It's meant to be a joke. For the past few months, Ronon has been making up Satedan games, inventing ridiculous rules just to see if Sheppard will fall for them. Even when Sheppard doesn't believe him, his expressions are pretty amusing. And the sparring matches are always fun, even when they leave Ronon with a restless feeling and the urge to do something reckless, like pin Sheppard to the ground and kiss him.
So it's just another one of those made-up games-- Ronon explains, assuming a serious look, that during a match one opponent's hands must be tied behind their back and the other opponent's feet must be restrained.
"Uh," Sheppard says. A muscle jumps in his jaw. "Maybe we should skip this one. Hands behind your back? Feet tied? Sounds like one of us would wind up in the infirmary with a broken something."
Ronon grins. "Scared?"
Sheppard huffs out a sound that could be a laugh. "I'm just saying, I think Keller is going to ban us from sparring together if we need anymore stitches."
It's then that Ronon realizes Sheppard's serious. He stares. "You really don't want to do this," he says.
"What? No, I want to," Sheppard says unconvincingly. "I'm just saying that Keller will set Rodney on us if we hurt ourselves. Do you want him in here rattling off injury stats?"
"No," Ronon says, and shrugs. "Fine. Let's just spar."
Later, though, Ronon thinks it over. It's weird. Every other time Sheppard's figured out Ronon was making things up, he'd said so straight out and told him to learn to lie better. He's never made excuses before.
Ronon puts it out of his mind. Sheppard's a good leader, but he's also pretty weird. Who knows what's going on in his head.
Besides, maybe he's just tired of Ronon making up games.
It's not until six weeks later that Ronon figures out what's going on. The situation's a mission that's gone awry, with Sheppard captured and the rest of the team having to figure out how to get him back to Lantea.
Ronon's always been of the opinion that the simpler the plan, the higher the chance of success, so Teyla and McKay attack the guards while Ronon breaks into the cell.
The lighting's dim, but if the Mazonatians had time to injure Sheppard, the damage is all under Sheppard's clothes where Ronon can't see it.
"You able to walk?" Ronon asks, crouching next to him. They've got Sheppard trussed up hand and foot. Ronon pulls a knife from one of his braids.
"Oh, definitely," Sheppard says, and the grogginess in his voice answers one question-- they've definitely drugged him. "Walking's simple enough. One foot in front of the other, just--"
"Be quiet," Ronon advises softly.
Sheppard hums agreement.
Ronon takes one of Sheppard's wrists, meaning to test the tightness of the bindings. He hears Sheppard's breath catch, like he's in pain, and flicks a look at Sheppard's face. Sheppard's grimacing.
"You okay?" Ronon asks.
"Yeah," Sheppard says, lets out a shaky breath. His pupils are large, and not, Ronon thinks with a slow certainty, entirely from the drugs. Sheppard licks his lips and stares with half-closed eyes at his bound hands for a second, his gaze lingering on Ronon's fingers where they encircle his wrist. He shakes his head. "Just, uh, get me out of here."
"Right," Ronon says, and quickly gets the bindings off. He hauls Sheppard upright, bears his weight as Sheppard groans and mutters, "This planet is messed up. It really needs to stop spinning."
"Let's get back to Lantea. The ground seems pretty solid for an island," Ronon suggests.
Sheppard laughs. "Okay."
Ronon gets Sheppard out of the cell and towards safety. Even as he does so, though, an idea is taking shape in the back of his mind, one that's probably foolhardy.
It involves a rope, and another suggestion of that made-up Satedan game, only this time in more private quarters.
"Why are you grinning?" McKay demands irritably as Ronon and Sheppard draw near. "Do you really get off on people shooting at us?"
"Shut up, McKay," Ronon says, and keeps grinning.