Spoilers: Set season two somewhere between Conversion and Aurora but no real spoilers for any of the episodes.
Summary: A man walks into a bar, that man happens to be Rodney McKay. AKA, Rodney and Ronon's Most Excellent Earth Adventure.
"No, no, no, no. NO! I did not just survive the vast plethora of painful ways I could die to come back *here* to be collateral damage in some stupid bar fight." Rodney stepped between Ronon and the six guys who were gunning for him. He looked at the leader of the pack, a jarhead with the shaved head to prove it, and pointed his finger at the large man in front of him. "You have no idea who you are dealing with. This guy," Rodney tilted his head back, indicating Ronon. "This guy could kill you in less than a minute in 20 different ways with one hand tied around his back, so you *really* don't want to go there."
Rodney turned and glared at Ronon. "And you? What the hell do you think you are doing? Do you know whose ass will be in trouble if you slaughter these morons and end up in some military brig? Mine. Sheppard will blame me, and for someone with his limited mental faculties, he can be very creative when it comes to torture, so this is done."
Ronon folded his arms across his massive chest and looked down at Rodney. "You were late."
"So what, you thought you'd pass the time by starting a bar fight. That's really mature."
"They started it."
"And I'm finishing it." Rodney turned back to the pack of idiots. "Why don't you fellas go order another round of drinks. It's on him," he motioned to Ronon with his thumb. "Guess what Rambo, you get to use your brand new credit card again to pay for their drinks, and then I'll give you a ride back to the hotel."
"Don't McKay me. The last thing Sheppard said before we left was to keep you out of trouble, and that's what I'm doing. So pay the bill already and let's go."
"He told me the same thing."
"To keep yourself out of trouble?" Rodney stopped walking. "Oh no, to keep *me* out of trouble. Well he tries to be funny. He fails miserably, but he tries." He shooed Ronon with his hands. "Go on, pay."
Rodney waited until they were halfway to the car before he turned to speak to Ronon. "What was that all about anyway? You don't strike me as the brawling type." And he really didn't. Sure he was a fierce warrior, but Ronon wasn't one to fight without true provocation, and Rodney doubted any conversation in that bar would drive Ronon to unnecessary violence.
Ronon shrugged his shoulders. "They said the Air Force was full of cowards afraid to fight and unwilling to get their hands dirty."
Rodney stopped walking again and took the time to really look at Ronon. He looked tired and lost. Rodney wasn't sure if it was the alcohol or the alien world that made him seem so achingly young. He reached out and grabbed Ronon's elbow to steady him, as he seemed to being losing a battle with gravity. "Do I need to point out that you are not actually in the Air Force?"
Ronon leaned into McKay as they walked the last steps to the car. "You said the Air Force pays me, right?"
Rodney opened the door and got Ronon settled in his seat. The SGC special he was driving was nowhere near big enough for someone Ronon's size. "True, but that doesn't mean you have to pledge your allegiance to them in blood in some bar fight." Rodney leaned down over Ronon to find the release to slide the seat back to give the other man more legroom. "There, that's better. Put your seat belt on."
Ronon did what Rodney asked. He was clicking the belt into place when Rodney slid into the driver's seat. "And Sheppard is Air Force."
A big, bright light went on above Rodney head, or maybe it was just the street lamp the car was parked under, but he knew instinctually what Ronon was feeling. Living through battles with someone made a person extremely protective. It was a new and entirely foreign emotion to him, but one that made him think he would have been inclined to do the same thing had he heard the insults. Not that he'd admit that to Ronon. "Okay, I get it now. But you really don't have to fight the Colonel's battles for him. If he was here, he'd tell you the same. Besides, those jarheads back there aren't worth the trouble. They really, really aren't."
Ronon had closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the car door, but then seemed to jolt awake suddenly. "Sheppard's not a coward."
"No, he's not. He's the bravest person I've ever met." Which meant of course, he was also the most annoying he'd ever met as well, what with his willingness to sacrifice himself time and again. Realizing what he just admitted, Rodney glared at Ronon. Of course, drunk or not, Ronon seemed immune to even Rodney's fiercest gazes. "If you tell him that, I'll deny it."
Ronon nodded. "You admire him?"
Starting the car, Rodney gripped the steering wheel tightly. "I admire his hair's defiance of gravity."
"Okay," Ronon said with a knowing smile.
They drove in silence for a few minutes before Ronon spoke again. "I don't like Earth."
"No?" Rodney asked, sparing Ronon a glance at the next red light. "How come?"
"Too loud. Too much."
Rodney nodded in agreement. "I can see that. It's quite the culture shock to me when I come back too. Sure there are some things that I miss, but Earth isn't home anymore. Atlantis is."
"I don't like the hotel either. People come into the room, put chocolate on the pillow."
"Since when don't you like chocolate?" Rodney pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car. He looked over at Ronon. "Oh my God, you didn't kill the maid or anything did you?"
Ronon laughed, it was high pitched and giggly. "No, if I killed her then I figured no more chocolate."
Rodney could smell the alcohol on Ronon's breath; it was warm and almost sweet. He'd obviously had much more to drink than Rodney had first thought. "What were you drinking?"
"Something called Southern Comfort. It was sweet with a nice after burn. It would be good on cold nights."
Rodney shuddered. He wasn't sure if it was caused by the mention of the most disgusting liquor he'd ever had the displeasure of drinking or the realization that Ronon spent more than anyone's fair share of cold nights completely and utterly alone.
"How much did you have to drink?"
Ronon shrugged. "Don't remember. Stopped counting at six."
"I was not that late," Rodney huffed.
"Yes, you were."
"Well that's no excuse for getting rip-roaring drunk. It's not my fault the SGC is full of morons."
Ronon shook his head. "It wasn't you."
Rodney pulled back onto the road. "Well I'm glad to know I haven't driven you to drink."
"Yet," Ronon added with a wide grin.
"It's probably just a matter of time." Rodney couldn't help laughing. "For the good of hotel maids everywhere, you can bunk at my place tonight."
Ronon punched him in the arm. "Really? That would be great."
"Ow," Rodney thought as Ronon relaxed into the seat next to him, a smile still gracing his lips.
Getting Ronon out of the car and into Rodney's apartment had been tricky. Rodney was well aware that Ronon was a large man, but it really didn't come into clear focus until he had to maneuver him up two flights of stairs. He had his arm firmly around Ronon's waist as he walked him to the bedroom intent on letting the other man sleep it off.
They had just made it across the threshold when Ronon pinned him up against the bedroom door and started sucking on his neck. "You taste good McKay."
What the... "Stop that," Rodney said, batting Ronon's hands away from his pants. "Seriously, stop it," he said with more force.
Ronon let go immediately and looked at Rodney, confused. "You invited me home."
"So that means I want you to molest me against the bedroom door?" Rodney's eyes got big. "That's what you thought I meant? I was just being nice."
Ronon folded his arms across his chest. "So you don't want to?"
Letting out a huge sigh, Rodney mirrored Ronon's stance. "Even if I did, it's not going to happen, because while my standards might be incredibly low, I do not, and let me repeat *do not* take advantage of people when they are drunk."
Walking over to the bed, Ronon sat down and looked up at Rodney. "I'm not that drunk. And do you want to?" His voice was equal parts earnest and petulant.
Rodney sighed again. "What's your new title?"
"Your new official title. What is it?"
"What does that have to do with us having sex?"
"Answer the question."
Ronon shook his head like he would after a blow during a sparing match. "I don't understand."
"Exactly. If you were sober, you would."
Ronon put his head down, his hands linked behind his neck. He looked up at Rodney with the briefest of smiles. "Actually McKay, you seem to make more sense when I've been drinking."
Rodney patted Ronon on the shoulder. "Strangely, I get that a lot. Now go brush your teeth, there's a new brush in the cabinet above the sink."
Ronon caught Rodney's wrist in his hand, his thumb sweeping across the pulse point. "You never answered *my* question."
Rodney looked him straight in the eye. "Ask me again when you're sober."
Ronon nodded before standing up. "Okay." He headed to the bathroom as Rodney grabbed a blanket and a pillow from the closet.
"Where are you going?" Ronon asked when he walked back into the room.
"To sleep on the couch."
"I'll sleep on the couch," Ronon said reaching out to take the pillow.
"You wouldn't even fit on the couch."
Ronon grabbed the blanket and shook it open. "Then I'll sleep on the floor, and you take the bed."
"You are not sleeping on the floor. It's fine. I sleep on the couch more than in the bed anyway."
"I'll sleep outside."
And the bastard would do it too. Rodney threw the pillow at Ronon. "Fine, we'll both sleep on the bed. Try not to roll over and smother me in the middle of the night."
"You're funny, McKay."
"And you say you're not that drunk," Rodney said before stripping to his boxers and tee shirt and getting into the bed.
Rodney awoke to Ronon's breath warm against the side of his face. His arm was bent and his head was propped up on his hand. It looked like he had showered and was wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. Blinking a few times, Rodney yawned and checked the time on the night table. It was nearly 4 a.m.
"I'm sober now," Ronon said with a smile that made Rodney more that just a little nervous.
Rodney eyed the other man skeptically. "Name and rank?"
Ronon smiled. "Specialist Ronon Dex. Independent Military Contractor, Adjunct to the United States Air Force, Stargate Program, currently assigned to the Atlantis Expedition in the Pegasus Galaxy."
Rodney let out an amused breath. "It's a good thing you don't have a need for a business card. But yes, I will agree if you can rattle that off, you are sober. Good for you. I'm going to go back to sleep now."
Frowning, Ronon reached out to touch Rodney's face then stopped. "You said to ask again when I was sober."
"Yes, I did."
Ronon leaned in, his mouth against Rodney's ear and his hand settling on Rodney's hip. "So, I'm asking."
Rodney looked down at Ronon's hand and then back up at his face. "I just want to say for the record that this is a really bad idea."
"So your answer is no?"
Sliding his hand into Ronon's hair, he pulled the other man's mouth to his own. "Such a bad idea," he said before closing his mouth over Ronon's.
It wasn't at all like Rodney was expecting, not that Rodney was expecting anything mind you, but he'd imagined that Ronon would kiss with as much strength and power as he did everything else. But his lips were gentle and slow, his tongue inching its way inside Rodney's mouth as if he was savoring the taste or memorizing it for future recall.
"Take off your shirt?" Ronon asked, nuzzling his way across Rodney's jaw.
Rodney sat up and pulled the shirt over his head. The smile that Ronon gave him when the shirt was gone was more than enough to banish any self-conscious thoughts Rodney was harboring.
And then Ronon's hands were warm against his skin, seven years of running making his wide fingers rough. But the strokes were smooth across his chest, each touch infused with a type of reverence that made Rodney shiver.
"Is this okay?" Ronon asked before his hand began a slow descent across Rodney's stomach inching lower to slide inside Rodney's boxers. His voice was rough and more unsure than Rodney had ever heard it.
Rodney nodded yes. He caught Ronon's eyes, and the vulnerability staring back at him made him want to agree to anything the other man wanted. There was something so open and raw in his expression that it made Rodney's chest ache. A surge of protectiveness washed over him. He was quite certain he was willing to die to protect the other man. And vice versa. But none of that mattered now. All that mattered were the hands that were pushing his boxers down and the warm body soon pressed to his.
It didn't take long until they were both gasping, bodies sliding against each other in perfect time. It was over quickly, but Rodney knew it was just the beginning. It might be a bad idea, but it was one that he wasn't going to give up willingly. And Ronon, spooned up against his back, his mouth against Rodney's neck and his arm slung heavily across his waist, made Rodney pretty sure that the other man wasn't about to give it up either. His last thought as he drifted off to sleep was that they should go check Ronon out of the hotel later that morning and bring his stuff back to Rodney's because there was no doubt where Ronon would be sleeping during the remaining time they were on Earth.
By the third day on the return trip to Atlantis, Rodney had holed himself up in his quarters on the Daedalus. Being back on board was harder than he had imagined. Intellectually, he knew that Linstrom's death hadn't been his fault, but just being back on the ship, walking past the room where the other man had been swept out the airlock brought it all back. Linstrom's pleading eyes, the silent screams of "Rodney, help me," that still haunted his dreams couldn't be suppressed in the relative confinement of the ship. So he confined himself instead, spending most of his time working on the diagnostics of the special cargo they were carrying.
He was currently sitting on the floor of his room, data pads and Ancient texts scattered around him. The regenerative powers of the device would be amazing if they could make it work. But never let it be said he didn't learn anything from Doranda. There would be no testing until all the data had been translated and verified. He was startled out of his reverie by the powerful knock on the door. There was no mistaking who it was. "It's open."
Ronon opened the door and leaned on the frame. "I'm bored."
Not even bothering to look up, Rodney motioned for him to shut the door. "So go beat up some marines."
Ronon walked in and shut the door. "Did that already."
"So then go beat up some airmen for a change of pace."
"Did that too. Still bored."
Rodney finally looked up at Ronon and frowned when he saw the expression staring back at him. "You really don't like being on this ship, do you?"
Ronon slumped down on the floor next to Rodney. "No. Neither do you."
Rodney was astounded at just how perceptive Ronon was. He would have to stop underestimating him. "True. But it's only a couple of weeks. And it's a big ship."
"Not big enough."
Rodney couldn't ignore the warmth of the other man's thigh against his own. It was distracting. "Well then, wouldn't you be more comfortable in your own quarters?"
Sometimes Rodney envied Ronon's brevity. Today wasn't one of those times. "No? Two people, small area equals less room."
Ronon bent forward so his arms were wrapped around his knees. He looked over at Rodney. "You always make places seem bigger, McKay."
Rodney was so startled by that he almost dropped his data pad. "Really? Most people don't like being in the same room with me."
Ronon smirked. "I'm not most people."
"No, you aren't. Well if you're going to be here, you can make yourself useful then."
Ronon shot Rodney his most feral grin as he slid his hand up Rodney's leg. "Okay."
"Not like that. I thought I made myself clear. There will be none of *this*," Rodney motioned with his hands between them, "under Colonel Caldwell's nose."
"You say a lot of things."
Rodney narrowed his eyes. "Are you saying I'm easy?"
Ronon arched an eyebrow. "Easily persuaded, maybe."
"Yes, well, not today." Rodney was quite sure his resolve wouldn't hold out for the entire two weeks, but he wasn't going to share that with Ronon just yet.
Ronon shrugged his shoulders and removed his hand. "Okay, then what do you want me to do?"
"How are your typing skills?" Rodney asked while trying not to admit that the removal of Ronon's hand left him strangely bereft.
"I'm better with a gun."
Grabbing a data pad off the bed behind him, Rodney shoved it at Ronon. "Yes, but I don't think threatening this text with your big gun will actually get it to give up its secrets, so I need you to look for any corresponding symbols in the Ancient database." Ronon picked up and studied the pictures on the data pad. "Wouldn't it be easier if I just translated it off the pictures?"
Rodney glared at him. "Yes, that would be infinitely easier, but as you don't read Ancient." Rodney stopped talking and snapped his fingers before pointing an accusatory one at Ronon. "Oh my God, you read Ancient? How did I not know this? Does Sheppard know? Elizabeth?"
Ronon just shrugged. "I don't think so. Nobody asked."
"So you thought you'd just keep this to yourself? Do you know how helpful this could be? Especially on missions."
"I guess so."
"You guess so?" Rodney rolled his eyes. "Where did you learn Ancient?"
"At the Academy. The first two years of service are spent in school."
Rodney sat down the data pad and gave Ronon his full attention. "How old were you?"
"Ten when I went in."
"You joined the Army at ten? How do you know what you want to be when you're ten?"
"No choice. I was second born. All second born children of Sateda are commissioned to the Army."
Rodney was struck by how different and how much harder life was for the people of the Pegasus Galaxy. At ten, he'd still dreamed of being a concert pianist or a hockey player. To not have even the illusion of those choices made him angry for that kid Ronon used to be.
Ronon must have seen something on his face, because he reached over and cupped Rodney's shoulder as if to calm him. "It's okay McKay. I didn't mind. It was just the way it was."
"So what, you just served your entire life in the Army, no questions asked."
"After 25 years of service, you had the option of leaving if you wanted to."
Rodney frowned. "How many made it to 25 years?"
"That's what I thought."
Ronon leaned over and whispered against Rodney's ear. "It really is okay."
Rodney brushed his fingers across Ronon's cheek before nodding in silent agreement. If Ronon was okay with his lot in life, then Rodney was going to have to be as well. He'd just have to concentrate on the fact that all that training had brought Ronon to Atlantis. It made him who he was, and Rodney could be grateful for that. Looking down at Ronon's hands and then at the tiny keyboard on the data pad, Rodney grabbed a pad of paper and a pencil from his pack. "Here, use these."
They worked together in silence until almost dinnertime. Rodney was startled when Ronon spoke.
"Caldwell said you gave up your personal items allotment so I could bring back everything I bought."
Rodney shifted nervously. "Well Colonel Caldwell should keep his mouth shut. You'd think someone of his rank would be better at *not* giving away information. What's the expression I'm looking for...loose lips sink ships. Not that you'd know it of course, it being an earth adage and all. But I do think it's an apt..." Rodney paused when he caught the amused and knowing expression on Ronon's face.
Ronon smiled. "Thank you."
Still clearly uncomfortable being on the spot, Rodney waved his hands dismissively. "It's not that big of a deal. I wasn't really altruistic, mind you. I just stuck my stuff in with the science equipment."
"Still, nothing. Bringing back the fabric and other supplies for the Athosians is a really nice gesture, and one that I'm sure Teyla will greatly appreciate. As for the other stuff, God knows you could use some new clothes, and the Colonel will be ridiculously happy with the toys you got him. Don't even get me started about how excited Carson will be with his haggis in a can."
Ronon splayed his fingers across Rodney's knee and jostled it. "You can't fool me McKay. You brought them all something as too."
Rodney turned and smiled, pleased that he'd seen that one coming. He really was learning not to underestimate Ronon. "No, you're right. I admit it. So yes, we are both sentimental fools who will get to play Santa when we get back to Atlantis."
Ronon smiled in return, his thumb tracing lazy circles on the underside of Rodney's knee. "You say that like it's a bad thing."
Rodney raised his chin. "Well I have a reputation to maintain."
Ronon laughed. "I hate to break it to you, McKay, but you're not fooling anyone. You can pretend you're like the green monster in that video Sheppard made us watch, but just like that Grinch, your heart," and to emphasis his point, Ronon placed his other hand across the organ in question, "is huge."
Rodney didn't know what to say to that, so he did the next best thing, he leaned in and kissed Ronon softly on the mouth. He felt Ronon's smile against his lips.
"I thought we weren't going to do this?" Ronon asked before sliding his tongue into Rodney's mouth.
"We're not," Rodney said with little conviction when they broke for air.
"Okay," Ronon said as he swiped his tongue across Rodney's jaw. "Just so we're clear."
After a few more kisses, Rodney pulled back before resting his forehead on Ronon's. "Right. Right. Not doing this. Back to work then. And don't think you're going to get out of helping me when we get back to Atlantis. Now that I know you can read Ancient, part of your time is going to be spent in the labs. The marines will just have to go back to beating themselves up a few times a week."
Ronon rubbed his cheek against Rodney's before picking up the data pad on his lap. "I think I'd like that."
Rodney was pretty sure he would like that to. "Good. I'll speak to Elizabeth and the Colonel about it when we get back. Until then we've got lots to keep us busy."
Ronon nodded his agreement.
And for the first time since they'd boarded the Daedalus, Rodney was almost looking forward to the long trip back home.