Reader's DVD commentary for
Pants on Fire
by lalejandra

I have now officially been working on this commentary forever. I'm not sure exactly why (though I have inklings) but I'm terrified of it. And I feel like a big moron every time I write something in it. But I still want to do it, and I love the story. So here goes.

(Pants on Fire is part of the Publishing AU, all of which can be found here.)

Pants on Fire
(It sometimes feels like it's never started,
but it sometimes feels like it will never end)

Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried, in my way, to be free. (--Leonard Cohen, as recorded by Johnny Cash)

Part One:
John Lies

The first lie John remembers telling is to his kindergarten teacher. He stabbed a kid with a pencil in the eye. It was an accident, he remembers, and the kid was wearing green overalls. John doesn't remember the kid's name, maybe it was Gregory or Charles or something, and when the teacher asked if he stabbed the kid, John said no. He didn't want to get into trouble and he didn't want anyone to be mad at him, and whoever the kid was didn't even say anything about it. Yeah. Those are the main reasons kids lie, I think. But they're particularly important to mention when you talk about John, because I think that he always really doesn't want to get in trouble, and doesn't want anybody to be mad at him. I mean, I think he wants to be the guy everyone likes, all the time. I mean, even his weird passive-aggressive crap, and insubordination, and other strangeness, is often for the benefit of the people around him. Sure, everybody is that way - but John is sort of desperate about it. Also, I really like the details, the green overalls. Because that's how I remember kindergarten, too.

And it was more of a scratch than a stab, anyway, John thinks. Hair-splitting is everyone's friend.

John doesn't know if he lied again for a long time. He doesn't remember the lies. That's one of the problems with lying, keeping them straight. He remembers the moment he started really lying, and since it was almost half his life ago, he wonders if that means everything since then is a lie.

He wonders if it matters.

(No he doesn't.)

(Yes he does.) When you lie all the time, are your lies all a little bit true? And when you lie about yourself (and to yourself) are you building the person you wish you were, in fragments? Or the person you think your audience wishes you were - like if you say it, perhaps it will become true.

He doesn't usually lie about important things. He lies about things that don't matter. He lies about what kind of beer he drank--he says Guinness, but it was Sierra Nevada--but not about how many he had. He lies about what brand of condoms he uses, but not the size. He tells Chaya he's straight when he meets her, because he isn't going to be sleeping with anyone else (lie). He tells her his favorite show is The A-Team (it's MacGuyver), his favorite song is "Walk the Line" (it's "Flesh and Blood"), his favorite movie is The Empire Strikes Back (it's Dive Bomber), and his favorite food is a medium rare steak and a whisky (it's a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and mayo, on thick white bread and a Coke). A bunch of inarguably minor details, with a giant not-detail in the middle. And also a bunch of lies John tells other people with a lie he tells himself in the middle.

None of that shit matters to him. It mattered to Chaya, though.

When people ask John why he and Chaya divorced--after all, they'd seemed so happy together--he tells them they grew apart. Another lie. They were never together. He let Chaya believe he was the guy she wanted, cultured, smart, successful. He was never that guy. He's still not that guy. I find myself thinking over the pairings in this. Sheppard/Sar, Sheppard/O'Neill/multiple nameless women, Sheppard/McKay, Sheppard/Weir, Sheppard/ makes me think about thefourthvine's SGA Fandoms I Have Loved post, where she says "...he has a fanon reputation as a total slut. And if you're going by the FF, man, he's earned it." The interesting thing, I think, is how that manages to be so heartbreaking here.

Hell, he never even went to college.

(That's another lie. He went to NYU for three weeks, two days.)


Officially, John is a liberal. He votes Democrat, sometimes Green. Instead of voting for W or Kerry, he voted for the socialist party--it was a woman and a guy who was too young to be president. He says it was the statement that mattered to him, but really he couldn't stand the thought of voting for either of the assholes on the ticket, not even with two shots of Jack in him before eight in the morning. John drinks a lot in this. Which is stating the obvious, sure. It would be easy enough to throw around words like alcoholic, because he's definitely dependent on drinking to get through a lot of situations, but the drinking actually seems like more a byproduct of other issues. It's sort of bleakly hilarious that he's getting up early to drink so that he can vote before work.

He grinned at everyone when he got to work that morning and told them all that he was in a good mood because it was a beautiful day.


John's actually a libertarian. Or he would be if he didn't stand opposed to having to label himself. He likes boxes, actually, so that's a lie. But he doesn't like to be in a box himself, so it's not really a lie. But boxes are safe, so it is. So I'm just realizing how much this sounds like things I've said to my therapist. Um. Hmmm.

Sometimes he has a hard time remembering what's the truth and what's not, and he tells himself that it doesn't really matter anyway, but that's also a lie, isn't it? Dear John: I think you are supposed to know without having to keep track like that.

John likes guns, he thinks they're sexy. He believes in the Constitution. He's got a lot of patriotism. If his eyes hadn't been fucked up, he'd've joined the Air Force right out of high school. It's necessary, when you've got John in an AU, to explain why he isn't flying (if he isn't flying). There are plenty of stories that don't mention flight or planes in any way, but the things we know to be canonically true about him are so sparse that ignoring the one huge idea that John loves to fly is like pretending not to see an elephant when he's trying to sit on your lap. This story does it right - glancingly, with a concrete reason. It's similar to the lovely way that rageprufrock explains it in Hindsight.

That might be a lie--he's not sure. He remembers being seventeen-going-on-eighteen and wanting to protect his country and family and friends with all the fervor of someone who's never seen another person get killed, but he can't remember if he'd actually have gone through with it.

He wants to fly airplanes. He wants to quit his job and go be a bush pilot in Alaska. Maybe marry an Eskimo woman and have lots of Eskimo babies. It's like an episode of Northern Exposure.

That is definitely a lie, except for the airplane part. He used to take lessons in Connecticut. It was so no one in New York knew he was doing it. (It was to get away from Chaya.) But I bet it was also so no one in New York knew. That's the thing about keeping secrets and telling lies, sometimes - it keeps people from knowing what's important to you, keeps your soft spots hidden.


It's not a lie when John says he doesn't care that he's estranged from his family. He has a younger sister and a younger brother, and they both toed the family line. His younger sister is married to a Colonel who is at least twice her age, and they have children. His younger brother is a Major in the Air Force, working on some kind of secret project. Whenever John used to ask what he did, Christian would say, "It's classified."

John doesn't care about his brother and sister. Sometimes he forgets that they exist. He doesn't care about his parents either. Yes. John as an only child/orphan by choice is actually an idea I am really fond of. Except in the version in my head, he's totally doing it for the alienated emo drama.

That might be a lie. He doesn't know. At three in the morning, he thinks he's always been estranged from his family. He's always been estranged from life. He doesn't know how to connect.

That's also a lie. He just doesn't want to.

That's also a lie. He desperately wants to, but he's afraid.

He's afraid of everything. Oh, John. You get me right in the middle of my chest.

(Untrue. He's not afraid of cockroaches, flying, dying, or eating Pop Rocks and drinking soda at the same time.)


A few months before John and Chaya got married, they moved in together, on East 25th Street, above a bar called the Hairy Monk. The building was bright blue, John's favorite color. Chaya said it was fate, clearly a good omen. So Chaya is barely in this, and I feel really unfair about it, but wow I have zero sympathy for her.

That was when John realized he could never tell her that his favorite color is really black.

The apartment had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen with enough space for a small table, a bathroom with a tiny closet, and a door that led to a set of stairs that led up to the roof.

Chaya had said it would be perfect for them and a child, and by the time they had child number two, they'd be ready for a house in Pennsylvania or Connecticut, or on Long Island.

John had said, "I sort of wanted to live in Brooklyn," which was a lie; he'd never thought about living in Brooklyn before. But he's saying something true, just by contradicting her plan.

Chaya wrinkled her pert, perfect nose, and said, "Brooklyn? I didn't realize--it's--John, it's an outer borough." This makes me wonder exactly how Chaya wound up marrying him in the first place. I mean, lies, fine. And there's a difference between lies because John wants the life he thinks he can have if he marries Chaya, and the lies that he tells to piss Chaya off and hurry along the end of the marriage. But still, she has to be pretty oblivious to anything but herself for that to work. The way this is told, though, I believe that.

Suddenly all John wanted in the world was to live in Brooklyn. He's not sure if it's irony that he now does. Maybe when he and Chaya got divorced, he should have moved to Queens, just to make a statement.

A statement to who, he isn't sure. But a fucking statement, all the same.


John always says that he and Chaya "got" divorced. He never tells people that he cheated on Chaya a month after their wedding. He didn't even want to--or maybe he did. He doesn't remember, and thinks he probably didn't know then either. So here's the thing about this part - I'm not sure, reading it, if the first sentence in the section is strongly related to the rest of it. It's certainly related, just maybe the things after the first sentence don't necessarily follow in a linear way. I think what comes across is that John knows why Chaya divorced him - and that she might not necessarily think those are the reasons she did it. Her behavior as the story goes on implies that she never quite gets it, never really figures out what he's doing. And though she probably knows him better than he thinks (better than he wants her to), she never really knows him.

This is what he remembers from that weekend: He was on a business trip, at some convention--he doesn't even remember which one (the Anaheim WorldCon in 1996). There was a stray dog by the side of the road. John walked to an In & Out and ate three burgers and felt sick. That night he accidentally (on purpose) drank too much whisky (vodka) and didn't even know what he was doing (totally manipulated the situation). Fragment fragment lie lie lie. I love the way this works, the mechanics of the story.

He stumbled around arm in arm with Chad Yusef, toasted the health of the competition, and gave Chad a messy, sloppy, disgusting blow job in a hallway (in Chad's room, against the door), and hated (loved) it.

The next morning, he felt like shit, had a hangover, and there was a knot in the pit of his stomach that didn't go away. (But it didn't stop him from fucking an unknown number of people over the next five years.) (Actually, he fucked seven women and sixteen men.) (He wasn't even drunk for at least half of those.) (Actually, he was drunk for all the women.) Comment, correction, revision, correction. So all of the back and forth here, clarifying, contradicting - I see it as struggle in John's head. A rueful mental post-mortem. It occurs to me now to wonder if it's meant that way, or if there's omniscient narration going on. Ignore me talking about things like narrative voice, by the way, I really have no idea what I'm talking about. I'll just be over here failing to look intelligent. At least I'm trying, right?


John and Chaya had their first real fight about a year into their marriage. Chaya wanted children. John didn't.

Chaya yelled, "I know you want children! You just don't want them with me!"

John yelled, "Why would I lie about this? How dare you!"

Chaya yelled, "I know you're lying!"

John yelled, "I am not!"

He was.

John doesn't want children now. He thinks he used to. He thinks he'd make a good father. He knows he'd make a great uncle, but--and this is the truth--it's not worth having to have a relationship with his sister.

Chaya would make a horrible mother. John doesn't know where she is now or what she's doing, but he hopes she doesn't have children. That's a really great reason to not want children. And gives extra points toward the idea that John would make a good father. And even as fucked up as he is in this story? I think maybe he would make a good father. Not great, but good.

That night, the night of their first real fight, John went downstairs and sat in the Hairy Monk. The bartender's name was Chuck and he was from Toronto and he taught something to do with guitar (ear training and score reading and classical guitar lessons for graduate students) at some university (the Mannes School of Jazz) and lived around the corner. Hi Chuck! I pretend this is Chuck the gate tech. Because I'm in love with the idea of Chuck. Don't ask. Anyway, (did I mention I'm continuing to go with all the asides being the inside of John's head and not narration? because I am, and I am confident I'm right. I think I was suffering from delusions earlier. Just thought I should clarify) this is a new variant of John lying to himself to hide things - he gives vague, offhand descriptors for Chuck, but the revision text, the parentheticals, show he knows all the detail - he goes on like this - pretending he doesn't notice or care about these people at the bar, but they are his family more than Chaya is. Possibly because they're demanding less. He doesn't have to create the person they want him to be because they don't want anything - or don't want anything other than a friendly paying customer.

The Hairy Monk had--still has--a lot of Cash on the juke.

John ordered a lot of Guinness (Sierra Nevada) and burgers (nachos). Pretending to be more manly via food choices is sad. And something I've actually done. I'm starting to think that the reason I had such a hard time getting started on this commentary is because it feels a lot like therapy. I keep hitting familiar topics.

Every time John and Chaya had a fight, he'd go down to the Hairy Monk and drink and hang out with Chuck. Jaime from Ecuador was--still is--the cook in the back. Tonya was the waitress, then Cynthia, then Herra, then Yulia. John can't keep them all straight

(Tonya is the one with long blonde hair who wanted to be an actress; Cynthia is the fat one, who always had trouble sliding between tables; Herra is the one who ran away from her strict family in Queens to live in the East Village, who always smoked a lot of dope; Yulia is the Ukrainian one, from Boston, going to Baruch.)

Eventually, it got to the point where John would just hit the Hairy Monk after work, instead of going home. If he had a lot of work to do, he'd sit in the backmost booth with a beer and a burger (plate of nachos) and his red pencil (pen). If he couldn't stand the idea of fixing another comma splice (he actually likes comma splices, which is good, because it makes British SF easier to read) (I'm a big fan of sentence fragments, myself), he would sit at the bar and talk to Chuck.

Once or twice even, instead of walking up the stairs to his apartment, John spent the night on the cushiony stacked boxes in the kitchen of the Hairy Monk and woke up to his cell phone blinking wildly with angry voicemails. See, that whole bit about John cheating on Chaya? I think that was a lie-by-diversion. I think the reason she divorced him was because he hid out from her in the backroom of a bar. Which actually brings be around to the '"got" divorced' statement again, because behavior like that makes me think that maybe they did "get" divorced - maybe it was through mutual action, even if John's part of that action was pretty passive aggressive.

Part Two:
John and Chaya
John's Lies

John wishes he lived the kind of life that he edited novels about (lie). He's never been the fortunate son (lie) and he's never really gotten what he wants (lie) and he doesn't really know what he's doing with his life (truth).

He's never really had to make decisions about what he wants before (truth) because things have always been done for him (truth) and even with Chaya he didn't really think about whether or not he loved her (lie). Oh, John. He never would have had to lie (or never would have had to lie so much) if there hadn't been some question over whether or not he loved her.


Chaya left while John was on a business trip. That was only fair, because he was fucking his marketing director on the trip.

Bad things happen in threes: John comes home and finds Chaya gone on Sunday night, a "Dear John" letter on their bed ("Dear John, I'm sure you stopped at the Hairy Monk before coming up here, you asshole..."); Monday morning John finds out that his marketing director has been promoted to publisher; Monday afternoon John finds out that he's been promoted to editor in chief.

(None of those are bad things.) Hahaha. Awesome, yes.


John's least favorite thing about not being married to Chaya is that can't afford to live above the Hairy Monk anymore. He has to move out of Manhattan. His last fuck you to Chaya is to move to Brooklyn. That's what he tells everyone--it's also a lie. He's never cared much about where he lives--except when he's trying to piss off Chaya. He just wants enough space to spread out. That might also be a lie--he just wants to have space for his books.

This is when John realizes that he lies a little more than he thought he did, and he wonders what else about his life is a lie.

He doesn't think he actually wants to know. Yeah. What a horrible feeling. Poor John.

Part Three:
Ronon Dex
Jack O'Neill
Elizabeth Weir
John's Lies

John meets Ronon Dex, Sateda, LLC's military SF and military history specialist, at the WorldCon in Philadelphia in 2001. Dex can't be older than twenty-two or twenty-three and he's already made a name for himself as being one of the next generation's rock stars. Going places, doing things, editing award-winning, ground-breaking books.

Elizabeth mentions his name to John as John pours her a glass of wine at the Atlantis party Saturday night. "He's smart," she says, and wraps both hands around the glass. Plastic cup, actually. Nothing but class at Atlantis. "Kell loves him."

There's scotch on the shelf behind the bar--John fishes it out and pours himself a finger, then sticks it back. Someone's assistant must have bought it and stuck it there for Atlantis personnel only; he should find out who that is and make sure to thank him or her.

John sips it, swallows, squints across the room. "Interesting," says John, his voice pitched low. So this is John in sort-of real time. Not through the tug-of-war parentheticals of the previous sections that talked about the past.

"Isn't it?" replies Elizabeth, her voice just as low. She tilts her head toward John and he leans closer to her. They can get away with this for another moment or two, but no more--there are too many rumors about why Elizabeth and Simon have broken up, why Simon is living by himself in their Battery Park City apartment. John doesn't care, but Elizabeth's their publisher, and her reputation needs to come first. I kind of miss the parentheticals, though. Does he really not care? Because wouldn't that damage him, too?

But they both pause to watch Dex move through people--he's huge, wearing leather, with long, dreadlocked hair, and a bright white smile, and yet graceful. His eyebrows, John notices, are very expressive.

"Do you think Sateda--"

"Of course." Elizabeth smiles wryly. "Kell must be furious that he's not specializing in African-American lit."

"He's not what I expected." John isn't sure what he expected--maybe some pasty white nerd in glasses with bad hair wearing plaid and jeans, with a beer belly and no social skills. Or someone more like himself, normal, more like all the other SF editors--someone less like an actual rock star. The previous stories in the Publishing AU are focused on Ronon, but they start after he's started working at Atlantis. I like how this dips back to before they recruited him. Also, this gives the reader a chance to see Ronon from the outside.

"He's got presence. We should steal him." Elizabeth finishes her glass of wine. "Let's talk about it when we get back to the office on Tuesday--I definitely want him on our staff."

"We don't have the budget," says John absently. He's still watching Dex.

Self-awareness is not something John thinks of himself as having; he guesses it's not actually something he really ever had until a few months ago, when he had to start making decisions about his life. He instinctively recognizes this feeling in his gut, though--he's either in love, or running headfirst into a midlife crisis. I like how he's recognizing that he's having a thing for Ronon while he's in the middle of a conversation with Elizabeth, with whom he's got something going on. Whoa hang on! I just backtracked. Is John only hooking up with her drunk? Did she not tumble to that? Because I might question that kind of action, if it happened repeatedly. Of course, John is good at hiding/downplaying his drinking, I think that's a given by this point in the story.


John was angry when it turned out the editor in chief position was mostly one in which John was supposed to blow smoke up everyone's ass. He demanded more weight be put on his recommendations and makes a plan for Elizabeth and everyone above her to look at--a lot of people should be fired, the editorial department slightly restructured...

When John and Elizabeth come back from the con, it's to a memo from Jack saying that most of the things John recommended--including the firings--are to be done in Elizabeth's name, and executed on John's 36th birthday.

The editorial department goes down two budget lines--so John and Elizabeth can either hire two more assistants they desperately need (who will do all the work of the four people fired without acquiring any new projects), or they can hire Ronon Dex away from Sateda, LLC. They're going to hire assistants, of course. Yeah. Business is business, and you have to prioritize.

That night, John goes to the Hairy Monk and gets drunk for old times' sake, gets too drunk to go home, and Chuck lets him sleep in the basement of the bar again. Chuck is a stand-up guy.

The next day, John is hung over. He's almost never hung over.

He's hung over.

His breakfast is a Bloody Mary with a lot of Worcestershire sauce and a raw egg. Chuck, bless his heart, fills his travel mug with another Bloody Mary (sans egg).

Elizabeth stumbles into his office not long after he gets in looking shell-shocked.

"NPR," she says to him. "The--a--John," and she falls into him, her eyes wide, her breathing catching.

It's the first time John's touched her since the weekend Chaya left.

He sits her down in his chair and pulls out the TV/VCR he keeps for watching The Sopranos every Monday in the conference room, and tunes it until he hits a station. The only one that comes in with his makeshift wire hanger rabbit ears is CBS.

When he sees what's happening, he wishes for the BBC or even fucking CNN--anything but the hysterical local news anchors.

People drift back into his office, silent or full of rage, but suddenly no one is pissed at him and Elizabeth because of the firings. And no one says anything when they see Elizabeth curled up in his lap. They all know that Elizabeth and Simon have almost gotten divorced because Simon's dragged her out of the fancy Upper West Side apartment that's been in her family since the 60s, and into a tiny co-op in Battery Park City. Now either destroyed or covered in ashes.

They don't know her daddy works in the Towers.

John keeps her turned so her tears trickle into his shirt, and wishes he was thirteen again, living in Texas, carrying a clean, pressed handkerchief with his initials on it, to hand to ladies when they sneezed.

No one's phone is working--lines are down, operators are busy. Elizabeth can't raise her mother or her father, and she's not the only one. The internet is working--John sends emails on her behalf (mother, father, three brothers, Simon, cousins, aunts, uncles; they all say, "I am fine, email me, are you fine? I am going to Brooklyn--" and then John types in his address). The rest of the staff is email crazy, and everyone leaves the building together, crying, bracing themselves for stale, burnt air. I can't say anything to this, other than: I think it's nicely done, well drawn, tense and upset and freaked out.


Elizabeth comes home with John. They walk. John seriously considers walking Elizabeth uptown, over the bridge and into Queens, but he's lived in New York City for 18 years and one month, and he can count on one hand the number of times he's been to Queens. Going to the Czech bier garten doesn't count.

Instead John walks them over the Williamsburg Bridge, and there's actually a guy with a car who offers them a ride, and they take it, cause the guy is crying too, and there are a bunch of people standing near the guy's car, which is parked near the J train, and one of them is humming "God Bless America". John joins in during the second verse--he can't help himself, God, he loves his fucking country and this is killing him, it's killing him that there's nothing he can do, that this has to be a sign of worse things to come, that he can't go out and change what he did when he was a teenager, go join the Air Force, go make a fucking difference.

If John didn't have astigmatism, if he didn't have such bad vision, he could go to Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or--God, he could go anywhere. He could do anything. He could die in service to something larger than himself, he could be something, he could love something-- I find this very true, that John, despite his insubordinate quirks, strangeness, and his loner pose, really does want to be part of something larger, and that he believes whole-heartedly that the Air Force could make him whole. I don't think he's right, though.

When "God Bless America" is over, the singers start in on "Amazing Grace" but John doesn't feel--that's not a song about America, and he doesn't care, so they get in the car and go. The stranger's name is Tristan. John thinks it's a magical name and something will happen--he feels petty and stupid thinking maybe he and Tristan and Elizabeth can have a threesome or--anything. Whoa. John! You with your huge nationalism and fatalism and not-so-crazy impulse to get a guy into the mix when it's starting to look like you might have to have sex at some point with Elizabeth while sober. And the self-loathing.

But Tristan drops him and Elizabeth off at John's apartment and heads off for Coney Island--he's meeting his wife and kids there to camp on the beach.

John's neighborhood is silent.

He can see fireworks in the sky from other neighborhoods. He bets they're from Bed-Stuy or someplace over there.

He can see smoke from Manhattan.

Elizabeth is shocky. He makes her drink the orange juice in his fridge, even though it smells a little off, washes her face with a cool washcloth, strips her down to her underwear (he notes it: pink lace thong panties and a white lace bra; the lace matches, but the colors don't, and if he were copyediting this book, he'd query these choices--Elizabeth is not usually the sort of woman who matches style but not color), and puts her in his bed. He manhandles the television and VCR into his bedroom--he's always wanted one of those big screen TVs, a nice high-tech one, but he's never gotten around to getting it, and now he's grateful, because he wouldn't be able to move it himself.

John climbs into bed next to Elizabeth, and he desperately wants to put on the newscasts--he wants to know what's happening, he wants to know the death toll, he wants to know about Elizabeth's apartment and Simon, he wants to watch the footage over and over again and prove to himself that it really happened. Instead, they watch the most innocuous thing John can think of, which is an old VHS tape of Say Anything. He makes up a story about taking a cheerleader to see it at a drive in, and making out in the back of his daddy's pickup truck (and he wonders, halfway through, if Elizabeth knows that he was in New York already in 1989; he decides she has no idea and keeps going), and she cracks a smile, so it was a success. Most of the lies we see are little details - this one's more of a story. And it doesn't matter if she knows it's a lie or not, because she certainly knows he's talking to comfort and distract her. Anyway, the bigger lie is that he doesn't mind not watching the news.


John and Elizabeth sleep pressed against each other, and in the morning the phones are working. Elizabeth's parents are both dead, confirmed early on. She starts crying again, quiet and slow. She gets a call from Simon on John's land line--he's with some of his co-workers from Beth Israel; they'd been working triage and trauma teams all day and all night.

John wishes Simon were dead.

(No he doesn't. What would he do with Elizabeth?)

(He would marry her, and they would live an idyllic life on the Upper West Side, maybe near Central Park, and John wouldn't resent her trust fund at all. They might even have children.)

(That is such a lie.) (Yes. It would be Chaya Mark II. Bigger, uglier, and more destructive to everyone involved.)

Simon shows up at John's, exhausted, unexpected, while John and Elizabeth are playing Scrabble and watching the news. Elizabeth has finally stopped crying.

Simon showers in John's shower, using John's soap, and changes into some of John's clothes, and is gracious about the fact that he knows John's fucked his wife more than once--but not, John is satisfied (in his own head) to note, lately. John is pleased that Simon is civilized. (John wishes Simon would just lose it already and beat the shit out of John.) (Or something.) Then Simon falls asleep on John's couch, and sleeps all day and all night.

The next morning, John wakes up to sex noises coming from his living room, jerks off to the grunts and groans of Simon and Elizabeth enjoying each other, then strolls out and makes coffee once he knows they're done. They all take the F train together into the city--Elizabeth and Simon go first to Elizabeth's old Upper West Side apartment, where, Elizabeth tells John, they are going to try to get in touch with her brothers.

John is going to go to the office. He makes a joke about getting work done, and Elizabeth and Simon pretend it's funny. Maybe it is funny. John has no idea.


The city is empty, no one is outside, everything is quiet.

John thinks about doing the right thing, going down to Ground Zero--to help, to donate blood, to do something.

He just goes home, doesn't even bother going up to his office. He stays home. He watches the Star Wars trilogy, The Hobbit, the BBC America coverage, reads political blogs.

Maybe he's in shock too, because he doesn't really believe this has happened.

Monday morning he goes to work again as though it didn't, and no one talks about it. He doesn't go to Elizabeth's father's funeral, and the next time he sees Jack O'Neill, it's--

Well, John doesn't like to think about that, because it's not fair, not fair at all, that Jack gets Sam and Daniel, while John doesn't even have a big-screen television. So the current (non-past) part of the story ends for a while here. So we can backtrack. Which needs to happen, because remember the title to part three? We got the Dex and Weir parts, and, of course, John's lies, but we only got a one sentence mention of Jack before the last two sentences. But we've been thinking about him, as has, apparently, John.

Part Four:
Jack O'Neill

John has been in New York for eighteen hours when his new dorm-mate at NYU, Snicker, who has orange hair and listens to David Bowie and is shocked at how naive John is, takes him to a party. John wanders from room to room--the warehouse the party is in is huge.

Things John sees that he has never seen before: a man dressed as a woman, two men kissing, two women kissing, someone shooting something into their arm, seven people sitting naked in a circle with their backs to each other and their eyes closed, a plastic pool full of Kool-Aid.

"From the sticks, huh?" A man leers at him across a table loaded with different liquors.

"Nah," says John, "just that, where I'm from, there's usually a stage at these things." Lie. Lie lie lie. John figures it's either look like a rube or lie his ass off, and he's going to lie. Looking like a rube can be dangerous, so I really can't imagine faulting him for that one. What is this, 1986? He takes a deep breath and a big swallow of bourbon--it burns on the way down, but it kind of wakes him up from the joint he and Snicker smoked before they left, makes the haze float away a little. He keeps wandering, and this time he doesn't let his eyes get wide.

He's got a trustworthy face. Everyone tells him that. He wonders, listening to people talk about sex and chopping off heads and the newest Jackie Collins novel, if maybe he shouldn't have just been a reverend. That's really random and sort of disturbing in this context, but then it starts me thinking about the priest AU, and...wait, where was I?

He finds a room that looks like a living room, with a couch and a television and everything. Bookshelves. Bookshelves in a warehouse. I love how John loves books in this. How books step in to the hole where planes or the Air Force would have been.

There's a big man on the couch, with graying hair. He's leaning over onto the coffee table, snorting something white. John figures it's cocaine.

(John eventually learns that one can snort many white things and only one of those things is cocaine.)

The man looks up and wipes off his nose with the back of his hand and his lips twist. "Are you one of Hammond's boys?" he asks.

John raises an eyebrow, which appears to be the right answer. Lying by not saying anything at all, which I think they should have John do on the show more.

"Here." John is handed a straw. He bends over, mimics the action of the man--the lines are short, his motion quick, moving the straw away from himself, sniffing in. He chokes a little and the man's lips twist at him again, like halfway between a smile and a sneer, and the man snorts.

It tastes bitter in the back of his throat. The warm glow, though, is wonderful.

He sits down next to the man and offers his hand. "John."

This is how John meets Jack O'Neill, who changes his life.


John parties a lot with Jack. Jack hangs out with authors and agents and actors and is into a wild scene. John has more sex than he's ever dreamed of, and it only takes a couple of weeks before he's quit school--what the fuck does he need to know about biology anyway?--and flips burgers during the day. Jack never asks him to kick in, but John was raised up proper, so he always brings something. I like mention of John's manners in fic. It's another thing that this story does well in common with Hindsight.Weed or coke or vodka or tequila, or, once, the girl from the liquor store, who blew him in the liquor store and then gave him a bottle of the wine they kept under lock and key.

Jack fucks her and then John fucks her and then Jack fucks her while she blows John, and John and Jack talk over her back like she's not even there, which John isn't... he doesn't... it just don't seem right, does it? There are those manners, again. But the girl doesn't care, and when they're finished with her, she does a few lines and wanders naked into the next room.

That's the night John is introduced to Hammond.

Jack calls him "The General". John calls him "Sir".

"Sir. I like that." Hammond smirks. "What do you do, John?"

John raises his eyebrow.

That's the right answer.

(The eyebrow says: "I don't fuck old ugly guys, sir.") (I'm guessing the eyebrow is actually slightly more diplomatic than that.)


John knows now that it was really hard back then, and he was really unhappy. But now he can also only remember feeling really free--he doesn't remember that he cared about the bathroom tiles peeling up or the mildew or the fact that he lived with four other people and none of them ever washed their dishes. He remembers those days like they were his glory days, even though during them he was bored and annoyed and half the time he wished he hadn't quit school, even though he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. Nostalgia is such a crazy awful thing.

One of the other things he has conveniently forgotten is that Jack almost never really paid attention to him. Even now, John craves Jack's attention. John is desperately in need of approval, and I think his focus on Jack, his desire for Jack's attention & approval specifically, works really well here. As well as his physical desire for Jack. Poor John.


When John gets tired of partying, which takes about six months, Jack and Hammond get him a job. It turns out Hammond gets to fuck whoever he wants because he runs a publishing company, and Jack gets to snort whatever he wants because he brings in the bestsellers--the actress who wrote two tell-all books, and whatshisname, who's Stephen King's best friend, with the gory horror novels, and a bunch of other crazy shit. A lot of true crime.

John spends his days devouring submissions, organizing files, cursing at typewriters, and hanging out in the Pit with all the other editorial assistants. He doesn't see Jack a lot, but he does make $12,000 a year. Twelve. Thousand. Dollars.

That is so much fucking money, he cannot believe it. Man, I remember making that much and being over the moon about it, too.


Jack takes him to lunch. It's weird to be the focus of Jack's attention and not have a woman between them. It makes John feel strange, like it's not right, like something really important has changed between them. He's not sure what it is. They're colleagues now. John feels young and stupid around Jack now.

"Listen," says Jack, wiping marinara sauce off his mouth. He leans forward and keeps his voice down. Don't say anything in public, he always tells John, that you wouldn't want to hear quoted back at you in someone's tell-all novel.

"I'm listening," says John. He leans forward.

"Hammond is leaving. To start his own company. This corporate bullshit makes us all sick."

"Me too," says John immediately. Liar. Lying to stay in-group.

"So you're in?" Jack settles back and motions to the waitress for another scotch. John wants another glass of the dark red wine he's been drinking since they sat down. Dark red wine, dark red tomato sauce, dark red socks, he matches up and down.

"Yes, I'm in."

John wonders if Jack thinks he's pathetic, and immediately dismisses the thought. If Jack thought he was pathetic, John wouldn't have been invited to come out of what amounted to the secretarial pool, to join Jack and Hammond in a business fucking venture.

He toasts himself in his head with the last swallow of wine.

"You're a pretty cool customer," says Jack. "Huh."

"Nah, it's all a front. Inside I'm all a-twitter." It's the truth, but John uses his eyebrows to make it seem like a lie, and it works, and that is the moment John learns that he can lie or he can tell the truth or he can mix them together until no one can tell the difference. It's a whole 'nother level. And that's the situation that leads to never knowing what's really true about yourself. Also? I love that he says a-twitter. It helps carry the lie.


The one thing Chaya says to him when she leaves that John had thought was true, is that John has always loved Jack O'Neill more than he's loved her.

Maybe Jack is what ultimately ruined John's life. Maybe not. John doesn't know. (Yes he does.) John doesn't care. (True enough.) John wouldn't trade Jack for anything. (Almost.)

Part Five:
Rodney McKay

I love that Rodney gets his own section. And no lies. I guess O'Neill didn't get lies in his section either, but while I'm certainly prepared to like O'Neill, I really don't in this context. When Rodney McKay comes on as head of production, John gets a promotion to full editor, and his own office, and he stops assisting. But he still has to do his own paperwork, so he and McKay--who prefers to be addressed as "Dr. McKay," which means John addresses him as "Rodney" and sometimes "Rod" and once "Rod the Bod"--fight a lot. Does John ever do anything that isn't based around his need for attention?

The day John addresses him as "Rod the Bod" they're at Revival, a bar around the corner of Union Square, central to all the trains, even though John can't find his way there half the time because he can't figure out a way to walk to it in a straight line. McKay punches him in the face.

McKay punches like a girl. Good thing, too.


John was a big dork in school. He wasn't exactly a nerd, and he wasn't exactly a trouble maker. He was good at arithmetic (still is), and he liked some of the stuff they read in English, and bio was pretty cool because he liked to cut things open. But guys with thick glasses and wobbly eyes don't get to be the cool, mysterious guys, and they don't get to sit in the back of the classroom, and they never get the girls. Thinking about John with wobbly eyes makes me sad.

Well, they get the girls sometimes. Especially if they know about algebra and therefore can be everyone's study partner.

John is pretty sure that Rodney was an even bigger dork in school than John was, and probably he got beat up every day.

There is a story there; John just doesn't know what it is. He makes it up in his head--Rodney had skipped grades, or had turned down secret government work to make a statement. I like that John makes up his own lies about Rodney instead of, say, asking him.

His brain is amazing, though, and he sings under his breath in Latin sometimes, and has four cats, and knows everything there is to know about punctuation, and actually owns a copy of the book in which the alphabet was laid out for the first time. Okay, that 'sings under his breath in Latin sometimes'? Gets me. In the knees.

So when Rodney hits John in the garden at Revival, John stabs out his cigarette and stands up and says, "You and me. Outside."

Rodney sneers: "We are outside, dimwit."

"Dimwit? Let's go, Rod, out front." And John points behind Rodney, chugs his beer (which really doesn't deserve to be treated like that, because it's good beer, but some things can't be helped), and heads through the bar, out to the front. Fifteenth Street is empty--two pm on a Friday afternoon, why not?--and John lights another cigarette.

"Go ahead," says Rodney, sticking his chin out pugnaciously. "Hit me, you barbarian." Hah. Pugnaciously.

John had brought Rodney out front because it would give him more time to think about what to do. Okay, Rod the Bod was crossing the line, and kind of mean, and John doesn't want to be on the wrong side of the production manager. But John can't let him just take a swing like that. Especially a pathetic one. Because if John makes it look like Rodney's punch hurt, John's a pussy. If John doesn't react, Rodney loses cred and takes it out on John's books--maybe. Or maybe takes it out on John, loses his cover mechanicals, makes him do twice as much paperwork.

John goes for confusing the enemy: "So are we going to fuck or what?" With the previous paragraph taken into account, this might actually be John's best option. I mean, not for people who aren't John. Dear John: I love your poor crazy desperate attention-seeking brain.

Then he falls back on Ole Faithful: his trusty eyebrow. He raises it at Rodney.

"I am sure you think you look sexy when you do that, but you look ridiculous. Did you assume because I'm a single man with four cats that I must be gay?" Rodney demands. He stands too close to John and is too angry, and that is why John thinks Rodney is gay. A fine point, well made.

"Hey, man, you started it," says John. He shrugs. Weird. Now that he's said it, he kind of wants to fuck Rodney McKay. It's like a eureka moment. Why not?

John wonders if this is the first time he has ever thought: I am alive. Holy shit, I am alive. I am here, I exist, I make decisions--

"I absolutely did not!" Rodney will probably stamp his foot if John baits him enough. And John thinks he just might. Rodney McKay is pudgy and losing his hair and doesn't dress as well as pretty much anyone else John knows, but John is totally captivated by Rodney's giant brain and lack of social skills and--

And Rodney is as opposite from Jack O'Neill as anyone can get and still be in the same business. That's as good a motive as any, and probably better than most.

"Tell you what," says John. "Let me know when you change your mind. I'll be around." He throws his cigarette into the street and kisses Rodney, lets his arms snake around Rodney's neck. What the fuck? It's 1993. No one gives a shit about two men kissing in the middle of New York City.

Fuck you, Texas, John thinks dizzily when he steps back from Rodney.

Part Six:
Once Chaya Comes Back

Once Chaya comes back. It's 2003, John doesn't even remember exactly when. It's snowing. She waltzes into Atlantis's offices like she'd never left.

John's ruse of "hiding" his dorkiness apparently worked, because she holds out a leather thong.

From it dangles a shiny gold ring.

"One ring to bind them," she says to him, leaning over his desk, showing cleavage. Then she says something smoothly in a language he vaguely recognizes. Ring. One ring. Gold--oh, right. Right. Tolkein.

Behind her, McKay looks horrified, standing in John's office doorway. Is he horrified at Chaya, or the gesture, or both, or just because McKay is horrified by something or another pretty much whenever he's awake?

"This is awkward," says John.

"I want you back," she says flatly.

"Oh. Not so awkward then. No." He pushes away from the desk and stands up. How did it become less awkward? Or is it just that Chaya defined what she was up to out loud? Or is it just the rhythm of what's going on? I guess if I were at work and an ex walked up and quoted something at me in elvish, I'd pause before having them thrown out, too. "Do I have to call security?"

She flings the ring at him and stomps out. Rodney still looks horrified.

"McKay, close your mouth."

"She's such a bitch!" says Rodney loudly. Preach it.

The next day, Elizabeth talks to the building manager about getting even better security, so John's fanclub can't get in to stalk him.

It's funny, but John and Chaya have been divorced more than two years when it happens, and John had pretty much forgotten she'd ever existed (lie) and couldn't even tell anyone why they'd gotten married in the first place (lie) and didn't even remember their anniversary (truth). (But he never remembers dates like that anyway.)

Part Seven:
Ronon Dex
(And Rodney McKay. And Elizabeth Weir.)
(John's important stories are all about sex, because he doesn't know that they aren't supposed to be--or because he doesn't know that they can not be--or because he doesn't care. Take your pick.)

Ronon Dex will believe anything. Especially if John puts a little Texas twang into his voice.

John's not quite sure exactly what's going through Ronon's mind. Ever. But John knows that Ronon doesn't ever suspect that John lies to him. I suspect that John is a hugely unreliable narrator when it comes to Ronon. A more hugely unreliable narrator than usual.

The lies are little, at first, the way they always are--Ronon comes into John's office in the mornings and they shoot the shit a lot, and John says things like, "Yeah, I like ravioli a lot, the kind with cheese," and "Yeah, I've always been really into reading," and "I was a football player," none of which are true.

Well, John likes ravioli, but he likes the shrimp ones. Oh, and the ones that have chocolate frosting inside and are deep-fried, the kind he gets at the Tuscan place on 22nd. I can't decide if that sounds delicious or disgusting. Or both.

He's shocked, totally shocked that Ronon Dex would work for a place like Atlantis. For all that Atlantis wants to be a mom and pop shop still, the way it was when John and Jack and Hammond first started it, or even back when it was Elizabeth and Sam and Daniel and Jack and Landry and--

They're a company. They're a giant corporation. John always figured Ronon stuck with Sateda because they weren't--but it turns out everyone thought that. Ronon tells him over coffee one morning that he was never recruited and he thought it would be hard to find a new position, especially since he'd only just gotten his PhD. It's all that leather. Ronon looks very anti-corporate.

"Yeah," says John airily. "You know, though, I could never decide what I wanted to get my own PhD in."


John is the only person working at Atlantis who does not, in fact, have more than one PhD.

He is the only person at Atlantis who doesn't have a college degree at all.

Jack says things like, "Oh, college degree, bullshit. Yadda, yadda, yadda, who cares? You had the school of hard knocks! The school of doing blow with Stephen King and Anne Rice!"

John's never done blow with Anne Rice, but he did bum a clove cigarette off her once. This actually made me laugh until I cried the first time I read it. Because I can just picture it so clearly.

He gets Jack's point, though. But not enough not to lie defensively about it to Ronon.


The big lies are all about Jack. (It really always comes back to Jack.)

One of the things John's always done is cover for Jack. Spread disinformation. No one needs to know about what goes on in Jack's life.

John doesn't even know anymore--when Hammond retired and Jack took over as publisher and hired Daniel Jackson, that was it. Jack took one look at Daniel's lame cargo pants and stupid hats and thick glasses, and it was just never the same between him and John. John would totally have worn lame cargo pants and ditched his contacts for Jack. Or is he even wearing contacts? Not sure about the hats, though.

John knew, the whole time, that he was just fooling himself anyway. Any guy who could fuck a girl while she was giving another guy a blow job and not even want to make out with that other guy was unerringly straight. Or just not interested. Or both.

Jack just wasn't interested in John.

Jack was interested in Daniel Jackson.

There is not one person in the world who will ever hear that from John's lips. Not even Elizabeth. Not even Ronon. John, in fact, does not like to think about it. (Truth. Really.)


John hates to think about Samantha Carter. (Lie.) He hates to think about her with Jack. (Lie.) He hates to think about her with Jack and Daniel. (Lie.) He hates what they all have together. (Lie.) He's happy when they all break up and Jack calls him to go out for lunch or supper or coffee or drinks. (Truth.) He wishes Daniel and Sam would just die so that he and Jack could go out and fuck women together again. (Truth, halfway.) Oh, John.

The day Daniel left Atlantis--after a big, screaming fight with Jack, which included the throwing of coffee mugs and the slamming of doors--was the happiest day of John's life, until he realized that the production department consisted of one crazy man who spoke, read, and wrote mostly Czech and had been hired for his abilities to keep Daniel on track. Hee.


Ronon will believe anything John tells him. He proves this over and over again. Before the Christmas party, John spins an elaborate tale about Jack and Sam and starts naming Gospels to pretend he can't remember Daniel's name. Fuck, like John is ever going to forget Daniel's name? (Never.) All John has to do is wink at Ronon.

It's really flattering, actually.

John loves it.

(John hates it.)

John likes the idea that someone finds him really trustworthy.

(John hates it.) Somebody really buying all of John's crap would mean that John wouldn't be able to avoid betraying or disappointing them. I really don't think Ronon buys any of John's crap, though. From word one. I think he just figures it's bullshit spun for entertainment. Tall tales.

John likes that he's got this veil of mystery, finally.

(It's ridiculous. He hates it.)

(He loves it, loves it, but hates it at the same time, so he keeps lying, keeps telling Ronon lies, because if John can keep him at arm's length, Ronon will just... stay there.)

Ronon walks in on John giving Rodney a blow job and John feels very very awkward. Dude, I think everyone in that situation felt at least a little awkward.

It isn't like John and Rodney are a thing anymore, not really, but they are both incredibly drunk, and fighting loudly (and drunkenly) about the serial comma and dangling modifiers, and John gets really hot when Rodney starts talking about language (and John gets drunk so that he has an excuse and Rodney gets drunk so he can pretend John is taking advantage, and that way they both win). And they both know the score, even if they pretend not to. Which, if you're having sex with someone who you aren't actually in a relationship with, and don't really want a relationship with, is the best of all possible worlds. Even if it requires some sort of underlying mythos.

Rodney spends the weekend at John's, and they fuck in a lot of different ways (one way) and John mostly tops (bottoms) and is very, as usual, aggressive (passive). Rodney says to him, "You know, I bet you'd be a lot happier if you made a goddamn decision once in a while," and John says to him, "I make decisions all the time," and Rodney says, "You can't lie to me; I've known you for too long," and John gets angry and fucks Rodney really hard, shoves his face into pillows and makes him take it, makes him groan. It's really hard to make decisions at all if you're scared. And if you want everyone to like you as much as John does.

"I hate you," John whispers once he's sure Rodney is asleep. It's a total lie.

It's not Rodney's fault that he's not Jack. Even if it were a lie, maybe John would be better off if he could say that he hated Jack.


Ronon isn't Jack either.


John drinks a lot. He knows he drinks a lot. At least he doesn't lie to himself about it, right? He keeps a bottle of scotch in his filing cabinet, and a bottle of vodka on his bookshelf, behind a couple of hardcovers.

It's just an accident that he's good at his job. It's an accident that he knows what he's doing. If anyone else had been his roommate for those three weeks at NYU, would he still be here, behind this desk? Would he be this person? (Does he care?) Dear John: everyone feels that way. I hope.

First, he likes the way it tastes.

Second, he likes having something to do with his hands.

Third, he might have a little bit of an oral fixation.

Fourth, he had to do something when he gave up smoking. Uh-huh. Because John didn't drink before he gave up smoking. I don't even have to track that one back to know it's a lie.

Fifth, it's a nice way to make the day all fuzzy.

This is not a multiple choice exam. (Lie.)


Ronon Dex will believe anything John tells him. This is definitely flattering. Sometimes, though, John tries to be sarcastic, and Ronon doesn't get it, like when John puts on a heavy Texas accent and tells Ronon that he's turning 38 again. Ronon thinks he's really turning 38. Ronon's not an idiot, so there must be something missing in John's delivery.

Or maybe John just doesn't know how to tell the truth so that it doesn't sound like a lie.

Or maybe John just doesn't know how to lie so that his lies don't sound like the truth.

Simon and Elizabeth are on the outs again, so he goes to the Upper West Side apartment with her. He knows it almost as well as he knows his own. He knows that the wall of photographs of her family is missing several pictures. He knows that she's taken down every single picture of her mother and father, any picture with the Towers, anything to do with 9/11.

He knows she votes Republican now.

That only disgusts him a little. (A lot.) (But it's like being at home so it's okay.) (He hates it. How John could put 'home' and 'okay' in the same sentence and even pretend to believe it isn't a lie is beyond me.) (He doesn't.) (He likes her.) (But not enough.)

She smells good, still. She likes to be on top, throw her head back and holler at the ceiling. She's wonderful, in her prime, in her forties, with wrinkles everywhere for him to trace with his tongue, and skin like his T-shirts. She likes to have her toes sucked on, and he'll do anything to see her smile.

(Not anything.)

"You're gorgeous," he tells her, and she laughs and blushes, so he repeats it until she says, "Thank you, God, John, thank you, enough."



The next month is the SFWA reception. Free booze, lots of people John likes (tolerates), his picture in Locus (he always looks like a tool, especially when he wears his glasses, but at least he's got wire-rims now, instead of the black ones--although he's told those are back in vogue again). Free booze, really, is the issue.

Sometimes he skips these, but this year he's got a stupid fucking writer going, so he has to go.

John hates agents and authors and parties and people and sometimes (all the time) he can't keep that to himself. It's almost a relief to fall into his cup, just get scotch and keep it coming. It's cheap shit, but it's not SoCo, so he doesn't care, and it's not like anyone has a choice. They can work with him, and Atlantis, or they can work with the evil, soul-sucking Wraith. They can go with the Atlantis boilerplate and take the goddamn 8% mass market royalty through 150,000 copies, or they can go with the fucking Wraith boilerplate, which is 6% to 200,000.

So fuck them.

John can't decide if he's pleased or annoyed that Ronon saves him (from himself) before he can tell the top agents of the Genii Agency where to stick their dicks and how long to grind them in the fucking sausage maker.

John's been doing this too long.

(He's just tired.)

(He just doesn't care.)

(He just hates the paperwork. The people. The books. The stupid deals they have to make to get the books on the shelves. Everything about the horrible industry he works in.)

The worst part by far is when John hits on Ronon and Ronon plays it off like John's just drunk and doesn't know what he's doing. That's the worst part.

(Not seeing Elizabeth on Simon's arm, or Jack with Samantha.)

(Ha. Ha. Ha.)

(It kills him. He wants to die. He feels fourteen, like he's in love with Jessie Lee Monroe again, watching her walk arm-in-arm with his brother instead of with him, and he hates it.) I keep wondering if that horrible being a teenager feeling is actually being a teenager, or if it's situational. Maybe you just are up to your eyeballs in those situations as a teen, and they happen less frequently when you're, say in your forties. But they still happen.

John's a dirty old man who wrestles with Ronon just to feel his body pressed up against John's own. The young Del Rey editor John had been talking to looks scandalized. She's probably from the Midwest, following her dream of being a fiction editor who's going to change the world by discovering the next Tolstoy.

John is twenty-six pages into War and Peace. He's got a schedule. He'll finish it before he dies.

On the ride into Brooklyn, John realizes just how drunk he is.

"I have tried in my way to be free," he says to the cold glass of the taxi window. Ronon doesn't look over. Ronon isn't even old enough to know who Johnny Cash is.

John's a stupid old fool and he's only just turned 40. God.


Ronon has two cats and a giant apartment and a closet full of jeans and T-shirts that he never wears to the office. I just started wondering if Stacks has a cat. I'm guessing no. A rat? A turtle? A marmot? Sorry. That's one of the things John likes about him--he always wears leather. There's something sexy about a guy who can pull off wearing leather in the summertime. Plus, Ronon is the kind of guy John is comfortable just kicking back with. He's got a DVR. He's a big dork, but he keeps it hidden. I don't think Ronon hides it at all. I think Ronon is just not ashamed of the things he likes, and John just can't get that.

John worries, but only for a second or two, that he's not dorky enough.

Back in the days of Jack and Hammond, John only had to keep up with sex and drugs. That's easy, it's always been easy. John can drink anyone under the table.

Keeping up with talk about Van Vogt is harder.

John cultivates an air of mystery in this too--everyone thinks he keeps his personal preferences well-hidden. (And he does.)


Part Eight:
Ronon Dex. Again.
(And John's Lies.)

For Ronon's thirtieth birthday, John offers him a bathroom blowjob. He doesn't expect Ronon to take him seriously--John's been after Ronon's ass for five years, and Ronon shut him down pretty quickly at the SFWA thing just a few months ago. Although, as far as rejections go, Ronon's was nice enough--pretending John was too drunk to know what he was doing.

Maybe he was.

(He wasn't.) (But John would have been able to pretend he was too drunk to know what he was doing after, obviously.)

But Ronon's eyes get hot, so John takes off his glasses and sinks to his knees on the bathroom floor--which hurts, but he keeps his mouth shut, and, God, he feels twenty-two again, fucking and sucking everything in reach, drunk out of his mind. Not stoned now, but stoned then.

All that's missing is Jack O'Neill watching from the corner, fucking someone himself.

John takes Ronon back to his house--he's got condoms and lube and he wants to be fucked, he hasn't been fucked in too long, and he wants it. Ronon is bigger than he is, wider, taller, and John wants to feel someone over him, holding him, holding him down, and he wants--he wants everything.

John doesn't like feeling so much need, and he almost backs out of it on the train, but Ronon's got his iPod on and is staring at John from the seat across from John's, legs spread, and John wants to feel that beard, and John wants, and why shouldn't he have it if he wants it? John's made up of almost nothing other than want and need. But I get that he doesn't generally feel it.

When Ronon fucks him, John can't shut up. He hollers and moans and screams like a girl, high whines in the back of his throat. Ronon spends hours licking and sucking, keeping John from coming, making sure John knows that he has no secrets. John's body can't lie, and John hates that Ronon is looking at him, hates that everything is right there, and he wants it slow and soft, like the licking, so he growls, "Fuck me, c'mon, harder, fuck me--" and Ronon really gives it to him, and, fuck, that's what John wanted after all.


Ronon doesn't call or anything.

Not that John was expecting him to.

He fucks John the next morning, and leaves, and doesn't call. Or say anything at work.

John can do this. He does it all the time. A fuck is a fuck is a fuck, and it's not like it matters.

It just felt different. That doesn't mean it is different. But it is. Different for John. But Ronon has no way to know that.


"No," John says as firmly as he can. "We can't publish something by our CEO's... whatever he is."

Oh God. Why John? Why does Ronon have a book by Daniel Jackson and why does John have to be the one he comes to with it and why would Jack send it to Ronon, especially if Jack knows, or suspects, and how could he not?

"I won't sign off on this," says John, interrupting whatever Ronon is saying to him. God, he can't even hear. He can't see. He's in a fog. "Refer Jackson to Del Rey."

John ignores everything else Ronon is saying and picks up the phone, dials Elizabeth's extension. "This is Sheppard," he says to Laura.

"You're in," says Laura, and then he's talking to Elizabeth.


"John--" she says. "I have to call you back."

"Fine." John hangs up the phone and glares at it for a while, then goes to get coffee. It's coffee or the Johnny Walker in his desk, or leave. He wants to leave. He wants to walk out right now, say fuck it all, go to the Hairy Monk and get shitfaced with Chuck and Jaime like it's 1999 or something. Yeah, John's gonna get shitfaced like it's 1999.

But when he gets back to his desk, after wandering around production for a while and talking to McKay about maps, his head feels a little clearer, and he feels a little better, and he can see Fifth Avenue out his window. The people below him walk around and there's a hum on his skin.

He wouldn't have New York if he was anywhere else.

He laughs at himself, and turns at the knock on the door. It's Elizabeth.


After John yells at Ronon--fuck, how could that shit go behind his back to Elizabeth for approval? How could Elizabeth give her approval? Elizabeth, of all people--

Not that she knows anything, but, God, she knows more than anyone else. Even Chaya only speculated. So Chaya thought that John was cheating? Rather than knew? Because I can't really see how the scene with the ring could have happened if what she suspected was that John preferred men and was cheating.

--John calls Jack.

Jack goes through assistants like potato chips, so John never learns their names. He just snaps, "This is Sheppard from Atlantis. Put me through to O'Neill," and they scurry to do it.

Jack makes them crazy.

He never made John crazy. (Yes he did.) (He still does.) (Truth.)

"I'll put you right through," says the tiny, intimidated voice, and then John's got Jack--

"Johnny! Didya see the book Danny wrote? Let me tell you--"

"Why?" interrupts John. "What--you--" and now he's spluttering and not making sense and Jack is just talking over him, saying things like, "Lots of money," and "Up and coming editors," and "Excited."

"Yeah," says John. "Yeah, we're all real excited. Yeah, it's gonna be great."

Jack has got no fucking clue. As Jack talks, John takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. They're tired and they hurt and John has a headache. (Not really.) He reaches into his desk drawer, behind the hanging files of all the performance reviews he's done over the years, and pulls out the bottle of Johnny Walker Black, pours it right on top of the cold coffee from earlier.

Jack keeps talking.

"You don't think this is going to look like favoritism?" asks John.

"Who cares?" replies Jack, dismissively. John drinks the Johnny Walker and lets Jack talk, rolling the taste around on his tongue. Aliens and spaceships and pyramids. Jack's always been a fucking sucker for a pretty face and a Goddamn spaceship, and John's always been a sucker for Jack, and by the time they get off the phone, John's pretty sure that he's sweating Johnny Walker, but Ronon working with Daniel--"Danny," fuck--doesn't seem so bad. I went back in the middle of this and read the corresponding scene in The Adventures of Ronon Dex (if you do a find for daniel, the beginning of the scene comes right up). It's the only time I felt like I really needed/wanted to do that. Ronon and John are coming from completely different places on this, they both totally don't get the other position. Also, it isn't obvious (to me, but then, I don't always catch this stuff) that the reason Elizabeth hangs up on John is because Ronon is *already* there. The only non-perspective based difference is the phone - when John picks it up, Ronon thinks it rang. But I think that's a perspective-based difference as well (or can be seen as one) - I don't think Ronon thinks John would dismiss him by picking up the phone unless it was actually ringing. So I think he hears it ring.


Jack is in the elevator with him tomorrow morning. Jack beams that smirky fucking twisty-mouth smile at him. John twists his mouth back.

"Rough night?" asks Jack. John looks at himself in the mirrored walls of the elevator. He's got bags under his eyes. He looks like shit. His tie is slightly off--author lunch today, stupid Caldwell--and he looks... rumpled.

"Nah," replies John, slouching against the wall and sticking his hips out. It worked when he was eighteen and it's sure as hell going to work now, but it doesn't. Not even a flicker in Jack's eyes. His wedding band gleams under the fluorescents. "Up late editing."

"Man, I do not miss that," says Jack, and gets off on the twelfth floor with a pat to John's tie.


It's not fair for John to say that Jack left him for Daniel. Jack was already with Samantha--or did that happen right after? John can't remember anymore, although there was a time when he thought he'd never forget. He did a lot of X in the 90s, without Jack, blowing his thirties on club drugs the way he blew his twenties on blow.

He doesn't care. (Yes he does.) He didn't waste his life. (Yes he did.) It's not like he's ever known what he wanted from his life anyway. (What is happiness?)

Jack and Sam and Daniel are all happy together anyway. Except for when they make each other miserable, which they do a lot. John doesn't care. All he knows is that even his stupid mysterious cool science fiction-reading, drug-doing, hard-drinking, good old boy-from-Texas persona isn't enough to keep people around, and it fucking sucks. I feel so bad for John, basing an entire personality around the need to get people to like him, want him, pay attention to him - spending forty years on the task, and failing.

He spends a lot of time alone. He buys a car and drives around.


Ronon apologizes. John is pretty sure Ronon has no idea what he's apologizing for, so John apologizes too. He takes Ronon out with him to the Caldwell lunch--and fuck, man, authors suck. They only talk about their Goddamn books, and John just isn't interested anymore. He's read the fucking things--he doesn't need a play-by-play over his pan-seared bass.

He's been coming to this restaurant as long as it's been open--and, he realizes, he is sitting in the exact spot where he was when Jack asked him to come to Atlantis.

He drinks a lot of wine.


In his office, after lunch, John throws an orange in the air and catches it. He can still catch it. He's not that drunk. The orange makes a satisfying thunk every time it falls perfectly into the palm of his hand. He calls up Rodney and calls him "Rod the Bod" for old times' sake, and Rodney snickers at him. Hee. He calls up Elizabeth and breathes heavy into her phone, until she says, "John, I have caller ID!" and he tells her, "You ruin all my fun!" Double hee. Dear John: people do like you. Even if your abandonment issues need their own zip code.

Once the clock hits four pm, he knows he isn't going to get any work done.

Lie. He always knew. He was just waiting for it to look suitable.

"Drinks!" he says, flinging himself into Ronon's office. The lights are off and Ronon's sleeping. John pulls him to stand, and Ronon blinks at him.

If John was going to be perfectly honest, all he'd want at that minute was to fuck Ronon right there, because--because. Because. Because of his hair in his face and the tone of his skin and his sincerity and his commitment and his drive and his passion and his mystery and how he's everything John's always wanted to be and never could be. Also, Ronon's all sleepy and warm in his dark office. I'm not sure you need to be perfectly honest when something is that perfectly understandable.

Ronon's got options, Ronon can do anything.

John wants to fuck all of that out of Ronon and into himself.

And Ronon says, "Drinks?" like John is one of the aliens in the books they edit.

"Drinks," repeats John, and pushes Ronon against the door, letting it slam closed, pushing his mouth over Ronon's. He will suck all the youth and energy and excitement out of Ronon, and revitalize himself, and it works, it's working, he kisses Ronon, tasting grapes and garlic and hot and sour, and Ronon's sleepy-mouthed, and he's not perfect, and that's what turns John on the most. Apparently 'drinks' means something different on John's planet. But I think almost everything means something different on John's planet.

John's not the only flawed person in this room.

Ronon is pushing back, scrabbling at John's clothes, sinking to his knees, and today is going from hideous to wonderful, because Ronon's mouth around John's cock is amazing, and Ronon's hair falling between John's fingers is amazing, and Ronon's smell is amazing, and John is amazed by the world.

He's talking, and he doesn't know what he's saying, and he's taking, but he's giving back--he's fucking Ronon's mouth as hard as he can, murmuring to him and petting him and, God, nothing has ever felt this good--but John is in the moment, not lost in a drugged daze or the stupor of alcohol, not losing bits and pieces of memory, retaining only flashes and shocks.

John feels everything. So perfect.


It turns out Ronon really loves John's car. John tells him, "I bought it off a guy in Queens for a couple thousand bucks a few years ago, just to have something to do."

John bought it from a guy on Long Island and the police requisitioned it twice, but couldn't ever prove the bloodstains weren't there before John bought the car and drove a dead dog in the trunk to a vet's office from where he'd hit it on the side of the road. And there was no DNA. And it wasn't like John had looked.

It's the one story John thinks people would probably be really interested in that he never tells. Maybe he should start telling it. Yeah, but true interesting stories? They're feral, out of control - they can change and shift, new things can happen. They aren't safe. I get why he doesn't tell that one.

He drives Ronon around and thinks about all the stories he could tell Ronon about where he comes from and who he used to be, but instead he makes up stories about why he doesn't talk to his siblings and how much he hates his parents, and why he didn't join the Air Force.

"You know, the military isn't for me. I don't like rules," he says, rolling his shoulders a little.

"Uh-huh," says Ronon, his face turned to the wind coming in from outside.

"I like to fly, though. I guess. I mean, if I had to like something, I guess I really like to fly."

"Uh-huh," says Ronon. The wind blows through his dreadlocks and waves them around the car.

"It's not like I care about America or anything," says John, a little desperately.

"Uh-huh," says Ronon, and his eyes flutter closed. Ronon isn't listening; Ronon knows it's all lies. What Ronon doesn't know is that John doesn't know how to stop telling them, or that he wants to be caught.


Ronon has a big dick. He fucks John a lot now, like he can't keep his hands off John's body. No one's ever been this into John before--not even Chaya, not even Elizabeth.

Not Jack.

(Not a surprise.)

(John wishes it were.)

John tells Ronon a lot of stories about his life, and some of them are true and some of them are made up, and some of the details are changed, and some are deleted entirely. Ronon just grins at him when he starts a story, like John is the most entertaining television show of all time. Exactly.

John basks in the attention, loves it, gets drunk on it, wakes up in the morning with Ronon's arms wrapped around him and a leg thrown over him and sucks Ronon's cock until his throat is sore and he's crying and gagging. And then they go to work, and people grin at them from behind papers. God, John happy. For like the first time ever. Of course people are smiling. I'm smiling.

It doesn't seem to matter how much they fuck--Ronon always wants it.

Part Nine:
John tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Once.

John wakes up exhausted, and alone, and goes into work late. On the way in, he reads a book. He hasn't done that in a while--usually he reads manuscript pages on the train. He can't remember exactly what happened last night that he left the office without ms. pages, but it could have been anything.

The weird part is that John really likes the book. It's one of Ronon's, and it's cool. Lots of fighting and explosions and bio-tech gadgetry.

John is staring at a "Poetry in Motion" sign. The poem is by Jane Hilberry, and it's something John recognizes. Maybe from another train, maybe because Ronon's assistant Stacks quotes poetry all the time.

It says, Our lives will not flash before our eyes. Light travels the curved walls of time like a train whistle that lowers in pitch while diminishing. (Here.)

John is pretty sure he knows the poem, and that it's about a girl getting killed by a train that doesn't stop.

John is pretty sure that this is his life--he's being killed by a train that doesn't stop.

John is pretty sure that he's still drunk.

John is pretty sure that he is not the kind of guy who is supposed to recognize poems based on one or two lines. Okay, now I'm going to channel John's mom (the John's mom who lives in my head (yeah, I have a John's mom in my head. I KNOW.)) - Sweetheart, you don't have to be any kind of guy but who you are. And you're perfect, whoever you wind up being. (The John's mom in my head is very free to be, you and me.)


When he gets to work, he drops off his bag and his book and goes into Elizabeth's office, brushing past Laura, who tries to stop him. Jack is sitting on Elizabeth's couch, and John doesn't even look at him.

"I want out," he tells her. "I can't do this anymore."

He sees her eyes flicker over to Jack, and she pauses. She's clearly trying to find a way to ask him what the hell is going on without bringing up Ronon. Elizabeth's no fucking fool.

"Do... what, exactly?" she asks delicately.

Behind John, Jack snickers. I kind of hate Jack. John thinks about his bank account and his car storage fees and his beautiful apartment that he actually really likes, and Ronon's salary, and whether or not anyone would like him if he wasn't a bigshot editor at Atlantis fucking publishing. Jeez, John doesn't think anyone likes him anyway.

And he says, "Find a new editor in chief or I'm leaving the company."

Elizabeth stares at him for a moment, a split second, a fraction of an instant--then lifts her chin, lets the corners of her mouth curl up, reaches into a desk drawer, and hands him a sheaf of papers. "You can start with these--Kell from Sateda is in there, by the way. We'll have another conversation next week."

John doesn't look at Jack as he storms out of Elizabeth's office, feeling slightly deflated and a little elated, and more excited about his job than he has in years.

Part Ten:
John lies, but it doesn't matter

Ronon never double checks what John tells him. John spins lies about Daniel Jackson being a production editor (he was, and also head of production, but that was all after he was editor in chief) and Elizabeth being editor in chief (as if) and--just anything he can think of. Ronon takes it all in.

John isn't sure if Ronon really believes him (doubtful) or if Ronon is taking him with a grain of salt (maybe) or if Ronon just doesn't give a shit about what John's saying because John is so very pretty (not a chance in hell). (I say definitely, but not because John's pretty. But I think I've said that about a million times already.)

It kind of worries John. In fact, it worries him a lot. Because what happens when he can't stop lying, not even long enough to just have a fucking conversation with his fucking boyfriend?

John and Ronon blow off the Door to Heaven launch party to make out in the handicap bathroom. John is whispering in Ronon's ear about Jack and Sam and Daniel, totally making shit up, and Ronon isn't calling him on it, even though John is pretty sure that he contradicts himself several times.

Ronon's about to give John what John suspects will be the blowjob of his life when John looks down at his hair (which needs to be twisted into dreadlocks at the roots) and Ronon's eyes look up at him, deep and fathomless, and Ronon is smirking at him, and John realizes: Shit, I am alive, I am making decisions--

And John blurts out, "I lie to you a lot."

"Do you tell the truth a lot, too?" Ronon is playing with John's dick like it's his favorite toy, and the toilet (unsexy) is cold against John's back and thighs, and he--

"Yes. But--I lie." His stomach is twisted up in knots, but Ronon's fondling his balls and smiling that little smirk, and it actually reminds John a little too much of Jack's mouth-twist-smirk-sneer, and he almost--he doesn't know, he almost throws up, or comes on Ronon's face, he can't decide which.

"Don't you care?" asks John.

"You love me," says Ronon simply, and John is petrified--how the fuck did Ronon figure that out? What--John can't be held responsible for this. Yes. Right. That's why.

"I lie to you," says John, and groans, and his head falls back, and Ronon's mouth is hot around his cock, tingling a little, maybe from the alcohol, and he doesn't get it--isn't Ronon pissed off? John lies his head off all the time, how could Ronon ever--didn't people want to know each other, and...

Ronon hums in his throat and does something to John's balls, and John comes, gasping; he's going to give himself a charley horse from holding himself so still, because otherwise he'd thrash around and look like an idiot.

Maybe he always looks like an idiot to Ronon.

Maybe he always looks--maybe Ronon thinks John really is mysterious and sexy.

Fuck, is he ever wrong.

"I love you too," says Ronon, as he's rinsing out his mouth with the last of a glass of wine. He says it casually, like it's just something people say to each other, like he doesn't want anything from John for it.

John glares at him.

"I hate you," says John.

"Yup," says Ronon mildly. "Ready?"

On their way out, John sees Jack and Daniel making out in the coat closet. He smirks at Jack. Jack nods his head, and John's not sure whether that means Jack wants John to join him and Daniel in the closet--and bring Ronon--or if it means Jack is just... acknowledging... whatever, or something.

John takes Ronon's hand as they walk out, and Ronon fucks his brains out when they get home, and John doesn't know what to say, so he just keeps his fucking mouth shut.

But there's not actually a day that John can point to--just one more way that Ronon is different from everyone else. There's not a point. There's not a moment. It's not that day.

John just goes from lying to not lying.

He could sit around and think of reasons why--like, his life is interesting enough; it doesn't matter anymore; no matter what he says, Ronon likes him--but whatever the reason, John isn't sure it matters. (Lie.) He doesn't really need to know. (Lie.) He and Ronon are cool together, they match up like Lego pieces. (Truth.) John and his insecurity. Dear John: relax. It isn't because Ronon believes what you say, or doesn't believe what you say, or shouldn't believe what you say, or should - it's because you actually believe Ronon, that he loves you. Dear John: I keep trying to stop writing to you intertextually but I can't. Apologies.

Part Eleven:
Ronon's Mom

Ronon's mother is hot.

John is a little worried when he meets her, because she looks like at least three of the women he's had sex with in the last couple of years (before Ronon) (oh, interesting, maybe he really has a type?), and maybe he's had sex with her.

But she doesn't seem to recognize him. In a Biblical sense. So he lets it go.

Still, it's... weird. He could have had sex with her. Hell, she's closer to his age than Ronon is. She's just a little bit older than him. Six years. That's not a lot.

That night, Ronon rolls over in the (his) (their) bed, and slides his hands under John's shirt. "Come on," he says, and he wheedles, but John does not want to be touched.

He could be Ronon's father.

"Aren't I the one who's supposed to freak out?" says Ronon, and he sounds totally exasperated. John can't blame him. This is stupid. There's always been an age difference, and it's not even that big! But meeting Ronon's mother drove it home.

John rolls over onto his back and eyes Ronon carefully. "I'm not... freaking out. I just... It's just weird. I feel weird. I don't know. It's weird. I'm weird, okay? It's weird." One of the damn cats jumps on John's chest, but he saw it coming, he doesn't jerk away from it the way he used to. God, he hates cats. How come they don't have a bunch of big hunting dogs?

The cat lays over his throat and purrs like a fucking truck.

John decides right then that he's going to get a dog. Fuck the cats. They'll learn to live with it. A big dog. A hunting dog. Or maybe a fluffy little dog. He'll make Ronon dress up in the leathers and walk the fucking thing. Less lying, but just as much imaginary passive-aggression.

That would be fair.

Ronon's glaring at the ceiling. John can't blame him.

"Maybe we should break up," he says to the ceiling, "and you should date my mother instead of dating me."

Instead of saying, "Petulance makes you look stupid," John says, "She's a woman." Dumbest argument ever, and, of course, Ronon totally calls him on it. Does Ronon have a choice?

"You were married."

"I'm not anymore," says John, hoping he sounds reasonable. Reasonable people do not get broken up with so they can date their exes' mothers. "Plus--" And this is the best thing he will ever say to Ronon. "--Plus, I bet your mother could totally kick my ass. Like a vampire slayer, man. That's kind of perverted." Yeah, it would be like dating Teyla.

John loves how prudish Ronon sounds when he says, "Not as perverted as cradle-robbing," like Ronon's some sixteen year old trick and John's Brian Kinney.

John likes that. His life has never been Brian Kinney's. Except for Jack. But Jack doesn't count--that was Jack's life, and John just borrowed it for a while.

"You know who your mom actually reminds me of?" says John thoughtfully. "Elizabeth." It's so true, too. That strange serene calmness that soaks into whoever's around. John bets Ronon's mother doesn't vote Republican, though. Ronon's from the ghetto--which, not that John is fetishizing, but he likes having a tough guy--and he didn't lose anybody on 9/11, and his mother... "No wonder you have a crush on Elizabeth. Your mom is just like her."

Ronon freaks out at that, and now John isn't the only one grossed out. Yeah, I'd be disturbed, too. Actually, Ronon's crush on Elizabeth is kind of hot. The last time John had to go out of town on business, he entertained himself by getting drunk on girl drinks--chocolate martinis and raspberry frozen margaritas--and jerked off for a long time thinking about Elizabeth and Ronon together. Ronon has a crush on Elizabeth, John's positive--no other reason to do yoga, for the love of God--but...

"I do not have a crush on Elizabeth," insists Ronon.

"If you weren't with me, you'd've totally fucked her when she broke up with Simon last time."

"Not," says Ronon. Liar.

"Yes. Totally." John's getting hard just thinking about it. He keeps petting the cat with one hand, and lets the other drift down to where his cock is starting to poke out of his pajama pants. "Stacks too. That must be why you let Stacks order you around." John loves it. Ronon gets pushed around by everyone, just does what they tell him without being weak or stepped on, and it's so fucking hot.

"Stacks is not like my mother," says Ronon.

"You couldn't sound less convincing if you tried," says John, and laughs, and gasps a little. "Stacks is totally like your mother. Stacks and Elizabeth. Huh." John turns his head and smirks at Ronon, and realizes just in time that Ronon's about to shove him.

"Get out of my bed," says Ronon.

"Nope. Your apartment is closer to your mother's than mine is."

"Is not," says Ronon, which is true. John lives in Cobble Hill, which is way closer to Prospect Heights than Williamsburg is.

"Is too." Khet jumps off John with an angry "Rawr" when John wrestles Ronon for his side of the bed back, and ends up on top of Ronon. He grinds his cock into Ronon's, which, of course, is hard. John wonders what got Ronon hard--talking about fucking Elizabeth and Stacks (and John's gotta admit, Stacks works that ambiguous thing really really well) (so part of me wishes there was a Stacks story. But that might kind of ruin the enigma that is Stacks), or the wrestling.


Ronon scowls and hooks an ankle around John's leg, rolls them over. John lets Ronon pin his wrists above his head--yes, do it, take me, make me, thinks John. Ronon puts his face right up to John's. His mustache is getting too long--much longer and it will start to tickle. His eyes are big and dark. His skin is perfect.

John loves everything about him. Even his gross chicken-breath.

"Take. It. Back," says Ronon. He pushes his hips into John's, slowly, tantalizingly. "Say you're sorry."

"I'm sorry," says John, and then adds, "that you have an Oedipus complex!"

Ronon smirks at him. "I never knew my father, you know. Maybe I secretly have an Elektra complex."

John's hardon deflates, totally. "You are so disgusting," he says, and pushes Ronon away, flips them over again. "I am not old enough to be your father." John's so vain.

"You could have been very young and taken advantage of." John is getting hard against Ronon's thigh again--from proximity this time, just... being near Ronon. Old age has turned John into a girl, and he doesn't even care, it just feels good, even though Ronon's still talking nonsense--"You could have been a very precocious eleven year old."

"Your mother's forty-six?" asks John innocently. He works his pajama pants down and gets his cock in his hand, and starts stroking. He knows Ronon can feel that, and he knows it is getting Ronon hot, because the front of Ronon's pants are wet.

Ronon smirks up at John, and says, "You are fooling no one, princess." John hears Han Solo in that statement--Ronon's favorite movie really is The Empire Strikes Back.

"Nerf herder," says John, and lowers his mouth to Ronon's. "Let's never talk about this again." They really are perfect for each other.

Ronon says yes as John kisses him, and John feels Ronon's hands push down Ronon's pajama pants, and John's got his hands on Ronon's cock now, and John can't remember why they put clothes on to get into bed in the first place.

A huge thank you to lalejandra for agreeing to let me do this. My apologies for mostly saying oh, John rather than being thoughtful and articulate. In my defense, oh, John kind of needs to be said. A lot.

(if you actually got through this, and wish to comment on my commentary, please feel free to do so here.)