Word Count: 2,173
Summary: Ronon is having trouble sleeping, and so begins a project to help pass the time. John gets involved.
Edit to add - I totally owe stormylullabye a massive thank you for beta reading this and making with the corrections! Big Hugs!
Additional notes: I managed to hit 2 of gaffsie’s prompts, h/c and Satedan cooking. And a HC_bingo card fill: “insomnia.”
John opened his eyes and rolled over as another chill ran down his body. The warm bulk that had been keeping him toasty and comfy had disappeared, again. He’d told Ronon to stay, but once again, the big guy had gotten up and left. He was beginning to see the problem with being in a relationship with someone who sucked at conversation and sharing and feelings talk almost as badly as he did. He wasn’t sure if something was wrong or if this was just another weird Ronon quirk.
He sighed and rolled off the bed, reaching for the sweatpants in a heap on the floor and the t-shirt thrown over a chair. He had given Ronon his space the last two times he ditched in the middle of the night. He figured three times was a pattern and needed to be looked into.
Ronon’s quarters were not too far from his, so he wandered that way first, to see if he’d simply gone home. There was no answer to the door chime. Wondering if Ronon had just gone for a late night run, John headed to the Control Room and toggled up the life signs sensors. Ronon’s sub-q transmitter showed that he was in the mess hall. Bidding good night to the curious night shift personnel, John headed off in that direction.
Sniffing at the canister he had just opened, Ronon tried to remember if the sweet herb his Duffa had used smelled like this one. He checked the handwritten label - “nutmeg” - and shook his head. It wasn’t quite the same scent. He dipped the tip of his fingernail into the tin and dabbed the tiniest bit onto the tip of his tongue. Not the same at all. He put the nutmeg back on the shelf and picked up the datapad he was using to make his notes and scratched the stylus across the screen. “Nutmeg smells like irinoo leaf and tastes like girel.”
He sighed and called up the recipe he was trying to recreate. He had only found suitable substitutes for half of the ingredients. It was frustrating. He turned and eyed the pantry shelf again, wondering what to try next.
When he had been a runner, he had slept whenever he could. He had grabbed snatches at every opportunity, anytime he got far enough ahead of the wraith to allow himself the downtime.
Now that he was not running anymore, and he had ample time each night to rest, he found that he could not. He had not slept a full night since coming to Atlantis over a year ago. He did not mention it to Doctor Beckett; he knew the little man would give him drugs, or worse, lock him up in the infirmary to ‘observe’ him.
But Ronon was tired. He was tired and bored. Reading and running in the night had lost their appeal, as had poetry. He decided he hated his own poetry and had shoved it violently aside a few moons ago and not picked it up since.
He had hoped to get some relief from this new thing with John, sharing his friend’s bed and body, but nothing had changed. While John slept, Ronon stared at the ceiling. Worse, the few times he did fall asleep in Sheppard’s bed, he had woken violently. The nightmares came, as they always did. Tonight, it had been one of the bad ones. He had once again, regretfully, left John’s warm body, prying the surprisingly cuddlesome Colonel off himself to leave the bed, so as not to disturb his lover.
The idea to try to recreate his Duffa’s recipes had come to him on one of the nights when he stared at the ceiling tiles over his bed. He had been craving her Scoosha Rollovers for days, and when he couldn’t sleep, he had come down to the mess hall kitchen. The cooks had been just going off duty and when he asked if he could check around to see if the ingredients for a recipe were in the pantry, they had conferred amongst themselves and come back with the answer that so long as he didn’t make a mess or use anything up, he could dig around.
Through a series of trial and error, he had begun to identify things that were like the things he remembered from Duffa’s kitchen. It was slow and a little boring, but it helped pass the long nighttime hours.
“Whatcha doin, buddy?” Sheppard’s drawl nearly made him jump and drop the tin in his hand. He must be out of it for Sheppard to have gotten so close without his being aware of it.
He held out the tin and shook it in frustration. “Trying to find something that tastes like leesi root. Stupid, simple leesi root.” He slammed the tin down and braced his hands on the countertop, dropping his head and taking a few breaths to ease his temper back a bit. It was very late, and he had not slept but three hours in the last three nights. He was tightly wound.
Sheppard leaned against the shelves opposite him. His stance was casual, but his shoulders were stiff and his eyes were wary. Ronon’s behavior had him on edge. “And you need leesi root because?”
“Part of a recipe.”
“I see.” Sheppard’s voice said the exact opposite. Ronon wondered how he did that so effectively.
“My Duffa was a cook. She taught me to make stuff. I wanted to try to make some of her recipes. But I can’t find the ingredients.”
John eyed the datapad and stylus. “How long you been at it?”
Ronon shrugged, trying to downplay how important this was to him. “Four months or so.”
“Is this where you’ve been disappearing to every night?” When Ronon didn’t answer, John prodded, “Ronon?”
He shrugged again. “Nothing better to do.”
“You could try sleeping like the rest of us.”
Staring down at his feet, Ronon mumbled, “Can’t sleep.”
“What?” John leaned over and looked up into Ronon’s face. “Didn’t catch that.”
“I can’t sleep,” he ground out; glaring at John, annoyed with himself for saying anything.
John leaned back and crossed his arms, staring at Ronon intently. “How long has this been going on?”
Ronon shrugged again. Shrugs were usually good, usually Sheppard accepted shrugs as a perfectly reasonable answer to any question.
Apparently not tonight. “How long Ronon?”
“Since I was a runner. I never sleep long. A few hours here and there.”
“It isn’t enough. You’ve been slower, sloppier the last few weeks. I can see it on you now that I know what I’m looking for. You need to sleep, big guy.”
“Then we should go see Beckett.” John reached out to grasp his forearm and Ronon pulled away hurriedly, holding his arm up over John’s head, out of reach.
“No. Not Beckett.”
John sighed, “Then come back to bed, try to sleep. Tomorrow we’ll check with Teyla for some sleepytime tea or with Parrish for some herbs to help you sleep. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll see Beckett.”
When Sheppard was being reasonable like this, Ronon really couldn’t refuse. He nodded and silently followed him. He was surprised when Sheppard led him to his quarters, letting Ronon undo the lock. “Your bed is bigger.” Sheppard smirked as he ducked into the room.
With a heavy sigh, Ronon stripped out of his clothes and threw himself facedown on the Athosian blankets on top of his bed. He heard Sheppard moving around, taking off his own clothes, tossing them to the floor. The lights dimmed until he could just barely see shadows, he supposed it was enough for Sheppard to move around without running into the furniture.
The mattress dipped slightly as John sat beside him. Fingers tentatively touched his back, stroking along the tightly knotted muscles. “Whoa, dude, you’re tense.” Sheppard straddled his hips and began to rub and knead at the worst of the knots. “I’m no expert at this.”
“Feels good,” Ronon grunted, because it did. It was strange to have Sheppard’s hands on him like this. Usually, the only touching they did was during sex, hands on cocks, hips, asses, rarely anywhere else. Fast, hot, with purpose. This was different, a good different.
Sheppard dug the heels of both of his hands hard into a bad spot. Ronon let out a long groan of pleasure. Sheppard hesitated and asked, “That okay?”
He grumbled, “Uhn. Do again.”
“Where’d you toss that lotion?”
Ronon waggled a hand limply in the direction of the table beside the bed. John slid off him and fumbled around in the dark until he found it. Sheppard’s thighs were warm as they rubbed against Ronon’s. Again, it was odd to feel John’s skin against his when there was absolutely no lust flowing between them. John’s hands moved more easily now, slicked with the lotion. As he rubbed Ronon’s back, Sheppard started to hum quietly, a tune Ronon had heard him hum before, one he had even heard John idly play on his guitar once or twice.
The repetitive motion of the warm hands, the soothing sound of his friend’s humming and his sheer exhaustion all combined to push Ronon over the edge into elusive slumber.
The buildings around him were falling. His team was not going to get out of the way in time. He ran, screaming at them to move. Couldn’t they see the danger? There were explosions all around, debris flying, screams rent the air.
Something grabbed him from behind, latching onto the knot of his hair and yanking him backwards. His heart stopped in his chest as he looked up into the face of the largest wraith he had ever seen. Twice as tall as any other, with fangs the length of Ronon’s fingers, it held Ronon aloft by his hair, dangling him off the ground like a puppet. He kicked out, tried to hit it, but it only laughed. Then it hurled him aside.
He rolled over and over, down a hillside that had not been there before. He came to a stop at the edge of the cliff ,awkwardly rose to his knees and then stood. He looked around at the scene spread before him, the capital city, in ruins, smoldering.
A sound behind him drew his attention; he turned and saw the wraith from before, coming down the hill, dragging Sheppard by the throat. Blood ran down John’s neck where the claws pierced his skin. It laughed when Ronon raised his weapon, and drove its feeding hand at John’s chest. “NO! NO! NO!” Ronon bellowed, running forward, but he fell…
“Ronon! Ronon, wake up. You’re having a nightmare.” Warm hands were smoothing along his neck, his chest, down his arms. “Ronon, it’s all right, just a dream, buddy.”
“John?” He coughed, his throat was raw, had he been shouting? It felt like it.
“Yeah, buddy. Some dream, huh?” John’s hands had not stopped moving, running over his arms and now around to his back as he pulled Ronon to him. It had been so long since anyone had simply held him, without wanting anything, with no purpose other than comfort.
“Bad dream, wraith dream,” Ronon whispered the confession. He pressed his face against the base of John’s throat and relaxed into the hold, allowing John to rock him slightly as he rested his chin atop Ronon’s head.
John rubbed circles on his shoulder. “Go back to sleep. I’ll be right here, if the dreams come again.”
Too long he had relied on himself, had no one to stand guard over him. Look where it had gotten him, exhausted, on the verge of collapse and unable to close his eyes for more than an hour at a time. He nodded against John’s throat, closed his eyes, and let Sheppard stand this watch.
“So, suit up, we’ve got a mission.” John appeared in the doorway of the gym the next afternoon, when Ronon was finishing a self defense training round with a small group of scientists.
“There wasn’t anything on the schedule.” Ronon was mildly confused, he was certain he had checked the schedule; surely his mind was clearer this morning, after his first long stretch of sleep in years. He would have remembered a Gate mission.
Sheppard gave him the grin that meant he was up to something. “Special op, hurry up.” Sheppard vanished from the doorway before Ronon could ask any more questions.
He arrived at the Gate to see one of the nutritionists and David Parrish waiting. He nodded to them both in greeting. Sheppard jogged down the stairs as the Gate lights began to activate.
“Where we going?” Ronon asked as Sheppard arrived at his side.
“Doing a little sample collecting for botany and food stores.” Sheppard ducked through the event horizon.
Ronon emerged onto a landscape he knew very well; the ruins of Sateda. As Parrish and the nutritionist moved off, John turned to him. “So, what’s this leesi root look like?”