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Title: C. pegasi
Author: mezzo_cammin
Genre: Slash (John/Rodney/Ronon), future fic
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Words: 1602
Summary: Atlantis is on their own now. They have new rules, new relationships, and an ace up their sleeve.
Prompt : Coffee.
Beta: The lovely and gracious trillingstar

It never failed. They'd gate from a planet bathed in mid-afternoon sunlight, to be met by subdued lighting and a semi-deserted gate room. Rodney would freeze, mind racing through at least ten possible catastrophic scenarios before the rest of his brain caught up; he'd realize that it was well past midnight on Atlantis, that the lights were dimmed per John's standing orders, and his adrenaline-fueled jitters were his own damned fault.

He'd mentioned this to John once. John had shrugged and said that the same thing happened to him, too. They'd dubbed it 'gate-lag,' then put the term into the training protocols for new recruits, listed in the woefully short "Don't Worry, This is Normal" section.

A few weeks ago, they'd gated home from a series of routine trade negotiations to find Atlantis in the hands of enemies who shot first and asked questions later, so Rodney thought he could be forgiven this time for instinctively jerking to a standstill, thumbing the safety off his weapon, and reaching for his radio. Beside him, he heard the whisper of Ronon's knife as it was unsheathed, in a show of weapon-wielding solidarity.

"Relax, Rodney," John said, slow and easy, his index finger tapping softly on Rodney's wrist. "'s all right."

"Yeah, McKay," Ronon said, returning the knife to his scabbard with a flourish. "Chill." He bumped his shoulder into Rodney's, jostling him sideways into John. John steadied him, his hand lingering on Rodney's forearm with warm familiarity.

"Okay?" John asked.

Rodney nodded.

"Good." John clapped a hand on Rodney's shoulder. "Put the safety back on."

Ignoring Ronon's snicker, Rodney did as directed, turning to watch John stroll over and give a brief report to the lone gate tech. If she'd noticed Rodney's jumpiness, she gave no sign of it while logging their return into the database and entering the code that would unlock the ready room. John could call Rodney a paranoid bastard all he wanted; these new protocols were necessary.

The memory of the crude, but effective, booby traps they’d found scattered throughout Atlantis after the invasion was still fresh in his mind, and Rodney shivered involuntarily as they stepped inside the room. Divesting himself of overcoat and weaponry was easy, but Rodney fumbled with the strap of his heavily-laden pack, trying to pull it off one shoulder, when Ronon came up behind him and gently lifted it from his back. Ronon hefted the bag once, wincing as he lowered it carefully to the floor.

"Good haul," Ronon said.

Rodney nodded, rolling his shoulders to loosen the tension that had settled there. He glanced over at John, who was leaning his head against a locker, practically asleep on his feet. Rodney tapped John's shoulder and waited until he had eased around enough so that Rodney could perform the same service for him. Rodney smiled tightly at John's groan of relief.

Despite three broken ribs that were a long way from being healed, Ronon had insisted on coming with them for the last harvest of the season. It was his turn in the rotation, and there had been no talking him out of it. Rodney and John had split the weight of Ronon's share of the harvest between them, and each had suffered silently for it. Well. One of them had suffered more silently than the other, and Rodney's lips curled at the irony. He resisted the urge to raise his fingers to his throat, yet again. It would heal or it wouldn't, and touching the still-tender scar wasn't going to help. His voice would return. Carson said so. For once, Rodney was going to take him at his word.

It had been a really good harvest. That was what mattered.

They undressed with minimum fuss, and none of their usual trash talk. Rodney would have preferred a long soak in his tub, but current protocol demanded both a shower and disinfection after every off-world mission. Rodney hadn't had the heart to even tease John about that one, after the no-see-ums on S'tycal had taken weeks to get rid of… from their hair.

John and Rodney lugged the packs into the shower room, dumping them in the corner where they couldn't be tampered with, then they all made a beeline for the communal stalls.

Rodney lathered up with the Athosian herbal soap, taking his time, his fingers moving carefully over old battle scars and fresh wounds. On either side of him, John and Ronon did the same. They took turns washing each other's backs, and it was a testament to how tired they all were that the touches remained chaste. By the time the disinfecting unit was whirring them dry, Rodney would have given his second-favorite laptop in exchange for a soft bed, a warm body at his back, and the corner of a pillow. Christ, he was done in.

Done in, but not done yet, unfortunately.

Back in the ready room, dressed in soft t-shirts and Athosian trousers, Rodney and Ronon stood side-by-side near the door while John radioed Teyla to tell her that they were back, and that they were safe. While he spoke to her, a teasing, happy edge to his voice, Ronon and Rodney signed rapidly at one another. As much as Rodney normally moved his hands when talking, he'd never had to actually use them to speak before. It frustrated him beyond measure. The team had developed a short form that worked for them, and once Ronon had mastered it, he seemed to enjoy speaking in a 'secret' language. Rodney was happy to indulge him.

Rodney gestured at John and signed, "Make sure he gets some sleep. No patrols tonight."

Ronon nodded. "I will. Hey, Rodney."

Huffing impatiently, Rodney twirled his fingers in a 'keep going' gesture, universally understood, he was sure, even by bratty Satedans.

Ronon continued. "You, too. Okay? You need-"

"Geez, will you two give it a rest, already?" John interrupted them, swatting at their hands. "Teyla's sending her people over to make the exchange. And I'm ordering you," John poked a finger at Rodney's chest in emphasis, "to get some sleep once they're gone."

"Yes, dear," Rodney signed. He made a shooing motion when John signed back with his middle finger. Ronon grinned and tugged John out of the room, arm slung over his shoulders. Rodney heard them clomping down the corridor, John's voice gravelly with fatigue and Ronon's deep rumble laced with laughter.

~~~

Waiting until he was sure he was alone, Rodney lifted one of the packs onto the bench and opened it, diving in with both hands, running his fingers through the contents, and cupping the bright red cherries in his palms. Plucking one up, he split it open with his thumbnails, through the tough outer core and into the sweet, juicy fruit, then all the way down to the two small, bluish-green beans inside.

Coffee.

Real, honest-to-God, Earth coffee.

They were growing it, in five different varieties, on an unnamed, uninhabited planet (carefully purged from the database), and it had proved to be worth a thousand times its weight at every bartering table on every planet in the Pegasus galaxy. Rodney had predicted as much, during the furtive late-night planning sessions back on Earth.

Rodney sat guard over the coffee for nearly an hour, nodding off and then jerking his chin up countless times, before three Athosian youths slipped inside the room. He greeted them each by name, and in the traditional fashion, before exchanging the packs for a linen bag roughly the size of his fist.

When they were gone, Rodney raised the bag to his nose and inhaled deeply, eyes closed, blissful.

~ ~ ~

Rodney pushed at John's thighs, trying to lever him out of his loose-limbed sprawl and onto his side. There wasn't much room to maneuver, since Ronon took up way more than a third of the bed, but Rodney was determined. He'd be damned if he was sleeping on the floor tonight. John shifted, flung an arm out, and nearly hit Rodney in the eye.

"Move, damn it," Rodney rasped, reaching the end of his endurance. At the sound of Rodney's voice, Ronon's eyes blinked open, his teeth gleaming white in the moonlit room as he grinned. There was movement beneath the covers, a slow slide and a wriggle, and then Ronon's hand emerged, beckoning Rodney to join them. John rose up on an elbow and stared groggily at him.

"You say something?" John asked, voice hoarse, whether from sleep or repressed emotion, Rodney couldn't tell.

"Scoot. Over." It was more of a rusty, disused croak than a voice, but John's face lit up as though Rodney had handed him a ZPM.

John moved back, obligingly holding the blanket up so that Rodney could slide in, his back to John. Wasting no time, John spooned up behind him, wedging a knee between Rodney's, and slinging an arm over his chest. His fingers found Rodney's and entwined with them. Rodney felt the bed shift, and then Ronon's strong hand landed atop theirs, squeezing softly. By morning, they'd be a tangle of limbs and misplaced elbows, but they always went to sleep like this, on the good days. Always.

"Mmmm," Rodney sighed, filled with contentment.

"G'night," John murmured, burying his nose against Rodney's neck. "Mmm. Wait. Is that-? Did you-?"

Rodney turned toward him, just enough so that John could nose against his cheek and press a soft kiss to Rodney's coffee-flavored lips.

"Mmmhmm," Rodney whispered smugly.

He fell asleep a heartbeat later, with John's breath on his face and Ronon's arms wrapped tightly around the two of them.

Comments

( 51 comments — Leave a comment )
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mific
Jun. 4th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Lovely - liked the by-play between them, and the hints at backstory like Rodney's injury and lost voice. And of course coffee would be an excellent trade!
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
Thank you - I'm glad you liked it! Yes, I think after a few months they could probably name their price on the coffee.:O) But, I'm an addict, myself, so it's possible I'm prejudiced.
trillingstar
Jun. 4th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
Of course coffee's the best bartering tool around. Great idea.

I love the sweetness of this, how they all lean on each other, look out for & rely on one another, and there's a true feeling of solidity about how you've described their relationship. A most enjoyable read.

*twirls you*


mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:24 am (UTC)
Thank you (especially since you had to read it over and over and over, bless you)!

*hugs*
melagan
Jun. 4th, 2011 11:13 am (UTC)
What a rich story with wonderful undertones of flavor.

*coff* I couldn't resist a bit of pun. Sorry about that.

It's is a lovely, satisfying story and you got me to read John/Rodney/Ronon and like it very much :)
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
Mmmmm, rich coffee! Yum! *pours you a cup of the good stuff*

I'm not sure how Ronon got in that bed with John and Rodney, but he just seemed to fit, somehow.

Thank you for the lovely comment! :O)
scarlettandblue
Jun. 4th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
Lovey. You wove us a whole world in so few words. Really great story-telling. would love to hear more from this universe, but even if we never do this was just a perfect gem.
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Thank you, so much! :O)

This was pretty much a one-shot, but you never know... another prompt might demand to be written in this 'verse.
trystings
Jun. 4th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
Wonderful fic! The backstory, the 'gate-lag' reaction, the coffee planet, their relationship. So much in one story.
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
Thank you! *beams*
ceitie
Jun. 4th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
This is lovely slice of life on Atlantis, and I love the cuddle pile at the end. :D
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
Thank you! Snuggles FTW! *g*
esteefee
Jun. 4th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
oooh, this is rich and sweet and slightly bitter and dark like my favorite blend.
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
ohhh, me, too! I mean, thank you! :)
em_kellesvig
Jun. 4th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
I love this look into the future and the little glimpses you give of the recent past. And how would Atlantis survive without coffee? :)
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
They wouldn't. They couldn't! *g*

Thanks, hon!

And also? Icon love! How have I not stolen that one from you yet?
sgamadison
Jun. 4th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
OMG!! *thumps fist on table with excitement and runs in circles*

OMG!! This is *perfect*. You did it! You created that utterly perfect sense of 'we're on our own' in the not so distant future, with hints of things that have happened that we don't know about and promises of a rich storyline to come.

This is so.... GAH! I don't have words! This is the two little beans of coffee inside the small fruit. Pure. Utter. Gold. The signing and the weariness of the team and Rodney's involuntary reaction on returning to the half-lit city (been there, done that!) and the bartering power of coffee. GENIUS.


You've obviously been holding out! Where is the rest of this universe? Please tell me there is MOAR!
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
Yes, but did you LIKE it? *g* Thank you, thank you - I appreciate the lovely comment (and the rec!) :O)

Alas, there is no moar! At least, not yet. You never know, though, right?

(no subject) - sgamadison - Jun. 5th, 2011 11:39 am (UTC) - Expand
saphirablue
Jun. 4th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Beautiful!

Thank you!
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)
Aw, thank YOU!*beams*

What a beautiful icon!
(no subject) - saphirablue - Jun. 5th, 2011 07:40 am (UTC) - Expand
lilyfarfalla
Jun. 4th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
I really really like this! How they're all worn and tired and wounded. All of the new protocols and hints that things have been hard recently. Rodney having to use a kind of sign langauge is great (oh man, Rodney losing his voice!), and I love how Ronon picks up on it.

the woefully short "Don't Worry, This is Normal" section.

HA, seriously. Most of the manual must be "If've you've noticed, X, you are dying!"

Oh, and I love them all snuggling in bed together! So lovely.

(Oh, and the coffee!! Love how you worked that in.)
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
Hee! Yes, I can just imagine the manual with this huge section of: Okay, this? Is not normal! Be afraid. Be very afraid.
and then just a couple of pages of: But this? Pfffft. No worries.

Thank you so much - I'm glad you liked it! \o/
danceswithgary
Jun. 4th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful and left me wanting more in this 'verse. :-D
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
Oh, what a lovely thing to say! Thank you! ♥
schneefink
Jun. 4th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
I love the mention that sometimes the days in Atlantis and on other planets don't overlap exactly! You gave exactly the right amount of background information. I enjoyed this look at their future very much. Of course coffee is good for trading ;-)
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
Ohhh, awesome Ronon icon - did you paint that?

Thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed it! :o)
(no subject) - schneefink - Jun. 5th, 2011 09:56 am (UTC) - Expand
dustandroses
Jun. 5th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
Great job. I loved the easy camaraderie and the subtle bits of back story. And I want to thank you for the visual from the last scene...a puppy pile of John/Ronon/Rodney. Nummy.
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, for some reason, I just like to think they've evolved into this triad/brotherhood thing, having each other's backs, etc. ♥
helenkacan
Jun. 5th, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm. The bit about gating back into a different-time-of-day-Atlantis reminded me oddly of Last Man because of John's coming through the gate into a wildly unexpected situation.

I love it when fanon fixes canon. Because revised protocols are SO of the good.

Oh, poor Rodney ... without a voice. But the sign language was a pure delight to imagine.

And, yes, oh ... boys. These three would be SO good for each other (and why isn't there more OT3 written). I, too, would love to read more about them from you. ::makes appropriate pleading sounds::
♥ ♥ ♥
mezzo_cammin
Jun. 5th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! There needs to be more OT3 written! *nods* (And OT4, too! Although in my personal head canon, Teyla is happy with Kanaan and her growing family.) And isn't that strange, coming from the staunchest of OTP'er me? It's funny - I don't like reading John and Rodney in other pairings, but throw them both in with someone else, and I'm all for it. \o/
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