John looked down on the hidden grove, a frown on his face, one hand shading his eyes from the hot sun, the other resting on the hilt of his gun. The grove itself didn’t look dangerous. Surrounded on all sides by cliffs, trees and a dense cover of tall bushes, it looked serene and peaceful, the bright sunlight sparkling off the choppy little waves created by the fall of water into the pool below them.
If he hadn’t known about the hidden entrance behind the waterfall, he would have believed there was no way into the grove except over the falls they now stood beside. Brushing the sweat from his forehead, John flicked the droplets into the stream, his own contribution to the falls.
The heat was oppressive. The Bendarasie had loaned them big, floppy hats that made them look ridiculous, but kept the sun off their heads. But they had requested that their guests remove their hats, as well as their sunglasses, as they approached the holy grounds. Ever mindful of not offending local custom, they had removed their head gear respectfully, if reluctantly. They had trudged up the hill, squinting into the bright light with the sun blazing down on their unprotected heads.
At least the Bendarasie were in the same boat. Well sort of. Their eyes had an extra fold that protected them from the sun, and creeped the hell out of John. But he could tell they were not at all happy about baring their heads either. John took comfort in that fact as he watched the village leader wipe his broad forehead with a piece of cloth, tucking it back in his pocket when he was through.
“So all we have to do is bathe in the water?” Rodney’s voice was skeptical. He kept his distance from the edge of the cliff, nervously wiping the palms of his hands on his pants legs. “Just a little dip and then we can come back up and start the negotiations? That’s it?” He had to agree with Rodney. It did seem a little simplistic. There had to be more to it. There had to be a catch somewhere – there was always a catch.
“Oh, no. You must remain in the water, meditating, asking the Fulnari to enter your consciousness. Only when the Fulnari have entered you will you receive your blessing, and then we can proceed with the negotiations.”
The group of villagers who had trailed along behind them repeated the phrases in whispers behind their backs, sounding a lot like the rustle of the grasses they'd been walking though, dried and brittle from the summer heat. “The Fulnari must bless you. All praise to the Fulnari.”
Okay, now that – that was just creepy. He could see Ronon out of the corner of his eye, moving restlessly; he got antsy when there were too many people around. But then, so did John. They had exchanged glances as the team stepped out of the meeting hall, and Ronon had fallen back slightly, subtly keeping an eye on them as they made the pilgrimage up the hill.
Teyla stood up from where she had been crouching, studying the sparkling water below, and looked at John warily. “The Fulnari must enter us? What does that mean, Minyar? Is there something in the water?”
“Oh no, there is nothing in the water. Just the Fulnari.” Minyar opened his arms wide, indicating the sky above them. “The Fulnari is everywhere. It gives us shelter and relief from the dry and arid heat of the summer. It gives us the fullness of its love. The joy of our lives is wrapped up in the Fulnari.”
Behind him, the crowd’s whispering chants changed slightly as some of them began repeating these new phrases and some kept the old ones going. “The Fulnari is everywhere. All praise to the Fulnari. The joy of our lives.”
“So, the Fulnari is the shade? Or maybe it’s the water?” John pulled his attention away from the crowd, trusting Ronon to keep track of them. He wanted to be very clear about this Fulnari business. He wouldn’t mind taking a little dip in the pool; he could feel the moisture wafting up from the spume of water created when the waterfall hit the otherwise placid pool. But there was no way he was going to put his team in danger. He’d seen too many local rituals gone bad to take that chance.
“No,” Minyar shook his head, smiling at the confusion on their faces, answering John’s question with the patience of an adult placating a room full of five year olds. “The Fulnari is the everything that makes up shade and water.”
“Right. Well, that explains everything, doesn’t it?” Fortunately, Minyar didn’t understand Rodney’s brand of snark, because he nodded, smiling widely at them all and stepped back from the edge of the cliff.
“Follow me, I will take you to the stairs, and you can begin your journey.”
They fell in line, Rodney slowing down to speak to John, leaving Teyla to occupy Minyar. Ronon kept the still whispering crowd at bay so that the two of them had space to talk privately
He felt a sense of pride at times like these. His team worked smoothly, knowing what was needed and how to achieve it without his having to say a word. Even though Ronon had only been a member of their team for four months, he had slid right into place with a minimum of trouble. They were a well oiled machine, working together flawlessly.
“So what’s down there, McKay? Did your scans come up with anything?” They kept their voices low enough to avoid being overheard.
“Nothing, and I did just about every test I could think of. There are no animals or even fish that I could find in the water, no radiation or unusual power readings, and nothing larger than a mouse in the clearing. I’m fairly positive it’s clean, but I’ll run a few more tests once we get down to the water. And I have to admit, Colonel, I could use a dip, it‘s so hot I feel I’m about to melt.”
“Yeah, I know, McKay, me too.” They reached the rock entrance – a hole cut into the hillside – where Teyla and Minyar were waiting for them. Ronon brought up the rear, squinting at the whispering crowd, probably wishing he had their brand of built-in sunglasses.
Minyar’s smile got bigger yet again as he led them through the entrance into a small antechamber cut out of solid rock. John breathed a sigh of relief at the sudden change in temperature. The difference the cool, moist air made was a shock to his system, and he felt disoriented for a moment, as his body struggled to adjust to the abrupt change. He put one hand on the rock wall and took a couple of deep breaths, just enjoying the feel of the cool air as it flowed across his skin.
He scanned the room – fairly small, but room enough for them all, and the roof was tall enough that not even Ronon needed to duck. There were only two entrances, the one they had just used and the one Minyar was standing next to as he spoke to Teyla. He realized then that there was more light inside the room than the open entrance could account for, despite there being no visible light source. He puzzled that over in his mind, but decided not to worry about it, yet. He was just glad that they’d left the glare of the hot sun outside.
Ronon stayed close to the entrance they’d just come through, but the crowd seemed willing to stay outside the door, milling around aimlessly, at least from what John could see, but keeping up the whispering that had set his nerves on edge back at the cliff top. He wondered how this room stayed so cool with only an open, arched entranceway between them and the punishing heat outside. He watched Rodney examine the walls, and stepped up to see what had him so fascinated.
“See this wall? These people did not build this room, Colonel. They couldn't possibly have cut this room out of solid rock without leaving any kind of tool marks. They have neither the skill nor the technology to do this."
“That is correct.” Minyar had heard them from his spot near the room’s exit, he guessed sound carried better here than either of them had suspected.
“Who did build it then? They must have had very advanced technology to create something like this.”
Minyar smiled and parroted the phrase he’d been using on them since they got to the cliff top. “Why the Fulnari, of course.”
“Of course.” Rodney’s voice held a good measure of sarcasm, but it seemed to go right over Minyar’s head yet again.
John rolled his eyes, careful not to be seen by Minyar. Ronon thought it was pretty funny, though. He leaned up against the smooth rock wall and smirked at John. It was hard for him not to return the smirk, but Minyar had moved and was now addressing all of them.
“Let us proceed. The stairs are roughened, to help combat the fact that the water makes them somewhat slippery, but you should still be careful. Should you fall, it is a long way down.” He turned and started down the stairs. John reached for his flashlight, but realized almost immediately that it wasn’t needed. That was when he figured out the source of the light – the walls glowed. Rodney examined them closely, but was unable to scrape anything off the surface of the rock.
“I think the light is coming from inside the rock wall.”
“How is that possible?”
"I don't know, but I'd like to find out. We really need to ask more questions, not that they've been at all forthcoming. Every time we've asked about the Fulnari, the answers are a lot of nonsense. They have to be hiding something."
“Come on, McKay, we’re falling behind.”
Ronon was directly behind John. He frowned. He really shouldn’t let Ronon get inside his guard like that. It disturbed him sometimes the way he trusted his team. It was good to trust them, crucial, in fact. But Ronon had a way of slipping beneath his defenses that unsettled him. He realized that Teyla and Minyar had kept moving and had disappeared around the bend of the stairs.
“Let’s go. We can ask Minyar about it later. We shouldn’t get separated.”
Rodney moved on, fussing under his breath – something about slippery steps and breaking his neck and who’d be sorry the next time they needed him to provide them with a miracle. Ronon rolled his eyes this time, and John grinned at him, clasping his shoulder good naturedly before heading off after McKay.
It took a while to get down the stairs, and John wished that he had thought to count the turns in the staircase. But eventually the stairs emptied into a room much like the one they had just left, but with oddly carved rock benches set into the walls. Minyar stopped here, and smiled yet again as he turned to face them.
“I must leave you. I will be waiting above to bring you back to the meeting house. The feast will be ready by then, and we will celebrate the day and the Fulnari’s blessing upon you.”
“You’re just going to leave us here?” Rodney stopped in the process of taking his pack off. He seemed surprised by that, but pleased. John agreed, they really didn’t want to take samples of the water with Minyar in the room, if they could avoid it.
“I cannot be blessed again.” He sounded disappointed by that, like he would have liked to have joined them if he could, and John thought that was a good sign. “It happens only upon the anniversary of your birth. And in the case of strangers such as yourselves, when you first visit us.”
That brought John up short. “So all your people have been blessed by the Fulnari?”
“Of course. It is the ritual that we all must pass when we reach our twentieth year and on our anniversary every year after. If you were one of us, you would have first had the blessing years ago.”
“What does the blessing have to do with the room Doctor McKay wished to see? The room with all the artifacts. The inner chamber?” Teyla had already set down her pack and was examining the intricate carvings on the entrance to the pool outside, but she turned to face Minyar as she asked her question.
“It is the law; none may enter the inner chamber without the Fulnari’s blessing.”
“So in the future, if we send more people to visit you, they would need to be blessed by the Fulnari as well?” John knew he was missing something here, but he couldn’t seem to figure out what it was.
“Only if they wished to enter the inner chamber.”
“Is that where the food is being served?” Trust Rodney to think about the food, John thought, fighting back a smile. It didn’t help that Ronon’s eyes lit up at the mention of food as well, although he continued his scan of the room, looking for any potential traps.
“No, if that were the case there are youngsters not yet of age who would go hungry tonight. The feast is for everyone. Tomorrow at noon time you will enter the inner chamber and thank the Fulnari for their blessing, and then we can begin the talks.”
“They?” John was getting more confused about this Fulnari business every minute. He obviously wasn’t the only one, as McKay cut him off as he tried to continue his thought.
“The Fulnari are plural? There’s more than one of them?”
Minyar smiled that annoyingly beautific smile of his yet again, and John clenched his teeth in an effort not to say anything about *exactly* how annoying that was becoming.
“The Fulnari are the first and the last. The Fulnari is everything and everywhere. All praise to the Fulnari.” Certain that that had answered their question, Minyar continued his spiel.
“No one is allowed down the stairs while a blessing is being bestowed. So you may leave your clothing and your belongings in this room – they will be secure here.”
“Our clothing?” The tone in Rodney’s voice was a clear warning. John gave Rodney his ‘we’ll talk about that later when we’re alone’ look, hoping that would satisfy him for the moment. Rodney frowned at him but didn’t protest when Minyar continued.
“Only unclothed will you be able to enter the Sacred Pool. When you have received your blessing, swim out into the sun beyond the rain of water and thank the Fulnari for their blessing. Then you may return to us and we will celebrate.”
“And how are we to know we have received this blessing?” John hoped Teyla wasn’t too disappointed when this blessing didn’t show, because he was beginning to wonder if there was anything to this at all.
“Oh, there will be no doubt in your minds. You will know. Just follow the procedure I have outlined to you and all will be well.” With the confidence of a sage revealing the meaning of life to his faithful followers, Minyar imparted one last bit of wisdom to them: “Give in to the pleasure of the Fulnari and you will receive their full blessing.”
He turned and started up the long staircase to the outside world. Ronon watched him until the first bend in the stairs took him away from their sight. He stepped forward then and John nodded his approval.
“Check it out, Ronon. Just a couple of flights, just to make sure he’s doing what he said he would.” They hadn’t had a problem with Rodney running his scans on the cliff, but this was supposed to be sacred ground. He’d hate to cause trouble if they could avoid it.
Ronon nodded, dropped his pack and walked back toward the stairs, only to be stopped at the entrance to the room, stumbling back a few steps as if he had hit a solid wall.
“What the hell?” John crossed to the doorway and touched the barrier while Ronon ran his hands along the edge. There was no shock or repulsion of any type, but their hands would not pass the entrance.
“Oh. Great. So we’re stuck here?” Rodney stopped in the process of rummaging through his pack and pushed John out of the way, patting his hand along the invisible barrier, checking for strengths or weaknesses. Ronon put his shoulder to it, trying to push his way through while Rodney continued to knock on it in random places.
John frowned. “Well, we’re obviously not getting out that way for a while. Stop it you two. I feel like I’m at a bad mime convention. What’s next, the moonwalk?” Ronon stopped and frowned at John, who shook his head in response. It was too much trouble to explain for the limited response the joke would get. Just not worth the effort.
John shrugged his own pack off and set it on one of the benches. Rodney used a few different scanners on the door while the rest of the team looked for a hidden switch or control. But it seemed like they were stuck there for the time being.
Teyla frowned. “Minyar mentioned to me on the way down that until you were blessed this structure held no exits, only entrances. I thought he was speaking metaphorically but it seems now that he might have been speaking literally.”
Rodney slumped down on one of the benches, a serious frown on his face. “Well, this is just perfect.”
John decided they’d be better off keeping Rodney occupied than letting him stew.
“Well, if we’re going to have to go through with this, we might as well get the tests started. Ronon, you and Teyla check out the sacred pool and get a sample of the water for Rodney. I’ll stay here and keep an eye on the stairs.”
Rodney scowled at him. “You don’t need to protect me, Colonel; I think I know how to use my firearm by now.”
“I’m well aware of that, McKay, but you shouldn’t have to worry about that, while you’ve got tests to run.”
That seemed to mollify him, and he turned back to his equipment. “Nice to hear someone values my contributions around here.”
John just grinned as he turned to watch Ronon and Teyla head to the pool. “Don’t worry, McKay, we all know exactly how valuable you are. You tell us pretty much every hour on the hour.”
Rodney didn’t even bother to look up from his work. “Well, someone needs to.”
Teyla took the sample vial from the box Rodney had open on the bench and stepped up to the empty doorway, sliding her boot along the floor, cautiously testing the way before walking through. John sighed as her foot met resistance. Ronon touched the other side, and shook his head and John flopped down on one of the benches.
“Well, that takes care of that. How do they expect us to be blessed if we can’t leave the room?”
Ronon shrugged. “We’re not naked yet.”
Teyla nodded as she sat down on the bench next to Rodney. “Of course. ‘Only unclothed will you be able to enter the Sacred Pool.’ We must remove our clothing before we can leave the room.”
John scowled. Not that he had any problem taking his clothes off, he was used to the military life, but this was slightly different than a shower room full of marines, and the look on McKay’s face was one of pure horror. Besides, Teyla shouldn’t be forced to bare herself in front of three healthy men. This could be tricky – he would need to be careful of how he managed this one.
“How many tests can you do without a sample of the water, McKay?”
“Well, most of them. But I’m not about to take all my clothes off and swim around in some strange pool of water.”
“Run your tests, McKay. Ronon and I will check out the pool. Teyla, stay here for now and keep an eye on that entrance.” Teyla nodded. He had thought she might have protested, not wishing to be seen as less willing to face their circumstances, but it seemed she realized this was a way for McKay to keep focused and not panic about baring himself if it came down to that.
He shook his head as he bent over, untying his boots. Why did stuff like this always happen to his team?
Ronon was ready, gun in hand when John joined him near the door. It felt weird that Teyla and McKay were both still fully clothed while he and Ronon were wearing nothing but their guns. Despite how comfortable he felt around his team, he kept fighting the urge to cover his genitals with his gun. The ridiculousness of that image struck him, and he almost laughed. Talk about phallic symbols.
He envied Ronon, who stood there relaxed, seemingly unaware of his own nudity. He was looking out at the cave, eyes narrowed, trying to see beyond the waterfall at the far end of the pool. There were many scars marring his smooth skin. John wondered what it would be like to touch them, read them with his fingertips.
The hair on Ronon’s chest was concentrated on his pecs, and he wondered why that was as his eyes wandered down, taking in the sharp points of his nipples. His abs were well defined and John had to stop himself from reaching out and running his hand across them, just to feel the ridges of the muscles under his fingers.
He shook his head to clear it, looking back at Rodney and Teyla, but Teyla was watching the steps, and Rodney had his head down over his scanners, mumbling to himself. When he looked back, Ronon was looking at him, one eyebrow raised in question and a trace of a grin on his lips. John ignored the question in his eyes and forced himself to concentrate on the task at hand.
“Okay, let’s give this a try. Do you think the guns will make it through?”
Ronon shrugged. “One way to find out.” He reached out a hand but was stopped by the invisible barrier.
John reached out his hand. “Try it again without the gun.” Ronon handed him his weapon and tried again. Nothing. Just as John was about to ask, Ronon handed him a couple of knives that hadn’t been showing a minute ago and stepped up and through the entrance way.
John shook his head and set Ronon’s weapons on his pack, noticing there were a number of knives already sitting there. He wondered how many Ronon carried as he took off his own gun and stepped through behind him. There was a slight tingling sensation, but he went through without any problem. He turned back to the doorway. “Teyla? Try and pass me one of McKay’s sample vials.”
Rodney’s eyes lit up. “Good idea, Colonel.” John’s hand passed through the entranceway and didn’t have any trouble grabbing the vial and pulling it back though.
“Let me fill this and get it back to McKay, and then we can try it with a gun.” Ronon nodded and continued his scan of the small cave the pool was centered in. Ronon watched John carefully as he crouched at the edge of the pool, dipping the vial into the water, but nothing happened, and John shrugged as he stood, exchanging a glance with Ronon.
John had no trouble handing the vial back through to Teyla, but the gun Teyla tried to hand him didn’t make it. John wasn’t really surprised, but he’d felt he needed to at least try.
At that point, he and Ronon split up the small cave, searching for anything out of the ordinary, although he wasn’t quite sure what would be considered ordinary under these circumstances. He traced along the rock walls, which were so smooth he felt certain they weren’t natural. But there seemed to be nothing else unusual about the cave.
He was following the pool back around to the middle, when he glanced over to see Ronon running his hands along the side of the cave mouth, bending low, then crouching down to reach the water’s edge. John noticed the shape of Ronon’s ass as he bent. Had it always been that rounded? He had a very shapely ass. And well muscled, too.
It didn’t look like Ronon found anything. He turned around and walked back along the edge of the pool away from the cave’s entrance, an intent look on his face. He moved easily, completely unselfconsciously – sensuous and dangerous at the same time. The muscles under his skin flowed effortlessly with his movements and John realized how striking he looked without clothing to cover up the natural grace of his body.
Ronon dipped his toes into the water, raising an eyebrow at John, who realized he’d been staring. John felt his face flush and one side of Ronon’s mouth quirked up almost into a grin. He turned then, continuing his search of the water’s edge. John shook his head and turned back to his task, the vision of Ronon’s ass as he’d walked away flickering through his mind. John blinked a few times before he managed to clear that thought out of his head and concentrate on his job.
In just a few minutes, Rodney had an answer for them.
“There’s nothing in the water, the scans don’t show any large animals, or even many small ones, which is actually rather strange if you ask me and no bacteria or known toxins. I hate to say it, but I don’t see any good reason why we shouldn’t do this. Of course, famous last words and all...”
“Right. Well, you’re the one who wants a chance at that inner room of theirs. You think it’s worth it?”
“The power readings emanating from that building were pretty unusual, Colonel. Like nothing I’d ever seen before. I think we need to take the chance. As much as I hate to admit it.”
He took a quick glance in Teyla’s direction, where she was already taking off her clothes. He quickly glanced away, and down at his pack, moving things around randomly, looking busy without actually doing anything. John thought he knew what was troubling McKay. He could sympathize. A woman as striking as Teyla drew the attention of everyone. It made perfect sense that McKay might feel uncomfortable baring himself in front of her.
But Teyla stripped quickly and efficiently and was out of the room while Rodney was still fumbling with his shoes. He glanced up as she walked past, but quickly ducked his head again, his face flushed with embarrassment.
Teyla smiled at John conspiratorially as she exited the room, walking over to where Ronon was taking his first steps into the pool. John was relieved. She’d obviously understood McKay’s dilemma and was giving him a way out by leaving him alone to undress in private.
"Alright, McKay. Quit dragging you feet and get out here. Teyla and Ronon are already in the water and I'm going to send them over to the waterfall to check out our perimeter."
"Don't rush me," Rodney snapped pulling off his shirt. That was more like it. John frowned at McKay, holding up his end of the mock battle of wills the two always sparred with. His grin well in check, John left with one last nudge.
“Hurry up. We can’t start the party without you.” McKay scowled, reaching for his belt, and John headed for the pool.
He walked into the cool water with a sigh of relief. He had stopped dripping with sweat as soon as he had entered the antechamber above, but he'd been hot and sticky all day. The water felt good on his skin, washing away the sweat. He sent Teyla and Ronon to check out the waterfall, then ducked his head under the water, feeling refreshed. By the time they got back to the middle of the small pool, Rodney had joined them in the water.
The water wasn’t deep, three or four inches above waist height on Ronon, and clear enough to see the sand and occasional round pebbles on the bottom of the pool. Teyla’s breasts bobbed gently in the water, and John hid a smile as he watched Rodney fail to keep his eyes turned away. Teyla was completely relaxed, though. He knew she must have noticed his behavior, but it obviously didn’t bother her.
Rodney cleared his throat before he spoke. “Well, what are we supposed to do now? Just wait here for this blessing to hit us?”
Teyla nodded. “We are to clasp hands in a circle, and meditate on our good fortune for being chosen by the Fulnari.”
“Great. I'm not good at meditating, but I can give it a whirl.” John looked at Teyla apologetically.
“I knew some warriors who meditated before battle. I tried it a few times. It didn’t do anything for me, either.” Ronon shrugged, but Teyla just smiled at him.
“Everyone must find their own way. I suggest that you try closing your eyes, and relaxing. I think that will do.” Teyla held her hands out and John and Rodney took them. Opposite her, Ronon shrugged and grabbed John’s and Rodney’s hands, and Rodney yelped.
“Hey, watch it! Those hands are valuable property, you goon. How am I supposed to work with broken fingers-?”
Ronon just laughed at him, and John jumped in before Rodney could continue. “Right. Okay, I think we’re supposed to be thinking relaxing thoughts, right Teyla?”
“Of course. Now close your eyes and relax. Go ahead. Close them, Rodney.” Her voice was mild, but no one was deceived by that. Everyone knew when Teyla meant business.
John slitted his eyes open in time to see Rodney ungraciously submit. Relieved that Teyla had jumped in and taken control for the moment he allowed himself to relax, just a bit. He felt pretty foolish just standing there in the water – his team forming a small ring of naked bodies.
John thought this would be the perfect time to just have a little fun, splash around in the water, get McKay loosened up a bit. Instead, he was stuck here trying to think peaceful thoughts surrounded by ridiculously attractive naked people. It wasn’t easy.
To be honest, all he saw when he closed his eyes was Ronon. His big solid body, muscles rippling as he swam through the water toward John standing on the beach, digging his toes into the hot sand. Ronon stood up in the waist high water and walked toward him, water streaming off his sculpted body, muscles rippling under smooth bronzed skin.
He glanced down, realizing he was just as naked as Ronon, and that was when he realized this couldn’t be real. His skin held the warm, dark tones he usually tanned to when he had time to spend on the beach. And even with his eyes closed he knew that right now his skin was pale from the lack of sun.
But Ronon was looking at him with lust in his eyes, and he felt a heat grow in his belly, spreading out over his skin, rushing through his body and pooling in his groin. He watched Ronon walk the last feet between them until he stopped directly in front of John, a slow grin spreading across his face as John followed a drop of water down Ronon’s belly into the thin trail of curly hair that led to--
John opened his eyes, blinking and trying to focus on the waterfall over Rodney’s left shoulder, unsure of where that vision had come from, but unwilling to carry it any farther. A quick glance around showed him that the other three were enjoying their own thoughts, whatever they were – mellow smiles on each of their faces. He wasn’t sure what was wrong with him, he’d never thought of Ronon that way before.
Well, okay, maybe he'd had a fleeting thought or two, Ronon was a good looking man, he couldn't deny that. Now that he was thinking about it, he could see the attraction. It was tempting to just reach out and touch Ronon, feel the flex of muscles under the smooth skin, the soft hair on his chest. He imagined running his hand down Ronon's body, and around to cup his ass. The man had a fantastic ass. And just when had he started noticing Ronon's ass?
He’d done his best to leave his attraction to men behind him when he went to the Academy. You didn’t do well in the Air Force if they knew you were attracted to guys. Besides, women were great. Soft and sweet and sexy and hot and he could fuck women until he dropped from exhaustion and he’d still want more.
But this thing with men popped up every once in a while, and sometimes it took some will power to overcome, but he wasn’t about to jeopardize his career with a slip-up now, after all these years. So Ronon belonged in the look but don’t touch category. He could handle that.
He realized that he’d been staring at Ronon’s nipples, which were hard and pointed, perhaps from the cool water? He could just imagine running his thumb over one of them, hardening it further with the stimulation, before he lowered his head and took it in his mouth, sucking it until Ronon moaned with the pleasure of it. His eyes slid down, noticing that more than just Ronon’s nipples were hard, and shook his head – what the hell was that moving through the water? Was that a snake?
Ronon’s eyes shot open as whatever it was wrapped itself around his ankles. John felt a tug and realized his own ankles were being held as well.
“Holy crap.” Rodney’s eyes opened wide at the same time as Teyla’s. “What the hell is that?”
“I cannot move my legs.”
Teyla’s voice retained her usual calm, and John thought that was strange. But then he realized that he was pretty calm himself. He glanced at Ronon and Rodney, who were rather matter-of-factly trying to work their legs free of the things holding their ankles, but no one seemed to be freaking out.
“Have you guys noticed anything strange?”
“Anything strange?” McKay’s voice was full of sarcasm. “You mean besides the snake things we’ve got wrapped around our legs? What else could possibly be strange?”
“Maybe the fact that we aren’t putting up much of a fuss about it? We should be freaking out, especially you, Rodney. You know it’s true.”
“I don’t panic. I never panic.”
Rodney made the mistake of looking at Ronon as he said that, and Ronon rewarded him with the biggest grin John had seen on the man since he’d joined them.
Rodney just frowned at him, and admitted. “Okay, so maybe I’m not normally the calmest guy on the team, but I almost always manage to get us out of trouble, don’t I? Besides, you don’t seem to be too upset about this either. And the last time I saw you tied up, you had a hissy fit, so don’t look at me, Conan. I’m not the only one acting out of character.”
“Agreed. We are not acting normally. And -” John could tell Teyla was reluctant to mention whatever was on her mind. And John was really hoping she could give them something to distract him, because at the moment, all he could concentrate on was the light reflecting off the water and making his teammates seem to glow in the dim cave. He didn't even want to look at Ronon, because he’d be likely to embarrass himself if he did.
He looked over at Rodney, and found his eyes on Ronon, and for some reason, that really annoyed John. He risked a glance over and Ronon was staring at Teyla’s breasts, and licking his lips. John squinted his eyes at Ronon, pissed off. Who the hell did he think he was, staring at Teyla? But then he was distracted by the realization that Teyla was staring at John, hunger in her eyes.
“Okay. There is something weird going on, here.”
“Seriously, McKay. What are you thinking of? Right now.”
Rodney started and looked embarrassed. “Nothing. Really. Why? What do you think I was thinking of?”
“Well, whatever it was, it had more to do with Ronon’s nipples than with the predicament we're in, right?”
“What predicament? Oh, right. The snake things. Hey, you’re right. I forgot all about them. This is weird.”
“Yeah. Weird. In a there’s really something wrong kind of way, right?”
“Okay. You’re right. Something is really wrong. We should at least be worried about the snake things.”
Ronon looked up from his examination of the thing wrapped around his knee. “And that they’ve got us bound and we don’t really have a problem with that. I think that’s important.”
John nodded, glad to hear that Ronon realized there was a problem. Because if John started staring at his body again, like he really wanted to do, maybe Ronon would understand that he didn’t have a choice in the matter. Right?
Dear god, he wasn’t even fooling himself with this, was he? He wanted Ronon so bad it hurt. And he couldn’t tell if it was him or the snakes or what, but whatever it was, he was beginning not to care who found out about it. And that, he knew, was very bad.
“Well, let’s figure this whole thing out, okay?” There was no response, Teyla had her eyes closed, slowly running a hand across her belly, a small private smile on her face. Her nipples were tight, and he really wanted to lick one into his mouth and – there it goes again. He had to get them all focused.
“Teyla. Listen to me. Can you hear me? Teyla?”
Finally he saw her frown, as if distracted by some thing buzzing around her head. “Teyla. McKay! Listen to me.” Rodney glanced over to him, his focus torn, as if it took all his effort to hear John’s words. He shook his head and turned back to Teyla.
“Not now, Colonel, I have something else to take care of.” He made brushing movements with his hands, as if he could shoo John away. And John, well to tell the truth, John was more than willing to be shooed away.
He really wanted to get back to watching Ronon. That was much more interesting than the way Rodney was touching Teyla’s breasts, her shoulders, the water from his hands making the line of her collarbone glisten in the light.
The sound she made was fascinating; she was almost purring, her head thrown to the side as Rodney’s wet fingertips traced the tendons in her neck, then the line of her jaw.
He was distracted by something touching him – what the hell? John looked suspiciously over at Ronon.
“Did you touch my ass?” Ronon blinked slowly, bringing his focus back to John. He grinned slyly as he held his hands out of the water.
“Wasn’t me.” He licked his lips as he watched John’s face. “Why, do you want me to?”
John shivered at the suggestion in Ronon’s voice, but he couldn’t take that any farther because it happened again and he looked down into the water to see several more of those things twining around their legs, crossing the two or three feet of space between them, running in and out, and wrapping themselves around their thighs.
He looked back at Ronon, who was just standing there, staring at John like he was on the menu, those brownish snake-like things running though his legs, slithering up against his hard cock. John’s whole body shuddered as he realized he wanted to put his hand out and wrap it around Ronon’s cock so he could feel them slithering up against his hand. No, what he wanted was to be pressed up against Ronon, so their cocks were touching, and the snake things could touch them *both* at the same time.
But then Ronon jerked and twisted around, trying to grab something behind him. “What--? It’s trying to get up my ass!”
John was seriously pissed off by that. He was the only one allowed to touch Ronon’s ass. Okay, maybe he hadn't mentioned that to Ronon yet, but it was what he had in mind.
“Turn around, let me help.” Ronon gasped when John pushed a couple of them away from Ronon’s cock, rubbing the back of his hand against the underside of it in the process. Completely by accident, of course. Ronon shuddered, his eyes closing as John’s palm rubbed over the head. Then one of the snakes wrapped itself around John’s wrist and he jerked back, startling them both.
Ronon opened his eyes as John tried to peel the thing off his wrist. Ronon helped – it was easier to do with two sets of hands, the things were slippery and lively, and they could hardly keep their hands on it as it moved. Finally, Ronon pulled one end of it off John’s wrist and threw what he could grab of it at the sandy edge of the pool, where it promptly slithered back in the water.
But they weren’t paying much attention to that, since Ronon had his hands full. There were two nosing at his ass, and he was twisted around, trying to keep them away. He had twisted far enough that John could see them, so he tried to help, brushing them away, but they kept coming back. Sneaking around the other side, where John couldn’t reach them, then aiming themselves at Ronon’s ass again.
“What the hell are these things anyway?” John had been calling them snakes, but they were longer than that, almost more like ropes or vines, it was hard to find the ends of them sometimes. But they were definitely alive; they felt slick and warm in his hands. Weren’t snakes supposed to be cold blooded creatures?
“Whatever they are, do you have any idea how to make them stop?” Ronon yelped as one of the ropy things wrapped itself around his cock and squeezed. He grunted, pushing his hips forward into its grip. "Damn, that feels really good."
They all looked at him in surprise, until Rodney jumped as one of them started feeling around his ass. “Watch it!” He fought with that one for a minute before he spoke again. “Tentacles. That’s what they remind me of. Really persistent tentacles.”
John laughed as he pulled on the one attached to Ronon’s cock – hey, he was just trying to help, right? “You mean like as in a squid or octopus?”
Ronon grunted as the one John was pulling on tightened its grip on his cock, and started twining part of its body around John’s wrist.
“What’s a squid?” His eyes rolled back in his head as another one wrapped itself around his balls. His hips thrust forward into John’s hand as the snake/tentacle thing wrapped tighter around John’s hand, pulling it up against Ronon’s cock. John squeezed as a different tentacle wrapped around Ronon’s cock, John’s hand and the tentacle holding them together.
“So how do we stop them?” Teyla’s voice was a little strained, and they all realized at the same time that she had one tentacle in each hand, trying her damnedest to hold them away from both of her orifices. Her left hand slipped and the one trying to get into her ass nudged up against her left ass cheek.
“These tentacle things – they want to fuck us.” Ronon’s voice was strained, his hips moving erratically, barely keeping his butt cheeks clenched against the ones trying to get in. John knew that was what he was doing, because he recognized it. He was doing exactly the same thing.
Teyla cried out again as another tentacle approached from the front. It started nudging against her clit and she moaned, her head falling back. McKay let go of the tentacles attacking him to help her, using both hands to try and pull another one away from her pussy. It wrapped itself around his wrist, then dove toward Teyla, wrapping around her thigh and pulling his hand with it.
And while Rodney’s ass was defenseless, another one took advantage of the fact and slithered up the length of his ass crack and wrapped itself around his waist while another one slipped back into his ass crack.
“Oh, god.” He started wiggling around to dislodge it, but from where John stood, all it was doing was helping the one that had his cock in its grip stimulate him further. “This is like one of my best teenage daydreams crossed with my worst childhood nightmares. Oh my god!” Rodney let go of the one he’d been holding away from Teyla to grab the one bumping up against his ass. Teyla moaned low in her throat as the tentacle that Rodney had let go of, dived down and slipped inside.
Her nipples tightened and she moaned deeply, then opened her eyes to find all three watching her even as they fought their own tentacles. “Let go of them. They are not going to hurt us. And it feels extraordinary.”
She turned to McKay, pulling his hand away from the tentacles and holding his palm up to her breast as she pressed her lips against his. She moaned into his mouth, pushing his mouth open with her tongue, and began to explore it.
John was so shocked by her behavior that he failed to notice the tentacle nudging against his ass until it had breached the outer ring of his asshole and pushed its way inside. He cried out in shock at the sudden sensation, before he realized that it didn’t hurt at all. In fact it was pretty damn pleasurable. His cock, which was already half-hard, bounded to attention and he moaned loudly when he realized that Ronon was trying to pull that thing out of his ass.
That actually felt pretty pleasurable, too, for that matter. Ronon pulled it part of the way out, and then it pushed it’s way back inside. Whoa. That was definitely his prostate it was stroking every time it plowed its way back inside him. Oh, yeah. That was good, that was real good.
Ronon grunted as the one that had been trying to get into his own ass took advantage of his fight with John’s over-friendly tentacle, and pistoned into Ronon’s ass. With a loud shout, he stiffened, but then immediately gave up the fight, his eyes closing in pleasure.
“Oh, yeah, that’s it, Ronon. You’re getting it now, aren’t you?” John licked his lips, watching as Ronon’s head fell back and he suddenly couldn’t stand it any more. He reached over and pulled on Ronon’s nipples, just like he’d wanted to do earlier. Suddenly his feet were free. The tentacles were still wrapped around his legs, but they let him move enough to step up to Ronon, and bend over to suck one nipple into his mouth.
Ronon grabbed John’s head, holding him against his nipple. John pulled back long enough to say: “Oh, yeah. You like that, don’t you? How about this?” Then he attacked Ronon’s nipple with his teeth, nibbling at it and sucking it harder into his mouth, Ronon’s deep, guttural noises of pleasure spurring him on. He switched to the other nipple, sucking and nibbling, his mind racing as he wondered to himself why it had never occurred to him to try this before.
Ronon pulled his face up, and John reluctantly let go of his nipple in order to accept Ronon's tongue into his mouth. John gasped as he felt a second tentacle probe his asshole. He pulled his face away and buried it in Ronon’s neck as the second one eased inside and the two started double teaming him, one moving in as the other moved out, each one rubbing against his prostate as it went by, and causing the most intense sensations he could ever remember experiencing.
He was having trouble seeing, with all the white sparks that kept exploding in his frontal lobe. That's what it felt like anyway. But when he heard a loud cry that sounded like Rodney’s voice, he managed to look over at Rodney and Teyla, struggling to focus as he tried to control the fantastic sensations running though his body, at least long enough to check the rest of his team.
Rodney and Teyla were wrapped up in each other, several of those tentacles pulled tight around their waists, holding their bodies together. Other tentacles were twined around one or both of their legs so they were pressed close from ankle to waist. But Rodney had still managed to get his mouth on Teyla’s breasts, sucking at her nipples with the single-minded devotion he usually reserved for physics or a puzzle left by the Ancients.
Teyla was obviously enjoying his attention, running her fingers through his hair, gasping as he pulled one nipple taut, away from her body before letting it draw slowly from his mouth. She cried out his name and pulled his head up, kissing him soundly. He’d obviously gotten his hand free from her thigh, and was using it to rub up against her clit as the tentacles moved in and out of both her pussy and her ass.
John realized he really envied her that, and shook his head to clear it. There was something wrong with that wasn’t there? But he couldn’t focus on it at the moment, because Ronon had attacked the side of his neck with his teeth and his lips and was creating the most incredible sensations as he sucked hard on the spot where his neck and shoulder joined.
John slid his arms around Ronon’s hips, getting a good double handful of ass and squeezed, moaning into Ronon’s ear: “I’ve been aching to get my hands on these since we got here.” He felt Ronon’s deep laughter rumble through his body as he left his teeth prints in the skin of John’s shoulder. He reached down and pressed one finger inside John’s ass, where John could feel it moving in and out with the tentacles, his finger slippery with whatever kind of lubricant was keeping them slick inside his ass.
Ronon moved his mouth, sliding his tongue up along the tendon in John’s neck, to his ear, whispering roughly, “I’ve been waiting to get in your ass since the first time I met you.” John shivered against Ronon as pleasure soared through his body. He thought then that if there weren’t tentacle things wrapped around both their waists, he probably would have collapsed by now, as he felt his knees give out underneath him.
But Ronon kept his hands on John’s ass, and pulled him up tighter against him. He felt the tentacles loosen as he wound his legs around Ronon’s hips, pressing their cocks against each other. More tentacles slipped between the two of them, twisting around both cocks at the same time, tugging on them both, and their pleasure shot even higher as they moaned at the same time.
John heard Teyla crying out Rodney’s name and looked over to see her in the throes of orgasm, her head thrown back, one leg curved around Rodney’s waist. That was Rodney’s cock pushing inside her, as Teyla built toward another orgasm, thrusting furiously against him.
“Rodney, please. Harder, please!” His hips were rocking as he thrust hard into Teyla. John could see the tentacles in both their asses moving faster, almost a blur as Rodney gasped, his head buried in Teyla’s neck, moving with a speed and dexterity that surprised John.
“Holy shit, look at McKay go!”
Ronon was obviously impressed as well, as he spared a moment’s breath to cry out “Go, McKay!”
John laughed out loud at that, and the sound was tinted with a little desperation. All he knew was that he wanted some of what Rodney and Teyla were having. Lucky for him, Ronon was on the same page. He pulled John up higher and told him to hang on.
As soon as he got John into position, the water helping to hold him buoyant in Ronon’s arms, the tentacles moved out of their way, and John slid down onto Ronon’s cock. John cried out at that, realizing it was just exactly what he’d wanted.
He started grinding his hips down, meeting Ronon’s powerful thrusts with an impatience that had him grunting with each surge of Ronon’s hips. He searched for the right tension, the perfect thrust that would push him over the edge, because he knew that was all it was going to take. He threw his head back, reveling in the sensations, the powerful thrusts in rhythm with the low growls rumbling from Ronon's throat.
Another of the tentacles wiggled into John’s lap, whipping around the head of his cock in tight, twisting strokes. Just about then, another tentacle pushed its way inside his ass, and John could feel it, pushing directly on his prostate, wiggling in and out between Ronon’s cock and the sweet spot that was setting him on fire. He held on tightly to Ronon’s shoulders as the pleasure finally overcame him and his sight exploded into white sparks.
John buried his face in Ronon’s dreads, sucking at the tattoo on his neck as Ronon pounded into him, the water around them making it hard to control the speed of the thrusts. But Ronon was losing his tempo in any event as he grunted loudly now with every stroke, crying out into John’s ear, and John just held on as he felt Ronon’s orgasm overwhelm him.
John felt Ronon’s knees give out, and suddenly they were underwater, splashing and gasping for breath. The tentacles slowly moved away from them, drawn back to wherever they came from, leaving John and Ronon gasping and clinging to each other tightly to keep their balance.
Their attention was drawn back to Rodney and Teyla and they watched in surprise as Rodney fucked Teyla almost ruthlessly, a snarl on his face as he kept up a pounding pace. Teyla gripped his shoulders, long tentacles holding them together, supporting Teyla as she leaned back, a tentacle rubbing her clit and giving Rodney the opportunity to concentrate on keeping her coming again and again.
Their hips were moving in unison, grinding together, water splashing everywhere, running off their bodies in streams. They pushed each other up and over into a massive simultaneous orgasm that literally overwhelmed them, their cries ripped out of them both as they collapsed into the water. They didn’t seem to notice that they weren’t breathing anymore – for a moment there was no movement in the water at all.
Ronon and John grabbed them quickly, pulling their heads up before they drowned. They came up gasping for air, leaning on their teammates, and trembling with shock as the last of the tentacles abandoned them. Drained and exhausted, they dragged themselves up onto the sand.
They lay there for some time, listening to each other as their breathing gradually slowed and their racing heartbeats calmed. Finally, John leveraged himself up onto his elbows and surveyed the wreckage of his team. Shaking his head in a vain effort to clear his mind, he opened his mouth, but nothing would come out.
Then Teyla’s voice, deep and raspy from her cries, cut through the fog in John’s head. “All praise to the Fulnari.”
They looked at each other, grinning, and suddenly John just started to laugh. The others chuckled a bit at first, but slowly got caught up in the absurdity of what had just happened to them. Joining in the laughter until they couldn’t laugh anymore, they lay there occasionally hiccupping small bursts of giggles and sighs, exhausted beyond belief.