Summary: Denial is the first step in dealing with days like this. In Atlantis, there may not be another step.
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: John Sheppard/Ronon Dex
Original story: Side Effects May Vary by harriet_spy
Warning: (highlight to read) issues of consent
Notes: Thanks to p0wdermonkey for beta reading.
Some After Effects Are Normal
The thing about debriefing Sheppard's team is that Elizabeth can't always tell when they're being weirdly awkward because of something important that she ought to know about and when they're being weirdly awkward because of some embarrassing incident that she really doesn't want to know about.
"So then we made it back to the jumper and took off," Ronon says. He's not usually the one who gives the report, but John isn't saying much, although when she glances at him he smiles at her in what he probably intends to be a reassuring way.
"Dr. McKay flew the jumper, as Col. Sheppard felt he should not fly in his condition," Teyla says.
"You mean while stoned out of his mind," Rodney says.
"They drugged me, Rodney," John complains. He gives her the same smile again. It's not actually reassuring her at all. "No operating heavy machinery for me."
"See Dr. Beckett," Elizabeth says. "And I don't think we'll be going back there soon. But it seems that all's well that ends well, so … good work."
Ronon makes a noise that might be a cough or a laugh.
"You were just lucky that I was actually able disable the security system while you found where they were keeping Sheppard," Rodney says.
"Teyla kept them from shooting you, too," Ronon points out.
"Yes, well, she does that."
"And you do … whatever it is that you do."
Elizabeth wonders if Rodney notices that he's being given the same kind of backhanded compliment he gave Teyla. Probably not.
"I'm just saying I prefer the missions where no one gets captured at all."
"Everyone's a critic," John says, and that seems normal enough that Elizabeth decides there's probably nothing important wrong.
"You took your time," Rodney says in a rush when Ronon clambers into the back of the jumper, because he was about to go after them, and his idea of fun is not celebrating their latest failure of diplomacy by shooting people. "Can we go now?"
"If you can fly us out of here," Ronon says. He's getting John down onto one of the benches, and John is — smiling. It's a wide-eyed, happy smile like a kid who's just seen a puppy, which just makes Rodney stare at him.
"We should come back here again," John says. "Maybe we'd have to shoot people, but I'm okay with that."
"Drugged?" Teyla asks, her eyebrows climbing her forehead.
"Arderian," Ronon says. "Probably in his drink at dinner." Teyla looks relieved, and for some reason a little amused.
"Ah," she says.
"I take it we know what this is? Because this is weird behavior for Sheppard."
"Tell me about it," John says intently. He seems to be articulating very carefully. He leans over too far and Ronon keeps him from falling off the bench, apparently with some difficulty.
"It is … a recreational drug," Teyla says. "It should not harm him."
"Yes, well, let's get back to Atlantis where we have actual doctors who can decide that," Rodney says, sliding into the pilot's seat. He'd rather not be there, but apparently John is a walking advertisement for Just Saying No to taking drinks from strangers, so it's up to him to get them out of there.
"That is a good idea," Teyla says, coming up to join him. When he glances back, Ronon is pulling a blanket down over John, who happily buries his face in Ronon's shoulder.
"That's nice," John says. For a moment Rodney wishes he had a camera, but then Teyla closes the rear compartment door.
"You will fly better with fewer distractions," Teyla says, and she's probably right.
"Hey," Rodney says, because John seems to be heading in entirely the wrong direction. "The infirmary is that way." John ignores him instead of making a smart remark, which means he's almost certainly still under the influence of something. "Sheppard?"
John turns, very deliberately. "I have not had a good day," he says. "I am going to bed. Do you have a problem with that?"
"Well, no, but I …" Rodney says, gesturing in the direction of the infirmary. "You are supposed to be …"
"I will," John says. "I'm not going anywhere tonight. I won't drive the tractor."
"We don't have a tractor," Rodney says. He's always wanted the opportunity to see John totally stoned, since pretty much everyone has seen Rodney's response to morphine and he thinks that particular embarrassment ought to be more widely shared, but at this rate he's going to start feeling bad about it.
"I know that. The … whatever the Ancient equivalent of a tractor is. I won't drive it. Okay?"
"Good, but …"
"And in the morning I'll go …" He makes a handwavy gesture that might mean get medical attention, or alternately swim through jello. "Which should make everybody happy."
He steps into the transport chamber, and the doors close before Rodney can step inside. Rodney waits until he's inside the next one before he radios.
"What," John demands.
"It's just that I think the transport chambers may qualify as heavy machinery."
"I'm in my quarters," John says. "I've just gone into the bathroom. Do you need further updates, or are we done here?"
"That's as much as I want to know, yes," Rodney says. It doesn't sound like John's going to transport himself to the top of a tower and fall off, or run into someone who will notice that John's wandering around with diminished judgment and a visible hard-on and consider that their good fortune for the evening rather than something they ought to report to Heightmeyer, so he thinks his work here is probably done.
The security system is already inactive, but Rodney refuses to leave the panel until Ronon and John are out, so Teyla covers him, down on one knee with her P-90 braced on her thigh. She nearly shoots the next moving form she sees until she realizes it is Ronon, with John slung over his shoulder.
"Go," she says urgently to Rodney, pulling him away from the panel and thrusting him in the direction of the jumper. If John is injured too badly to walk, she must cover Ronon and not Rodney. He looks like he wants to argue for a moment and then runs, his own pistol out, watchful as he should be.
"Teyla," John says as they approach, and if he is talking and conscious, they are luckier than Teyla was fearing. It had been taking too long for her to think they were both uninjured. They should have been back fifteen minutes ago.
"Come on, let's move," Ronon says, and she covers them as they go.
"I should go check on Sheppard," Ronon says to Teyla. They've slipped into one of the practice rooms they use to spar, where they also tend to go by mutual unspoken agreement to talk about things that people from another galaxy don't necessarily need to know about.
"He will be fine," Teyla says.
Teyla looks like she can't decide whether she thinks this is funny or not. "I would not want company under the same circumstances."
"Yeah, you would," Ronon says. "That's sort of the point."
"It's not that simple," Teyla says.
Ronon's knows that it isn't that simple, but he'd like to keep thinking about it as if it were, because the alternative is thinking about it as something that meant something, which he's pretty sure it didn't. At least, it didn't mean any of the things it might have meant if it hadn't involved drugs. "They gave us arderian once in training," Ronon says. "It's not bad in small doses."
Teyla is looking at him with what's usually her really, Earth people? expression, only at the moment he thinks it means really, Satedans? "That was a training exercise?"
"People use it as an interrogation drug. You know, if you'll talk you can …" Ronon considers adding an explanatory hand gesture and thinks better of it. "He says he didn't actually do anybody before I got there."
"Even so," Teyla says, looking like she may be leaning toward "not funny."
"It messes with your head," Ronon says. "It's hard to get upset about anything."
"I suspect that will wear off."
"I said I should go check on him," Ronon says. "You said he'd be fine." He doesn't want her to be wrong about that. He's not willing to believe he's screwed something important up.
"In the morning," Teyla says. "I think you are looking for reassurance, and if I were him I would not have it to give tonight."
"I hate it when you do that," Ronon says.
Teyla gives him a look. "Talk about feelings?"
"Can you walk, Sheppard?" Ronon's got his hands on John's wrists as he talks, hoping he's not going to have to shoot the cuffs off. He finds the catch to release them instead and tries to ignore the way John twists at the touch of his hands on his wrists.
"Is the Pope Catholic?" John says dreamily. He slides bonelessly down the bed now that he's free of the chains, making no move to pull his shirt down.
"Is the who what?" There's no time for this. "You can't walk. Side-effect of the arderian."
That's supposed to be reassuring, but John is clearly too far gone to care. He looks like he's about to start laughing again. "Don't get any ... any ideas about Earthmen's stamina from this," John says.
"Right," Ronon says, and bends over him, taking his weight and pulling him up off the bed to drape over his shoulder, which under the circumstances makes him want to do … all kinds of things.
He's not going to think about that, he decides, as he gets John steadied enough to carry him. They just need to get back to Atlantis, and then—
There's no point in thinking that far ahead. He can hear the sound of distant P-90 fire. They'll head that way.
The shower comes on when John walks into the bathroom, which he takes as a sign that Atlantis knows better than he does about the wisdom of crawling straight under the covers right now. It's probably not a good sign if he's making the city do things he doesn't expect, but whatever. He peels off his shirt and drops it and his BDUs in a heap on the floor. They smell like sweat and sex.
The water is steaming, so he expects the heat, but not the way he can feel every drop of water crawl across his skin, still too sensitive — he's gotten used to the feel of his clothes, but this is completely different, and he leans back against the wall, and the feel of the cold tile sends a shudder down his back to cramp right at the cleft of his ass. He's getting hard again, the water feeling like fingers whispering over his skin.
He could get tired of this. He concentrates on turning up the water, hoping to shake the skin-crawling tease, and it obligingly pounds him harder, which isn't a thought he needs right now—
That goes straight to Ronon shoving him up against the wall, hard knee between his thighs, broad hands pinning his wrists — it would feel a lot like this, no way to get enough anything to come and no way to stop—
He's alone in the shower, leaning against the wall, breathing hard, jerking himself off, because it will feel better once he has, hard enough to stop thinking. It felt so much better after Ronon got him off the first time, not up against the wall but still chained to the bed — Come on, Sheppard—
He feels his back tighten, cramp again as he tries to get there. He flattens his back against the wall, thinking harder at the shower controls — come on, help me out here—
It's almost a surprise when he does come, a jerky rush of pleasure, spattering the tile. The water obligingly washes it away. The shower's used to it. It had a ten thousand year break from anyone jerking off in it, but by now it's had almost three years to get used to him.
He realizes that he's running his hand across the tile like he's petting the shower, which is more friendly than he thinks he ought to get with inanimate objects. He scrubs soap over everything that seems to need it, regardless of whether it stings, and then bends forward to let the water scour him from neck to ass. The soap does sting, and that's—
"Hey, not fair," he says to no one in particular, because he's getting hard again. He should probably go ahead and take care of it in the shower — it's tidier that way, and it's not like the water's going to get cold — but he really is tired, his thighs and his shoulders cramping. He settles for taking a towel with him.
"Sometimes I hate Atlantis," he says. If the city were a person, he'd probably have hurt its feelings. That's not a problem he's going to have to deal with until morning, though, when hopefully he won't still be on drugs.
He thinks he may be starting to come down — well, he knows he is, because thinking that doesn't make him snicker like he's twelve — but he thinks he may be starting to come all the way down. He suspects that when he does, the warm fuzzy feeling of well-being that he's had for a while is going to go away. That may kind of suck.
He curls up under the covers, face turned into the pillow, trying to find some position that doesn't make something ache.
"All right, fine," he mutters after a while, and reaches for the towel. "Fine." He's not thinking about Ronon's hand on him, that hint of a smile in his eyes, his hand cupping John's ass, his other hand pressing hard over his mouth, the relief of someone else making it so that he couldn't talk, couldn't scream—
He strains for it until the room goes gray, every muscle protesting at him asking them to do this again. He's not thinking about Ronon, and he's certainly not thinking about Teyla. He's trying to remember when the last time he had sex was, before anybody cuffed him to a bed. For a moment he can remember a face, and then he realizes that's the man they said would suck him — if you'll just tell us the gate address — the one right before they tried the girl who must have been about ten.
If he thinks about that he's pretty sure he's going to throw up — just tell us the gate address is sitting like a hard knot in his stomach already — so he lets himself think about Teyla instead. Her strong hands and her smile and the way she can be nice to him when she's not kicking him in the head, the ways she could be nice to him if he were a luckier man — Ronon, doing him again in the back of the jumper with Teyla distracting Rodney up front, the incredible relief of it, his forehead against Ronon's shoulder while Ronon took care of it—
He comes again, with a noise that doesn't sound even to him like a happy one. He tangles himself in the sheets, rubbing their coolness against everything that feels prickly and hot. He's got about eleven hours to put himself back together.
That's plenty of time.
Ronon unfastens John's pants like he's putting him to bed after a night of drinking, except that he's never seen John like that, probably never will. John likes being in control, and now he's sweating and trying to fuck the air, his cock red and swollen.
Ronon wraps his hand around his cock, trying to make it matter-of-fact. He's just helping out a friend. He can't help watching John's face, though, that edge of desperation that's closer to the way he looks when he's been shot to the way most people look having sex.
John's fucking his hand, enthusiastically enough that Ronon has to hold his hip with one hand to keep him from jerking his wrists too hard against the chains. He could take those off, but then he thinks John will give him more trouble about this, and there isn't really any other way to fix the problem.
John's sweating, straining against his hand, his hips arching against the bed, but somehow it isn't happening. He's spent too long fighting it, Ronon thinks. Can't tell himself now that it's something he wants.
"Come on, Sheppard," he says, low and insistent, but that doesn't do it. There's stuff laid out on the table —- he's not sure who was supposed to get fucked, and he's pretty sure it's a bad idea to ask, and there's no time for any of this. He can hear gunfire in the distance.
He slicks his fingers and yanks John's pants down, ignoring the way his hands scrabble at the headboard, getting a finger inside, pressing up hard.
"Oh, fuck, fuck—"
"I am," Ronon says. "I've got my hand in you—"
"Jesus, Ronon, yes--" John says, and then he looks like he's been shot, like that's the answer they've been trying to wring from him for the last few hours, and Ronon presses his other hand hard over John's mouth so he can't say any more.
John wakes up thinking this is one hell of a hangover. His whole body is whining that it hurts, especially his head, which feels sandblasted from the inside, and his wrists and shoulders, which have that familiar I'm getting too old to be tied up this often ache.
His body would prefer he not move, but he points out to it that the bathroom isn't optional, and it has to agree to that. While he's there, he washes down three ibuprofen with a full glass of water, on the theory that if it stays down, it might do something about the hangover.
He shaves and looks for clean clothes. It's still dark outside, but he doesn't really want a lot of time to think this morning, and anything he can do instead of thinking will require clothes. He's pulling his shirt on, still barefoot, when the door chime sounds.
It's probably Teyla, maybe Elizabeth. If it's Elizabeth — he's pretty sure he managed to behave while she was debriefing them, and didn't say anything that will make them both want to die of embarrassment today. If it's Teyla, he's pretty sure he did, but dying of embarrassment probably isn't really an option. If it were, there was more than one time in junior high—
He's really going to have to open the door. Whoever is out there is giving him time to get out of bed, not that it ever takes him this long to get to the door when he's been woken up. He goes to the door, and it slides open.
Ronon is fully dressed, too, although John's not sure whether he's already gotten dressed this morning or hasn't changed since the night before. He can't remember what Ronon was wearing yesterday, just the way he—
"Can I come in?" Ronon prompts.
"Oh. Yeah, you should probably," John says, and steps back. The door closes behind Ronon.
"I figured you probably didn't want to talk about this at the breakfast table," Ronon says. He looks like he's trying to keep this casual, but he's not sure how to do that. John wishes he was already wearing his pistol. Not that he wants to shoot anything, just that it's always a comfort to have it there when conversations get awkward.
"Do we have to talk about this?"
Ronon shrugs. "We don't have to."
"I'm fine," John says.
"I didn't say you weren't fine."
"I am, though. Fine."
"Are you fine?"
"Jesus Christ, Ronon," John says, almost laughing.
Ronon looks at him with that little half-smile. "I would have figured you were if you hadn't said anything."
"Guess I screwed that up," John says. He turns away, picks up his jacket.
"No, I wouldn't have."
"What do you want?"
"I don't know, I just thought—" Ronon says. "Nothing. Nothing, okay?"
"Wait," John says, because this is not like talking to Atlantis. There's someone else's feelings involved here, someone outside his own head. "Don't do that."
"Do you want me to say I shouldn't have gotten you off? Because it was that or take you back to the jumper the way you were, and even if you'd been able to shut up long enough—"
"I know, I know, Teyla and McKay," John says. "That would have been …" He's not going to think about what that would have been like, because he can't do that without thinking about what today would have been like, and at least he's dodged some of the bullets here.
"I don't know what you want me to say," Ronon says, and John doesn't say You're the one who wants to talk, because if that's true …
He takes a deep breath, lets it out as evenly as he can. "It's okay," he says.
"I wasn't trying to screw everything up," Ronon says with a tight unhappy smile. His whole body's tight, like he's ready to fight, or maybe to run.
"It's cool," John says. He smiles, or at least he hopes that's what he's doing. "I'm not complaining."
"Teyla said I shouldn't come talk to you."
"Teyla doesn't know everything," John says.
"You want me to tell her that?"
"She'd probably kick my ass," John says.
"Maybe so," Ronon says. The line of his shoulders is a little less tense.
"I'm not sure my ass can take that right now."
Ronon's mouth quirks sideways. "That was just my fingers."
"I'm out of practice," John says, and there are a lot of questions there that he doesn't really want Ronon to ask, but he probably won't. There are advantages to knowing people who aren't in the Air Force.
"You ought to get out more."
"Not any time soon," John says.
Ronon snorts. "Yeah, I bet."
"I feel like crap."
"Here," Ronon says, and then he's coming around behind John, hands on John's neck, his fingers digging into the knots. He thinks he could spend a long time like that, leaning back a little into Ronon's touch, letting someone else take a little of his weight. "No one can tell," Ronon says. "You look fine."
"It's cool," John says. He's not sure he believes Ronon, but he thinks he probably doesn't want to know for sure.
"That's good," Ronon says. He bends his head down to John's, and there's a whisper-fast breath at the back of John's neck.
"Fuck," John says.
Ronon's backing off already as he turns, with a smile that says the joke's on one of them, but he's not sure who. "I don't think you're up for that. We should get breakfast."
There might be something more to say at some point, but breakfast seems like a much better idea right now.
The door flies open and Ronon bursts in, and John thinks that can't be possible, they can't have gotten Ronon to cooperate, can't be offering him — but if they have, he's done, he's through. He'll tell them the gate address to Atlantis, anything they want to know.
"Sheppard, you okay? We have to get you out of here."
John swallows hard, reality starting to sink in. This is a rescue. Right.
Ronon comes over. "McKay's got their defenses down, and Teyla's keeping them off his back, but there's not much time." He reaches for John's wrist, and John manages a warning hiss, manages to jerk away before Ronon's fingers touch his skin.
"I can't --" he says from between gritted teeth.
Ronon steps back and considers him, taking in his sweat-soaked shirt and his aching hard-on. "Arderian," he says.
"Is it that obvious?" John says weakly. He knows he's not thinking straight, but he doesn't have to anymore. Ronon will take it from here.
Elizabeth comes down to breakfast at the same time as Rodney, although she can't share his enthusiasm for the morning's oatmeal. Ronon and Teyla are sitting at adjacent corners of a table, occasionally exchanging looks that might mean why is it oatmeal again? John is staring into a cup of coffee as if he's hoping for a meaningful relationship with it.
"Nice day," Elizabeth says as she passes their table.
"Except for the oatmeal," John says. He gives the bowl a dramatically suspicious look.
"It is fine," Teyla says, in the tone of someone making a considerable effort to be polite.
"You don't have to say that," John says. "No one normal likes this oatmeal."
"Hey," Rodney protests.
"You seem back to normal," she says to John. He smiles at her. It's more his usual smile, with just a hint of an edge.
"I'll go see Carson after breakfast," he says. "Make sure I've got it entirely out of my system."
"You should," Ronon says.
John doesn't look up from his coffee. Elizabeth wonders if she's imagining the momentary change in his expression, and what it means if she's not. "We're good," John says. Presumably that's meant for her, but he's looking at Ronon.
Rodney looks suddenly startled. "Oh, tell me you didn't—"
"—break your appointment with Carson?" Teyla breaks in smoothly. "He will not be happy to have to work you in later this morning."
"He'll get over it," John says.
"Are we okay with this?" Rodney says.
"I'm sure he will get over it," Elizabeth says. "But make the infirmary your next stop."
"It's fine," John says. He's looking at Ronon, who looks like there's something he really wants to say but isn't. She can't decide whether whatever he's not saying is likely to be something she wants to know.
"I'm glad to hear it," she says, and picks up her tray and moves on. Surely if anything were seriously wrong, someone would tell her.