Teyla needs an address that a school district will recognise, so she and Kanaan are the first to move out. It's strange at first, walking past the door to her quarters and knowing they're empty.
"I wonder why none of us have left the city," Rodney muses three days later. John concentrates on peeling his orange.
"It's not like she's never here," he points out. Rodney shakes his head.
"That's not what I meant. I mean — I had an apartment, I had — but I haven't left."
Ronon shrugs. "Why would we?"
"Yeah, I mean — it's spacious, got lots of cool technology," John waves a slice of orange peel about, a little too close to Rodney's face just to see him twitch away, "what's not to like?"
It takes Rodney another four months of attempting to start conversations like this before he finally tells John that he's asked Jennifer to get a house with him. "And she said yes," John says, not asking, but incredulous. Rodney's face is a picture.
"Yes," he replies, testily. "Amazing as I'm sure it is for you to contemplate, we are very happy together."
John studies him for a moment. "You seem happy," he says, deadpan.
Rodney makes a sort of ugkh noise and turns back to his tablet. John tallies another score up in his own private Annoy McKay game. He waits a few beats, smiles, and says, "Congratulations."
Rodney looks up. "Hmm?"
"You and Dr Keller. Congratulations." The bewildered look on Rodney's face is just beautiful.
"Oh. Thanks." He blinks a few times, and John decides now is a good time to exit. He not only has perfect comic timing, he will be early for his meeting with Woolsey.
They're off-world the next day, a nice easy recon mission, and Rodney is still talking about it. "I found a really great place, it's actually not far from Teyla's." He's tapping his tablet screen, pausing every few words to read outputs or inputs or whatever it is that he's reading.
Teyla smiles at him. "Yes. We will be neighbors."
"That's real nice," John says, looking around. He moves closer to Ronon and murmurs, "Do you get the feeling we're being watched?"
Ronon leans his head a little bit closer and answers, "Yeah. Up there." He nods in the direction of a hill, and when John looks he can make out a flash of binoculars.
"Let's go check it out," John nods at him. "Stay here, you two," he adds to Rodney and Teyla. "We'll yell if we need backup."
Ronon has his gun out but low, and they take a detour around some inclines. The land isn't flat, nor is it especially hilly, but it's enough for cover. John signals to Ronon for him to approach from a different angle, so they split up slightly, crouch low, and round a corner in the hill.
He relaxes when he sees who has the binoculars. "Well hey there," he says, as three ten-year-old boys turn over and shrink away. "It's okay, we're not gonna hurt you."
"Who are you?" one of the boys asks.
"We came through the gate," John explains, holstering his gun. He can see Ronon move to do the same. "We're just here to gather some information about your planet, nothing for you to worry about. Climate, population, if anybody needs our help. That sort of thing."
Another of the boys eyes them. "You're from Earth?"
"Yeah. I am," John replies. He indicates Ronon. "He's from out of town. But he's with me."
The third boy stands up. "We had to make sure you weren't enemies," he says. "I'm glad you're not."
"Well. Me too." John smiles at him. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we have to get back to our friends."
The first boy who'd spoken is staring at Ronon. "Does he talk?" he asks.
"Sometimes," John nods. "You kids stay out of trouble, okay?"
On the way back around the hills, Ronon says, "You're thinking about moving out, aren't you?"
John looks up at him. "Uh ... what?"
"Of the city," Ronon clarifies. He waits.
"Wha- why now?"
Ronon shrugs. "Got you alone."
"Oh." John shuts his mouth. "Well, maybe I have been considering a nice condo on the beach somewhere, but — gosh, I already live in an invisible city." They're almost back to where Teyla and Rodney are, so Ronon just nods.
"Good," he says.
"Just some kids," John answers Teyla's inquiring look. "Let's go check out the village."
It's a quiet day. The people are nice, they get home safe and sound, John writes up his report (well, notes for his report) (well, informative doodles), and Teyla has invited them over for dinner. She manages to persuade Rodney not to take a laptop with him, though he spends most of dinner talking about the newest calibrations to the city's sensors. John is sure they do something a scientist would find really fascinating, but none of it makes the city go faster, or more invisible, so he tunes it all out and just eats the very delicious food.
Ronon isn't even pretending to listen. He quietly asks Kanaan how Torren is, and John tunes in to that conversation while making noises in Rodney's direction whenever it sounds like he's come to a place that needs acknowledgement. "He is doing well in pre-school," Kanaan says, lighting up. "Yesterday, he painted a picture of us, standing on a flying city." His smile widens into a full-out beam. "He was commended for his imagination."
"He's a good kid," Ronon observes.
When everyone has finished eating, and Rodney stops to breathe, Teyla holds up her hands. "My friends, I have asked you here to make an announcement." She takes Kanaan's hand, and John blinks a few times. He wonders if his first instinct is right. "We are expecting another child," Teyla says, smiling so serenely, and he smiles back.
"That's awesome, congratulations," he says. Ronon claps Kanaan on the back, grinning wide.
"And you let me just talk?" Rodney exclaims. John kicks him under the table, and he waves a hand, "Yes yes yes, sorry, congratulations, that's wonderful. You could have told me! I was just talking and —"
"Rodney, we enjoy your company," Teyla cut him off. "Truthfully, it was pleasant to have the meal before telling you all."
"This way we get dessert as a celebration," John points out, and Teyla nods at him.
"Precisely," she says. Kanaan lifts her hand and kisses it.
"I have made a cake in honour of the occasion," he says. He hasn't stopped smiling, and gathers the plates together — John helps him, waving away his hands when Kanaan tries to insist that he sit down. "You are our guest," he says, moving to take his plate.
"I know, but I'm a polite guest," John tells him, taking two of the plates into the kitchen. There's a cake sitting on the counter, and John gets out the good plates. Kanaan tries to take them from him, but he tips his hands away. "You take in the cake, I'll take these. Deal?"
Kanaan smiles at him. "You are too polite a guest, John. Let me be the hospitable one."
"It's customary on my planet to let the polite guests help," John insists. Kanaan finally lets him, and carries the cake in.
Ronon hugs both Teyla and Kanaan when they leave. Teyla hugs John, which he is somehow always surprised by, but he hugs back. "I'm happy for you," he murmurs, and she sort of huffs an audible smile.
When they're outside, Rodney drags John and Ronon to see the house he's buying. It's about three blocks away, it has a garden and a door and windows, just like all the other houses around it. Rodney looks really happy when he looks at it, though, so John just nods and tells him it looks nice.
There's a chime at his door just as he's about to go to bed. Ronon's there, barefoot and smiling. "Thought you might want some company," he says, and when the door's closed, he envelopes John in a full-body cuddle. "Hi."
"Hello," John wheezes. "What's the occasion?"
Ronon shrugs, one shoulder catching John's ear. "Just felt like it."
"Well put me down before you hurt something," John grumbles. Ronon does, and he can breathe again, and they climb into John's bed. Ronon hooks his chin over John's shoulder.
"Sleep or sex?" he asks. John considers it for about one fifteenth of a second, then grinds back against him.
"What do you think?" he challenges.
Ronon chuckles. He flips John over in one smooth move, pins his arms down, and beams triumphantly. "I win."
"Now that wasn't really fair," John protests, but Ronon leans down and runs his tongue along John's bottom lip, so shutting up seems like the best course of action.
The first time Ronon kisses John, it's a week before his dad dies. Nothing prompts it, not really — at the end of a run, out of breath, Ronon just laughs, tips his water bottle into his mouth, swallows, and kisses John. A good, strong, solid kiss, nothing tentative or questioning about it. Every other first kiss John has had has been somehow hesitant, but Ronon isn't hesitant about anything. John doesn't know how much time passes between the start of the kiss and when he responds — it feels like a full minute, but it can't be — but when his body unfreezes, it's with a groan of relief. He really hasn't been sure, lately, how much longer he can take the sexual tension. Waiting around because the other person needs time and space before they're ready to see anybody new sucks.
John invites him back to his quarters to watch a movie when they get back from the day's mission — it's one of those rare good days when everything goes right and it all takes exactly as long as planned — and they end up making out on his bed half an hour into it. John hits stop on his remote, pulls Ronon's shirt off, and bites his way down his chest. Ronon throws his head back, elbows buckling. He spills back onto the mattress, and John chuckles into the trail of hair leading down past Ronon's waistline.
It feels really good, licking up the underside of Ronon's cock, hearing him grunt. When Ronon comes, it's so hot John forces himself not to grind against the bed. He hauls himself up to lie half on top of Ronon and grinds against his hip instead.
Ronon looks at him, breathless. "Give me a minute."
"Yeah." John kisses him hard, desperate. Ronon must be able to taste himself on John's tongue, but he doesn't seem to mind. Good to know.
Ronon turns them over so he's lying on top, yanks John's pants down, and starts palming his cock. John groans, arching up into Ronon's hand, and sees a flash of a satisfied smile before Ronon lowers his head and everything turns to wet and licking and fuck fuck fuck. He comes not long after, though time — along with vision and thought — is a blur. Ronon swallows around him, John lets out a long groan, and drops his head back onto the pillows.
"We are doing this again," he says. The bed dips as Ronon shifts, and after a few seconds John realises he's trying to get under the covers. John sits up enough to pull them back, and Ronon hooks an arm around his waist, gently guiding him to lie on his side.
Ronon presses his chest to John's back and says, "Fine by me."
Teyla pulls him aside a few days later. "I just wanted to say, John — I am glad you and Ronon have resolved things."
John blinks at her. "We have? What things?"
"Your feelings for each other." She smiles, one hand on his shoulder. "I am told it is not spoken of on your planet much, but I wish you a happy time with him."
"Did he say something to you? How did you know?" John tries to hold down his panic, but some of it must have slipped through. Teyla's smile drops.
"Ronon did not tell me anything. I guessed, from the way you two have been in recent days. Was I wrong?"
"No, no, it's not that." What she's said finally registers. "Thanks, by the way. Just — don't go mentioning this to anybody else, okay?"
Teyla nods. "I understand. You shall hear no more of it from me."
John finds Ronon in the gym. "Hey," he says, towel draped around his shoulders. "I was just coming to see if you wanted lunch."
"Sure," John nods. "Uh, but listen, we need to talk."
"We do?" Ronon grabs his bag.
"Yeah. Teyla, uh, knows about us."
Ronon shrugs. "So? She's not stupid."
"No, she's not. Look, it's just — where I come from, two guys —" He makes a hand gesture that he hopes conveys the right thing. "Well, it's — not really allowed. Not for guys like me. So we can't tell anyone about ... us."
Ronon just looks at him. "I know."
"Yeah. I listen."
John exhales. "Good. I just wanted to make sure that we're both on the same page. I could lose my job."
"Sheppard." Ronon gives him a half smile. "Don't worry."
"Okay." John indicates the door. "Shall we?"
He has a few more days of being happy, having decided not to worry, when Sam tells him his father died. There's a funeral to go to, so he packs a bag, stands by the gate, and ... Ronon stands right next to him. He doesn't know whether to panic or not, but it's pretty comforting to have him there. Rodney would have talked a lot, Teyla would have shown too much sympathy — Ronon just stands next to him, not making him talk, not making him listen, just there so that somebody is.
By the time the car pulls up at his old house, the one he left to be a pilot, he's so grateful for Ronon's presence that he doesn't care when Dave looks at him like he should never have come back.
Ronon still looks weird in jeans. He and John take Torren to a football game while Teyla and Kanaan have pre-natal class, and John gives Torren a tiny jersey to wear. Ronon concentrates on the game silently, while John jumps up and yells at every great pass and every bad pass. He's on his feet through the long runs, Torren mimicking his movements. When his team scores a touchdown, John picks Torren up and swings him around. "YEAHH!" they yell together. Ronon looks up at them with a fond amusement in his eyes.
"I'm teaching him the important things in life," he says to Ronon, on the way back to Teyla's. Torren has fallen asleep in the back seat, squished against the giant stuffed panda Jennifer gave him for his last birthday. "Next month I'll take him go-karting."
"Go-karting?" Ronon asks.
"Yeah, it's these little — you know what, never mind. It's where kids learn that faster is better, that's what matters." John catches the edge of Ronon's smile as he laughs, reflected in the rear view mirror.
"How old's he going to be when you start him on Ferris wheels?"
"Ha ha," John rolls his eyes. "You mock me now, but he'll thank me when he grows up cool."
Rodney and Jennifer invite them over for Canadian Thanksgiving — John, Ronon, Teyla, Kanaan, Torren, Carson, Zelenka, Lorne, Marie, Jeannie, Caleb — and a week after that, Dave calls. He invites John for real Thanksgiving, and there's a pause before he says, "You can bring someone, if you want."
John listens to the silence for a few seconds. "Someone?" is all he can come up with.
"Yeah." Dave exhales, whooshing past the mouthpiece. "Just ... if you want to."
"You're sure?" He has to check. Dave probably isn't sure, but if he says he is ... well, maybe it'll be believable.
The pause stretches on and on. Finally, Dave says, "Yeah, John. I'm sure."
"We'll be there at six o'clock," John says. "I hope there'll be extra turkey." If — well, when — things get overly awkward, there'll always be the fallback of complimenting the food.
Ronon wears a suit for it, because it's either that or jeans or his usual casual pants and Thanksgiving has always been slightly formal in the Sheppard family. John doesn't wear a tie, but he does wear the only real suit he owns. Dave answers the knock on his front door promptly, eyes flicking over to Ronon before settling back on John. "It's good to see you," he says, stepping back.
"Yeah," John says, "you too. You remember Ronon?"
Dave nods. "Come through, we're just having drinks."
There's an assortment of his cousins, three uncles, two aunts, and Dave's wife crammed into one room. John waves awkwardly in the doorway before being collared by one of the uncles. Ronon follows Dave to the drinks cabinet.
"Who's that you brought? Friend of yours?" Uncle Bernard asks. He doesn't sound suspicious, which John takes as a sign that things will be okay.
"Yeah, he's a friend." John takes the drink Ronon hands him. "Ronon, this is my uncle Bernard. Uncle Bernard, Ronon."
"Good to meet you," Bernard enthuses, shaking his hand vigorously.
"Yeah, likewise," Ronon replies, raising his eyebrows at John. Just go with it, John silently signals. Ronon nods very slightly, and John flashes him a half-second of a smile.
One of his younger cousins keeps looking at John, then at Ronon, all through dinner. She looks like she's putting two and two together, and when John passes Ronon the potatoes, his fingers linger slightly. He doesn't mean them to, but he realises when Hope's eyes go wide that they did; he shakes his head at her, and she nods at him, eyes still big.
"What was all that about?" Hope's mom asks her. Hope shrugs.
"Just goofing around," she says, and sticks her tongue out at John. He crosses his eyes in return, earning tuts from around the table and an exasperated look from Ronon. He smiles sweetly at them all and continues eating.
Dave corners him in the kitchen somewhere between savoury and sweet pies. "He seems nice," he offers.
John shifts against the counter. "Yeah. He is."
Dave looks at him for a long moment. John waits for him to say something, just like always. For the first time, though, Dave does. "Are you happy?" he asks, looking away.
"Yeah, I am," John answers.
Dave nods. "Good," he says, and that's all. "Good." He picks up a pecan pie.
John decides to test it. "Can I bring him for Christmas?"
Dave freezes for a second, then says over his shoulder, "Sure."
"Okay. Thanks." John picks up a chocolate cream pie and follows him back out into the fray.
In the car on the way home, John says, "I think my family like you."
"They're good people," Ronon replies.
"So you like them back?" John glances at him, then back at the road.
"Yeah. Sure." Ronon is looking out of the window when John glances at him again.
"We're invited for Christmas," he says, hitting for casual. He almost makes it.
Ronon turns to him. "They don't know we're together." It's a statement, but somehow still a question.
"Dave does. He's probably told Laura. I don't think he's told anybody else."
"Right." Ronon takes that in for a minute. "I won't lie. If anyone asks me, I won't lie."
"That's ... fair enough." John clears his throat. "Just — just be careful who you don't lie to, okay?"
"They repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell," Ronon reminds him. "You wouldn't lose your job."
"I know," John says, watching the road carefully.
Ronon sighs. "Yeah, I get it."
"Sorry." John sneaks a look at him. He's looking right back.
"It's not their business anyway," he says, like he always does.
Teyla and Kanaan get married when the new baby — Charin Elizabeth, who cries if she isn't bounced for twelve hours a day — is almost a year old. Ronon is Kanaan's best man, and Torren's the ring bearer. John's on Charin duty; after Ronon, Teyla points out, he has the strongest arms. Jennifer and Sam are bridesmaids, and Rodney is the usher because he'd looked so hurt at the thought of being left out. "It would not be the perfect day without you involved," Teyla had assured him.
Ronon holds Torren up so he can throw confetti on his parents after the ceremony. John sticks to the edges of the room during the reception, Charin finally asleep somewhere. He nurses a beer and watches the dancing. Ronon sidles up to him after an hour, plate piled high with cake. "You don't feel like dancing?" he asks.
"I don't dance," John informs him. "Why, do you?"
Ronon shrugs. "Not really."
John watches him dance with Teyla, though. She's radiant. Rodney and Jennifer dance nearby, her head on his shoulder. They look sort of sweet. Kanaan is dancing with Jeannie, and John spots Torren standing on Madison's feet, being turned around and around. Chuck dances past with Captain Kleinman, their arms around each other. Huh.
Ronon is beaming when he comes back to stand by John again. "That was fun," he says, reaching out for the plate John has been holding for him.
"Yeah, well maybe save one for me. I said maybe," he adds, as Ronon starts laughing. "The maybe is becoming a don't," he warns, when Ronon has been laughing for about half a minute without stopping.
"You can't dance, John," he says, chuckling around the words. John feels like kicking him in the ankle. "I've seen you."
"Shut up, that was a private — private moment that you walked in on. And I thought I told you never to speak of it again."
"Yeah." Ronon's eyes are sparkling. "You did."
"Oh shut up." John folds his arms. Ronon keeps laughing softly, nudging John with his shoulder.
They end up not dancing, which John is glad for. Ronon eats a lot of cake, John drinks enough beer that he feels nicely buzzed but not drunk, and what seems like the entire SGC make fools of themselves. "Great wedding," John says to Teyla, when they're leaving. She hugs him, looking happier than he's ever seen her.
"I see why people have them," she agrees. "This has been very enjoyable."
Ronon sleeps in John's room that night, wrapped around him. John wakes up at some point, shifts so that his leg can get some feeling back into it, and watches Ronon sleepily for a minute.
"Stop staring," he mumbles into the pillow.
"I wasn't staring," John yawns.
"Sure," Ronon answers, but he's already sounding mostly asleep. John watches his breathing even out, shifts a little more until he's comfortable, and goes back to sleep.