Disclaimer: Not mine
Author's Notes: Could be read as a sequel to rubygirl's SGA Santa fic from 2010, Hello, Don't Go (written with permission from the author of that fic)
Summary: While on Christmas vacation in Pegasus with Ronon, John gets stabbed by a unicorn, but there's still a happy ending (in that sense too)
"I thought - one unicorn per career."
"Be quiet," Ronon said, not even looking over his shoulder. Not that John was complaining - it wasn't like he was any help, his hands too slick with blood and mud to hold his nine milimeter. He didn't need to be able to see (which was a good thing, considering Ronon had dropped him so far back into the cave that all he could see clearly was Ronon's shadow against the sun) to know his shoulder was a mess - he could feel his own heartbeat pounding there, weirdly hypnotic.
He must have slipped away on the rhythm for a moment, because Ronon was suddenly crouched in front of him, looking worried.
"What?" John forced himself to sit up a bit straighter, the pain not helped by the wall of the cave digging into his spine. "S'not a good news face."
Ronon checked over his shoulder. "Doesn't look like they can climb up here, but they're circling below. I think they're planning to wait us out."
"Unicorns," John said, because, really, it couldn't be said often enough. "Atlantis' military commander and our fiercest warrior, and we're pinned down by a herd of unicorns."
"Teyla's never going to let us hear the end of it," Ronon agreed.
"At Christmas," John added. He didn't know why that made the situation worse, only that it definitely did. He added a glare at Ronon, who just frowned back.
"I need to check your shoulder."
"In case I got magic pixie dust in it?" John couldn't stop himself from twisting a little away from Ronon's hands. Sue him, he knew the whole checking on injury thing was going to hurt like hell, and it was Christmas. They were supposed to be relaxing off-world, not holed up bleeding in a cave with a pack of rabid unicorns trying to gut them.
"In case you tore anything that's going to lead to you bleeding to death," Ronon corrected patiently. His hand on John's good arm was gentle and warm; John felt himself relax as helplessly as he'd twitched away from the prospect of more pain, not sure whether to be annoyed or pleased about it. "You'll feel better once it's bandaged properly."
John was pretty sure he wouldn't, but he'd known Ronon more than long enough to be able to spot the first signs of guilt. Letting Ronon patch him up seemed like a pretty small thing to do in response. "Go for it."
"Hey," Ronon said, leaning in John's office doorway, somewhere he was rarely seen. "You've got leave again for Christmas, right?"
"About a week before, actually, but yeah. Three days." John tipped his chair back, wincing at how his spine popped. Getting old. "Why?"
"McKay said it's his turn to go back to Earth this year, and Teyla's spending it on the mainland with her family."
John nodded; he'd signed off on the leave requests, along with a host of others for the marines.
"I get the time as well?" Ronon waited for John to nod again. "I thought - there's this place, we used to go when I was a student - there's nothing really there, there never was..." Ronon shifted slightly, trailing off in a way that was so unlike him John took a minute to figure out where this was going.
"You want us to go? For Christmas?"
Ronon shrugged. "You said it's okay now. And we went to your home-world last year."
Ronon never said much about Satedan courting rituals (which John had always thought was for the best, since falling into bed for months as friends before finally agreeing they were something more had to bypass a good ten or twelve of them) but even John could figure out he was being asked for something more than just to be a traveling companion. "Woolsey's going to want to clear the planet first, but if we get the go ahead, then sure."
Ronon grinned, bright and pleased. "Pack winter clothes, it'll be cold there."
"Ow," John said sharply. He could only see the top of Ronon's head, but that was as good a target for his glare as anything.
"Don't be a baby." John was sure Ronon pressed extra hard on the bandage - and what did it say about their lives that they'd brought bandages on a Christmas vacation - as punishment.
"I got stabbed by a unicorn." Which really wasn't getting any less ridiculous with repetition. "When I planned our trip, I took you to a party. No injuries of any kind." He was sure he could feel Ronon's smug grin. "Okay, no injuries except for you giving yourself a black eye falling out of bed."
Ronon scoffed. "Pretty sure you were to blame for that."
"It still beats being stabbed by a unicorn."
Ronon finished messing with the bandage, thank God, and sat back on his heels. "You gonna let that go any time soon?"
"It hurts," John said, unable to keep the faint note of real pain out of his voice. In a couple of months, this whole thing would be funny - hell, it was kind of funny right now - but he'd wanted a few days of camping out with his partner and relaxing, and instead they were hiding out in a cave. It felt a little bit like the universe was out to get them. "And I'm cold."
Ronon frowned. "You didn't lose that much blood."
"The unicorn shredded my coat." That was definitely whining, so John turned on the puppy dog eyes to go with it, even though that rarely worked on Ronon. "It's cold out there."
Ronon reached for their pack and shook out one of the silver emergency blankets that John really hated, no matter how much care Ronon took in tucking it around him. "I'm going to look for wood, make a fire."
"That won't attract the magic pixies?"
Ronon grinned, sudden and blinding, and leaned in to kiss John's forehead. "I'll protect you from them."
"Great," John said as dryly as he could manage when he was honestly, stupidly, touched by that.
"Unicorns are still there," Ronon said as he moved back into their corner of the cave. With the fire still burning and Ronon's spare coat wrapped around his shoulders, John was warm and sleepy enough that the throbbing pain of his shoulder seemed pretty manageable if he just sat still. "If they're not gone in the morning, I can climb the rest of the way up the cliff, go for help."
"Sounds like a plan," John agreed, trying not to imagine the looks on everyone's faces when Ronon made that distress call. "Or we could shoot them."
"Bad luck," Ronon said firmly. "You kill one, you get ten years of bad luck."
Considering the fairly crappy luck they'd had over their first seven years in Pegasus, John wasn't too keen on that plan. "We don't get a free pass because they attacked us first?"
"Nope." Ronon dug in John's pack for a moment, then straightened, sleeping bag in his hand. "You want to lie down?"
John tried shifting a little and had to bite his lip against the jolt of sharp pain. "Think I'm sleeping sitting up."
That got him Ronon's patented you're-an-idiot-if-you-think-you-can-get-a
John shifted slightly. The ground was hard and kind of cold under him, and the pain in his shoulder was flaring again, but overall, given the circumstances, it could have been a lot worse. He closed his eyes, relaxing back into Ronon. "Yeah, I'm good. You?"
Ronon's arms tightened on him for a moment. "Good," Ronon agreed.
John was flying. Or, not flying, being flown, sitting on the broad white back of a winged horse, feeling its muscles move under him as the animal beat its huge wings, sending them racing across a brilliant blue sky. He could see the spires of Atlantis on the horizon, the lights welcoming them home, even though he shouldn't have been able to see them in the middle of the day. The sun was warm on the back of his neck. He could hear laughter behind him, Ronon's deep rumble of amusement, Teyla's unexpectedly girlish giggle, and somewhere below it, the familiar cadence of Rodney's grumbling, all the sounds of the place that had become a home he never expected and -
The bed he was lying on jerked, rocked, and John felt himself start to fall with it. He flailed awake, unable to stop the shout of pain as he remembered that he'd been stabbed by a unicorn that afternoon and sudden movement was really a bad idea.
Something caught him, held him still. For a moment, he was too sleep-fuzzed to do anything but struggle. Then reality reasserted itself: Ronon, the cave, and he'd woken up because...
"Okay?" he managed, still trying to catch his breath from the shock of waking up and the pain in his shoulder, Christ, they really needed to get back to Atlantis where he could get his hands on some good painkillers.
He felt Ronon shrug behind him. "Bad dream."
It was more than John usually got out of Ronon, enough to make John brace himself against the pain and twist round to look at Ronon's face.
Ronon looked back, let John look at him and see the lingering traces of his nightmare. John would have put money on it being about his time as a Runner, old memories dredged up by the way their easy stroll through the woods had turned into a full on sprint away from danger.
"Got you," John said firmly. "I fought off a unicorn, you know."
"You got stabbed by a unicorn and fell over," Ronon corrected, but he was smiling a little, so John let the blatant falsehood go.
Just this once.
The next time John woke up, the fire had died down, and he felt like shivering was probably coming up pretty soon on the day's agenda, even still tucked between Ronon and the sleeping bag. "Thought this thing was supposed to be rated for the Arctic," he grumbled. Outside the cave, the sky was beginning to lighten, everything cast in an unearthly gray light.
"Be quiet." Thoughts still slow with sleep and pain, it took John a second to register that Ronon was tense behind him. "Something moving out there."
John got a sudden mental image of a herd of pixies, dressed in air force uniform, descending on them, and couldn't contain a laugh. "I thought this place was uninhabited. Other than the unicorns."
"Supposed to be." Ronon was already easing out from behind John, reaching for their weapons. John did his best to untangle himself from the sleeping bag - moving away from the wall was pretty much out of the question right then, his entire left side stiffened into immobility. "Stay there," Ronon added unnecessarily.
Even in the early morning light, John could see him move towards the entrance to the cave, crouched low, gun aimed up - hadn't the unicorns been massed below? - as he checked their surroundings. The last thing John expected was for him to straighten up, one hand raised to whatever was coming their way. "Down here."
"What -" John started.
He didn't get any further, cut off by the thud of combat boots onto rock and the sudden appearance of Lorne in the cave's entrance. He blinked, but no, Lorne was definitely standing there, attached to a rope and a climbing harness, P-90 clipped to his vest.
"Good timing," Ronon said, clapping Lorne on the arm.
Lorne grinned back, detaching himself from his climbing gear. "Xeno-biology picked up unexpected life-signs when they examined the MALP footage in more detail, and when we couldn't get either of you on the radio..."
"You figured some sort of disaster must have befallen us," John finished, raising his voice slightly to be heard.
"Apparently correctly," Lorne pointed out. "You okay back there?"
"I was stabbed by a unicorn on my Christmas vacation, I've been better." John made a good faith effort at getting to his feet - Lorne and he might be of equal rank these days, but that didn't mean John didn't have a reputation to uphold - then gave up when the pain surged, threatening to carry him away. "What are you doing here?"
Lorne and Ronon exchanged worried glances. "Rescue team?"
"I meant, why you? Because I'm fairly sure I remember putting you in charge of city security, not off-world rescue attempts."
Lorne actually shuffled his feet slightly. "Teyla made me promise I'd keep an eye on the two of you. If it makes you feel any better, I've got Teldy's team in a jumper at the top of the cliff."
It didn't, really, especially since they'd replaced Vega with Cadman when she came back to Atlantis, and Cadman was worse than Teyla and Rodney combined for never letting John forget the humiliating things that sometimes happened to him. On the other hand, rescue meant no climbing cliffs with only one working arm, so he wasn't going to complain. Much.
"I'll get them on the radio," Lorne offered. "Get them started on getting you out of here."
Ronon took advantage of Lorne's radio conversation to pull John to his feet and hold onto him while the world spun. "Guess he's pretty scared of Teyla."
"Yeah?" John asked, trying to decide whether closing his eyes made everything better or worse.
"No other reason to bust in on Teldy's mission."
John could get behind that logic, kind of. "He's one of the best jumper pilots we've got," he said anyway. "Cliffside rescue, none of Teldy's team is that well-trained in the jumpers."
Ronon didn't look convinced, but the chance to argue disappeared with the arrival of Cadman and Mehra, both looking disgustingly gleeful about scrambling down cliff-faces to rescue their CO and his partner.
The annual Atlantis Christmas party, John discovered, was a hell of a lot less fun when you were (a) on painkillers that meant you couldn't drink; (b) stuck in a sling after being stabbed by a unicorn; and (c) missing half of your team.
On the other hand, that meant that, when Ronon raised an eyebrow and asked if he was ready to go, a little over an hour into the party, John didn't feel particularly bad about saying yes. Even less so when Ronon followed him into John's quarters and palmed the door closed behind them.
"Gonna put me to bed?" John asked, reaching up to unhook his sling.
"Something like that," Ron agreed. He must have caught the wince John couldn't contain, his shoulder stiff and painful from immobility, because he was there a moment later, easing the sling off and rubbing one warm hand over John's shirt. "Get in the shower. Hot water'll be good for it."
"You joining me, or this is a purely medicinal shower?"
Ronon pulled his shirt over his head in answer; John toed his boots off and went to turn on the hot water.
Dr Tay had done a good job of stitching up the wound in Keller's absence, nothing but a line of prickly black thread when John eased off the bandage. The bathroom was already starting to fill with steam, and Ronon was right, the hot water beating down on his stiff muscles felt really good.
John was halfway to dozing when he felt the brush of cool air that meant Ronon had finally stopped doing whatever it was he'd been doing and joined him. He came all the way awake pretty damn quickly when he felt Ronon behind him, wet and firm, in more ways than one. John got his good arm up, holding onto Ronon so John could twist and kiss him. Ronon's beard was damp with water droplets already, tickling against John's face, the skin John had shaved in honor of the party. He felt Ronon's low groan as they separated right down in the soles of his feet, then Ronon's hands on his hips as he turned to face the shower wall, dropping his head and exposing his neck, knowing Ronon would take the gesture for the invitation John meant it as.
Ronon reached for the lube sitting in the soap dish - nothing like being prepared, though John had, in more than one sleepy early-morning moment, come dangerously close to squirting the stuff into his hair. John hmm'ed a little, impatient, waiting, but Ronon's hand was there before he could do anything more, teasing over John's ass, circling slick fingers over the edge of his hole.
"Come on." They did this often enough that John wouldn't need much prep, and he didn't want to wait, didn't want to drag things out the way they sometimes did. The sudden pressure of Ronon's two fingers sliding into him said he wasn't the only one.
John pushed back into it a little, feeling his own cock harden with the sensation of Ronon's fingers on his prostate. He couldn't lean back into Ronon, not without risking losing his balance on the wet floor, but he slid one hand down, covered Ronon's free hand where it still rested on John's hip.
"This is what I wanted to do with you," Ronon said, low in John's ear as he added a third finger, John gasping a little at the stretch. "When I was in school and we used to go there, we'd fuck under the stars at the turn of the year. Supposed to bring luck."
John blinked, trying to push away the picture of Ronon and a hazy female figure - the closest he'd ever gotten to picturing Melina - doing exactly that. "You didn't have to fight off the unicorns then?"
He felt Ronon shake his head, the brush of damp hair against the back of his neck. "There's this place, higher than anything else around. All you can see is the sky. Was gonna take you there."
"It sounds nice," John said. "Maybe when the unicorns have moved out again."
Ronon didn't say anything, just kissed the back of John's neck, and yeah, okay, definitely they were going back. Sex under the stars sounded perfect right about now.
Not that he was inclined to complain when Ronon replaced his fingers with his cock, pushing easily into John until they were pressed close together, all slick, wet skin and clutching hands. "Good?"
It always was, always had been, from when they'd been friends and teammates who sometimes hooked up all the way through to when they'd somehow drifted into something a lot more serious. They worked in a way that John had never expected to find when he went to another galaxy, a way that he didn't like to think about when he knew that he wouldn't be staying there forever.
He always told himself he didn't mean it, but in the back of his head, there was a timetable on defeating the Wraith, a really selfish personal one that said they had to do it in the next four years. Because he didn't have any illusions about how much longer he'd be able to stay in Atlantis, and maybe if the Wraith were dead, Ronon would...
Would fuck him just like that, hard and deep, one hand on John's cock, because John needed his one good hand to keep himself upright, to brace himself against the shower wall so he could push back into Ronon's thrusts and not think about how it all might fall apart in the future.
"You close?" Ronon asked.
"Maybe," John said, honestly not sure, distracted, caught up in how good the sex felt. "Don't have to wait for me."
That got him a kiss, high on his cheek, probably the furthest Ronon could reach. "Will, though. Always."
It wasn't anything John didn't know already, hadn't already had ample evidence of, didn't know went both ways. It didn't matter, the words like an electrical surge through his body. "Yeah, close."
He felt Ronon's grin against his skin, like he'd just issued some kind of challenge and - well, it wasn't like Ronon ever backed down from a challenge. Especially one that involved naked skin and orgasms.
Less than two minutes later, Ronon was slumped against John, the two of them probably only managing to stay on their feet thanks to the wall John was leaning against, both of them panting a little.
"Good alternative?" John asked.
Ronon laughed, sending shudders through John's over-sensitive body. "Pretty good." He stayed where he was for a long moment, then drew away. "Bed now."
John wasn't going to argue.
Half asleep, body pleasantly warm and relaxed, Ronon breathing softly next to him, John said, "How about we just stay here next Christmas?"
In the dim light through the window, he saw Ronon turn to look at him, eyes bright, smile pleased and something else, something John didn't have a name for yet, but loved seeing anyway. "Sounds like a plan," he said.