sparsenicjade
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AN: Written for angelus2hot as a SUPER late giftlet for wish_list this year. Unbeta'ed, sorry. I hope you enjoy.

*


The reason it takes so long for John to realize what is happening is because even after he's actually confirmed it with Dr. Keller, it's hard to believe. He blinks at the diagnosis and, realizing he sounds mentally impaired, repeats, "The flu."

Rodney snorts, but shockingly keeps his opinion of John's comeback to himself. Keller makes an "I hear you," face, but shrugs. "It happens."

John isn't sure what to respond to that. Technically, she is correct, flus happen. Just…not so much to Ronon. In all the years John has known him. Ever. He ends up going with, "Huh."

*


If it had been anyone but Ronon, John would have begun suspecting something nearly a week earlier, when Ronon skipped his morning run and instead spent a full half-an-hour exhausting their hot water supply in the shower. Because it was Ronon, however, John just thought that maybe, after all these years, John had begun to rub off on his husband.

He'd bitched at Ronon a little for stealing all the hot water. Ronon, predictably, had raised an unimpressed eyebrow at John, and gone on with his day.

*


Then there'd been the fact that, maybe three, four days ago, Ronon had foregone eating at almost every meal to suck down bizarre amounts of water. In fairness, John had frowned at that and asked, "Everything okay?"

Ronon had shrugged and said, "Thirsty."

One of the primary rules of their relationship was, "Believe the other person. Unless he's clearly lying."

Since John could see where it was possible that Ronon was simply more thirsty than usual, he'd chosen to believe him.

*


This morning, however—and by morning, John means somewhere around two am within the Atlantis sleep cycle—when John woke up to the sound of Ronon dry-heaving most of his insides up, and found him in the bathroom shivering, despite the perfectly temperate atmosphere of the city, John said, "Yeah, okay, big guy. Doctor time."

Ronon made a noise that was partially disagreement, partially threat. John, unintimidated, dragged him up and firmly promised him a fireman's hold in his near future until he agreed to walk with John to the medical facilities.

*


It takes Keller all of fifteen minutes to come to her diagnosis. She then spends another thirty making sure, given how bizarre it seems. But no, as it turns out, Ronon is, in fact, susceptible to viral infections. She gives him something to bring down his temperature, loads one IV with fluids and nutrients, and another with an anti-viral, and tells John to take him home. "I'm not in the business of baby-sitting, and I know him, he'll run the second I turn my head."

John smiles, because it's true, and because, well, he gets it. He shuffles Ronon, IV stand in tow, back to their quarters. John pushes him onto the one chair in the room so he can change the linens, seeing as how evidently Ronon's been infecting them with viral grossness since laundry day, four days prior.

When he's finished, he gets Ronon settled in the clean sheets with cool cotton rags placed under his arms, across his forehead, and at his groin. Ronon tells him, "I can't decide if I hate or love you right now."

"I'm surprised you have the energy for either," John tells him, decidedly unconcerned. He calls Lorne and asks to swap shifts, so he can stay with Ronon for the moment, since, despite his words, the Satedan looks pretty shaken by the whole experience.

Then he lies down next to Ronon, one hand splayed across his too-hot belly to anchor both of them, and says, "Hey, sleep, okay?"

Ronon grumbles, "Just 'cuz I'm tired."

*


Ronon wakes from nightmares that follow him into wakefulness, dispelling only when John says, "Hey, I'm here, I'm here, and you're safe. We're all safe."

Ronon buries his face in John's chest then, shaking enough that the bed nearly moves. John rubs his hand in small circles over Ronon's back, murmuring reassurances. When Ronon's breathing seems less wet, less frantic, John says, "Hey, lemme go for a moment, okay?"

He gets up, renewing the cloths, coaxing Ronon into drinking some sports drink and eating one of the Jell-o cups Rodney ever-so-graciously brought by earlier in the day. Ronon's clearly exhausted by these efforts. John's not tired again, yet, but he leans back against their headboard so that Ronon can use his thighs as a pillow, and cups his hand over the back of Ronon's neck, murmuring, "I got you, not gonna let anything happen."

*


John's just about to try and figure out who to talk to about taking over another shift—Ronon's sleep has been restless at best, nightmare-filled at worst—when Lorne sends him the message, "McKay says he hasn't a word from you all day, figured putting Michaelson in charge for the next shift was probably for the best."

John sends back, "IOU."

*


John falls asleep and wakes to Ronon falling out the bed, on his feet within an instant, the IVs coming out with one rip, as Ronon frantically looks around for a weapon. He finds one in the IV stand, and John's never been quite so glad for how many hours he's spent getting his ass kicked by Ronon and his sticks. It makes it easy to duck out of the way of Ronon's fever-driven, uncoordinated attack. Wincing, John sweeps his foot behind Ronon's knees and brings him to the floor so that he can pin him, and make him look at John.

For the first few seconds, there's nothing, no recognition, nothing but wildly rolling eyes and fear so thick John can nearly smell it. Then Ronon's eyes focus and he slurs, "J'hn?"

"You're feeling pretty shitty, buddy."

"J'hn," he says again, this time even more lost, almost a whine, if Ronon were one to whine.

"Sh," John says. "S'okay. C'mon."

He gets Ronon on his feet and reaches over to his comm. device to ring for Keller, or whoever's on shift. He herds them both into the bathroom and runs the shower lukewarm, getting them both in there, despite being partially dressed. Ronon stops breathing for a second at the feel of the water hitting him, but John rubs at his muscles, says, "Breathe for me, that's an order," and Ronon follows orders, the way John knew he would.

By the time John's gotten him cool enough that he feels safe turning the water off, Keller's ringing their quarters. She helps him get Ronon dressed in something dry and redoes the IVs, patching up where the old ones were ripped out. John pours more blue-flavored electrolyte liquids down his throat and cuddles up to him, holding on for all he's worth.

*


The sheets are soaked when John next wakes up, but Ronon's also sleeping the way he normally does, deep and with an even breathing rhythm, and his body temperature is precisely what John is used to. John rubs a hand over his face and breathes a sigh of relief.

*


John's back on shift when Ronon wakes up, so he gets the message, "Going to the mess."

John fires back, "Put a shirt on."

Ronon responds, "Why, worried?"

John grins. "Of course I am. Have you SEEN yourself?"

John doesn't hear back for a while so he figures Ronon probably laughed, threw on a shirt, and went to go eat something. Half an hour later, Ronon shows up—shirt on, for all that the tee, which is clearly John's, leaves nothing to the imagination—with coffee for John and a tray with basically All The Food for himself.

John takes the coffee and says, "I knew I kept you around for a reason."

Ronon smiles. He takes a sip of juice, and swallows, before saying, "I saw myself these last few days."

John tips his head. "Hm?"

"I saw myself these last few days," he repeats. "And so did you. And you took care of me anyway."

John considers his coffee for a long time. He's never been great with words or emotions, definitely not the two put together. Ronon isn't either, though, so the fact that he's talking about this means he needs to. In the end, all John can say is, "Yes. And I will. Again."

"I know," Ronon tells him, leaning in for a quick kiss. "I know," he says, and it sounds exactly like their version of I love you.


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile