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Title: The Natural
Author: esteefee
Categories: gen
Pairing: none, John and Ronon friendship
Rating: G
Words: 2,334
Summary: Ronon gave him an uncertain look, then touched his comm unit. "Flight, this is Puddlejumper Two. We're go for bay launch."
A/N: "We're go for bay launch" is a quote from Rising.
"The Natural" is admittedly a pun on the ATA gene
not being natural for those who take the therapy. I despise
puns, so pretend it's irony instead.


The Natural

by esteefee




John waited while Carson gave Ronon the injection; watched and didn't let himself imagine too hard as the needle punched into Ronon's arm. He sort of listened while Carson blah-blahed about signs of side-effects and Pegasus human protein-coding exon whatsits being slightly different or something, with low percentages of viability rates, because John didn't want to know. He had a feeling. Or maybe he was just deluded. Either it would work, or it wouldn't, and he already knew what to look out for.

As soon as Carson had stuck Ronon with a little Band-Aid strip, Ronon hopped off the bed and strode out, John following just behind him, still limping a little from his healing leg. They had a couple of hours to kill, so John said, "Take some swings?" and Ronon gave him a look like he was just humoring him, but nodded his okay.

John knew Ronon didn't enjoy golf that much—which was tragic because the guy was a natural at it, just like everything he tried—but John loved to stand out there and take in the brand-new view, Atlantis floating on a fresh ocean like a stained glass snowflake, before setting his ball and letting fly.

"So," John said after some steady swish-thocks, "why now, finally?" He turned when Ronon didn't answer right away and got a face full of Seriously. You need to ask?

"Yeah, okay," John said, raising his gloved hand, because their last mission kind of made it a gimme—Rodney pinned down in the Ancient installation he was studying, the renegade Genii trying to get in; John carrying one of their fucked-up pellets that passed for bullets in his leg and trying to get back to the jumper, in which Ronon and Teyla were trapped, thanks to a bizarre glitch in the systems that had caused the shield to switch on. If either one of them had had the gene, they could have killed the shield; they could have cut loose with a drone and taken care of the Genii, or at least flown and created a distraction instead of having to sit there and listen to John's halting, dangerous progress through the dense forest.

"This isn't the first time it would've come in handy, though," John noted as Ronon took another swing. The ball sliced off badly, and John winced.

"It sucked."

John leaned his shoulder against Ronon's side, noting wryly that Ronon hardly swayed at all. "Well, whatever the reason, I'm glad you're trying. Even if it doesn't work—"

"It'll work," Ronon said.

John bit his lower lip. "Didn't work for Teyla when she tried." He'd never asked before, but he may as well. "How come you never—I mean, all those times Rodney 'hinted' about it—"

Turning to face him, Ronon regarded him with steady eyes. John never could tell what he was thinking, as much as he tried.

"I asked you once when you first came on board, and you just said there was no point."

Ronon looked away. "We had an air guard back on Sateda. I ever tell you that?" he said abruptly.

"No." John was careful. "I kind of assumed, though, the way the Wraith came down so heavy."

"They told me they wanted me in the ground troops, though. I guess they thought—" he stopped, shrugged, "I don't know."

That was a hell of a thing. "They were stupid," John said, but left it at that when Ronon winced a little.

They went back to hitting balls.

:::

There were a lot of things they could use to test it, like an unmodified LSD or some other gadget from the labs, but John took Ronon straight to the jumper bay, because if the therapy worked, Ronon probably wasn't going to be spending time in the labs.

Although, who knew? A lot of possibilities would open up for him if he wanted them. John grinned imagining Ronon playing ATA-bunny for some hapless scientist, asking a bunch of questions that couldn't be answered.

God, John hoped it would work.

"Well, here goes," John said as they stepped into the bay. He stopped at the doorway so Ronon could approach the nearest jumper on his own.

Ronon lifted his hand almost hesitantly and touched the hull. He should already feel something, John knew, but before John could judge his reaction, Ronon was already stepping around to the ramp, and as he walked upward, the inside of the jumper lit up in welcome.

John let out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, making his head buzz. "Yeah!" he said under his breath.

Ronon had disappeared from his angle of view, and John hurried over to see him settle in the co-pilot's chair.

"Nuh-uh. Take the other one," John said, hustling up and in.

Ronon turned and stared back at him, his expression more than a little dazed, as if he couldn't believe what was happening.

John slowed down and sat down on the seat behind the pilot's—where Ronon usually sat, he realized.

"You all right?" John asked cautiously.

Ronon lifted his hand over the console, which lit up. A smile took over his face, and he turned toward John.

"The Ancestor's Touch, Teyla calls it." Ronon's voice was rough, and his eyes were bright.

John swallowed hard.

"I-I wanted this. I really wanted this, John." And, jeez, Ronon's hand was shaking as he laid it on the co-pilot's yoke.

"You got it. It's yours now, buddy," John said.

Ronon looked at him sharply. "Yeah. I guess it is." And his smile grew wider.

"Pull up the HUD," John said over the lump in his throat; this was getting ridiculous.

"How?"

"Just—" But the display was already popping up, and John got out of his seat because there was something different about it, it was mapping—

"Holy shit. That's new! That's a strategic defense grid or something. Check it out, it's mapping all the weapons in the vicinity by energy type."

"Cool," Ronon said, but if he was going for laid-back, he was way off the mark, and John grinned.

"I'll say." He slapped Ronon on the shoulder. "C'mon. Get in the hot seat. We're going for a ride."

"Now?" Ronon's voice actually cracked.

"Right now." They got settled in their seats, and John pointed to Ronon's headset. "You know what to say."

Ronon gave him an uncertain look, then touched his comm unit. "Flight, this is Puddlejumper..."

"Two."

"...Two. We're go for bay launch." Ronon raised his eyebrows at John.

John nodded and grinned.

"Puddlejumper Two, is that you, Ronon?" Chuck came back.

John tapped his comm. "That's affirmative, Flight. Specialist Dex is taking her out on a training flight."

"Affirmative! You have control, Specialist Dex."

"I'll get the doors," John said, giving them a nudge, "and she's all yours. Remember, the puddlejumpers pretty much want to fly. Most of the time I have a hard time keeping them on the ground."

Ronon nodded and bit his lip. His hands tightened on the controls, and for a moment he closed his eyes, but then he opened them and relaxed, and just like John knew he would, Ronon looked up to the sky, and took off.

The little jumper leaped up through the bay following the launch protocol, steady under Ronon's hands, and Ronon let out a whoop as soon as they cleared the door. They hovered only for a moment before he leaned forward, his whole body moving into it as he threw them into a long, swooping curve toward the Central Tower.

John started laughing.

"Whoa, buddy. You're gonna give Woolsey a heart attack buzzing the Tower on your first flight. Let's head over to the Mainland."

Ronon shot him a wide grin and circled the City once in a long loop, the broad smile never leaving his face. Finally, he turned the jumper showily toward the open ocean. "Okay. Flight path on the HUD?"

"Better yet, try thinking about it. Maybe you'll pick it up that way."

Ronon frowned, then blinked. "Weird."

"Yeah. Cool, though, isn't it?"

Shaking his head, Ronon said, "I always knew—you'd get this look, and I could tell something was talking to you, or something was in your head like that. I always wondered."

"Now you know. Not everyone can pick up on it, though." John knew if the therapy worked for Ronon, it would work right. It seemed like some of ATAs were afraid to hear what their own minds were telling them and just blocked it off, or couldn't make the connection to begin with. "You're pretty special, big guy."

Ronon responded by taking them in a roll. John honked a laugh and heard Ronon laugh in response, more carefree than John could remember hearing him.

:::

The new Mainland was much closer than the old; close enough that Radek had successfully installed a transporter for the Athosians to have easy access to the City and the Gate. So John wasn't familiar with the best site for Ronon's first landing attempt. He had Ronon circle around the village to scout a clear, level area.

"There—over by Halling's lodge."

"That's the field they cleared to raise the chesteral tents for the carnival."

"Can't wait." John watched with approval as Ronon automatically adjusted their angle of approach. "All right, you ready to land this puppy? Take her down nice and easy."

It went pretty well up until Ronon had them hovering about ten feet up, and then he seemed to tense up, or maybe he was relying too much on the visual and not enough on his sense of the ground, because they set down with a heavy thud that, in spite of the inertial dampeners, John felt in his spine.

He winced.

"Damn." Ronon looked pissed.

"Okay, so we'll try it again. No big deal. This time, don't look through the port; use the HUD, use your head, all right?"

"Right." Ronon lifted them to hover about a hundred feet up to try again. Keeping his eye on the HUD, he inched them down slowly, slowly, this time settling them down light as a feather.

"Good." John waited a beat. "But you took too long."

Ronon cranked his head over and gave John an exasperated look.

"Seriously. I was falling asleep over here." John grinned. "Third time's the charm."

Ronon muttered something and took them up high again, then dropped them fast, smirking a little when John took in a fast breath. No way was it a gasp.

When they got down to ten feet or so, though, Ronon slowed them to a whisper, then eased them down gently into the dirt. A perfect landing.

"Awesome," John said.

Ronon's answering smile was brilliant, crinkling his eyes nearly shut, and John tapped his shoulder with a fist.

"C'mon," John said. "Let's go say hi." He started to get up, but Ronon beat him to it, trapping him awkwardly in a half-crouch against the console. "What?" John said, but an instant later Ronon was crushing him, lifting him up into a hug.

John was no stranger to Ronon's hugs. Much as he'd be tempted to deny it, they were pretty much the best thing ever in his book, because they let him know Ronon's deep affection for him, never in doubt, anyway, but made tangible and obvious by the strength of his arms and the rumble of his laughter when John grumbled at him to put him the hell down, already, Jesus.

"All right. Now we can go say hello," Ronon said with satisfaction.

:::

Ronon's landing in Atlantis was controlled by the jumper bay's automatic protocol, which Ronon knew in advance but was still disappointed about.

John should have been expecting it, but he was still surprised when they opened the rear hatch to find Rodney, Woolsey, Teyla and Carson all waiting, giant smiles on their faces.

It was hard to keep the goofy grin from his own face, but he gave it the college try.

"Ronon! We saw you flying!" Teyla said, walking up to give him an Athosian embrace. John felt a pang for Teyla, remembering her disappointment when the therapy hadn't taken.

"It was awesome," Ronon said, prompting a grimace from Rodney.

"Awesome? You were handling ten thousand year-old technology and all you can say is—"

"He was awesome," John confirmed. "Best natural pilot I've ever seen. He should have been in the Satedan Air Guard."

Ronon gave him a look, but John couldn't read his expression.

"Of course, this means you'll have to learn the weapons systems next—"

"You—teach me—about weapons?"

Everyone laughed, and then they all went back to the mess for a spontaneous celebration; having a new pilot in their ranks was nothing to sneeze at.

But later, when it was just him and Ronon again, heading in the general direction of John's office, Ronon started to speak, paused, and then finally broke out with, "Did you mean what you said? About the Air Guard?"

This time, John had no trouble at all reading his uncertainty. Ronon's hazel eyes were too large in his wide-open face, as if he were honestly afraid of John's answer.

As if John would lie about something like that. Or as if Ronon weren't one of the most amazing guys he had ever met.

"Ronon, seriously. You—" Generally, John wasn't at a loss for words when it came to stuff like this. He always had praise for the men and women under his command. But Ronon wasn't just—Ronon was family, damn it. "You took to the sky like breathing, buddy. Like, well—" John rubbed the back of his neck, feeling awkward. "Like me, my first time up."

Ronon stared at him for a second, then punched him in the arm, hard. Really hard.

"Thanks," Ronon said gruffly and clomped off. Looked like he was heading toward the labs.

"Doesn't mean you don't need more lessons," John yelled after him. "Lots more!"

"Yeah, yeah..." Ronon waved a Satedan gesture at him John was pretty familiar with.

John grinned and started whistling as he went back to work.



End.
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Comments

( 69 comments — Leave a comment )
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altyronsmaker
Jul. 16th, 2011 10:03 am (UTC)
I love this! I literally have tears in my eyes! Such a cool story. And of course, Ronon is a natural. *sigh* VERY satisfying! *claps gleefully*
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 10:17 am (UTC)
eee! thank you! ♥Ronon♥
mific
Jul. 16th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
What a great idea! I loved the fondness between them and how much Ronon wanted it, and how John wanted it for him. And Ronon found a new weapons defense grid, of course! *Happy sighs*
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 11:05 am (UTC)
*smishes you* of course he did! and of course he one-upped John a little in his favorite toy. :D and of course John just beamed because: \RONON/
(Deleted comment)
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)
oh, thank you! so much. how lovely you are. I totally dithered on POV for this. but I thought this way the reader could get 2x the joy.

whoever thought Ronon wasn't fit for the Air Guard...I'm guessing they took one look at him and thought he was too tall. made a snap judgment. maybe Satedan craft were smaller, whatever. that's the way I justified it in my head, anyway, because otherwise my heart crunched.

the hug Ronon gives John when he swings him across the room in The Return? MADE OF WIN.
admiralandrea
Jul. 16th, 2011 11:07 am (UTC)
Totally made of win! Absolutely awesome ♥ both John and Ronon - and you!
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 11:26 am (UTC)
aw, geez! they are, definitely! and now they can take shifts when they go Wraith-hunting. :D
melagan
Jul. 16th, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
Of course the weapons system would light up for Ronon!

I love this story and the way it shows the affection Ronon and John have for each other. *happy sigh*
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC)
\o/ thankee, sweets. I was pondering bjs but, you know, I didn't want to draw attn away from Ronon's joy of flight. :))
(Deleted comment)
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
hahahaha, omg. yis!!!! so perfect the image! you made my night. especially considering the earthquake that woke me up.
grey853
Jul. 16th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
This is awesome!! I wish they'd done something like this on the show. It would've worked so well. Thanks!
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
I wish they had, too! thankee.
siriaeve
Jul. 16th, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
Oh! Oh, I'd never thought of this possibility before, but it made me tear up! So lovely. ♥
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
aw, sweets! *smishes you* thank you!
juniperphoenix
Jul. 16th, 2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
Eeeeeeeeeeeee! This is so happy-making. I love how excited they both are.
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
happies for all! (your icon! oh!)
em_kellesvig
Jul. 16th, 2011 01:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is wonderful, and awesome, and adorable! You're right: they probably took one look at Ronon and said, "Too tall for fighters." (Honestly, even John is a little too tall for fighters; they like 'em short[er] and a bit stocky. Helps handle the Gs.)

The sheer delight they share in flying, the new weapons grid (!), and the healing of that lingering pain for Ronon all make this story something we could have easily seen as part of an episode. Just fantastic!
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
(your lovely icon!)

and yes, he is too tall ::nods:: I knew that about John as well, I had a fuzzy memory of someone saying once that Lorne is actually the ideal in an AF pilot.

thank you for your kind note!
(Deleted comment)
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
eee! thank you. I was definitely writing my head canon here.
mikes_grrl
Jul. 16th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
This was marvelous. Loved Ronon in this, his hesitant reaction and joy in learning to fly. Great dialogue, and a really good story too, what with Ronon's history leaking in there and the bonding between John and Ronon. Thank you!
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
oh, thank you kindly. ::adores on them both::
tassosss
Jul. 16th, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
Oh! This was awesome! Ronon as a pilot is perfect!
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
\o/ thank you. jesse_the_k wrote above about the two of them competing in aerobatic shenanigans around the Tower to terrify Mr. Woolsey. can't you just see it? :))
gaffsie
Jul. 16th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
I'm completely overcome with how adorable this is. Both of them are so happy and excited, and of course Ronon is a natural. ♥
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
eee, you have the hug in an icon!!! ♥RononHug♥

of course he is. I want to write of all the things the show didn't let him do. but this one seemed like a gimme.
(no subject) - gaffsie - Jul. 16th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
goddess47
Jul. 16th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Such fun! Yes, Ronon would finally give in to trying the ATA therapy for his Team... and then to follow John into the sky... just perfect.

Very nice!
esteefee
Jul. 16th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
thank you so! you should have seen me with sleepy eyes writing his last night to make the deadline. :) I could not let this prompt go without getting Ronon in the air.
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