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John Sheppard rarely knew what was going on in Ronon's head. Which was probably a good thing at the moment, all things considered, since the man was armed to the teeth and wearing his angry face.

Not that John could blame him, of course. They were under Wraith attack and none of his team, John in particular, had ever taken kindly to either being attacked, or Wraith in general.

Days like this, he half wished he was back home, holed up in a tiny, empty apartment with enough beer to open his own brewery.

"Yeah, it's gonna be awhile," he said flatly into his 'com. A Wraith Dart screeched overhead, and Ronon fired off a few shots. Impatiently, John tapped the heel of his boot against the empty crate of C-4 he was perched on.

"This is a bad idea," McKay said.

"Well, if you've got alternate suggestions, I'm open to hearing them," said Sheppard. He was met with rare silence. "All right, then. Get back on the 'jumper."

McKay faltered. "I really think I should—"

"It's not a request, McKay."

McKay stared for a few moments more, then finally climbed aboard the tiny vessel.

"He's gonna get us killed," grunted Ronon, finally ducking back for cover.

"Actually, I was thinking more like you and I would get us killed." The two seasoned soldiers shared a wry, humorless grin. "What a way to die," John muttered, more for his benefit than Ronon's. Even as a little kid, he hadn't held any notions of living forever, but somehow, when he'd pictured his death, it was a flight gone wrong, or a bad motorcycle crash. Something reckless, to be sure, but reckless on a small scale. Not this.

He stared where the 'jumper was supposed to be. McKay was more of a hero than anyone let on, and John knew the man wasn't quite ready to leave yet. "Dial, McKay," he said. "Tell Lorne he's in charge now. He's never gonna have as good a team as I do," another glance at Ronon, who wasn't watching, but was tense in such a way that John knew he was listening, "but he'll manage."

The 'gate activated. "And Rodney?" John said quietly. "Thanks for everything." Seconds later, the puddlejumper's cloak shut off, and it sped through the open wormhole. As the Stargate closed, John turned off his 'com device and felt something settle deep within him. He was really gonna die on this rock.

"Glad it's with you, buddy," John said sincerely.

Ronon fired at an approaching Wraith, knocking it down, however temporarily. Solitary Wraith were fewer and far between now. "Back at you."

John watched, still wrestling with his own mortality, wishing he was better at expressing himself. He had seen so much shit, but that didn't mean he wanted to go just yet. Not when there was still stuff to do. Not when there was a list of things he'd never said. Not when there were still Wraith out there, cruising the Pegasus, getting pissy at Earthlings.

"This is bad," he sighed.

Ronon seemed unperturbed. "We've had worse." He fired one last shot into the dead Wraith's head, then kicked the body towards the pile. The corpses were too heavy to move a reasonable distance away, but they were far enough that the blood wouldn't seep into the fresh grave.

"Not really looking for a clip show," John said. He fingered the butt of his own spent P-90, wasted hours ago. After a thoughtful pause, he added, "Still, I'm sorry for all of this."

To his surprise —the situation hardly warranted it— Ronon cracked a grin. "No one I'd rather go down with."

John's eyebrows lifted slightly. "Thanks, buddy." Unable to believe he was about to say it, but needing to, he blurted the peace offering out before he could question his right to say it. "You can go back, if you want. Atlantis still needs you. I'll be fine."

"Do you see a dialing device anywhere?"

Duh. "Right." John hunched his shoulders a little. Ronon sat down next to him, drumming his fingertips on his thighs. John almost moved elsewhere, Ronon was so visibly wound up.

"Wouldn't do it, anyway," Ronon said. "Not really looking to serve under anyone else."

"Hey now. You know, Lorne's a good guy. Capable. He could use a little more experience, sure, but—"

"Wasn't what I meant." Ronon stared.

John suddenly felt exposed, even Ronon was the one who had spoken. "Oh," he said. He flexed his gun hand in and out of a fist. The P-90 lay useless in his lap. He counted the seconds of the silence, then realized Ronon wasn't about to break it. "You should really work on your timing," he said finally.


John wanted to take some time, wanted to ruminate on this for as long as it really deserved, but that didn't seem to be an option anymore. "Well, I guess this is it." He pulled out the detonator and flicked the safety.

"Sheppard, wait," Ronon said gruffly.

John opened his mouth, the question literally on the tip of his tongue, but Ronon was already there. The kiss was pretty much exactly what John had always pictured it to be. A little scratchy, but intense. Ronon was softer than he'd been expecting, both his skin and his general approach to the situation. John lifted his hand, because a part of him had always wondered what those damn braids felt like. At the last second, he remembered Ronon's tendency to hide things in there, sharp things, and he instead dropped his fingers to put Ronon's shoulder in a death grip. Ronon was grabbing at his thigh, and it proved just how far gone John was that he seriously considered it before remembering the mission.

Ronon licked his lips as he pulled back. His hand was still just above John's knee. John scratched the back of his scalp, and with the tiny amount of pleasure he derived from the routine action came the macabre notion that he would never get to do that —any of that— again.

"Did I mention that part about the timing sucking?" he asked.

Ronon shrugged. John succumbed to one final bout of ADD twitches, kicked the crate, tapped his hand against his leg, and finally tightened his grip on the detonator. "See you on the other side, buddy," he said.

"Yeah," said Ronon, and leaned in again. He was incredibly warm. John couldn't help thinking that there were much worse ways to die.

He pushed the button.