“They are only letting warriors enter their sacred temple,” Teyla said.
“So?” Rodney stared at her impatiently before bowing back over the tablet computer in his hands, to frown at the columns of data running across the screen.
Teyla bowed her head slightly. “By their definition, only the Colonel and Ronon qualify as warriors,” she explained and allowed her eyes to flicker over to John and Ronon, who had taken one side of the rough table.
“So?” Rodney asked again. “What’s the problem? They go, find the source of the weird energy signal that blocks the gate, they turn it off, and we can leave.” A hint of irritation crept into his voice. “It can’t be that complicated. If it’s Ancient, the Colonel only needs to think if off…”
Teyla bowed her head again, causing Rodney to trail off. Something close to embarrassment shone in her eyes for a split second, and then she was back to being the calm and dignified negotiator and leader they all knew and respected.
“I believe they have qualms about letting the Colonel and Ronon into the temple. They fear for the…” she hesitated briefly. “…the virtue of the temple servants, most of whom are young and easily impressed.”
Rodney let the computer sink onto the table. “We’re stuck here because those Neanderthals think these two can’t keep it in their pants?” he asked incredulously.
Ronon gave a sound that was part snort and part menacing growl, and John slowly straightened from his customary slouch.
“What can we do to be allowed into the temple to poke around and figure out this energy thing?” he asked Teyla.
“Well.” She looked from him to Ronon and back before continuing hesitantly. “There is the ritual of the warrior bond…”
Ronon shifted next to John. “They think that’s the best way to keep them safe?” he asked, a slow smirk starting to form on his face.
John frowned. “Okay, what?” he asked. Ronon apparently knew what Teyla was talking about, but John didn’t, and he wouldn’t agree to do anything before he had all the facts, or his hand was forced by unforeseen circumstances. “Why don’t you two explain this warrior thing to me?”
This time, there was no doubt. Teyla was blushing, the blood blossoming across her cheeks as she glanced at Ronon again.
John started to have a very bad feeling about the entire situation.
They had left their weapons and Ronon’s coat with Rodney while Teyla was telling the village elders that Ronon and John would go through the ritual that would, for all intents and purposes, declare them warrior bondmates; something that was, as Teyla had explained to John, an even more serious and even tighter bond than a marriage.
Still, John thought uncomfortably as he sat and loosened the laces of his boots, it beat the alternative, which, as Rodney had pointed out, included the fact that they were stuck on this planet and couldn’t leave on their own, unless Rodney managed to build a jumper out of rocks.
If they wanted to go home…John shook his head, to push away that particular thought. Rodney had speculated that the gate was blocked from both sides, which meant that Atlantis couldn’t establish contact with them. It would be weeks until the Daedalus would return to the Pegasus galaxy and could start a search for John and his team, and those were weeks they didn’t have, not with the threat of the Wraith looming over their heads like Damocles’ sword.
A heavy weight settled deep in his stomach, and he swallowed dryly and consciously loosened his shoulders as Teyla stepped up to them again.
“Ronon is accepted as the Binder,” she reported. “There was some discussion about this choice, but in the end, the elders decided that he has the right to take this role. That would make you, Colonel, the Bound.”
John swallowed again and nodded. He was ready to face this.
If he told himself often enough, he probably could convince himself of that.
“Hey.” Ronon nudged him slightly as they slowly walked along the sandy path that would bring them to the temple.
John was tense enough that the brush of Ronon’s shoulder against his almost made him stumble. He blushed up to the tips of his ears as he regained his footing, but tried to pretend that everything was okay.
“Yeah?” he asked. His mouth was dry, and he could feel the thrum of his pulse in his fingertips.
“Relax.” Ronon gave him an amused look. “You look as if we’re walking straight into a Hive ship.”
He would not admit that he felt exactly as if he was walking with open eyes and unarmed into a Hive ship, even if he knew that he could trust Ronon with his life.
They came to stop in front of the temple, where the elders were already waiting for them, and Ronon grabbed John’s shoulders and turned him around until they stood facing each other. His hands ran down John’s arms until he could wrap his long fingers around John’s wrists.
Remembering what Teyla had told him, John slowly looked up, into Ronon’s eyes before wrapping his own fingers around as much of Ronon’s wrists as he could. He didn’t look away as one of the elders stepped up to them, began to mutter quietly, and started to wrap a length of leather around their forearms, binding them together until they couldn’t pull apart.
John didn’t look down at their wrists. He was still holding Ronon’s gaze, determined not to look away first. Ronon’s eyes twinkled in amusement, but there was something else in there; something John couldn’t decipher and that he instinctively shied away from because it was too much, too complicated and too forbidden to be contemplated in broad daylight, and yet, at the same time, he couldn’t – wouldn’t – look away.
He startled when his elbow was grabbed and he was pulled backwards. He had, of course noticed that the circle of elders around them had grown smaller, that they had come closer and closer, but he hadn’t seen them reach out for him.
The bonds between his and Ronon’s wrists held. The leather groaned from the force put onto it, but it didn’t break.
The next thing John knew, he was pushed into Ronon’s chest, and Ronon laughed, warm and delighted, and quickly ducked down, to brush his lips in a feather-light caress against John’s forehead. The touch was barely there, probably more of an accident than anything else, but it still made the hair on John’s arms stand on end.
The elders stepped back, and Ronon rolled his shoulders. “Okay,” he said, his voice pitched low. “We’re good to go in.”
John frowned. “That was it?” he asked, surprise audible in his voice. He had thought that this ritual would entail more, had mentally prepared himself for the worst, and he couldn’t help but think that there was a trap.
It couldn’t be this easy.
Ronon shrugged. “Yeah,” he simply said and tilted his head to the side. “We’re not supposed to remove these before sundown.”
John glanced at the leather wrapped around their arms and shrugged. “Okay then.”
They could wait that long before they went into the sacred temple and tried to turn off the signal.
And still, even while he allowed Ronon to drag him back to Teyla and Rodney, to wait for the sun to go down, he couldn’t help but feel a slight disappointment. He did his best to ignore it and shove it into the jumble of emotions he wasn’t supposed to feel and that resided at the back of his mind.
The door to his room closed behind him, and John released a breath that felt as if he’d been holding it for hours now, ever since he and Ronon had decided to do what had to be done to get them home in a timely fashion.
The whole operation had gone off without a hitch. He had managed to locate the generator that was sending out the jamming signal and to turn it off, and they had left the planet as quickly as they could.
The door chime sounded, and John frowned. If something had happened, he would have been radioed, that much he knew, and he wasn’t sure if he was up for a visitor. He opened the door nonetheless.
Ronon was standing there.
Instinctively, John took a small step back before he caught himself. “Everything okay, buddy?” he asked. His glance fell to Ronon’s hands at the same time as he moved to the side, to let the other man enter his room.
Ronon was holding the strips of leather from the ceremony twisted around his fingers and wrists.
“On Sateda,” he said earnestly as soon as the door had closed behind him and it was just the two of them, “the warrior bond is sacred. It’s not something done easily.”
John shifted his weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other, but before he could even start to think about what he wanted to reply, Ronon bowed his head, to look at the leather.
“It’s a private thing,” he continued.
John’s eyebrows rose. “Why are you telling me this?” he asked.
Ronon lifted his head to look at him. “I want to do this properly with you,” he said, his voice firm. “I want to be your Binder, to protect and serve you.”
John frowned. “Wait, what?”
“I want you to be my Bound,” Ronon continued. “To protect and serve me.”
John hesitated. “This is important for you, huh?” he finally dared to say.
Ronon just looked at him.
“Okay – do we need a group of old men to tie us together?” The nervousness came back full-force, and John discreetly wiped his palms on his pants.
“No.” Ronon reached out and touched his fingertips to John’s elbow. “Just us. This is personal. Private.”
John thought for a split second, then he shrugged and nodded.
“So, let’s do this.”
Ronon smiled and closed his hand around John’s elbow, to pull him gently closer, until their chests almost touched. “You sure?”
John shrugged and thought for a moment. The nervousness he’d felt earlier had disappeared, to be replaced by a sense of certainty and a hint of anticipation.
Instead of answering, he leaned closer, stretched up, and brushed his mouth over Ronon’s.
It had been years since he’d dared to do this last, and the sensation of coarse facial hair against his lips sent a thrill down his spine. It settled as the low thrum of arousal deep in his stomach and started to spread through his veins.
Before it could engulf him completely, he clamped down on it and narrowed his eyes slightly.
“This has to stay between you and me,” he said, his voice hoarse. “Not even Teyla and Rodney can know.”
Ronon nodded. “I get it.” He reached out with one hand and tangled it in the hair at the back of John’s skull, to pull him close and kiss him again.
This time, they didn’t stop with a harmless brush of lips. Instead, Ronon started a full-blown attack on John’s mouth, using his lips and tongue and teeth to nibble, lick and suck at John’s lips and coax him into returning the kiss with just as much enthusiasm. Ronon’s hand at the back of his head guided him through the kiss, and his tongue brought the flavor of spices, spices that were still foreign and exotic to John’s taste buds.
Ronon’s other hand slid down the length of John’s spine and tangled in the material of his t-shirt.
“Take that off,” he muttered, his lips still close to John’s. “Makes things easier, later.”
John’s breath hitched in his throat, but he lifted his arms and allowed Ronon to pull the t-shirt over his head and drop it unceremoniously to the ground by their feet.
Ronon kissed him again, his tongue darting deep into John’s mouth. The kiss made the blood pound loudly in John’s ears, and he felt almost dizzy when Ronon stepped away from him, to discard his own shirt.
“Give me your hand,” Ronon murmured. His voice was rough, but strong, and John held out his right hand, the way he’d done it just a few hours before.
Ronon smiled and interlaced their fingers. He squeezed gently and started to wrap the leather around their hands, wrists and forearms, pressing them closely together while at the same time making sure not to wrap their arms too tightly.
John chuckled, interrupting the heavy silence that had fallen between them. “Aren’t you supposed to say something? Swear an oath, anything?” he wanted to know.
Ronon shrugged and tugged gently at their bound hands, but as before, the leather held. “Why?” he asked. “I said everything before. It’s about what you do, not what you say. It’s a warrior bond, not a politician bond.”
“Right.” John nodded and looked down, at their hands. When he licked his lips, he could feel the heat from the reddened and swollen skin against the tip of his tongue.
Ronon groaned quietly and pulled him close. His unbound hand came to rest again at the small of John’s back, and his thumb moved restlessly over the warm skin there. Slanting his mouth over John’s, he returned to kissing him with a single-minded focus.
Finally, John pulled away from the kiss and exposed the length of his throat when his head rolled back. Ronon licked and nibbled a path down, paying special attention to the scars left behind by the Iratus-bug and kissing them gently. John shuddered at the touch and tried to shift, to get Ronon to focus somewhere else.
“Bed?” Ronon asked, and without waiting for John’s reply, he slung his arm around John and pulled him down onto the edge of the mattress and rearranged them until they were facing each other.
The touch of his hand was hot against John’s skin, burning through him and igniting the arousal he was feeling. His cock started to fill and press uncomfortably against the front of his underwear, and he groaned when Ronon’s fingers ghosted over his groin, teasing and exciting him without relieving any of the pressure.
He wanted to reach out and touch Ronon, as well, but one of his hands was still bound to Ronon’s and useless for his plans, and the other one was resting flat against Ronon’s chest, his thumb rubbing circles over a flat nipple and feeling it harden under his touch.
Ronon didn’t seem to have the same problem, John thought vaguely when sharp teeth gently tugged at the lobe of his ear and Ronon’s fingers moved over John’s fly, opening it and reaching inside without visible hesitation.
The heat of his hand on John’s bare flesh sent a shudder down the length of his body, from the tips of his hair to the soles of his feet, and he caught himself arching against Ronon’s hand.
He was, he realized, the thoughts coming slow and one after the other, like puzzle pieces he had to struggle to fit together in his mind, completely in Ronon’s hand, and to his great surprise, he found that he didn’t mind as much as he had thought he would. He didn’t mind as much as he was supposed to, his thoughts whispered to him. He went back to ignoring that thought and tried to focus solely on the touch of Ronon’s hand on his body.
Ronon’s tongue curled against the shell of his ear, agile, wet and hot, and another puzzle piece fell into place as John bit back a gasp.
He trusted Ronon.
He had known that before, of course. Without trust, he would never have started this, would never have agreed to this bond in the first place. He knew Ronon had his back.
He knew Ronon would keep his secrets.
It didn’t mean that Ronon could take the lead and simply expect John to follow.
He grinned as he shifted, away from the bed and onto his knees in front of Ronon, their bound hands somewhere between them. John fumbled with the fastenings of Ronon’s pants, unable to loosen them with the same smoothness Ronon had displayed when dealing with John’s pants, but unwilling to give up or get Ronon to help beyond the upward shift of his hips at the end of the maneuver, when he tried to tug Ronon’s pants down his muscular legs.
Ronon looked down at him with a small smirk on his face, but he didn’t stop John from reaching for his hard dick with his free hand and his mouth.
Ronon’s erection was long and thick, and John closed his hand around the base and reached out with the tip of his tongue, to get a first taste, before he closed his lips around the head.
It had been years, and he needed to work out some issues before he could set a rhythm that was smooth enough to tease and entice Ronon without being too tiring for John. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the hard length resting on his tongue, sliding against his lips and the skin of his palm as he licked and sucked enthusiastically.
Ronon groaned deeply and rested his hand on John’s shoulder. His thumb brushed over the tense sinews at the back of John’s neck and skull, petting him for a moment before he traced the shell of John’s ear with one fingertip, brushed his hand along John’s jaw, and pressed his thumb against John’s bottom lip.
“Want to fuck you,” he murmured. John’s eyes flew open, and he pulled back instinctively, to gaze inquiringly at Ronon’s face.
Ronon’s eyes were half-lidded, his lips red and shiny, and John felt his throat go dry again at the sight in front of him.
Ronon tugged at their connected hands, and John released his grip on his dick and allowed Ronon to pull him back to his feet.
A quick tug, and his pants, already hanging open, slid down his legs and pooled on the ground. John managed to step out of them and his shoes without losing his balance, and then, Ronon was pulling and guiding and pushing him until he was straddling Ronon’s legs, his own legs splayed open around Ronon’s waist, his cock dark and hard between their stomachs, a small drop of fluid forming rapidly at the tip. He could feel Ronon’s hardness brushing against his thigh, his ass, and he pressed his hips carefully against it while their bound hands were resting between them, held pressed against their chests.
“Sheppard,” Ronon growled and nipped at John’s shoulder with sharp teeth.
John hissed through his teeth. “Yeah,” he said, quickly followed by a snap of his hips as Ronon closed his dry palm around John’s dick and squeezed carefully.
“Yeah.” John didn’t even wait for Ronon to finish the question. He pressed himself more firmly against Ronon’s touch. “Do it.”
Ronon kissed him and reached down, to where his pants were still tangled around his ankles. For a moment, John thought that he would slip off Ronon’s lap, fall to the ground and dislocate his shoulder, but before anything happened, Ronon straightened and he found his balance again.
“You okay with this?” Ronon asked and held up a small tube.
John swallowed. “How’d you get that?” he asked and shifted slightly. The move brought Ronon’s dick in contact with his thigh again, and he shivered.
Ronon grinned. “Stole it from the infirmary,” he confessed. “They have more.”
John’s body relaxed. “You can’t just take things,” he said, but there was no heat in his voice.
Ronon shrugged and held the lube up again. “Need your help.”
John chuckled and reached out, to open the tube while Ronon held it, and then, he held his palm open and Ronon poured some of the clear substance into it.
“Been a while,” he muttered when the first cool touch to his ass came. He shifted and forced himself to relax, to allow the touch.
Ronon bit at his shoulder. “Okay.”
The jumble of emotions in John’s chest expanded, until he wasn’t sure what he was feeling anymore, the sting from the bite enough of a distraction to force a startled groan out of him when the first finger was pushed into his body.
He had forgotten how this felt.
He had forgotten how much he liked this.
Ronon kissed him again, and John slipped his tongue in Ronon’s mouth and started to explore the sharp edge of teeth and the agile tongue curling around his own. His entire body tingled, and when Ronon started to move his finger, John’s entire body reacted. He was in a haze where he knew everything that was happening and felt every single part of Ronon pressing into and against him, but he felt uncoordinated and unable to do anything but take the assault onto his body and mind. By the time Ronon had three fingers – or were it four? – in him, John wasn’t kissing him anymore, his focus on Ronon’s fingers.
Ronon nipped at his bottom lip. “Touch me,” he growled. “Get me ready.”
John shook himself and reached down, between them, to wrap his fingers around Ronon’s dick, smearing the rest of the lube along it. Ronon groaned, and John twisted his wrist when he stroked up the length, to add more sensations to the touch.
Ronon gave him a grin. The blood had risen high in his cheeks, his eyes were half-closed and slightly unfocused. Seeing Ronon like this made heat pool in John’s stomach, and he lowered his head, felt Ronon’s hair brush against his cheek, and sucked at the exposed collarbone in front of him until a dark bruise blossomed under his lips.
“Now?” Ronon asked roughly, and John nodded. Words had long disappeared. He didn’t know what to say, and let his body do the talking instead.
It probably was better at it anyway.
Ronon pulled his fingers free. John knew what was coming next, and he scrambled up, onto his knees, and lowered himself down onto Ronon before he could start thinking again, over-thinking, and ruining this, for both of them.
The stretch of Ronon’s dick burned, but John forced himself to breathe and relax, as much as he could. Ronon groaned underneath him, his hips jerking slightly before he brought them back under control, to let John do this at his own pace.
John dropped his forehead against Ronon’s shoulder. He felt full, filled to where he thought he would burst at the seams, his entire body aware of what he was doing. He could feel his pulse in the tips of his fingers, the blood rush in his ears, the strain of his own erection rubbing between his and Ronon’s stomach. Sweat was prickling at his temples, at the back of his knees, along the length of his spine. All he could see, sense, taste, smell and feel was Ronon, under him, in him, around him, filling him, challenging him, and yet, waiting patiently for him to start moving.
John took a deep breath – it sounded more like a choked gasp to his burning ears – and shifted. Slowly, haltingly, he established a rhythm; a rhythm that changed with every kiss Ronon pressed against his chest and shoulder, with every bite John placed against Ronon’s body, unable to stop himself, and when Ronon wrapped his still-slick hand around John’s dick and leaned slightly back, to have room to stroke him while their bound hands were pressed against John’s chest, against the loud thump of his heartbeat, the rhythm inevitably became faster and wilder, racing to completion.
John’s free hand wrapped into Ronon’s dreads, brushed against cool steel hidden inside them. He gasped, his body twisting and arching and pressing down, to force Ronon’s erection deeper and against that spot again where he could see sparks go off behind his closed eyes.
It was this moment, a nano-second before the sensations became too much, that he realized the depth and true meaning of the bond, the vow Ronon had sworn to him, and that he had returned, without hesitation and without any doubts in his mind. Ronon would go where John would go, he would die for him, he would kill for him, but the bond was even more – Ronon would do anything in his power for him, and John knew that he would try to do the same for the other man, as much as he could and for as long as he was alive.
There were no words that could adequately describe the depth of the bond, he knew, no concepts that were completely fitting to explain it. It was intense, filling every single cell of him, like the ATA-gene that had brought him here, to the Stargate program, to Pegasus galaxy, to Ronon in the first place, and just like the gene, this feeling now was part of him, inevitably and absolutely.
And then, orgasm overwhelmed him, and he came, his whole body shuddering and tingling, his mind whiting out and his body tensing with sweet release before he fell, boneless, sated and his mind afloat, against Ronon’s chest, trapping their hands there and gasping for breath.
Ronon made a small sound at the back of his throat and wrapped his arm around them, to shift and roll them until John was sprawled on his back across the mattress, his legs still wrapped over Ronon’s thighs, Ronon’s erection hard and thick in him, his hips rutting against John in a hard, fast rhythm he knew he would feel the next day.
He didn’t mind.
Ronon came with a deep, heart-felt groan, his hips stilling slowly and his body growing heavy, despite the fact that he was still holding himself up on an elbow, to avoid crushing John.
For a long moment, they both focused simply on breathing, on the sensation of sweat and come cooling on their bodies, on their heartbeats slowing down to a normal speed.
The cognition of what the bond meant faded slightly, but John still knew, without the shadow of a doubt, that he would honor its meaning for as long as he lived.
“Warrior bond, huh?” he asked, his voice a lazy drawl tinged with amusement.
Ronon looked down at him and nodded. “Yeah.”
He didn’t add anything else.
He didn’t need to.
Somewhere deep inside, at the basic level of his cells, John understood.