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Title: Outworlder
Author: esteefee
Categories: gen, series, AU
Series: Over Sear and Ash
Rating: G
Words: 2,090
Summary: In spite of the chance to go offworld safely and hang out one on one with Ronon, John didn't enjoy visiting Satbar very much. Not that Satbar wasn't a very cool city—he just didn't like how he got stared at everywhere they went.


by esteefee

In spite of the chance to go offworld safely and hang out one on one with Ronon, John didn't enjoy visiting Satbar very much. Not that Satbar wasn't a very cool city—he just didn't like how he got stared at everywhere they went.

He tried expressing it to Ronon—well, John mentioned in passing he felt like a three-eyed fish in an aquarium—but that just earned him an slitted look and a head tilt, and John got a sneaky feeling he'd just stepped in it big time.

"Your turn for a change," was all Ronon said, and he kind of didn't talk to John for a couple of days.

So, when Ronon told him his uncle, Sar Tanai, was Keeper of a new exhibition of Ancestor artifacts appearing at the Academy Museo, John knew that meant he was coming along, and without opening his yap about it. Even if it would mean a night hanging out afterward with Ronon and Solen Sincha and his Guardian pals who always acted like it was John's fault Ronon hadn't joined their omada after he'd gotten rid of his tracker.

"I'll be there with bells on," John said. "Uh, I'll be ready."

Ronon just nodded.


Sure enough, it didn't matter that John had changed into the mix of Satedan and Athosian civvies he had on hand for such occasions and that the only Earth thing about him was his boots. It also didn't seem to matter that Satedans came in all sizes and some were paler than he was, and he wasn't the only one with hair that couldn't be tamed.

He'd thought on the first trip out it was the tattoos, but he'd picked up pretty quick it was only the military personnel who had them. So he'd be damned if he could figure out why he got the side-eye from almost everyone passing by.

"Traders are talim now," Ronon explained as they hopped off the transport and walked toward the Museo. "Ever since wraith worshipers aided in the attack. Outworlders are kept in the market area and aren't allowed past and into the city proper. So people aren't used to seeing them in the city."

"'Talim'? Doesn't translate."

Ronon shrugged and walked a little faster. "It's a religious term, really old, from when we were superstitious and thought doing certain things could bring the wraith. Like eating certain animals or whatever. No one believes that anymore. Or, at least, not most people."

Great. So John was cursed or something. Or, no—they just thought he might be a wraith worshiper, which was even better. He scowled down at his boots.

Ronon elbowed him. "Yesterday after P.T., Corporal Dennys told everyone it was because I was an alien and probably had extra gravity on my planet—that's why I was able to take him and his friends down."

John winced. "Ouch. Sorry. That was his pride making him talk like an ass hat."

"Ass hat." Ronon let out a snort. "I'm keeping that one."


Uncle Tai was awesome. He was as tall as Ronon but thin and a little hunched, probably from a lifetime of stooping over artifacts. He had Rodney's mile-a-minute hands, but thin and brown and leathery, and instead of the science of physics he babbled about history and the minutiae of forgotten clues.

The Ancestors' artifacts had only been given to him to Keep after Sar Sella, their lead technologist, had released them, but, Sar Tanai assured John earnestly, they had used completely non-invasive techniques for examining all the artifacts.

John nodded and winced when he leaned in a little too close and the small, pyramid-shaped one started to glow dimly.

"Crap," he muttered.

"Ahhh," Tai breathed, a grin of satisfaction creasing his face, and he patted Ronon on the shoulder. "I believed you, of course, be'a, but as a sar..."

John stared at Ronon, who smirked at him.

"You set me up."

"I told you it was an exhibit of Ancestors' artifacts." Ronon was grinning outright now.

"Yeah, but—"

"We will have to wait until all the guests have finished the seesa rolls and drunk their fill and gone home. But then, ah!" Tai raised one finger and pointed at him.

John nodded, resigned to a night of fondling tech.


Fortunately, not many of the artifacts had any juice at all, or they would have been there all week. Those that did, John dutifully interrogated. After, of course, Tai made him wash his hands twice with some kind of special soap.

"Skin oils can be very damaging," he said. "And be sure to dry thoroughly."

John started with the pyramid, which unfolded very slowly to extrude a small lens that projected a circle of light on the wall. After John concentrated a moment, the image focused to reveal a magnified image of the richly woven material the pyramid was sitting on.

"Of course!" Tai said, and carefully slid the pyramid sideways beneath John's fingers. The image moved to match. "How wonderful," Tai said. "Can you increase the magnification?"

John frowned and tried. Suddenly the filaments of thread grew coarse and large, like heavy rope.

Tai laughed, his voice deep and delighted.

The other artifacts, those that worked, were about as interesting, but nothing mind-bogglingly useful as far as John figured, at least until they got to the one the size of a shoebox that looked like a toaster-oven, with a door and a series of sliders on the side. As soon as John touched it it hummed at him, a song of power, and he lifted his hands and thought off.

"Ronon," John said. His heart was thumping a little, because this was pretty big. "This thing is for forming power crystal matrices." Ronon would know exactly what that meant.

"Oh." A moment later Ronon's eyes widened, and he grinned fiercely and turned to Tai. "You've just made a Find, nouo."

"Oh, really." Tai's smile went crafty.

"Really. Sar Salla will be shoveling simpa. This is big. This will affect the whole city."

Tai tapped his fingertips together. "Good, good. Perhaps next time she won't hold onto a collection until I am mad with frustration. A real find, then?" Tai stroked the top of the box once, delicately.

"Oh, you have no idea."


Ronon commed Solen Sincha to go out and celebrate. John couldn't begrudge him wanting to get hammered and have some fun with his pals, but these guys, these Elite Guardians of the Ring, they just rubbed John the wrong way.

They all planned to meet at some bar on a square near where Ronon lived. The upstairs had been completely taken over by the Guardians, and they'd already had some time to get well-oiled by the sound of it. John trailed up behind Ronon with a good sense of doom. He told himself he'd be the designated dialer in this scenario, because no way was he planning on ending up on the other end of a space gate tonight. Or some Old West planet.

Actually, that reminded him he had to put West World in the queue to watch with Ronon. Yul Brynner at his best.

"Ho, Ronon!" Solen called out, and weaved his way across the room to give Ronon a back-slapping hug. He pushed Ronon back by the shoulders and then gave John an even nod. "Colonel."

"Guardian." It was the same game every time, and he knew Ronon probably hated it, but if Solen refused to use his name, John wasn't about to Solen's, first or last. He wasn't even sure if using people's last names was an insult here.

"Who is this then?" a voice called out, and John looked around Solen's shoulder to see some big kid, face flushed dark with too much beer it looked like, rising to his feet.

Solen grinned like a croc. "Semel Dirsh, you've heard us speak of Colonel Sheppard, Ronon's na omada?"

Dirsh grinned suddenly. "Colonel? What's a 'Colonel?' Does it pay well?" He took a few steps forward and a knife suddenly appeared in his hand, sharp and gleaming. "How do I earn the rank?" He looked down at the blade and pretended to pick at the edge.

Solen pulled back, obviously clearing space, and John threw a glance over his shoulder at Ronon, who gave him an impassive look, which was just weird.

"I don't know if you want it—it's a lot of paperwork," John responded lazily, keeping his eyes on the kid's torso and not the blade. If this was a game, it was a pretty stupid one. The Guardians behind Dirsh were drinking silently, obviously watching. John didn't for a second believe Ronon would let something go down right here, but it was freaky the way Solen had let this little punk take center stage.

"Is that all it takes to be a leader among your people?" Dirsh tilted the knife and a flare of light glanced into John's eyes. He squinted but didn't blink.

"Right. That and hell of a lot of training and time in the field. Are we going to drink or what?" John started to go around the kid, but Dirsh side-stepped, lifting the knife toward John's chest.

John's hand flicked automatically behind him, reaching for his own KA-BAR. An instant later he felt Ronon's hand close over his wrist, stopping him.

"Don't shame me," Ronon said, voice low in his ear, before he released John's wrist and stepped away.

John sighed. "What's your beef, Semel?"

"My beef?"

"Your problem. Your deal. Why aren't we drinking and celebrating Keeper Tanai's big Find, huh? I mean, that's why we're here, right?"

Dirsh looked confused. Solen stepped forward. "What's this?"

Ronon rumbled an almost laugh as he said, "Uncle Tai has made a Find as part of his new exhibit, one that will increase power to the shield and let it expand the boundaries far beyond Satbar."

Solen blinked, and then shouted out a cheer, which his men echoed.

After it died down, Ronon added, slapping John's back, "It was John here who helped make the Find."

Silence, and then Solen started laughing, saying, "We drink!"

Everyone scrambled around filling cups and handing them around. John's was the size of pint glass and filled with a dark amber brew. He lifted it when Solen did, and then blinked when Solen said, "To Tai and John!"

"Tai and John! Tai and John!"

Well, if that wasn't a kick in the head.

The ale was, too. John didn't end up being designated dialer, after all. He and Ronon supported each other stumble-walking to Ronon's house, still singing the Satedan Victory March that John had learned back at the pub. It was a pretty awesome tune, and they sounded pretty good, no matter what the naysayers were yelling from their windows along the way.

"So what was that thing with the knife, anyway?" John asked as Ronon fumbled with the front door.

"You—so stupid, Sheppard. Almost drew. Dumb."

"Well, usually when someone is waving a knife under my chin—"

"Bluff. It's just a bluff. You're supposed to just take it. It's a test of friendship."

"Huh. Some test." John kicked off his boots and nearly knocked himself into a wooden dresser. "Ouch." He'd stubbed his toe. Good thing Ronon's bed was there to fall onto, huge and really soft and inviting. "Okay if we share the bed? Or will that involve more knives and tests and stuff?"

The light shut off. Ronon collapsed next to him and then yanked the extra pillow from under John's head. "Shut up and go to sleep."

"Fine, fine."

The room was turning one way, his brain in another. "Hey, Ronon?"


"How come...how do they know I'm...you know. What you said. An outworlder. Talim."

The bed shook a little. Great, Ronon was laughing at him again.

"You don't shave right."

"What?" Okay, his voice just did that when he drank too much.

"You heard me. Your face should be smooth to show respect to your Ancestors."

"But you have a thing, you know a beard-like thing."

"That's fine, as long as you're clean where you don't have one."

"Jeez. Then I'll never fit in. I haven't been cleanshaven since I turned fourteen."

The bed shook again.

"Oh, shut up." John drifted. Eventually the darkness behind his eyeballs stopped spinning.

"Hey." Ronon's voice was gruff. "Thanks for coming with me today."

"Not a problem, buddy. You know that."

At least he'd gotten that part right.


A/N: Solen isn't clean shaven when Ronon runs into him in Trinity, but that's after the fall of Sateda, so I figure he's excused.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 23rd, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
I read this because of the summary and how it rang a bell with me and my current RL living situation. ;)

I like this fic and that John went with Ronon, despite the uncomfortableness. Go, John!

It's hard being the one that people stare at constantly. Especially if the culture allows open staring as not being impolite. First few months, everytime I left the house I had to mentally prepare myself, but now I got used to it. And luckily there are no knife-wielding friendship rituals here! *gg*
Jun. 23rd, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
ah, so you know. *hugs* interesting for John to see what it's like from the other side...it's a choice for him, of course. He can go back to Atlantis at any time. Unless he's drunk. :DD

the knife-wielding...well, at least they didn't touch his hair. :)

Jun. 24th, 2012 01:10 am (UTC)
interesting for John to see what it's like from the other side Yes. I am glad he's taking this oportunity to learn. There's not much 'looking at the other side' in the actual show, so I am always happy to see it in fic! :D

And now I want crack-fic where John freaks out because someone tried to cut off some of his hair just to see why it sticks out the way it does! It must be scientifically scrutinized!
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
oh! my god I want that too! :D
Jun. 23rd, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
Minus points in diplomacy, Ronon: you should tell foreigners about any weird rituals with knives that you know they're not familiar with!
Great to see another story in this 'verse, I enjoyed it :)
Jun. 23rd, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
thank you! it was a pleasure to write. I'm actually terribly fond of a 'verse where Ronon is at home.
Jun. 23rd, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
Awesome! More tricky Ronon - you think John'd be ready for that by now. Although, the way he took it seems to say that he is. :grin:

The 'designated dialler' made me LOL. That could be a real problem, couldn't it?

I wouldn't say no to another 30 or 40 stories in this 'verse, but no pressure. The muse goes when and where she will.

Jun. 23rd, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
Re: outworlder
hee, John is definitely getting used to it.

I am very fond of this 'verse. and I wonder what Rodney would do in the Museo...to see all those artifacts under glass and know he has to wash his hands twice before he's allowed to delicately touch. hee.
Jun. 23rd, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
I love the Satedan culture you've built. Ronon should probably tell people about the knife-related friendship traditions, though. (Also, Ronon's reaction to John's not wanting to be stared at was fantastic.)
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
eh, I think John handled it just fine. :)

I enjoyed giving Ronon a chance to pout a little, too. :D
Jun. 24th, 2012 05:03 am (UTC)
I liked the exploration the tables being turned on John in terms of the experience of being an outsider. Lovely friendship scenes set in an intriguing AU. LOL about the 'designated dialer.'
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
hee, thanks, tridget!
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:34 am (UTC)
Oh, one of my favorite John Sheppard's: awkward as hell but doing his best anyways. I loved this, and I LOVED all of the world building you did.
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
awkward as hell but doing his best anyway

\o/ yis! thanks, babe!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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