Pairing: John/Ronon, Ronon/Radek
Disclaimer: Not mine, no copyright infringement intended.
Word count: ~2900
Author's Notes: Contains BDSM and discussion of sex both kinky and vanilla.
Summary: Ronon's still not sure what all the rules about sex are on Earth, but he seems to be doing something right.
What Friends Are For
The thing about John was that he liked sex, but he didn't like talking about sex. Ronon kept trying to figure out what John wanted and what was taboo and what was taboo but something he wanted anyway, but it was a good day when he could even get something like "I want to fuck" out of John, and apparently even "fuck" could mean more than one thing in English. It was frustrating.
Ronon wasn't much good at talking himself, not across two really different languages and after so many years of silence, but he could recognize a situation that called for a translator. He considered suggesting they invite someone who was good with words into bed with them, but he was getting the impression that was one of the things John thought was hot to think about but was weirdly reluctant to actually do.
Instead he waited until they'd finished getting each other off and John was getting dressed, and then said "You said it was cool with you if I had sex with other people. Is it really?"
"It's cool," John said, fast enough that Ronon thought he pretty much meant it. "You know I can't ..."
"Yeah, I know." John had been clear enough about that; his military wouldn't let him have any kind of acknowledged relationship with a man. He figured Ronon would want that with somebody, eventually, and Ronon figured he was probably right, although he didn't think he was in a place to make any oaths to anyone at the moment.
"We're friends. And you can ... whatever."
"Want me to tell you about it?"
"Jesus, Ronon," John said, but he was smiling, so Ronon figured maybe he did.
The question was who. He considered trying to be subtle, but he wasn't very good at that, either, and he didn't think that solutions involving elaborate mind games were always the smartest ones anyway. Instead he asked a number of the scientists who they'd heard was someone who was good to have sex with.
This wasn't, apparently, a question that people expected, and he spent a reasonable amount of time trying to make it clear that he didn't mean "who's really pretty" or "who's fun to have sex with but will make you miserable afterwards." He also got a number of shy offers from women, and a couple of fairly bold ones, but he figured he needed a man to explain how Earth people thought about what men did.
The name that kept coming up was Radek Zelenka. "He was really nice," one of the zoologists said a little wistfully, after Ronon had handed over enough Athosian wine to loosen the man's inhibitions. "I mean, yeah, he tied me up, but in a nice way."
That seemed about right. Ronon waited until he'd managed to bargain more Athosian wine from Teyla, and then tracked down Zelenka's quarters. The man appeared after a minute's wait, blinking, his glasses askew. It was possible Ronon had woken him up -- people slept at odd times on Atlantis -- but he didn't complain. "Ronon. What's the matter?"
"I have a proposition," Ronon said. "And some Athosian wine."
Radek considered that for a moment, and then a slow, charmed smile spread across his face. "I suppose you must come in, then."
"I want someone to explain how Earth people think about sex," Ronon said, once they were inside and seated at opposite ends of Radek's couch. The place was cluttered with electronic things in various stages of being taken apart, and a surprising number of books given that they all had to be brought from Earth.
"Do you have several years?"
"Probably not. I'm having sex with somebody, but we're not really talking about it. And I don't know if there are rules that we're following, or rules that we're breaking, or what we're doing." He shrugged. "I can trade you more of the wine."
Radek smiled crookedly. "This is a business proposition, then?"
"Is that a bad thing?"
"I'll consider it giving lessons. Come in the bedroom."
In the bedroom Ronon took his clothes off -- Radek admitted cheerfully that this wasn't actually required to talk about vocabulary, but that it might make it easier, and Ronon didn't mind -- and started with obvious things.
"Fucking means penetration, yes," Radek said. "Usually anal sex, but I might say I want to fuck your mouth." He smiled crookedly and drew a finger across Ronon's lips by way of illustration. "Finger-fucking ..." He twisted one finger in the air illustratively. "Is penetration with your fingers."
"Those are all different words in Satedan, but they translate the same. And there's not a good way to say fucking." He frowned and tried again, willing his meaning to come through, although he could tell the Ring of the Ancestors was garbling the translation. "Being fucked. Neither of those is right. Taking someone inside when you're on top and doing it to them. Like women do."
"Welcome to Earth assumptions about sex. Men fuck, women get fucked, and if men get fucked, it means they're being like women. Not everybody thinks like that, but it's there in the language." Radek looked like he found the question interesting. "Riding someone, maybe."
Ronon frowned. "Like an animal?"
"It's not a perfect translation. I can say I want to suck you off. Or that I want you to suck me. But now the one who does the sucking is the active one. You can say it in Latin -- to make someone suck your cock -- and so maybe there is a word for it in Ancient. I should ask Dr. Jackson, it would amuse him. But in English you have to say, 'I want to fuck your mouth.'"
"And none of that's taboo."
"Or all of it might be, depending on your point of view. And there are some people who dislike being fucked. Primary definition. Or who prefer it to doing the fucking."
"I like both," Ronon said. "So does my friend. I like all those things, pretty much. It just seems like it would be simpler if there were more rules for what it meant."
"Are there on Sateda?"
"You don't fuck--" Ronon pantomimed penetration to make sure his meaning was clear --"people you aren't serious about. People you're courting, or who you want to be sworn brothers with. It's different for women, different things matter. But that's the way it is for men. You can do other things. In the army, we didn't do oral sex as much. Kneeling down for somebody ... it's not what soldiers do. We did things with tying people up, or hitting them if they like that, but you probably don't have rules for that either."
"Strangely enough, there are more rules for that," Radek said. "Probably because many people don't do it. The ones who do have created their own customs."
"Tell me about it."
"I could tie you up. That would be bondage. May I?"
"Are you supposed to ask?"
"Always. And I will always stop if you tell me no, unless we have arranged that I will not stop until you say a certain word."
He thought about the question, which wasn't something he'd done seriously for a while. "Lying down," he said finally. "Not standing up like in a Wraith cocoon."
"Very reasonable," Radek said, and went to fetch his handcuffs.
It was an educational experience, and he put it to good use with John, although John protested when he said that he wasn't going to tie John to the bed unless John told him in words that he wanted him to.
"I can't," John said, the strain clear in his voice. He looked at the ropes again like they were something he was hungry for.
"I'm trying to respect your customs."
"I don't even know where you're getting a lot of this."
"I told you, Zelenka," Ronon said.
"Did you tie him to the bed?"
"Mostly he tied me to the bed. But he let me do it to him for practice. He said I already knew how to tie good knots."
John shook his head, and raised his chin like he wasn't about to be outdone by a little scientist. "I want you," he said in a drawl that totally failed at sounding casual, "to tie me to the bed."
"Good," Ronon said, and wrapped the first loop of rope around John's wrist.
John looked good like that, straining against the ropes and then relaxing into them like he felt safe there. Ronon jerked him off like that, as slow as he could make it, slowing down every time John looked like he was going to come, until John was straining against the ropes again and swearing.
"Say please," Ronon said.
"Jesus, fuck, Ronon--"
"Too late, you're gonna come," Ronon said, and John was already doing it, his whole body jerking as he came in Ronon's hand.
After he untied John, John sprawled in the sheets next to him, relaxed the way he almost never was except after sex. Ronon spread his hand across John's back to feel the easy rhythm of his breathing.
"You going to fuck me now?" Ronon said.
"If I were still twenty, maybe," John said, his smile twisting like he thought he should be able to get it up again right now. "Give me a minute, here."
"You could use something."
"What, you mean like ... I don't exactly have a sex toy collection."
"Well, to start with we're in another galaxy. And I'm in the Air Force. And ... do you?"
"I don't have much stuff," Ronon said. "Zelenka does, though."
John put his hand over his eyes, although he was smiling. "I probably don't need to hear about that."
"He's not in your military."
"I could borrow one."
"Or we could just figure it out," John said, and got down on his knees next to the bed like he didn't mind doing that at all. Ronon still felt a little strange about that, but not enough not to sit on the edge of the bed and let John suck him. Do it to him, like he was the one being fucked, and he groaned when he came. He'd learned to do himself silently, while he was running, but he liked having someone hear him, liked John's body pressed against him in bed afterwards, holding him steady, reminding him where he was.
He did ask to borrow a dildo, eventually, after Radek had finished playing with one themselves, pretty similar to the Satedan equivalent except a silly color. Radek shook his head at him but found another one in what he called his toy box and handed it over, with tart instructions about sanitation. "I did not really aspire to be a provider of sex toys to the military," he said.
"I didn't say he was military," Ronon said.
"No. You very carefully did not say." Radek patted him on the shoulder rather fondly. "The American military's rules are stupid. I won't tell anyone. But he might trust me, if we are ... sharing things."
"He isn't very good at trusting people," Ronon said.
"I can believe that."
"That's part of why we're just having sex as friends, not anything else."
Radek nodded, his eyes very blue in the dim light and his expression thoughtful. "I thought you said that Satedans reserved fucking for serious relationships."
"Some people say it doesn't count if you use something," Ronon said.
"Mmm, well. But you have fucked your friend. And been fucked by him. Yes?"
Ronon shrugged. "I don't always do what I'm supposed to," he said.
Radek smiled crookedly. "I never would have guessed," he said.
The mission on the planet with all the swamps was actually going pretty well until a giant frog thing tried to eat McKay. Teyla shot it and Ronon wrestled it back from McKay until it lay down and died, only apparently the thing had poison in its skin. By the time they got back to Atlantis, his palms were blistering, and pretty soon the walls started moving and everything got really confusing for a while.
He woke up in his quarters, with Teyla sitting by his bedside, cross-legged and with her eyes closed as if she'd been meditating. She'd lit candles, and the flames twisted weirdly as he looked at them; he had the unsettling feeling they were turning into something else, something dangerous.
"Hey," he said, and she opened her eyes.
"Ronon," she said. "How are you feeling?"
"Weird." He tried to sit up, but every muscle felt rubbery. "Weak."
Teyla rested a comforting hand on his wrist. "The toxin is wearing off naturally, and it will do you no permanent harm. But I am afraid you must be patient," she said. "I was attacked once myself, and it took three days before I felt entirely myself."
"I don't like giant frogs," Ronon said.
"Few people do. Dr. Beckett said you could rest in your quarters if you would find that more comfortable. Do you remember that?"
"I remember him talking. Maybe." The infirmary had seemed like a place out of nightmares, all cold metal and white sheets, twisting together in his memory with hospitals on Sateda. Every time he'd closed his eyes, he'd jerked awake, sure he heard the whine of drones and the shattering of glass.
"Just try to rest."
He closed his eyes, and then opened them again as the bed seemed to tilt under him. "I don't like this."
"I know," Teyla said sympathetically, and he stared at the opposite wall and tried not to believe it was moving.
He must have fallen asleep, because after a while he woke up and Radek was there, his laptop propped next to him. Radek was unshaven and looked like he hadn't slept much, but he looked up at once when Ronon stirred. "All right?"
"Your head isn't melting," Ronon said. "And you don't look like a Wraith."
"So, a little better?"
Ronon shrugged. "I didn't expect you," he said after a moment. He wasn't surprised his team was looking after him, because his team was his team, but Radek was ... he wasn't sure what he and Radek were.
"Well. We are friends, yes?"
That meant more in Satedan than it did in English. Ronon wondered if Radek knew that, and decided he was all right with it either way. "Sure. Friends," he said, and reached to clasp Radek's arm, squeezing it what was obviously painfully tight.
"This is probably not the time to manhandle me," Radek said, pushing his glasses back up his nose in amusement. "Although I do take rain checks."
The door opened, and then seemed to go on sliding, the whole wall moving sickeningly. Ronon hung onto Radek's arm as John came in, and then stopped, looking abruptly awkward.
"I'll come back," he said.
Radek let out a frustrated breath. "Will you come in and shut the door?" he said.
After a moment, John did, coming to the foot of the bed. Ronon wasn't sure how much of John's tension was because Radek was there, and how much was that he wasn't good with sick people, but he felt too crappy to try to figure it out.
"Under the circumstances, do you think we might stop pretending that you are not Ronon's soldier friend?" Radek said.
"Of course we're friends," John said, with a smile that didn't match his eyes, but Radek just looked at him over the rim of his glasses, and John shrugged, no longer smiling but looking a little less tense. "I guess we could stop pretending that."
"So, you will take care of him while I go and get dinner, yes?"
"It'll probably be breakfast," John said. "But, sure."
"I don't need people to watch me," Ronon said.
"Yeah, you're just hallucinating," John said.
"I'll hang out," John said, sitting down on the bed.
Radek stood, and then reached down to squeeze John's shoulder, to John's obvious surprise. "Well, then. He is in good hands."
"Thanks," John said. "I mean ... not just for this, but ..."
"I know," Radek said, sounding amused. "I am not exactly doing anyone disinterested favors. Good night, Colonel Sheppard." He smiled at Ronon and went out, his laptop tucked under his arm.
"He likes you," Ronon said. He was starting to feel heavy all over, and it was hard to keep his eyes open. It took an effort not to slur his words when he spoke. "I bet he'd have sex with both of us sometime."
"Maybe we ought to talk about that when you're not hallucinating," John said, but he wrapped his hand tight around Ronon's ankle.
"Is that no?"
"It's not no," John said. "Maybe it's 'I don't want to push my luck.'"
"It's a good thing to have friends," Ronon said, and let himself close his eyes, trusting they'd keep him safe while he was sleeping.