Warnings: Mild swearing

Recipient: chiarahhue. This was written for a Radek ficathon. Prompt: "Radek has to go off-world; another team member (your choice) helps him to overcome his fear of heights or other phobia. Friendship or romance results.

Notes: Takes place early in season 2, soon after Ronon joined the team.

x-x

Radek stood with his back to the wall of the cave, his toes hanging over the lip of the narrow ledge. Taking a slow, careful breath, he edged toward the tunnel, its opening mere metres away now, all the while staring straight ahead. He would not look down. He could not look down. He already knew what he'd see…

Eyes inexorably drawn to the depths plunging below him, he looked away with a gasp. With no one around to hear, he muttered a soft swear in Czech.

He hated heights.

"Radek?" A booming voice came from the mouth of the tunnel. Ronon.

"Yes, yes. I'm coming," he grumbled, back firmly against the wall, fingers grasping at the slick surface. All it would take was one slip, one misstep, and he'd…

His eyes went to the hole below him, and he winced. He wrenched them away. It wasn't the heights themselves that he hated – it was the falling off them that got him. But Ronon, manly man that he was, for him this sort of thing was no problem. He'd made his way across in moments. Of course. The man was fearless.

Damn him.

"Radek?" the voice rang out again, echoing off the cave walls.

Radek decided to focus on his other senses – the ones, unlike his eyes, which weren't screaming fear at him. So he let his eyes unfocus slightly while he concentrated on the environment around him. The cave smelt damp and earthy, like the clay he used at university. The air was cool and damp on his cheeks, making his sweat clammy. And he was sweating because… His breath hitched, fingers shaking slightly as they scrambled to find purchase on the rock wall behind him. God, he did hate this.

"Radek!" Ronon boomed.

"What?" Radek spat in return, eyes flashing to meet Ronon's. The man was standing in the mouth of the tunnel, a puzzled expression clear on his face.

"The others are waiting."

"Tell them I am coming," Radek replied, frustration clear in his voice.

"You are not moving," Ronon explained patiently.

"Oh," Radek said in response, deflated. "Yes." He shuffled his left foot sideways, following it with his right.

As Radek made another tentative step, Ronon said, "Falling from this height shouldn't kill you."

From between clenched teeth, Radek replied, "That is hardly the point." In his head, he knew Ronon was right. A fall of four metres would be unlikely to kill him. And the hole itself was lined with moss, which likely would cushion his fall, should it happen. But again, it wasn't exactly the height itself that paralyzed him, but the falling. The sensation, stomach in his throat, the rush in his head... He winced again.

"Keep moving," Ronon said, interrupting his reverie.

"Right, right," Radek murmured, taking another step, then another. His heart beat madly in his chest and he tried to think of something – anything – other than the fact that he was balanced precariously on a ledge with his feet hanging out over…

"What do you think of Teyla's outfit?"

"What?" Radek asked, the peculiarity of the comment breaking into his thoughts. He looked up at Ronon.

Ronon leaned back against the far edge of the tunnel's entry, seemingly casual. He was actually slouching a bit. "Her skirt is very short." He raised an eyebrow. "Provocative." He waved Radek toward him.

Radek took another slow, careful step. "I don't think of Teyla's outfit. She's a member of my team, and…"

"Okay." Ronon cocked his head. "What about John's?"

"Pardon?" Radek said, unable to cover his surprise. His eyebrows were nearly in his hairline.

"John's shirt is…"

"I do not want to hear this," Radek muttered, frowning. He took another step.

Ronon straightened and held out one large hand. Radek reached for him and Ronon grasped his arm firmly, pulling him into the entryway and away from the ledge. "You okay?" he asked, looking down at him with concern.

"Am I…?" Radek was surprised at the worry in Ronon's expression. He hadn't even realised that Ronon felt more than anger, hunger and maybe, if it was an especially good day, boredom. After a moment, something clicked into place. "Oh," Radek said, realising suddenly what had happened. "That, with Teyla, and with John. You were…"

"…Trying to distract you."

"So you weren't actually…?"

Ronon shook his head. "No. I'm not interested in John's shirts."

Now that was definitely a joke. So, not only did the man have feelings, he also had a carefully hidden sense of humour. Interesting. Radek tried to smile, but he knew it likely looked forced. "And Teyla's skirts?"

Ronon's expression changed. It was almost predatory, the look on his face. "Those I like." Turning, he led the way into the tunnel.

At that, Radek did laugh. He followed, and with each step he took away from the cave, he felt his shoulders relax a notch. "Thank you," he finally said, once he felt human again.

"No problem. Everyone has fears."

Radek, again surprised, looked over top of his glasses at the tall man walking beside him. "Even you?"

"Yup."

"How did you overcome it?"

"Didn't," Ronon said. He stopped walking so quickly that Radek almost bumped him. "Still makes me want to shit my pants." There was an edge to his smile now. "But I face it anyway. I have to."

He started walking again, tossing back over his shoulder, "Like you just did."

Radek stared after Ronon in amazement, then hurried to catch up. He had to hustle to keep up with Ronon's long strides. The pace didn't give him much of an opportunity to think, but even so, he had to admit it: Ronon not only understood his fear, but he'd known how best to help him get past it.

He'd never before thought of Ronon as a friend. Or, in fact, as particularly intelligent. Turns out he was wrong on both counts.

x-x

I hope you liked this short piece. Please review and let me know what you thought!