John could hear it before the Asgard beam left him and Ronon standing with the creak of wood beneath their boots. Civilians were laughing and squealing, enjoying themselves – completely unaware of what was out there.
John knew; and he should've been off making sure that out there stayed out. Instead he was...
"Relax," Ronon murmured, stepping into John's space, his body heat a welcome contrast to the cool of the ocean air. "No one knows us here."
John leaned into Ronon's lips, felt his own part beneath them; the slide of tongue coaxing forth a moan. "Yeah, okay, you're right."
Ronon grabbed for John's hand and pulled him into motion, John falling into step alongside those long legs. Toward the coloured lights of a Ferris wheel that arced up to meet the rich purple and deep navy of the night sky.
John hadn't been to a fair in, he couldn't remember. But he'd told Ronon all about them. The Ferris wheel, the roller coaster, pink cotton candy, and cherry cola slushies so cold they made your brain freeze. He'd even told him about the giant blue bear he'd won at the shooting gallery for Tanya Tompkins; a brunette with soft brown eyes and a tiny waist. She'd drawn a heart border around his yearbook photo, and signed it Love always, Tee Tee with two x's and o's. Dave had teased him mercilessly for months, until he'd gotten bored with John's non-reaction.
John wondered how Ronon would react if John won him a toy, and couldn't help smirking at the image of Ronon carrying a giant My Little Pegasus under one arm. Maybe Ronon would win John a prize. The thought of Ronon getting frustrated, pulling his blaster and blowing away the entire stall, had John rubbing a palm over his face to hide his amusement. They should definitely stick to Ronon-friendly challenges. Like the one where you swung a hammer to ring the bell.
"What?" Ronon had one eyebrow arched in John's direction, but John just shook his head and stroked his thumb along the side of Ronon's.
"Where do you want to go first?"
"Lorne said I have to try cotton candy."
"Cotton candy it is then." John took the lead and steered them through the crowds, never once letting go of Ronon's huge hand as he followed the sweet cloy of spun sugar along the pier.
They stood in the queue behind a woman with five kids hanging onto her; two girls wearing silver tiaras and glow bangles, and three boys each with a foil balloon tied to their wrist. All yelled out their orders for corndogs, sodas, and cotton candy. John leaned back into Ronon's chest and let the cornucopia of squeals, music, and lights wash over him. Ronon released their joined hands, but only so he could wrap both arms around John's middle and squeeze them tighter together. His breath was hot on John's skin as he laid a kiss to the pointy shell of John's ear. John shivered and walked them both forward to the stall's counter. Right now, here, was the only place in two galaxies he wanted to be.
"One bag of pink."
He handed over a ten and waved away his change as Ronon shifted John into his side, long fingers of one hand curled over John's hip and hooked in a belt loop. The fact that they could be this way with each other, in public, made John's cheeks flush and his heart thud in his chest. Even if John had dragged his feet back on Atlantis, he could feel the tension seeping out of his shoulders with every brush of Ronon's body against his own. He was definitely going to win Ronon a giant stuffed cartoon character, because Ronon had the best ideas.
"What's a corndog?"
"Huh?" John asked, distracted as he ducked around a guy carrying a kid on his shoulders, before dragging Ronon to sit at one of the bright pink picnic tables, nestled under a potted tree draped in fairy lights. "Oh, a hotdog dipped in corn batter and fried."
Ronon scrunched up his nose in a way that forced a bark of laughter from John. "Yeah, give me a burger over a dog, any day of the week."
He felt their knees bump as Ronon folded his long body onto the small seat and shifted a booted foot between both of John's. Every time Ronon touched him, John felt a spark of heat thrill down to his bones. Public displays of affection had never been John's thing, but with Ronon, it was like John didn't care if anyone saw them. He craved it everything about Ronon. Besides, they were just two guys in l-
John cleared his throat and swallowed hard around the sudden lump blocking his windpipe. He felt the weight of Ronon's questioning gaze on him but didn't look up; focused instead on opening the plastic bag. It took longer than it should have, but John's hands were shaking from the power of his unspoken epiphany. Ronon pulled the tiniest knife John had ever seen, sliced through the plastic, and slid the blade home in his dreads. The movement was so quick John would have doubted it happened at all, if not for the pink fluff ballooning up from the bag's opening.
"Thanks." John murmured, wondering how it was he hadn't sliced his fingers open while playing with Ronon's hair.
"Didn't want to wait all night."
There was more quiet concern, than rebuke, in Ronon's tone, and it suggested there would be a conversation in their future; one where John revealed more than he'd probably want to. Ronon's eyebrows had a talent for making John spill his guts, whether he wanted to or not.
"That keen to eat this stuff, are you?"
Ronon didn't answer, just leaned forward on his elbows, lush mouth open and eyes closed. His long lashes lying in dark sweeps over his cheeks. John was transfixed. The soft white from the fairy lights made the caramel of Ronon's skin glow smooth and tempting. John wanted to haul Ronon against him and taste every inch. Instead, he traced the shape of full lips with a cloud of cotton candy and stared as the moisture and heat of Ronon's mouth melted the spun sugar a dark pink. Ronon moaned, leaning forward to chase the sweetness, engulfing all the cotton and the tips of John's fingers in a cavern of heat that ignited every single nerve ending John possessed. The rasp of Ronon's tongue swirled, suckling on both sugary sweetness and the salty taste of John's skin.
John couldn't help the curse. Nor could he help the way he spread his thighs to allow his dick more room to grow in a public place. He yanked his fingers free, ignored the resistant suction Ronon was applying as his eyes fluttered open, brown blown black with pleasure.
"More!" Ronon growled, the sound curling John's toes in his boots, making his hair stand even more on end.
"Jesus, Chewie," John couldn't get the next pillow-y treat out the bag fast enough. "You tryin' to kill me?"
Ronon snatched the bag from John, spilling clouds of pink on the table between them. "Now you."
John didn't understand, his mind swamped in heat and need and want, until Ronon mimicked John by brushing sticky softness against John's lips like a secret open sesame only the two of them knew. He opened for Ronon just as he had the first time they'd kissed three years ago. There would never be an occasion, past present or future, where John could refuse Ronon anything he asked for.
It was a hard hit of sugar with a chemical tang of food colouring and the organic taste of Ronon rounding out the flavours zinging on John's tongue; intoxicating beyond anything John had experienced before. But Ronon was retrieving his fingers before John was finished cataloguing the memory; depriving John of a sensation he hadn't known he craved.
"Later." Ronon murmured, voice impossibly deep as he leaned further across the table to steal a chaste kiss from a dazed and horny John. "Take me on the Ferris wheel."
"You love it."
John pressed a palm against the evidence that proved Ronon's case for him and stood up on shaky legs.
Ronon had slowed his steps the closer they got to the towering wheel with its strobing lights of blue, purple, and green running along each of the support spokes. Even above the thumping base of the music playing through the fair's PA, the squeak of the buckets could be heard. John wriggled a hand up under Ronon's white tee and stroked a soothing pattern into the sensitive skin he found there.
Two buckets filled and it was their turn. John handed over four of their tickets along with a picture of Ulysses Grant, and tried to ignore the attendant's knowing smirk and appraising eye as John slid over to make room for Ronon. Once the safety rail clunked in place, John slid his palm over Ronon's thigh and squeezed in quiet reassurance. Ronon relaxed against his side at the touch and John couldn't help leaning into the solid warmth.
John sighed a long relaxed breath. It had been too long since he'd allowed himself this simple pleasure, made all the more enjoyable by the man next to him. As a boy he'd slouched into the rock of the bucket and stared up at the sky. The rhythm made it was easy to pretend you were flying. Day time meant flying jets in cornflower blue, leaving trails of white in your wake. Night meant the infinity of space. John had dreamed of flying the shuttle, breaking away from gravity and his father's plans for his future. Both equal in their determination to keep him grounded.
Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard of the United States Air Force had proven them both wrong. He'd travelled to the stars. He'd made his dreams a reality - despite a natural aptitude for pissing off the Brass. John smiled. His own personal fuck you to the authority figures in his life hadn't been the only thing he'd found out in the depths of top secret space. He'd found Ronon. Or Ronon had found him. Either way, the only detail that mattered was that John had Ronon, and Ronon had John.
Ronon's voice was choked, quiet, with a nervous edge. John opened his eyes, unaware of when he'd closed them.
John was getting jittery. Ronon was always quiet, but this kind of stillness never boded well. He stiffened, braced for the impact, of what, he didn't know; but it couldn't be good.
"Shhh..." Ronon whispered, huge palm coming up to cup the back of John's neck; thumb and forefinger massaging swirls into the hollow behind each earlobe. "Don't be an idiot. I will never leave you."
John knew it was a promise Ronon had no business making. At some point, probably sooner rather than later, one of them would leave the other. He wasn't stupid enough to think they'd both live to see the end of the Wraith; even if it was what kept both of them going most days. But John knew now wasn't the best time to correct Ronon. The guy was obviously building up to something big, something that required more words than Ronon was used to parting with. So John leaned closer and tighter into Ronon's side and met those gorgeous eyes with an openness he was still learning how to give.
"Yeah, I know, what are you tryin' to say, Chewie?"
The heavy silence gnawed at John's gut and he squeezed hard on Ronon's thigh, fingertips digging deep to anchor himself. Ronon did that for him, whenever the crazy got too close, crept under his skin with nightmare-inducing stealth. Ronon was there for John in ways Nancy had never been able or willing to understand.
"On Sateda," John chewed his lip at the old pain in Ronon's eyes when he mentioned his obliterated home. "After a bond has been tested, the pair must declare or separate."
All John's muscles tightened at the same time and white hot agony engulfed his chest, eating up his heart and his soul while a tiny little stick figure tried to build a barrier against an endless tsunami of pain. But Ronon continued without pause, aware on some level of John's increasing distress.
"I do not wish to separate. I love you. And I wish to declare to all who must know. Teyla says the people of Earth call it marriage by wedding. I, Ronon of Sateda and Atlantis, declare my wish to wedding you, John Sheppard."
John couldn't believe it. Ronon may have got a thing or two muddled, but the gist of it was there. Damn, Ronon was proposing! On a Ferris wheel. At night. Where anyone who wanted to, could see them. John had to hand it to him, his guy had moves!
It wasn't until he felt Ronon stiffening, pulling back and widening the gap between them, that John realised he hadn't said anything; hadn't given Ronon any form of answer at all. Fuck. Shit. Idiot. John grabbed for Ronon's arm, felt anger and hurt and rejection in the heat of the skin under his palms.
"Waitwaitwait!" John whispered. The last wait higher and squeakier in his panic. "Don't be like that, buddy, you caught me off guard is all."
Ronon leaned back, body still wary, but his eyes were hopeful as he waited John out. The breeze created by the turn of the wheel lifting his dreads back from his face. John shivered off the back of his adrenalin surge and tilted his chin so his gaze met Ronon's.
"I, John of Earth and Atlantis, love Ronon Dex, and declare my wish to wedding him, too."
John felt Ronon melt into his side, those strong arms he could never get enough of tightening around him to the point of pain. But John couldn't feel any pain. He pressed up on Ronon's thigh and kissed his promise into the only lips he would ever taste again.
"You two done?"
John blinked his vision back into focus to find the attendant and a queue of couples grinning down at him and Ronon. He hadn't noticed the Ferris wheel had stopped. His fifty dollar tip must have expired.
"Not even a little."
Ronon growled his agreement, tugged John to his feet and down the two steps to the wooden planks of the pier before hauling him into a display of public affection John would never forget.
"So, where do you wanna do this?" John asked into the blue and silver light of Lantea's third moonrise as it spilled in through the open balcony windows. His cheek pressed to the sweaty skin of Ronon's naked chest, relaxed in the buzz of their afterglow. "Cause I'm sure even Woolsey would clear the dial out schedule for a gate room wedding."
John let the silence fall around them, heavy with the whisper of Ronon's thoughts. It would be the first time he'd wear his dress blues to a function with at least a shot at a happy ending. John pressed a smile into the dip between Ronon's pecs. The image of Ronon descending the control room stairs in a tux was mind-blowing, not to mention hot as hell. John rolled his hips against Ronon's meaty thigh and moaned when his exhausted dick twitched in agreement. There wouldn't be a single unappreciative gaze in all of Atlantis.
"Remember the place you took me to, on Earth?" Ronon rumbled, a hesitant sound that had John lifting his head to meet his fiancÚ's eyes. "Where the sky stretched beyond the ability to see?"
John tried to remember back over the past three years, to a place that matched Ronon's description. But there had been many as they crammed as much sightseeing as they could into their all-too-short Earthside vacations.
"You took me climbing." Ronon continued, his fingers playing in the black whorls of John's hair as he reminisced. "And we fucked on the cliff above a river where only the wind heard you screaming my name."
"Oh fuck, Ronon." John gasped as Ronon tugged on his hair, arching his neck so he could take John's mouth with the same force as he'd taken his body that day back in their first year together. "For a guy who's allergic to words, you sure can wield them to good effect."
Ronon didn't answer, but then he didn't have to. The proof was in the way John swung a leg over and moaned into their kiss as he writhed within the grip Ronon had on his hips.
"The Grand Canyon it is." John agreed much later, voice sex-rough and blissed out. "But there'll be no fucking on cliff tops until after the guests have beamed out. Understood?"
Ronon stroked the pad of his thumb across the swell of John's lower lip and hummed his assent. Not because he cared about witnesses, but because John did. And what made John happy, made Ronon doubly so.
Summary: Ronon decides it's time he found out why John likes Ferris wheels so much...