Disclaimer: These characters belong to the copyright holders, not to me.
Author's Notes: Thanks to p0wdermonkey for beta reading!
Summary: This wasn't exactly how John was hoping to spend the holidays.
The new planet is colder than Lantea or the one they never managed to name, and the seasons actually line up more or less right with Earth's. The calendars will start getting off pretty soon, but this first year, Christmas falls more or less in the middle of the winter, and they actually get some snow. Ronon's gotten the picture that this is, for some reason, something that matters to people.
At least, it seems to, even though a lot of people spend a lot of time explaining that they don't care about the holiday. They're just hanging up tree branches or getting the mess hall to bake endless batches of cookies for the sake of other people's morale. Ronon likes the cookies and thinks the evergreen branches are weird but harmless. They can all probably use an excuse to have some parties and kick back just a little.
It's not everybody's holiday, but enough people seem to celebrate it -- or at least explain that they did when they were children, but they're much too cool for that now, so they'll just eat a few cookies when no one is looking -- that it's kind of like being back home when there was a holiday. Except that everything is wrong, the food and the decorations and the songs, and it won't ever be right again and there are only a handful of people left alive who even know that anymore, wherever they are, and that sucks.
The cookies are pretty good. He tries to look on the bright side.
He's not sure if the idea to build a skating rink is connected to their midwinter holiday or not. Apparently it's for some sport that some of the Marines want to play, something involving skating around on the ice hitting a little flat thing with long sticks. He expected this to be as ridiculous a sport as "figure skating," but it also apparently involves a lot of slamming into people and hitting them with sticks, even if there are supposed to be rules about that.
It's actually kind of entertaining to watch, especially when John gets out there to play with them, even though John kind of sucks at it. He apparently learned how to skate when he was a kid, but Ronon's talked to some of the other guys who play, and he doesn't think John spent every cold morning when he was a kid out trying to kill other kids with a hockey stick.
John throws himself into it, though, sliding wildly across the ice, grinning fearlessly. That's probably worth watching the game just to see. It's been a while since Ronon's seen him having that much fun, playing like a kid. It makes him grin himself and yell "go get them, Sheppard!", not that John seems to need much encouragement.
"Oh, God, he's going to be killed," Rodney says, coming out onto the deck where Ronon is standing watching. He's cradling a cup of coffee, steam rising in the chill morning air. "Who told him it was a good idea to play hockey with the Marines?"
"I am sure John knows what he is doing," Teyla says, coming out behind Rodney. She has Torren balanced on one hip, and he stares at the game wide-eyed. Ronon wonders if they make sticks his size.
"We should probably have medical personnel standing by for when he gets a concussion," Rodney says. "Or when somebody does. There are a lot of concussions in hockey."
"Cool," Ronon says.
"I am sure it is a reasonably safe game," Teyla says, perching Torren on the deck rail and holding him so that he can see. She sounds like she's not entirely sure, though.
"Really not," Rodney says.
"Yeah, but it's Sheppard," Ronon says. "He can totally take these guys." He watches John dodge a collision, ice spraying from his skates, swiping wildly at the puck and missing by a mile, looking like he's having a blast.
Teyla and Rodney exchange glances. "Of course he can certainly take on many Marines who are at least ten years younger than he is," Teyla says, in a tone that suggests she's either humoring Ronon or humoring John even though he can't hear her. "I might question the wisdom of trying to do so on skates."
"The last time I went ice skating, I had to get stitches," Rodney says. "And that wasn't even hockey."
Ronon snorts. "Why am I not surprised?"
"I don't see you out there."
He shrugs. "I tried the skates. I can't move fast enough on them yet to play that game." He doesn't say that he's enjoying watching just as much, because mainly what he's watching is John, and he thinks if they get that, Teyla will look sympathetic and Rodney will look uncomfortable, and he doesn't want to deal with either one right now. They're all having fun for once. That's enough.
Torren yells in excitement, and Ronon turns his attention back to the game. There's a frenzy of activity on the ice, people evading each other in tight swooping arcs and clattering sticks as they battle for the puck. He can't see John, and then he does, too far away to get into the action in time but trying to, driving hard across the ice and then plowing straight into a blond Marine in a bright ski cap, both of them going down in a tangle of legs.
"You see!" Rodney says, as if he's a little sorry but mainly satisfied to be proven right. Sometimes Ronon thinks there's something basically wrong with Rodney.
"I am sure he is fine," Teyla says, and she's smiling, but John is taking too long to sit up, and when he does, the color has drained from his face. He's cradling his right arm close to his chest. "Or not," Teyla says ruefully.
"You all right, Sheppard?" Ronon calls down.
"Oh, sure," John calls back, looking like he'd really just like to slouch off the ice before anyone else notices that there's a problem, but like he's not actually sure how to get up with one hand. The Marine he ran into hauls him up by the other arm and steers him off the ice, and Jennifer's already pushing her way through the crowd.
When Ronon gets down there she's leading John over to the doors back inside, shooing people out of their way and saying something about maniacs on ice skates.
"Is he dead?" Ronon says. He gives John a quick measuring look, but he doesn't seem hurt except for his arm, so he turns it into a teasing smile. "I said get the other guys."
"That was my mistake," John says. He's sounding a little ragged.
"Well, let's go get you treated for this little friendly fire incident," Jennifer says. "You're going to need a cast."
"Just in time for the holidays," John says. "Great."
Jennifer gives him a look. "I could tie a bow around it if you want. Anyway, we're all scheduled for light duty this week, so that's one week out of the six you're probably going to have to have your arm in a cast."
"Six tops, right?" John makes charming woeful eyes at Jennifer, but as far as Ronon can tell Jennifer's not really very susceptible to that. He thinks John knows that, but there's sweat standing out on his forehead despite having just come in from the cold, and Ronon thinks he's looking for a distraction.
"Six minimum. If it's a nice clean break. Let's go do some X-rays."
"I don't know," John says. "Can I have a lollipop?"
"Sure, since you're apparently ten years old," Jennifer says. She looks up at Ronon as she and John get into the transport chamber. "He's not dying," she says. "You can come lurk if you want, but it's not actually necessary."
"Finish watching the game," John says. "Tell me who wins."
"Okay," Ronon says, because he can't think of a way he can really argue with that even though he doesn't care who wins the game. Rodney and Teyla will be waiting for him to come back and tell them John's okay, and he's got no good reason to follow John. He lets the doors close and heads back up into the cold.
John isn't embarrassed, he tells himself. Just because he's not only grounded himself for the next six weeks but done it in a stupid and unnecessary way, and just because he can see everybody in the infirmary biting their tongues not to say things like "you know, you're not a kid anymore"--
And, okay, he's not, but it's also not like he's sixty -- okay, he's forty, but that's not middle-aged or something. Not really. There's no point in even thinking that way, because the next thing you know you start thinking about how things can only get worse from here on out, and then you may as well be middle-aged. Start thinking about where you'll be in ten years, and you may as well go ahead and order a rocking chair.
Keller puts his arm in a cast and gives him a sling and some Percocet to be friends with him, which he's not planning to take yet because he's still got the rest of the day's work to finish up. There's not much, some reports that take forever hunting and pecking one-handed, and checking the inventory in the armory, because Woolsey gets twitchy when they don't know where all the ammunition's gone.
"Were we under attack?" Lorne asks him deadpan when he comes in. "Sorry I missed it." He's probably heard the actual story by now, so John doesn't feel obligated to tell him about it.
"Huge Wraith attack. I took care of them, though."
"Nice of you," Lorne says. "I'm sure everybody else appreciates the time off, it being Christmas and all."
"I try to keep morale up," John says. There is no good way to check things off on a list left-handed without balancing the tablet on his right arm, which very quickly begins to seem like a bad option.
"You know, I can finish this up," Lorne says after a while.
"It's just a broken arm," John says. "Practically a flesh wound."
"Except for how it's a bone," Lorne says. "I'm just saying, the last time I broke something, I didn't really feel bad about taking the rest of the day off, and we were a little busier at that point."
"Let's just get this done."
"With all due respect, sir, I can probably finish this faster by myself."
John tries to run his hand through his hair and winds up jerking his arm painfully hard against the sling instead. "God damn it."
"Just take the day off," Lorne says. "I figure we're all knocking off early for the party tonight anyway."
John carefully shrugs with his left shoulder only. "If you like that kind of thing."
Lorne smiles like they share a secret. "Admit it. You get a kick out of watching everybody actually have fun for a little while. Instead of watching them get shot up like we do most of the rest of the year. "
"I just go for the cookies," John says.
Lorne shakes his head. "Yes, sir."
He has kind of gotten a kick out of the parties, though, ever since the first year when it was just a bunch of people breaking out whatever was left of their stashes of alcohol and snack food, toasting each other with the feverish high spirits of people surprised to still be alive and eating what might be the last junk food they would ever taste.
A couple of people had started singing, when they were drunk enough not to be self-conscious, and after he told them Teyla could sing, they'd started teaching her the words to old Christmas carols. He'd sat back with his feet up eating potato chips and listening to Teyla's voice rise sweet and true on "in the bleak midwinter," watching Rodney get trashed on what the scientists claimed was punch, by which John thought they meant "odds and ends out of various bottles mixed together." Rodney was going on gloomily about how he'd never gotten something he'd wanted for Christmas, a "Build a Nuclear Reactor!" kit or something.
For some reason John had found himself remembering perfectly vividly the Christmas when he was seven, when he'd gotten a radio-controlled airplane for Christmas and gone out to play with it in the snow, with Dave tagging along behind. He could still see the plane lifting, this little bright red thing sailing up into a big gray sky, and smell the snow that crunched under his feet. He felt himself tense, expecting homesickness to finally hit him like a fist to the chest, but there was just that one memory, crisp and sharp as if seen from high above through clear skies.
"Nobody gets everything they want for Christmas," he said to Rodney, who'd gone on talking without apparently requiring a response from him.
"I don't know," Rodney said, looking up over his cup with a much older expression that reminded John why he was deciding that he kind of liked Rodney. "We're not all dead. That was pretty much what I was hoping for this year."
"You have a point," John said, and clattered his cup against Rodney's.
He'd kind of been looking forward to hanging around and eating actual made-on-Earth junk food. It's still hard enough to come by that they stashed the supplies for the party in a locked container when the Daedalus beamed them down, with signs taped to it threatening dire consequences to anyone caught breaking into it.
The military commander of Atlantis can't get trashed on dubious punch these days, but he could have a couple of drinks and relax enough for it to seem like a good idea to go get his guitar and try to remember the chords to some carols, while Teyla teased him about not being able to carry a tune even when he was playing his own people's songs. He'd watch the female scientists try to corner Ronon under the mistletoe and try not to think anything really inappropriate about what he'd like to do if he were in their place, in a world without consequences.
Instead he winds up hanging around in a corner trying to figure out how to eat anything and hold a Coke at the same time. He's getting tired of people asking him what he did to his arm, and getting tired of people bumping into him in the crowd and then apologizing, and his arm is starting to throb with an I-mean-business kind of pain, like someone going at it with a hammer. He turns the pill bottle around in his pocket, as if that were likely to bring him any relief.
Teyla makes her way through the crowd to him. He doesn't see Torren, but he figures the kid is being the center of attention somewhere. Being the only kid on the entire planet at Christmas has certain advantages, and he expects that Torren will milk that for all it's worth once he gets big enough to understand his luck.
"How are you feeling, John?" she says sympathetically.
"Fine," he says, more sharply than he meant. "I'm fine, I'm great, getting beat up by giant Marines with hockey sticks is my idea of fun."
Teyla shakes her head at him. "Yes, I am aware that violent sports are part of your Earth traditions. Far be it from me to interfere with your cultural ... things." He thinks she looks a little lit up herself -- she's carrying a cup of the punch -- and very happy. That's nice to see, and he's starting to think it would be a good idea to stop inflicting his mood on people who are.
"Sorry," John says. "I'm just kind of ..."
"Surely Dr. Keller gave you something for your arm?"
"Cast, sling," John says. "And some pills, but I'm good." He doesn't think she believes him, though.
"I think you mean that you do not like to be in crowded places when you are drugged."
"I was aiming for a little less honest than that," John says, although she knows it's true; he gets twitchy when he can't keep track of people moving, starts needing to cradle his gun in a way that's probably out of place at a holiday party. "I think I'm going to head out."
"We will miss your guitar," Teyla says, and bends her forehead to his. "Merry Christmas, John."
"Merry Christmas," John says; he's not sure what she actually makes of the holiday festivities, even after six years, but she's clearly having fun, which is what's important.
Woolsey is getting up on a chair, looking like he intends to make some kind of speech, and John's not sure he's up for even the traditional speech from before Woolsey came, which runs something like "here we still are, let's eat cake." Woolsey has probably put together something longer than that, with appropriate quotations, and it's as good a time as any to slip out.
There was a time when Ronon would have loved a party like this, would have cheerfully gotten drunk with his friends and joined in singing songs for whatever holiday people wanted to celebrate. It's too crowded, though, and he still doesn't know the words to their songs, and he can't stop watching the crowd for any signs that something's going wrong. Nothing will. There's not going to be a Wraith attack in the middle of the holiday party.
It only helps a little to tell himself that. He eats the last of his plate of cookies and looks around for John, because teasing him some more about his skills at hockey will be a distraction. John's talking to Teyla, looking pretty rough. He probably ought to be lying down or something, but it's his holiday. Ronon heads over toward him, intending to see if he can get him to at least drink enough to take the edge off.
Then John's heading out the door, and somewhere behind him Woolsey is clearing his throat like he's going to make a speech again. It's not much of a decision. Ronon heads out after John. If he gets in trouble for not sticking around for the speech, he can always say it's a cultural misunderstanding. Teyla says that's almost impossible to argue with.
He catches up to John in the corridor leading away from the mess hall, which is quiet and empty despite the fact that it's not that late. "Hey," he says.
"Hi," John says. "Why aren't you at the thing?"
"I was," Ronon says. "We don't have to stay, do we?"
"So, I'm not staying."
"That's cool," John says. He looks like shit. "I think I've had it with today."
Ronon follows him into the transport chamber. "Arm hurt?"
"It's fine," John says. He moves his fingers as if to demonstrate that, and then looks like that was a really big mistake.
"Right," Ronon says. "Want to go spar?"
John gives him a smile that Ronon thinks is supposed to be making fun of himself. "Maybe not that fine."
"You should have a drink."
"I've got this stuff from Keller," John says. "Not to be mixed with alcohol. She says."
"But you're not taking it."
"I'm okay," John says, and Ronon thinks he gets that one. John won't relax in a crowd, and he won't relax alone. He's getting that edge to his voice that he usually takes out by getting Ronon or Teyla to beat the crap out of him sparring, but that really is probably out.
"Wrong way," Ronon says as they step out of the transport chamber.
"Not for my room. Where I'm going."
"We could hang out. I won't insist on beating you up." He thinks once John breaks down and takes the drugs he's likely to crash fast, but John's bed is too small for Ronon to share, and Ronon wants to get some sleep too. It's not the way he wishes he could have John in his bed, but it's what there is. If wishes were rain, they'd fill the sea, he can hear his mother saying, and in the distance he can hear the murmur of the waves.
"You know, I'm really okay," John says. He follows Ronon into his room, though, and Ronon swipes his hand over the door to lock it and then moves his hand to show John that it's locked. "This is not a big deal."
"You sat up with Teyla the last time she got hurt," Ronon says.
"Yeah, but that's different."
"You want to tell her that? I'll watch." He's not sure why John has to make everything so hard, starting with having a bed that he can't share with anybody. But then sharing isn't something that John is so great at.
"Maybe after I get the cast off," John says. He heads into the bathroom, and Ronon can hear running water and the rattle of a pill bottle. John comes back and throws himself down on the bed, clearly harder than was a good idea. He rolls over onto his back, looking gray. "This is going to get on my last nerve."
"You could try not throwing yourself at things," Ronon says.
"I'm not very good at that."
Ronon wants to argue with that, but he doesn't think that's a good idea for a lot of reasons. Instead he stretches out on the other side of the bed and watches John's jaw start to unclench as the pills take effect. John leans his head back on the pillows, his eyes dark.
"Better," John says. He starts to sit up, and tilts off-balance. Ronon catches him by the good arm and wrestles him gently back to the mattress.
"If you're dizzy, don't sit up."
"Thanks for that tip," John says. He closes his eyes, and then frowns and opens them again. "I hate this stuff."
"Stop thinking about it, and it won't bother you so much."
"Yeah, right," John says. Ronon gets a hand under his shoulder and rolls him onto his left side; he goes too easily, without his usual resistance to being pushed around when they're sparring. His right shoulder is still in knots, though, and Ronon starts working them out with his fingers. "Oh."
It's warm, with John not quite lying against him, Ronon's chest behind John's back so that he can't roll back over and hit his arm again. He's wanted to do this before, but he figured John would never let him. "That okay?"
"Yeah, that's good," John says, and drops his head forward, baring his neck. It's all too tempting to taste the skin he's showing, but Ronon's not going to go there. John trusts him. He knows what that's worth. "You could have stayed at the party," John says after a while.
"It's not my holiday," Ronon says.
"What did they have on Sateda?"
"It doesn't matter anymore."
"It might," John says.
"It doesn't," Ronon says.
He doesn't know whether John really gets that, but John says "I'm sorry" anyway, rolling onto his back and looking up at Ronon. They've been this close before, when Ronon's knocked him down in the gym and bent down to give him a hand up, but this isn't much like that. It's more like watching him play out on the ice, saving up pictures in his head against some colder future.
"Hey," John says softly, and reaches up. He actually remembers to do it with his left hand, his fingers moving awkwardly, his thumb tracing the line of Ronon's jaw. "It's okay."
That's the point where Ronon wants to lean down and kiss him hard enough to show him that he means it, maybe hard enough to get to John enough to make him forget all the reasons that he shouldn't do that, but it's probably not fair to do that now. He makes it a brother's kiss instead, just brushing John's mouth with his own, and then leaning up to kiss John's forehead where his skin tastes of sweat.
"Get some rest, Sheppard," he says, settling back down beside John.
"Yeah, okay," John says slowly, but when Ronon looks up, he's giving Ronon a long look, like he's trying to figure out what that meant. Ronon wants to say that it's not anything, that John's people make too much of every touch, but that would be lying, at least in what he wouldn't be saying.
John keeps shifting his weight, clearly trying to find a position that works, and Ronon pulls a pillow over, braces John's arm against it quickly enough that he only gets a soft noise of protest, and then settles against John's back.
"That's good," John says, his eyes closing. He curls in warm, and Ronon wraps his arm carefully around John's waist. He'll have to untangle himself eventually, because if he goes to sleep like that he'll hurt John the first time he moves, but there's no reason he can't stay like that for a while, so he does, with John a warm sleeping weight in his arms.
John wakes up with his mouth tasting like something died there and his arm apparently pinned by something heavy and painful. Cast, he registers when he tries to move it and can't. He tries to turn over, remembers why rolling onto his right elbow is not going to happen, and swears.
Ronon lifts his head at the sound, and it takes a moment before John sorts out that he went to sleep in Ronon's room; that it must be late, or more to the point early, because his head is clear and the light filtering in through the window has shifted toward blue; and that there was kissing. At least, he's pretty sure he's remembering the kissing part right.
"You sober?" Ronon asks.
"Unfortunately," John says. "I didn't mean to fall asleep in here. That stuff knocks me out." He's thinking that there was definitely a kissing part. He's thinking that maybe that's some kind of Satedan thing, a holiday custom, or -- there are places on Earth where men kiss other men and it doesn't mean anything that John isn't going to think --
"I noticed," Ronon says, and he's smiling like something's funny, but John's not sure what. "You can be mad about this if you want," he says, and kisses John again. This time it's not innocent, not anything John can put down to cultural differences. It's hot and deep and slow.
"I'm not mad," John manages when he can breathe again.
"Figured it was worth it to find out," Ronon says.
"And people say I'm reckless."
"About everything but this."
"Yeah," John says slowly. He wants to be. There's some trick to it, like pushing out onto the ice and trusting your own momentum to take you where you want to go.
"So let me," Ronon says, and pushes John's shirt up, his mouth against John's belly.
John hears his own breath catch at the shock of warmth and tries to bury his hands in Ronon's hair. "Damn it."
"You ever going to remember to just use your left hand?" Ronon says. He can hear that Ronon's smiling.
"Apparently not soon." He starts unfastening his pants left-handed, and Ronon gets his hand under John's and does it for him. "I'm going to have to get used to doing that, you know."
"I can do it faster."
"In a hurry?"
"Waited a long time," Ronon says, and then he goes down on John, and John can't do anything except groan and try to stay still enough not to bang the cast on the mattress. He didn't start out worked up the way Ronon apparently is, but he's getting hard fast, Ronon's hands spreading his knees wider.
"I feel like I should be contributing more, here," he says after a minute.
Ronon turns his head against John's thigh. "Let me," he says, his voice rough with a naked hunger that goes straight through John.
"Okay," John says. He doesn't really want to argue. He kind of wants to stay like this forever, Ronon's mouth warm and wet on him, his hands wrapped around John's thighs. Except that he wants more, wants to feel Ronon's warmth against his whole body, his weight pressing him down. There's a whole long list of things he's never thought he was going to get to do with Ronon, and he wants all of them, right now. "I want, hang on, I want--"
"What do you want, Sheppard?" Ronon says, his voice almost a growl, his breath coming hard. He sounds like he's the one who's been interrupted in the middle of getting a blow job. "You even know what you want?"
"More," John says, and he tugs Ronon up. Ronon comes up to cover John's body with his own, bracing himself somehow so that his weight's not on John's right side, and then they're rubbing against each other, both of them breathing fast now, like they're wrestling, like they're hanging on so that they won't be torn apart.
He tugs at Ronon's pants left-handed, but he can't figure out the fastening; Ronon kneels up to do it for him, and that's almost enough to push him over the edge, seeing him like that, hard and heavy in John's hand as he slides his hand up the shaft. Ronon rocks back on his heels and closes his eyes, and John wants everything he probably can't do right now, but maybe if they--
"Can't wait," Ronon says as John keeps moving his hand insistently. He slows down, but apparently that's the way Ronon likes it, because at the third or fourth slow stroke he makes a desperate noise and throws his head back. "I can't --"
"Come on," John says, and Ronon makes a hungry noise and comes all over his belly, and it's not everything he wants to do but it's still the most amazing thing, the way John can see the tension go out of him afterwards, the way he hangs his head for a moment, dark hair moving against golden skin.
"Now will you let me?" Ronon says.
"Yeah, come on," John says, and Ronon slides back down, and there's the shock of wet heat again. His arm hurts as he rocks his hips to get more friction, but he really doesn't care. It feels so good, and he's really doing this, he really can--
Something shifts in his chest, and all at once he can feel himself letting go into it, letting himself believe he's going to get something he's wanted for long enough to stop believing in it. It feels like sliding across the ice too fast to stop. And maybe he's too old for this, for believing in things like this, but maybe it's just about time that he tried.
And then he's coming, a hard spasm that wracks him and wracks him and leaves him ragged, the room tilting again for a moment.
"Jesus, Ronon," he manages eventually. Ronon's come back up beside him by then, still breathing hard himself. "I ... wasn't expecting this."
"Maybe you're not so smart sometimes," Ronon says. His voice is teasing, like he's trying hard to keep it light.
"Maybe I'm not," John says, and kisses him, making it long and warm. It's really good right up until he tries to put his right arm around Ronon's neck. "Fuck."
"Not until you can move your arm," Ronon says, and pulls him in to lean against his shoulder. John thinks he should probably not just lie there, but it feels really good, especially when Ronon starts running his hand through his hair.
"It can't be this easy," he says, and then wishes he hadn't, because he doesn't want Ronon to tell him that it's not.
"Not everything has to be hard," Ronon says instead, and John closes his eyes.
There's daylight coming in through the window when Ronon wakes up. There's not really anyplace they have to be that morning, but he gets up and gets dressed anyway, because he thinks they're both going to want breakfast.
"Hey," John says, rolling over in the tangled blankets and blinking up at him. His hair is sticking out in a bunch of different directions, and his shirt looks like he had sex in it and then slept in it. Ronon could watch him like that forever.
"Want to borrow a shirt?" Ronon says.
"Yeah," John says, sniffing his own and making a face. "That would probably be good."
Ronon tosses him a black T-shirt, one of the standard issue ones he doesn't usually wear.
John snags it neatly out of the air left-handed. "See, I can be taught." He starts wrestling with his shirt, shrugging out of it painfully. "I got you something for Christmas," he says. "Would you rather I hadn't? I do get it that it's not your holiday."
"Depends," Ronon says, with a sideways smile. "On what it is."
"I bet you would have been the kind of kid who shook all their presents to see what was in them."
"If you can tell what it is by shaking it, it's not much of a surprise."
"If I tell you what it is, it won't be a surprise."
"Is it dangerous?"
"Would I get you something that wasn't dangerous?"
"You might," Ronon says. There are a lot of things he doesn't know about John. He never thought he was going to get a chance to find them out.
"We can do this again, right?" John says. He's got the clean T-shirt on, but he still looks like a mess, unshaven and with dark circles under his eyes. You don't have to ask, Ronon wants to say, but he knows that John does. He wants to wrap his arms around John and bear him down against the mattress and prove to him that he's not about to let go.
Instead he climbs back onto the bed and pulls John back against him more carefully. After a moment's resistance John rests against him, turning his face against Ronon's shoulder. Ronon can feel him breathing, slow and quiet.
They can't stay like that forever, but they can stay like that for a while, and then go and eat some breakfast with their friends. It's not perfect, he thinks, but right now he's not sure how anyone could wish for more.
"Hey," John says, and he disentangles himself. Ronon isn't sure why until he crosses to the window and pulls the curtains open wide, letting in the gray light. John turns his face up to the sky, looking suddenly much younger even in the harsh morning light. "It's snowing."
Ronon comes up behind him, and John reaches up with his left hand to draw Ronon's arm around his shoulder. It's a good way to watch it snow, here where it's warm.