Sheppard's never thought of himself as stupid, but it takes him a lot longer than it should to work out why Ronon caves so readily when he's given a direct, uncompromising order.
By Sheppard, anyway. You'd think Rodney doesn't speak a language Ronon understands, most of the time.
In his own defence, he's used to being obeyed. It's part of his life now he's in charge; the lack of backchat, the litany of 'sir, yes, sir'. It's soothing, seductive, and familiar.
It's just different when Ronon's doing it, somehow, and not just because 'sir' isn't part of Ronon's vocabulary.
He starts to notice stuff, like the way Ronon draws himself up, towering over Sheppard, making sure Sheppard knows who's biggest, who's strongest, as Ronon argues, just once, threatens to disobey, just once.
And then, the smouldering dark gaze lowers and there's that duck of the head that might, if you squinted, look like deference, when Sheppard snaps out the words that make Ronon back down, back off, behave.
It's kind of a rush now he comes to think about it. And he does think about it, usually when he's drifting off to sleep, his thoughts running into each other like a rained-on painting, certainties blurred, clear lines fuzzing and thinning to nothing.
Thinks about the time he deliberately made his voice harder, razor-edging a demand for Ronon to get his ass over to the perimeter they've set up, getting a surprised, sidelong look from Teyla, a disapproving sniff from McKay… and he's hard before he's finished talking, because Ronon's looking at him with something like worship, deep, deep down where no one but Sheppard can see it and he's never felt less worthy because Ronon hadn't deserved that, no matter how much he'd wanted it.
He stays out of Ronon's way the rest of that mission, keeping a distance between them until they step back through the 'gate and Ronon falls silently into place behind him.
It's all still guessing, though, and when he adds up what he's got, it's nothing much.
Until the time -- and he's not thinking about it, he really isn't, mind occupied with how much he wants to get back to the city, shower off the mud, and sleep, just sleep -- he's kneeling to scoop up a sample of goop McKay wants when he glances up and tells a scowling Ronon to pass him the lid for the sample jar which has rolled out of reach.
"Get it yourself."
He watches Ronon's hand, the one not holding a weapon (except Ronon's hands are never empty of a weapon; he's seen those long, strong fingers stiffen and drive deep into skin, stopping a pulsing beat of blood between one breath and the next, heard the sick crack of bone as they wrap and twist an arm or a neck) tremble, just a little, watches it, not the slow swell of Ronon's dick, beneath soaked, clinging fabric, even though it's just where he can see it and he's… aware of it, oh, yeah, he's aware.
"I told you to get it." He looks up, doesn't even try to straighten his back; keeps his voice mild. He's kneeling in the mud at Ronon's feet, and he could be face down in it and he'd still be in charge. He doesn't need to threaten him.
He owns him.
"So, get it, Ronon."
Over the rain, he's got to be imagining that he can hear the slow swallow as Ronon's throat works and his lips part, just a little (room for a finger to push in, lever his mouth open wider, room for two fingers, three, exploring, rubbing along the wet lick of Ronon's tongue, the teeth that won't bite until he tells them to, thumb brushing the full bottom lip, slicking it with Ronon's spit, pulling his fingers out, running them over the sulky, stubborn lips until they're pushing against his fingertips, frantic, desperate pushes that aren't kisses. He's never thought about kissing Ronon. Not once.).
Ronon snarls. It's enough to send a wave of heat through Sheppard, chasing away the chills soaked clothing and a spiteful breeze have driven into his bones.
He doesn't repeat the order. He doesn't need to. One look from him and Ronon's already crouching, scrabbling for the circle of plastic, tossing it at Sheppard, who catches it, already planning what he's going to do to Ronon later, and where he's going to do it.
Somewhere safe. Somewhere Ronon doesn't have to be silent and doesn't need to talk.
The lid snaps into place on the jar and Ronon's fist clenches and then relaxes gently, slowly, when Sheppard smiles up at him.
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