Ronon was working out alone when John found him. In the practice room, Ronon had set up dummies in a circle in the center of the room. He was practicing attacking multiple opponents, kicking and punching and as John watched, performed a head butt that made John's forehead ache in sympathy for the dummy. The movements were all swift and sure and John didn't really want to think about all the times Ronon might have needed to use those skills.
He knew Ronon recognized he was there but ignored John's presence, probably as irrelevant, right up until John moved to stand between two of the dummies just outside of the circle. When Ronon's movements took him near where John was standing, he found a fist an inch from his nose. He didn't quite flinch, which he was pretty damn grateful for, but there was a blink. "What do you want?"
"Just here to talk," John said easily, tucking his hands into his pants pockets.
"Make time," John said and this time he didn't say it easily. He was rewarded by seeing Ronon's muscles relax, just slightly, around the shoulders.
"You have nothing to say I want to hear." The words were accompanied by a steaming glare and a head toss toward the broken dummies.
John settled him with a firm glare of his own, tempered by what he liked to think of as his patented 'And?' eyebrow raise, as he crossed his arms over his chest. "You're going to listen anyway." As soon as he figured out what he wanted to say.
Ronon stared at him from behind those locks of hair hanging in his face, silent and still.
Which might not have been an improvement, but at least he wasn't making a break for the door. "Okay. You and I are going to have a little chat about... things. Like the violent behavior you've been displaying towards the people you live with. I know it's been awhile since you were around people very much, but I also know you're not stupid and you know that isn't okay."
He still didn't say anything, just stared at John, eyes connecting with his before running up and down his body. "I don't think I fit in here."
Okay, that was a little... weird. And they'd had this conversation before, or at least some mimicking of it. "Then I need to know what you need so that you'll feel like you fit in here," he tried, settling his arms against his chest in a way he tried not to think of as hiding his body.
Ronon's lips quirked slightly, just a small smile and he leaned forward, resting his elbows against his knees and letting his arms dangle between his legs. "I don't think you have it." He eyes flickered down to John's pants.
John shook off the feeling that his sexual prowess had just been insulted and raised his other eyebrow now, waiting for some elaboration. "Oh?"
"What I want. You don't have it," Ronon repeated and, apparently, that was as much of an explanation as he was going to get. Except for the way Ronon was leaning forward. Crouching. Usually he only looked like that when presented with food.
It needed to be made very clear that John was *not* food and not just because it gave him heeby images of Hannibal Lector in his head, but hell if he had the first idea how to go about it. If there was ever an image just designed to kill a hard on -- not that John had one -- it was Hannibal Lector slurping.
"Okay, well," he started, shaking the image of slurping out of his head because it wasn't conductive to this conversation. "Why don't you try me?"
And wasn't that an unfortunate choice of words.
"You don't even know what you're asking for." The lips curled up even more. This time John was pretty sure that wasn't amusement, but disdain.
"Oh, I think I've got a pretty good idea," John told him evenly, proud of himself for keeping his voice completely steady. He had plenty of an idea, and more than a few pictures to go along with it. "But why don't you spell it out for me? That way we both know there's no confusion."
"I want someone to fuck," Ronon said flatly.
Well, John'd got what he asked for, hadn't he? "In civilized society we try getting dates first," he pointed out, leaning back against the wall behind him as casually as he could manage.
"I don't have time for dates." If those lips curled up anymore, Ronon was going to be eating his own nose. But he leaned back, out of that crouch, and straightened his back.
"I'm not seeing much you have to do here. Take meals, do some training, go out on missions with us occasionally. Seems like it'd leave plenty of time for a social life."
Ronon bared his teeth. There was no way that was a smile and John knew he was losing him. He was tensing, ready to rise to his feet again.
"Or not." The words were measured out slowly and then John shrugged, like he couldn't care less whether Ronon wanted to try dating or not. "Hey, you're the one that wants to get laid."
"Too slow." John watched the muscles in Ronon's legs tense. "You still haven't given me a reason to stay. Or to listen to you."
Obviously appealing to his sense of civilization, if he had any left, wasn't going to work and John thought about it, sighing. "Well, why'd you stay in the first place?"
"Teyla," he said, his lips uncurling a little. Back to amusement. That was good, even if John wasn't too fond of where he was thinking Ronon was going mentally.
"Teyla. Guess she's a pretty good reason to stick around, if you like the type. Have you tried seeing how open she'd be to..." John's hand swung wide in an open gesture and he relaxed again, hoping that the aforementioned woman didn't decide to take up a little sparring at the moment. That could be... awkward.
"She said you could beat the Wraith." It was nice she had that much faith in him but, frankly, John wasn't such a believer on that front.
"Maybe. We're going to do our best," he told the other man, watching his lips curl again at the admission of doubt, but John wasn't going to lie to him. "So far we seem to be doing better than anyone else, which is worth something I gotta figure."
"I haven't decided if she's right." Ronon stretched his legs out loosely in front of him and crossed his arms over his chest, just under his pecs.
It was a weird thing to notice but it'd been a weird day. He went with it, taking in the whole image as he leaned back himself and thought about what Ronon had said.
The man believed they could beat the Wraith when their goal was mostly just to stop them from reaching Earth and for them to make a life here, the sort of life that both of them could use. The sort of life that Ronon was fucking up by growling at people when they nudged against him in hallways and refusing to play nice at dinnertime. The reminder of why he was here in the first place set John's jaw tightly, and he narrowed his eyes. "I haven't completely decided about you myself."
For the first time John seriously considered that. They knew of more than one planet that Ronon could settle down on, both with natives and without, and maybe that was the best idea. The guy just wasn't a team player and Atlantis didn't have any room for that; John's team didn't have any room for that. "Maybe you should. I was hoping that this'd work out, but I thought that you'd be able to get in line and get along once you got a feel for the place."
"Give me a reason," Ronon challenged him, that hungry look coming back onto his face as he unwound his arms and leaned forward, letting his finger tips touch the floor.
One insane moment left him thinking that maybe now would be a good time to go get Teyla and see if maybe she wanted to have sex with Ronon, for kicks or whatever, but the image of exactly how much she'd kick his ass if she wasn't up on the idea stopped John in his tracks. That and the fact that after she got done kicking his ass Elizabeth would take a turn for thinking of pimping out one of his teammates.
No, this was all on his own ass.
And it was his ass that was the problem, so to speak.
"I thought so." Ronon unfolded himself from where he was sitting, standing up and towering above John. Which was more than a little uncomfortable when John was sitting and Ronon was six foot four while slouching, so he straightened himself up and stood as well.
His jaw even clenched a little as he looked at the smug expression written all across the other man's face, and he said, "Listen, you want a reason? How about the fact we're the only ones that want you? This was always supposed to be a mutually beneficial deal, the sort where you have a safe place to stay, good food to eat -- which you eat a damn lot of, and maybe even friends if you want, and in return we get someone who can fight and knows this place better than we do. If the deal's not good enough for you then there's nothing keeping you here, and if you can't get along because you're too damn stubborn or whatever's left that's human in that brain of yours has decided to go dormant, then, yeah, maybe it's better you leave."
"I'm human," he growled, glaring down at John, his fists clenching slightly. "Human."
There was a pretty good chance he was about to get his nose broken, but he took it anyway, snapping out. "Congratulations. At least one of us believes that."
"I don't have to prove anything to you." His posture was getting tighter, the muscles in Ronon's arms bunching. John readied himself for the hit that was going to *seriously* hurt. But it never came. Instead, Ronon stalked away, back to the chair John had ordered him to and slammed himself into it.
Huh. Now that last statement was something neither of them believed. Mostly. And if John's legs were shaking a little bit in relief they were still more or less steady underneath him. It was enough that he could walk over to the chair himself, much more casually.
"Okay. Are you going to at least try and behave yourself?"
"Yes," Ronon gritted out between clenched teeth. "I will. We done?"
"No, I don't think we are," John told him firmly as he yanked a chair over for himself and plopped down, wishing he had something to prop his feet up on. "Considering I'm not entirely convinced that you know what behaving yourself entails, at least from how you've been acting lately."
"Are you giving me rules?" Ronon's eyebrows went up and his lips pursed. It wasn't hard to read the skepticism in that face at all. "I haven't harmed anyone, have I? That's behaving."
"If I have to give you rules, I will, because not 'harming anyone' doesn't cut it. I thought you said you were human. Last I checked even animals know not to 'harm' their allies." It wasn't hard to put skepticism that matched that expression into his own tone because, frankly, he was getting sick of this. He'd been patient with Ronon; the easing in time was over.
Ronon's lips twitched and John watched his jaw move, clench and unclench. But whatever internal fight Ronon was having, obviously it was running in John's favor. His body was slowly relaxing into the seat. "What rules?"
What rules? Now, that was a good question. His first thought was of Basic and the training structure they enforced on you there, but it'd been a long damn time since he was in Basic and he'd repressed as much as he could of it as soon as he got out anyway, so he'd have to wing it. "For one, people don't growl at other people. You're scaring my scientists."
"Some of your scientists are annoying," Ronon countered. "They're like insects." He tossed his right arm over the back of his chair and studied John. "That one, Zelenka, keeps asking for lists."
"That's because we could use some Wraith technology to study. We know how it works, we know better how to fight it, we've got a better chance at beating the Wraith, and that's what everyone wants here." John leaned back in his own seat, sliding his ass down until his legs reached out to the third and final chair that'd been dragged into the room, and he propped his legs up.
"But that's not something you really have to know, Ronon, is it," he said, making sure there was no question in his tone. "If one of the scientists asks you something you should assume it's important and tell them, except for maybe Rodney because you know how Rodney can get. I want you to make that list for Doctor Zelenka."
"I did. He kept coming back."
"More lists." John resisted the urge to roll his eyes at that answer, as if it explained everything.
"And he has reasons for wanting those lists too. So unless he's asking you to list the colors of the skies you've seen or something, I don't see the problem."
Ronon sighed, long and loud. "What else?"
Even if he thought he could have managed it, he didn't even bother to contain the rolling of his eyes at the decidedly adolescent like sigh. "Don't you give me that attitude," he snapped, his voice as tight as his body was relaxed.
Ronon straightened, moving his arms to rest easily on his legs. "What else?" he repeated, this time in a more crisp tone.
"Better," John said because if there was one thing he'd learned from bad COs it was that praise should always be given where it was due. "Otherwise, you've got a space problem. You're a big guy and then you go around making that a bad thing by refusing to give a little leeway. Running over the scientists in the hallway because they were paying attention to some diagnostic in their hands and not where they were going is not okay. I know it's their own fault they're not watching, but what they are watching is more important, so try and keep from knocking them over.
"Same goes for the way you sprawl out on chairs and couches in the common room. You don't own the place and stop treating it like others should move around you; that might have been a good thing when you wanted people to stay away from you when you were running but it's not now."
Ronon nodded slowly, relaxing into his chair again, resting his elbows against the back. "I'll be more careful. What else?"
"Well, there is the table manners, but, uh, we'll talk about that later," John told him, wincing a little at that. They could ease into it. "But you've got to stop ditching the guards when you want to go somewhere you know you're not supposed to."
"Consider it training. They should be able to keep up," was the reply, fast and cool. John had to admit that Ronon had a point: guards were worthless if the person they were guarding kept getting away.
"The part I'm objecting to is you going where you've been told not to," he replied just as fast. "You want to train, mess with them some other way."
There was a flicker of something on Ronon's face but he simply just nodded. "What else?"
The something was going to bother him because he couldn't place it, but John did his best to shrug it off as he shrugged physically too. "Those are the important things. Though if you could try to hit in ways that leave less obvious bruises that'd be a plus. We've got more than one unsettled significant other complaining to Elizabeth about you dinging up their girlfriends and boyfriends."
A lazy and amused expression came over Ronon's face. "It's not considered foreplay?"
Foreplay? That definitely deserved an eyebrow raise. "Lets just say I don't want to see any guy trying to call you out because you beat up on his girlfriend. And, yeah, I know, you only spar with volunteers or people I order to practice. Doesn't change that it's spooking some people."
"If I pull my punches any more than I already am, sparring would be worthless. They don't learn to get out of the way if there's no threat of pain." The look of amusement didn't waver as Ronon explained his reasoning. John figured that was as polite a way Ronon could come up with to say 'No fucking way.'
"I didn't say pull your punches. I said figure out a way to make it bruise less. You're good at this; I'm sure you can figure out ways to hit them that don't include bruises the size of a basketball."
"They remember the bruises." Ronon shook his head, the dreads sliding back and forth.
"I just asked you try," John pointed out and decided to leave it at that. "Personally I think you're doing pretty good at not giving people more than they can handle, during sparring at least."
"I don't push them past their level until they're ready for it." The words came with a calm confidence that left John wondering if part of what a 'Specialist' did was train others. Ronon -- despite the complaints of bruising -- was good at it.
"I know, and you're good at it. We -- Elizabeth and myself especially -- really appreciate how patient you are with people at a lower skill level than yourself."
He got a slow nod in response. "But not enough to want me to stay."
"Not if you can't exercise that same patience outside of the sparring room," he agreed, nodding slowly himself. "I know it's hard, Ronon. God knows some days I want to shoot Rodney myself, for example, but you've got to cut the people here some slack. They haven't had to be as tough as you are." When he was finished with those words he thought that Elizabeth, and Teyla for that matter, would be proud of him for being so explanatory about it.
Still meeting John's eyes, Ronon tilted his head down, his eyes narrowing some. "Some are. Teyla. You aren't. You haven't even tried to fight me yet."
He didn't look away himself as he said, "Because I know damn well I'd lose. I'm a pilot, not a Marine."
The body in front of him moved forward, taking up the space between them without even getting up. It was a measure of just how tall Ronon was that just leaning over, resting his elbows on his knees, could cover feet. "Then why should I follow you?"
It wasn't as hard as John expected to remind himself that he'd sat across a table from scarier guys than Ronon, the sort of guys that had guys like Ronon armed with heavy machinery at their beck and call, and he kept his voice and eyes even. "Because I'm smart enough not to get my ass kicked trying to prove something I know I don't have a chance in hell of proving."
There was a twist of Ronon's eyebrows, as they lifted and parted and he leaned back in his chair. "Yes, sir."
"Good." John smiled, nodding along with the word. "I'm glad we've got that worked out." He clapped his hands together, rubbing his palms against each other as he sat up straighter. "Now, is there anything you'd like while you're living here? Aside from the obvious. It's part of the rules that everyone, even Teyla if she wants to, gets to request something on a supply run to Earth and beyond that we've got pools for trade runs. So, if there's something you'd like, we'll try and get it."
That was the first time John could say that Ronon looked surprised. He was surprised at the offer. Maybe even surprised by the simple kindness implicit there. He stared at John, expression moving swiftly from surprise to the normal blank expression that usually settled on Ronon's face, and then shrugged.
"If you think of anything, just tell me and I'll make sure it's put on the list. There must be things you liked on different planets that you couldn't get or take with you, and we are looking for more trade opportunities." But that was where John left it, letting his legs drop off the chair from where they were propped.
"There's nothing I want you can get me." His voice was quiet but firm and John wondered how he would take the destruction of Atlantis. Would he handle it as well as Ronon was? But he knew it wasn't anything he'd ever have to worry about because if Atlantis were destroyed he himself would already have been dead trying to stop it, so he didn't let himself think about it too much.
"Why offer?" Ronon had moved back into his 'parade rest' sitting position, with his back straight and his hands on his knees. He noted wryly that, when he was sitting like that, Ronon could reach either one of the knives in his boots or his gun with minimal movement.
"Because maybe I'm hoping that when you get a little more comfortable here you'll start looking for some comforts and not just what you need to get by." It deserved an honest answer, he thought. "We're all trying to make a home here, you know."
"You came from somewhere else. This isn't your home."
"It is now. Sure, some of us might go back, might return to whatever families we have back on Earth, but most of us don't have anything there either. Dead parents, no siblings, lost families, jobs that we can do better here." John shrugged his shoulders loosely, his jacket rustling. The back of his hands suddenly had interest and he stared at them. "We all came here thinking it was probably gonna be a one-way trip."
"Who'd you leave behind, Sheppard?" Ronon asked, still expressionless. "You did."
"Someone who's hopefully better off without me."
"A wife?" he probed, voice going a little deeper. John just *knew* Ronon was going to be like a dog to the bone with this.
So, in the time-honored tradition of removing Band-Aids, he decided just to get it over with. "An ex, and a kid she doesn't let me see and who probably doesn't even remember me. Not much, in the grand scheme of things."
"You regret it. That's important. They live. That's important."
"I regret a lot of things, Ronon. It comes from being raised Catholic." And finally he tore his eyes away from his hands, meeting the other man's stare.
His eyebrows twitched and John ignored the fact that Ronon probably had no idea what he was talking about or what a Catholic was. "How old is your child?"
"You know, I don't really want to talk about this," he tried because this wasn't something he talked about. Not to his teammates, not to anyone.
All he got in response was that stony stare. "Fine. Any other rules?"
"Yeah. Some things are better left not talked about, like what home used to be," he said, his voice as stony as the stare he was getting as he pushed himself up from the chair. "But that's all the rules I've got."
"Fine." Ronon stood as well and headed for the door, brushing past John without a glance.
And John let him go, because the guy couldn't have known what a sore subject it was, and yelling at him for not knowing was petty. It didn't mean he had to like it. At least the sexual harassment might stop.