NOTES: For the SGA Teamficathon. The request was for a group hug. This also fulfilled a request on my LiveJournal for a fic about Ronon, where team is family.
Where The Running Stops
You can't run forever, Ronon.
Ronon hardly notices the ache in his back or his heart as he tosses back the fourth shot of vodka. White fire slides down his throat as his dreadlocks cascade over his bare shoulders and he savours the fiery taste of the alcohol.
It matches the ache in his back where Beckett took out the Wraith tracking device.
"You should have got a second vodka off Zelenka," Sheppard tells McKay.
"Hey, we're running out of the Athosian hooch faster than the vodka," McKay protests, "but you're not telling Teyla she should have gotten another jug of it."
Ronon sets the shot glass down on the gym floor and pours himself another. Sheppard watches with something like envy. "How much does it take to get you drunk, anyway?"
He opens his mouth to answer but Teyla interrupts.
"Less than you might think," she says with a twinkle.
"Oh?" Sheppard's brows rise and his eyes narrow as he studies Ronon. "Going to tell us?"
He's not. Ronon hedges instead. "Did a lot of drinking that night."
The hazel eyes narrow even further and he looks from Ronon to Teyla. "You did?"
Ronon doesn't bristle at the challenge implied in the other man's voice. He's used to the ways of the Lanteans now - to the way they don't only keep silent on their feelings but refuse to show them either. As though the silence of mouth and the absence of display will negate what they think shouldn't be there.
On Sateda, life wasn't long enough to be wasted on pretending you didn't care about the people around you.
Teyla is smiling. "He did a lot of drinking that night with his friend from Sateda."
"And you tucked them in, eh?" McKay asks, belly down on the floor in deference to his injured ass, his feet waving lazily in the air. The usual incisiveness of his speech is looser now, more relaxed after nearly an hour of sitting around, drinking, and exchanging stories. "Goodnight kiss and all?" He waggles his eyebrows.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Ronon leers back at McKay, but doesn't wince when Teyla prods him with her bare toe.
"He was not fit to kiss then," she replies, tossing her hair over her shoulder to get it out of her face.
Teyla regards him with a twinkling smile. "Still not."
Ronon mock-pouts. She's a beautiful woman, but so are a lot of the Lanteans. And Teyla's someone comfortable and familiar - as well as understanding when the Lanteans are being strange - but he's not really attracted to her. If he was, well, things would be different.
"High standards," Sheppard remarks, lifting his mug of Athosian liquor to his lips, never taking his eyes off Teyla as he drains it to the dregs.
"Well, she can," says McKay. "What?" He demands when three pairs of eyes regard him with varying degrees of exasperation and disbelief. "Oh, like we're not all aware that Teyla could crook her finger at any guy in the city and he'd run over with his tongue hanging out."
Ronon coughs, hiding a grin at Teyla's wide-eyed stare. Across from him, Sheppard is suddenly very intent on pouring another drink.
"You keep complaining nobody tells you what's going on," Sheppard tells McKay, the earthenware jug wobbling just a little as he pours with a not-quite-steady hand. "Ever wondered why?"
"I can be discreet! I just don't see the point when it's plainly obvious to the entire city. There's even a betting pool," McKay announces, ignorant of Sheppard's sudden frantic and unsubtle attempts to get his attention.
Teyla's eyes are cool as the fathoms deep ocean beneath Atlantis. "A betting pool?"
Ronon quietly snorts to himself as McKay realises what he's just said. "It's just a bit of monetary speculation...harmless fun, really..."
"Harmless fun." In such a voice would Teyla suggest that becoming allies with the Wraith is 'harmless fun'. Except that they've already done that - with questionable results.
"Uh..." McKay flounders as Teyla continues to stare at him. "You know, there are a lot of betting pools in the city. They're not all about your love life."
"Keep digging, Rodney," advises Sheppard, "you'll reach China before you're through with that drink."
The smaller man glares. "You know, I am a genius," McKay tells the gym at large. "I shouldn't have to put up with this." It's a typically McKay action when confronted with the error of his ways: he changes the topic or retreats.
Ronon grins. "But you do."
"Don't know why," mutters the self-proclaimed genius.
"Because you love us," Teyla says, smiling. It's a very effective smile as smiles go. "Please pass the vodka, Rodney."
McKay reaches out for the vodka bottle in the middle of the rough square in which they're sitting, and misjudges the distance. His fumble tips the bottle, and the cap rolls away as a liquid cascade swirls across the floor. "Oh no!"
Ronon grins and grabs for the shot glass islands in a sea of vodka. McKay's not usually clumsy, but he's not usually drunk either. Sheppard rolls his eyes as he hauls the earthenware jug of Athosian liquor away and calls out, "Taxi!"
"Use your jacket to mop it up, Rodney, " Teyla's advice is laughing yet practical as she removes several mugs threatened by the drink's flow.
"But then my jacket will be drunk!" McKay protests. Still, he fumbles with his collar, lifting the upper part of his body off the floor, trying to get the jacket off.
"Jackets don't get drunk." Scorn tinges Sheppard's words as he moves his legs away from the fluid creeping across the floor towards his bare toes. "But if you don't mop that up soon, then my feet will be wet."
McKay snorts. "Get Teyla to lick them off. Or Ronon. He's the one with the foot fetish."
Sheppard turns wide eyes on him. "Foot fetish?" Ronon's about to say that he has no idea what McKay's on about when a grunt from McKay - actually, more like a moan - gets their attention.
The jacket's mostly off McKay's shoulders, but he's having trouble getting it down over his elbows, and he can't seem to move it back up his arms. "I think I'm stuck."
Ronon snorts. Sheppard laughs. Teyla has a choking fit, hastily putting down the mug and running the back of her hand beneath her nose as her shoulders shake.
"You okay there, Teyla?"
"Is she okay?" McKay demands, incensed. "I'm the one who's stuck!" He flails around a little, trying to get himself free, but only binds himself up even further. When he comes to a halt, the blue eyes rest on Ronon, pleading. "I'm really stuck. Help?"
Sheppard's still grinning and doesn't look like he's going to move a finger. Teyla's shoulders are still shaking where she's leaning against the ground, although she doesn't make a sound. Ronon crawls over to McKay, grabs the jacket by the collar and tugs it off him with an ungentle yank.
"I didn't hurt you that much."
McKay glares. "Why don't you let me be the judge of whether I'm hurt or not? You know, it would probably hurt less if you dragged me about by the hair."
"You have hair?"
"I have hair! Not much of it, admittedly, but some!"
"Not enough to drag you around with," Ronon says, eyeing McKay's head. At least the scientist isn't trying to hide the fact that his hairline is receding.
"Oh, sure. Mock my hirsute lack." McKay says, flopping back down on his stomach. His hand lands in the original spill with a damp slosh, and an expression of horror grows on his features as he regards the liquid dripping from his fingers. "Oh, God, not again."
Teyla looks up at McKay's exclamation, and promptly dissolves into silent laughter again. Sheppard rolls his eyes with tolerant amusement. "This is why we never take you out, Rodney."
"Not making me feel better."
"What made you think it was supposed to?"
Ronon hands McKay his jacket. Without a word of thanks, McKay begins mopping up, grumbling all the while.
"So, Ronon," Sheppard says casually, "what's this about a foot fetish?"
"And how does Rodney know about it?" Teyla adds, reaching out to grab for the earthenware jar in which the Athosian spirits are kept as McKay rolls up the jacket and tries to toss it across the room. It lands in a sodden heap barely two feet away, and the scientist glares at it.
"I heard you guys have a special bond," Sheppard continues without missing a beat. "Or so Beckett tells me." He glances at Ronon with wicked amusement gleaming in greenish depths before returning his gaze to McKay. Ronon frowns, not sure what Sheppard's getting at.
McKay obviously gets it. The lip curls and the eyes narrow. "Oh, that was a joke!"
Teyla glances up as she retrieves their mugs and pours out a measure of spirits into each. Dark eyes glimmer with arch mischief. "Then Ronon is not like a brother to you?"
There's a whole level of conversation taking place that Ronon's not getting. Special bond? Like a brother?
"I didn't mean--" McKay changes direction in the lightning-fast way that the Earthers do when they're embarrassed. "Look, I just meant that...you know...Ronon's special."
"To us," McKay says, waving a hand meant to indicate all of them but which looks like he's trying to get rid of a fly. "I mean, ungrateful and unevolved humanity or not, he's still our team. That was the special bond I was talking about."
Teyla pauses in her pouring and she and Sheppard look at McKay with very similar expressions on their faces.
"What?" McKay demands.
Sheppard smirks at McKay, then at Ronon, a moment later Teyla follows suit. McKay looks a little embarrassed, but he, too, looks at Ronon. It's not exactly expectant, like they want him to do something, say something, it's just...a look. Inclusive. Possessive. Affectionate.
Ronon looks back at them, and, for a moment, feels the same giddy rush of belonging that he felt when they got the 'jumper into space and McKay and Beckett came to check on him.
Kel sacrificed Sateda to save his own skin. These guys came to Sateda to save Ronon's skin.
Ronon's team. His family.
Sheppard, who takes command like he was born to it and will die for the people who are his - a commander worth serving under as Kel was not. McKay, who knows his area and is arrogantly comfortable in it - worth protecting for that certainty, however aggravating. And Teyla, who can stand back and take orders or step in and take charge, and accepts her team-mates where they are and as far as they can go.
They know themselves and Ronon, are in tune with that, sure of themselves and their place, sure of Ronon's place among them. He would have run the rest of his life just to know they were far away and not hunted along with him as well as to repay Ketura what was done to his village and his daughter.
They went back to the village to get him. Flew halfway across the galaxy on just the hope he was alive. Sheppard and Teyla backed him up when he went for the Wraith warlord. McKay came along even though he'd taken an arrow in the butt. And the others: Beckett, Dr. Weir, even Colonel Caldwell who flew them to Sateda. But especially his team.
Ronon loves them for it.
It chokes him up, like the first time he realised he belonged to something bigger - the Satedan armed forces, fighting against the Wraith. It's almost embarrassing. And he's almost drunk.
He's not going to think about this too much - he never was one for thinking and musing and fretting the way the Lanteans are.
Ronon reaches out and grabs Teyla's shoulder, pulling her in. He grabs for Sheppard too, tugging, rather than exerting the kind of pressure that might make his friend pull away. McKay isn't quite easy to haul to his knees, but Ronon's got muscle - and determination.
Okay, and he's a bit drunk.
He hopes they know that as he envelops them in a four-way hug. Teyla's burbling laugh rises above McKay's protest, but is soon cut off against Sheppard's shoulder. And then there's the personal scents of his team-mates, and the feeling of arms around shoulders and ribcages, and the warmth of skin against skin.
They came for him when Ronon thought he was alone.
"I am far too tipsy for a group hug," Sheppard declares after a moment when no-one's sure whether to laugh or cry. But the hand that thumps Ronon's shoulder says what the other man isn't comfortable with saying. Ronon knows.
The silence goes a moment longer. "And I think we tipped something over," Sheppard adds.
"We did," McKay mumbles. "Now my pants are drunk, too."
Sheppard makes an indeterminate noise that conveys a world of exasperation. Teyla begins to giggle, her shakes transmitting through their touching bodies. And Ronon can hear Malena in his head again.
You can't run forever, Ronon.
Ronon doesn't have to.