Roll. Hit the floor hard and get out of the way. Watch that big fist come down where your head was. Muscles long and taut, flat against the weirdly springy tile. There's a stick--fucking grab it. Toes under. Use your hips like a springboard.

Fighting Ronon Dex is like walking on the edge of losing, never more than a couple of moves away from getting pounded. It's brutal, but it's clean. No bullets here. No help from any special gene. John needs this sometimes, needs to lose fair and square without worrying who else is going to suffer for it. And Ronon's big fists can pound the stress right out of him. They don't leave room for second-guessing.

Roll again, get a shoulder under, use that momentum to propell yourself to your feet. Come up swinging, but Christ, careful, watch the midsection, don't forget to guard. Sweat in the eyes, sweat on the palm. No sign of that other stick anywhere.

"You're thinking too much." Ronon's not even breathing hard. Has a leather strap wrapped around one big hand, claims that's somehow a weapon. Probably he's just being nice, giving John a handicap. Sad thing is, John just kept his mouth shut about it, didn't even complain.

He sniffs now, keeps his eyes on the centre of Ronon's chest. "Yeah, so?"

Ronon grins, lifts a massive shoulder a fraction of an inch. "Your funeral," he says. And then Jesus, John was watching, but he still has no idea what movements were involved in getting him here, on the floor again, the backs of his shoulders stinging like a son-of-a-bitch, that stick out of reach, his wrist pinned beneath one bony knee. He can't seem to move his head and it takes him a minute but he gets it--that leather strap is pressed hard at his throat, ready to push in harder, cut off his air, maybe, or the blood supply to his head. "Oh, so that's what it does," he croaks.

Ronon shifts and that knee grinds hard into the bones of John's wrist. "One thing," he says. And John moves while he's unbalanced, snakes his body up under Ronon's, uses the unpinned hand to get a hold on Ronon's vest and jerk him over. Or that's the plan, anyway. Ronon only shifts an embarrassingly small amount, but it's enough, just barely enough for John to get his other hand out from under that knee. He can't actually feel the fingers much, but he does his best to work them into the dreads on the side of Ronon's head, slams the other fist into the opposite temple. That gets him a snarl, which is, fuck, way better than it has any right to be, and he's grinning a little when Ronon tightens his grip on the leather strap and pushes down, hard.

John chokes and struggles, but Ronon's settled now, his knees planted solid on either side of John's hips, and there's no fucking way to budge him. And he looks pissed, or as pissed as he ever looks, and he's breathing a little bit hard. "Yield," he says.

John pulls his lips off his teeth. "No." His voice not much more than a whisper.

Ronon pushes harder and seriously, John is starting to see stars, here, starting to lose consciousness in little fits and starts like when you're lying in bed just about to fall asleep and he squeezes his eyes closed, opens them again. Ronon is there, watching, blurry but impassive. "Yield," he says.

"No," John makes his lips say. Hardly any sound at all this time.

Ronon narrows his eyes. There's a moment and in it, John wonders if he's actually going to die here or what? But then Ronon's grinning, rolling off him, and god, it's so good to suck in a breath that for a long time that's the only thing John can think about.

"Stubborn," Ronon observes, eventually. He's lying on the springy tiles next to John, close enough John can feel the moist heat coming off him, can smell that musky scent that seems to follow him everywhere: the leather he wears and the stuff he puts in his hair--to keep it clean, he says, though John doesn't know just how that's supposed to work.

"Yeah," he says now. "So?"

He can hear Ronon grin. "So. I would've yielded. Waited for a better opening."

John snorts. "Well. I don't surrender. That's sort of a motto of mine."

"Stupid motto," Ronon says.

John rolls his head, glares at Ronon's profile. "Fuck you."

That smirky, minimal shrug. "Just saying. You should know better. You want to survive, you learn to do what's needed. Only civilians can afford to be uncompromising." Ronon shifts, turns his head so he can look at John. Those dark eyes are amused. "So either you aren't much of a warrior, or else you're lying."

And then John's body is moving without his permission. He's off the floor and on top of Ronon and huh, has a forearm pressed against Ronon's neck, a fist in the hair on top his head, a knee right there in his solar plexus. Not thinking too much now, that's for sure. This is a dirty hold, one he learned in fight school, with a bunch of special ops marines. This is a hold for when you don't want to screw around, for when you need to kill somebody quick. "Fuck you," he says, through lips that don't seem to want to move much, and just when was it that he got so angry anyway? He pulls harder on Ronon's hair, lets him feel how easy it'd be to snap his stupid neck. "You don't know me. You have no idea what you're talking about."

Ronon doesn't look worried and a moment later John knows why: the guy rolls like the earth moving, has John pinned in a heartbeat, one arm cinched up high behind his back, his cheek smashed into the floor. It's blindingly painful, but it's over quick. Ronon lets go of him, sits back on his knees. John breathes in, unbends that arm, exhales through the stabbing cramp in the bicep. He holds the wrist of the injured arm in one hand, rolls onto his back, brings it to his chest. Breathes some more. Opens his eyes.

Ronon's still sitting there, watching him. The amusement is gone, but John's not sure he likes what replaced it any better. He scowls at Ronon. Ronon doesn't even blink.

"It isn't just dying they need us to do for them," Ronon says. "The uglier things are part of it, too."

John bares his teeth. The cramp will not ease up and Jesus, it hurts. "I know that," he says.

"Do you?" Ronon reaches for him, takes the injured arm between his hands and digs his fingers into the seizing muscle. John bites back the yelp of pain that wants to come out of him, tries to make the breathing even out: inhale, hold, exhale. Ronon eases the pressure a little, but keeps up the massage. "Why do you fight with it, then? You are what your people made you. No shame in that."

The cramp is over. John can feel the adrenaline leaving him too, can feel the endorphins moving in to take its place. He swallows against the rise of whatever that is in his throat, exhales, pulls his arm from Ronon's loosened grasp. He rolls to his knees, to his feet. Everything aches. Ronon looks up at him from where he kneels on the floor and John can't meet his gaze. He closes his eyes instead, wipes the sweat off his forehead with the band around his wrist. "Yeah," he says, and swallows again. "But there is, though."

And then he turns and walks across the sunlit room, and the door hisses open for him, and the hall is empty, and halfway to his quarters that rising heat at the back of his throat is gone like it never was, and he's already writing a to-do list for the day.

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