Ronon blocks Teyla's attack easily, swishing the banto down at the last second. He hears a small gasp from the corner where Radek is sitting, curled up into a ball, watching them spar.
He smiles, and when Teyla smiles back at him, he transforms it into a menacing leer. He advances, using his height against her. He should know by now that it never works, but he likes to try it just the same.
She sweeps low, trying to take his feet out from under him. He expects it and dances out of the way, taking the time to swing a stick for Teyla's head. She blocks it, laughs at him for not trying something better while she was off balance, and rolls back, out of reach. He paces, twirling the bantos, waiting for her attack. She strikes when he's mid-twirl, moving in quickly, firing a dozen quick shots at his head and torso. She is fast, much faster than he will ever be, but he can block with more than his sticks. He takes several blows to his ribs and one stinging shot to his bicep.
Ronon has had enough punishment for the day and he decides to disarm her, trapping one of Teyla's sticks under his arm and rapping her smartly on the knuckles to get her to release it. He throws his own bantos and Teyla's captured one toward Radek, who puts his arms over his head protectively, as if Ronon would be so sloppy as to hit him.
Teyla drops her other stick as well and crouches into a defensive position. Ronon puts his hand up in surrender. An hour and a half of bantos training is enough; he's not looking for another hour of hand-to-hand sparring. He needs to attend to Radek – he gets nervous watching Ronon fight.
Ronon's slowly made Atlantis his home, and his team his family. Sheppard accepted this immediately, Teyla shortly after. McKay's taking a while to come around, but Ronon's starting to understand him better. He can see why Sheppard likes him, though that's partially because McKay reacts differently to Sheppard than he does everyone else.
Sheppard reacts differently too, though at first glance it appears that he treats McKay like anyone else on Atlantis. Perhaps that's what makes it so unusual – most people treat McKay like he's a deadly virus, something to be avoided at all costs. Even those who put up with him, like Radek, can't stand him all the time. Sheppard, though, Sheppard likes him, and will even seek McKay out in his free time.
It's this strange bond that made Ronon look for a scientist of his own. He chose Radek because he had been one of the few scientists that didn't have his own soldier to protect him. Maybe it was because he so rarely left Atlantis. Maybe they'd all forgotten how dangerous Atlantis herself could be.
Ronon sits quietly, observing. Radek is still, all the movement in his mind. Ronon wishes he could see the thoughts, watch the ideas and symbols and numbers join to create something more complex.
He sees combat like this. The possible vectors for an attack – which will be most likely to hit, which most likely to be blocked. The awareness of other variables in the area, the possible outcomes of a move depending on if it is blocked, parried or if it misses its mark. He can see all these things while he moves, picking out the cleanest pattern by instinct.
At first, Ronon thought the watching was the first step to teaching Radek combat skills. Sheppard bullied McKay into weapons training, and badgered Ronon to teach McKay basic self-defense. McKay didn't ask, though, and Ronon isn't going to offer. He doesn't teach 'self-defense' anyway, but Sheppard can call it whatever he likes.
Radek watches Ronon spar, wincing the entire time, but he's shown no interest in leaving Atlantis (and complained loudly the couple of times he's had to), much less weapons or hand-to-hand training. Ronon doesn't push. Yet.
Radek is hunched over a laptop, stale coffee forgotten, his eyes lit up, literally by the computer display and figuratively by whatever he is working on. Ronon sets the food on the counter, knowing nothing short of physical assault will get Radek's attention.
He moves behind Radek and adjusts his posture, the first touch of his hand on Radek's shoulder causing the scientist to start.
"Oh, hi," Radek says apologetically. He's stopped scolding Ronon for moving so quietly, but he still jumps at Ronon's touch, every time. Radek rubs his eyes underneath his glasses. "I was looking at specifications for a power source we found in the Ancient database. We thought it might be for a ZPM…" His voice fades away as Ronon pokes and prods Radek until he's sitting up straight. "Sitting like this makes my back hurt."
"If your stomach muscles were stronger, your back wouldn't hurt."
Radek lets out a disgruntled, "Wha – " but loses his momentum when Ronon works his fingers into the knotted band of muscle on top of Radek's shoulders. Radek's head flops back and his eyes close, and he makes a grateful noise that's halfway between a groan and a whimper.
Ronon settles into the sarcastic rhythm of the team slowly. Teyla does not succumb to the contrary natures of Sheppard and McKay, and Ronon thinks he can avoid it too, until McKay leaves himself wide open to attack. After that, it becomes a habit. He pokes at Sheppard too, though more when they are alone, since it takes the entire team to keep up with McKay.
Radek is the only person who touches Ronon. Not even his team members will lay hands on him (unless he is injured or they are sparring). Radek takes Ronon's arm and inspects it, rubbing the purple stripe of skin across his bicep.
"How does she make such a mark? She does not look to have that much strength."
"Never underestimate your opponent based on size," Ronon says, and Radek laughs.
Chess may be about strategy, but it isn't the kind of strategy Ronon uses in a battle. Radek tells him that taking your opponent's pieces isn't the point of the game, but Ronon finds this faulty. The fewer weapons your enemy has, the easier it is to achieve your objective.
Radek beats him with six pieces, capturing only two of Ronon's the entire game – his queen and his king. Ronon concedes that Radek may have a point.
"It will be easier if you will take off your shirt."
Ronon picks up the hem of his shirt and lifts, and by the time he's got his shirt over his head, Radek's lowered his eyes.
"Now what?" Ronon asks.
"Lie on the bed, face down." Radek's uncomfortable but determined, and Ronon doesn't know any better way to make it easier on Radek than to be comfortable himself.
He moves over to the bed and falls on it, face first. He can hear Radek's gasp and chuckles at the shock value. He often falls into bed that way, right after a tough mission or sparring session, and sleeps deeply for as long as his body needs to heal.
Radek approaches the bed quietly, though Ronon can hear everything about his footsteps – from how high he lifts his feet to the length of his steps.
"I'm going to fall asleep soon," Ronon says, and that gets Radek to move. He reaches the bed in two steps and sits down delicately at the edge of it. Ronon feels his hair being pushed aside and knows Radek is looking at his scars.
He doesn't feel them anymore, and doesn't think about them often. He doesn't talk about them, though that's probably because no one asks.
Radek doesn't ask either, just pours cold lotion on the scars and rubs it in slowly in tiny, concentrated circles. His hands are strong and warm, and Ronon breathes into the touch, letting his muscles turn to water under Radek's hands.
He falls asleep somewhere between his shoulder blades and his lower back. He wakes with the sunlight streaming in, stained orange and red by the window, and lies still, breathing in the faint chemical scent of the lotion.
Ronon hums in the shower. He still isn't out of the habit of saying as little as possible, though once in a while he tells Radek stories as he walks him home from the lab. Still, his voice feels rusty and ill-used most of the time, so he sings Satedan lullabies to himself before he goes to sleep and hums drinking songs in the shower.