By his third week on Atlantis, Ronon had come to some conclusions. The Atlantians talked too much, but knew good food, their guns weren't as cool as his, and John Sheppard was obviously in love with Rodney McKay.
Ronon, for his part, couldn't quite see the attraction. McKay was loud, out of shape, talked more than the rest of them all together, and more often than not left his shifts in the lab with half of his scientists in tears. Ronon had tried to find another explanation for what he was seeing, but it was fairly clear; Sheppard was courting the man.
"Have they always been like this?" Ronon asked Teyla.
Teyla smiled at him, in that way that meant she knew exactly what he was talking about, but wasn't about to make it easy on him. "They?"
"Sheppard and McKay," Ronon said, nodding across the room.
McKay was whispering orders into Sheppard's ear, because the lunch staff all had it out for him, and if he wanted something he had to use Sheppard to get it. Sheppard was rolling his eyes at whatever McKay had just demanded, but he hadn't stopped smiling since the other man arrived.
"In what way do you mean?" Teyla asked.
"I just don't get it," Ronon said.
Teyla laughed. "They are very close," she said. "I've known them both almost as long as they have known each other, and they took to each other instantly. Something that, for Rodney if not them both, I believe to be rare."
"I don't get it," Ronon said again.
"I'm afraid I'm at a loss as to what you're trying to understand," Teyla said.
"Sheppard obviously has feelings for him," Ronon said. "Why else would he put up with him all the time for?"
"Rodney is a brilliant and brave man," Teyla said simply.
"He does nothing but complain," Ronon snapped.
Teyla's grin turned enigmatic as she glanced at Rodney briefly. "He does complain, but perhaps it is just his way of hiding his true fears."
"I still don't get it," Ronon said.
Teyla looked over at him. "It is not for you to get," she said.
Ronon slouched in his chair, watching them. They sat down opposite himself and Teyla, saying hello before turning back to each other. McKay rambled on about something Ronon couldn't believe Sheppard understood, but he seemed to, and just when Ronon began to hope that McKay was slowing down Sheppard would ask a question that would start him up again.
Beckett seemed to find them both endlessly amusing, but then Beckett was one of the few others besides Sheppard that seemed able to tolerate McKay for long stretches of time. "My parents used to bicker like that," the doctor confided in him once, during one of their dull post mission check ups.
Beckett was stitching him up as he said it, twenty in a straight little row up his side. It was bad etiquette to bring a knife to a fist fight, but Ronon had brought enough of his own, and it had ended quickly enough after the other man had broken the rule first.
"You have my sympathy," he said.
Beckett laughed. "No need for it, lad," he said. "They were married near fifty years before he died, never looked at another the either of them."
Ronon's parents had been quiet people, his father spoke in nods and grunts, his mother never spoke at all. "Do you mean they're getting married?" Ronon asked suspiciously. He glanced over at them. They were both mud splattered and wet, and Sheppard was sitting on the same gurney beside McKay, examining the scientist's sprained wrist and distracting him by insulting his proficiency with a gun.
McKay had been the one to get them into trouble, but Sheppard didn't seem to hold it against him. He'd thanked Ronon in a quiet, strange way after he had intervened, slit the throat of the man McKay had insulted before he had a chance to do it to him. Ronon had saved Sheppard's life before and received nothing but a wink and a pat on the back and an "I owe you one."
Beckett laughed loudly enough to draw the attention of Sheppard and McKay, but they turned away again after a quick curious glance. "Hardly," Beckett said.
Ronon frowned, because Beckett had just compared them to his own parents, and now he was acting like the two of them together was the strangest thing he'd ever heard.
Sometimes he thought he'd never understand the Atlantians. Or the Athosian's, either, for that matter. Teyla had more mystery in one smile than he'd seen on all of Sateda.
Ronon discovered 'gossip' in his second month. He learned, through this strange form of communication, that not only was Sheppard sleeping with McKay, but also with Dr. Weir, Teyla, and himself. He doesn't remember it, but Dr. Vogler swears it's true.
"You can't listen to gossip," Dr. Zelenka tells him brusquely.
Zelenka had been wary of him at first, but after awhile had begun to occasionally eat his lunch across from him. He said people didn't bother him when sitting with him, and he had work to do.
Ronon mostly found the strange little man amusing, and while he talked almost as much as McKay he wasn't near as loud. "Why do they lie?" Ronon asked, leaning forward. "What is the point?"
"To amuse themselves," Zelenka said. "We do not have TV here, so it is even worse."
"TV?" Ronon asked.
"Oh, you had better ask Colonel Sheppard," Zelenka said quickly. "I cannot get into that now."
"They said I was sleeping with Sheppard," Ronon said. "I'm not."
"Yes," Zelenka said, patiently. "We've been over this. They make it all up."
"I would remember if I'd slept with him," Ronon insisted, "but Dr. Vogler seemed very certain."
Zelenka placed his head in his hands and muttered something in a language he did not recognize. "If I told you I once met a talking polar bear, would you believe me?"
"I'm not sure. What did he say?" Ronon asked.
"That is not...oh, never mind," Zelenka said. "Colonel Sheppard sleeps with everyone, Atlantis is one big orgy, believe what you like."
Ronon was fairly certain that Zelenka was being sarcastic. He wished these people would just say what they mean.
Sheppard had a rather busy schedule, even in the time between missions. Ronon usually had nothing to do while he waited for another world to explore aside from work out, and observe. Sheppard was one of the most fascinating people he'd met on any world, so he ended up watching him rather a lot.
Most of the time, while he watched Sheppard, Sheppard was watching McKay. Or he was getting him food, or coffee, or telling him he should get some sleep.
He and Sheppard went running in the mornings more often than not, and sometimes Sheppard wouldn't say anything the whole way through, and sometimes, as though he were possessed by McKay, he wouldn't stop. A lot of his sentences started like this: "Rodney that" or "Rodney this" or "if Rodney were here."
If Ronon had been from Earth, he might have said "get a room already" or "whatever," but as it was he just kept running until he couldn't feel his legs beneath him anymore, and Sheppard was far enough behind that he could stop to breathe.
McKay wanted to take his gun apart.
"Just to see how it works," he said, and his eyes were bright and a little manic, like he was inches from touching a sun.
Ronon glanced at him. "No," he said.
"I may be able to reverse engineer it," McKay said. "We could make more."
"I only need one," Ronon said. It hadn't failed him yet.
"Yes yes, I meant for the rest of us." he said irritably.
"You do not use the one you have," Ronon pointed out.
McKay glared at him. "You sound like Sheppard."
Ronon probably shouldn't have been as pleased by that as he was. "Unless you want a demonstration of just what my gun can do, I suggest you leave."
"Fine, fine," McKay said. "But when that rustic thing finally dies on you, good luck convincing me to build you a new one."
Ronon wasn't worried; he was fairly certain his gun would outlive him.
If Ronon wanted to find John Sheppard, he was usually in one of three places; sparring with Teyla, shooting at paper targets, or in the lounge room with McKay. The third place was home of what Ronon had finally been told was that TV everyone missed so much.
The first time he had been invited, he had asked, "do you know those people?" and everyone in the room had laughed. Even Teyla smiled, confiding that she had once asked the same thing.
He didn't understand why they laughed, it was a reasonable question. It made more sense than watching strangers in scenarios that he would learn weren't even real. The movie on this time was something called Back to the Future, and McKay and Sheppard were fighting over it like it was a matter of life and death.
"It could happen is all I'm saying," Sheppard told him. "There's been cases of time travel before."
"Yes, yes, due to the temporal variances in a wormhole and the effect of solar flares, not because someone put some plutonium in a DeLorean," McKay snapped back.
"If you're going to travel, you might as well do it in style," Sheppard said. "And anyway, how is it any crazier than some of the stuff we've done?"
Ronon didn't know what plutonium or DeLoreans were, but he had to admit, Sheppard had McKay there.
Dr. Weir thought he should see Dr. Heightmeyer. He had expected more needles and tests, but the woman just sat in a chair and watched him placidly, like he was one of Sheppard's characters on a screen.
"Ronon," she said. "How are you fitting in?"
Ronon looked around the office, at the strange squares of paper in wooden frames and through the drawn translucent curtains to the ocean. "I thought I was here for a check-up?"
"Oh, nothing like that," Dr. Heightmeyer assured. "You've been through a lot, Dr. Weir thought it might help to talk to someone."
Ronon almost smiled. It was comforting, somehow, that these people understood him even less than he understood them. "It won't," he said.
And that was his first and last session of therapy to date.
Ronon had been on Atlantis for nearly half a year when he learned that same-sex relationships were sometimes taboo. Two of the scientists (the names of whom he hadn't bothered to learn) had been discussing McKay and Sheppard. One had said it would never happen, that Sheppard would never risk his career.
Even though she was least likely to know, Ronon only felt comfortable asking Teyla what this meant. She frowned at him. "He would be forced to resign," she said.
"Why?" he asked.
"It is against the way of his culture, to be military and love someone of the same gender. I have met other cultures with weirder quirks." Teyla looked sad. "Still, it seems unreasonable."
"It's stupid," Ronon agreed, even as things clicked into place. It was why everyone seemed to accept that McKay and Sheppard acted like they were married, but no one seemed to think they would ever really touch.
Teyla sighed. "Ronon, we must not judge."
"It is, though," he insisted. "When you're on the run, you take sex where you can get it."
Teyla smiled sadly. "I don't believe sex is the problem. It can easily enough be obtained in secrecy. Relationships and deeper matters are far more problematic."
Rodney McKay was dating someone named Katie Brown. Ronon thought this over, and wondered over the fact that Sheppard didn't seem to mind. He teased him instead, gave him tips on what to wear that McKay snapped back at by saying he'd gotten more help than he ever wanted on that front from Cadman already.
Still, Sheppard was as better at hiding his true intent than any person Ronon had ever known, and his smile could mean a million different things. He admired Sheppard greatly and barely saw McKay as worthy of him, even if he had maybe saved them a few times, but if he was what Sheppard wanted then he should have him.
He took McKay by surprise. They didn't talk much, and the man probably hadn't even known he knew which room was his. "Ronon," he said. "What are you doing here?"
Ronon stalked into the room. "I want to know why you're cheating on Sheppard," he said.
"Cheating on..." Rodney said faintly. "Cheating on...cheating on Sheppard? Wha?"
Ronon crossed his arms. He usually made it rule not to interfere in the personal liaisons of others, but he could not sit back while this went on. "Yes," he said. "Or rather, you don't need to tell me why so much as you need to stop."
"I'm not cheating on him!" Rodney shouted, apparently regaining his voice. "Have you been listening to gossip again? Zelenka told me about that."
"On Sateda, when one finds their soul mate, they stop looking," Ronon said.
"Soul mate?" Rodney repeated. "Have you lost what little there ever was of your mind? Is this some kind of joke? Did Carson put you up to this?"
Ronon glared at him. "I don't care for the rules, you make Sheppard happy, and you don't get to hurt him."
"Colonel Sheppard, if you didn't realize, is the Pegasus Galaxy's answer to Captain Kirk," Rodney snapped. "He does it with Ancients."
"You deny that you and Sheppard have been courting?" Ronon asked dangerously.
"Of course I deny it!" Rodney yelled. "You're completely insane!"
"This was a warning," Ronon said. "I have vowed my service to Sheppard, and I will have revenge on all those that hurt him."
Rodney looked startled. "I wouldn't...and even if...you don't scare me!"
Ronon flashed a feral grin. "If you truly do not wish to be with him, then cut your ties, but do not continue to lead him on."
"Don't you have friends where you come from?" Rodney snapped. "What about our relationship is so hard to understand?"
"All of it," Ronon said, and then he left him alone.
McKay and Brown showed up to eat while Ronon was sitting in the back; distracted, as usual, McKay hardly seemed to notice him. "Seriously, isn't it ludicrous?" he was saying as he sat down. "I told Sheppard we shouldn't let him stay here, the man is a menace."
Far more observant than her date, Brown's eyes quickly strayed to him and back. "Rodney, he's sitting right over there."
McKay glanced over at him, his eyes widened a bit, but he quickly went back to his tirade. "I think he's stalking me," he said. "He's threatening me, too. He's crazy. Me and Sheppard? Ha!"
"You said that," Brown said.
"Well, it bears repeating. It's utterly ridiculous." McKay grabbed his cup of coffee and nearly downed the whole thing. "I mean seriously," he said. "Seriously."
"Rodney," Brown said quietly.
"Can you believe it?" McKay asked. "Me in love with Sheppard?"
"Oh, Rodney," Brown said, as she pushed back from the table and stood. "Of course you are."
Rodney's mouth dropped open. "I am not."
"It explains so much," Brown said, with a sigh. "It was fun while it lasted, I guess."
Brown turned on her heel and started from the room. McKay jumped to his feet. "But I'm not even gay!" he shouted. "I love breasts! The bigger the better!"
The entire room went silent, and as one, turned to look at McKay. Ronon didn't bother to look at him, but he was still the one McKay spun on. "Oh, don't even say it," he snapped.
Ronon just shrugged and turned back to his food.
Ronon was constantly amused by the way news traveled in Atlantis. Rodney was still sulking at his table when Sheppard wandered up and crossed his arms.
"I heard you came out in a room full of people," Sheppard said. "Can't say that's how I would have gone about it, but hey, more power to you."
"Oh, shut up," McKay snapped, glaring and pointing at Ronon. "This is all his fault."
Sheppard glanced at him and then back to McKay. "Ronon made you gay?"
"I'm not gay!" McKay shouted again.
"Okay," Sheppard said.
"Really! Ronon is trying to out me for no good reason!" McKay hissed, before turning and glaring daggers at Ronon.
Sheppard turned to him, one eyebrow raised with amusement. "Are you trying to out Rodney for no good reason?" he asked.
Ronon blinked. "I didn't know he was in," he said.
Rodney sputtered at him indignantly, while Sheppard burst out laughing.
Ronon didn't quite know what to make of Cadman. She was pretty, delicate, even, but she spoke like the most notorious womanizers from his old unit. Only she was like that about men.
"I mean, I can totally see it," she said. "Rodney may act and dress like your typical male jerk, but I saw his music collection, the man has taste."
Ronon made a noncommittal sound that Cadman choose to take as encouragement. "Between you and me, I think he might have a little bit of a crush on Colonel Sheppard, and I think he enjoyed that kiss with my Carson more than he lets on."
He wasn't sure why she was sitting with him telling him these things, but he wondered if maybe this was how that gossip thing started.
They were both out of breath for once; they'd traced their usual route with more speed than usual. Ronon didn't know what was driving Sheppard on, but he almost hadn't caught him. Sheppard glanced at him, pushing some stray strands of hair out of his eyes. "Did you accuse Rodney of cheating on me?" he asked. His voice was strained for lack of breath, and he was leaning forward with his hands resting on his knees.
Ronon could walk away and not have to answer, Sheppard wouldn't bother following, but Ronon never walked away from confrontation. "If he is what you want," he said, "then I'll do what I can to help you get him."
He was surprised and maybe a little relieved when Sheppard only laughed. "Huh," he said, standing up straight again with a grin. "Okay, that would be great. Why don't you knock him over the head, tie him up, and drop him off at my place." He held up a hand a moment later to forestall a response. "Never mind, I'm joking, I forgot you might do that."
Ronon frowned. "I don't understand your people."
"We don't even understand each other," Sheppard said lightly. "I wouldn't lose sleep over it."
"I wish to help," he said. "You have saved me from a life of running, it's the least I could do."
Sheppard waved him off. "Look, it's appreciated, but you'd make a scary Cupid, so just forget about it, okay?"
Ronon glanced away and then back again. "Can I just ask you one thing?"
Sheppard watched him for a moment, maybe weighing his worth. "Shoot," he said.
Sheppard flashed him another grin, lop-sided, the careless one, at least that was its intent. "I never said it was him," he said.
"You didn't have to," Ronon told him.
Sheppard just shook off the grin and took off running. "Let's do one more lap," he said.
A week later Ronon hears Parrish tell Cadman that Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay aren't speaking. From what he can gather no one knows the cause, but there's speculation enough. Ronon was just wondering if maybe he had to have another talk with McKay when he saw them, sitting at different tables.
Sheppard would look at McKay and then away again, McKay was doing the same. Only Ronon noticed that McKay was blushing slightly, and Sheppard kept snapping his wristband rhythmically, pulling it back as far as it would go and then letting it snap back.
Ronon dropped his tray at Sheppard's table with a grin. This wasn't the fallout from a fight; this was the fallout of a kiss.
The only acknowledgement he ever got was a rushed, embarrassed, "yeah, okay, maybe you were right," from McKay and a kind of nod from Sheppard, with a quick smile, as he whispered, "scariest Cupid ever."
The gossip stayed mostly the same, and McKay and Sheppard fell back into old ways in front of the eyes of others. Only the discerning and those closest, Teyla, Carson, possibly Weir, noticed anything had changed at all.
Ronon didn't know how they missed it. McKay smiled more, complimented Sheppard more than he ever had any of his scientists (which, admittedly, wasn't saying much), and he even started joining them on their runs; if only for one lap before he disappeared, showing up again three laps later with a coffee and a power bar.
And sometimes, when they smile a little too long at each other, or linger on a mindless touch, Ronon thinks maybe he can understand why, and maybe they're not all that different after all.
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →
← Ctrl ← Alt
Ctrl → Alt →