blue flamingos

What It's Made

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Slash, R

Year/Length: 2010/~7728 words

Pairing: John/Ronon

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose (Tennessee Williams) (also known as the everyone's LGB except Rodney AU

Author's Notes: kyuuketsukirui's prompt: Characters who are queer and comfortable with their sexuality/identity; AUs of any sort, but I am especially fond of Earth AUs; Realism (slash fic)

Beta: Beta'd by spillingvelvet

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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When John finally made it to the beach – running late because his car hated him, or maybe just hated 5am on a Thursday – Teyla had already staked out their usual spot with her surfboard and blanket, and a bag of toys for Torren, though she was nowhere to be seen.

Instead, Jennifer was sitting cross-legged on the blanket, looking very young in her UCLA sweatshirt and jeans, her hair pulled back, and Torren asleep in her lap. "Hey," she said softly when John got close enough.

"Hey," John echoed, planting his board and reaching down to brush Torren's hair back from his face. Asleep, all of his two-year old energy stilled, he didn’t quite look real. "He okay?"

"He was sleeping when they got here," Jennifer said. She shifted him so she could reach for the insulated mug John hadn't noticed. Steam wreathed her face as she drank, making the misty morning, the mostly-empty beach and the muffled sounds of seagulls even more unearthly. "He'll be awake by the time you're done."

"Unlike you." John crouched down to pull off his boots, not prepared to unzip his fleece until Teyla came back from wherever she'd gone – the radio was still predicting ridiculous highs during the day, but that early, by the water, it was pretty cool.

"Yeah, but it beats spending my days diagnosing students with STDs – night shift has all the most exciting injuries," Jennifer said cheerfully, despite the circles under her eyes. "It's just having the night off that messes with me."

"Right." The principal had called everyone the night before to confirm that, after a couple of days off while the plumbing got fixed, and the subsequent flooding mopped up, school would re-open on Friday, and John knew the kids would be stir-crazy from the disruption to their routine. "Teyla around?"

"Went back to the car for her cell, she's waiting on a call from a client."

"At five thirty in the morning?" John asked, picturing Teyla, dripping wet on the beach, talking networks and firewalls and other things that John didn't understand, but which kept her one-woman IT consultancy in business, and Torren in clothes to grow out of.

"She says he's very dedicated," Jennifer offered. "Plus, it's later where he is."

"Okay," John said.

Teyla came back a couple of minutes later, looking wide awake and offering John a bottle of water, then laughing at him when he complained about not getting coffee.

"Had you been on time," Teyla teased, stripping down to her wetsuit.

Torren snuffled, snuggling closer into Jennifer's body as she smoothed one hand down his back. "Go on, before you wake him up," she said.

Walking down to the water, John said, "She's good with him."

"Yes," Teyla agreed. "I think she and Katie are considering a child of their own."

"Wow," John said, though he couldn't help thinking that another child in the group would be kind of fun; God knew he and Ronon weren't going to be producing one, and he doubted Teyla was thinking about another child. Sora had left during Teyla's pregnancy to go fight for her home country's independence, then broken off the relationship in a letter two weeks later.

"I'm sure they will make wonderful parents," Teyla said. John felt her looking at him, kept his eyes on the waves breaking on the beach. "Perhaps they will have an announcement at dinner tomorrow."

John grinned, couldn't help it. "Thirty hours till they're home."

"Yes," Teyla said, the smile evident in her voice. "Not that you are counting."

"Like you don't miss him," John said, hoping the heat he could feel at the back of his neck would look like a reaction to the early morning chill.

"I did not say otherwise," Teyla said. "Although I am not counting down the hours."

"I'm not..." John started, then gave up, jogging away from her and into the cool surf. "Mock me when we're out."

"I believe I can do both," Teyla called back, but she was already in the water, her face sliding into the calm, focused expression John knew from a hundred mornings just like this over the last five years, paddling out in the early morning light, the ocean nearly empty, exactly the same as when they'd first met, doing this.

It wasn't a perfect sea, but it was close, waves that were easy to catch and easy to ride, a smooth glide that made John laugh from sheer pleasure. Nothing like flying, which he'd never thought was a good thing until he could ride out a wave, wind and water all around him, and not remember how things used to be. Then, it had felt like a blessing; still did, even though he didn't regret the loss, not really, any more.

On the beach, Jennifer waved, to Teyla, John thought, who was paddling a little further out than him, her hair plastered to her face, smiling. John picked out the next cresting wave, paddled into it and up, perfectly balanced, and for a moment, it was pure harmony.

And then it wasn't. He'd misjudged the angle, the curve, something, felt how off it was, saw exactly what was coming and couldn't do a thing except ride it out, right into a spectacular wipe-out, tumbled head over heels by the waves until he couldn't tell which way was up, his breath coming short as he struggled. The sharp crack of his board to his head, which he'd known was only a matter of time, was almost a relief.

He grayed out for just long enough to snap back with a faint sense of panic, and that was enough to kick-start his body into reaching for the sun. The first breath of air hurt. He couldn't have been under for that long, not and be breathing air, not water, but he felt dizzy and heavy, and it seemed easiest to drape himself over his board and let the water coast him up onto the beach.

"John," Teyla said, sounding reassuringly clam, considering the world was spinning gently, and also kind of fuzzy. "Are you all right?"

"Sure," John said, pushing himself halfway to his feet before he fell over.

"I will get Jennifer," Teyla said, already moving, so John closed his eyes and willed himself not to puke.

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"Curtain," Ronon said over the sound of applause, some foot-stamping, out in the auditorium. He could just hear the curtain sliding closed, muffling the applause as it died out, then Kai and Tyre, his two crew chiefs, in his ear, talking about taking down the set. On stage, the cast were hugging, congratulating each other, and someone turned the stage lights on.

Ronon leaned against the wall for a moment, letting it wash over him, sure he was grinning like an idiot and not caring. His first tour as stage manager with Satedan Theater, with solid profits at almost all venues, and now it was done and they were headed home for six months.

"Hey, boss," Ara said, dodging two laughing cast members as she crossed the stage. "Good run."

"You too." Ronon pushed away from the wall. "Trucks should be pulling up –"

"Clear the props so the crew can get the furniture out," Ara parroted. "Think I've got it by now."

"Yeah, fine." Ronon waved her away. Tyre and Kai had finally stopped discussing it and split off to retrieve the crew and check on the drivers, Ara and her assistant were gathering armfuls of artfully destroyed home wares from the final scene, and the sound of departing audience members was dying down. The only people not doing what he wanted were the cast, as usual. "Any chance of getting my stage back?" he asked, ambling on.

"Ronon," Atio cried, flinging herself at him. "Great job, seriously."

Ronon hugged her back mostly out of habit. "You too. But we need to get out of here, and your bus leaves in half an hour, so celebrate when we're back in LA."

"You're no fun," Atio grumbled.

"It's been said," Ronon agreed, watching them wander away, still talking.

The house manager shouted, "All clear," as they finally drifted below stage to change. Ronon called back his thanks, and went to lift the curtain, since his curtain operator had been press-ganged by the stage crew. The last of the house staff were working their way up the balcony, collecting abandoned programs, and two of his crew were draping drop cloths over the seats in stalls, ready to take out some of the taller flats that way.

"Anyone seen Aiden?" he asked, stepping back into the wings as the crew stormed the stage, armed with the usual assortment of screw drivers, crow-bar and hammers.

"Sorry," Aiden said, popping up at his elbow with an unrepentant grin. "Didn't think you wanted the hospital to collapse the rest of the way into the orchestra pit during the dramatic goodbye scene. You didn't notice the tilting?"

Ronon hadn't. "You're the ASM, I assumed you'd be keeping an eye on it." Aiden grinned again, obviously pleased. "In or out?"

Aiden eyed the crew, then the light rain that they could see falling, outside the open backstage doors. "Out."

Ara slung the arm that wasn't cradling a small crib around his shoulders, laughing when he jumped. "You remember what I told you about sleeping with the crew chief?"

Aiden flushed, his eyes flickering to Tyre for a moment, then too obviously away as Ronon fought the urge to laugh. "We were drunk."

"I assumed," Ara said, grinning when outrage spread over Aiden's face, and hustling away.

"Go," Ronon said, when Aiden looked like he had something to add. "Take a coat," he added as Aiden ducked away. He waited for Aiden to wave an agreeable hand over his shoulder, then dug out his heavy duty gloves and nudged the nearest crew member to hand over a screw-driver.

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Jennifer and Teyla, unsurprisingly, ganged up on John and subjected him to a couple hours in the ER getting stitches and a lecture on taking care of his apparently mild concussion, which he appreciated, sort of, though more so when he was home, the curtains drawn against the mid-day sun that was doing nothing good for his headache.

He was mostly asleep when someone knocked at his door, and seriously tempted to ignore them, except for how it might be Teyla, come back to make sure he wasn't dead.

Instead, it turned out to be Rodney, who brushed past John like he wasn't there, already talking. "Were you sleeping? Still? It's the middle of the day, just because you're not working today, doesn't mean you should stay up all night playing video games." He whisked the curtains open and John, leaning against the wall, couldn't quite hide the hiss of pain, which naturally Rodney heard. "What's wrong with you?" he asked, frowning at John. "Are you hung-over?"

"My head hurts," John said, and didn't add, "You're not helping," figuring he'd really want to pretty soon. Rodney was one of his closest friends, had been since they'd wound up as room-mates after the Air Force kicked John out. Rodney, who'd been teaching undergrads at Cal Tech at the time, had pretty much bullied John into getting his masters, which had led to John getting his teaching certificate, possibly the best thing he'd ever done.

None of which changed the fact that Rodney could babble John into a migraine when he hadn't been hit in the head with a surfboard earlier in the morning.

"What did you do to it?" Rodney demanded, then, coming closer, "Why do you have stitches? Shouldn't you be in hospital?"

"You know, sometimes it's hard to believe you dated a doctor for a year," John said mildly, pushing past Rodney so he could at least be in pain sitting down.

"I dated a botanist before her, but my plants still die," Rodney pointed out, a little more calmly. "Are you sure you're all right?"

"Mild concussion, couple of stitches," John said, since Rodney would only get it out of one of the others eventually. "What are you doing here?"

"Maybe I came by to check you're not dying from an undiagnosed internal injury," Rodney said, finally closing the curtains again on his way to John's kitchen, skirting the piles of math books John had spent most of the evening before grading. "Can I make some coffee?"

Since the question was followed immediately by the click of the machine turning on, John didn’t bother to answer. "You didn't know I'd hit my head till you got here," he said instead. "Why are you really here?"

"Ah," Rodney said, coming back to lean in the doorway and look awkward. "I wanted to ask about tomorrow. I want to bring a date."

John closed his eyes with a groan, already anticipating the associated drama, and hoping Rodney would take the groan as an answer – he was too tired, and too hurt, to deal with this.

"Maybe we can talk about it later," Rodney offered, which just proved there were good reasons for John to like him, after all.

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Ronon woke up slowly, to the feel of the road passing under the final van of Satedan Theater's convoy, a little surprised to be there. He'd been dreaming about John, sitting opposite him in a small Italian restaurant after Ronon had spent the afternoon talking to Evan's senior drama class about careers in the theater.

"So," John had said, fiddling with his unused butter knife. "I wanted to – I guess you and Evan..."

"We used to date," Ronon had said, keeping it light, simple. "Now we're just friends." Good enough friends that they still talked regularly, and Evan, who was covering some of the drama classes alongside art while the regular teacher was out adopting a baby but wasn't that confident with it, had taken Ronon's offer to come help out in good grace, the same way he'd taken Ronon moving to LA a couple of months after Evan did, barely three months after they'd broken up.

"So you could – I live round the corner, pretty much."

"Sounds good," Ronon had said. Easy, simple. Casual, pretty much, with him spending large chunks of every year on the road, but he was looking forward to seeing John again. Nice thing about the run being over.

"Nudge him," Ara said, distant enough that she had to be driving. "He's not really asleep."

"I think he is," Aiden said doubtfully from very close. He was still nervous sometimes, only nine months back from an extended leave of absence for health problems, and Ronon knew it didn't help that he, Ara, Tyre and Kai had been together pretty much since Saturday morning drama class when they were eight. Though, if he was sleeping with Ronon's crew chief, maybe not so nervous any more.

"He's not," he said, opening his eyes. They were still on the interstate, the lights of the second big truck ahead of them, but in the early morning dark, he couldn't make out where they were. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," Ara said, glancing over. "Aiden's trying to convince me he doesn't want to sleep with Tyre again."

"I don't," Aiden protested, immediately and predictably.

"Why not?" Ara prodded. "Sex wasn't any good?"

"I – " Aiden started, then closed his mouth. "Is there a good answer to that?"

"Nope," Ronon said. A bottle of water rolled against his boot as Ara pulled out to pass a slow moving RV, so he grabbed it and drank. It tasted like it had been in the van for a while. "Take him for breakfast when we get back into town."

"Three hours of unloading first," Aiden corrected. "I just want to crash when we're done."

"Dinner, then," Ara said. "I hear regular people do that."

"That what you're doing?" Aiden asked, either fishing or trying to change the subject.

Ara shook her head. "Take-out and a bath. Ice-skating on TiVo."

"No date?"

"She's out of town," Ara said, with a shrug that didn't seem entirely casual, enough for Ronon to wonder if it was a little more than Larrin's schedule that had kept her from visiting the whole tour. Not that he'd seen much of John, but there'd been a few weekend visits, and nearly a week of John traveling with them during spring break. "And we all know what Ronon's doing," Ara added, like she'd read his mind. "Or should I say who?"

Ronon looked out the window, hoping they'd miss his grin. "It's dinner with friends."

"Yeah," Aiden agreed, his own smile evident in his voice. "I don't think she's talking about dinner."

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After three days off, with the temperatures hitting the top of the mercury and only one day to go to the weekend, John's kids refused to settle and do math. Instead, his first period class was rowdy and argumentative, and his AP seniors kept trying to distract him discussing millennium problems. Add in the buzzing light tube in the back right corner of the classroom, and John's persistent headache, and all he really wanted by lunch was to sit in the darkened classroom, alone with his painkillers and his coffee.

He got five minutes of peace before someone knocked at the closed door and opened it before John could say anything.

"Hey, Mr. Sheppard," Jinto said, nudging the door closed behind herself. "You mind if I turn the light on?"

"Go for it," John said, resigning himself to more buzzing, and turning a chair on the front row to face the desk behind it, waiting for Jinto to sit down. She looked relaxed, or at least more relaxed than she usually did, which John figured meant this was a social visit and not a request for sanctuary. Though there'd been plenty of those in the last few months, since she'd turned sixteen and decided to come out as trans at school. "How's everything going?"

"Fine," she said, straightening her books on the desk and aligning her pen on top. She took her hands away, folding them in her lap, then reached out to straighten the pen again, and John revised his estimate of her level of relaxation downwards.

"Everything okay?" he prompted. It still felt weird that the kids came to him with their problems, but he had, in a fit of being pissed at the Air Force, decided he wasn't going to pretend any longer and outed himself to the principal during his interview for the job, which had somehow ended up with him hired and appointed the faculty advisor to the school's Gay-Straight Alliance. He figured, since he'd apparently lucked into the most gay-friendly school in LA, it wasn't worth wondering about too much.

"Probably better than you," Jinto said, brushing her short hair back and touching the spot on her own forehead where John's stitches were showing. "That looks like it hurt."

John shrugged. "Apparently it gives me an air of rakish charm."

Jinto bit her lip, her eyes bright with suppressed laughter. "Whoever said that was lying, Mr. S, sorry."

"I was afraid you'd say that."

Jinto smiled slightly, her eyes dropping. "So, Wex asked me to the junior prom."

"Ah," John said intelligently. "What did you say?"

"Don't expect me to wear a dress," Jinto said. "I'm not that kind of girl."

John swallowed down the urge to laugh at the deadpan way she quoted herself, particularly since her clothes – jeans, t-shirts and boots like most of the kids – had been an issue for some of the more conservative kids when she'd come out and hadn’t immediately started dressing like they thought a girl should. He didn't want her thinking that was what he was laughing at. "I meant, did you say yes?"

"I said I'd think about it," Jinto said, her voice dropping. Wex had pretty much stood by her when she'd come out, but John knew it hadn't been easy for either of them to adjust, after sixteen years as best friends. He hated the thought of Jinto getting hurt if it didn't work, but at the same time, he hated the idea of her being so afraid of being hurt that she couldn't do it. "I don't know if I'm ready to start going on dates."

"You could go as friends," John pointed out. "And even if it is a date, nothing has to happen that you don't want or aren't ready for."

"We already got that lecture in health class," Jinto said, giving John a dubious look.

"Just checking," John said, relieved.

Jinto smiled a little, looking down at her books. "Do you think this would be easier..." She made a vague gesture to herself, which John figured was meant to incorporate the last few months of awkwardness and bullying, meetings with the school and her father, John and Evan, Sam and Cameron, the other GSA kids working on the student body.

"Probably," he said, since Jinto was a smart girl, knew a lie when she heard it. "That doesn't mean you didn't do the right thing."

"I know," she said. "I just wish... it gets easier, right?"

"Yeah," John said. "In some ways, anyway. You have more choices. More space."

Jinto smiled then, for real. "That sounds good."

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Ronon was too wiped when he got back to his apartment late on Friday morning to do anything but crash straight into bed, still wearing his jeans and Satedan Theater t-shirt.

When he woke up, the sun had shifted to shine right in his bedroom window, which meant it was late afternoon and he hadn't slept enough, even though he felt wide awake. He got up, took a shower, dressed in clothes he hadn't worn a hundred times recently. He'd paid a cleaning service to come in right before he got back, so the apartment was dust-free and there was food in the fridge, though not a lot. He made a cup of coffee, then a sandwich, ate it on the balcony, over-looking the street below, trying to relax, back in his own space after months of hotel rooms, enjoying the sun and the blazing heat.

After a while, he went back inside, washed his plate and cup, contemplated the tub of chocolate chip ice cream waiting for him, then decided it was too much like late night snacks liberated from concessions.

It wasn't until he found himself seriously considering doing laundry for two shirts and a pair of socks that he went to find his cell, send John a message: I'm home. See you later.

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Dinner was at Teyla's, since she was the only one of them with an actual backyard and it meant she didn't have to find a sitter for Torren. It also meant that John, who'd been jittery with anticipation since receiving Ronon's message, wanting to go over and knowing that if he did they'd never make the party, could show up early and just be waved into the kitchen, where Torren was making a mess with a small bowl of tuna pasta. He grinned up at John for a moment, then his face fell almost comically.

"Y'head's still hurt."

"It's fine," John said, mostly telling the truth, since it was as long as he kept taking the painkillers. "Nothing your mom's cooking won't fix."

Halfway through pouring John a mug of coffee, Teyla glared at him. "It is not nice to mock other people's shortcomings."

John held up his hands in defense. "You're a good cook. Just, you know, not so much for anyone over five."

"Hmm," Teyla said shortly, handing over John's coffee. "Then perhaps you should busy yourself starting the grill."

"Rodney's not gonna do it?"

"Rodney is hoping to bring a date," Teyla said, frowning a little. "He said you knew."

"I was hoping it was a head injury-induced hallucination," John said, nudging Torren's juice a little closer to him. "You think she'll be okay?"

"I doubt he will bring another woman as religious as Allina," Teyla said, looking like she was suppressing a shudder – Allina had had some strong views about how they were all depraved sinners, and it hadn't been quite long enough for the memory to be funny. "I am more concerned that he will upset Jennifer again."

"I don't know that upset is the word for how she was brandishing that barbeque fork," John said, wincing. "We'll just keep them apart. Or distracted."

"Or drunk," Teyla agreed, swiping Torren's pasta bowl. "People will be arriving soon, Torren, would you like John to give you your bath?"

Torren looked torn for a moment between seeing all of his mom's friends and getting the undivided attention of one of them, then caved and held his arms out for John to pick him up. "Bath."

"Thanks," John said dryly, scooping him up and getting fish breath across his face. "I love turning up for dinner soaking wet."

"I'm sure Ronon will not object," Teyla called after him.

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Teyla had closed the curtains in Torren's room, which muffled some of the sounds of people arriving, even with the windows open, but bath, bed and story took long enough that John wasn't surprised to see the yard buzzing with people when he made his way back down. He picked out the ones he knew easily enough: Evan at the grill, laughing at something Teyla was saying; Jennifer practically in Katie's lap on a lawn chair; Evan's friend Laura circulating with a large blue bowl of popcorn. No sign yet of Ronon, but it was still a little early, and last time he'd arrived an hour late after sleeping through his alarm.

"There you are," Rodney said from behind John. When John turned, Rodney was holding a clear, half-empty, beer bottle, and standing next to a tall blond woman in a purple cotton dress. "John, this is Norina, Norina, this is John, we used to be room-mates."

John offered his best polite smile and shook her hand. "Good to meet you. Rodney said you might be joining us."

She didn't seem nervous at all when she smiled back, or like she was about to start on about how God hated them all, which put her one up on some of Rodney's dates, even discounting Allina – apparently, he had a good radar for people who felt uncomfortable in a room, or a yard, full of queer people. "I've heard so much about all of you."

"Great," John said doubtfully.

"Yes," Rodney said. "Oh, there's Katie and Jennifer, let's say hello."

"I think I saw Radek inside," John lied shamelessly. "Rodney, didn't you say Norina's an engineer, I'm sure Radek would love to meet her."

"Oh," Rodney said, but Norina, proving Rodney really had been as tactless as usual, hooked her arm through his and said, "What a good idea," turning him away.

One crisis averted, John gave himself a mental pat on the back and went to find something he could drink with painkillers.

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Ronon was locking up his bike when a small blue car pulled up next to him. Before the engine had even stopped ticking, Sam was climbing out to give him a one-armed hug in greeting. "Welcome home," she said, grinning and checking out his motorbike with jealous eyes, like always.

"Thanks," Ronon said, offering a wave to the thin, brown-haired woman climbing out of the passenger seat, who he didn't remember meeting before. "You last?"

"Probably," Same said, shrugging as she led the way round to Teyla's back yard. "I got lost on the way back from Elizabeth's."

"I did tell you not to take a shortcut," the woman, presumably Elizabeth, said mildly.

"I was sure it'd work," Sam said, half-turning back. "Um, Elizabeth, Ronon, Ronon, Elizabeth. He's the one we're having the party for." They shook hands, and Sam added, "Elizabeth knew Teyla a bit, before Sora."

Ronon opened his mouth to ask if Teyla had done work for her, then took in Elizabeth's faint flush, and the way Sam had said 'before Sora,' when no-one really mentioned her name any more, and decided he didn't need to ask after all. "Okay," he said.

Sam patted Elizabeth's arm reassuringly, then pushed through the gate into the yard, her eyes already skipping over the gathered crowd. "Look who I found."

Everyone turned to look at them then, as though pulled by a string, to look at John, who blushed and ducked his head. Ronon couldn't help grinning, at John, at their friends, at Teyla's suburban yard. It was good to be home.

"Hey," he said. It worked like flipping a switch, surrounding him with hugs and handshakes and, "welcome back." Someone pressed a cold beer into his hand. Teyla kissed his cheek, standing on her toes to do so, looking at Elizabeth from the corner of her eye, then Evan kissed him as well, also standing on his toes, laughing at himself, and slowly the crowd dispersed again, Teyla and Elizabeth close together, leaving just John, the others carefully not watching. "Hey," Ronon said again.

"Hey," John echoed. "Good journey back?" He had a neat row of stitches near his hairline, looked tired, but he was still tanned, still looked good.

"Yeah."

"Nice haircut."

Ronon fingered one curl, a little self-consciously – he'd had his hair in dreads for so long that he'd forgotten all about the curls until after he'd gotten one of the make-up crew to cut it, sick of being too hot backstage in small theaters. "Thanks."

"You –" John started, then rolled his eyes, said, "To hell with this," and slung an arm round Ronon's neck, dragging him down into a kiss.

Someone – probably Laura – whistled, and John shifted a little, like was going to pull away. Ronon hugged him closer instead, felt him sink against Ronon, and ignored everyone else.

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John was drifting a little, leaning into Ronon, Torren, who'd woken up like always, curled up asleep in his lap, his own eyes closed against the way the candles Teyla had lit were starting to make his head ache again. A lot of people had already gone, and he could hear Evan offering Laura a ride, Sam doing the same since she lived in the same direction as Laura.

"What about Elizabeth?" Laura asked, and John felt Ronon laugh a little behind him, too soft for anyone to hear.

"I think she might be staying over," Sam said.

Laura hmm'ed a little, sounding amused. "They have been kind of joined at the hip all evening."

"She's nice," Katie said.

"John?" Evan said, close enough that John forced his eyes open. Evan was crouching in front of him, one hand on John's knee for balance, or maybe to get his attention. Behind him, Laura and Sam were gathering their bags and, in Laura's case, their shoes, and Jennifer was lying with her head in Katie's lap. Teyla and Elizabeth were sitting at the picnic table, heads close together; there was no sign of Rodney and Norina, though John thought he vaguely remembered her saying something about an early start. "You need a ride?"

"Got my car," John said. "No class tomorrow."

Evan groaned. "Who'd you switch detention with?"

"Michael," John said.

"Just who I want to spend my Saturday morning with," Evan grumbled, but he didn't look really angry. He smiled, looking enough above John's head that it had to be in response to something on Ronon's face, and stood up. "See you Monday."

"Night," Ronon said. He pressed one hand to John's shoulder, and John closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, it was in response to Teyla lifting Torren away from him. "Thank you," she said when he blinked at her. "How is your head?"

"Fine," John said uncertainly.

"Perhaps you should sleep here," Teyla said. "I have made up the front guest room for you both."

"Elizabeth's not sleeping there?" John asked.

Teyla laughed, echoed somewhere behind her by another female voice. "No John, she is not."

"They used to be together," Ronon said, low and amused in John's ear. "I think Teyla wants to be again."

"'Kay," John said. Teyla looked relaxed and happy, leading Elizabeth back into the house, Torren in her arms. That was all he needed to know. "Wanna go to bed?"

"Sure," Ronon said, pulling John to his feet, and raising a hand to Jennifer and Katie. "Night."

Jennifer waved up at them, Katie's fingers threading through her hair. "Night, guys."

"Oh good, we're at the public displays of affection stage of the evening," Rodney grumbled, wandering back into the yard. Still tucked against Ronon's side, John felt him tense, reflecting his own tension – he'd thought Rodney and Norina had left together, same way they'd arrived; that they hadn't probably wasn't a good sign.

"You're just upset you're not getting lucky tonight," he said anyway, hoping to nudge Rodney out of his pending funk.

"I'm just grateful she's not getting lucky with Laura or someone," Rodney corrected, looking over at Jennifer and Katie. "Turning –"

"Don't say it," Ronon warned.

Jennifer had already jerked up out of Katie's lap. "For the last damn time, Rodney, you didn't turn me gay."

"Oh, here we go," John said quietly, glad that Teyla was still inside.

"Funny, since you're living with my ex-girlfriend," Rodney said darkly.

"Because I'm bisexual and so's she," Jennifer snapped back. "Not everything's about you."

"Sure," Rodney said, half-turning away.

"Maybe time to go home, Rodney," John suggested.

"What, because I don't have anyone here to snuggle with?" Rodney asked snidely.

"You're upsetting people," Ronon said calmly.

"By wanting to know why my two ex-girlfriends are playing house and I'm the one whose date left without him?"

"Okay, that's it," John said, pushing away from Ronon so he could take Rodney's arm. "You're done, let's go."

Rodney tried to dig his heels in, but John had hurt friends, a headache and sobriety on his side to keep them moving.

"He need a cab?" Ronon asked.

"Yeah," John said over his shoulder. "You'll call?"

"Done."

Rodney waited until they were through the gate before he stopped again, and this time John let him. "What the hell was that?"

"You're drunk," John said. "So that cuts you a bit of slack, but these are my friend, and they're your friends because you're my friend. But you're the guest here, not us."

"I don't know what that means," Rodney said, crossing his arms defensively.

"It means, in this group, we're normal and you're not, and you don't get to ask questions like you're accusing people of something, or treat them like their relationships are a game," John said, fighting to keep his voice even, because Rodney was his friend, had been a really good friend when John had needed it, and John knew he didn't mean to be hurtful, even to Jennifer and Katie, not really. Not that that made up for saying they were playing house. John kind of wanted to kick him for that one. "She told you enough times that she's bi, even before you split up."

Rodney glared for a few seconds, then ducked his head, looking away. John waited – Rodney wasn't the most tactful person on Earth at the best of times, and when he'd been drinking, he tended to get bitter, try to hurt. It didn't help that his break-up with Jennifer still seemed to bother him more than his break-up with Katie, and that he couldn't ever quite resist the urge to dig at her.

"Sorry," Rodney said eventually, sounding genuine, still not looking at John. "I don't like seeing them together."

"I know," John said, instead of pointing out that Rodney could just avoid them. He could always save that for the inevitable post-hangover conversation. "But getting everyone pissed at you isn't going to change that."

"You know you use your teacher voice whenever you're giving advice, right?" Rodney said, glancing sideways at John.

John smiled, relieved. "If you'd all stop behaving like twelve year olds..." he said.

"You're one to talk," Rodney said. "You're one step away from pulling Ronon's pigtails and passing him a note."

John shook that mental image away. "I already know he likes me."

"Through no fault of your own," Rodney said, rolling his eyes at John. "Seriously –"

John held up both hands in self-defense. "I'm not drunk enough for romantic advice from you," he said firmly.

"Well, you need it from someone," Rodney said decisively, and John bit down on the urge to point out that of the two of them, he wasn't the one going home alone.

Rodney maybe picked up on it anyway, since he sighed and said, "Will you tell Teyla I'm sorry for starting an argument at her party?"

"Teyla wasn't even there," John pointed out. "But yes, I'll tell Jennifer and Katie that you were being a drunken idiot and you won't say anything like that again." Rodney opened his mouth, and John deployed his teacher glare. "Right?"

"Right," Rodney said, deflating a little. "I think that's my cab."

"Yeah." John walked him down to the street. "Come over on Sunday, we'll do something."

"No golf," Rodney said, like always, and climbed into the cab, turning a little to wave to John as it pulled away.

"Hey," Ronon said, coming up behind him.

"Hey," John echoed. "Jennifer and Katie okay?"

"Jenn's pissed," Ronon said. "They're going home."

"Figured," John said. "You think I should go tell them Rodney apologised?"

"I think they probably know," Ronon said, shrugging.

John sighed. "I guess someone's got conflict mediation in their future," he said, hoping it wouldn't be him, but suspecting that, with Rodney in the mix, it probably would be.

"Teyla and Elizabeth went to bed," Ronon said, dismissing that. His fingers skimmed John's hip, then slid under the hem of his shirt, and John sighed.

"You want to go too?" he asked.

"Yeah," Ronon said, taking John's hand to pull him gently away.

The backyard was empty of people – Jennifer and Katie had probably ducked through the back fence to walk home, since they lived pretty close – and the house was quiet, only a couple of lights on as they made their way upstairs. Torren's door was cracked open just far enough for John to see the glow of his night light; Teyla's was closed.

"Here," Ronon said quietly, manhandling John through the door to the guest room. John stumbled over his own feet, or maybe Ronon's, and Ronon tightened his arm around John's waist. "Okay?"

"Yeah," John said, glad for the dim room, lit only by a single bedside lamp, his headache starting to come back for real with all the moving about. Ronon shifted, pulling John back against him and nuzzling John's neck. John closed his eyes, dropped his head, and that felt better. He'd missed this – missed Ronon – maybe a little more than he'd been willing to admit while Ronon was gone.

Ronon started on the buttons of John's shirt, working his way up from the hem, brushing warm fingers against John's stomach. When he reached the collar and stepped back enough to take John's shirt off, John turned, sliding Ronon's t-shirt off and moving in close to kiss him, Ronon's beard tickling his skin.

"Hmm," Ronon said after a while. "Want to lie down?"

John blinked his eyes open and wished he hadn't; there was a slight haze around the lamp, and he felt vaguely dizzy, not in a good way. "Yeah."

Ronon stepped away to strip out of his jeans and boots, which was an idea John could certainly get behind, and when John turned back around, Ronon was sprawled out in the middle of the bed, one arm behind his head, watching John. He smiled when he caught John's eye, slow and appreciative, and held out his free hand.

John took it, let Ronon haul him onto the bed, half on Ronon, and straight into another kiss. It was easier, like this, to push past his threatening headache and get into it, Ronon's hands skipping across his shoulders, the base of his spine, his ears, all the places he knew would make John shiver. John returned it in kind, tweaking Ronon's nipple, finger-stepping over his stomach muscles, dipping under the waistband of his boxers, just far enough to feel that Ronon was hard. If he kept his eyes closed, his head mostly didn't even hurt.

He tried to push Ronon's boxers down one-handed, which worked about as well as it ever did, which was to say, not at all, and Ronon laughed a little, pulled back from kissing John enthusiastically to lift his hips and help. John felt his leg jerk as he kicked his underwear free, then Ronon's hands were on John's arms, rolling them so John was on the bottom and Ronon could settle between his legs, his cock sliding against John's. John wrapped his arms around Ronon's back, pulled him closer, already tilting his head so they could kiss again, and Ronon froze.

"What?" John asked stupidly – Ronon looked like he'd just remembered he'd left the iron on.

"Um." Ronon looked down between their bodies, then met John's gaze, starting to slide into awkward. "You okay?"

"Yeah," John said, starting to get irritated. "Or I was, until you stopped to – do whatever it is you're doing."

Ronon quirked an eyebrow at him, then reached between them to fondle John's dick. John felt his face heat, looking down at Ronon's collar bone. It wouldn't be so bad, except that he hadn't even noticed, felt like an idiot.

"Hey," Ronon said. He moved a little so he wasn't pressed on top of John quite so closely, then leaned in and carefully kissed the edge of John's stitches. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." John sighed, sinking back into the soft mattress. "Surfing injury."

Ronon laughed. "Not safe to be let out alone."

"I was with Teyla," John said, which possibly didn't help his argument.

"Need someone to watch you 24-7," Ronon added.

"You offering?" John asked. He was still holding onto Ronon, which made it easy to pull him down and into another kiss, and this time Ronon didn't resist. After a long moment, some of the tension seeped out of him, bringing his cock back into contact with John's thigh. He was still hard, and John rocked a little, providing Ronon with some friction.

Ronon made a pleased sound into John's mouth, but it didn't feel right; John was too conscious, now, that he wasn't hard. He pushed Ronon away, then, when Ronon drew back, nudged him onto his back and slid down to settle between his legs. "John," Ronon said, trying to draw him back up with a hand on his shoulder, but John twitched out from under it. "John, we don't have to –" Ronon started again, then stopped as John took his cock into his mouth.

Ronon was kind of big, but John hadn't forgotten how to make it work, the right angle to take him all the way in. After a moment, Ronon's hand settled heavy on the back of his head, and that was better, familiar, and he started to sink into the rhythm of it, feeling his own dick twitch, getting into it.

Then Ronon tugged slightly at John's hair, same way he always did, and John, who hadn't been expecting it, felt his head jerk back. He couldn't quite swallow down the gasp of pain, like his brain had bounced against the inside of his skull with the movement, and of course Ronon heard it.

He let go of John's hair immediately, pushing John away from his cock by his shoulders. John sat back on his heels, knowing it would hurt more to resist, and Ronon sat up so they were mostly on eye level.

Ronon was frowning. "You're not okay."

"My head hurts," John said, annoyed with himself. "I think I can survive giving you a blow-job."

Ronon peered into one eye then the other, then relaxed a bit. "When did you take the last lot of painkillers?"

"I'm fine," John said, pushing away from Ronon and off the bed, glad he was still wearing his boxers. Not that it helped with anything but his dignity – the sudden movement made spots dance in his vision and he sat down again.

"Full-time minder," Ronon said, sounding amused. He fumbled in the nightstand for a moment, then handed John a couple of aspirin. John swallowed them dry, let Ronon manhandle him back onto the bed and under the covers, closing his eyes. The lamp clicked off, and Ronon lay down next to him, pulling John in close. He was still hard against John, which was kind of flattering.

He caught John's wrist right before John could get a hand around Ronon's cock. "Sleep," Ronon said. "In the morning."

"I want to," John said. He twisted his wrist in Ronon's hand a couple of times, then bent it right back, forcing Ronon to let go before John could hurt himself. "It's fine like this." And it was, with the lights out and Ronon's chest solid under his aching head.

"I can take care of it," Ronon said. He rested one hand on the back of John's neck, warm and secure, the other hovering near John's wrist, like he didn't quite agree with his own words.

John took advantage of it to get his hand on Ronon's cock, start stroking. "So can I," he said. "Let me."

Ronon sighed, and did.

hr

Lying in the dark, still coming down from his orgasm, John a pliant weight against him like he'd just come as well, Ronon said, "How's your head now?"

John made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a snort. Ronon expected a sarcastic remark about being a mother hen, but instead John said, "Sorry."

"For what?"

John shrugged awkwardly. "I wanted tonight to go better."

"It was good," Ronon said, sincerely, stroking one hand through John's hair until he sighed. "Seeing everyone was good. This was good."

"Yeah," John said, not sounding totally convinced. "I wanted it to be better than this. You know, mutual orgasms instead of headaches."

Ronon kissed the top of his head and closed his eyes. "Don't worry about it," he said. "We've got plenty of time."

End-Of-December ficlet


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