I bet you will," behind them, but then Teyla linked her arm through his and squeezed his hand, and John decided that it must have been the wind.
As it turned out, Wolas was pretty pleasant. It was a bright, breezy day, just warm enough for John to roll up the sleeves of his jacket, and the narrow path from the gate to the town wound through vast stretches of prairie, and then fields of green crops. There wasn't a single hill, root, ravine or rocky outcrop to be seen, no trees or thorn bushes to maneuver around, no deep rivers to ford.
The lack of cover was making John's teeth itch.
As they approached the outskirts of the village, John could hear the first faint strains of drumming in the distance, and then other instruments as well, the blaring brassy noise of horns followed by a pipe's twisting sweetness.
Teyla hummed along with the pipe's song, quickening her pace and nearly skipping down the path. She laughed when she caught John looking at her sideways, biting his lips to hide his grin. Happy was a good look for Teyla.
"It has been a very long time since I was last at a music festival," Teyla said, her smile turning slightly sad. "Since before my father died."
"Did you go to the one on Jeh, about twelve years ago?" Ronon asked, his voice quieter than usual, and John turned to look at him even as Teyla said, "Yes! Were you there as well?"
"Yeah," Ronon said. He paused, and then added, "Went with Melena."
No one said anything for a few moments, and then Rodney blurted, "Did you have fun?"
John started to sidle towards Rodney to get into a better position for head-slapping, but Ronon just smiled at Rodney and said, "Yeah, we did. The Ilan drummers were amazing."
"I do not remember the drummers, but did you see Vel Labyan, the performer from Terino's temple?" Teyla asked.
"Yeah, the crazy guy who set his hair on fire at the end?"
"That was a symbolic gesture -" Teyla said hotly, and they were off, trading "but did you hear the -" and "remember when -" and "but what about the group from -", for all of the rest of the way to the town, through the town's gates, and almost to Teyla's friend's house.
John walked next to Rodney and exchanged confused looks with him until they gave up any hope of following the conversation and started talking about the relative merits of Batman villains instead.
The town of Wolas was sprawling, weatherbeaten, and full of people. The last time John had seen crowds this big in Pegasus, it had been at the traveling market on Etoras and they had nearly lost a scientist to a band of slavers. It made his hand keep twitching towards his hip reflexively, and he had to keep reminding himself that they weren't in danger at the moment, as far as he could tell, and more importantly, that he should be reaching towards the damn shoulder holster instead. He could tell that Ronon was edgy as well; even as he continued his conversation with Teyla, his eyes were darting everywhere and his neck and shoulders were stiff with tension. Ronon didn't trust crowds any more than John did, especially when the team wasn't fully armed.
The music got louder and louder as they made their way through the winding streets, sometimes shouldering through clusters of people, or vendors shoving vegetables and the Pegasus version of hot dogs in their faces.
"Most of the musicians will be in the town's main circle, and the surrounding streets," Teyla said, "although there may be some performances out in the fields as well."
She sounded wistful, and she kept turning her head in the direction of the music. John almost suggested that they head over and listen for a bit instead of going straight to their host's place, but then they rounded a corner and Teyla said, "Ah! We're here."
Teyla's friend Caz lived in what looked to John like a skinnier, wooden version of a townhouse, along with her two brothers and her kid, a small boy who sucked his thumb and watched all the adults silently as they stood in the front room making small talk.
Caz smiled at them and waved her hand at the pile of beddings in the corner of the room. "I know you said you would bring your own sleeping provisions, but I borrowed these from the neighbours just in case. You can spread them across the floor for extra padding if you don't need them."
"Thank you, we will do that," Teyla said, smiling back. "We appreciate you giving us the use of your back room, and we'll try to avoid inconveniencing you while we are here."
Caz snorted, tossing her curls over her shoulder. "No inconvenience, Teyla, don't be ridiculous. All the times I spent with you and your father on Athos - you and your men could hole up here for a couple of years and it still would not repay the debt I owe you."
Teyla touched Caz' shoulder and said quietly, "Thank you, Caz."
John felt someone grab his wrist, and he twisted hard and yanked his arm away. But when he turned, one hand raised defensively, he saw it was Ronon, who just gave him an assessing look and grabbed his wrist again, holding him with a loose grip. Ronon already had Rodney by the other arm and seemed to be trying to drag them both in the direction of the bedding and the back room, so John didn't pull away again. Rodney was protesting, "Hey, what? Let go!"
Ronon said, his voice a gravelly not-quite-whisper, "We're giving them some privacy, McKay," and John looked back at Teyla and Caz in surprise before he was shoved unceremoniously into the next room, crashing into Rodney.
Ronon followed them in a moment later, the bedding tucked under his arm, and pulled the leather curtain closed behind him.
"So you think that they used to -" John started, and waved his hand helplessly in a gesture that didn't do a lot to convey 'have a lot of hot and probably tender lesbian sex'.
Rodney seemed to get it, however, because he perked up and said, "What, really? You think?" and made an aborted move back towards the curtain.
Ronon gave them both a "I'm surrounded by idiots" look, which he had clearly stolen from Rodney. "No," Ronon said slowly, "but they're old friends, and they were - "
He hesitated, and John said helpfully, "Having a moment?"
"Yeah," Ronon said, "sure."
Teyla pushed the curtain aside and walked in. She raised her eyebrow at the way they all turned to look at her. "Yes?"
"So," John said brightly, "you and Caz -" and then winced when Ronon stepped on his foot.
Teyla narrowed her eyes at them but said only, "Caz and Lobie have left to meet with the rest of their family."
Rodney said, "Oh, hey, that means we're alone in the house, right? How about we have a moment of our own?" He grinned at them all and moved closer to John, sliding his hand around John's waist, tucking his fingers under his jacket and shirt to touch the bare skin of John's back. John couldn't help arching into the touch, and he could feel his dick starting to stir.
Teyla's lips stretched into a slow smile, and she moved towards them.
Ronon said, "Uh, no."
It took John a second to process this, because he had been watching Teyla, the gleam in her dark eyes and the slink of her hips as she glided forward, so he didn't get in on Teyla and Rodney's chimed, "What?"
Ronon's arms were crossed in front of his chest, and he looked weirdly uncomfortable. "It's rude."
Teyla frowned. "What is rude?"
Ronon shrugged without uncrossing his arms. "We're in your friend's house. She offered us her hospitality, we can't have sex on her floor."
John blinked. Ronon actually sounded kind of - scandalized.
"But you have sex everywhere," John said, and threw up his hands in frustration when Ronon scowled at him. "You do! You were the one who suggested Rodney's lab, and the whirlpool by the east pier, and you radioed us all down when you found the foam room - and what about that time we were trapped in that giant tree and you stuck your hand down -"
"That was different," Ronon said flatly. "This is someone else's house. We're guests."
"It's not as if we're actually going to fuck on her floor," Rodney said, with what sounded like his best effort at a reasonable tone. "I mean, we have our sleeping bags, we're not going to leave a mess or anything."
Ronon glared some more. "That's not the point."
"Why did you not say something before about your - delicacy concerning this matter?" Teyla hissed.
Ronon shrugged again. "Didn't know you all were planning on having sex here."
Rodney's face was getting kinda red and Teyla was tapping her hand against her thigh the way she did when she was really irritated. John took a deep breath. Okay, whatever, if Ronon wasn't going to play ball, he didn't think any of them were quite cruel enough to just carry on without him, so - no sex in the house.
"Okay, how about we go get dinner now, and discuss our options?" John said in his best "let's all play nice " voice.
Teyla shot him a venomous look. Oh yeah, she hated that voice. "Options."
"I'm sure with some effort, we can find another venue," John said. "In the meantime, we can eat, listen to some music..." He wiggled his eyebrows enticingly.
Teyla rolled her eyes at him, but she stopped tapping her thigh, so John counted it as a win.
"Fine. Since we're clearly not going to be able to do anything interesting around here, let's go eat." Rodney stomped out of the room, pushing the curtain aside. Teyla stalked out after him.
John looked at Ronon. "You really can't make an exception here, buddy?"
Ronon stared back. "It's rude."
John sighed and walked towards the door. "Right, okay. But I'm gonna remember this the next time you ask to come on my face."
Thankfully, eating did manage to make everyone a little less cranky. They bought three loaves of bread, a melon-like fruit, and a pile of meat-on-skewers from nearby stalls, and sat down on some rickety wooden steps to eat. By the time they were finished, everyone was talking to each other again, although Rodney kept muttering about blue balls, as if he hadn't had a perfectly good orgasm last night, groaning and bucking as John fucked him and Teyla's hand slid up and down his cock.
When they were done eating, they ambled down the narrow streets, following the sound of the music. They were going in the same direction of most of the crowd, and it wasn't too long before they reached the main circle, a wide grassy space in the middle of town. At the moment, it was covered with various stalls, platforms, small tents, and a few larger stages, and overflowing with people.
The sound was incredible. There were a few huge groups with instruments ranging from guitar-looking things to drums to clarinet-like pipes, but mostly it was just people and their voices, singing alone or together, in groups ranging from what looked like about seventy people to single performers. There was one small girl, standing and singing alone on a barrel, and next to her four men wearing hats were harmonizing and dancing with each other, their limbs moving slowly, deliberately. To the right, John could see a group of about eight people who seemed to be having some kind of improv lyrics competition, and the passersbys who had stopped to listen kept joining the game, picking up the next cue and carrying on the song.
John grinned, and saw his joy echoed on the faces of his teammates. Even Rodney had forgotten about his balls and was looking around in awe and delight.
John said, talking loudly to be heard over the noise, "So, where to first?"
Ronon pointed to a drumming circle, his face lit up like a little kid's. "You have to hear these guys."
Teyla and Rodney were nodding, so they headed towards the drums and John clenched his hands to stop himself from touching them, until he remembered that they were off-world and that there was nothing to stop him from stroking Ronon's back and wrapping his arm around Teyla's waist and sticking his hand in Rodney's back pocket. So he did.
Their final concert for the evening ended abruptly when rain started sheeting down from the sky, and the performers both yelped and raced off towards their tent, hunched protectively over their instruments. The small crowd broke up pretty fast as well, everyone scattering for shelter. Unfortunately, as this concert happened to be one of the ones that was being held in a field, there wasn't a whole lot of shelter to be had. The rain was coming down hard, and John was soaked within seconds. Within minutes they were slogging through mud to get back to the path that led into town, and Rodney was yelling something about Woodstock and cow fields. John ignored him.
"Over this way," Ronon said, waving them towards him. "I saw a building earlier."
A few minutes later, they staggered into a small wooden structure that was full of farming tools and what smelled and looked like dried hay, if dried hay were pale grayish-blue.
"Oh, great," Rodney said, shrugging off his jacket and letting it fall to the floor with a wet splod. "A barn."
John, however, took in the ample piles of dry hay, the stack of blankets piled on one of the tables, and smiled slowly. He caught Teyla's eye, and knew from the speculation there that she was thinking the same thing.
"You know, Rodney, I think you're looking at this in entirely the wrong way," John said.
"Really, how should I be looking at it, Colonel Always-look-on -" That was as far as Rodney got before John tackled him into the hay.
Rodney howled, and John laughed and rolled on top of him, leaning down to lick Rodney's neck and nibble at his shoulder. They were both soaked, and the hay was sticking to them, and John felt the hay pile shift to left as Ronon and Teyla joined them.
Rodney said, "Son of a bitch!" and used the haystack's instability to twist over, and roll on top of John. John pushed up with his hips and tried to flip them again, but Rodney grabbed his wrists and pinned him down hard, and suddenly John wasn't okay with this anymore.
"Let go, let me the fuck go -" and he was twisting his arms and breathing too fast and Rodney was wide-eyed above him, and John wanted him off but didn't want to hurt him, and then thank god, Rodney let go. John shoved him hard with both hands and then scooted backwards, nearly tumbling off the goddamn haystack.
When he was no longer in danger of falling to the ground and had managed to catch his breath, mostly, John looked up at the three set of eyes that he could feel watching him.
Rodney was still wide-eyes, pale with shock. Teyla held herself carefully still, and stared with worried eyes. Ronon was watching him, tense with concern, looking as though it was taking all he had to keep from going to John.
John had to swallow before he could speak, so Rodney beat him to the punch. "I'm sorry, John, I'm sorry - I know you don't like the bondage thing, I should have known -"
John shook his head, interrupting, "Rodney, no, it's not - I don't care about being pinned -"
"Okay, that's pretty clearly not true," Rodney said.
John grimaced. "I don't usually, it's just. I was - surprised. I'm sorry." They watched him silently, and he ran a hand over his face. He was sweating, and covered with bits of hay. "Look, it was nothing, okay? I'm fine now."
"You were surprised," Ronon said sceptically.
"Yeah," John said firmly, lifting his head to meet their stares. This was familiar, anyway, from his marriage: this feeling of being studied, of his secrets being demanded.
"John," Teyla began, and her voice was pleading. Then she stopped, took a breath, and said more calmly, "You know that you can talk to us."
"Yeah, sure," John said.
"John," Teyla said again, and this time stretched her hand out towards him like she couldn't not. John looked away, stared down into his lap. He was rubbing the wrist of his left hand, tightening his fingers around it, and he stopped.
Finally, he said, voice hoarse, "Maybe, okay? But not now."
He looked up when he heard the hay sliding again, and Ronon was crouching in front of him. Ronon waited until John looked up before reaching out and cupping John's face, and kissing him, soft at first, and then hard, deep, and John was on his back, and clutching at Ronon, grabbing at his dreads, his shoulders. And then Rodney and Teyla were there too, and Ronon buried his head in John's shoulder while Teyla kissed John's face, his cheek and his jaw and his nose, and Rodney curled up next to them and wrapped his arms around all of them, keeping them close.
They fell asleep like that, after they'd peeled most of their wet clothes off and Rodney had gone and found the pile of blankets. The hay was scratchy, and so were the blankets, but John was warm and had Teyla's hip under his palm, Rodney's arm around his waist. He kissed Ronon's collarbone once, twice, and then laid his head down, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.