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Fill All Thy Bones With Aches

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Rodney rolls over and gets a mouthful of hair as he nearly crushes John.

"Damn it, Rodney," John mumbles, burrowing under the covers. "It's too cold to get up yet. My joints are aching just thinking about it."

"Stop whining," Rodney grumps, pulling the bunched up blankets out from between them, letting John curl up and suck every degree of body heat out of him. "I was just rolling over."

John's asleep again before he can answer. Rodney sighs, wraps his arms around John and falls back asleep.

*

"Rodney."

"Rodney."

"Damn it, Rodney, wake up!"

Rodney blinks his eyes open, John's tone of voice making him instantly wary, his mind full of Genii and Wraith and other threats they haven't had to fight in over twenty years.

"What, John, who..." As soon as he actually looks around the room, it's obvious what the trouble is. John's leaning forward, his knees slightly bent and one hand on the wall. "Threw your back out again?"

"No, I'm just practicing my bowing and scraping today," John answers, and Rodney would laugh except John's touchy about his bad back. Rodney's had a hip replacement, but he can still move pretty well most of the time, and it'll never bother him as much as any kind of loss of motion bothers John.

"Alright, General Snippy, I'll go get Ronon." Rodney throws back the covers and John looks longingly at the bed. "Come on," Rodney says, and helps John shuffle backwards until his calves hit the bed frame. "Bend your knees," he says unnecessarily, because John knows this drill.

Together they get him lying on his side, and Rodney tucks the blankets in around him. He hopes Ronon's home; John can only lie on his side for half an hour before his hip hurts and he has to shift position.

Rodney throws on the sweater Teyla's daughter knitted him, a beautiful thick wool cardigan, heavy enough to be a blanket, and his rubber boots, the ones that John always makes fun of him for, even though John has a pair just like them. Well, almost. John's are a respectable navy blue, and Rodney's are pink with little hearts all over them. His grandniece picked them out for him, and Madison thought it was a hoot, so of course she bought them on the spot and sent them across two galaxies to Uncle Mer. John took a picture of Rodney in them and has it as his desktop.

Rodney's hip twinges a bit, enough that he takes the walking stick Ronon's son made him. Not even John teases him about needing a cane, not when the stick weighs a good seven pounds and packs a pretty nice wallop. It has the symbols for the six Satedan warrior rituals carved into it, and Rodney nearly fell off his chair when Riikhan presented it to him in a traditional Satedan ceremony honoring veterans.

Rodney finds Ronon at home, five of his grandchildren climbing all over him like a jungle gym, and Rodney takes a moment to appreciate the fact that even at sixty, Ronon can still get down in the dirt with his grandchildren.

"Ronon," Rodney calls. "John's back is out again."

Ronon stands up, shaking off most of the grandkids and picking the last two off like ticks. "Enough, Riha," he says as he pulls his youngest grandson's arms from around his calf. "Uncle John needs Grampa's help."

Riha wails a little, but his brothers and sisters distract him with a game of hide and seek, and Ronon wipes his hands on his pants and falls into step with Rodney. "You stop at Teyla's yet?"

Rodney just shakes his head and they walk the two blocks to Teyla's house in companionable silence. Her house is as big as any he's seen on Earth, but every square inch of it is taken up with her kin. Her three sons and two daughters have a total of sixteen children between them, and it looks like all of them are hanging out of the windows, waving to Rodney and Ronon.

"Uncle Rodney!" Tekaan calls. "I've finished my radio, come up and take a look!"

"Not now, Tekaan," Rodney calls. "I need Teyla to come help with Uncle John's back."

Tekaan pops his head back in and Rodney can hear him clomp down the stairs at Mach 1. He's calling for Teyla at the top of his lungs, and soon his brothers and sisters and cousins join in, and it only takes a few minutes before Teyla comes out with her basket of tea and ointment, greeting them both with the traditional forehead touch and a kiss on the cheek. Rodney will never forgive Jeannie for teaching her that.

Teyla hands the tea and ointment to Ronon and they head back to John and Rodney's cabin on the edge of town. "You should not be so far out," Teyla admonishes, as she does every time she walks to their place.

Rodney shrugs. They were two miles from town when they built the house, far enough to keep the residents away from most things that might blow up in Rodney's workshop in the back yard. It's now less than a tenth of a mile from the outskirts to their cabin.

"John and I built that house."

"I believe Ronon and I assisted with that," she says gently.

"Yes, yes, thank you, the point is," Rodney says, letting them in the front door, "we don't have the ability to build another one. Besides," he adds, when Teyla protests that they're elders and the townsfolk would erect a house for them out of respect, "town'll come to us in another couple of years."

John must hear them coming, because he's moaning loudly enough for them to hear him from the front room, and Teyla and Ronon share a grin that they think Rodney doesn't see before following him to the bedroom. Rodney's never gotten used to having people in his bedroom, not the way John's never seemed to mind it, but he finds that Teyla and Ronon are an exception to that rule. Teyla and Ronon are the exception to a lot of rules.

It takes all three of them to maneuver John into a position where Teyla can work on him. She rubs his back with the self-heating ointment, the one Rodney always teases her about using as lube. After she's done what she can, they get John back on his feet and Ronon stands behind him, his arms around John more tenderly than anyone except the people in this room would believe.

"Aaaauuuuughhhh," John groans as Ronon straightens him up.

John arches his back, grimacing in a truly frightening fashion, and Rodney glances over the growth of mostly white beard hair. Sleeping late is a luxury that shows clearly on John's face these days.

Teyla hands John the analgesic tea, and he takes it with a self-depracating not-quite-smile and a quiet thank you. She fusses over him like he's one of her grandchildren, arranging him on the bed so he can see the giant computer screen Rodney's rigged as their home theater (complete with surround sound), and then arranges Ronon and Rodney around him, leaving a space just big enough to crawl into when she returns from the kitchen with a tray of bottled drinks and a bag of dehydrated piksa that look like potato chips but taste like popcorn.

She even puts in John's favorite comfort movie and hands him the remote, curling up in the blankets and waiting with the rest of them. John looks over them all, face curled up in a cranky sneer. "If you're all settled," he says, and Rodney's not sure if he's proud or appalled at how closely John can imitate his archly-annoyed sarcasm. He hits the button on the remote and they all settle in as Field of Dreams starts.

*

Rodney wakes up some time later, curled around John for a change, and hisses out a breath out as he stretches his legs and his hips complain. Teyla and Ronon have left, but he and John are tucked in like a pair of newborns, so tight he has to jiggle John around to get the blankets out from underneath his butt.

John whines a little, a half-hearted complaint, and Rodney kisses his shoulder as he shifts onto his other side to relieve the pain in his hip. John curls around him, snaking a hand under Rodney's arm and pulling him back until he's flush against John's chest. It must not be comfortable, because John moans a little and returns to his prior position, flat on his back.

"This getting old thing isn't everything it's cracked up to be."

Rodney smiles fondly, getting out of bed and walking around to the other side of it. He shoves John over onto his pillow and curls up next to him on his good hip. They'll have to do this dance again when one of them wakes up sore in the middle of the night, but Rodney finds it isn't nearly as irritating as he thought it would be.

"Shut up," Rodney says, pulling the blankets up to their necks and slinging and arm across John's chest. "You owe Riha a game of human jungle gym and I have to look at Tekaan's radio tomorrow, so get some sleep."