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John's already in a mood when he gets to his quarters. McKay's 'test' has worn off, and he's having to deal with the physical ramifications of that, as well as the utter annoyance of the scientist's stupid little prank. The irritation alleviates a little when he discovers Ronon is perched on the end of his bed, shoulders slumped. Ronon, John has noticed, never just sits. He either occupies the space entirely, or he is borderline anxious, as if ready to bolt at any moment. Ronon fascinates John.

"Sheppard," Ronon says gruffly, and John pushes McKay out of his mind. "Are you all right?"

"Been worse. But to be honest, I'm kinda missing that cold right about now." Ronon nods agreement, but they both know that's not why he's here. John's not sure who the confrontation is supposed to help. But he paints on an appropriate glare, for Ronon's sake. "Lucius."

Ronon shrugs as if this is unimportant, but John notes the other man won't meet his eyes. "Yeah," Ronon grunts.


This time Ronon lifts his head, and there's some guilt in his eyes. "It wasn't my fault."

Third time's the charm. "Lucius."

Ronon sighs, just a little, but John can taste his victory. "I'm sorry."

"You didn't..."

"No." Ronon's tone is firm.


Before he can finish getting the tiny word out, Ronon cuts in: "I wouldn't."

"I'm thinking enough time, you might have." Smirking a little, trying to take the edge off Ronon's impending anger for what was a true but ill-worded statement, he adds, "I think Elizabeth did."

Ronon's lips jerk a little, but it's clearly the best John is going to get. If nothing else about Lucius's visit, it allowed John to see the elusive Ronon grin, something that until now, had existed only in myth. John misses it a little, which it had come up under better circumstances. Try as he might, as much as Ronon has settled in, John has yet to make him smile. At least, not like that.

John's not mad. Not exactly. His mood is more of a combination, the sort of swirl and mess of colors that would make a mood ring turn muddy and then explode. He's disappointed that his team is so easily influenced. He's a little ashamed they're not the only ones; that only a small virus was giving him the power of rational thought. The notion makes him think of Ford, and thinking of Ford throws guilt into the mix. There's a little embarrassment, too, because he knows he's gonna have to send a report back to Stargate Command. There's a bristling irritation, there's a bruise of betrayal to his ego.

And all of that thrown together doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what he feels when he looks at Ronon's face and remembers the way he laughed, the way he gushed, the way he was ready to go to war for their guest.

"You pointed a gun at my head," says John, since it's already on his mind, and his tone is distinctly aloof. He's struggling to remain casual, to show Ronon he's only teasing, but try as he might, he can't hide the slight edge to his voice. The whole thing is a joke now, but at the time, it was very, very real, and very, very awful. "I didn't even deserve it this time."

"How long am I gonna hear about this?" Ronon asks. His eyes are darker than John's ever seen them, and John has seen them under all sorts of lighting, in all sorts of situations. John almost feels bad for his interrogation, but really now, Ronon had pointed a gun at his head.

"Until it stops working," is John's answer. It's not a precise answer. The real answer lies somewhere between 'until Ronon stops feeling so visibly guilty about it' and 'until John starts feeling guilty about making Ronon feel guilty'. Whenever that might be.

Ronon says nothing, only bobs his head in resignation.

"It's called milking it."

"So I'm pretty much at your mercy," Ronon figures out.

John grins at him smugly. "I think you'll find that I'm a wise and kind man."

"You know, if I shot you now, you'd deserve it."

Ronon's joking, as much as Ronon ever jokes, but John recognizes the truth in the statement, even if Ronon doesn't. John's a little antsy to steer the conversation elsewhere.

"Lucius Lavin," he tries the name out, rolling it around on his tongue, trying to pretend that he doesn't notice the way Ronon winces a little. Trying not to wonder what that tiny facial tic is supposed to mean, exactly. "It sounds like a porn name," he dismisses finally, because 'Lucius' is too like 'luscious', and 'Lavin' sounds like 'love-in', especially the way Lucius pronounced it, and John makes a mental note to inject either of those —or both— casually into conversation the next time he sees Elizabeth.

Ronon, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be quite as amused by this as much as John is. "What's a porn name?" he asks.

"The stage name that porn actors use," he says. "I think it's supposed to be the name of your first pet and the street that you live on. Or maybe it's—" He suddenly remembers who he's talking to, and Ronon is furthering this by staring at him expressionlessly, and John wishes that the personal item he brought wasn't a football DVD. Of course, he'd never have heard the end of it if he'd carted something the complete Girls Gone Wild collection along with him to the City of the Ancients, but when he thinks about how Ronon might react, McKay's endless stream of witty and not-so-witty barbs about him doesn't seem so bad.

He's trying to think of who on the Daedalus he can con into covertly bringing him some porn, when Ronon says, "I really am sorry." It's absolutely not a Ronon statement, and that's what catches John off guard.

"Yeah, I know you are, buddy. But I've already got a list of how you can pay me back. For starters, I need you to enact certain revenge on McKay for that little stunt he pulled. Don't hurt him, though."

Ronon stares, and it makes the back of John's neck tingle a little. "Is that all I'm going to do as payment?" he asks.

John grins a little. "Well, there are other things, but I'm worried that you might be thinking of Lucius when we do them. So I'm going to hold off for a little bit."

Military training has John ducking the second he realizes his pillow is careening towards his head, but to Ronon's credit, he never saw the other man grab or throw the thing. Still, it makes him laugh a tiny bit, which is the best anyone could ask for, given the week he just had. "You owe me," he says.

"Yeah," Ronon promises.