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For What It's Worth

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Fic: For What It's Worth, John/Ronon, PG-13
Title: For What It's Worth
Author: Rubygirl29
Pairing: John/Ronon
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: I don't own them, but I love them. That's all I get out of this.
Spoilers: EatG, Post Season 5
Words: 2,631
For: [info]satedan_grabass John/Ronon Thing-a-thon.
Recipient: [info]bluflamingo Who asked for John or Ronon talking to Lorne about their "relationship." John being military. Post Season 5. I hope this is close enough. And there is a bonus Cam appearance just for you!

Also linked at [info]satedan_grabass

For What It's Worth

John isn't sure how he finds his way to the balcony off the control room. The view is surreal, the TransAmerica building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the lights of the city nearly as numerous as the stars overhead. He aches in every bone in his body. His head is throbbing and his eyes feel like grit has been rubbed into his corneas. He knows he is dehydrated, exhausted, worn to the bone. Maybe if he weren't the sight of the city would bring him a sense of happiness, of homecoming. Instead, he wants to put his head down and cry.

He rests his forearms on the rail and bends over them. looking at the water far below him. The air in the bay is chilly and the fog is starting to gather. Even if the city weren't cloaked, it wouldn't be visible from the shore. He wishes he were as invisible.

"Sir?" He doesn't hear Lorne approach. It's too late to pretend that he's all right. Lorne was there with him on that hive ship and he looks nearly as wan as John feels.

"What now?" He sounds weary, impatient. Lorne doesn't deserve that, not after the day he's had. "Sorry," he apologizes and gets a wry smile from Lorne. "Any news?"

"Ronon's out of surgery. Keller says he's fine. Down a few units of blood, but other than that, he'll be up and around in a day or so."

Part of John's burden lifts from his shoulders. He should have been there, but when he looks at his hands, he still sees Ronon's blood on them. The Wraith had healed him, but he hadn't cleaned up the blood that had pooled beneath him and soaked his clothing. He feels the weight of Lorne's sympathy. "Thanks for staying with him."

"He's my friend, but he'll want you there when he wakes up."

"W-what?" John stammers. He can only see this heading in a bad direction, but he doesn't know what to say. Lorne is watching him with an odd expression in his blue eyes. Sympathy? For what?

Lorne sighs like he's seen the alarm in John's eyes. "Sir ... I know."

"Know?" John nearly chokes.

"You and Ronon. You're together, right?"

For nearly four years, he and Ronon have been so careful, so circumspect. He thinks maybe Teyla has known for a while, Elizabeth had somehow figured it out before the end ... but Lorne? "How long?" His voice was low and rough. This was his fucking career on the line and Ronon's reputation in an alien galaxy.

"After Kolya fed you to Todd, Ronon was different. Angry. Protective. Raw." He gave John a sharp look. "You both changed after that. You started thinking, moving, being one. Even when he left Atlantis, even after Tyre ... you never lost each other. I saw the look on your face on when we told you that Ronon didn't make it. You were destroyed. I didn't know if I'd be able to get you out of there."

Lorne must have seen the hesitance and the longing in his face."Sir, for what it's worth, I've been there. You should be with him. Forget everything else. Just go." He seems to disappear into the darkness as he backs off, leaving John flailing for words. You should be with him. Lorne was right. Everything else could wait.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^

John will never get used to seeing Ronon in the infirmary. He has such a huge presence, can be so intimidating in battle, so fierce, that people sometimes forget that he is flesh and blood, fragile as all human flesh is fragile. John never forgets. When his fingers run down Ronon's skin, when he breathes into John's mouth when they kiss, when he shakes apart in John's arms as they make love ... that is fragility. Only John sees him like that.

Carson and Keller come into the cubicle, charts in hand. They are smiling and John's muscles unclench. He can be Ronon's team leader and friend for them and not worry that his questions and emotions will be inappropriate, since Ronon has no next-of-kin to take his place. "Well?" he asks, trying not to look as if his world depended on their answers.

"Didn't Major Lorne find you?"

"Yes." He tries not to sound testy. "But I'd like to hear it from you -- officially."

"For having been healed by a Wraith, he's doing well. However, the Wraith may have healed the flesh, but he didn't do a thing to replenish blood loss," Carson hesitates. "In addition, there were more injuries after Ronon was healed."

"After?" John tries to remember any fights or skirmishes that would have caused damage, but he's drawing a blank.

Beckett looks uncomfortable, and it is Keller who speaks up. "He was tortured."

Black haze swims at the corners of John's vision. If he hadn't already blown up the Hive, he'd hunt down that Wraith and return the favor in spades. Even so, he staggers a bit and Carson takes his arm. "You should let me have a look at you, Colonel."

"I'm fine. Just tired." Carson takes his wrist and frowns, then takes his blood pressure. "You need to eat, drink liquids, get some rest. You're running on the ragged edge and that's not doing anybody any favors. Ronon will be sleeping for a while. He won't know you're here."

John wants to say, He'll know, but that would sound weird. "I want to be here when He wakes up. Then I promise--"

"I'll get him something," Keller says. She has a soft spot for Ronon and a look in her eyes makes John wonder about feminine intuition. Mentally, he adds her to the list of people. Teyla, Lorne, now Keller, possibly Rodney ... and now they're here, on Earth, where the Pegasus grapevine will spread any gossip to an even wider pool. John's head aches. He rests it on the cool metal rails of Ronon's hospital bed.

"Hey."

The whisper is only about 10 percent of Ronon's usual strength, but John straightens. Ronon's tawny eyes are blurry with sleep and drugs; deeply shadowed in his pale face. His lips look dry. There is a cup of ice chips on the bed tray, and John tilts the rim to slide a few into Ronon's mouth. "Thanks."

"You aren't supposed to be awake yet," John says.

"So?"

"So, maybe you should go back to sleep."

Ronon makes a rude snort at that idea. He eyes John narrowly. "We're okay here?"

"You, me, the city. We're okay."

"You look worried."

"Can't help the way I look," John says. He glances around, gives Ronon a quick kiss, his hand lingering on Ronon's arm. "Get some sleep. I've got to head Keller off at the pass before she brings me a tray of something I don't want to eat."

"I'll eat it."

"Yeah, and then throw up. Sorry, Chewie. Maybe tomorrow."

"I'm fine." He couldn't even convince himself of that. John strokes lightly down his arm and Ronon's eyes close. He kisses him again, a light brush of his lips, and goes to get some real food.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^
The mess is dim and nearly deserted. Stargate Command is slowly pulling people out of Atlantis and over to the mainland. People deserve leave time. Scientists needed to make reports, military personnel had to be debriefed. John looks out the big windows at the familiar and still completely alien lights of San Francisco.

"It's hard to believe." Lorne is standing at the table, a tray balanced on his arm. "Mind if I join you, sir?"

"You know you don't have to call me that. I have a feeling that you're going to get a promotion if General Landry has any say in it. Woolsey will back it up, and as much as they'll listen to me, I will, too."

A blush heats Lorne's cheekbones. "They'll listen. You're the big damn hero of the day."

John doesn't care about that. He chews thoughtfully on a carrot stick. "Ronon woke up while I was there."

"He's strong. He'll be up in no time."

"Then what? He's an alien. Returning to Pegasus seems pretty unlikely with the Wraith on the warpath. They're not going away just because we kicked their asses out of the Milky Way. We're still just one big buffet to them."

"He's less obviously alien than Teal'c. The IOA owes him big time, too."

John wonders how far that protection and gratitude will go if secrets get out. He and Lorne eat in silence, then suddenly Lorne is looking past John's shoulder with an expression of absolute joy in his eyes -- the one thing he can't school. Then he is out of his chair and heading across the room.

"Hey, flyboys! Welcome home!" Cam Mitchell's voice shakes John to the core. Mitchell? Mitchell and Lorne? He watches as Cam enfolds Evan in a hug that is both a greeting between friends and incredibly intimate. They have tears in their eyes, and John suddenly wishes Ronon was at his side. His earlier conversation with Lorne suddenly makes sense.

A weight lifts from his shoulders. He pushes away from the table and holds out his hand to Mitchell. "Good to see you, Cam." He means it, and gets his own hug from Cam, whose heart is as big as the world. He turns to Evan. "You are gonna get that promotion. Thanks for ... for being the best XO I'm ever going to have and even more for being my friend."

"Thank you, sir." He leans in and whispers, "As your XO, it is my duty to keep your ass out of trouble, keep my opinions to myself, and keep your secrets safe. Good luck, sir." He sketches a salute, and smiling with all the world in his eyes, turns back to Cam. "Got a place for a flyboy to crash?" he asks. Cam just grins. There is a newspaper tucked under his arm. He drops it in front of John and with his arm draped casually over Lorne's shoulders, they leave.

John finishes his coffee, scarcely noticing that it has gone cold, as he reads the headlines. Talk about burdens being lifted ... this is like Mount Everest. His first impulse is to go to the infirmary, but it's been less than an hour since he left Ronon, who needs his rest, not to have John hovering at his bedside. He goes to his quarters, falls facedown into his pillows and falls asleep. He manages three hours of exhausted sleep before he wakes, surprised that he had slept that long. Maybe he can start catching up -- not that sleep has ever been a priority for him.

Ronon is awake and grumpy when he returns to the infirmary. A tray of unappetizing food is nearly untouched, and he still looks pale to John, but stronger than he did earlier. "Something wrong with the food?" John asks innocently.

"It's pap. For babies. Torren wouldn't eat it."

"How are you?"

"Sore. What's going on here?"

"Not much." He sits on the edge of the bed, rests his hand on Ronon's. "Lorne knows everything," he says, looking sideways at Ronon. He doesn't see anything there but amusement. "You knew?"

"We talked."

"When?"

"After you went missing for twelve days. Everybody thought you were dead. I nearly left Atlantis. I would have searched every planet in Pegasus on my own. Lorne said he'd come with me. When I asked him why, he said because he understood the impossible." Ronon smiles slightly. His thumb moves across John's knuckles. "He talked to me about stuff. Said everybody deserves to be happy. And then we found you."

"I found you," John argues for the sake of seeing Ronon's grin. "Anyway ... "

"What?"

"Is this twenty questions?" John leans forward. Ronon's lips are dry and cool. His hand is warm on the back on John's neck.

"Did Keller give you drugs?" Ronon asks suspiciously.

"No. But Lorne gave me this ..." He opens the paper. "I know this won't mean much to you, but remember we talked about my people, the military, and they way we are -- together?" He swallows hard, because the reality is still hard to believe even in black and white. "It's ending. Not right now, but soon."

It had never mattered to Ronon, but he returned John's smile. "Lorne will be happy."

"You knew?"

"We talk. I told you."

"Why am I always the last to know?" he grumbles, but it is a specious complaint and Ronon rolls his eyes. "Lorne and Mitchell are over the moon in love with each other," John says, smiling at the thought.

"Are we?"

The question is a jolt. Not one John had been expecting. Ronon is asking for God's sake, and John is taken aback by it. It's not a word he's said often, or lightly. But when he is with Ronon, he knows this man would die for him. That is love by any definition. He knows he is blushing, and the look in Ronon's eyes isn't helping. "Yeah ... I think we are."

"Me, too." He takes John's hand. "What are we gonna do about that?"

"Whatever we want," John says.

"I want a lot," Ronon warns.

"I think I can handle it." Ronon's grip firms on his hand, and John returns the clasp."I love you," John says softly and Ronon nods.

There are too many words, too much emotion between them. Ronon ducks his head, then looks up at John, all the love in the world in his eyes. "Same," he rasps.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^
The next day later they're standing on the balcony. Ronon's arm is curved around John's shoulder, almost like he needed physical support, but there's no real weight behind it; it's just an excuse to hold him close. The breeze coming off the bay is cool, and Ronon's heat is comforting even though the sun is warm. John is alert for any sign of tension in his body, because they had sneaked out of the infirmary without Keller's or Beckett's official permission, but right now, looking at the city, even the doctors are relaxed.

Ronon inches closer to John. "Was it worth it? The last five years?"

John thinks about it. About the losses, the cost, the scars on his body and soul. Right now, though, with Ronon's breath on his hair, and the amazing love he thought he'd never have or feel, he just nods. "Totally worth it."

A breath from Ronon, a soft whisper. "Love you, too," he says.

The admission makes John feel a bit dizzy. He slides into the curve of Ronon's body. He suddenly realizes that they are alone. He tugs on Ronon's dreads, pulling him down for a kiss. It's a promise, a pledge. It's hope. It's a new world.

Totally.

The End