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Fic: Pacing the Cage

Title: Pacing the Cage
Author: sageness
Pairing: John Sheppard/Ronon Dex
Rating: NC-17
Recipient: hth_the_first
Summary: John woke with a start, his heart thudding hard in his chest.

Pacing the Cage

Four days later, John was sick of it. They hadn't been running once, they hardly spoke, Ronon only made enough eye contact to seem almost normal, and he hated it. This was why you didn't pull this shit with people on your team, John told himself. Especially not the people you absolutely needed to be there and be on their game.

That afternoon, he cornered Ronon in the gym, locked the door, and told it only to open to him. Then he turned to Ronon. "Talk to me."

Ronon raised his eyebrows, but didn't answer.

"I said, talk to me!"

Ronon folded his arms across his chest. "There's nothing to say, Sheppard."

"The hell there isn't. This," he said, gesturing between them, "is interfering with the team, so we have to resolve it."

"Sorry." Except that he didn't look sorry.

"Look, what do you want me to say, that I'm sorry I sucked your dick?" John asked. "Well, I'm not. It was fun, we were drunk, no one knows but us, end of story."

John didn't know what to make of the cynical expression on Ronon's face.

"Talk to me," he said again, hoping he sounded a little less angry.

With a frustrated sigh, Ronon said, "What's the point of having regs that are made to be broken? You give me orders, I follow them."

"You know things aren't always that cut and dried."

Ronon shook his head. "It's stupid to put your career at risk."

"Okay, look. 'Don't ask, don't tell' means that my career is safe as long as I keep things discreet."

"And fraternization?"

"You're not Earth military, you're not science team, you're not getting paid to be a member of this expedition...at least not with cash. So there's leeway."

Ronon snorted. "Bullshit."

"Ronon-"

"What are you trying to talk yourself into, Sheppard?"

"Nothing! I just want everything to be right with the team."

"The team." Ronon raised his eyebrows again.

"Christ..." John paced back and forth. This wasn't a conversation he wanted to be having. Finally he said, "Avoiding me isn't going to help."

Now Ronon just looked sad. "I think it might."



~*~*~*~*~



The party was up in a huge, unused five-bedroom apartment that someone had gotten permission to kit out for the occasion. They'd taken the beds out and brought in dozens of chairs. The kitchen counter was stocked with more liquor than John had seen since barhopping his way through shore leave on Earth-a lot of which was contained in cryptically marked bottles and guarded fiercely by a small cadre of botanists acting as bartenders. Someone had filled an entire refrigerator with pitchers of eggnog, and whoever had discovered the Ancient crock pots deserved a bonus, because there was a line of them on the counter with mulled mead, mulled wine, and wassail. It smelled like heaven. Then there was the food. There'd been a holiday feast in the mess earlier, but it looked like a month's worth of flour, sugar, and eggs had been sacrificed to holiday baking. Or maybe that was what Teyla's trading missions had been for.

It looked like most of the expedition was there, all chatting and giggling drunkenly. Through a door, he could see a pile of people sprawled in a nest of pillows. They were feeding each other cookies. John made sure all the bedroom doors were open and nothing naked was happening, and then worked his way back to the kitchen.

"Here, Colonel, try this," Parrish said, handing him a shot glass of something clear.

"Thanks." He tossed it back, and damn. Smooth, minty fire. "How the hell did you get schnapps?"

Lorne came up behind him and clapped him on the shoulder. "Aw, Colonel, didn't you know that the Botany Department's research includes...um."

"Creating a distillery," John provided, with an amiable nod of his head.

"And brewery," Parrish added, with a wide grin. "There's a keg in the second bathroom, but you should try the mead, too. It's from the honey we got MX4-C98, and the wine is that cabernet from the place with-"

"With the eels, I remember."

"Eels and grapes, go figure. Parrish here also made shortbread," Lorne said fondly, "and Miko made something I can't pronounce, but it's really good."

"Cool," John said, and moved on through the kitchen. He'd never had mead, so he started there, ladling himself a sip's worth. It was strong, sweet, and rich with whatever spices were in the cloth bag in the bottom of the crock pot. He filled up his cup.

"Mmmmh, is that-" Ronon leaned over his shoulder and took a deep breath of the steam rising from his cup. "Years," he murmured.

"Here." John handed the ladle over. Ronon filled a cup to the brim, drank a third of it, and gazed down at John with a silly smile. "It's good," John said, watching Ronon's eyes glitter.

"Mm-hmm."

John could feel the low rumble of Ronon's voice in his belly. Ronon's lips were wet, and he couldn't help noticing. They were on eye-level, after all. He took another sip of his mead while Ronon refilled his cup. He could smell him, clean and musky, a perfect fit with all the cinnamon and cloves filling the air.

He had to get out of the kitchen.

He went to mingle, wandering from group to group, from living room to terrace to each of the bedrooms. He sampled the beer. The puppy pile of scientists and Marines grew a ring of discarded cups and plates. At one point, one of the Marines glanced up as he looked in and cried out, "Oh shit! Sir!" and tried to dislodge himself from various stroking hands and tangled legs. John shook his head wryly, and said to the room, "I'm sure it's a good thing I'm too drunk to remember anything tomorrow." He paused, giving them a sharp look. "Just keep the clothes on. This is still a public party."

"Yes, sir," came the reply, but John was already moving on. The Daedalus was gone and it was Christmas. He didn't really care if they all had an orgy, as long as they went somewhere sort of private and didn't broadcast it.

When he wandered back to the kitchen for a refill, Ronon pressed a new cup in his hand. "Wassail."

"Thanks."

"You okay?"

John shrugged. "Keeping an eye on things."

Ronon raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Relax, Sheppard. They told me to make you come play drinking games."

John smirked at him, just noticing that someone had threaded his dreads with red and silver beads and multiple pairs of reindeer and Christmas tree earrings. "You got decorated."

Ronon grinned. "Come on."

~

An hour later, Teyla was lying on a couch, giggling like a teenager. Rodney sat at the other end of it, kneading Teyla's right foot between his hands. He had a glazed look on his face, like he couldn't believe it was really happening. Lorne was still trying to keep their game of "I never" going, despite periodic interruptions of "Hey, that's classified!" Ronon had received three separate backrubs from hopeful-and not unattractive-women, but for some reason he'd turned them all down when they suggested a little fresh air. The third time, when he'd said, "No thanks, I'm good here," his eyes fell on John as soon as the would-be seducer turned away. John was drunk enough to hold onto it, letting time slip away for a little bit as he stared back at him. It was a good feeling. Then it was his turn in the game again, and he blinked back into reality. Everyone was laughing, happy, and warm. That was a good feeling, too.

Another hour of looks like that and John was rock hard. When Ronon lurched back from the bathroom, he couldn't take it anymore. People had been leaving for a while. Parrish was actually curled in a ball with his head pillowed on Lorne's thigh, damned close to passed out.

Ronon stumbled into the side of his vacant armchair, tilted his head, and scowled at it like Rodney considering an impossible problem.

John started laughing, he couldn't help it. "Come on, let's get you home," he said. "Can't have you passing out in the hallway."

Ronon blinked at him once, and then he got it. "Okay."

" 'Night, guys," John said. "Merry Christmas." There was a chorus of drunken goodbyes, and then he and Ronon were stumbling down the corridor toward the transporter. Or trying to.

After the second time Ronon staggered into the wall, John put his arm around Ronon's waist and brought Ronon's left arm around his shoulder, and made a joke about how much they'd had to drink. Before they'd gone ten feet, Ronon shoved him into an alcove and pressed himself full length against John's body. He purred against John's temple, and John looked up, waiting for the kiss, but Ronon didn't do anything.

"Are you-" John started, but then Ronon ground his hips hard into him and John moaned. Then he was moaning into Ronon's mouth as his fingers found the ornaments in Ronon's hair, and Ronon's hands found his ass. They lost time again, like that, in the sweet, spicy heat of Ronon's mouth, kissing and grinding, and he had no idea how much time passed before he remembered they were in the fucking corridor. And damned close to fucking right there.

"Fuck," he whispered, pulling away.

"Yes."

John shook his head, trying to clear it. Ronon's eyes were bright, his lips swollen. He was licking his lips, and his tongue-god, his tongue. "Not here," he gritted out as Ronon shoved their cocks together again. "I mean it."

He pushed Ronon off and adjusted his erection as Ronon watched with heavy-lidded eyes, his lips still parted.

"Fuck, you're hot," John said, completely without intending to.

Ronon dragged a thumb down the center of John's chest, then dragged it up his own torso from his belt to the base of his throat. Then he stepped back and turned. "Move faster," he said in a voice like a growl. John followed.

~

He and Ronon crashed together as the door slid shut, and Ronon had him by the hair and by the ass, and all there was the kiss. Ronon's mouth still tasted like spicy mead, and all John's attention was focused on licking the traces from Ronon's tongue, his teeth, the roof of his mouth. His fingers were tangled in Ronon's hair and Ronon's left hand was palming his ass, shoving them closer, grinding into him.

"Fuck," he gasped when Ronon pulled away.

"Uh-huh." Ronon kissed him again, nipping his lips. Ronon's lips were wet, his teeth just visible. He hadn't let go of John's hip, and was swaying dangerously. Then John's shirt was coming off and so was Ronon's and the bed was getting a lot closer.

"Are we?" John asked, dazzled by the motion as he landed on his back. The room spun around him and he saw that it looked different now. John hadn't been here since Ronon had first arrived; he must have gotten some things from Teyla, or maybe one of the other worlds. There were tapestries on the walls and a thick woven rug on the floor. Nothing matched, but it all had interesting texture.

Then Ronon's pants were gone, and when had that happened? He'd wanted to see him strip. He'd been thinking of that all night, about peeling the black cotton down and finding out whether he was commando or not. Turned out, not. John sat up enough to hook his fingers into the waist of Ronon's black boxer briefs and tug.

He only got them to mid-thigh because Ronon's cock sprang out and distracted him. It was huge, and blood-dark, and the tip just barely peered out from its foreskin. Part of John's brain remembered that naked was the plan, but plans were always the first casualty and his mouth knew exactly what he wanted.

He tugged Ronon's legs forward, so his knees were braced against the bed, and then he curled forward to lick Ronon's twitching balls. They trembled against his lips before Ronon grabbed his hair and growled at him. John laughed and licked a broad stripe up the shaft of Ronon's cock, right to the tip, and then he set to work on the foreskin.

~

Foreskin was fun. John hadn't known a lot of guys who were uncut. He tugged the skin back and forth with his lips, darting in with his tongue, tasting the difference between inside-skin and outside-skin. It was all musk and spit, all Ronon. And Ronon was shaking. His knees were pressing hard into the mattress and John's back was starting to hurt with the strain of the position. He pulled off and said, "Lie down." A moment later, he was kneeling between Ronon's legs, and this was much, much better. He sucked just the wet, leaking tip of Ronon's cock into his mouth, pushing the foreskin down with the tight circle of his mouth. Ronon cursed and dug his fingers through John's hair, and John laughed around his cock as he took it deep, God, so deep. A minute later Ronon was fucking his throat and John was rock hard, humping the bed through his too-tight pants.

Ronon roared when he came and dragged John bodily up to kiss him. "Fuck, fuck," Ronon muttered, trying to unfasten John's pants one-handed. "Open these or I'm going to rip them off you."

John squeezed his dick hard with one hand and ripped the zipper down with the other. Somehow Ronon flipped them and yanked John's pants and boxers down to his knees with one blurry motion, and John thought that if he were any more sober, he would be worried about his technique. Ronon shouldn't still be that coordinated. Then Ronon's mouth was on him, fast and hot and deep, and he couldn't last, especially not with a wet fingertip teasing his ass while Ronon swallowed and swallowed and swallowed him down.

~

John woke with a start, his heart thudding hard in his chest. It was dark, someone was snoring, and he was hanging halfway off a bed, with his right foot bracing him horizontally and a heavy arm pinning him down. It was a very large arm. Worse, his pants were stuck half-way down his thighs, and he had to piss like hell.

"Fuck," he whispered, sliding out of Ronon's bed. He used the bathroom in silence, noting that it was already 0545; then he realized he was still drunk. Perfect. If he was lucky, he might be able to get back to his room unseen. Then he could change clothes and wipe the security feed of that hallway. Or, oh shit. The other hallway.

Ronon was still snoring. John put a glass of water next to the bed because he didn't want to look like a complete asshole. The guy gave amazing head, after all. And he was a teammate. But it wasn't like he could leave a note.

He didn't want to waste time going back to his own quarters, but he had to clean up first. Getting caught destroying security footage would only be worse if he got caught at it while wearing last night's clothes and smelling like hot, sweaty, gay sex...and Ronon. Because he-oh god. He cupped his hands over his face and breathed in. Pure Ronon, pure sex, and he was getting hard again.

Shower. He really needed that shower. He jerked off as fast as he could. He scrubbed the traces of Ronon off his body. He shaved, because he had to. Then, finally, he put on his BDUs and headed to the control center.

It was a quarter past six and there were only two people on duty: Larson and a science guy he didn't know. Seeing Larson was a surprise. Five hours ago, he was three-people-deep in a puppy pile.

"Morning, sir," they both said.

"Morning," he replied. "Merry Christmas."

He chatted a little with them, keeping things innocuous as he always did when he made rounds. Turned out the graveyard shift had been sliced into fractions, so everyone could attend some of the various parties, and everyone had. That was good, John thought. You couldn't blackmail everybody.

"There was a curious thing, though, sir."

"Oh?"

"When I came on shift at 0600," Larson said with perfect innocence, "I found that all of last night's security vid is missing."

"Really."

"Yes, sir."

"Up to what time?"

"Up to exactly 0600, as if it had been on a timer."

"Interesting," John answered.

"I thought you'd want to know."

"Thanks." He nodded. The kid wasn't subtle, but he didn't really need to be. The kid also didn't have the codes to get into that system; it was tagged for top command-staff only. John sighed and went out on the terrace to watch the sun rise.

A minute later, a cup of coffee appeared next to his arm, and he looked over to find Elizabeth smirking at him.

"Merry Christmas," she said as he took the cup.

"Thanks."

They watched the brightening waves in silence for a while. "Are you even sober yet?" she eventually asked.

He chuckled and raised his mug. "This is helping, but I'd prefer not to have to fly anything yet."

She smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "Go back to sleep, John. I've got things covered."

He looked at her doubtfully for a moment, but she made an exasperated face at him. "Thanks," he said, grinning, and went back inside.



~*~*~*~*~



It got easier. Rodney and Teyla were good buffers and they all had a job to do. Besides, it was just a drunken Christmas blowjob. After a while, they'd established a new, much less intimate normal, but they still worked well as a unit. The trouble was how much John was starting to watch Ronon again. He was paying him as much attention as he had his first two weeks on base. If he'd thought he could get away with seeking him out, he would have. That was the line in the sand, and he wouldn't cross it.

The stupid part was that there was no reason for it to be this way. Call it honor, call it intercultural miscommunication, call it whatever you wanted, it sucked. It wasn't like he wanted to make out with him in the middle of the gate room. And he didn't want to trap Ronon in a lie, either. It was a shitty way to live, and would probably be worse on a guy who was still figuring out how to live in a crazy, inconsistent, alien culture...which meant John was pretty much a selfish bastard. And he didn't want to think about what it meant that he wanted Ronon even more now that he couldn't have him. And that meant not only was his life an ongoing nightmare of bad science fiction, but it was a total chick flick cliché too. And that really, really wasn't fair.

~

About eight weeks later, the long-term sensors Rodney had left on the planet with the weird energy readings came due to be checked. It was summer there, and the weather was beautiful. Birds were chirping. Lizard things were jumping from tree to tree like reptilian squirrels. There was a lake in the valley below where the largest fish he'd ever seen, in a lake anyway, were jumping. At any rate, it absolutely was not the excellent view of Ronon's ass hiking along in front of him that distracted him. Then projectiles were flying everywhere and the last thing John saw was Ronon rushing forward to protect Rodney, just like he was supposed to. Then everything went black.

When he came to, he was in a bamboo cage, and they'd stripped him down to his shirt and pants. There was no sign of Ronon, Teyla, or Rodney anywhere, but outside the cage was a small crowd, all sitting in a deep semicircle around his cage. Their features were somewhat Asian, closer to Thai than Chinese, he guessed, and they all wore identical homespun, un-dyed pajamas. He sat up and all their eyes followed him as one. They watched as he checked all of his pockets and examined his bare ankles. Every last pocket was empty and he hadn't been out that long-his skin was still pink with the impression of his socks.

Next, he took in the cage: green bamboo rails tied three inches apart with green vines, and no visible latch or lock. The front had vine hinges of a sort, but there were matching vines on the other side; he'd need a saw to get out. Beyond the cage, the rows of people. Beyond the people, half a dozen tents in a shady meadow. There was a big cooking fire in the center with a big iron cauldron on it, and all his gear was piled on a tree stump nearby. Behind him was a giant tree, with a trunk thicker than the width of his cage. To the right was more forest and to the left was the path. And they were still watching, eyes following each and every turn of his head.

"Um, hi," he said to his rows of observers. "I'm Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, and my friends and I were exploring. Now, I don't know what we did to make you attack us, but if you'll just let me go, I'll be out of here in no time, and believe me, we'll never bother you again. Sound good?"

Crap. It was like being inside the Twilight Zone or something. Nothing he did got a response.

After a while he started shouting. If nothing else, he wanted to make sure the others had his location. He didn't know if they could hear him, or even if they'd gotten away. For all he knew they'd been killed or taken to other camps like this one, but he wasn't going to waste his time with unproductive thinking. It was always better to assume escape, then captivity, then death. Assuming the worst fucked everyone over. Meanwhile, the group of people watching did nothing.

A little later, he realized he had to take a leak, so he asked to be let out so he could do so. Again, no reaction, so he turned his back, knelt up as well as he could with a four-foot-high ceiling, and went for distance. It was a good thing they hadn't put him that close to the tree.

And still, no effect on the crowd.

After a while, he sat back against the cage's back wall and watched them right back. Eventually he fell asleep. When he woke up, it was to the low, shushing movements of the crowd walking to the campfire. They made no sound, but the fabric seemed really loud in the quiet. They sat in a circle and ate from deep wooden bowls with wide wooden spoons. No one spoke, but John's stomach growled.

They didn't feed him, and that pissed him off more than anything. He started ranting about the Geneva Convention, even though he couldn't be a prisoner of war, because they weren't actually at war. The entire experience was so Southeast Asia-1968 it made his head hurt. Or maybe that was the dehydration. Bastards. He started shouting again. They'd missed their check-in, so he figured Lorne's team should be on its way any minute.

Night fell, and it fell dark. There wasn't a moon and the stars didn't show through the tree cover. Weird insects buzzed and something crawled between his toes, making him bite down hard on a scream. He'd been trained for this shit, back in the day. They'd all been forced to sit motionless and endure cockroaches and ants crawling up and down their bare skin, and the CO had laughed at the squeamish guys and told them some of the shit Special Forces trainees had to take.

Maybe they're telepathic, he thought, watching them. Or maybe they're some kind of pod people. He wished he could remember how long this world's day lasted. They'd never been here for more than a few hours, tops, and today he'd figured they'd be in and out inside forty-five minutes. God, where the hell was Lorne?

He heard the weird susurration of a lot of moving fabric, and the dim shadows from the remnants of the campfire told him everyone was going to bed. "Goodnight!" he called loudly, out of spite. He had an evil thought about singing all night to annoy them, but it might interfere with a rescue mission, if there was one. If there wasn't...well, then he was on his own, and after all this time without any water, much less food, he was damn near ready.

He was also really stiff. There was enough room to sit upright and stretch his legs out in front of him, he could crouch, and he could stand, bent at the waist. Between the three positions, he managed to get his blood flowing again. That was something, at least.

Time passed. He moved around every fifteen minutes, so if a team showed up to rescue him, they'd know. As if they wouldn't know already, but this way, even if they'd lost all their equipment, they'd still have a bead on his location.

If no one came to rescue him, there was one thing he could do. His only advantage was that they hadn't staked the cage. If it came to it, he could roll the damned thing into the campfire, burn his way out, grab his gear, and go. Of course, if he did that, they'd all hear the noise immediately, and even on the off chance that he made it to the fire, it would take too long for it to burn through the green wood anyway. He needed a saw. Or...well, okay, maybe he wasn't thinking low-tech enough.

He'd already tried and failed to untie the vines holding the cage together. He got up on his knees, so his face was right at the top, and bit into the top layer. The bark tasted gross and he really hoped it wasn't poisonous. It was tough, fibrous stuff, and it was no time at all before his jaw hurt like a bitch and he had to rest. Little by little, he got the top strand shredded enough to snap with his fingers. Three layers unspooled before he reached the next knot.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the sound of leaves crunching underfoot behind him. The footsteps were coming from the far side of the tree and came level with his cage.

"Sheppard." Ronon's voice was so low and quiet, it was almost inaudible.

"Yeah," he breathed.

"Good." Then he heard a razor sharp knife being drawn and the sound of steel cutting through sturdy fibers.

John slipped through the opening as soon as Ronon pried it open. It felt amazing to stand up again, but he winced as he immediately stepped on something sharp. He pulled Ronon's head close and whispered, "My boots and gear are by the fire. I'm barefoot."

"Already done," Ronon murmured. "Be still."

John's foot was beginning to itch and right then he wanted his boots and a tube of cortisone more than anything in the world, but then he was in the air, with Ronon's arm around his thighs and they were moving very fast away from the camp. He didn't make a sound.

Ronon didn't put him down until they were in the jumper, and by then he was going into shock. He was vaguely aware of Teyla pulling his canteen out of his vest and Ronon holding it to his lips, dribbling small sips into his mouth. Also, his foot really hurt.

"Why are his lips blue?" he heard Teyla ask.

"Don't know."

Up front, he heard Rodney radio for them to have Beckett on standby.

~

He woke up in the infirmary, surprised that he actually felt okay. He couldn't talk, though. Maybe there was something in the vines after all, because they'd covered every surface of his lips, inside and out, with gauze. His tongue felt kind of funny, too. Like it was wrapped in Saran wrap. It felt gross. His right foot was elevated and he could see a skinny tube sticking out of it, with red and yellow stuff draining out of the bottom of his foot. To his right, almost out of his range of vision, he could see Ronon sacked out in a chair in the corner, the side of his head resting against the wall. He hadn't had the chance to watch him sleep before. Or, rather, the one time he had, he'd been panicking too much to take advantage of it. It was uncanny how soft, almost fragile, he seemed in sleep. And still the hottest thing he'd ever taken to bed.

Ronon's eyes snapped open. John watched him stand up and stretch, taking up all the space between the chair and the bed. John reached up and stroked Ronon's belly where the shirt pulled away. Smooth skin, silky hair. He let his fingers linger until Ronon pulled his hand away and put it back on the bed. Ronon's hand felt so good that John couldn't let go.

"Sheppard..."

John just winked at him. Unfortunately, Ronon had spoken loudly enough to get Beckett's attention, so John let go and watched Ronon leave as Beckett began his exam. After gesturing for them to bring him a laptop, he finally got it through Beckett's head that he felt absolutely fine-there was no need to treat him like he had a head wound.

He pointed from his bandaged mouth to the tube coming out of his foot and typed: What the hell happened?

"You have no idea how lucky you are." John glared at Beckett, because really, he did hear this at least once a week.

"The thing you stepped on exudes a toxin much like a centipede's, but vastly more lethal."

John sat back and watched his foot drain. He wiggled his toes a little, which pushed another disgusting liquid nugget into the tube. He watched it slide down an inch before turning his eyes back to Beckett, who smirked at him. He made a contrite "please continue" gesture, and then folded his hands politely on the keyboard. Waiting. And wishing like hell he could talk.

"Whatever organic material it was you were chewing-"

John typed: vines of the cage. Beckett frowned, so he typed: I was in a bamboo cage held together by vines. YES I was chewing my way out. Sometimes this job really sucks.

"Oh," Beckett said, his frown growing deeper. "Sorry. As I was saying, the fortunate thing is that this vine had a positive effect against the venom of the creature you stepped on. As it is, we have only to drain a large abscess. Without it, we would probably have had to amputate."

Well, shit.

"Indeed," Beckett said, not needing him to translate. "However, the side effect is what these bandages on your mouth are for. Ingesting this substance...well, there was some damage."

Permanent? John typed.

"Ah, no, thank goodness. The surface layers will slough off, hopefully within a day or so. We've applied a salve to the worst areas to help."

Well that explained that. He'd assumed the crinkly feeling in his lips was the gauze. Glancing suspiciously at Beckett, he typed: Does this mean the inside of my mouth is going to peel, too?

Beckett nodded sympathetically. "Afraid so."

Gross.

"Aye, also, you'll be off that foot for at least the rest of this week."

It doesn't hurt...

"And that would be the local anesthetic for the drainage tube."

John's shoulders slumped. This sucked.

When they changed the gauze on his face the next afternoon, they pulled off a perfect impression of John's lips. They were woad blue, and for a moment he had a horrifying flashback to shedding the Iratus skin. The other strips from inside his mouth were blue, too, and John's first words to Beckett were a worried, "You got a mirror?"

His lips looked bruised, he saw, when the nurse put the mirror in his hand. Most of it was the trauma of peeling, but there was still a little blue in the skin. His tongue, at least, was pink and normal looking. His gums were still dark, though, and that made his teeth look very, very white. It was creepy. He scraped a little with a fingernail and a flake came off, showing healthy pink below. That was a good thing. Probably all he needed was a toothbrush and some mouthwash and it would all be fine.

~

Hours passed. Beckett returned his radio-not that it did much good while Rodney and Lorne were working, but they promised to send people to entertain him. The day before, when he'd felt fine but couldn't talk, he'd watched four movies in a row, on top of killing more hours than he wanted to think about on Doom, Spider Solitaire, and Tetris. He didn't want to see another game ever again, or for at least another twelve hours. He needed to be moving. Three days without a run, his legs were going to turn to jelly. It was making him crazy.

People came and went. He debriefed Lorne and met with Elizabeth. Rodney was busy with his energy readings, so he didn't stay long. Teyla stayed for a couple of hours after dinner, and it was nice. She told him about the kids on the mainland trying to figure out what to do with their presents, and he told her about some of the better Christmases he'd had as a kid. It was cozy. It seemed like it had been a long time since they'd last done nothing but sit around talking. Normally when they were sitting around talking, they were waiting for disaster to strike. It was a nice change.

Ronon came in just as she was starting to yawn, or possibly she saw him first and faked it. He wouldn't put it past her. When she left, Ronon took her chair, stretched his legs out in front of him and made like he was in for the duration.

"I can speak now, you know," he said with a mock glare.

Ronon smirked. "Is that so?"

"It is, as a matter of fact."

Ronon didn't answer, and John didn't do anything for a minute but look at the space between them. Ronon's feet were below him under the bed, then long, long legs, wearing leather tonight. Then his ubiquitous black sweater; his tattooed neck; his beard, trimmed a little shorter. His eyes, holding his gaze without flinching.

"Thanks for getting me out," John said softly.

Ronon shrugged almost imperceptibly. "I'm not that good at leaving you behind," he murmured.

"I'm good with that," John said with a grin, pushing it enough to get a twinkle of amusement in Ronon's eyes.

He still didn't say anything, though.

"All right, you're being weirder than usual," John said. "Also quieter, and I didn't know that was possible."

Ronon said, "I watched you from the trees for hours."

"Yeah?" John asked, still verging on flippant. "I didn't know if you guys were there or not."

Ronon tilted his head to the side and looked up. "Life is short."

"It'd suck to waste it," John said.

Ronon's gaze didn't waver, and for once John could hear everything he wasn't saying.

He reached for him then, yanking Ronon to his feet and pulling him close. He drew his hand up Ronon's chest to his throat, where he traced his thumb over the tattoo. Then he cupped Ronon's jaw and pressed a little on his lower lip with his thumb.

Ronon's tongue darted out and John looked up to see his eyes shining bright with hunger. That was what he wanted, and he let it show on his face. It had been too long since they'd been on the same page like this, both here in the moment and wanting. Ronon covered his hand with his own and drew John's thumb into his mouth, nipping at flesh with his teeth.

"Please," John breathed, and then he felt Ronon's right hand slip under the sheet and grip his cock through his scrubs, and it was all he could do to keep quiet. This was so not discreet. He could hear a couple of nurses at the other end of the infirmary. There was a curtain shielding his body from the security camera's view, but Ronon's head would be visible if he stood up straight.

He squeezed his eyes shut tight for a second. Deniability. "Here, pull the chair up. No need to keep standing to look at this," he said, pleading with his eyes.

Ronon hooked the chair with his foot and tugged it forward. He sat on one heel to maintain his leverage, but he didn't stop moving his hand and he didn't drag his eyes away. John's mouth was opening wider and wider the closer he got. He braced his left foot against his right thigh, striving for silence, as every move rattled the drainage tube against the foot of the bed. He had to be still. He had to be silent. He had to come or he was going to die.

A moment later, Ronon plucked a tissue from the box by the bed and let go of his dick long enough to pull open the drawstring pants and start pumping him in earnest. John's mouth opened wide and he arched backwards, oblivious, shooting in mind-blowing stillness. Then Ronon was wiping his belly, putting him back together. John came back to reality in time to see him pocketing the evidence with a dark wink.

He was pulled Ronon down for a long kiss. "Your turn," he whispered when they parted, but Ronon shook his head. "No time."

"That's-"

"When do you get out of here?" Ronon asked.

"They take the tube out tomorrow. If it's clear, I'm off my feet until it heals, so I'll either be on crutches or stuck in bed."

"Mmmh." Ronon rubbed the tip of his thumb against John's mouth, and John shuddered, tasting himself on Ronon's skin. "I'm looking forward to it."

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
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filenotch
Dec. 23rd, 2005 08:12 pm (UTC)
John's shoulders slumped. This sucked.

Ah, but the story most certainly did not. Good take on them both.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm happy you liked it! :D
fluffyllama
Dec. 24th, 2005 03:29 am (UTC)
Oh, I really enjoyed this. I especially loved Sheppard's 'good night' and thinking about singing all night in revenge, and the two of them against the wall just about melted my keyboard. Guh. Fabulous.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! They are gorgeous together, aren't they?
hth_the_first
Dec. 24th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC)
Eeee! I'm so delighted by this story -- it has humor and plot and hotness (whoah! hot!) and the characterization particularly of John was wonderful, with that kind of snarky off-centeredness, but then at the same time, actually deep down taking his job seriously and trying to do it right.

"Mmmmh, is that-" Ronon leaned over his shoulder and took a deep breath of the steam rising from his cup. "Years," he murmured.

I found that amazingly sexy -- either the intimation of Ronon as a sensualist, in there with all that sensual detail about the Christmas party, or just that reminder of how long he's gone without creature comforts that always makes me immediately think dirty thoughts.

Loved the party, loved the USTy, charged build-up throughout it. Can't even tell you how much I adore the mental image of Ronon with Christmas ornaments tied into his hair. *g* That's just sweet and totally unique, and I love that idea that he's integrated into Atlantis enough to become kind of a giant, beloved toy for people. I don't know, maybe it's the fact that I've seen King Kong twice in three days, but there's just something about that kind of nonsexual petting and fussing that he's receiving in this story that I find fantastically awww-worthy.

Did I mention the sex was way hot? Because yes, it was. They're both such physical people, and the way they need to touch each other seemed very apropos. And again, the Sheppardness of the story is perfectly done -- this is exactly the kind of mess you can imagine him getting into, involving him chewing his way out of a cage and being irritated about being trussed up in the infirmary with funny gums; it just has that whole ring of Sheppard who's always *almost* Big Manly Action Hero, but always with that element of ironic absurdity to keep him from totally being there -- thank God, because otherwise he'd be dull. And did I mention the non-orgy orgy? Because that was perfect and delightful, too, and in fact the whole thing, I'm just completely smitten with. I'm proud that it was written for me!

Thanks for participating this year! Once I know who you are, I'll definitely be digging up everything else you've ever written, if I haven't read it already *g*
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:09 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much. I'm so pleased (and relieved) that you enjoyed it! You've mentioned the parts that I was particularly hoping would resonate--especially John getting stuck in these absurd situations that usually end up being life-threatening. :)

I should probably say that I *also* used the Ronon & Teyla cultural elements of your santa-request for my undermistletoe fic, which turned out to be a long ghostly teamfic. So, THANK YOU for the awesome prompts!! You're the impetus behind about 21,000 words of holiday SGA fic. *g*

Again, thank you for all the kind words. I'm so delighted that you liked it! :D
3jane
Dec. 24th, 2005 11:18 pm (UTC)
Porn yay!
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:10 am (UTC)
Mmmmmm porn.......
mikou
Dec. 25th, 2005 12:54 am (UTC)
This story was sweet, funny, and sexy. I love the buildup of tension between them at the party and how it explodes afterwards. I also really liked the idea of Ronon watching out for John, for hours, and finally rescuing him.

Thanks so much for writing and sharing it.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:13 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think this party is one of my favorite scenes I've ever written. :D Thanks for the kind words!
apatheia_jane
Dec. 25th, 2005 03:40 am (UTC)
Great image of Ronon be-decorated.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:14 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think he'd be a lot of fun to cover in ornaments. :D
toniabarone
Dec. 25th, 2005 07:53 am (UTC)
Wow. Hot. Loved it! *G* Thanks for this. *L* John has all the luck, don't he?
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :D
gilkurtis
Dec. 25th, 2005 08:16 am (UTC)
Oh, well done. Quirky and hot.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you! :D
diluvian
Dec. 25th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC)
Oh my, this was fantastic. Hot, and funny, and touching, and hooboy hot.

And that meant not only was his life an ongoing nightmare of bad science fiction, but it was a total chick flick cliché too.

Hee!

the kids on the mainland trying to figure out what to do with their presents

That just begs for elaboration.

Lovely work!
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:19 am (UTC)
Yay!! I'm so glad you liked it. :D
amothea
Dec. 28th, 2005 04:15 am (UTC)
wow this was great. One of the best Ronon/Sheppard fics I've read. :) thanks for sharing.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:20 am (UTC)
Thank you, what a lovely comment. I am enormously fond of this pairing. :D
(Deleted comment)
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
*g* I aim to please. And yes, Ronon is gorgeous. :)
neery
Dec. 28th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
Orgy party! Scientist-Marines-puppy-pile! Whee!
I can so see the Atlantians being crazy party people, what with being in mortal danger every other day.

Parrish was actually curled in a ball with his head pillowed on Lorne's thigh, damned close to passed out.

I have such a secret weak spot for that pairing. Aww!

Sheppard trying to chew his way out of the cage was so the kind of situation that he'd get into, the poor guy.

Brilliant story!
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:26 am (UTC)
Thank you for the wonderful feedback! And I agree, I see them as having the BEST parties, especially while the Daedalus is away.

Lorne/Parrish is adorable, though I have to admit slashing Lorne in my head with almost everyone on the show. The man flirts with inanimate objects!

I'm so glad you liked this. :D
crysothemis
Dec. 29th, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
Heh. Ronon with decorated dreads is seriously cracking me up. Love the sex and the UST, and the way they were both delightfully in character. I love this pairing, and it's great to see them done well.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I really adore both characters and writing them together is never a hardship...and I would be totally guilty of decorating Ronon if I had the chance. *g*
jeddy83
Dec. 29th, 2005 11:10 am (UTC)
Great story! Sheppard and Ronon together are all kinds of hot.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :D
kellifer_fic
Dec. 29th, 2005 11:21 am (UTC)
Oh excellent! Really enjoyed this... thanks for posting.
sageness
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm so pleased that you liked it! :D
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