Title: Safe (originally an untitled ficlet)
Word Count: 1100 or so
Rating: G, team, gen
"Shut the door, Sheppard; it's freezing out there!"
John stamped the snow off his boots, letting the heavy hide curtain fall back into place with deliberate slowness. Pushing back his parka hood, he said mildly, "How would you know, Rodney? You've been in here the whole time."
Rodney snorted, turning around from the fire. "Like there's any point to running around out there like Daniel Boone's northern cousin. You can hear the wind from all the way in here. It's obvious we're not getting to the gate tonight; I don't know what you and the sasquatch thought you could prove. Speaking of Ronon ..." He frowned, squinting past Sheppard in the smoky interior of the hut. "Where is he? You didn't lose him, did you?"
"Nah, he seems to like it out there. The headman of the village loves him; they've invited him to hunt whatever it is that makes this fur." Sheppard reached out to tug at a tuft of hair on one of the massive gray-and-white hides that were piled everywhere in the room.
"Sounds like fun ... for him." Rodney slouched down under his own pile of furs.
The hut was round and small, the floor hide-covered except for the circle of rocks in the middle where a small fire blazed. Most of the smoke was funneled up to the hole in the ceiling, but enough stuck around to sting John's eyes as he shucked off his gear and picked his way past the piles of furs and their packs to join his teammates at the fire. "How're you doin'?" he asked Teyla.
She smiled back at him, barely visible under a heap of furs considerably bigger than she was. "I am fine. Between the drugs from the med kit and the tea that Headman Jahnen brewed for me, my leg hardly hurts at all. I may be able to walk to the gate tomorrow."
Rodney made a disbelieving sound, and John shook his head. "No need to play Bionic Woman. The headman guy said we could use one of those sledges they have for pulling their stuff around."
Teyla thrust her head up, bleary from painkillers with her hair sticking up in wild directions. "I think that I would rather walk."
John patted her on top of the furs. "Teyla, you've got a broken leg. You'll just have to deal with curbside cab service. What's for dinner, guys?"
Rodney pointed wordlessly at a large clay pot sitting next to the fire. "One of the head guy's wives, or sisters or something, brought it over earlier. As much as I hate to admit, it isn't half bad, actually. Could use salt. There's bowls over there."
John was starting to shiver in his sweat-soaked clothes. Making space for himself between the two of them, he buried himself in furs and scooped up a bowl of ... whatever it was in the pot. Some kind of thick stew, from the look of things.
He'd been fighting his way through thigh-deep snowdrifts all afternoon, and with a bellyful of warm stew, the heat of the fire and the sound of Teyla and Rodney's voices lulled him into a pleasant, somnolent state. He hardly noticed when the voices trailed off into quiet, regular breathing; he was drifting happily when a draft of cold wind swept over them and Ronon came in, along with a swirl of snow.
"Shut the door," Rodney mumbled sleepily. "Cold."
Ronon shrugged off his coat in a snow-covered heap on the floor. "Suck it up, McKay."
John twisted around, propping himself up on an elbow. "How's the hunting?"
Ronon shrugged as he plunked himself down on the other side of Teyla. "Everything's gone to ground in the storm. Might go out again after the weather clears -- once we get her back to Atlantis." As he dished himself a bowl of stew, he glanced down at Teyla's face; even relaxed in sleep, it was paler than usual. "How is she?"
"She'll be okay. It looked like a clean break and she said the painkillers were helping. Be glad to get her home, though." John yawned and sank back down into the pile of fur.
"Don't stay awake on my account."
"Not planning on it, big guy."
He drifted off to the sound of Rodney complaining that Ronon was eating all the food. His dreams were restless, the howling of the wind outside manifesting itself as storms and Wraith, until finally he jolted awake and sat up.
The fire had burned down to coals. By its dim glow, he could make out Teyla next to him, her bright hair spread out over the rolled-up shirt she was using for a pillow. The lines of strain in her face had finally smoothed out into the peace of deep, restful sleep. Some strands of hair had gotten caught on the corner of her mouth; John brushed a hand very gently across her cheek, freeing them.
On her far side, Ronon curled protectively against her, with just enough space between them not to crowd her and risk getting whacked in his sleep; even a drugged Teyla wasn't wise to mess with. But the protectiveness in his posture was unmistakable -- the buttress on the end of the row of sleepers, holding the darkness at bay. He'd thrown a fur carelessly over his legs, but his arms were bare and apparently unbothered by the chilly air in the room. One arm was curled beneath his head, while his other hand rested lightly on the butt of his gun.
He hadn't awakened at John's movement, which was something that would never have been the case in their first few months together. Ronon was the lightest sleeper John had ever met, understandably enough considering the life he'd led. When he'd first joined John's team, he'd slept in ten-minute intervals, jolting awake in between to look around. Now, he continued to snore softly even through the drowsy movements of his teammates, although John had no doubt that he'd bolt awake if anyone tried to enter the hut.
He looked the other way, checking by instinct on the fourth member of his team -- and often the one who caused the most trouble. As usual, Rodney slept with the abandon of a child worn out from a long day's play: sprawled on his stomach, head twisted to the side, drooling gently on his wrist. At some point he'd managed to mostly extricate himself from under the covering of furs. Knowing that he'd get cold and have to wake up to recover himself before dawn (and probably wake the rest of them in the process), John leaned forward and pulled the furs up over Rodney's body, lightly tucking them around his sleeping teammate's shoulders.
Outside, the storm still raged, but inside, they were as warm and safe as he could make them. He'd do anything to keep them that way forever, but the Pegasus Galaxy didn't offer that kind of guarantees.
They were safe for another day.
It was all he could give.
Moving carefully so as not to wake anyone, John wriggled back under his own pile of furs and rolled over onto his side. Rodney was warm against his back, and one of his outflung hands rested lightly against Teyla's arm. Comfortable, relaxed, he closed his eyes and drifted off again to the sound of their quiet breathing.
This time, he didn't dream.