Written for: ruric
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis Post Season 5
Pairing: John/Ronon, Dave Sheppard and OFC Elise Sheppard.
Disclaimer: John and Ronon still aren't under my tree. Bad Santa.
Summary: John and Ronon's first Christmas on earth isn't quite what they had expected.
John sat staring at his cell phone as if it some cryptic message would appear on the screen. This was not how he expected his first Christmas back on earth to play out. He had wanted this Christmas to be for Ronon; to show him that life on earth had its joys, even if John wasn't one of those holiday junkies who went around singing carols and ringing jingle bells. Then this ...
He took a deep breath and put his phone away. He went out to the balcony of his condo. It was a quiet development, close to Cheyenne Mountain, close to Cam and Evan. Far away from his family. He and Dave had reached an odd detente after their father's death. It didn't mean John wanted to spend a lot of time with Dave or his speculations on John's relationship with Ronon. Which was suddenly what this Christmas had become ...
John looked at his watch. Ronon had gone off shopping with Vala, and if that wasn't a recipe for disaster, he didn't know what was. Ronon was fascinated by Christmas; by the music, by the lights, by the decorations. John had asked him what holidays were like on Sateda, but Ronon hadn't been able to explain other than saying it was different.
John turned his phone back on and looked at the text Dave had sent once more, hoping he had misread it. Nope. The words remained the same. "I would like you to come home for Christmas, since you seem to be stateside for a while. Bring whoever."
Great. Ronon was "whoever." John thrust his fingers through his hair, got up and grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. Christmas. He took a deep swallow and flopped down on the couch.
He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew, he felt the brush of Ronon's lips across his, the scratch of his mustache. He opened one eye. "What?" He looked up. Ronon was holding a small sprig of mistletoe over his head. "God, let me guess. Vala."
"She likes Christmas," Ronon said. He grinned. "I like this." He kissed John again, more hungrily, and John opened his lips. He plucked the mistletoe out of Ronon's fingers and tossed it aside, pulling Ronon down to the couch, stretched out full length, bodies aligned. Ronon tasted like coffee, chocolate and peppermint. Starbucks, John thought lazily. Ronon slid his hands under John's sweater. They were just cool enough to make John's nipples pebble and his muscles quiver. He felt Ronon open his jeans and slide the zipper down. He brushed his knuckles down John's boxers, freed his erection and slid the pad of his thumb across the bead of come gathering at the slit.
John let him move down willingly. He gasped as Ronon's warm mouth surrounded him, as his lips slid over his cock, his tongue stroking up the vein to his glans. Then he didn't feel anything but his climax building. He clutched Ronon's shoulders as he came, pulsing into Ronon's mouth. When the lights behind his closed lids stopped strobing like fireworks, he sighed and looked at Ronon. "Mistletoe?"
"No. Just you. I wanted to taste you." He slid his body behind John's. He was hard against John's ass and he began a slow rub and rock against him.
"Wait." John stood up, stripped, tugged Ronon's jeans down his long legs. He pulled Ronon's long-sleeved shirt off, thankful that Ronon had cut his dreads. It made things simple ... faster. His hair was still long, but it was silky and curled softly around John's fingers. John kissed him. He still tasted like peppermint, now mingled with the musk of sex. Ronon pulled him close. His cock rubbed against John, between his cheeks. John felt the warmth of come leaking from Ronon. Ronon used it to slick up his fingers and carefully prepare John. John's breath was hitching in his throat and he pushed back into Ronon's pelvis, felt the heat and pressure of Ronon inside of him. Ronon's big hands cradled John's balls, slowly stroking John back to hardness even as he fucked him. Then he stilled, his breath muffled against' John's neck as he came inside his body. John's second orgasm shuddered through him; not as strong as the first, but still deep and aching. It ebbed slowly, leaving him wanting more, but scarcely able to find the strength to move.
"Okay, that was my present," he mumbled sleepily.
"More where that came from," Ronon chuckled.
"I hope that's a promise," John sighed. His phone chirped as a text came in. "I'd better get that. It might be SGC."
Ronon made a grumpy mumble and reached for his clothes. "Gonna shower."
John looked at the text. Dave. Again. John turned off the phone and followed Ronon into the bedroom.
"So," Ronon asked him later over dinner. "Was it SGC?"
John hadn't been thinking of SGC. He'd been thinking of how complicated his life was becoming. He put down his fork. "It was Dave." He toyed with his pasta. "He wants me ... us ... to come for Christmas."
"Or in his inimitable style, 'whoever'. Sorry."
"You should go."
"Not alone. It's Christmas."
"It's not my holiday. You should be with your family. That's important."
"You're important to me. We matter."
Ronon's cheeks warmed with color and John fell in love with him all over again. "You want me to go with you?"
John ducked his head, because that was what he had been asking. "I'm not to good at this," he admitted.
"You make it too hard." Ronon sat back in his chair. "When do we leave?"
"Tomorrow morning." John looked puzzled. "Why do you want to do this?"
"You said it. 'We' matter."
John didn't sleep well that night. He sheltered close to Ronon's body, surrounded by warm skin and hard muscle. Holidays were difficult enough in the Sheppard household. Too many painful memories. His mom, dying when he was eleven; his father balancing work, grief, and two young sons had left them too often in the care of nannies or distant relatives. The best memories were of time spent as a teenager at the chalet at Big Bear -- skiing, snowboarding, coming in exhausted and too tired to argue with the old man or Dave. After that, things got complicated.
John slipped out of bed and put on a robe. He looked out the window. He heard the rustle of bedclothes and then Ronon was wrapping his arms around him. "The morning will get here whether you stay here and freeze or come back to bed," he whispered. He tugged John's arm and John, cold and dreading the morning, complied.
The next morning they were on a jet to Seattle.
Dave Sheppard was a good man. He didn't always succeed in his good intentions; his ex-wife Elise would be the first to tell anybody that, but he believed in mending as many rifts as he could. God knows, his father had created the Grand Canyon of a relationship between himself and John. Dave just wanted that to go away. Since his father's death, he had come to realize how important family was, and he was determined to welcome John back into the fold.
He really hadn't expected John to accept his offer. He was pleased that he had, but he wondered if extending his invitation to 'whoever' John wanted to bring was the best idea. John would undoubtedly try to upset his equilibrium.
"John's here," Elise announced. She was a slender, dark-haired woman with a successful career as a surgeon, and not a domestic bone in her body. It hadn't made her the best wife for the heir of a corporate magnate. She and Dave had divorced three years ago and had discovered they were better at being friends and occasional lovers than husband and wife. She stood next to Dave and watched as her former brother-in-law got out of the car. The passenger door opened and Dave heard her whisper, "Good Lord, who is that?"
It took a moment for Dave to recognize Ronon Dex without the heavy dreadlocks. He looked magnificent, even Dave had to admit that much. "Ronon Dex. One of John's civilian contractors."
"He's John's whoever?" She was mocking him and Dave gave her an irritated look. "I don't know what he is to John."
Elise snorted. "Get your eyes checked, dear." She headed to the front door. Dave looked at John and Ronon. Ronon's shoulder brushed John's, and he didn't shy away from the touch. His rare, sweet smile lit his face. Dave sighed, Merry Christmas to me. Then he followed Elise to the door.
Sateda was another world, Ronon kept reminding himself. Another world, another galaxy, another reality; but it was gone. There had been a time when he had mourned every day. Now, the ache was muted, deep in his heart, buffered by what he had discovered with John. Friendship, hope, trust, love ... A life shared.
Now, a big part of that life was standing in the doorway of the Sheppard family home. Ronon could feel the waves of reluctance radiating from John. "Why are you doing this?" he asked under his breath.
He bent closer to John."Why am I here?"
John looked up at him and smiled. "Family." Their hands touched briefly before they started toward the house.
An attractive woman stepped out from the door and held out her hand to John. "It's good to see you again." She kissed him on both cheeks and stepped back. "You must be Ronon Dex."
Ronon held out his hand, felt her surprisingly firm grip. "I'm Elise Sheppard. David's ex-wife."
"Nice to meet you. I'm glad you and John were able to join us." She tucked her arm in Ronon's. "So, you work with John?" She turned back to John and winked.
John choked back a laugh. He didn't remember Elise having a sense of humor. Maybe divorcing Dave was good for her, too. The Sheppard men weren't good at marriage.
She showed them to their rooms; a guest suite with a conveniently shared bathroom. Ronon looked around. "Smart lady."
John stuck his hands in his pockets. "Too smart."
"Why'd they split?"
"Probably because she's too smart to be a corporate wife. Same as Nancy. That's one trait Dave and I have in common. We don't do relationships well."
"You solved it." Ronon looped his arms around John's waist.
"Yeah. I don't think that's on Dave's agenda." He tilted his head up and Ronon kissed him. "We should go down to dinner --"
"I don't care if everybody else is in black tie. We can only wear what we brought, right?"
Dinner was awkward. What did four people who had nothing in common at all talk about? Not what John and Ronon did, that was for sure. Ronon sat in silence while Elise filled in valiantly with anecdotes about the hospital, John talked about flying helicopters, Dave about the business and his trips to Washington DC.
"I ran into Nancy, actually," Dave said.
"How nice for you," John said wryly.
"She asked how you were."
"I told her you were out of contact most of the time. She wondered if you were seeing anybody. Apparently, this long-distance relationship with Grant is --"
Elise, seeing the panicked look on John's face and Ronon's stoic expression, stood up. "Why don't we have coffee in the family room? The atmosphere is a little warmer in there." Pointedly, to Dave, who decided to retreat from the field of conversation. She turned to Ronon. "I know the weather is miserable, but I'd still like to see the horses. Anybody else? Ronon?"
"Yeah. I'd like that." He smiled at John. "You mind?"
Ronon couldn't decide if John was forlorn or annoyed, so he went with Elise and hoped that whatever Dave had to say to John wouldn't explode like C-4.
John looked at Dave. "Why did you ask me for Christmas?"
"I ask you every year. You just never answered."
"By the time I got the messages Christmas was over."
"A thank you would have been nice," Dave said with a hint of acid in his voice. "Dad and I would have appreciated that much."
"You, maybe. Dad, not so much." He thought of where he had been the last Christmases of his adult life. Afghanistan, Atlantis. He couldn't talk about either. He hadn't wanted to try to explain to his father where he had been. He looked out the window towards the stables. "I didn't see any point in trying to explain. It would all have been lies." The silence was heavy between them. John finally decided that there was one thing they had to talk about. "Now that we've taken care of that, are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?"
"My relationship with Ronon." He turned back to his brother. "We are in a relationship, he is my 'whoever' as you so eloquently put it."
Dave had the grace to look abashed. "Sorry. I wasn't sure what was the politically correct term." He joined John at the window. "What does this mean for your career?"
"In case you haven't heard, DADT hasn't been in effect for over a year. It's not like Ronon and I indulge in public displays of affection on the job. Most of our friends know and they don't care. Oh, that thing at dinner, about Nancy? She knows. She isn't angling to get back together with me."
"Dad wanted you to settle down. Maybe I thought the same thing."
"I am settled down, just not the way you expected it to be."
"Are you happy?"
John thought for a moment as if the question confused him. He wasn't sure what Dave was asking. "Happy? Ronon and I are good together. So, if that's happiness, then maybe I'm as happy as I've ever been." John was tired of answering questions. He decided it was Dave's turn to answer one. "So, why did you ask Elise for Christmas?"
"Umm ... she's still family?" He sounded vaguely uncertain, but he was smiling.
John nearly laughed. "Right. Let's call this a draw. Elise and Ronon are on their way back. They look cold."
John didn't know if they had solved anything, but some of the tension had dissipated. Elise and Ronon were getting on well, and John let himself relax and watch Ronon as he drank the hot buttered rum Dave had brewed up. God, he was a lucky man to have Ronon. To be with him. He hadn't been sure if he had made the right decision telling him about the invitation to Redmond, but it seemed that he had. Ronon sat down next to him and stretched his arm along the back of the couch, inviting John to relax against him. John hesitated briefly, then decided what the hell. He fit into the curve of Ronon's body. Elise glowed at them. Dave looked a little white around the eyeballs, like a skittish colt. John couldn't help the smirk at the corner of his lips. He was almost tempted to plant a kiss on Ronon, but decided freaking out his brother wasn't the best idea on Christmas.
Ronon leaned in. "Are we good now?"
"Yeah. For better or worse, we're good."
Nat King Cole began singing the Christmas Song in the background and Elise held out her hand to Dave. "I haven't danced for ages."
John looked at Ronon. "I think that's our cue to say goodnight." They went into the hall. John caught Ronon's hand. "Don't look now, but I think we're standing under the mistletoe."
"So, kiss me." Ronon bent his head. Their lips met briefly, then they went upstairs.
Ronon woke in the middle of the night. It was too quiet, too silent. He thought of the song, Silent Night. It was peaceful, something Ronon wasn't familiar with. Next to him, John was sleeping soundly. It happened rarely, and Ronon slid out of bed as quietly as he could. He pulled on sweatpants and looked outside. The rain that had begun falling during dinner had turned to snow.
He went downstairs and looked out the wide patio doors. He couldn't see much more than the swirling flakes hitting the glass. He startled as somebody turned on the Christmas tree lights. He thought it was John. He turned with a smile and then blushed as he recognized Dave. "Um. I couldn't sleep," he explained the obvious.
"The silence of a snowfall msut be deafening if you've never experienced it before."
"I'm not used to it. Where I come from, we don't get snow except on the mountains." Apparently, Dave knew better than to ask awkward questions about his past. Ronon relaxed a bit and watched the snow falling thickly on the ground.
Dave went over to the mini-bar. "Care for a drink?"
"I won't say no."
"You sound like John." Dave handed him a glass of bourbon and took a drink of his own. "I shouldn't be surprised, given how close you are."
Ronon straightened. "You know we're together. You can't change that."
"No. My father never understood John. He was angry, hurtful. He didn't think John was making the right choices in his life."
"Fathers are like that."
"My father didn't want me to be a soldier. He wanted me to be a gentleman. To be a landowner."
"That's an odd term. Where are you from?"
"I know ..." Dave sighed. " It's classified."
"What's classified?" John stood in the doorway, his hair mussed, his eyes sleepy, wearing a red plaid flannel robe. "Why's everybody awake? Waiting for Santa Claus?"
Dave managed a grin. "Busted. As usual, John, everything is classified, so I'm going to go back to bed. Goodnight, Ronon. John."
John poured himself a drink. "So, what's classified?"
"My life. Your life."
"Yeah," he gave Ronon a wry grin. "That's always been a problem around here." He stood next to Ronon. "So, what do you think of the snow?"
"I've seen snow before," Ronon argued amiably. "Just not this kind of snow. Soft and quiet." He gestured to his surroundings; the tree, the decorations. "This is nice but ..." He stopped because he had been about to say it wasn't his home, his family. He suddenly felt a pang of homesickness, not for Sateda, but for Atlantis.
"Do you want to go home?" John asked, almost as if he could read Ronon's mind.
"To your place?"
"No. To Atlantis. I put in a call to SGC. The Odyssey is in geosynchronous orbit. We can beam up and they'll have us in the city in no time."
Ronon's eyes lit up. "We can do that?"
"I checked it out. Got permission from General Landry and Mr. Woolsey. Almost everyone is on leave. We'd almost have the city to ourselves." He grinned, and Ronon felt warmth growing in his chest. "Sounds like a plan."
"I'll have to tell Dave and Elise."
"Is that a problem?"
John looked up the stairs. "You know, I don't think it will be. I noticed that the guest room upstairs hasn't been used." He drained his glass. "Are you packed?"
"I travel light."
"I left a note."
Two hours later they were at home on Atlantis. There was no snow, but there were Christmas lights reflecting on the water, and John standing next to him. Ronon held him close. "Merry Christmas," he whispsered against John's hair.
"It is." John leaned into Ronon's solid bulk; muscle, bone and warmth. The city hummed beneath him. "Maybe the best ever."
Those Christmas Lights
Light up the street
Down where the sea and city meet
May all your troubles soon be gone
Oh, Christmas Lights keep shining on (Coldplay, Christmas Lights)