Title: My Brother's Keeper

Author: Mice

Email: just_us_mice@yahoo.com

Category: Stargate: Atlantis, Carson/Rodney/Ronon

Warnings: slash, h/c

Spoilers: Season two up to Aurora

Rating: NC17

Summary: Ronon decides that Carson and Rodney both need a keeper.

Archive: If it's on your list, you can archive it. If it isn't and you'd like it, just let me know where you're putting it.

Feedback: Feed me, Seymour.

Website: Mice's Hole in the Wall https://www.squidge.org/mice

Mirror: http://mice.inkpress.org

Disclaimer: Not mine. They belong to many other people. But if they were mine, they'd be having very interesting adventures.

Author's Notes: For the Beckett Slashathon, written for lisaroquin. Her two prompts: tired, annoyed. Evil kudos to Zortified for doing the 'thon in the first place, and for her killer beta skillz.  Beta and handholding by Pas, despite her surgery, along with kaytee4ever, heuradys, and AmIReal.




For men of the same tribe or family little value one another when dangers press; but a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken, and invincible; since the lovers, ashamed to be base in sight of their beloved, and the beloved before their lovers, willingly rush into danger for the relief of one another.



Ronon held a steadying hand out to Beckett as the three of them climbed the steep, slippery mountainside. McKay was too worried about Beckett to complain about the situation; Ronon thought it only half a blessing. Sheppard's team had been sent to Anjavasa, a world with reasonably high technology, to scout for potential weapons against the Wraith, but they'd scattered when Darts were sighted.


Beckett wasn't doing well. He'd taken a bad blow to the head when they'd dived for cover not long ago. The shale slope had crumbled under him, sending him tumbling, and McKay had nearly leapt down after him. Only Ronon's firm hand had kept him under cover as the Dart went by.


Blood was flowing down the side of Beckett's bruised, dirty face. Ronon thought he'd broken something and they should stop soon to take care of it, but they were far too exposed on the open, rocky ground. They didn't need to be feeding the Wraith today.


McKay grabbed Ronon's arm, panting. "Carson needs... needs to stop," he huffed. Beckett's eyes were dazed and he said nothing, wobbling a little where he stood.


"I know," Ronon said. "It's too dangerous here." He pointed to a rock formation. "Probably a cave there." Beckett looked like he'd need the shelter.


McKay caught Beckett's weight when he swayed, holding him upright. "He's not... not going to make it." McKay blinked and paled when he realized what he'd said. "To the cave," he huffed. "By himself."


"Doesn't need to," Ronon said. He stooped and slipped the groggy healer across his shoulders. Beckett groaned and shuddered but held on, fingers clutching the leather and fabric of Ronon's thick coat. Ronon didn't want to say anything, but he was worried.


McKay just looked at him for a moment, exhaustion and annoyance in his face and the set of his body. "Need to catch... my breath."


"When we get there." If he was cautious, he could negotiate the treacherous slope without any further harm coming to his charge, but that assumed they wouldn't have to hide from a Dart again before they got to the cave.


McKay gave him a pained look and stumbled behind, hands and feet busy trying to keep his balance as Ronon led him along.


He could hear McKay panting as they neared the shelter, and the whine of a Dart approaching in the distance. Ronon knew by the sound that they'd make it unseen if McKay could keep the pace. "Hurry," he said, pushing himself hard with Beckett's weight on his shoulders. Beckett grunted with each step Ronon took, whimpering a little when he moved.


"Not much further," he assured Beckett. Ronon wished there was something he could do to ease the man's pain. He'd become very fond of the healer during his time in Atlantis.


"Hurts," came the quiet, strained reply. "Think... I broke something." Beckett's voice was slurred and Ronon didn't like that.


"Could things... be any worse?" McKay grumbled.


Ronon cast a glance at him. "Yes." They were almost to shelter. He could see the mouth of the cave and had to scramble the last stretch where it came close to vertical. Beckett twitched and covered his head with one arm as they scraped along the rock ledge on one side of the opening. Ronon set him down quickly but carefully then grabbed McKay by one arm and hauled him up into the small, damp space.


"Oh, great." McKay leaned against the wall for a moment. He peered at Beckett with an assessing look.


"Shelter is shelter," Ronon said, cutting him off before the complaints escalated. He turned back to Beckett, tugging the pack from his back and settling him carefully against the cave wall. McKay staggered over to Beckett and collapsed next to him.


"Carson?" McKay's face was red from the effort of the climb, but the worry in his eyes was clear. "How bad are you hurt?"  He opened Beckett's pack and fished around inside. "Gotta... gotta get you patched up." Ronon could hear the fear in his voice.


"Let me," Ronon said, kneeling before them. McKay's hands were shaking and Ronon took the pack from him. "Catch your breath, then try calling Sheppard again. He's gotta be out there." He laid a hand on McKay's shoulder for a moment, hoping it would steady him. He might be noisy sometimes, but he was a good man if you could see past the bluster.


McKay nodded and swallowed. "Right, right." His eyes didn't leave Beckett. Ronon knew McKay worried a lot about Beckett. At first Ronon thought they were just good friends, but it hadn't been more than a week before he'd realized it was more than that.


They were quiet about it. That had surprised Ronon, because nothing else about McKay was quiet. Beckett was more soft-spoken, but anyone who looked at the man could read him easily. The fact that no one had ever said anything about them was just as strange.


The thing that made no sense at all was why they weren't living together. He wasn't sure what kinds of courting and partnering customs the Atlanteans had, but he could see how close these two were and, back on Sateda, people who acted like Beckett and McKay did together were usually mated or well on their way to it.


Ronon pulled a couple of field dressings from the medical kit. One he wet and used to clean Beckett's head wound. A moment's search brought him a tube of antibiotic and he smeared some over the bloody gash as Beckett hissed in pain.


"Carson?" McKay asked.


Ronon kept working, ignoring McKay. He pressed the second field dressing against the wound. He took McKay's hand and put it over the bandage. "Hold this."


"Right, right, holding" McKay said, restless. Beckett's eyes had slipped closed while Ronon was bandaging him.


"What do you think you broke?" He looked Beckett over closely after the bandage was tied securely, studying the way he held himself. Probably a rib or two.


Beckett indicated a place on his chest. "There."


"Colonel?" McKay tapped on his radio. "Col. Sheppard, do you read me?" His face twisted with disgust. "Damn it, nothing. Why does this always have to happen when somebody's injured?"


Ronon opened Beckett's vest and tugged at his shirt and Beckett grunted. "Och, tha' hurts." His voice was still slurring. McKay put a hand on Beckett's arm.


"Carson?" McKay's voice was quieter now, intense, and he looked at Beckett closely. Beckett turned his head slightly toward McKay, leaning it on the rock wall of the cave, and opened his eyes. He blinked.


"Rodney, can... any luck?"


McKay shook his head. He leaned in close to Beckett, foreheads nearly touching. "Nothing. We need to get you back to Atlantis."


Ronon's fingers found the fracture quickly by Beckett's hiss. "It's broken but not too bad. There's nothing we can do here."


McKay glared at him. "What? Can't you at least wrap it or something? The man's obviously in pain."


Beckett shook his head. "No' that bad," he said. His cringe afterward wasn't convincing, but he was right. Immobilizing the ribs wouldn't do much right now.


The Dart whined by outside and all of them stilled in the cramped space, looking toward the cave's opening. They couldn't see the sky from where they were, but Ronon knew the Dart hadn't found them. "Wonder why Sheppard isn't responding?" he said quietly, looking into Beckett's eyes. They looked more or less okay, but the light wasn't very good.


"I don't *know*," McKay snapped. "Maybe his radio's broken. Maybe he and Teyla were... um..." He shifted his weight nervously as Beckett moaned and he looked at Beckett. "Are you gonna be okay, Carson?"


Beckett closed his eyes and took McKay's wrist. "Home," he said softly.


"I know, I know," McKay muttered. He raised a hand as if to stroke Beckett's forehead but stopped and looked at Ronon instead. "What are we going to do now?" he asked. Beckett whimpered, almost inaudibly. "Easy, Carson. We'll get you out of here," McKay promised. "We'll get you home." His voice wavered as he spoke.


"They don't know we're here," Ronon said. "They were just doing a pass. They've probably headed down into the valley to do a culling in the city."


"Lovely," McKay growled. "At least it's not us. We should be doing something, not just sitting here watching the mold grow. My allergies are going to be acting up any minute now. And who knows what this'll do to Carson's breathing?"


Ronon shrugged and tapped his radio. "Sheppard? You out there?"


"Hey, Dex." Sheppard's voice was breathless. "Couldn't reply before. We were a little too busy hiding. We had some Wraith guards on the ground."


"Understood. Beckett's knocked his head, fractured a rib, maybe two. We need the Jumper to get him back. He's not gonna make it on his own." He looked back at Beckett, who was listing slightly toward McKay. McKay looked at him for a moment, looked at Ronon, and then let Beckett lean on him. Beckett's head fell slowly, coming to rest on McKay's shoulder.


"You didn't see this," McKay hissed softly as Ronon's radio clicked off, glaring at him.


Ronon blinked. That made no sense, but he'd ask about it later. Sheppard responded. "Crap. Is he conscious?"


Beckett tapped at his chest, missing his radio switch twice before giving up. "Barely," McKay said into his radio.


"Damn. Listen, Doc, we'll be back at the Jumper in about fifteen minutes. Dex, where the hell are you guys?"


Ronon nodded. "Cave about halfway up the slope to the west of you."


"Right, gotcha. Sheppard out."


"What?" McKay snapped. "He can't land out there!"


"They hover, don't they?"


McKay's eyes widened, then he grumbled. "Right, yes. Of course they do. Hovering." His arm slipped around Beckett and he was stroking Beckett's shoulder, seemingly unaware of it.


"What is it that I didn't see?" Ronon raised an eyebrow as he watched McKay.


McKay startled and made to pull his arm back, but Beckett groaned and McKay stopped moving. He mumbled something soft to Beckett, stroking his cheek gently then looked back up at Ronon. "This. You didn't see this."




McKay glowered at him. "What, you mean I have to spell it out to you?"


"I have no idea what you're talking about, McKay."


McKay sighed and pulled Beckett a little closer, being careful of his ribs. "Don't tell me you haven't noticed that there are a lot of military on Atlantis."


"Of course. What's that got to do with anything?" Ronon asked. Beckett looked like he was going in and out of focus as they talked.


"Most of the military," Beckett said, "not keen on... on men... together."


Ronon blinked. "What?"


Beckett's hand tightened on McKay's wrist. McKay looked terrified. "So, like, don't tell anyone about this," McKay said.


"I don't understand. Why would anyone be upset?"


McKay gave him a long, hard look. "You really don't get it, do you?"


"What I don't get," Ronon said, "is why you two aren't living together. That makes no sense."


McKay paled. Beckett just looked up at Ronon, eyes narrowed with pain. "Can we not have this conversation?" McKay squeaked.


"You're hiding it?" Ronon asked. The Atlanteans were really strange people.


"Yes! Yes, we're hiding it!" McKay shouted. Beckett flinched. "Sorry," McKay said, much more softly.


"Not doing a very good job," Ronon said. "I figured it out about a week after I got here."


McKay rubbed his palm over his face. "Oh peachy. If anyone else finds out, we're in for a world of shit."


"Why?" Ronon asked.


"People from our planet are frequently uncomfortable with two men... umm... well... with two men." McKay looked pretty uncomfortable talking about it, too. Beckett shifted and buried his face in McKay's shoulder.


"But what's the military got to do with any of this? That's just stupid."


McKay glared at him. "The American military's the worst about it. Seriously -- where we come from? They kill people like us for... for being people like us. People are tortured and raped and murdered for being like us." Ronon could see a shadow of genuine fear behind McKay's eyes. McKay turned to Beckett for a moment, his arms surrounding the healer protectively. "Carson, try to rest." Beckett nodded carefully, then flinched, eyes squeezing shut in pain.


Ronon growled, angry at the thought. It couldn't be as bad as McKay believed. He was sure he wasn't the only one to have figured it out, and nobody had harmed them. McKay probably meant somebody might say mean things to him. Wouldn't be the first time he'd made a mountain out of a bump.


"Feel sick," Beckett whispered.


"Easy, okay? We'll get you home as soon as we can." McKay's brow wrinkled and he let his forehead touch Beckett's temple for a moment. Ronon had never seen him act like that before. Hadn't really seen McKay touch much of anybody willingly. Beckett slowly slumped into McKay, boneless. "Carson?" There was an edge of something frantic in his voice.


Ronon didn't believe for a second that Sheppard would allow anyone to be violent with McKay and Beckett just because they were together. "But they're supposed to be Brothers," he said. "It's how the military does things."


"Maybe yours," McKay said. "Sheppard's, not so much." 


Ronon nodded. "I see." Suddenly a lot of things about the Atlanteans made more sense. "So none of the military men sleep together?"


McKay sputtered, shock on his face. "Not the Americans, at any rate. If they do, they can't say anything about it or they'll be thrown out. And that's if the people around them are feeling generous and don't just beat the shit out of them. They're the majority of the Atlantis military right now."


"No wonder they never felt right." Ronon shook his head. "How do they expect to bond if they're not Brothers?"


McKay touched Beckett's face again, his voice soft. "Carson? Talk to me." Beckett didn't respond. "Crap, he's passed out."


"That's not good."


McKay glared at him. "No shit, Mr. Obvious," he snarled. He shook his head. "What if he dies before Sheppard gets here?" He gave Ronon a panicked look.


"I doubt that'll happen."


"Yeah, and what's your medical degree in?"


"I was trained in basic field aid in the military. Everyone was. He's still breathing."


McKay held Beckett gently, touching the pulse point at his throat. He looked up when the hum of the Jumper's engine sounded in the distance. "Oh, thank god."


"Don't worry," Ronon said. He stood and went to the opening of the cave. He looked up but didn't see the Jumper. They were probably cloaked anyway. He waved and the sound of the Jumper's engine came closer. "They'll be here in a minute," Ronon called back to McKay.


The Jumper decloaked in front of them. "Hurry it up here, guys," Sheppard shouted. "Can't leave us exposed for long."


Ronon leaned down and took Beckett from McKay, carrying him carefully. McKay picked up Beckett's pack and hurried after them. "Let's get out of here," Ronon said.


"Yes, by all means," McKay echoed, panic in his voice. "Have a med team waiting. Carson's passed out."


"Gotcha," Sheppard said. Teyla and McKay helped Ronon ease Beckett down onto one of the benches as they raced for the Gate.




Rodney was on his fourth cup of coffee after midnight. Carson was sleeping. His barely competent staff had insisted he'd be all right, but Rodney wasn't so sure. He wasn't going to believe anything until he was able to speak to Carson himself, and get a clear, coherent response. He was startled when he heard footsteps.


"Hey." Ronon slipped his head inside the privacy curtains. "Still awake, huh?"


"No, I'm sleeping with my eyes open," Rodney snapped, but he was quiet about it, not wanting to wake Carson.


Ronon came in and held up a powerbar. "Thought you might need this."


Rodney calmed down a little. "Yeah, okay. Thanks." He took the bar, ripping open the wrapper, and ate it quickly. He wished his stomach would settle.


"How's he doing?" Ronon's voice was soft.


Rodney shrugged. "Asleep. They're saying he'll be okay."


"Told you."


Rodney snorted. "When you learn to use cutlery, I might consider listening to your medical opinion."


Ronon just smiled, pulled up a chair, and sat next to him. "How are you doing?"


"Fine. I'm fine." It was a lie, but he wasn't going to admit to anything.


"Don't look it."


Rodney glared at him. "I think know how I'm doing, thank you."


"Don't wake him," Ronon said, tilting his head toward Carson.


Rodney blinked. "Sorry," he said quietly. "Is there a reason you're here?" He settled back into his chair.


"Thought you might want to sleep with somebody watching him." Ronon's lips quirked into a one sided smile.


"I... no. I've got too much caffeine in my system to sleep right now, but thanks." The offer was tempting and even appreciated; he was surprised Ronon realized he wasn't going to sleep if somebody he trusted wasn't watching Carson. Rodney, however, wasn't going to leave until after his lover opened his eyes.


"Not gonna do him any good if you're exhausted." Ronon watched him and Rodney fidgeted.


"I'm fine. Really." He rubbed at an ache in the back of his neck.


Ronon shook his head. "Let me." He reached out with one massive paw and touched Rodney. Rodney twitched. Ronon's hand was warm.


"What do you think you're doing?"


Ronon shrugged. "Trying to help." His hand closed gently, squeezing a little where Rodney's fingers were. Rodney moved his hand away and Ronon squeezed a little harder. Actually, it felt kind of good. "You mind?"


"Uh, well maybe... I guess not." Rodney relaxed a little and let Ronon massage the sore place.


"Sheppard been by?" Ronon asked.


Rodney nodded, leaning a little into the strong hand. "About 2200, before he went to bed."




Rodney sighed. "He was worried too."


Ronon nodded, shifting a little closer as his fingers moved. "If I know, he probably does."


Rodney's heart skipped a beat and he looked up at Ronon, panic rising. "We can't talk about this here," he hissed. "Really, trust me. It's a lousy idea."


"Nobody's here," Ronon said. "The nurse is in her office."


Rodney grabbed Ronon's wrist, stilling his hand for a moment. "Please. You really don't understand." Rodney was whispering now, frantic. "He's hurt badly enough. Do you want to see anyone hurt him worse?"


Ronon frowned. "No. But Sheppard would never let that happen."


"Sheppard wouldn't know about it before it did." Rodney took a deep breath. "It's not that I don't trust the Colonel, it's that I don't trust any of his goons."


"Why?" Ronon's fingers began moving again.


Rodney slumped a little in his chair. "Look, before we got back in contact with Earth, it might not have been so bad, but with Caldwell in and out on the Daedalus there's just too much chance that somebody who isn't... well, who hasn't been through what the rest of us have will see this and decide they don't like it."


"It's none of their business." Ronon gestured to Carson. "Everyone likes him. Nobody would hurt him."


"They'd change their minds, believe me. And I'm not nearly so popular." Rodney shuddered, not wanting to imagine someone hurting Carson. "Neither of us are military, but that doesn't mean that they wouldn't take offense."


"On Sateda we were taught that the best soldiers, the best warriors, were Brothers." Rodney could hear the capital letter in Ronon's voice. "They take better care of each other. They risk more for each other."


"Sheppard's superiors don't believe that," Rodney said. "In fact, they think it harms morale, that it's unnatural. And the general attitude is that anyone who... who sleeps with other men is a threat to military order and discipline. So we don't talk about it. And we shouldn't be talking about it now." Rodney's heart was racing. "You don't know what they do to people like us back there. They'd hurt him. They'd hurt me. If the Canadians were in charge, this shit wouldn't happen."


Ronon's eyes narrowed. "I won't let anything happen to either of you." His thumb strayed along the side of Rodney's neck, almost a caress, and Rodney shivered.


"You wouldn't even know what to look for," Rodney insisted.


Ronon gave him a solemn look. "I know what danger looks like."


"Why do you even care?" Rodney asked, confused.


"Because I see you." He looked over at Carson. "I see him."


"What's that supposed to mean?"


Ronon turned back to Rodney, fingers still moving. "I have some things to think about." Ronon's hand left Rodney's neck. He rose and looked down at Rodney. "Try to sleep." With that, he turned and left. Rodney watched the soft sway of the curtains for a moment then turned back to Carson. He rested a hand on Carson's arm, thumb tracing gentle circles on the bare, warm skin.






Carson shifted his weight gently on the couch, tucking his feet back under the blanket. He still had a miserable headache and his cracked ribs throbbed despite the pain medications. He'd been home from the infirmary for about a day now. Rodney had been by several times to fret over him, but it was driving him more than a wee bit mad.


When the door chimed, he looked over at it. "Not now, Rodney," he called wearily. The door opened anyway. It wasn't Rodney.


"Hey," Ronon said. "How you doing?"


"Ronon? This is a surprise." Carson settled back carefully and sighed. "Not so bad," he said. "Still hurts though."


Ronon nodded. "Yeah. It will for a while. Mind some company?"


"I suppose I could do with a little."


"Not McKay?" A ghost of a smile crossed his face for a moment.


Carson smiled. "Only because he's been here three times already today, the great lout. It wouldn't be so bad if he'd help out a bit more, but he mostly frets and doesn't do much."


"Sounds like him." Ronon smiled. He sat in the chair next to the couch.


"Aye," Carson sighed and smiled back. "That's just Rodney."


"I've been thinking," Ronon said. He tilted his head thoughtfully, dredlocks falling forward to shadow his face.


Carson raised an eyebrow. He'd always believed Ronon thought more than he spoke. "About what, lad?"


"You. McKay." Ronon paused, and Carson waited, wondering what this was about. "He loves you."


Carson's heart nearly stopped. They'd tried to be discreet, but he knew how hard it was for Rodney not to show anything. He took a deep breath. "Aye, he does," he whispered. He had vague memories of Ronon and Rodney talking in the cave, but none of it was coming clear.


"Seems like it's hard for him, hiding it." Ronon was watching him, brown eyes half closed.


"For both of us," Carson admitted, unsure of how he felt about Ronon's knowledge. "Why?" He cringed, holding a hand to his head as the pain spiked behind one eye. "Och," he hissed, squeezing his eyes shut against it.


A moment later, the couch sank a bit with Ronon's weight. "Easy," Ronon said softly. One large hand stroked Carson's forehead soothingly. Carson startled and looked up.


"What's this then?" he asked.


"Just want to help." Carson nodded and sighed and forced himself to relax his tight muscles. He took a few long, measured breaths. "That's better," Ronon said. His hand continued the warm, gentle stroke, easing the spike in Carson's head.


"Thanks," Carson said quietly, suddenly exhausted by the pain, his energy drained.


"Why doesn't Sheppard take better care of you two?" Ronon asked. His deep, rumbling voice was quiet.


"I don't know what you mean," Carson said. He didn't want to open his eyes. The light bothered him even though it was low.


Ronon's weight shifted, his hip resting against Carson's side as he kept up the careful motion of his hand. "He should be here," Ronon said.


Carson opened one eye and looked up. "He should? Why?"


"He's the commander here. You're his responsibility."


Carson shook his head, trying to understand what Ronon was getting at. "His responsibility? No, lad. He's only responsible for the military here."


Ronon sighed, fingers straying into Carson's hair. It felt good. "The way you people do things, it confuses me. You and McKay aren't soldiers, but you have to work with them; go on missions with them. You have to be like them."


Carson shifted and sat, looking into Ronon's brown eyes. "We've been isolated from our world for a long time now, at least until recently, and getting there and back is still difficult. We do what we have to in order to survive. And I'm still not sure what you're on about regarding Colonel Sheppard."


"On Sateda, he'd be the one taking care of you. The Taskmaster does that. You're not trained for what you're doing, so you need somebody to watch over you. Seems like he can't, so I will."


Carson blinked. Ronon's hand was still moving, soothing the pain. He reached up and put his own over it. "We can take care of ourselves, you know."


Ronon nodded. "I know. But in the field, you need help." Ronon's hand stilled.


"This isn't offworld."


"I know that too. And nobody's taking care of you now."


Carson's brow wrinkled. "What are you trying to say, lad?"


Ronon leaned down until his forehead touched Carson's, his hand still cupping Carson's temple. "You and McKay, you need a Brother." Ronon raised his face and looked into Carson's eyes. "It's not an insult, to be cared for. It's an honor."


Carson gave him a blank look. "A Brother? I don't think I understand."


"Brothers are responsible for each other," Ronon said. "When you took that tracking device out of my back, that was the act of a Brother." Carson just nodded and let him continue. "There's a bond between Brothers. They work together. They watch each other's backs. They share a bed. They take care of each other if they're hurt. They--"


"Just a minute now. Share a bed?" Carson blinked. "What's this?"


 "It's part of it. Not the whole thing."


Carson shook his head. "You're saying you think the Colonel should be... should be sleeping with me and Rodney?"


"If he were Satedan, he would be."


"He's not, nor are we. And-- wait, lad, are you suggesting you should be?"


"Since Sheppard can't -- or won't."


"No, no." He waved a hand in the air. "I'm not getting this. You think he should be sleeping with all his men?" Carson was too confused to dwell on Ronon's assertion that anyone should be sleeping with both him and Rodney.


"No. The Taskmaster chooses men as his elite. Those are the ones he's with. But you're different, and on Sateda, you'd be the Taskmaster's personal responsibility. If he couldn't, he'd give his most trusted Brother that honor."


"You do realize that Rodney and I are together?"


Ronon nodded. "But that's not what this is about."


Carson's head was still spinning about the whole concept. "Then what is it about?"


Ronon shook his head, smiling. "Responsibility. Protection. Honor. Making sure no one gets left behind."


"Nobody gets left behind here." Carson took a deep breath. Ronon was a little too close for comfort now, though neither of them had moved.


"Not their bodies. But you were here alone."


"This... this is all a bit much for me right now." Carson shifted back a little on the couch. "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it all." When the door chimed, Ronon sat back a little but didn't get up. Carson breathed a sigh of relief. "Who is it?" he asked.


The door opened and Rodney came in. He stopped for a moment and looked at both of them. "Am I interrupting something?" He sounded uncertain. "I mean, I really hope not."


"Just a conversation," Carson said. He held out a hand to Rodney. "Come on over, love."


"What are you doing here?" Rodney asked Ronon as he came over and took Carson's hand.


"Making sure he's all right," Ronon replied.


"Seemed like you had a wee bit more on your mind than that," Carson said softly.


"What do you mean by that?" Rodney asked, suspicion in his voice. He stared at Ronon.


Carson tugged at Rodney's hand, pulling him down for a hug. Rodney gave in, reluctantly. "I think we're having a bit of a misunderstanding."


Rodney looked up at Ronon from where he knelt next to the couch, arms around Carson. "What's going on?"


"He's got this idea that... that..." Carson wasn't sure what he could say that wouldn't set Rodney off on a neurotic rant.


"Is this about that whole taking care of us thing again?" Rodney asked. "Because really, adults here."


"Aye, something like that." Carson sighed as Rodney got up and slipped onto the couch behind him. He pulled Rodney's arms tighter around his chest, avoiding the aching place where his ribs were cracked.


"It's not that simple," Ronon said.


"Then explain it to me," Rodney snapped.


Carson shook his head. "Oh, this is goin' ta be brilliant," he muttered. He listened as Ronon carefully explained what he'd told Carson earlier, Rodney getting more and more agitated as the explanation went along.


"So what you're saying is that... that you think either you or Sheppard should be sleeping with us?" Rodney's voice held a combination of astonishment and shock that would have been amusing if Carson weren't feeling it himself.


"You both keep asking that."


"Well, it's a good question!" Rodney shouted. Carson cringed as the sound shot through his head. "Sorry." Rodney tightened his grip on Carson possessively, still staring at Ronon. "You think I'm gonna give him up just because you want him? You're nuts."


Ronon sighed. "It's not about that. I told you."


"Look, I know you could beat the crap out of me with both hands tied behind your back. Hell, you could probably do it with your hair, but really, he's mine." Rodney's voice was taking on an edge of hysteria now.


"Easy, love," Carson said. "I'm not going anywhere."


"Yes, well, thank you for that, but I'm not sure Chewbacca here gets it."


Carson held Rodney's hand, appreciating that Rodney was willing to risk dealing with Ronon on his behalf, but he honestly doubted it would come to that. "I don't think he's trying to suggest stealing me away from you."


"No," Ronon said. "Why are you stuck on that? It's not like I want to break you up."


Rodney moved restlessly behind Carson. "It's pretty big, in case you hadn't noticed."


Ronon shrugged. "Not really."


Carson stroked Rodney's arm gently, resting against his broad chest. "Ronon, lad, I gather that you like us and that you think we're... I don't know, worth taking care of I suppose, but that's just not how our people do these things."


"I know," Ronon said, "but maybe it should be." He reached out and took Rodney's arm, looking him in the eyes. "It's not just about Beckett."


"Oh, god, he's suggesting some sort of perverted threesome now, isn't he?" He glared at Ronon. "You remember what I told you about what they do to people like us back home? If we got involved in some kinky threesome, it would be like ten times worse. A hundred times worse. Worse to the hundredth power."


Ronon sighed. "I think I should go."


"Yes," Rodney said. "Yes, I think you should."


Carson put a hand on Ronon's knee. "I appreciate what it seems you're offering, Ronon. I'm just not sure either of us can quite wrap our brains around it."


Ronon nodded. "I know. Give it time." He stood and went to the door. Pausing for a moment, he looked back at them. "Think about it." With that, he left.


"Oh god oh god." Rodney was muttering, shaking his head. "What the hell was that all about?"


Carson turned in his arms. "Far as I could tell, he thinks we both could use a little extra watching offworld. I'm not so sure he's wrong about that, you know. If it wasn't for that other bit, I'd be right flattered that he thinks we're worth it. And to be honest, I wouldn't mind having a man like that thinking you were his personal charge when you're away."


"You can't be serious." Rodney rested his cheek against Carson's temple. "Tell me you're not serious."


One hand brushed along Rodney's arm, moving up to his shoulder, and Carson kissed him softly. "I'm not sure what to think right now, to be honest. I just know I worry for you when you're away. You come home hurt so often."


Rodney stared at him. He touched the stitches in Carson's scalp. "And you don't?"


"He may have a point."


"Yeah, and he was the one who was allegedly looking after us when you got this way." Rodney's eyes narrowed.


"Aye, but what would have happened to me if he'd not been there?"


Rodney paused for a moment, looking shaken. "Not going there," he whispered, his voice rough with emotion.


"So perhaps the lad's right."


"I don't want to think about it," Rodney said. "I came here to see you, not get mixed up in some kinky threesome discussion."


Carson sighed. "Then let's set it aside for now. We'll have time enough to talk later."


"You're not thinking of trading me in for a younger, better looking model, are you?" Rodney's face showed his worry. Carson smiled.


"No, Rodney. I don't want anyone but you." He kissed Rodney again, harder this time, wanting to convince his lover. The man could be so insecure; there were moments when Carson wanted to be able to sear it into Rodney's brain that he wasn't like to leave.


"You mind if I stay tonight?" Rodney asked.


Carson smiled. "I'd love it."




"You bloody stupid git," Carson snapped. "Just once I want to see you home without a bruise on you." Rodney had been back through the Gate again today and come home banged and bruised. He was tired; the pain medications Carson was still on had been making him irritable and Rodney's idiot tendency to get himself hurt seemed as good a thing to go on about as any.


"I'm careful!" Rodney insisted.


"You're not!" Carson shouted. "Look at you!" He waved a hand at Rodney's bruised side. "You could have damaged one of your kidneys, or broken a rib!"


"It's not like nobody else has this stuff happen," Rodney sniped back. "Teyla's bruised up too."


Carson glared. "If Ronon had been along, you'd not have had this damned fool injury."


"If Ronon didn't have food poisoning, he'd have been able to go."


He poked a finger in Rodney's face. "Well if he wouldn't eat soddin' anything that fell in front of him, he'd not have food poisoning. He'll be fine tomorrow. Why couldn't you lot have waited one more day?" Carson wanted to stomp about, but that would only make his ribs ache more.


Rodney crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair, glaring over Carson's kitchen table at him. His foot was tapping restlessly. "It's not like he's my keeper, damn it."


"Well he should be," Carson growled. "He offered, didn't he?"


Rodney snorted. "So maybe you should take him up on it," he said. "Except for the sex thing. That's totally out of the question."


Carson stopped in mid-stride and stared at Rodney. The urge to shout left as suddenly as it had come upon him. "Maybe we *should* talk to him."


"About being my personal bodyguard? Of course; it would give him something to do besides look for stray scraps in the mess and give himself food poisoning." Rodney grumbled and shifted and his foot abruptly stopped tapping.


Carson went to sit opposite Rodney at the table. "It makes a certain amount of sense, though he's certainly got plenty to do. Don't insult the lad by calling him useless." He thought for a moment before he spoke again. "What if this Brother thing, what if it's a way that he's trying to make a place for himself here? Trying to make a home? It's not like he has anywhere else to go, with his world destroyed by the Wraith."


Rodney's eyes narrowed. "Oh. Yeah. You know, I didn't think of that."


"It's because your head's usually too far up your bum."


"Oh right. Insult me. See if you ever get laid again."


Carson grinned at the direct hit then sobered. "We could give him that, you know. Give him something worthwhile here, a way to feel he's maybe got some family again."


"Family? His whole Brother thing sounds downright incestuous." Rodney shook his head.


"He said it's not what it's all about, and you know we're both more concerned about keeping you safe offworld."


"And you," Rodney added. "Sex is so not on the agenda."


"Perhaps he doesn't feel we have to do that if the rest of it's there -- whatever the rest of it is to him." Carson leaned his elbows on the table. He reached across to Rodney and Rodney took his hand. "I think it's worth at least considering. We can talk more about it later."


Rodney shrugged. "I guess. But you so owe me a blow job for insulting me like that."


"I thought I wasn't goin' to get laid again?" Carson eyed Rodney's bruised side. "It's not like either of us is goin' to get more than that with you in that condition." He smiled. "But I might be persuaded."


Rodney's eyes lit. "That's more like it: comfort and balm for the injured. And then I have to leave, because Simpson's on duty tonight and she's working on a project that's really too complicated for her chimp-like intelligence. No doubt she'll be screaming for me in the middle of the night. Best if they find me in my own bed."


Carson nodded. "Now, Rodney, the lass is far more intelligent than that, but you're right that they should find you at home and not here."


"Time's wasting, Carson. Let's get on with this." Rodney stood, tugging at his hand. Carson followed him to the bedroom.




Carson had chosen one of the quiet, public balconies for their talk. It was safe enough for a private conversation without feeling like anyone's territory. He thought that might be important. There were a couple of tables on the balcony and potted plants from the mainland. He and Rodney were waiting when Ronon arrived.


"You wanted to see me?" Ronon towered over them as he approached.


Carson nodded. "Aye. Come and sit with us." He gestured to the third chair at the table. "You want some tea?"


Ronon sat. "Sure. Thanks."


Carson poured another cup while Rodney sat fidgeting beside him.


"You've decided, haven't you?" Ronon asked.


Rodney startled a bit and Ronon looked at him. "Uh, sort of," Rodney said. Ronon just nodded and sat back in his chair, sipping at the hot tea.


"We still have a few questions to ask you," Carson added. He was nervous and unsure of himself and what they were doing.


"So ask."


"Does the sleeping together thing have to be part of it?" Rodney asked.


Carson huffed. "Right to it, eh?"


Ronon shook his head. "That still bothers you, doesn't it?"


"That would be a yes," Rodney said.


Ronon shrugged, fingers trailing through his beard. "On Sateda, yes. I guess it's not necessary, but Brothers usually do."


Carson poked Rodney with an elbow. "I though you were goin' ta let me do the talking?"


"You weren't."


"You didn't give me the chance, now, did you?"


"You two done?" Ronon asked.


Carson glared at Rodney and Rodney glared back. "Aye, I'll be asking the questions now."

"You have more questions?" Ronon raised an eyebrow.


"A few," Carson admitted. "We've talked about this for the last week or so. We just want to be sure about what we might be getting into." His heart sped as he got closer to the core of the matter.


"Makes sense," Ronon admitted.


"Clarity," Rodney said. "It's important. Not into the whole walking in blind thing."


"Rodney," Carson chastened. He looked back over at Ronon. "What all does this entail? I assume it's no one way street?"


"I'm no good with the patience thing," Rodney said, still jittering.


"We know," Ronon said dryly. Carson grinned. "What it means," he continued, "is that we watch out for each other." He looked at Carson, his voice softening with affection. "You already do that here. You watch over everyone." Carson thought for a moment he might lose himself in those dark eyes. The emotion in Ronon's voice caught him off guard, reminding him a little too much of when they were nose to nose on his couch, and he looked away. Ronon looked at Rodney. "You do too, you know."


"Right, yes, that whole save the world on a regular basis job I do." Rodney nodded.


"It's more personal," Ronon said.


Carson nodded. Rodney just looked confused. "Aye," Carson said. "I understand."


"A man would risk anything for his Brothers." Ronon looked into Carson's eyes. "Are you sure you understand that?"


Carson looked over at Rodney and took his hand. "I think so," he said. He would risk anything for Rodney, he knew. Rodney looked back at Carson, squeezing his hand tightly.


"Yeah," Rodney said.


Carson looked back at Ronon. "You'll take care of him for me when you're offworld, then?"


"With my life," Ronon said.


"He means the world to me," Carson said softly, fearful of admitting it aloud for the first time.


"Hey," Rodney said, startled.


"Yeah, I know," Ronon replied.


Rodney stared at Carson. "I do?"


Carson chuckled. "You do, you daft git."


"Oh." Rodney's voice was small and astonished. "Oh, of course I do." He grinned, his usual arrogance fully in place.


"You both would be my responsibility," Ronon said. "Not just offworld. Anywhere. Here."


"As you'd be ours, then?" Carson patted Rodney's shoulder and took a sip of his tea.


"Not like he's actually gonna get in trouble anywhere," Rodney said.


Ronon just shook his head. "Yeah," he said to Carson.


"And what's in this for you?" Carson asked.


Ronon looked at him. "I like you both. I want to make sure you're safe. It would be strange not sharing a bed with you, but I'm all right with that if you don't want it. If you can't." He shrugged. "You're important to Atlantis, and to me."


"We are?" Rodney asked. There was a hint of shock in his voice. "Um, okay. Right. Important to you."


Carson looked at Ronon. "We can give you a way to feel like this is your home. You must feel out of place here far too often." He knew what it was like to feel out of place; he'd felt that way as part of the Atlantis project for a long time before he and Rodney had found one another.


"True," Ronon said. "I'd feel better if I had Brothers here."


Carson nodded. "We'd like to try, at least. We could be your friends, be here for you when you're feeling alone."


Ronon touched Carson's arm, fingers ghosting along his wrist for a moment. The hairs on his arm rose, leaving a trail of fire behind. "Thanks."


"What happens next?" Rodney asked.


Ronon stood. "Come to my room tonight at dusk for the ceremony."


Rodney's eyes widened. "Ceremony? There's a ceremony?"


"Normally it would happen in front of the Taskmaster and the other men, but here..." Ronon shrugged. "Things are different here."


"There's, like, no sex involved, right?"


Ronon just laughed. "No. No sex." He shook his head and turned away.


"We'll be there," Carson said. He watched for a long moment as Ronon left. Turning to Rodney he asked, "Are you sure you're all right with this, then?"


"I think so," Rodney said. "If he'll keep you safe, I'm all for it."


Carson nodded, not so nervous anymore. It felt like the right thing to do. "Right enough."




They arrived at Ronon's room just before sunset.  Rodney paused nervously as Carson knocked on the door. "Are you sure you want to do this?" Rodney asked.


Carson nodded. "Aye, Rodney. We've talked about this. We told Ronon we'd do this."


Rodney sighed. "Right, right. I suppose we can't back out now."


Carson patted his shoulder. "Do you want to?" Rodney looked at him.


"No," he said softly. "No, I don't."


"Good."  Carson raised his hand to knock again as the door opened. Ronon stood before them. He kept forgetting how tall the man was.


"Come in." Ronon stepped back and gestured them inside. Carson entered first, Rodney at his heels.


"What do we do?" Carson asked. He looked around Ronon's room. Carson had never been there before. It was sparsely decorated, but the man had nothing when he'd come to them. His coat was hanging on a hook near the door, his sword mounted over the bed within close reach. There was the usual furniture that was in every flat -- couch, table, chairs, a bed in the bedroom -- but little that marked this room as inhabited.


On the table lay a large knife and three cups.


"Uh oh," Rodney muttered in Carson's ear. "I don't like the looks of this."


Carson was a bit unsettled at the knife himself, but didn't want to make assumptions. "Give it a bit, Rodney."


"Over by the table," Ronon said. He gestured. "Stand here. Do what I do, say what I say."


They stood where Ronon indicated. Rodney grabbed Carson's elbow. "This, um... this doesn't involve blood, does it? Because you know, blood. I get queasy about blood. Especially mine."


"Only a little," Ronon said. "Nothing serious."


Rodney blanched. "Hey, for you an arrow through the calf was 'nothing serious.'"


"Ronon?" Carson asked.


Ronon nodded. "Nothing like that. Don't worry. It's fast."


"You didn't mention blood earlier," Rodney said, his voice wavering.


"It's part of the ceremony," Ronon said, as though it was utterly ordinary. For him, though, it was, and that was part of the issue. Carson sighed. There were moments he wished he'd been an anthropologist.


"How much blood does it involve?" Carson asked, anticipating Rodney's next question.


Ronon shook his head. "Not much. Just a little cut." He held up his left hand, palm out. "Here." He gestured across his palm with a finger.


"Oh great," Rodney said, "I won't be able to type for weeks."


"Not deep," Ronon said. "Just enough to draw the blood."


Rodney covered his face with his hand. "Blood brothers? This is such a cliché."


"Rodney," Carson said warningly. He looked at Ronon. "And I can patch everyone up right after, aye?"


Ronon nodded. "Of course."


Carson shifted his weight from one leg to the other, still a little uneasy. "Are we ready then?" Ronon picked up one of the cups. Rodney and Carson did as well. Rodney looked at Carson nervously. "It's all right, Rodney," Carson said, hoping it was.


"As Brothers, we walk into darkness together," Ronon said. He looked at Carson and Rodney for a moment and they repeated after him. He smiled and nodded. He took a swallow from the cup and set it down. Rodney and Carson followed suit. The liquid was cold but strongly alcoholic. It burned going down.


By the time Ronon picked up the knife a moment later, Carson was already feeling the effects of it. Rodney swayed next to him. "Oh no," Rodney said softly. "He really meant it."


Ronon pressed the knife gently into his palm, drawing blood, then held the blade out to them. Carson and Rodney looked at each other. Rodney was pale as a sheet. "I'll go first," Carson said. Rodney nodded, looking vaguely nauseous.


"Is this even sanitary?" Rodney squeaked.


Carson shook his head. "Not really, no, but I'll clean us up after."


"Oh. Great."


Ronon just looked at them. Carson took the knife and cut his hand, pain chilling him as the blade entered his flesh, then handed it off to Rodney.


Ronon took Carson's hand in his. "My blood for yours," he said.


"My blood for yours," Carson repeated, Ronon's hand in his.


When Ronon kissed the palm of Carson's hand, his head spun. "My strength for yours," Ronon said.


Carson took a deep breath. He'd had no idea what he was getting into, but he wasn't going to back out now. He kissed Ronon's bloody palm, the bright copper taste of the man's blood on his lips, and repeated, "My strength for yours."


"My life for yours," Ronon whispered, and kissed him. Carson's heart pounded. Ronon's lips were soft and he tasted his own blood on them, opening his mouth when Ronon's tongue asked entrance. He nearly stopped breathing. The kiss was short but terrifyingly sensuous and Carson wondered when he'd stepped through the looking glass.


"My life for yours," Carson whispered in return.


Ronon turned to Rodney, who stood silent, eyes wide. He took Rodney's hand. "My blood for yours," he said.


Rodney did the same. "My blood f-for yours," he stuttered.


Ronon kissed Rodney's palm. "My strength for yours."


Rodney blinked and took a deep breath, obviously steeling himself for it, then kissed Ronon's palm. "M-my strength for yours."


"My life for yours," Ronon said to him softly, looking into his eyes. He kissed Rodney, whose knees wobbled, blue eyes closing. Carson gasped silently at the power of the moment.


"My life for yours," Rodney whispered, his eyes open again, voice steadier. Breathless and in shock, they stood staring at Ronon.


"Brothers in all things," Ronon said.


"Brothers in all things," Rodney and Carson repeated together.


"That's it," Ronon told them. "You can clean this up now." He held his hand out to Carson and grinned.


Rodney sank into one of the chairs. "Carson?" His voice cracked.


Carson blinked. "Do you have a cloth and some soap and water, lad?" he asked, looking at Ronon. "I'll need some bandages for each of us as well."


Ronon nodded and went into his washroom, returning with the requested items. "Here."


He took care of himself first. It wouldn't do to clean the others up and bleed on them. It rather defeated the purpose. Rodney was next. "Are you all right, love?" he asked softly. His own head was still spinning more than a bit.


"I... uh... I don't know," Rodney said.


Ronon sat down next to Rodney and put an arm around him. "The dizziness will pass."


Rodney looked at him, eyes still a little too wide. "You kissed me. I thought you said there would be no sex." He blinked. "You're not going to drag us off into the bedroom now, are you?"


Ronon laughed. "No. Not unless you want me to."


"Blood," Rodney said as Carson bandaged his hand. "Oh my god, you kissed me with blood all over your mouth. I kissed you. I mean -- oh shit, I have no idea what I mean."


"Have another drink," Ronon said. He handed Rodney one of the cups. Rodney took it and stared at it for a moment then downed the whole thing.


"Drink," he muttered. "Excellent idea."


Carson wondered if they hadn't all just been married. With Rodney's hand patched, Carson turned to Ronon. "I had no idea," he said quietly.


Ronon nodded. "Yeah, I wondered. Your people don't do things like this at all, do they?"


Carson blinked. "Not as such. It was... more intimate than I expected."


Ronon held his hand out to Carson and Carson cleaned and bandaged it. "What do your people do to form bonds between them?"


"Nothing formal, usually," Carson replied. "Not if there's no sexual relationship involved. This -- it was a much more powerful moment than I've been through with... well, with anyone, as far as ceremonies go."


Rodney looked at them, slightly bleary eyed from shock and the alcohol. "Carson, did we just get married?"


"I... maybe," Carson said. "I'm not sure."


"Oh boy." Rodney closed his eyes and sagged back into the chair. Ronon shook his head.


"You amuse me," he said.


"I can see the headlines now," Rodney muttered. "'I married Chewbacca with my boyfriend.'"


Carson snorted and shook his head. "I think you've had a wee bit much, love."


Ronon looked at him. "Who's this Chewbacca people keep talking about?"


Rodney and Carson looked at each other. They both laughed. "I'll have to show you a movie," Carson said.


"Don't. He'll kill me."


Ronon looked at Rodney. "It's something bad?"


"No, Ronon," Carson said quickly. "Chewbacca's a hero, he's just a bit... um... unusual. And, ah, tall. Very, very tall."


"Right." Ronon looked unconvinced. He put one huge hand on Carson's shoulder. "I think we should take him home before he passes out."


Carson sighed and looked at Rodney. "Aye, you're right. As it is, he'll be staggering along the way. We'll have to hold him up."


"People will see," Rodney protested.


"You should have though of that before you downed that whole cup." Carson patted Rodney's knee. "Up with you."


Carson and Ronon each put an arm around the man from either side, hefting him to his feet. "Your place or his?" Ronon asked.


"Yours," Rodney insisted. Ronon grinned.


"Thought so."


"Right then, my place it us. But he'd best be up and home before anyone comes looking for him in the morning." Carson thought Rodney might pass out before they got there, but at least he'd not be fretting. "Daft bugger," he muttered.




Carson's eyes popped open as the light of near-dawn illuminated the bedroom. His left palm ached. "Oh, crap."


Rodney's leg moved, bumping Carson's under the covers. He groaned. "What?" he muttered.


"Bloody hell. We *did* just marry Ronon."


Rodney was silent for a moment. There was a whimper. "Can we get a divorce?"


Carson sighed. "Somehow, I doubt it." He squeezed the bridge of his nose, hoping to stave off the stress headache that was sure to develop when it all sank in.


"Well, I'm not sure I want the honeymoon," Rodney grumbled. "Fuck, my head hurts."


"You're hung over."


"We had to be pretty damned drunk if we married Ronon."


"We were stone sober."


Rodney's head popped up, bloodshot blue eyes opening. "Oh, god. I remember."


Carson stared at his bandaged hand. "Do you regret it? What we've done?"


Rodney blinked. "Ask me after I've had coffee."




"It was... interesting," Ronon said. "You're right, Chewbacca's a hero. I don't think McKay sees it that way, though."


Carson nodded, walking down the hall next to the huge man. "Aye, I suspect he only says it because you're so tall, and you don't say much."


Ronon snorted. Carson looked up at him, admiring the man's restraint. "Chewie doesn't either, but he gets the job done."


"He does admire you," Carson said. "Though Rodney's not much of one for admitting things like that. I think he believes it'll make him look less a man."


"He's too afraid of everything," Ronon said. Carson nodded. Ronon looked down at him, brown eyes intense. "So are you."


Carson gave him a dark look. "I'm not afraid of everything."


Ronon smiled, indulgent. "Guns. You hate going offworld."


"I'm not so much afraid of guns," Carson insisted, "I just hate having to use them."


"And leaving Atlantis?"


Carson looked away uneasily, trying to avoid the subject. "It's no' natural to be disintegrating yourself like that. What if I don't get put back together right on the other side?"


Ronon chuckled. It was a warm, rumbling sound, and Carson looked back up at him. "Food?"


"Oh, aye, I could use some."


"McKay gonna join us?" Ronon gestured down the corridor toward the labs.


"No, not tonight, I don't think. He's got a big project going on. Too busy for the likes of us." Carson shrugged. It happened more often than he liked, but he understood.


When they entered the mess, Carson was surprised to see Rodney waiting for them. He had two trays in front of him. "Oh, I thought you'd be here sooner," he said.


"Rodney?" Carson pulled a chair back and sat down. Ronon sat with them.


Rodney looked at Ronon. "Saved you some of the braka," he said, stuffing another bite in his mouth


Ronon grinned. "My favorite." Rodney just nodded, chewing.


"You didn't save any for me?" Not that Carson cared that much for it.


"You don't like it."


"There's that." Carson rose to join the chow line.


"Bring me some more coffee," Rodney called. He waved his mug at Carson.


Carson sighed and shook his head.


"Hey, Doc. You ready for the run to the mainland tomorrow?" Lieutenant Miller asked, in line just in front of him.


"Oh, aye," Carson said. "About 0900 then?" It was a routine medical run for the Athosians, but his covert goal was a little less ordinary. He and Rodney had made arrangements to have new clothing made for Ronon, as he'd arrived with only what was on his back. Most of it was worn and threadbare, or in need of repair. There hadn't been much in the stock they'd brought from Earth that would fit him, and there'd not been a chance to requisition anything to be brought back on the Daedalus as yet.


"I'll meet you in the Jumper bay." Miller smiled and hurried off to join his friends at one of the tables.


Carson got himself a plate of vegetables and local cheeses with fruit, avoiding the braka meat. It always tasted a wee bit off to him, as though it had been in the sun too long. He knew he wouldn¹t get food poisoning from it, but the taste left him queasy anyway. As he got tea for himself, he grabbed a second mug and poured Rodney another cup of coffee.


When he arrived at the table, Ronon and Rodney were chuckling, heads together. "What?" Carson asked.


"No-nothing," Rodney sputtered. Ronon just grinned an evil grin and nodded. "Nothing at all."


Carson sat with them, narrowing his eyes, suspicious. "Oh, right enough. When the two of you are sitting there giggling like schoolgirls and telling me it's nothing, I know enough to watch my back."


Ronon put a hand in his pocket. "Was waiting for a good time," he said. "I wanted to give you this." He pulled out a small container.


"What's that?" Carson asked, taking it from him.


"Tea," Rodney snickered.


Carson blinked. He opened the tin and sniffed. It smelled heavenly. "And what's so amusing about a nice tin of tea, Rodney?"


Rodney was on the edge of giggles. "He says the locals told him it's an aphrodisiac."


Carson raised an eyebrow. He leaned in a little closer. "Then don't you think you should thank the kind lad?"


Rodney snorted. "More like he doesn't think you can get it up."


Ronon glared at Rodney. "Idiot."


Carson sighed and shook his head. "Thank you, Ronon. I'll give it a test run." He grinned evilly. "Thank the big, scary man, Rodney."


Rodney looked up at Ronon, who glowered silently. Carson could feel the amusement rolling off the Satedan. "Um... uh... thanks?"


"It tastes good," Ronon said. "You'll like it."


Rodney startled. "Wait, wait. You *tried* it?"


Ronon nodded. "Works real well."


Rodney blushed to the roots of his hair. "Oh god. WTMI." He got up and fled.


Carson tucked the tin into the pocket of his jacket. "I don't know why you gave this to me, Ronon, but I do appreciate it. If it really does work, we could make quite a fortune back home."


"Pretty rare plants," Ronon said. "It's hard to get."


"I can imagine."


"Why did you give this to me?" Carson asked. "Really."


Ronon leaned back and pushed his empty plate away. "I wanted to see McKay sputter. And I like you guys. Can't help it if I think of you that way sometimes." He shrugged. "Ask him to live with you. You both need that."


Carson sat silent as Ronon rose and left.




Rodney and Carson went to Elizabeth's office two weeks later to ask about sharing quarters. Ronon had been pushing them about it, and they'd finally decided to take the risk despite their fears and misgivings. "It's about time," she said, after their awkward lead-up to the subject.


"About time?" Rodney asked.


She shrugged. "You've been together for, what, two years?"


"What?" Carson asked, blinking.


"Two years?" Rodney's mouth was hanging open.


"You haven't?" Elizabeth said, surprised.


"Well, not that we'd not thought about it, but--"


Rodney interrupted. "No!"


"It wasn't until after--"


"--the nanovirus," Rodney said.


Elizabeth leaned back, blinking. "Oh. People just assumed--"


"Who?" Rodney asked, panicked.


"John," she said. "Dr. Zelenka. Teyla. Several others. Why didn't you ever say anything?"


Carson took a deep breath. "We weren't sure what would happen."


"What he means is that we thought the military goons would beat the snot out of us," Rodney snapped.


"You... you were afraid?" Elizabeth leaned forward, brow wrinkling. "You actually thought we would let anyone hurt you? Rodney, you can't be serious. I'm hurt that you'd ever think I would allow something like that. There won't be any objections, trust me."


Rodney and Carson looked at each other. "What about Caldwell?" Rodney asked. "We were expecting trouble from him at least, and from the military who weren't here before."


Elizabeth nodded. "I understand that it might be a concern, but neither of you are military, nor are you American citizens, so even if the Colonel objected there's nothing he could do. Besides, it's none of his business what either of you are doing when it doesn't directly impact the performance of his duty."


Carson sighed, relieved. "So it's just that easy, then?"


"If I have anything to say about it, yes," Elizabeth said. "Though I'll admit I'm curious about what's finally brought you to this point."


"Well, um..." Rodney started.


"Actually, it was Ronon," Carson said.


Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. "Ronon? Really?"




Rodney nodded. "Neither of us was really keen on it." He looked at Carson then back at Elizabeth. "Nothing personal, you understand. We were just--"


"Worried," Carson said. "Knowing how the military has its problems with the idea." Rodney's nodding increased its speed.


"You know, I have noted that he's been spending a lot more time with you both recently." She leaned her elbows on her desk. Carson wondered what else she might have observed, but wasn't going to ask. "So when will you start looking for a place?"


"We already decided on one," Rodney said. He called up a city map on his laptop and pointed it out to her. It was about two minutes from a transporter, with three bedrooms and a reasonably large living space.


"Rodney thought it might be too big," Carson said, "but knowing how both of us take work home, I thought it a good idea to have an office for each of us."


Rodney snorted. "Yes, because if you touch my stuff I'll kill you."


"You see what I mean?" Carson shook his head and smiled. Elizabeth echoed it.


"Very well then. I'll inform security of your change of status. Will you want help moving?"


"Oh, no, we've--"


Rodney interrupted. "Of course we do." He stood. "We'll be moving tonight after dinner. About 1900?"


"I'll be there," Elizabeth said, grinning. "I'll see who else I can round up to help out."


"Thank you, luv," Carson said. "We've not really got that much, but it's appreciated."


"You may not have much stuff, but I went shopping when we were on Earth," Rodney said, grabbing Carson's shirt and practically dragging him from Elizabeth's office. Carson shrugged and waved as he followed Rodney out.


"I'm glad you didn't tell her what Ronon said about anyone who gave us trouble," Carson said.


"Even I'm not that inept," Rodney insisted. "She'd have freaked."


Carson nodded. "I can't say I relish the idea of Ronon attempting to persuade anyone of the error of their ways."


"I thought that was part of why we did that Brother thing with him?" Rodney sounded as though he'd really not been thinking about it since then.


"You know it was more than that, Rodney."


Rodney looked at him. "Trying not to think about that, here. Humour me."


Carson snorted. "Well you do need to be thinking about it. This isn't supposed to be us using the man."


"Define 'using.'"


There were moments when Carson really did want to hit Rodney. He glared. "Rodney!"


"I'm just saying."


Carson sighed and swatted him.




"Daft bugger."




The move went more smoothly than Carson had any right to expect, considering Rodney was involved. Ronon was picking up far too many boxes all at once, and Rodney spent entirely too much time 'supervising' and not moving his own things.


Carson was unpacking in their living room when Sheppard came in with a large box.


"Put that in my office," Rodney said, gesturing toward the side by side doors to the rooms they had designated as offices.


Sheppard stared at the doors for a moment. "Which one?"


"The one with the best view," Rodney said.


Sheppard peeked into both doors. "Rodney, they're the same view."


Rodney blinked. "The one on the right, of course." Sheppard stared at him. "What? I like the angle of the light better."


Carson chuckled as Sheppard sputtered and hauled the box into Rodney's office.


"I still can't believe you didn't trust me to keep things under control," Sheppard said as he came back into the main room. "Sure, a few of the men have made comments, but that's all it'll ever be is comments. I gave them all the speech about how Atlantis is different and some of the usual rules don't apply here earlier today. Gonna add it to the standard orientation when we get new people in on the rotation. Anybody who doesn't like it will get shipped back with the next Daedalus rotation."


Carson got up from the box he was unpacking and went over to Sheppard. "Thank you, Colonel." He patted Sheppard's shoulder. "We both appreciate that more than we can say."


As Rodney grumbled, Major Lorne came in balancing three boxes in a stack, cursing. One toppled to the ground with a quiet thup.


"Don't do that! That's, that's delicate equipment!" Rodney sniped, dashing for the box.


Carson looked at it. "Rodney, that's your uniforms."


Rodney hefted the box. "Oh. Right." He glared at Lorne. "But it's the principle of the thing." He put the box down on the couch.


"You want help or don't you?" Lorne growled.


"Help. Help is good," Rodney replied.


"Thought so," Lorne muttered. "Either help move shit or get out of the way. Either way, don't give me any grief."


"Rodney, love, they're here to help us. Don't bother the kind folk." Carson smiled and handed Rodney a box to unpack.


"What's this? What am I supposed to do with it?" Rodney asked.


"It's a box," Ronon said. "Unpack it."


Rodney glared. "Yes, yes, it's a box. But what's *in* the box?"


"Open it." Ronon handed him a large knife, twirling it expertly and proffering it hilt-first. Carson thought it might have been the one they used for the ceremony a few weeks back.


"Um, yes. Right. Opening it." Rodney took the knife gingerly. Ronon turned back to the boxes he and Teyla had been working on. Rodney opened the box, which had Carson's medical journals in it.


Ronon and Teyla opened boxes that contained books and music from Rodney's last trip to Earth, slipping them into the shelves that were built into the walls. Elizabeth was organizing Carson's clothes closet. Radek was in Rodney's office hooking up the computer system while Maia Biro was doing the same in Carson's. Carson was surprised but pleased by the number of folk who had turned out with a good wish and a helping hand, and the process was going quickly.


Sgt. Stackhouse had brought along a case of Belgian beer, though Carson wasn't sure where he'd acquired the stuff. Others brought food and decorative items from offworld as housewarming gifts. By the time all the boxes were unpacked and most things put in their place, a party had started.


Over the course of the evening, more alcohol and food arrived, along with more well wishers. Eventually Carson was sure most of the original complement of the Atlantis mission had dropped by, and at least half the new personnel as well. He was pleasantly warm and fuzzy by the time the last of them left, leaving only himself, Rodney and Ronon sitting together on the couch.


Rodney was leaning forward, elbows on his knees, making interesting sounds as Ronon worked on his back. "Oh yeah," Rodney muttered. "That's really nice."


Rodney seemed a wee bit bleary, though not as pissed as he'd been the night of their ceremony. Ronon's hands moved slowly, fingers digging deep into the tight muscles. "Just relax," Ronon said quietly.


"Mmrb. Relaxing." Rodney sighed, eyes closed.


Carson leaned back, watching the flex of Ronon's arms and the pleasure on Rodney's face. He wasn't sure if the flush in his own was alcohol or interest. He kept silent and sipped at his tea, trying to clear his head a bit. Elizabeth had given him and Rodney the next day off as her gift to them. He was looking forward to staying abed late for a change.


He'd been both surprised and pleased at how easily most folk seemed to accept their new situation. Major Lorne had said that as long as they weren't swapping spit in the corridors, he was fine with it -- but he felt that way about the hetero personnel too. The congratulations seemed heartfelt, and there had been rather a lot of 'what took you so long' expressed as well. It was a bit embarrassing, really, and he wished they'd done it earlier. He hadn't realized they'd been so obvious.


"I think he's asleep," Ronon said softly as Rodney sagged against him. The man looked almost small tucked under Ronon's arm, and Ronon cradled him gently against his side.


"I think he's had a bit much to drink," Carson said, smiling at the sight.


Ronon chuckled. "Does he make a habit of it?"


"No, not really." Carson was glad of that. Rodney was such an obsessive personality sometimes. He didn't think Rodney was the type to get addicted to anything but work, but one never knew.


Ronon nodded. "Didn't think so. He worries too much to do that."


Carson nodded. "Thank you for this, by the way. I think we'd have put it off for years if you'd not pushed the issue."


Ronon shrugged, one hand absently stroking Rodney's side. "Seemed stupid that you weren't," he said.


"Aye, it probably was." He looked down into his tea.


"It's okay, you know," Ronon said.


Carson just sighed. Ronon put his other arm around Carson and tugged him in, nuzzling at his hair. "Ronon?"


"Just comfortable," he said.


Carson looked up at him. "I don't understand."


Ronon looked down, his dark brown eyes half-closed. "Spent seven years running. Nobody to do this with. I missed it."


"Oh," Carson said. It was as though something inside him loosened a bit and he sighed and leaned into it. Ronon was warm and surprisingly comfortable to lean against, and he'd never expected that. "I suppose you would, right enough."


He wondered how he would have survived seven years on the run. Seven years without any real human contact. Carson hadn't been offworld often, but the times he'd gone it had been more than a bit frightening. He couldn't begin to imagine what Ronon must have been through, running all that time and knowing that the Wraith were decimating planets behind him. "What was it like?" he asked, finally.


Ronon's hand was moving on his side now, too. "Was what like?"


Carson paused, not sure if he really should ask. "Running."


Ronon looked at him for a moment, his hand pausing in its gentle course. "Lonely, mostly."


Carson nodded, startled the man would admit it. "I'm not surprised."


"I just... I couldn't give up." His hand started moving again, tracing soft patterns on Carson's side.


"I don't know what I'd have done," Carson said.


Ronon shrugged. "Survive as long as you could."


"I'm not like you."


Ronon's lips twitched into a smile. "You're stronger than you think."


Carson shook his head. "Rodney maybe. Not me."


"Him too."


Carson let his head rest on Ronon's shoulder, the man's long dreds framing the side of Carson's face. He felt slightly odd about the whole thing. He'd never realized Ronon thought he had any real strength to him. "I don't feel so strong, you know. I still dislike going through the Gate, as you've said."


"You do it anyway."


"Only because I must."


Ronon's fingers pressed into his side, avoiding the still sore spot where he'd broken his ribs. "That's why."


"Oh." Was that really all it took? Doing something because it was needful, regardless of liking it?


"I think you two should get some sleep," Ronon said.


"But Rodney--"


Ronon shrugged. "I'll carry him."


"He'll likely wake."


"Nah. He's out." Ronon got up and picked Rodney up, far gentler than Carson would have suspected. He followed Carson into the bedroom and lay Rodney on the bed. Carson untied Rodney's shoes and pulled them off.


"Thank you," Carson said.


Ronon turned to him. "Carson," he said.


Carson raised an eyebrow. Ronon had never called him that before. "Yes?"


Ronon put a hand on his shoulder and leaned down, touching his forehead to Carson's. "Sleep well."


"Aye," Carson whispered. "And you."


Ronon left silently, leaving him in the darkened room contemplating Rodney's sleeping form. Carson's first night in their shared quarters, and Rodney was asleep in his clothes.


Ah, well. There would be time in the morning for more. He unbuckled Rodney's belt and tugged it off him, took his own clothes off, then climbed in and pulled the covers over them both.




Rodney woke for the second time as the sky was beginning to light. He'd awakened in the middle of the night, Carson next to him, to find himself clothed but for his shoes and belt. He didn't remember getting into bed. He'd gotten undressed, pissed, and had a huge drink of water to head off the incipient hangover before he climbed back in next to his lover.


It felt strange, knowing he didn't have to sneak off before anyone missed him. Carson was still deeply asleep, face half buried in his pillow, breathing heavily. Rodney just watched for a while.


There was a peculiar feeling welling in him, and it took Rodney about fifteen minutes to realize it was... gratitude. He was grateful that Ronon had said something; that he'd pushed them about this. He had no idea how long it would have taken to get here otherwise: years, probably, between his own fears and Carson's natural caution.


He sighed as he leaned his chin on one hand, eyes tracing the lines of Carson's face and shoulder. Rodney wondered what he'd done to deserve this, but was glad he had it. If anybody was going to have Carson, it should be him. God knew he needed his own personal physician.


There had been so many times when he'd worried about whether or not Carson would stay with him. Seeing the man lying here in their shared bed was a reassurance he never thought he'd have. It felt good. He reached out hesitantly to trace the tendon in Carson's neck, following it from jaw to shoulder, his touch soft on Carson's skin.


Carson shivered slightly, tugging the sheet up over his shoulder as he slept. Rodney smiled. He leaned in and kissed the thin skin behind Carson's ear, staying to nibble gently and lick at the tender flesh. Carson made a quiet sound but still didn't wake.


Giving in, Rodney settled back down, wrapping himself around Carson's back, arm over his lover's chest. Carson barely stirred. He closed his eyes and nuzzled at the back of Carson's neck, pleased with life.


Having the day off was a rare pleasure. Rodney hoped there wouldn't be any planetary-scale disasters to call him in to work. Hell, if there were, he'd just tell Zelenka to handle it. He'd never admit it aloud, but the man could handle it almost as well as Rodney himself, and damn it, Rodney deserved a little time for this.


He'd almost dozed off again when Carson mumbled incoherently. One leg moved between Rodney's and he smiled. "Morning."


"Mm...nn..." Carson's weight shifted and Rodney let him roll onto his back. One blue eye cracked open then slid shut again.


"If I'm awake, you should be," Rodney said, caressing his lover's chest with one hand.




Rodney grinned. "Buggery. Now there's an idea."


Carson opened one eye again. The other eye slowly joined it. "Daft."


Rodney leaned into Carson and kissed him, ignoring the waft of morning breath.


Carson smiled back at him when Rodney pulled away. "Mornin', love."


"You really should brush your teeth."


Carson reached up and swatted him gently on the head. "And you."


Rodney rolled on top of Carson, who complained about his full bladder. Rodney contemplated not letting him get up, but the idea of a wet bed really didn't appeal. Carson returned a few minutes later, happier, and with brushed teeth.


Settled back in the bed, Carson snuggled with Rodney. Rodney had never really considered himself much of a snuggly person. In fact, he would have denied it loudly to anyone who would listen, but where Carson was concerned, any body contact was a good thing.  Rodney enjoyed having Carson in his arms. He let his hands roam on Carson's chest and belly, savoring the chance to just be with him and not have to rush.


"You're quiet this morning," Carson said. "You've not even complained of a lack of coffee."


"That's because I don't have to complain of a lack of you," Rodney said. He nipped Carson's neck.


Carson chuckled softly. "Careful. I'll think you've gone soft on me."


"Because we know everyone will believe *that* story."


Carson twisted and wrestled Rodney into the mattress, kissing and nipping at Rodney's skin. His lips were soft and damp and his teeth sharp and it was fun and exciting and entirely too arousing. He wrapped one leg around Carson's, bodies moving together, heat rising in him.


"Yes," Rodney whispered, hard and trembling, eyes closed, wanting Carson.


He loved Carson's body, loved how it felt when they were together like this, flesh to flesh, close and hot and yearning. The scratch of Carson's whiskers set something within him aflame and he tugged at Carson's shoulder, sucking on skin.


Carson gasped, panting, warm breath in Rodney's ear and it shot down his spine like bliss and sparks. He wondered if human bodies formed some Jacob's ladder of electricity between them, touching and licking and tumbling in their bed. Carson's fingers left traces of fire and Rodney thought maybe he could make a good argument for the existence of God because, really, this was sort of miraculous.


The sound of Carson's pleasure was shot through with darkness and depth. His hands touched Rodney down to his marrow, leaving a core of fire behind. Their kisses burned and Rodney thought he might fall to ash.


Carson's mouth moved on Rodney's skin, tracing damp trails down his side, along his belly to the inside of his thigh and Rodney moaned.  His hands found Carson's hair, fingers carding through the soft, short strands.


"Oh, yeah, suck me," Rodney said softly, breathless. Carson's tongue teased along beside his balls, ghosting at the base of his dick and Rodney moaned again.


Carson's bristly face scratched the inside of Rodney's thigh, slow and exquisite. When Carson sucked Rodney's balls gently into his mouth, Rodney thought he would explode, but Carson squeezed the base of his cock just hard enough to keep him together. He gasped and wrapped his legs around Carson's neck.


One slick finger slipped inside him and Rodney came, fast and hard, heart hammering. His back arched up off the bed, eyes squeezed shut, and he was sure the top of his head was coming off.


The next thing he knew, Carson had crawled up his body and he was filled with Carson's long, thick cock, Carson's tongue in his mouth. His lover's weight was a blessing and he groaned into the kiss, one leg lifted by Carson's strong arm. Rodney shuddered as Carson thrust into him, fast and rough, panting.


"Love you," Carson gasped, fucking him hard and deep. "Need you."


Heat and sweat and Carson was biting his neck and shoulder and Rodney held onto him with everything he had, riding out Carson's shuddering orgasm. They slumped together, breathless, melting.


"Oh, yeah," Rodney whispered.


"Rodney," Carson murmured.




"Go brush your teeth."


Rodney opened one eye. "Bastard."




When the call came in for an unscheduled offworld activation, Carson stomped on his instinct to panic. There were injuries and it was usually Rodney's bad luck. He ran to the Gateroom with a med team at his heels, heart racing. Two figures were slumped on the Gateroom floor when he arrived.


Rodney, shouting; Ronon, silent.


"Get over here!" Rodney screamed, and Carson flew, landing beside them.


"What happened?"


"Explosion," Sheppard said. "Ronon took the brunt of it."


Teyla knelt beside Ronon, one arm tucked under his head, a hand on his chest. "I am not sure he's breathing."


Carson nodded, his eyes taking the man in. "Rodney?" he asked, not looking at him yet.


"Fine, fine," Rodney sputtered. "Oh, god, is he dead?"


"You are hurt as well," Teyla said, looking over at Rodney. He was bleeding in several places.


Rodney slid closer to Ronon, one bloody hand on Carson's shoulder. "He saved my life." He took a deep, shuddering breath and Carson could hear the waver in his voice. "Stupid fucking bastard." Rodney's hand slipped away and there was a quiet thud, and Carson could only deal with the most seriously injured person.


His team would have to care for Rodney. He worked, lightning in motion, desperately not thinking about anything but getting Ronon breathing again.


Two long hours of frantic activity and Carson could finally breathe. Rodney and Ronon were both in the infirmary. Ronon was out of surgery, and Carson had pulled who knew how many chunks of shrapnel from his back and side. Rodney's injuries were far less severe, but it was still ugly.


Carson collapsed in his office chair and buried his face in his hands, willing tears not to fall.




Elizabeth stood in the door of his office when he looked up. "Rodney will be all right," he said softly. "Ronon... he's touch and go." He held one trembling hand up before her. "I pulled three chunks out of his back the size of my hand. It's a wonder the man's not dead."


"John said that Ronon got between Rodney and an explosion," she said, pulling up his other chair. She sat. "Are you all right?"


He supposed it was a fair question. It was the first time Rodney had come home injured since they'd started living together, and Ronon... Carson wasn't sure what to think. "I don't know."


"Teyla and John are with Rodney," she said.


He nodded. "Aye, I know. I can't just yet."


"It's changed things for you, hasn't it?" There was sympathy in her eyes and voice. He nodded silently. "Is there anything I can do for you?"


"No," he whispered. "But thank you."


Strange how his reactions had been easier to manage when they'd still been hiding. Now most of what he felt was anger under the shock. Everyone knew, and his staff had tried to make things as easy on him as they could, but what none of them realized, and what Carson hadn't even understood until he'd seen him in the Gateroom, was how shocked and upset he'd been about Ronon.


The big Satedan seemed almost indestructible sometimes. Carson knew he recovered more quickly than most, and that gave him hope for the shrapnel wounds and the damage from the shockwave of the explosion, but nothing made it easier to see someone he cared about lying there with no breath in his lungs.


That it wasn't Rodney was a relief, but not nearly so much of one as he'd imagined it would be. Carson covered his eyes with his palms, shivering slightly.


"Carson." Elizabeth's voice was soft and gentle. "I think I should get one of your nurses in here for you. You don't look so good."


He said nothing. The next thing he knew, there was a blanket around his shoulders and he was being led to an infirmary bed himself. The surprise of it brought him back to himself. "There's no need for this," he said, tugging his wrist from Biro's grasp as she took his pulse.


"Doctor, everyone can see you're shocky. Don't argue." She might be a pathologist, but she still knew what she was talking about. He sighed and nodded.


"Right enough," he said quietly. She made him lie down on the bed next to Rodney's, feet propped up on a couple of pillows. She covered him with more blankets.


"Hey, Doc," Sheppard said.


"Dr. Beckett." Teyla came and sat on the edge of the bed next to him. "Rodney is asleep." Her warm hand rested on his cheek. "You know he will be well soon."


"His wounds--" Carson started.


"Weren't as bad as they looked," Biro said, cutting him off. "Honestly, Carson, everything will be fine."


"And Ronon?" He'd been too worried about Rodney to follow up properly after surgery was finished.


She crossed her arms and tilted her head at him. "Resting comfortably in recovery." Carson nodded and looked over at Rodney's still form. How had his life suddenly got so complicated? "I have a few things to take care of. I'll be back to check on you in a bit. You get some rest."


"Thank you, Maia," he said as she left. He turned to Sheppard and Teyla. "What happened out there?" Carson asked.


"We found what appeared to be a power source," Teyla said.


Sheppard nodded. "Unfortunately, whatever it was went south fast. It started making some weird noise while Rodney was messing with it and the next thing we know, Ronon's tossing himself on top of Rodney. He took the brunt of the blast. Rodney only caught a few pieces of metal. Ronon -- god, he looked like hamburger."


Carson nodded. "Aye, he did." It had been nasty.


"Rodney was able to make it to the Gate himself," Teyla continued, "but the Colonel and I had to assist Ronon. He was barely conscious. I believe he stopped breathing shortly before the wormhole opened."


"It's good you got him here so quick, lass." Carson looked over at Rodney, the white bandages on his arm and head contrasting with his dark hair and pale skin. "Ronon barely survived. Rodney -- he'd not have made it."


Sheppard nodded. "Yeah," he said softly. He put a hand on Carson's shoulder and squeezed gently.


"At least he heals quickly," Carson added, emotionally exhausted. "Ronon amazes me."


"I knew we should be calling him Wolverine." Sheppard smiled hesitantly. Teyla just looked puzzled. "I'll explain later," he told her. Carson closed his eyes and put one arm over them, wanting to block out the world.


"You should rest, Dr. Beckett," Teyla said.


He moved his arm and looked up at her. "I should be doin' my job is what I should be doing."


"You already did," Sheppard said. "Ronon's still breathing, and Rodney will be fine. He's just drugged into a stupor right now."


Carson sat carefully and leaned against the head of the bed. "He should be more than just breathing. It'll be a day at least before he comes around, I think. His reactions aren't like anyone else's. Might be less. I won't be able to rest easy until I see him conscious."


"Yeah, well don't let Biro catch you up and around. She'll have a hissy fit." Sheppard looked around to make sure Maia wasn't anywhere nearby.




Rodney's head thudded with a dull ache and he opened his eyes a crack. White ceilings.


He was in the infirmary. Again.


The lights were low, so it must be night. "Rodney, you okay?" Sheppard's voice was soft and nearby.


He tried to speak but nothing coherent came out. Sheppard gave him an ice chip and Rodney let it melt, the cold water running down his dry throat.


"Take it easy. You took a nasty blow to the head."


"I remember," he said, his tongue thick and stubborn in its lack of coordination. And then he *remembered*. "Oh, god," he whispered. "Ronon."


Sheppard came into his field of view, one hand on his arm. "He's gonna be okay."


"Thought he was dead," Rodney said.


"Adamantium bones," Sheppard cracked. Rodney glared at him, or tried. Moving the muscles on his face to form a glare hurt like hell.


"Carson?" Rodney asked.


Sheppard moved aside and gestured. Rodney looked. "He's asleep right here. Was pretty fried after he got out of surgery. Biro locked him down. You should have seen her when he got up and tried to check on Ronon."


Carson was lying on his side facing Rodney. His hair pointed in all directions and the blue grey of exhaustion arced under his eyes. Rodney sighed. "Must have been bad."


"Yeah," Sheppard admitted. "Sounded like he almost lost the big guy." His face fell. "He's still out. Doc says he probably won't regain consciousness until tomorrow sometime."


"Oh." Rodney noticed the ache in his arm, duller than the throbbing in his head. "What the hell happened to me, anyway? I just remember the explosion and Ronon landing on me."


"Head wound. You took a nasty slice to your arm too. That's all, though. Biro fixed you up. Beckett was dealing with Ronon."


"Biro's a pathologist."




"Great. What if I develop some sort of flesh-eating disease from something she was working on?"


"Not likely." Sheppard stood and stretched. "You want some water?"


Rodney nodded, his mind drifting back to Ronon. "I want to see him."


"What, Dex? You're hooked to an IV, Rodney. You're not going anywhere. Beckett would kill me if I let you get up." He got a cup of water for Rodney. "Just drink, okay?"


Rodney took the cup and stared at Carson. He sipped absently through the straw, trying to focus through the pain enough to think. He barely noticed as Sheppard ducked out, but the Colonel returned quickly with Biro.


"How are you feeling, Dr. McKay?" she asked.


He looked up at her and grimaced as he turned his head. "Lousy, thank you. I want to see Ronon."


"Let me take your vitals," she said. She was obviously stalling.


"Now," Rodney insisted, but she took his pulse and his temperature instead. A moment later, she injected something into the IV port. "Hey," Rodney said.


"Pain medication," Biro told him. "You need rest. You're not getting up until tomorrow morning."


He could already feel the drugs making him woozy. "Crap," he muttered.


"It's for your own good," Sheppard said.


Rodney did glare at him this time. "Traitor."


"You're welcome." Sheppard grinned at him and sat down in the chair next to Rodney's bed again.


He wanted to focus but it was getting hard, so Rodney closed his eyes. Ronon had almost gotten himself killed. He'd thrown himself on top of Rodney to save him. Rodney knew Ronon thought he needed a keeper, but this...


With a sudden lightheadedness, Rodney realized that if it had nearly killed Ronon, it would have left him not much more than a bloody puddle on the floor. He shivered.


There was a shuffling sound and then the soft motion of a blanket settling over him. A disconnected awareness reminded him that Sheppard was sitting with him, but he couldn't open his eyes. Ronon's face was in front of him, bloody, pain in his brown eyes.


"Sorry," he muttered. He wanted to get more out, but even that felt slurred and slow. Rodney's emotions were confused, roiling inside him. He was grateful to be alive, but at what cost? What if Ronon had died for him?


'My life for yours.' That was what they'd said to each other. Rodney hadn't realized Ronon meant it. Not literally. He'd thought it was some kind of metaphor. Maybe an analogy. Or possibly a simile or something like that. Grammar was sort of escaping him.


He could see Ronon standing there in front of him, his hand bleeding. His mouth was soft on Rodney's palm and then there was... oh god, that kiss.


He'd been more than a little frightened by it, by what it had stirred in him. He didn't usually go for the tall, Wookie type, but that kiss had been gentle to the point of devastating. Rodney hadn't been ready for that. He still wasn't ready for that.


Rodney remembered the taste of blood on his lips. He *loved* Carson. There was no way he should have reacted like that to Ronon. It was weird and kinky and more than a little wrong, but his gut twisted as he thought about it.


His fingers twisted in the bedding, wanting Carson's twined with his. Wanting Ronon's... Could he go there? What was it Carson had said -- they really were married to him?


How much more fucked up could his life get?


It was more than words, what they'd done. He'd had no idea of that when it happened. The knife and the blood and it had all been so fast and so unexpected and like lightning there was a knot in his chest. He wondered if he was dying or maybe just hallucinating really badly because he *felt* something for Ronon beyond worry for a teammate.


Carson was going to kill him.


Rodney really wished he'd pass out so his brain would stop spinning its wheels. He knew it was spinning because, really, Carson and Ronon and oh god that sounded way too hot. He was so stoned.


Carson was really, really going to kill him.




Carson watched as another visitor came to see Ronon for a few minutes and left. Most of them were Marines that the man had been training in hand to hand combat. Teyla and Sheppard would come and go, though both of them had other duties to worry about.


The only person who stayed close by was Rodney. He seemed more subdued than usual over the course of the day. He'd been released, and usually unless Col. Sheppard was the one laid up, Rodney would flee the establishment, pleading urgent business elsewhere.


He sat by Ronon's bed with his laptop, working on something and arguing quietly on his radio with Zelenka. Carson wasn't sure what the argument was about, but it was keeping Rodney occupied. He hoped it wouldn't wake Ronon.


Carson walked over to check on him. "Rodney, are you all right?" he asked. "You look a bit peaky, and not from the head wound."


Rodney mumbled something unintelligible then shook his head. "Lunch?" he asked.


Carson sighed and thought about all the work he had to do. "I suppose I could."


They walked back home, where Carson tossed together a couple of sandwiches and some soup for them. Rodney was silent the whole time. When Carson sat down to eat with him, he couldn't stand it anymore. "All right, out with it. What's bothering you?"


"'Bothering' is such an imprecise word."


Carson gave him a look. "Well what would you call it then?"


"Just thinking." He sighed.


"Rodney, you do that all day with your mouth running. What's on your mind?"

Rodney shifted uncomfortably in his seat for a moment then looked at Carson. "Ronon. That Brother thing of his."


Carson nodded. "I wondered. Talk to me."


"I just..." Rodney hesitated, looking uncertain.


"It's not just 'his' thing now, you know. Not since we did that ceremony with him."


"Yeah," Rodney said softly. "That's... um... I've been thinking about that a lot."


"And I," Carson said. "Ever since we did it."


"Well, okay," Rodney said. "Me, not so much. Just since... well... since he saved my life, you know?"


Carson paused and put his spoon down. "Rodney, you look upset."


Rodney looked down at the table. "You know I love you, right?"


Carson stood and went around the table to give Rodney a hug. "Of course, love. Tell me what's wrong."


"You're gonna kill me." Rodney's hand gripped Carson's wrist tight.


Carson blinked. "Why ever would I do that?"


The look on Rodney's face tightened Carson's chest. "I just..." Rodney took a deep breath. "I just, I can't get these images out of my head."


Carson snuggled Rodney a bit closer. Rodney burrowed his face into Carson's chest, tightening the grip on his wrist. "What images?" Carson asked.


"Look, will you forgive me if I say that the idea of you and Ronon together is way too hot?" Rodney's voice cracked.


Carson was glad he hadn't been drinking because he surely would have spewed it across the table. As it was, he barely managed to keep himself from yelping. "Me... what?"


"Um. Yeah. That's kinda what I thought." Rodney tried to back away from him. "I guess you'll want me to pack my stuff."


"But... wait!" Carson shook his head to clear it. "No, Rodney. You're not going anywhere." He put his hands on either side of Rodney's face and tugged it up to look him in the eye. "I'm just... I'm not angry, I'm just a wee bit surprised."


"Shocked, I think, is the word you're looking for," Rodney said.


Carson nodded. "Aye, okay, you're right at that."


"Don't hate me, okay?"


Carson blinked. This was all going off at strange angles all at once. "Why would I hate you?" he asked. "I'm just a bit confused."


"Welcome to the club." Rodney sighed and put a hand on Carson's chest. "God, I'm a pervert."


"What's going on in there, Rodney?"


Rodney pushed his chair back and tugged Carson down to straddle his lap. He rested his head on Carson's shoulder. "I wish I knew. I've just... I've got these feelings that I can't really explain. I mean, he saved my life." He took a shuddering breath. "He could have *died*."


"I know," Carson said.

"'My life for yours,'" Rodney whispered. "I didn't think he meant it."


"What did you think he meant?" Carson asked, confused.


"I don't know. Something metaphorical and warriorlike or something."


Carson put his hand on Rodney's cheek, stroking gently. "A man who knows death like he does, how could it be a metaphor?"


"I just--" Rodney choked on his words for a moment and shook his head. "I thought he figured we were... I don't know, valuable resources or something. I didn't think he *cared* about me."


Carson shook his head and put his arms around Rodney, holding him close. "And you're finding that you care about him as well, is that it?"


"But I love *you*!" Rodney insisted.


Carson rested his forehead on the top of Rodney's head. "It doesn't have to be a contradiction."


"No," Rodney said. "It's... that's betraying you."


"Betraying me? How?"


Rodney remained silent for several minutes, not moving or looking up. Carson waited patiently, thinking about the whole situation. How did he feel about Ronon himself? Worried, of course, but he'd always known there was more to the Brother thing than Rodney would admit to himself.


"Just... thinking of you... with him. Thinking of me with him. I... oh hell, Carson, this is just such a mess. Please, don't dump me over this. I'll get over it." Rodney's voice was laden with such misery that Carson couldn't help tightening his hug.


When he thought about it, the whole thing didn't sound so terrible, really. Actually, it sounded like an intriguing possibility. "It's all right, love. I'm not angry. I'm not goin' ta leave you."


"It's hopeless. I'm lousy at this relationship thing."


Carson snorted. "No you're not. We've been together for months now, and dancing about it for a couple of years before that. The fact that we've just recently moved in together doesn't change what we've had."


"But what's going on in my entirely overactive imagination right now does."




Rodney looked up at him. "Oh, don't be so dense, Carson. First I'm thinking kinky thoughts about you and Ronon and me and Ronon and the next thing you know, it's Wookie sex and we're last week's news."


Carson shook his head. "It's not like he's in any shape for anything but lying in the infirmary for a while yet. We have time to talk about this."


"What's to talk about?" Rodney was getting upset and angry now. "I'm talking about the imminent demise of our relationship and you're going 'we have time'?"


"Were you planning on leaving me?" Carson asked, trying to defuse the situation.


"No. No! Of course not!"


"And I'm not planning on leaving you."


Rodney squeezed his eyes shut. "My head hurts. Make it stop."


Carson caressed his temple gently. "Rodney, there doesn't have to be any contradiction here, as I've said. Tell me this, then. Whatever you're feeling for Ronon right now -- is it gratitude, or is it something else?"


He sighed, his eyes loosening a little without actually opening. "I... um... something else."


"All right, then. Can you tell me what that something else is?"


There was a long, indrawn breath and Rodney looked up at him, tentative. "I'm not sure. I just... what if I'm in love with him?"


"What if you are?" Carson asked gently. Carson wondered if he might be halfway there himself already. He could feel the frantic pace of Rodney's pulse accelerating under his fingers.


"I can't be in love with two people," Rodney said miserably.


"And why not?"


Rodney stared at him, blinking in astonishment. His mouth opened a little and his lower lip quivered. "But..."


Carson couldn't resist any longer and leaned down to kiss him. At first, Rodney didn't respond, but then he grabbed Carson and kissed him frantically, almost in a panic. Carson let his hands move softly over Rodney's back and shoulders, trying to soothe his lover, not sure it would work.


After a few moments, he realized his shoulder was getting damp. "Rodney?" He wasn't sure he could believe Rodney was reacting like this, though he'd taken a nasty knock to the head the day before. But Rodney was also terribly insecure sometimes, and this really did seem to be bothering him.


"Don't want to lose you," Rodney whispered. His voice caught as he spoke.


"I won't go, I promise," Carson replied. "It's all right."


The tension in Rodney's shoulders eased slightly. "You're sure?"


"I love you," Carson said. "Why would this bother me?"


"It's not what we started out with," Rodney said. He looked up, brushing an arm briskly over his face.


Carson shrugged. "And living together wasn't what we started out with either, now, was it?"


Rodney shook his head no. "But that... well, it's sort of expected eventually. The moving in thing."


"Listen to me, Rodney." Carson took Rodney's face in his hands again, making sure he couldn't look a way. "I love you. Even if you decide you do love Ronon, that's not like to change. And really, I've come to care a great deal for him myself since all this started. For god's sake, man, he saved your life. How could I not be grateful for that? I was worried sick when I thought he'd not make it."




"Yes, Rodney?"


"I love you."


Carson smiled. "Oh, aye. I know. Now will you please eat and stop worrying so much?"




The threat assessment took only a moment when he woke. Atlantis. He was in the infirmary, lying on his belly. McKay sat next to his bed, fingers clattering quietly on his keyboard. Ronon smiled. He hadn't been expecting that.


When he'd passed out, he hadn't been sure if McKay was all right, or even if he was alive. He was glad the man was well. He looked a little pale still, and there was a bandage on his head, another wrapped around his arm. So he'd been hurt despite Ronon's best efforts. That bothered him.


He knew he had a soft spot for the man. For Carson as well -- the healer was an easy man to care for. It wasn't just because they were his Brothers now. Neither of them had fully understood what he'd asked of them, though both had assured him they did. He thought perhaps Carson understood better than his lover.


Rodney McKay might be brilliant, but Carson Beckett was perceptive. He followed the emotional nuances better. Ronon had no idea why McKay... why Rodney was the way he was; brash, arrogant, haughty, and terrified of almost everything. It simply didn't make sense.


To be honest, Rodney had reason for his arrogance. Certainly it would be more comfortable if he wouldn't insist on his brilliance so loudly, but the fact remained that it did exist. Ronon sighed and just watched while the man typed, utterly absorbed in his task. A Wraith could drop out of the ceiling and Rodney most likely would tell it to shut up and let him work.


Both men were a little soft around the middle. Both were prone to trouble. Both needed someone stronger and more sensible to care for them. Over the weeks since he'd made them his Brothers, they'd seemed to come to accept that from him -- at least the part of it where he protected them. The part where he *cared* about them, that he wasn't so sure of.


"Rodney," he said. Rodney didn't even twitch, still focused on his work. "Rodney," a little louder. Still nothing. With a sigh, Ronon tried to turn on his side. "Rodney," he said, louder still, trying to hold in a chuckle despite his pain.


Rodney finally looked up, a grin breaking across his face when he saw Ronon's eyes. A moment later, he flushed and the grin vanished like smoke in a stiff breeze. "Carson!" he shouted. "He's awake!"


Ronon shook his head, amused. He held out a hand. Rodney looked at it for a moment then took it, giving it a gentle squeeze. "You're here," Ronon said. "Didn't think you would be."


"Of course I'm here. You saved my life." Rodney looked extremely annoyed. All was obviously right in the world.


"You're welcome." Ronon grinned.


Carson came bustling in, all tests and business. "How are you feeling, lad?" he asked.


"Okay." Not exactly true, but he'd felt worse.


Rodney scowled. "Liar."


Carson poked and prodded at Ronon. "How does this feel?" he asked. Ronon just grunted a little at the worst of it.


"Oh, stop being such a testosterone-addled moron. Tell him where it hurts so he can fix you." Rodney set his computer down and gently patted Ronon's arm with his free hand.


"Didn't know you cared," Ronon said, looking into his eyes. Rodney flushed again and looked away, but didn't let go of Ronon's hand. Ronon wasn't sure Rodney realized he was doing it.


"He does. Don't let the act fool you," Carson said. Ronon looked up at him. "And so do I."


"Carson." Rodney's voice was a not terribly effective threat.


"You took three really big shards," Carson told him, "and many a smaller one, but I got everything out. The big ones, they were about the size of my hand."


"Did you keep 'em?" Ronon asked.


Carson blinked. "Keep them? Whatever for?"


"Souvenirs?" Ronon shrugged then hissed because of the pain.


"They're in the lab, actually. Dr. Zelenka's supervising an analysis of their molecular structure. The metal's quite unusual."


Rodney nodded. "I have a preliminary report on my laptop. And what are you gonna do, hang them up on your wall?"


"Was thinking about it," Ronon said.


Carson looked decidedly uncomfortable with the idea. "You want a reminder of almost dying?"


"It didn't kill me. It'll remind me to be more careful next time, listen to myself when I think I should get him out of the way faster."


"You knew before the explosion?" Rodney asked.


"It felt wrong," Ronon said. "I could feel something off about the place."


"Oh, now we're into mystic woo-woo," Rodney snorted.


Ronon looked at him. "My instincts kept me alive through seven years of Running," he said.


"I think there's something to what he's sayin', Rodney," Carson said, continuing with his exam.


Rodney shook his head. "Why do I feel like Scully here, asking Mulder about the scientific nature of the whammy?"


"Must be your girlish charm," Carson said with a grin. Ronon wondered who Scully and Mulder were.


"Nonsense," Rodney sputtered. "There's nothing at all girlish about me."


"Except when you scream," Ronon said.


Rodney glared at him. "So not helping."


"You're doing much better than I expected this early on, Ronon," Carson said. "You'll most likely be up and around in a couple of days. I'm amazed at how fast you heal. Is this common among your people?"


Ronon rolled onto his side, still holding onto Rodney's hand. "I take pain better than most, but it's not unusual."


"I wonder what does that?" Carson asked himself. Ronon could already see the wheels turning behind his eyes. His mind worked so quickly. It was a thing Ronon admired about him. He was probably just as smart as Rodney, but never seemed to feel the need to brag about it.


"Focus here, Carson," Rodney snapped. "Make with the voodoo."


"He's doin' most of it himself, Rodney," Carson said. "I'd just like to understand how. If we could figure it out, perhaps we'd be able to transfer that ability to others."


Ronon closed his eyes, tired from being awake and alert. He had to fight the instinct to stay awake, but he knew he could trust his Brothers. "Don't have any idea how it works. It just is."


Carson's hand rested on his side. "You just rest now, Ronon. We'll take good care of you."


"I know," he said. Rodney's hand was still wrapped in his.




Rodney swept into Ronon's quarters with a tray full of food firmly in hand. He figured Ronon would probably want something other than whatever pap Carson had him on, so he was smuggling in some chocolate and MREs. "Ronon?"


"Over here." Ronon was on the floor next to his bed, attempting some pushups. Rodney could see the strain in his shoulders and wondered if he was going to split the stitches Carson had so carefully sewn.


"What the hell do you think you're doing? Carson is gonna kill you. Get up!" Rodney set the tray on Ronon's table and hurried over to him.


Ronon looked up. "Just getting some exercise. Being cooped up here is driving me nuts."


"You realize if you pull your stitches, you'll just be here longer." Rodney went and sat on the bed, staring at Ronon. "Don't think he won't do it. He's not afraid of you."


Ronon sat on the floor cross-legged at Rodney's feet. "He's got no reason to be."


Rodney swallowed uneasily at the nearness of a slightly sweaty, half naked Ronon Dex. "Could you, um, maybe put a shirt on?"


Ronon's eyebrow lifted. "Why? I'm hot. I want to cool down."


Rodney blinked. Oh yes. Ronon was definitely hot, but it wasn't anything like what the man had intended. "Just... um..." He swallowed again. "Really, put the shirt on. Come eat something."


Ronon grinned and Rodney flushed. God, had he really just said that while he was sitting on Ronon's bed? Shit. He was doomed.


Rodney watched, fascinated but frozen as Ronon rose to his knees, making a half turn to face him. Suddenly, they were nose to nose and Rodney's heart threatened to claw its way out of his chest. He really had to get that checked out. Even highly stressed like this, it shouldn't be thundering so loudly.


"What did you have in mind?" Ronon asked, his voice deep and dark like the sky.


"Um. Ah. Food," Rodney squeaked. He pointed to the table. "Over there."


Ronon's hands found the bed on either side of Rodney's hips and he leaned in closer. "Maybe later." Rodney caught the scent of him, warm and entirely too masculine and his brain went south along with his blood.


"Brain cells," he muttered frantically. "Dying here."


Ronon nuzzled his face, dreds making him seem like some dusky lion. The touch was shockingly gentle and Rodney would have passed out if he weren't so turned on by the whole thing.


Carson was so going to kill him. But thinking of Carson only made him see Carson and Ronon tangled together in a hot, sweaty heap and Rodney's brain exploded. There was no hope for him now. He closed his eyes and gasped, mouth opening, and he knew in his gut he was dead. He might as well go for it.


Nuzzling back, Rodney's lips met Ronon's. Ronon's mouth was soft as he remembered it, tasting not of blood but of sweat and strength and something feral.


Ronon rumbled, basso profundo, and his hand found Rodney's hip. Rodney groaned and slipped one hand to the back of Ronon's neck, holding on for dear life.


"Oh, god," Rodney whispered, lips brushing Ronon's, the man's beard tickling his chin. He dipped back in for more. Ronon's tongue swirled with his and he slipped his arm around Rodney's waist, pulling him tight to his massive chest. Doomed. Rodney was so doomed.


Ronon pulled back after a moment, both of them panting a little. Well, okay, technically only Ronon was panting a little. Rodney was huffing like a steam engine, his pants uncomfortably tight. He wondered what Carson would do under similar stimulus. That, of course, just made him pant harder.


"My Brother," Ronon murmured. He looked into Rodney's eyes with a gaze that burned. One hand came up and brushed Rodney's cheek. "Yes."


Rodney blinked and swallowed again, trying to muster enough brain cells to form a sentence. It was hopeless. "Yeah," he said, boggled at the realization that hit him in the gut. He couldn't put it into words, but suddenly he understood what Ronon really *meant* when he called them Brothers.


"Carson should be here," Ronon said softly.


"Yeah," Rodney said, nodding. "Yeah, he should."


"You okay?" Ronon asked, still close enough that Rodney could feel his breath.


Rodney blinked. "No. Look, I um... I need to go. To... to talk with Carson." He could feel himself breaking into a sweat, warm and prickly and uncomfortable.


Ronon nodded. "Go on."


Rodney stood and Ronon got up, towering over him. He tried to control the half-panic rising in him, knowing what he wanted and uncertain of Carson's response. They'd talked about it before in an abstract sense, of course. Carson hadn't seemed to have problems with it. That didn't mean problems wouldn't arise. If there was one thing Rodney had learned in his thirty-seven years, it was that things fell to shit fast as lightning when it came to his relationships.


"I'll just... I'm going." He pointed to the table. "Eat something, eh?"




Rodney fled, his mind moving in flickers as he walked. He didn't want to lose Carson, didn't want to hurt him. Other people were never Rodney's priority before Atlantis. He wondered if he'd changed, or if it was just that the people here really were more important to him. His life depended directly on Carson and Ronon in ways that were just starting to register, weighing on him like steel girders on his shoulders. And theirs -- theirs depended on him.


There had been days when Carson was the only thing that held him together. The man had been there for him through crises and injury and the frantic days leading up to the Wraith siege of the city; a calming, reassuring presence that reminded him why he worked so hard and so long. He would do anything, give up anything for Carson, even if he'd never admit it aloud. But this...


He was at a loss. For all his genius, he had no idea what to do. Rodney sighed, his feet taking him to the infirmary without conscious volition.


He had to wait for Carson when he arrived. His lover was busy with a patient. If he'd had his way, he'd have charged into the room and dragged Carson off, but one of the nurses intercepted him and made him wait. Unable to sit, Rodney paced back and forth in Carson's office.


"You're goin' ta wear a hole in my floor, love." Carson's soft voice interrupted Rodney's pacing. Rodney looked up and Carson's eyes narrowed. He came to Rodney and grasped his arm. "What's wrong, then?"


"I... he... we..." Rodney stammered, unable to form a thought.


Carson raised an eyebrow. "Your grasp of personal pronouns is profound, Rodney, but your clarity needs a wee bit of work."


Rodney snorted and glared at him. "Oh, yes. Let's just torment the speechless man here."


"Got you talking, didn't it? Now what's bothering you?"


"Ronon." Rodney pulled Carson's chair up and sat in it. Carson leaned against his desk.


"And what about him?"


Rodney took a deep breath. "Ikissedhim," he muttered.


Carson looked at him. "Would you mind repeating that? I didn't catch a word of it. Enunciation helps, as my gran used to say."


"Ikissedhim," Rodney said, more loudly but not any more clearly.


"Ah, I see." Carson nodded sagely, though Rodney wasn't sure why, if he'd actually heard the statement. Shouldn't there be explosions about now? "And what happened then?"


Okay, so death might not be immanent, but it hadn't been entirely ruled out. "He said you should be there. I... um... I agreed with him. Then I came here."


"So how was it?" Carson asked.


Rodney blinked. "'How was it?' I risk my relationship with you for a kiss and all you can say is 'how was it'?" He could hear himself verging on hysteria.


"Seems like a perfectly reasonable question to me," Carson said. He smiled.


"Um. Hot," Rodney said. "Really, really hot. Brain-meltingly hot."


Carson grinned. "I see."


Rodney took a deep breath. "I think maybe you should try it," he said. His brain was obviously non-functional. He must have lost at least 150 IQ points after that kiss. That was the only explanation for why he was saying things like this.


"You do, do you?" Carson asked. "What's really going on here?"


Rodney shook his head, trying to clear the panicky fuzz that had been growing since he'd kissed Ronon. "I... I get it now. What he was talking about. I think I know what he meant."


Carson nodded, one hand stroking Rodney's shoulder gently. "Why don't you tell me, then."


"I can't," he said. "I don't know how."


Carson looked at him appraisingly. "What do you want for us now?" he asked. "I love you, you know. I promised I'd not leave you. You must trust me on that, Rodney."


"I don't know," Rodney whispered. He looked down at his hands, folded in his lap. His stomach was in his throat and he was feeling a little dizzy with the whole thing.


"How are you feeling?"


Rodney sighed. "Confused. I hate feeling confused. It sucks."


Carson nodded and gave him a hug. "I know, love. Talk to me."


"I... not here, okay?" Rodney looked out the window of Carson's office at the activity in the infirmary. He didn't really feel safe discussing things like this in what amounted to semi-public.


"Right enough," Carson said. He stood and went to the door, opening it. "Tanaka," he called. "I'll be takin' a break. Be back in an hour or so, all right?"


"That's fine, Dr. Beckett," the nurse replied.


"There," Carson said. "Let's be off. We can talk about this somewhere private. Do you want to go home, or should we be including Ronon in this?"


"Not yet," Rodney said, getting to his feet. "Home, I think."


Carson nodded and led the way. Rodney was, for once, content just to follow, his mind preoccupied with other things. He watched Carson moving as they walked along, trying to understand why he'd want anyone else if he had this man. Carson was handsome. He was kind and charming and all the other things Rodney would never be. Everyone liked Carson.


Carson was silent while they walked. Rodney wished he had some of his lover's serenity and self-possession, but all he really had was brilliance. Not that it was doing him any good now.


"Home, love," Carson announced as they entered their quarters. Rodney hadn't noticed they'd arrived. He followed Carson inside and sat at their table.


"I could use a cup of coffee," Rodney said softly.


Carson nodded. "Aye, I'll make you some. Now talk to me."


Rodney sighed, watching Carson start the coffee. "I kissed him," he said. "I'm not sure why I... okay, all right, he was doing pushups and was all hot and sweaty and then he sat next to me and the next thing I knew it was all lips, you know?"


Carson looked back at him. "Doing pushups? Did he hurt himself? I told that bloody fool he was on bed rest for the next two days."


"Did he--" Rodney sputtered. "I thought... I mean... you're not upset?"


Carson shrugged. "I told you, I love you. This doesn't change that. You think I've never thought of doing that?"


Rodney leaned back into his chair. "Wait a minute, you've thought of kissing him?"


Carson shrugged. "Now and again."


The images of Carson and Ronon together flooded his mind again. He closed his eyes trying to hold off the thoughts but it was useless. He covered his face with his hands. "Do you have any idea what you're doing to me?" he asked.


"I'm not a mind reader, no."


 Rodney didn't look up. "I see you and him and... oh god, Carson, you have no clue how hot that would be."


Carson came and sat at the table opposite him. "Is that what this is about? Just that it's hot?"


Rodney shook his head and pulled his hands away from his face. "No. That's what scares the shit out of me."


"What do you want to do?" Carson reached out and took Rodney's hand as the coffee brewed.


Rodney looked into Carson's eyes. "Talk to him. With you."


Carson nodded. "Aye. I'll have him come over then. Since he's not following my medical advice anyway."


Rodney squeezed Carson's hand. "You trust me."


"Yes, Rodney, of course. When have I not?" He tapped his radio. "Ronon," he said. Carson listened for a moment then replied. "Yes, lad, I'd like you to come over to our place. We need to talk." Another pause. "Right enough. I'll see you shortly." He looked at Rodney again. "He's on his way."


Rodney's gut clenched again. He had no idea what the roiling mix of emotions he felt were; all he knew was that he was confused and freaking out and Carson was sitting there like nothing was happening. "What am I going to do?" he said to himself.


"So tell me what it is that scares you so," Carson said.


"This," Rodney said, gesturing in a way that indicated them, and Ronon, even though he wasn't yet present. "This Brother thing."


"It's so much bigger than we first thought," Carson agreed. "Scares me a bit too, really."


"You seem pretty damned calm," Rodney replied.


Carson shrugged. "Only on the outside. Inside, I'm shaking like a leaf."


That threw him. "You... really? I mean, you're not just saying that?"


"I've been trying to understand all this since we did it. What I felt then, it was so different from what I'd expected. Not just the blood and all, but how it affected me. What I wanted when he kissed me. How I felt when I saw him kiss you." Carson patted Rodney's hand and got up, pouring three cups of coffee.


"You felt it too," Rodney said.


Carson brought the cups to the table and got the sugar and cream. "Aye, I did. I've been trying to sort it ever since. But when he came home near dead, I realized that it wasn't just you I could have lost." He sighed and sat. "It was Ronon I stood to lose as well. That he's more than just a friend, even though he's not a lover as yet. It's... it's strange. I can't explain it any better than that."


Rodney's head thumped on the table. "I never thought I'd want this, Carson. It makes no sense. Why the hell do I feel like this?"


"Because you're human, love, much as you keep trying to deny it. And he's a right handsome lad, and brave." The door chime sounded and Carson looked up. "That'd be Himself." He thought the door open and Ronon came in. "Come on over, then, and have yourself a cuppa with us." He gestured and Ronon came to join them.


"You talked to him," Ronon said, looking at Rodney. Rodney nodded.


"He did," Carson said. "And the three of us do need to talk about this."


"Good." Ronon smiled and picked up the cup, sipping his coffee black. "Nice stuff," he said.


"He's... he's okay with this, I think," Rodney said, pouring cream and sugar into his coffee. He desperately needed a sugar and caffeine rush right now. Food too, but that would have to wait for a bit. He didn't want to walk away from this while he still had the courage to face it.


Ronon nodded. "So you finally figured it out."


"Yeah," Rodney whispered. "Yeah, I did."


Carson nodded. "We walked into this not knowing," he said, "but things change. People change." He took a deep breath. Ronon looked at him expectantly. Rodney figured he'd best let Carson do the talking for now. He was afraid of fucking himself over too badly if he said anything.


"You both needed time," Ronon said. He took another sip.


Carson took Rodney's hand. "We've both been afraid to really see what we got into with you at first. It's hard for us. Our culture, we don't have anything like this in it." He squeezed. "The closest thing we have is... well, is getting married, and you can't get married to more than one person at a time on most of our planet."


"This isn't about being mates," Ronon said. "Not really."


Carson nodded. "I know, but it's the closest thing we've got to compare it to. And the thing about sharing a bed only made it seem more like that to us."


Rodney watched Ronon's face. The big man's dark eyes darkened as he watched Carson. Not that Rodney could blame him. Anybody would want Carson, really. There was no reason to think Ronon wouldn't, given what was happening between them.


"Is that what you want?" Ronon asked.


Rodney's heart skipped a beat, speeding at the question. Was it what he wanted? To be married to the two of them? "Yes," he whispered.


Both of them turned to him. "Rodney," Carson said softly, "are you sure? It's not the sort of commitment you're usually willing to even consider."


"We're already most of the way there," Rodney replied.


"Yeah. We are," Ronon agreed. "It's close enough. Being mated as well isn't that unusual." He chuckled. "Mated. To both of you." A smile spread across his face.


"What Rodney's suggesting, it's not legal where either of us come from," Carson said.


"You going back there?" Ronon asked.


Carson blinked and Rodney held his breath. "No," Carson whispered, his voice quavering a bit. "No, Atlantis is home to me now." He closed his eyes. "I'll go to visit, but... but I'd not leave Rodney." He looked up at Ronon. "Nor you. Not after what you've become."


"Doesn't matter then," Ronon said, nodding.


"Elizabeth's gonna have a cow," Rodney said. "And Sheppard's brain is going to explode. Noisily. On the walls."


"It'll be a difficult thing to sort, for sure," Carson agreed. "And I'm sure there are others that'll not want to acknowledge it, but we're neither of us military, Rodney. There's naught anyone could do."


"Sort of like your ATA research being legal in the Pegasus galaxy?" Rodney asked.


Carson chuckled. "Aye, like that."


"So you both agree to this?" Ronon looked at Carson, then over at Rodney.


"Yeah," Rodney said. "I... this feels right."


Carson's head tilted to one side, gazing into Rodney's eyes. "'Whithersoever thou goest, I will go,'" he quoted. "I love you and I'll trust you to make the right decision on this, so aye, I'm in as well."


Ronon nodded. "Good." He held out a hand to them. Silently, the three of them clasped hands together.


Rodney looked at Carson for a moment then leaned in and kissed him. The warmth of it flooded him and he felt lightheaded. When he pulled back, Ronon kissed Carson as well. Rodney swallowed, watching them. He wondered if he'd make it another five seconds without his brain exploding.


He heard Carson's quiet gasp and the low, rumbling sound Ronon made. When Ronon raised his hands to take Carson's face between them, Rodney's eyes started stinging. His vision blurred a bit. If it weren't for the iron erection in his pants, Rodney would have suspected he was having some sort of seizure.


Ronon stood slowly, bringing Carson to his feet as well, then took the man in his arms. He held Carson close, one hand caressing his back, rising slowly up his spine to the nape of his neck, where his fingers trailed in Carson's short hair. Rodney moaned softly.


"Yes," Rodney whispered. "Oh, god, yes." He stood and went over to them, one hand on Carson's back, the other at Ronon's hip. Ronon's arm moved, slipping around him to pull him into the embrace. He watched, close, as Ronon's mouth moved on Carson's and listened to the soft sounds Carson made. It was better than he'd imagined.


Carson's hand found his waist, tangling in Rodney's shirt and tugging, slipping underneath to trace warm patterns on his skin. Rodney whimpered and kissed Carson's neck, closing his eyes and inhaling his lover.


"Oh," Carson said, almost silent, when he broke from the kiss. "Oh."


"Carson," Ronon whispered, his voice deep and rough. Rodney thought he'd come right then and there, but his body wasn't quite to that point.


Rodney slipped in and kissed Carson hard and deep, his body crying out for it, needing the touch of lips and tongue and the heat of Carson's hands on his bare skin. Ronon's arm tightened around him and he could hear Ronon chuckling. For once, he didn't care why someone was laughing; his entire attention was focused on sensation. Ronon's breath was on his skin and there were teeth on the back of his neck. A soft growl, and Rodney moaned into the kiss, knowing that he'd still be feeling the mark Ronon made in the morning.


Carson gasped and the three of them huddled together, arms and hands moving on each other. Rodney wanted nothing more than to take both of them into the bedroom. The thought of watching him with Ronon was compelling, but the reality of it all left him reeling.


It wasn't long before Rodney was unsure of who was kissing whom, whose hands were on whose bodies. Arousal was a living, thrumming thing between them and the sounds they made were like music. He couldn't believe he was doing this, wanting this.


He watched as Ronon's mouth drifted down Carson's exposed throat, Carson's head thrown back, eyes closed. His mouth was open; chest heaving with the heaviness of his breath and Rodney was transfixed. "Please," Rodney whispered, not entirely certain of whom he was asking, or what. He just wanted more of this, watching them, listening to their breath, feeling the heat of their bodies pressed together.


Ronon's head tilted, dark eyes opening to look at him. He raised his face. "What do you want?" he asked, voice husky and raw. Rodney bit his lip to keep from whimpering.


"To see you," he hissed, "with Carson."


Ronon grinned, feral and dangerous and Rodney's knees went weak. "I can do that," he said.


Carson looked at him too. "Rodney?" His voice rasped, unsteady.


"Please," Rodney said again. His voice broke on the word and Carson nodded.


"Aye," he said, breathy and panting. He tugged at Ronon's shirt. "Bedroom."


Ronon took Carson by the hand and tugged Rodney along by his shoulder. They both went willingly. Rodney couldn't believe this was happening to him. He felt like he was floating a few millimetres above the floor. When they got to the bed, Ronon let go of them and started pulling Carson's clothes off. Carson seemed almost stunned for a moment, then cooperated, helping with the process.


Rodney sat on the bed, just watching. Ronon tossed Carson's shirt aside and Carson kicked off his boots and stepped out of his pants. Socks were toed off and a moment later, he stood there naked, hard and trembling, his eyes dark with arousal. Rodney reached out to touch him, fingers tracing the curve of his hip as Carson tugged at Ronon's shirt.


Ronon put a hand on Carson's cheek, stopping him, then undressed slowly, teasing.


Rodney didn't believe for an instant that he was going to survive this.


Carson watched Ronon, licking dry lips. Rodney took his hand and tugged him to the bed, taking his own clothes off. He nipped and sucked at Carson's skin, watching Ronon the whole time. Carson's fingers carded through Rodney's hair and he whispered, "Love you."


Finally naked, Rodney pulled Carson to him. Carson rested his back against Rodney's chest and Rodney let himself reach down to stroke Carson's hard cock. Carson sighed and put his hand over Rodney's. "Feels good," he said softly.


Ronon was naked now as well, and Rodney didn't think he'd ever seen a man quite so... big. He blinked. Ronon's chest was amazing. His shoulders were broad and there were muscles in places Rodney was sure weren't supposed to have them. He knelt on the bed next to them, caressing Carson's face with one hand. Carson's eyes slid closed and he moaned, a soft, desperate sound. Rodney felt the twitch of his cock and squeezed. Carson moaned again and Ronon rumbled, pushing at Carson's chest.


Carson lay back further in Rodney's arms. Rodney squirmed out from under him to lie beside him. "Oh, god," he whispered. Ronon slid an arm under one of Carson's legs, leaning down to lick at his inner thigh. "Oh, yeah." Rodney reached out to touch Ronon, letting his hand slide gently along the scarred and healing skin of his back. "Don't... don't hurt yourself," he said, wanting this to continue but not wanting anything to go wrong.


"I'll be fine," Ronon said, raising his face from Carson's thigh. He looked into Rodney's eyes. "I'll take care of him, trust me."


Carson moaned when Ronon pulled his foreskin gently back and the tip of his tongue caressed the head of his cock. Rodney moaned too as Ronon's hand joined his on Carson's hot shaft.


"Ronon..." Carson's voice was rough with pleasure and emotion. Rodney couldn't take any more and leaned in to kiss Carson's neck, sucking at the soft skin. He let go of his cock, wrapping himself around his lover as Ronon sucked Carson in.


There was nothing but the sound of sucking and Carson's moans for a small eternity. Carson writhed slowly in Rodney's arms, barely coherent. Ronon's hands moved up Carson's sides, caressing him, touching Rodney as well. They were calloused and rough, but the tenderness of his touch was intense and shocking.


When Rodney looked up, Ronon's eyes were closed and his face was a mask of ecstatic concentration. He was... beautiful and sensual and a thousand other things Rodney would never have associated with the man as he sucked Carson, slick flesh slipping between his lips. "Fuck him," Rodney gasped. "God, please Ronon, fuck him."


Ronon's face rose and he nodded. "I don't want to hurt him. Got anything slick?"


Rodney nodded and shifted on the bed, reaching into the drawer in the table there. He handed the lube to Ronon and watched as he poured some out, slicking his cock. Ronon was a big man, and Rodney had never seen anyone with a cock like that before. Carson opened his eyes and looked down, pupils dilated.


"I think..." he said, "think I'll be all right with it." He turned his head and looked at Rodney. "Open me, love."


Rodney nodded and took the lube from Ronon. Slicking his fingers, he slipped two of them into Carson, who groaned and pressed down onto them. Ronon hissed and slid his own finger down there as well, caressing Carson's opening as Rodney pumped slowly in and out.


Ronon sighed and smiled. His other hand trailed down Rodney's chest. "Suck me," Ronon said, gesturing downward with his eyes. Rodney swallowed and nodded. He lay beside Carson and took Ronon's slippery cock in one hand, drawing it to his lips.


Ronon was bigger than he was used to, but he smelled good and Rodney was already so hot over the whole thing that he'd have done just about anything Ronon asked. The head of his cock was salty and thick, with silky smooth skin. Ronon's moan shot through Rodney, leaving him trembling with need and desire. Rodney's fingers kept up their motion inside Carson, stroking gently, and he could feel the tremors in Carson's legs as he bucked against Rodney's hand.


A moment later, he felt one of Ronon's thick fingers joining his inside Carson, and Carson groaned. "Och, yes -- more!"


"Not yet," Ronon gasped. "Suck me." His hips moved and his cock slipped deeper into Rodney's mouth. Rodney sucked eagerly, hard and throbbing as Carson's hand found his shaft and stroked. Rodney nearly levitated from the bed, hips rising to the stimulation.


Some abstract part of Rodney's mind was measuring the energy in the feedback loop between the three of them and wondering if they would spontaneously combust. Stranger things happened around here. Not a bad way to go, if they could all experience simultaneous orgasm when it hit.


Life being what it was, he doubted either would occur, but it really didn't matter. He didn't think he'd felt this good in years. They were all moving together, sweat-slicked skin and friction and moaning and oh god he wanted so bad to come, but only if he was watching Ronon fuck Carson when he did.


Ronon pulled out of his mouth a moment later. His finger left Carson's body shortly afterwards and Carson gasped, "Please, now." Rodney's brain melted and he slid his fingers out as well, watching as Ronon moved to cover his lover's body with his own. Ronon raised Carson's legs to his shoulders and held himself to Carson's opening, pushing a little.


Carson gave a startled groan, shuddering, then relaxed. "Aye, now. Do it." His voice was rough as gravel and Rodney watched as the head of Ronon's cock slipped slowly into him.


Carson cried out, mouth open wide with passion and Ronon moved carefully, sweat beading on his body as he trembled, barely holding onto his control. Ronon gasped, head thrown back, glorious as he thrust in more deeply. Rodney could die a happy man right now, watching them, seeing the expressions on their faces. He reached out to stroke Carson's chest, tracing the hard, tight nipples with his fingers. The sound Carson made drove a spike of need down Rodney's spine and he shuddered.


"Oh, tight," Ronon moaned. "Yes." Thrusting again, he moved more deeply into Carson's body and Rodney's other hand slipped between them, stroking the shaft of Ronon's cock. Rodney moved, kissing Ronon's chest and neck, and Ronon sighed and shuddered. "Yes," he hissed again.


Rodney was speechless with awe as Ronon thrust again and Carson howled and came before the man was even all the way inside him, cock throbbing, shooting his come all over his belly and chest. Drops of it spattered Rodney's face and Ronon gasped, stiffening as Carson bucked under him.


Rodney was close to losing it himself, watching Carson panting in the aftershocks of his orgasm. A moment later, Ronon started thrusting again, still gently, moaning softly. He nudged Rodney with his shoulder. "Rodney," he gasped. "Fuck me... fuck me while I'm in him."


Rodney looked up into Ronon's face, sweat running down it in trickles. "I... you... me..."


Ronon growled and lowered himself over Carson's body, finally fully within his body. "Seven years," he gasped. "Fuck me, damn you." His hips rolled as he thrust into Carson. "Gonna die if I don't come, I swear."


Rodney blinked and nodded and slicked himself with the lube. Getting up to kneel behind Ronon, he slipped a finger inside him. Ronon hissed and bucked into Carson, who grunted and grabbed Ronon's shoulders, holding him tight.


"Hurry," Ronon said. He reached back and grabbed Rodney's hip. "Just fuck me."


"Right, right," Rodney panted. Disbelief had taken firm control. Obviously this was some strange, erotic dream and when he woke up the sheets would be spewed with his come and Carson would giggle at him. Still, even if it was a dream, he wasn't about to pass it up.


Ronon stilled for a moment between Carson's thighs and Rodney entered him. He was hot and slick and incredibly tight and Rodney nearly passed out. Ronon moaned and Rodney moaned and Carson whimpered under Ronon and suddenly it was all motion and sweat and salty skin in Rodney's mouth as Ronon began pounding into Carson's body.


Rodney did his best to hang on as he tried to find the rhythm of it, but the next thing he knew, Ronon roared and came and Rodney fell in after him, what few brain cells he had left exploding out his dick. He blacked out thinking nobody was ever going to believe this dream.




Carson moaned softly as Ronon's motion slowed, then stopped. He'd never been fucked like that in his entire life, but he was hoping they might make a habit of it. Boneless, he slumped under Ronon's weight.


"Oh, god," he whispered. His throat was dry. His arse was sore. He was sure he'd not be able to walk for days.


"You all right?" Ronon's voice was slurred and his eyes were half closed, but he gave Carson a concerned look and stroked his face gently.


Carson panted for a moment before answering. "Oh, aye. Better than you can imagine. How... how's your back?"


"It's good." Ronon grinned. He gestured at Rodney with a tilt of his head. "I think he passed out."


Carson chuckled, breathless. "If he's not making pleased noises, you're most likely right." He reached for Rodney's limp hand, beside him on the bed. "Rodney." He tugged at Rodney's wrist.


Rodney groaned. "Oh god. It wasn't a dream." He sounded astonished.


"Could you lot get up?" Carson asked. "I'm goin' ta cramp here if you don't."


"Right. Sorry, sorry." Rodney shifted, his face coming into view from behind Ronon's shoulder. He looked like he'd run a marathon. A wobbly shift of his weight and he toppled down beside Carson. "Oh my god."


Carson nodded. "Now you," he said, tugging on Ronon's hair. Ronon gave him an exhausted smile, eyes alight. He moved slowly, pulling out of Carson's body, but even soft he was a big man and Carson moaned at the feel of it.


"Did I hurt you?" Ronon asked, worried, as he lay beside Carson and pulled him into his arms.


"Mmm. No. Felt amazing," Carson whispered. He tucked himself into Ronon's embrace and pulled Rodney to him to share the warmth of it. Looking into Rodney's eyes, he said, "Thank you, love." Rodney blushed, and Carson turned to Ronon. "And you."


The worry on Ronon's face melted. He nuzzled Carson's cheek. "My Brothers," he whispered. One big hand moved to Rodney, and Ronon's thumb slipped along his sweaty cheekbone. "It's been too long since I've had this." He blinked and Carson thought he saw the shimmer of moisture in the man's eyes.


Rodney just curled into Carson's arms. "Oh, god," he whispered. "That really happened."


Carson kissed Rodney. "Aye, and I'm still here, aren't I?"


Rodney nodded. "Yeah," he said softly. "You are." He looked at Ronon. "You're... you're not going to leave with him, are you?"


Ronon snorted and shook his head. "No. Rather have both of you."


"Daft," Carson muttered. "We're in this together now. We'll work it all out."


Rodney sighed and laid his head on Carson's chest. "Okay. But what are we gonna tell the Colonel?"


Carson chuckled. "Oh, he'll get over it right enough, but what will we tell Elizabeth?"




The door chimed and Ronon got out of bed, slipping his pants on. He'd taken to staying nights with Carson and Rodney fairly often. It had been a few weeks now. His Brothers were still asleep, tangled in each other's arms, and he smiled as he went to the door.


Sheppard stood there in the corridor. "Rodn--" He blinked. "Ronon?" He looked Ronon up and down and blinked again. "What are you doing here?"


"You need something?" Ronon asked.


"I... uh... Rodney wasn't answering his radio and... What are you *doing* here?" There was shock on Sheppard's face.


"He's still asleep. Had a bad night last night. You wanna come in while I wake him?" He gestured to the couch.


Sheppard stumbled in, looking befuddled. Ronon went into the bedroom.


"Rodney." Ronon put a hand on Rodney's shoulder and shook gently.


Rodney startled awake. "What? What?" He bolted upright. "What's exploding? Who's dead?" Carson jumped next to him, eyes flying open, and he made a shocked sound.


"Didn't seem like an emergency. Sheppard's here. Said you weren't answering your radio. I didn't hear it go off." Ronon poked Rodney's earpiece on the bedside table.


"Stupid sod," Carson muttered, and lay back down. "Let me know if anyone's bleedin'."


Rodney got out of bed, tugging his boxers on, and staggered out into the living room. "This had better be good," he grumbled. Ronon chuckled, shucked his pants, and got back into bed next to Carson. Carson made a warm, tired noise and cuddled up in his arms.


"Rodney?" Sheppard's voice was much higher pitched than usual. "Where the hell is Ronon?"


"Went back to bed," Rodney muttered.


He heard Sheppard sputter. "Bed? Back... but... Carson..."


"Yes, yes; with Carson. What do you want? Because, really. Sleep is nice."


"Uh! But... you and... wait a minute!"


"Come on, was there something you needed?" Rodney yawned loudly.


"Um... I... no. Just no. It can wait until later. I just... oh god I so don't want to know about this."


"It's not even light yet, Colonel. Why are you *here* if something's not on the verge of an explosion?"


"Mission... um... well... I mean..." There was a shuffle and a snort from Rodney and Sheppard whimpered. "It can *wait* okay? You're usually up at this time of day and I just thought... oh fuck it. I'm leaving."


Rodney snickered and came back to bed as the apartment door shooshed shut. "That'll teach him," Rodney muttered, slipping into the bed behind Ronon. He tucked up close to Ronon's back and buried his face in Ronon's shoulder. "I'm going back to sleep."


Ronon knew Rodney would have a meltdown when he actually woke up in an hour or so, but for the moment, life was wonderful.