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22 March 2009 @ 05:48 am
SGA Fic - Roughing It  
Title: Brainstorm Tag: Roughing It
Rating: PG for swears and sickness
Characters: John, Ronon
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis.
Summary: John, Ronon, Camping - need I say more? Beta'd by the lovely sharpes_hussey. A bonus tag written for wildcat88.

Braintstorm Tag: Roughing It


There was no way Ronon could stand by and let Sheppard refer to camping as “roughing it.” Sleeping bags were not roughing it, with or without a tent. Coolers of food were not roughing it. A 'jumper fitted neatly in a clearing beneath the cool shade of a canopy of trees as their shelter was so far from roughing it, it was almost a joke.

“Then give me your definition of roughing it, Grizzly Adams,” Sheppard said, setting the cooler of food by the cooler of drinks outside the fire pit.

Ronon tossed driftwood into the ring of stones surrounding the shallow pit. “No coolers. No sleeping bags. Definitely no 'jumper. Just you, your gun and your surroundings.”

“Sounds more like survival training one-oh-one to me.” Sheppard dropped himself into the plastic folding chair with a sigh, then beamed beatifically up at Ronon. “Been there, done that... a lot. Besides, to say camping is 'roughing it' is an inside joke. No TV and no video games counts as roughing it to some people. No showers to others.”

“Your people are spoiled,” Ronon said. He crouched on the other side of the pit, putting Sheppard's lighter to the little ball of dried moss that would ignite the fire.

“Some,” Sheppard said. After fishing through the cooler of drinks, he tossed a beer to Ronon that he caught one-handed. “Because then you have those lunatics who go into the wild with just a knife and their surroundings and think it's barely scratching the surface of roughing it. It's all a matter of perspective. But this?” The tab of Sheppard's beer popped and hissed foam dribbling over the rim. He sat back, taking a savoring sip as though it had been weeks since his last beer. He smacked his lips and sighed again. This isn't roughing it.”

“What is it, then?”

“Freedom and fun.”

Ronon sniffed and stirred the ever-growing fire. He supposed it was freedom if nothing else... to an extent. They had food, they had shelter, they had a place of safety a few miles away and they had no one around telling them what to do, where to go and so on. No mission reports, no scheduled training sessions, no getting to the mess on time before the bacon was all gone. Just beyond the clearing was the beach, and beyond that the sea, which the biologists said kept the more dangerous game deeper in the mainland, and that included the poisonous serpents. The beach was the safest place you could find yourself, they said. But just because staying on the beach had yet to kill anyone didn't mean it wouldn't happen eventually.

They had their guns for that, stowed away in the upper compartments. Sheppard hadn't seemed happy about loading up ordinance on a camping trip, but he was practical – realistic – and couldn't let his guard down anymore than Ronon. It was a soldier thing. Sheppard said it was a “being on an alien planet with poisonous serpents” thing.

Ronon gave the fire a hard jab, exciting a cloud of sparks into the briny air. The sun was at its zenith, the shafts of light able to cut through the canopy warming Ronon's back, and the ocean breathing behind him. He took a sip of his beer, just to be polite, then gave the fire another stab.

He preferred his definition of roughing it. It had merit, it honed survival skills and conditioned the body out of its constant need for soft beds and three square meals a day.

Roughing it for real had purpose. Camping didn't.

“Relax, Chewie,” Sheppard said, the very picture of the lazy man he always claimed to be, sprawled in his chair as he let the fire hypnotize him. He was dressed loosely in pants made of denim torn off at the knees, and a white button shirt open wide at the throat almost to the tip of his sternum. His feet were even less protected in black sandals.

Setting his beer down, Sheppard rummaged through the larger food cooler, pulling out marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers. Ronon knew what this was as soon as he saw the marshmallows. After a particularly rough mission that had stranded the team in hostile territory for nearly a week, Sheppard had gathered them all out on the west pier, around a small fire, where Ronon had had his first s'more and his first buzz off earth ale.

Sheppard pulled two wire-hangers he'd straightened out from the bag next to the cooler and tossed one to Ronon. “Live like you have a million tomorrows on an invisible planet and all the time in the world.” he tossed the marshmallows after he'd speared two for himself on his hanger. “That's what this is all about.”

So it was dessert first, then dinner: something called spam that Sheppard fried in a small, black iron skillet. It wasn't bad, it wasn't bad at all, especially between bread with lettuce, mustard and onions. There wasn't a lot of conversation between them as they ate – s'mores, spam, then more s'mores – which was how Ronon preferred it and was sure Sheppard would agree. If the other man were any more loose-limbed, he'd fall apart.

Maybe there was a little merit to this camping thing. Naturally lazy or not, Ronon couldn't recall having seen Sheppard so utterly, inarguably relaxed – like he was going to melt into the chair that must have been more comfortable than it looked.

Conversation eventually happened when Sheppard attempted a ghost story, something about a guy in a mask popping out of lakes and killing teenagers too stupid to carry a weapon to an abandoned camp. It left Ronon more annoyed than scared. He attempted to tell Sheppard the story Malena had once told him – about the Roota beast (which, Ronon had learned a while back were not unlike earth's “deer”) that was like a Wraith and couldn't be killed. Sheppard was more amused than scared, mumbling something about “zombie Bambi” throughout the telling. When night eventually descended on them in full, Sheppard suggested they get some sleep.

“I wanna get up early tomorrow.” He grinned at Ronon, bobbing his eyebrows. “Surfing.”

Ronon thought he did a good job not sagging in dejection.

----------------------------

The waves rolled in great heaps toward the shore, folding in an explosion of diamond-white foam like the fist of an event horizon. The day was clear all the way to the horizon and deep-blue seabirds bobbed on a salty breeze. Ronon sat in the warm sand, his knees drawn up and his arms clasped loosely around them, as he watched Sheppard jog to the shoreline, the board painted in explicitly loud colors tucked under one arm.

“You're gonna love surfing,” Sheppard had said the other night, with the same certainty of when he'd promised Ronon that he'd love golf. Ronon couldn't even pretend to share Sheppard's enthusiasm – not that he'd pretended with the golf thing. He had no patience to play nice just to make someone else feel better. If he liked something, he liked it. If he didn't, he didn't, end of story. He didn't see the reason for pseudo interest when the truth eventually reared itself, anyway. All it did was corner you with the need to lie your ass off just to make the other person feel better.

Malena had told him it was okay to be honest. Running from the Wraith had made it an ingrained habit, because there wasn't time for placating crap.

Sheppard dropped to his stomach on the board and paddled out to the waves. The next large wave lifted him up, but he simply paddled over the crest to the next. The following wave lifted him higher, higher, and Ronon's heart was in his throat with the certainty that the board was going to capsize and the wave shove Sheppard under.

Sheppard twisted the board around, nose toward the water, and leaped to his feet.

It was beautiful. Sheppard cut through the wall of water swift as a bird of prey in a dive, kicking up a fine crystal spray behind him. Minor movements directed the board, up, down, side to side then in an arched leap at the peak of the crest and back down to the wave. Sheppard coasted in on that wave, almost to the shore, then dropped back to his stomach and paddled back out. Another wave lifted him and he rode it as though he owned it. Ronon's heart jumped in alarm when Sheappard was swallowed into the fold of water.

But the board stayed ahead, just enough for Sheppard to exist in the tube without being swallowed by it. Ronon smiled, even laughed a little. Sheppard handled the wave as easy as standing on a solid surface, like it was a tamed beast of burden and not a wild force of nature. It was like spite, like defying an enemy, defying the Wraith, having control over the things that, in all logic, shouldn't be controlled, and all just for the hell of it.

It was very beautiful.

Ronon wanted to learn how to surf.

Sheppard followed the wave as close as possible to the shore, then dropped straddling the board as it bobbed in the shallows. He waved Ronon over.

“Wanna give it a try?”

Ronon shrugged nonchalant. “I guess.” He liked honesty, but didn't feel the need to be that honest.

-------------------------

Ronon hated surfing.

“Come on, big guy. You just gotta give it time. Rome wasn't built in a day.” Sheppard patted the board. “One more try.”

Ronon plucked what he hoped was the last of the seaweed from his hair and flicked it at Sheppard. “I'm done.”

“The hell you are. Once more try, come on.”

Rolling his eyes, Ronon climbed onto the board, easing himself belly-down. “One more try, that's it.” Because, really, since when did he quit on anything?

Sheppard steered him to the small hills of waves that wouldn't pulverize Ronon when he, as Sheppard had put it, “wiped out.” He released the board and Ronon paddled his way out while Sheppard called instructions.

“Don't fight it. Let the waves tell you what to do. Go with the motions,” and so on and so forth, all of it completely pointless when Sheppard shouted “up, now!” and Ronon leaped to his feet, wobbled precariously and fell face-first into the water.

“A little longer this time, good,” Sheppard said when Ronon resurfaced, trying not to look like he was clinging desperately to the board. “No seaweed this time.”

“I'm done,” Ronon growled. He ignored Sheppard's whines of protest all the way back to the shore, shoving the board away when they were in the shallows.

“Fine. We'll try again tomorrow,” Sheppard said.

Ronon grunted a noncommittal reply. As much as he was hating the attempt – again - when did he quit on anything? But, damn if he wasn't tempted. There was no point to surfing, at least not one that Sheppard could explain. It was a sport for the sake of thrills, that was all, and sure as hell wasn't a skill they could use to fight against the Wraith.

Ronon dropped dripping and sun-baked onto the sand, watching John tackle the smaller waves with an ease that made it look so damn easy – bastard. After three waves, Sheppard finally trotted back to shore, dropping his board next to Ronon and stretching himself out on top, bare back to the sun and head resting on his folded arms.

“You'll get the hang of it,” he promised. “Just takes some getting used to. Keep at it and you'll be cutting through the big waves in no time.”

“How long did it take you to learn? Ronon asked. He watched a blue sea-bird dive into the water and burst back out, a silver fish struggling in its beak.

“A while,” John said

Ronon narrowed his eyes. “How old were you when you started?”

Sheppard's mouth twisted in a brief grimace. “Um... five.”

“So you've been doing this longer than you've been playing golf.”

“Well, technically, not really. I was out on the range every weekend. Surfing only happened when my dad wasn't around. One of my homes was a beach house in Hawaii. We'd spend most of the summer, there. My uncle lived there, too – my mom's brother. As soon as my dad took off on a business trip or whatever, my uncle would drop by and we'd spend every hour at the beach, just riding the waves.” Sheppard chuckled. “Uncle Ted was a total beach bum. Man I envied him; being able to do what he loved, no strings attached. When my mom died he, uh... he kind of became someone I could talk to, you know? And he'd listen, no strings attached.”

John breathed out. “I used to think he was all knowing. He always seemed to say the right thing at the right time.”

“What happened to him?” Ronon asked.

“Fell off the edge of the map, I guess. He started traveling, I went to college. Life kept us busy and we lost touch. I'd hoped he'd show up at dad's funeral; not like it's a surprise he didn't. When I asked Dave about him, he said no one had been able to contact him. So he's either lying on a beach in some foreign country or...lying on the big beach in the sky.”

Ronon had a pretty good idea what Sheppard meant by the latter.

“Want to go hunting tomorrow?” Ronon asked.

John sniffed, eyes half-lidded in a semi-doze. “Not really my thing.”

Ronon grinned. “Like golf's not my thing?”

-----------------------------

Hunting really wasn't Sheppard's thing, and in the exact same way golf wasn't Ronon's thing. Sheppard could hunt, he just didn't have interest enough to put any real effort into it.

“My other uncle – well, my aunt's husband – he was really into hunting,” Sheppard explained while they kicked through the undergrowth of the woods, keeping close to the beach. Big game might have stayed deeper inland, but there was still plenty to choose from close to the sea. “Took Dave and me a couple of times. He had blinds, food pellets, camouflage gear. Sometimes we'd sit in this tree house, drop food and just pick them off. I didn't like it. It didn't feel fair; kind of felt like cheating.”

Ronon held up his fist. They both dropped into a crouch, hidden in the shadows thanks to their darker clothes. Ronon listened. Then he burst from his spot into a run, his sudden motion spooking up a flock of green-brown birds. He got off four shots and managed to stun two.

Sheppard stood pulling the second bird off his neck where it had landed. He held it up by the tail with a pained smile. “Kind of like this.”

Ronon shrugged, shouldering his blaster. “That's how I do it.”

They brought the birds back to the camp, plucking and prepping on the beach directly over where the waves ended their stretch onto the beach. When the water rolled away, it took feathers and blood with it: more importantly, the smell. Ronon didn't care what the biologists said, a desperate enough predator would climb into a Wraith hive ship if it thought it smelled blood, and the biologists' idea of roughing it was being without coffee and a computer for a few days.

Sheppard may not have been big into hunting but had enough skill to skin, gut and clean without help. When they finished, Ronon impaled both birds on a stick and had Sheppard hold them while he whipped up a crude spit.

“Hope those sticks are clean,” John said with a small twist of his lips.

Ronon shrugged. “I've yet to meet a stick that tried to kill me any other way except impaling.”

“Yeah, but your a native to this galaxy. And you've been to so many planets there's probably nothing you're not immune to.”

“You'll be fine.”

“Tell that to the childhood disease that wiped my memory.”

Ronon smirked. Sheppard had only part of a point, because this wasn't the first time they'd made use of their surroundings and it had yet to kill them. Or maybe it was because of the aforementioned disease that Sheppard currently felt the need to pull a Rodney and point out every possible danger – sort of like heading it off, as though being aware of it and letting it know you were aware kept it at bay. It was a funny state of mind to be in, but Ronon figured there was a little truth to it. It was being prepared, even if it didn't do squat in the end. Being prepared made life a little less painful than being taken by surprise.

Sheppard had brought a few small baggies of spices that he dusted over the birds as Ronon turned them. The smell alone – of smoke and seasoning - excited Ronon's mouth into a flood of saliva. He felt a little spoiled himself over the luxury, but sure as hell didn't complain when the meat was cooked and they were finally able to dig in. The birds were tender, the outside near-charred but the inside moist with juice that tickled down Ronon's chin. And with the spices, it tasted like that rotisserie chicken the mess would cook for special occasions. Better, actually, the darkened skin contributing to the flavors that seemed to explode in Ronon's mouth.

“This is good,” Sheppard said. “When you finally get rid of every last Wraith in the galaxy, you should think about opening a restaurant or something.”

After licking his fingers clean of juice and spices, Ronon said, “Probably won't survive that long.”

“Never say never,” Sheppard said, wagging a wing-bone at him. “Or 'won't' in this case. You know, there's a reason I'm always telling Rodney to stay positive, and it's not just because the negativity gets old, fast. I told you about the first year we were here and the siege, right?”

Ronon, mouth full, nodded.

“I had to fly a 'jumper with a nuke into one of the hive ships, so of course I thought 'this is it, finally gonna bite it.' And I was ready... I think. I mean, you really can't be all that ready when it happens, especially like that. It gave me a lot of time to think: regret, not regret, stuff like that – the whole life flashing before your eyes thing. Then came the Daedalus and...”

Sheppard picked off a piece of too-hard skin and flicked it into the fire. “I still can't figure how my legs didn't drop out from under me... or how I didn't end up laughing like a lunatic. It was like... I don't know, like being punched in the gut and kissed by a hot woman all at the same time. I was so damn happy I actually felt sick, and there was this moment – really brief with everything else going on – where there was suddenly so much I wanted to do: make up for, take care of, stuff like that. Too much, actually. It kind of gave me a headache trying to think about it all, I think. Then, stuff kept happening, we weren't out of the woods, Ford went AWOL and I just... forgot.”

After wiping his hands on the leg of his pants, Sheppard rubbed the back of his neck. “Kind of wish I hadn't.” He stopped rubbing, letting his hand rest there as he let his gaze get sucked into the fire. Ronon didn't have to guess what the other man was thinking about – or more specifically who, probably more than one – so let the moment stretch for as long as needed.

In that time, Ronon remembered having the tracking the device taken from his back, and how for a long time he couldn't wrap his mind around it. He would wake up on Atlantis and damn near panic thinking he'd been captured and that the Wraith were going to show up at any minute. Then, after the panic passed and he recalled where he was and how he got there, he would just sit on the narrow Lantean bed, numb and, for the first time in his life, utterly clueless about what to do next.

But he kind of remembered being sick, too: a strange giddy tickle in the pit of his stomach, spreading through the rest of his body until he finally shivered it off. Then he would think “I'm free” and it would return, larger and harder and all-consuming – a punch to the stomach and a kiss, leaving him dizzy.

“It's good to survive,” Ronon said when the moment felt long enough.

“Greatest rush ever,” said Sheppard, and they tapped their beer cans together.

---------------------------

They got up bright and early, just as the sun broke through the horizon, for another go at the waves. This time, Ronon managed to stand on the board for a whole minute and Sheppard promised him it was progress. Not that Ronon believed him.

When the sun was higher and the day hot, a walk along the beach led them to a calm little lagoon where they just swam, diving deep as they dared until the pressure pushed against their ears and their lungs screamed – just for the hell of it. Sheppard, Ronon admitted only to himself, was the better swimmer, sliding through the water the way he steered a 'jumper through the skies. They followed after schools of fish bright as chromatic metal, smart enough to flit ahead when the two humans got too close, brave enough to stick around rather than take off all together. In the shallows, Sheppard found some shells: coral pinks, dark silver and iridescent and a few the color of sunset. They gathered as many as they could, most to take back to Teyla who had a thing for shells, and a few to keep for themselves.

As they headed back to camp, arms loaded with shells, Sheppard suddenly veered off course toward a multi-branched tree with spiraling limbs.

“Looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book,” he said. Then he dropped his pile and started climbing.

Grinning, Ronon dropped his own collection. Tree climbing he could do, and even with Sheppard taking the lead, he still beat him to the top.

Sheppard, still making his way up, glared at him. “It's not a competition, buddy.”

“Wanna try again?”

“Hell yes.”

Ronon beat him four more times out of five.

------------------------------

Ronon didn't care how many times he fell off the board, he was going to learn how to surf. He was up, again at the early hours, getting another fire going as he waited for Sheppard to join him. After about twenty minutes and the beacon and eggs as cooked as they were going to get, Ronon went inside the 'jumper and nudged the human-shaped lump beneath the sleeping back.

“Sheppard, get up. Breakfast is ready.”

The reply was a groan, shifting, and then nothing else. Ronon crouched, resting his arms on his knees. He pulled back the top of the bag enough to gain access to Sheppard's head, currently turned away from him. Grinning, Ronon brushed his fingers down Sheppard's neck.

Then remembered too late that he wasn't supposed to do that.

Sheppard's reaction was like an explosion, his body snapping up-right and his hands scrabbling and scraping at his neck, marking the skin in red lines. Startling, Ronon grabbed both of Sheppard's wrists and pulled them away.

“Sheppard. Sheppard! Calm down. Stop, now!”

Sheppard stilled, pale and panting but slowly starting to calm. Only when he sagged with a shiver did Ronon let him go. Sheppard rubbed his neck, front to back, most of the skin looking a little raw.

Ronon winced. “Sorry.” And he really was. How many times had Teyla and Rodney told him, “Never touch Sheppard's neck. Ever”? He'd heard the story about the bug, even read the reports after Teyla suggested it. But it was easy to forget the things you weren't a direct witness of. That was the problem with word of mouth and reports: he knew they were true, but there was always that part of his mind that wanted to regard it all as one more story out of all the stories he'd ever heard – fact and fiction.

“You okay?” Ronon asked.

Sheppard nodded. “Yeah. I'm good.” Except he didn't look it. Still a little pale, his eyes haunted. But he was up, and after a brief pause to pull himself together, he tossed back the top of the sleeping bag and joined Ronon for breakfast.

Not that he ate much, claiming to be not that hungry. They headed out to the beach, Ronon carrying the board, and resumed lessons with Sheppard being a little less chatty about it, doling out a word of praise here or there, giving instructions, but otherwise not saying much.

When the sun was higher, rather than take the board to catch a few waves, Sheppard returned to the camp.

“Sun's hurting my eyes,” he said. They spent the rest of the day sitting in the shade – Sheppard sat in the shade, Ronon did a little exploring. On returning to the camp with nothing of interest to show for his excursion, he found it empty.

Ronon's immediate assumption was that John had finally decided to surf, but seeing him no where on the water, Ronon's chest clenched in fear. It had been John's rule that neither of them go into the water without the other nearby in case something happened.

Then Ronon saw the board propped up against the 'jumper. He saw, inside the 'jumper itself, a mound beneath Sheppard's sleeping bag. Ronon went inside and crouched next to it. This time, he made sure to just poke John in the shoulder.

Sheppard's head turned to him, still a little pale with the addition of shadows under the eyes. He blinked blearily at Ronon.

“Have fun?” he asked.

“Not really. What's with you?”

Sheppard's hand snaked out from under the blanket to rub his face. “Nothing. Headache. Small one, promise. Probably need to drink more water.”

“Probably,” Ronon said. All the same, he placed the back of his hand against Sheppard's forehead, ignoring his protest. “You're a little warm. Did you take something?”

“No. I thought I'd just take it like a man and ride it out. Yes, I took something.”

Ronon smirked. “Rodney's a bad influence on you.” He patted John's shoulder through the sleeping bag. “Sleep it off, you'll be fine.”

Nodding, Sheppard gave him a thumbs up then drifted back to sleep.

By evening, he didn't seem any better. He managed to crawl from the sleeping bag for dinner, hot dogs and potato salad that he barely touched except to pick at it. He ended up mutilating it without taking a single bite, yet polished off two and a half bottles of pink lemonade.

“Turning in,” he said, tossing the plate in the bag for their garbage. He then dragged himself back to the 'jumper and his sleeping bag.

It wasn't long until Ronon joined him, checking his temperature in passing. Sheppard felt warmer and looked worse, even more pale darkening the gray beneath his eyes. Ronon sat back on his haunches, sucking his lip in thought, wondering if Sheppard had a point about those sticks they'd used to cook the birds. He contemplated waking Sheppard and getting him to fly the 'jumper back to Atlantis, before things became worse. But it was dark and Sheppard didn't look in any condition to fly. The safer bet would be to wait: if Sheppard improved by tomorrow, they had nothing to worry about. If he didn't, Ronon could always call someone in to come get them.

The decision made, Ronon lined up a couple of water bottles within Sheppard's reach, along with a couple of packets of Tylenol, then turned in.

It felt like only minutes later that he was startled out of a vague dream involving climbing a weird tree to get away from a zombie roota by the sound of retching. Ronon lifted his head toward the rear hatch and Sheppard's form a shadow in the moonlight spilling through the clearing, on his knees, hunched and shuddering with each heave.

Ronon crawled from his bag over to John, kneeling next to him with a hand on his back. Sheppard startled but didn't respond, too busy puking. Ronon could feel the rigid muscles of Sheppard's back fluttering through the T-shirt each time he purged, ribs expanding and contracting arrhythmic. Ronon rubbed in circles, because that was what you were supposed to do... or at least that's what Teyla always did when she happened to be there while someone was puking their guts inside out.

The purging took its sweet time about ending, and left Sheppard too drained to stay upright even on his hands and knees. He started to slump and Ronon made sure to aim that slump against his own body. He let Sheppard lean against him long enough to catch his breath then, wrapping his arms around the other man's chest, lifted him to his feet and half-walked/half-dragged him back to the sleeping back, slapping the hatch closed in passing. He kicked the sleeping bag open before easing Sheppard on top of it. He then handed him a bottle of water and a small tin bowl to rinse and spit.

“Thanks buddy,” Sheppard rasped. “Hope that was your cereal bowl... not mine.” He already had his eyes closed, and the words had barely left his mouth when his breathing evened out. Ronon set the smaller bowl aside then used one of the jumper's many cases as a bucket for future purging, the case of choice full of wires that he stuffed into a case full of nine-mils. McKay and Zelenka could bitch to him about it later. More specifically McKay; Zelenka would be all polite and stuttering about it then immediately drop the matter.

Finally, Ronon moistened a wash cloth and placed it on Sheppard's head. He returned to his own bag, crawling beneath it, but when his head touched the pillow he didn't go to sleep.

------------------------

The sun wasn't even up, the sky barely indigo through the 'jumper window, and Sheppard was worse. Even breathing turned into even panting, and when Ronon crawled from his bag to check on John, felt the man's forehead slicked with sweat. His whole body was wet, soaking every inch of his T-shirt that Ronon removed. It wasn't easy with the cloth clinging tenaciously to sticky skin, yet despite all the limb-manipulating Sheppard's eyes fluttered open for only a second before fluttering back shut. And he was muttering incoherently.

Ronon gently laid him back down. It was definitely time to call in the cavalry. He rose and headed for the console – the quiet, unlit console.

“Damn it!” Ronon hissed. He went back to John, knelt and tapped his sweaty cheeks. “Sheppard. Hey, Sheppard. I need you to wake up, buddy. Just real quick. I need you to do something.”

Bruise-looking eyelids fluttered, parting and exposing glassy, red-shot eyes that rolled drunkenly until settling on Ronon. He croaked a sickly, “Ron'n?”

“Yeah, it's Ronon. And I need you to do something for me, real easy. I'm going to bring you to the console,” and as he said this, he lifted John enough to get a slick arm across his shoulders, “and I need you to activate it. Okay? Real easy, like I said, then you can go back to sleep.”

“Somethin' wrong?” Sheppard asked. His head rolled on a limp neck when Ronon lifted him. Ronon adjusted his weight against his side and his head to rest on his shoulder. Sheppard's legs were like worms, moving but too limp to help out, forcing Ronon to drag him. It was like dragging an abnormally large fish trying to slip out of his grasp.

“Yeah, something's wrong. We need to get back to Atlantis.” As careful as he tried to be, Ronon still ended up dropping Sheppard into the seat instead of lowering him.

“Wraith?” Sheppard said, head falling back and bouncing against the head-rest. He flopped his hands onto the console that responded like an eager pup to his touch.

Ronon searched the console for the communication switch. “No. No Wraith. You're sick and we need to--”

Then they were airborne, slipping out of the canopy then speeding over an ink-dark ocean before Ronon's protest was even past his lips.

“Sheppard, damn it! I said no Wraith.”

Sheppard blinked. “Oh. Should turn around, then.” But before he could, Ronon gripped his wrist.

“No.” He sighed. “No, just... keep going. Might as well.” Because, hell, if John could pilot with the majority of his memory wiped (and hadn't that been fun?) then flying while sick would be like shooting point blank in a bucket of fish for him.

Or so Ronon could only hope. Sheppard's eyes were perpetually on the brink of closing. Watching them struggle to stay open – for Sheppard's entire body to stay upright – was making Ronon's own suddenly tired body ache in sympathy. He placed a hand on Sheppard's too-warm shoulder and squeezed.

“You're doing fine, Sheppard.”

Sheppard grunted. “Could do this in my sleep.”

“I'd rather you didn't.”

“Figure of speech.” Sheppard rubbed his face with one shaky hand. Ronon couldn't be sure, but thought they might be drifting. Just to play it safe, he grabbed Sheppard's hand and wrapped his fingers back around the control.

“Focus.”

Sheppard sighed, a shudder rippling from head to foot. “Don't feel so hot, pal.”

“I know,”Ronon said, releasing his hand to pat his arm. “Just try not to puke.”

Camping seemed to have tossed Ronon's common sense out the window. Sheppard's face pinched, pale fading to gray-green and his eyes popping wide.

Ronon stiffened. “Son of a...!” It took only seconds to burst from the seat to the back and grab the suitcase slash bucket, but by the time he returned a skinny string of bile was already out of John's mouth, sticking to his chin, dribbling on his chest, stomach and lap as it headed for the console. Ronon got the make-shift bucket under him in time to catch the real upheaval.

It left John shivering and barely able to stay upright. Ronon quickly grabbed water and the discarded wash-cloth, cleaning up while John rinsed and spat. He tried to chug half the water in four swallows before Ronon pulled it away.

“You'll just puke again,” he said, setting everything on the floor between the seats. He looked up at Sheppard, hunched, miserable and still shivering.

“This sucks,” Sheppard said. The strain of puking had left his voice sounding pinched and broken. “This always happens to me. I mean...” he swallowed and it looked like it hurt according to the mild wince. “Not always. A lot, though. We'd go on vacation, I'd come down with something. It'd never last long.” He shrugged. “But... two, three days of vacation still wasted. For me, whoever was stuck looking after me...”

Sheppard hunch tighter against the obvious protests of his stomach and other aches and pains, pressing the bumps of his spine into his skin. He was breathing like every molecule of oxygen counted, pausing sporadically to swallow so tight it corded his neck. Ronon lifted the case into his lap at the ready.

“Sorry,” Sheppard said.

Ronon shrugged. “Why? We still had fun.”

Sheppard straightened, ever so slightly, and shot Ronon a look of weary surprise. “Really?”

“Really,” Ronon said, a little surprised himself because, yeah, it had been fun. Just him and Sheppard, alone but well supplied, no running, no fighting and no taking and giving orders. Nothing to survive and plenty to enjoy. Even the whole surfing thing hadn't been so bad... kind of. “I can see why you like it so much.”

That got Sheppard to smile, weakly, briefly when he suddenly turned green. This time, Ronon was on it before the first heave.

Atlantis appeared like a distant silver star hurtling toward them. The city contacted them before Ronon could distinguish one tower from the other and he did most of the talking, requesting a med-team. Once they reached the sun-roof, the rest was automatic allowing Sheppard to rest his head on his folded arms on the console.

While the ramp lowered, Ronon grabbed an emergency blanket and draped it around Sheppard's shoulders, because being sick and partially exposed – even if it was just the upper body – was hard enough to tolerate on top of everything else. The med team was waiting and pulled the gurney in as close as they could. Sheppard's only protest to being transferred was a small, tired moan that ended in a content sigh when he was laid on his back and covered to his shoulders.

Before being wheeled out, Ronon clasped him on the shoulder. “See you in the infirmary, buddy.”

“Yay,” Sheppard croaked flatly, then he was pulled away.

----------------------------

It wasn't a bacteria, it was the flu: an alien flu with the same symptoms as an Earth flu, liable to last longer than the Earth flu, but still the flu and still mild enough for Sheppard to recover from without complication. So the sticks weren't to blame.

“Told ya,” Ronon said from his spot next to the bed in the foldable plastic camping chair, feet propped up on the edge of the bed. He glanced up from the hand-held game that Sheppard had let him borrow at the man himself, still pale, still shadow-eyed, but a lot more alert and a lot less sweaty.

Sheppard's hand flopped off and on the bed in a pathetic wave of dismissal. “Whatever. They got everything, right? My board?”

Ronon thumped his hand on the white arm of the chair – which was pretty comfortable, more comfortable than what the infirmary had to offer (Ronon really was getting spoiled). “Yup. Everything. Board, too.”

Sheppard breathed a sigh of relief. “Good.” He eyed Ronon warily. “No one used it, did they?”

“Yeah. We all took turns until Lorne accidentally broke it.” Ronon glanced up long enough to grin at Sheppard's annoyed look. “No. No one used it.”

“I just didn't want it to get lost is all,” John said with mild petulance. He stretched, working out the aches Ronon knew must have doubled from two and a half days in bed. He could hear the pop of stiffened vertebra and joints. “Uncle Ted helped me pick it out.”

Ronon sobered. “Oh.”

“No big deal, I guess. Just... sentimental value and all.” In other words, he would have killed anyone who lost it. Ronon got that. The picture of triumph that hung in his room wasn't all that pleasing to look at – it had been lying in a pile of scavenged junk from various worlds at a market on Solec – but a piece of Sateda was still a piece of Sateda and Ronon wasn't going to leave it for time and nature to erase. You needed things in life that either reminded you where you came from, or reminded you of the good days and the people involved.

Which was why Ronon had gone along with those marines sent to pick up their stuff, to make sure they got everything, Sheppard's board and the bag of seashells especially.

“Yeah,” Ronon said. Then said. “I still wanna learn how to surf.” He didn't need to look up to see Sheppard roll his head toward him, furrowing his brow in surprise.

“Really.”

“Yeah, really. Kind of like it.”

Sheppard snorted. “Like it or just jealous I can do something cool you can't?”

“Whatever. Soon as you get better, we're going back out there and you're teaching me.” This time, he did glance up, because Sheppard was smirking at him.

“You're on, chief.”

Ronon let the corner of his mouth curl into a satisfied grin. He would figure this surfing thing out. He didn't back down from a challenge, and it would be fun if nothing else.

And, yeah, he kind of liked the camping thing, too.

The End
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
 
d_odysseyd_odyssey on March 24th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
Yes! Yes! This was the episode I wanted to see. Love the easy camaraderie between John and Ronon as well as their competitive spirit. Loved the Ronon learning to surf, wanting to quit but just couldn't walk away. Nice little bits of background from both as they talked in the relaxed, laid back setting. Hee, boys climbing trees because they are there. I liked that you even worked some good old John whump in there, flying in his sleep no less. Now I want to read Camping Part 2 - Return of the Surfers. Excellent tag!
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks! I was so tempted to really drag this story out, let the boys have a few mild adventures before hitting the whumpy part. I was having that much fun writing them having that much fun :D.
(no subject) - d_odyssey on March 24th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
tinypenny: sheppardtinypenny on March 24th, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
Great story. I always wondered what happened on that camping trip:)
kriadydragon: Shep 2kriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
Thanks:) As did I ;)
.padawan_aneiki on March 24th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
FAB as always, m'dear. :) Loved this totally!

:D
kriadydragon: Dolphinkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)
WriterJCwriterjc on March 24th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
Awww, very nice. You also added some lovely back story for Sheppard. Like the way he opens up to Ronon. :) Great job.
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
Thank you :)
titan5: Auroratitan5 on March 24th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
This makes me seriously happy. I love Ronon and John friendship stuff. Loved the insight into Ronon's thoughts about being honest and about John and about stuff in general. And I always need my John-whump fix!! The interaction between them was perfect!!
kriadydragon: Beastkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you :D I love how much like brothers they are.
yellowvalley: squishy rononyellowvalley on March 24th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Dawwww. I kind of get the feeling that Ronon looks up to Sheppard like a big brother, and Sheppard respects Ronon for what he survived through and somewhat looks for his approval in things. In the show, you can tell John is sometimes completely surprised that Ronon, with all of his talents and skills, listens to him. (well, except for those occasions when he doesn't, but even Teyla says those are necessary sometimes.) ;)

Thanks for the enjoyable read!
kriadydragon: Shep icon 3kriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
They are so much like brothers, which is what I love about their friendship. I also think that Sheppard looks up to Ronon just as much. And, yeah, he does sometime seem surprised that Ronon listens to him ;)
parisindyparisindy on March 24th, 2009 06:49 am (UTC)
awwww that was sweet
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
The Spike: strange days for johnspike21 on March 24th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)
that was lovely. Sheppard and Ronon, just as they are.
kriadydragon: Monty Pythonkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
wildcat88: Sheppard profilewildcat88 on March 24th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
Eeeeee!! I LOVE THIS!! *twirls you* It's just perfect - bonding between the boys, competition to climb trees, seashells for Teyla, whump, great care by Ronon. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

And I'm with d_odyssey, I'd love to see Camping, The Return. :)
kriadydragon: Dolphinkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
You're welcome :D

I am definitely contemplating a team camping trip. I seem to have developed a taste for camping fic ;)
jujuberry136jujuberry136 on March 24th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Yay for the boys having a pretty sweet vacation (until the whole flu thing)! I love Ronon and Sheppard's competitive natures coming out to play, the surfing lessons, and the campfire cookouts.

Now, of course, I want to see the team on vacation some time after this fic. Will Teyla try surfing? Will Rodney be able to deal without his computer?

Anyways, this was a lot of fun, thanks for sharing :D
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Even as I write this I'm considering a team camping trip. Rodney without his laptop - heeee!:D
Tridget: SGA Gatetridget on March 24th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
This Brainstorm tag was by far the best part of the episode! I had really wanted to hear about that camping trip. Beautiful friendship story.
kriadydragon: Shep 2kriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you:) I was actually quite surprised by the lack of Brainstorm camping tags for this ep. I thought for sure there would be a ton. A lot of people were requesting them, but no one was really writing them except for really short stuff that was either slash or verging on slash.
magadaymagaday on March 24th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
Nice story. Fic with Shep Ronon friendship and this was well done. Nice bit of whump as well. Could totally picture JS surfing by your descriptions.
kriadydragon: Beastkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks :D
coolbreeze1coolbreeze1 on March 24th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Great tag! You've really captured John and Ronon's friendship. I love the little insights into their characters. For John - who has trouble opening up in the show - and Ronon - who doesn't say much at all in the show - the ease with which these two talked to each other and opened up really felt real and exactly how I imagine them talking to each other.

I loved the descriptions of the ocean and surfing...made me wish I lived closer to the ocean. My favorite line:

Ronon hated surfing.

I burst out laughing at that part. So true! Surfing is much, much harder than it looks...
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I feel that, IMHO, of all the team, Ronon would be the one that John opens up to the easiest, because he knows that Ronon is someone who will listen and not act on what he hears, or be made to feel uncomfortable by it.
Erika: TDOx_erikah_x on March 24th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
That was wonderful! Wish we had gotten this episode instead.
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 24th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, it would have been interesting :D.
shepsgirl on March 24th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Wonderful tag, loved every moment of it. I adore the interaction between John and Ronon. They know each other so well and don't need many words to express how they feel, but yet John opens up so effortlessly around Ronon. Nice little bit of whump as well, poor John. Look forward to more John and Ronon stories from you. Thanks
kriadydragon: Shep iconkriadydragon on March 25th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Thank you:) As I said in one of the responses above, I feel that Ronon is the easiest person John would open up to.