Author URL: http://goddess47.livejournal.com/
Date: August 25, 2007
Rating: PG but only for language
Summary: A routine exploration of Ancient ruins goes awry.
Spoiler: Minor spoiler for Sunday
Length: about 7500 words
Archive: Area 52, anyone else, ask
NOTE: This is for the "Atlantis Back to Basics" challenge. Many thanks to Fenchurch for the awesome beta, without her help this may never have been finished. Okay, the title is kinda lame, as is the summary, but I used all the good ideas in the story (I hope!).
The whip-crack of the voice brought Rodney McKay back to consciousness. He looked blearily around at his surroundings. He was sitting on the bench in the rear of the jumper. He blinked to focus on the shape in front of him.
Ronon Dex squatted in front of him and was holding him upright. Rodney started to close his eyes again and the voice came again, "McKay!"
"Wha..??" Rodney mumbled. He fought the consciousness because it started to hurt.... He wanted to get away from the pain....
"The cloak and the shield," Ronon said firmly. "You need to make sure they are turned on."
Rodney knew this was important. Ronon wouldn't ask otherwise. He tried to focus through the pain. The cloak.... "Cloak... on....," he stuttered. "Shield?" Why was Ronon asking about the shields?
Rodney felt as much as heard the sigh of frustration vibrate through the hands that held him upright. "You need to check the cloak," Ronon insisted. "And turn on the shield."
"Sheppard can...." Rodney started. With that he remembered. That made him fight to pay attention, fight through the pain. "How is...?"
Teyla leaned into Rodney's line of vision. "The Colonel is unconscious. He has a lump on his head, a bruised neck and a broken arm," Teyla informed him gently.
"Okay?" Rodney slurred. Is he okay?
"He does not seem to be in danger at the moment," Teyla informed Rodney calmly as Rodney let out a breath he never realized he was holding.
"We'll all be in danger if you don't check the cloak and put up the shield, McKay," Ronon growled.
"Okay, okay," Rodney muttered. "Help me..."
Ronon reached around Rodney and helped him to the front of the jumper. Ronon eased him down into the pilot seat and Rodney reached out to touch the control panel. "Ow... ow..... ow...." Touching anything hurt...
"Your hands are burnt," Ronon informed him. "But you have to do it."
Rodney realized that with John unconscious, he was the only one of the rest of the team with the ATA gene that could operate the jumper. Neither Teyla nor Ronon could do anything with the controls.
"Shield?" Rodney asked. Why the obsession with the shield?
"Wraith," Ronon replied flatly.
"Fuck," Rodney muttered. He steeled himself and reached out to the control panel. He checked to make sure the cloak was on and then looked at the power usage. He fought to think about power consumption and how long they had been there. Could they afford to turn on the shield on the planet?
"How bad?" Rodney asked. How many Wraith and how near are they?
"They're probably holding the gate open, so we can't even try to leave. The population really isn't big enough to justify a Wraith cruiser, but it looks like that's what is here," Ronon informed him. "There are too many Darts to explain otherwise."
Rodney turned, ouch – it hurt to move—to look at Ronon. That was more than Ronon usually spoke in an entire day. Hoping Ronon was on a roll, he asked, "What happened?"
Ronon shrugged. "You and Sheppard were working in the ruins and suddenly Sheppard called over the radio for help. As Teyla and I came closer there was an explosion. Looks to me like he got you out of the way and took the worst of the blast. Like those concussion grenades the Marines have – a blast wave but not a lot of smoke or anything burning. Well, your hands got burnt."
Rodney closed his eyes for a moment. John, you idiot.... A flash of a device that pulsed that under his hands before it became too hot... The memory became fuzzy... He opened his eyes since he knew if he relaxed too much he'd pass out again. "And on top of that, the Wraith showed up," Rodney added.
"Yup," Ronon agreed.
"Fuck," Rodney repeated. He didn't have the energy to think of anything clever to say.
"Shield?" Ronon prodded.
"The cloak is holding and we should be okay for now," Rodney decided. "Rather not turn on the shield if we don't have to. Power will last longer that way."
"Okay," Ronon replied. Rodney could see him relax slightly with that information.
Rodney poked gingerly at the controls and brought up the sensors. Yup. Something holding position above the planet. Something big enough that it would give the jumper a hard time. He hated it when Ronon was right. Rodney pointed, "That's probably your Wraith cruiser." At least pointing didn't hurt.
"Rodney," Teyla commanded gently, coming up to them. "Come and let me do something about your hands."
"When did you get your medical degree?" Rodney asked, without much heat.
"Dr. Beckett...." Teyla hesitated then started again. "Dr. Beckett has given me some training in what he called ‘first aid.' He thought that since I went out with you and the Colonel regularly, that someone should know something about treating injuries."
Carson.... Thank you, Rodney thought to himself. "If you must," he huffed.
"Come back here so there is more room for me to take care of you," Teyla directed calmly. Ronon helped Rodney out of the pilot seat and guided him to the back of the jumper. They had John lying on the floor in front of the other bench with his left side against the wall. Rodney could see how pale he looked under the bruising and there was a splint on the left arm. Rodney sat heavily on the bench and gave in to Teyla's doctoring.
Teyla cleaned his hands carefully with as little water as possible. She used some of the antiseptic wipes in the kit to clean some of the nastier burns. Rodney watched in faint fascination as she worked quickly but carefully. When she was done, most of Rodney's fingers were wrapped in soft gauze and she handed him some pills to take. "For the pain," she explained, handing him some water.
"We need to take it easy on the water," Ronon pointed out. "Don't know how long we'll have to stay here."
Rodney stopped mid-swallow, "Right." He lowered the bottle and handed it back to Teyla. "Now what?"
"We were hoping you would know," Teyla admitted. Ronon looked hopefully over her shoulder.
Rodney considered their limited options. "If you think we can stay here, I'd like to do that for a while. The cloak will keep us hidden and since we're essentially in the middle of nowhere, we should be secure." They were about an hour from the gate, parked close to the ruins they wanted to explore. They had planned to visit the city after they were done with the ruins. "I'm in no shape to fly right now, and until we're sure the gate is free, this is the best place to stay."
Teyla nodded. Ronon shrugged. Rodney realized that being in a cloaked jumper was better than being on foot against the Wraith. "You should sleep then, Rodney," Teyla told him.
Rodney sighed. It wasn't good, but the best they could do for the moment. He wanted to sleep too much. "Wake me if anything changes?" he asked them. "Or if his condition changes?" he added, nodding at John.
"Let me make you comfortable," Teyla spread out another sleeping bag on the floor next to John. "If you're both on one side of the jumper Ronon and I can move around easier," she explained easily with one of her inscrutable smiles.
Rodney was suddenly too tired to care about what anyone thought. Ronon helped him from the bench to the floor of the jumper -- who knew it was so hard to get up and down without using your hands, Rodney thought. He carefully reached his arm across the still form next to him, moved his head to John's shoulder and fell asleep.
Some time later, Rodney's bladder forced him to consciousness. He didn't want to move, he was warm but for some reason faintly uncomfortable. He cracked open an eye to see that he was snuggled around John. Hmm... He wriggled some more and he remembered where they were. Oh... Jumper... This was so not good....
As Rodney stirred, John moved. "R'dny?" he mumbled. "Don' go..." John's hand tightened on his arm.
Giving up any pretense in front of Teyla and Ronon, who were probably watching them both from the bench on the other side of the jumper, "Shh..... You're hurt. You got hit on the head and broke your arm." Rodney gave a ghost of a hug. "Gotta piss, you stay here."
Rodney knew the nanosecond John realized where they were when his body stiffened under Rodney's hand. Rodney leaned in and stage-whispered in John's ear, "Just Teyla and Ronon. Not like they didn't suspect anyways." While he and John had been discreet, sometimes Rodney thought that they were so discreet even he didn't know he was in a relationship with John, they had talked about telling Ronon and Teyla. Now they didn't have to tell them anything.
John nodded then moaned. "Damn, that hurt." He started to move to sit up and gave up when he couldn't use his left arm. He lay back, panting from the effort.
Rodney rolled to his back and looked at their watching teammates who, as he suspected, were grinning at them. "Okay, if you've had your chuckle for the day, I need to piss and John probably could use some pain meds," Rodney directed.
Ronon came over and helped Rodney up as Teyla dug out some pills. "What's going on out there?" Rodney asked. The pills and the sleep helped him be more alert than he was before the nap.
"Still too many Darts to risk moving yet," Ronon reported. "How you want to do this?"
While there was a chemical toilet in the jumper, it wasn't pleasant to use and the unofficial rule was that if you used it, you had to clean it. "Ummm.... Is it clear enough to open the rear hatch and just go by the side of the jumper where we should be still be inside the cloak?" Rodney asked hopefully.
"Hang on," Ronon replied. He moved to the front screen and looked out and came back after a quick look around. He took his gun out of its holster. "Should work. Since it's pretty dark, turn off most of the lights so we don't light the area up. We can all take a break but only one at a time and one on watch."
"Works for me," Rodney agreed. Teyla moved to dim the lights in the jumper.
Opening the door of the jumper brought a blast of fresh air into the space. Any other time it would have been welcome, but with Wraith around, Rodney knew they had to get this done as quickly as possible. Ronon poked his head out, held his gun ready and then pointed, "This side. Stay next to the jumper."
Rodney had to piss too badly to make any comments. He eased out of the jumper and found that Ronon had selected the side where a smattering of bushes would help keep them out of plain sight as they did this. Rodney fumbled with his bandaged hands on his pants, but felt the blessed relief as he relieved his bladder and moved the few steps back to the hatch. "You next, if you want," he proposed to Ronon. Ronon offered his weapon to Rodney who waved his bandaged hands back at him – Ronon re-holstered the weapon and took it with him. Rodney stood where Ronon had and scanned the area for any activity. Even if he couldn't shoot, he could watch.
Ronon came back and pointed, "You go sit before you fall down." Rodney gratefully went back inside. "Teyla?" Ronon called. Teyla moved past Rodney and took her turn.
Rodney knelt down by John and asked, "Think you can get up if Ronon helps?" At John's tight nod, Rodney moved the sleeping bag aside and eased John into an upright position. From John's jerky movements, he knew the other man was in pain but fighting to move. "Relax," Rodney whispered placing a comforting hand on John's leg.
At a nod from Rodney, Ronon lifted John up and guided him to the back of the craft. Teyla stood watch while Ronon helped John. Rodney didn't have time to fret too much before they were all back in the jumper, Teyla was closing up the rear hatch and then bringing the lights up so they could see. Ronon settled John back down on the floor on top of the sleeping bag. John maneuvered so that he had his back to the bench. He carefully put his broken arm in his lap, tilted his head back on the seat and closed his eyes. Rodney settled on the bench next to him.
"Tell me," John commanded. Tell me what happened, what's going on, what do we need to do... all that in those brief words. The bruising to his neck must have caught the throat. It was obviously painful for John to talk too much.
"The device I had been fiddling with went haywire on me. I burnt my hands and you got caught in the explosion, protecting me, you idiot, and you took a nasty blow to the head and neck. Which is also when you must have broken that arm. Dr. Teyla, medicine woman here patched me up and splinted your arm. Bad luck is that while we were messing around, the Wraith decided this would be a perfect spot for a culling," Rodney summarized.
"Wraith?" John asked, not moving.
"Too many Darts to risk moving around. With both of you unconscious, we couldn't fly this thing," Ronon reported. "Enough Darts that I suspected a cruiser somewhere and McKay found one on the scanners. Since we really had no choices, we camped here."
"Rodney?" John asked. You ok? Are you hurt? What can I do?
"I checked the cloak and we're good for now. Not knowing how long the Wraith will be here, I decided not to put up the shield to conserve power for the moment," Rodney outlined. He looked at Ronon, "How long have we been here?"
"About 5 hours before the explosion and fifteen hours since then, so 20 hours total," Ronon indicated. "Sun set a couple of hours ago."
"That means we missed our check in and since no one has come looking for us, the Wraith have the gate dialed in, so even if we could fly we can't get back to Atlantis anyways," Rodney added.
"Okay," John answered, not moving.
"Now what do we do?" Ronon demanded.
"Nothing," John told them.
His answer was met with silence.
John raised his head carefully and looked at them. "Any better ideas?" he asked. When no one answered, he laid his head back again.
Rodney sighed. "I could eat," he offered wistfully.
Teyla got up and dug through their packs to find MREs for them all. "Anyone else?" she asked. Ronon growled a "Sure" but John just shook his head.
"Something to drink?" Rodney asked him.
John thought about that for a moment, and decided, "Nah. Nauseous." Rodney also thought it might be just as painful to swallow and didn't push the matter.
"Okay," Rodney let him be. He looked up and took the MRE from Teyla. "Hey! Where'd you get a macaroni and cheese? I thought those were gone."
A ghost of a smile flitted across John's face. "Saved a couple," he admitted.
"Thanks," Rodney mumbled, not quite knowing what else to say that wouldn't be too sappy. He set the meal to heating, waited for it to finish and then dug into the food. He hummed contentedly as he ate. When they were done, Teyla collected the trash and packed it away for disposal later.
When she settled in again, John asked, "Teyla? Managing?"
She shrugged. "I know the Wraith are here and there are many of them, but none in the immediate area. So it is not as overwhelming as it could be. I have been working with Dr. Heightmeyer on some meditation techniques that are new to me," she replied."Keeping busy helps, also."
"Which means she is going to take a watch while we sleep," Ronon broke in.
"After I check Rodney's bandages," Teyla agreed. "I need to see how his fingers are, since he has been using them."
"I'm fine, you don't have to...." Rodney started to say but stopped when John nudged his leg. "Yes, mom," he replied to John. Turning slightly so that Teyla could work, Rodney held out his hands.
Teyla fussed over his bandages, replacing a couple of bandages where the blood had seeped through. She handed Rodney a couple of pills and a water bottle. "These are for infection as well as pain," she pointed out. She moved to the floor to check on John. "I cannot do much about your arm until we get back to Atlantis," she told him, checking that the splint wasn't too tight asking John to move his fingers for her.
She handed John the same pills and when he was slow to take them, Rodney nudged him. "Works both ways," Rodney grinned. John took them and the swallow of water to wash them down.
"You should both sleep," Teyla told them gently. "Ronon and I will watch."
"Yes, ma'am," John drawled. He glanced up at Rodney, "You heard the lady, we're off duty."
Rodney huffed, "Like we could be of much help." But it was said without heat.
"Come down here," John directed. "Hurts to look up at you."
Rodney eased off the bench to the floor of the jumper. They smoothed out the sleeping bags and Rodney helped John lay down. Rodney grabbed a second bag to spread over them and he lay in the circle of John's good arm.
"McKay!" Ronon's voice brought him immediately awake.
"What?" Rodney complained grumpily.
"Fuck. Okay, I'm coming." Rodney stole a quick glance at Teyla who sat motionless, concentrating on maintaining her own sanity.
He unwound himself from John who said, "Let me know?"
Rodney nodded as he carefully levered himself into an upright position. A deep breath to steady himself as dizziness threatened from moving too fast and he moved to the front of the jumper. He looked out in growing horror at the number of Wraith in the area. Darts flew overhead and too many to count were walking through the fields. From the depth of the darkness outside the ship, he guessed it was getting close to sunrise.
"We must have tripped an alarm somewhere. Had to have been a trap," Rodney swore, settling into the pilot seat. He put his hands on the console and withdrew his hands in pain. "Ow. Forgot." He carefully placed his palms on the console and tried to work the controls. "Ronon, get Sheppard up here." Rodney moved to the co-pilot seat to make it easier for Ronon to help John.
Ronon all but carried John to the front of the jumper. He poured John into the pilot seat.
"Plan?" John grated.
"I need you to put the shield on and help me get us out of here," Rodney directed. "Too many Wraith to just sit here. They'll find us by contact alone."
John put his good hand on the controls and reported, "Shield up."
"Now let's see if we can fly this thing anywhere," Rodney muttered. "Hopefully between us we can make this thing fly."
"Where?" John rasped.
"I suspect we can't go too far, and we don't want to run into a Dart," Rodney was thinking out loud, hoping for an idea. "Let's go closer to the ruins, maybe they've already been there. At least the buildings will give us some protection from a Wraith just walking into us."
"Okay." John moved his hands, wincing as he moved his broken arm, and Rodney mirrored some of the moves as best he could to help John. The jumper moved vertically into the air and if there was a wobble to the normally smooth movement, no one commented. "Stay low," John directed.
"Right, stay above the Wraith on the planet and below the Darts," Rodney elaborated to make sure he understood what John was doing without making John give him the explanation. He focused on flying as well as he could, hoping that between them they could control the jumper.
The jumper moved slowly toward the ruins. The flight path wavered about in a random way, up, down, left, right. They inched their way toward the ruins. John nodded toward one side and Rodney urged the jumper in that direction. They landed with a mild bump on the far side of the ruins from where they had been working earlier. John shrugged, then took a sharp breath – that had hurt.
Rodney looked at John sharply but didn't say anything. There wasn't much they could do at the moment if John was hurt worse than Teyla could manage. "Ronon, let's get comfortable for a bit," Rodney suggested.
Ronon helped John to the rear of the jumper. The fact that John didn't protest leaving the pilot seat told Rodney that John was hurting more than he let on. Once Ronon got John settled, Rodney asked Teyla, "Got any more of those pills?" He nodded at John.
"Yes, there are more. Is it wise to take them again so soon?" Teyla asked doubtfully.
"Well, normally I would either make him eat or wait some more, but I'd like to keep John at least semi-functional until we get some help," Rodney explained.
"Hey, still here," John protested faintly.
"Yeah. And I'm going to keep it that way, you idiot," Rodney stooped down to put a hand on John's leg to ask softly but firmly. "What else is wrong?"
He felt John sigh as much as heard it. "Shoulder. Broken, I think."
Rodney hung his head in frustration. Nothing that they really could do, but that had to hurt like a bitch. With Ronon hauling John around, it had to have aggravated the injury.
Rodney looked over to Teyla. "You doing any better?" he asked.
"Now that we have moved, I am not so... compelled," Teyla replied. "The meditation technique helped me focus on not giving away the fact that we are here. But it is good that we moved when we did since I do not think I could have done that for much longer with that many Wraith present."
Rodney debated. They didn't have a lot of options. Until they heard from Atlantis, which was doubtful at the moment, he had to assume the gate was compromised. The ruins themselves were probably a trap for the Lanteans laid by the Wraith since they were one of the few people actively looking for Ancient technology. Moving further from the gate wasn't a good option, although a reasonable last resort, since there was no other way to get back to Atlantis. Since the Wraith seemed to be culling the entire planet, there was no hiding among the native population. If there was a Wraith cruiser above the planet, leaving the planet wasn't a good option and wasted power they might need in the jumper to maintain their cloak and shield. There wasn't another gate in this solar system to fly to, anyway.
Rodney sighed. The pain in his hands distracted him and he was worried about John. He couldn't think straight. Well, back to basics. He heard John's voice in his head, Piss, eat and sleep, in that order, when you can. He didn't need to piss at the moment, he was too wired to sleep, so.... Eating. "Got any more of those MRE's?" he asked. Maybe eating would help him focus, and maybe John would eat something.
Teyla looked up, "Let me see what there is." She moved to the back of the jumper and brought back a meal for each of them.
Rodney took what she handed to him, chicken-something, and started it heating. He saw John try to refuse one and Rodney teased lightly, "You're not going to make me eat alone, are you?" John sighed and took the meal with his good hand. He fumbled with it, not wanting to move his bad shoulder too much, but got it going. Rodney ate mechanically, watching that John ate at least a part of his meal. They shared a bottle of water around to wash it down.
Rodney started to think through what he knew about Gates. He closed his eyes to focus on remembering everything he knew or suspected or theorized. Something about an open gate.....
"If we had a big enough bomb, we could divert the incoming worm hole to another gate and maybe be able to dial out," he found himself saying out loud. Ronon snorted and Rodney looked. "SG-1 did that once. Well, Carter and O'Neill did. An away team was on a planet that was being sucked into a black hole – they had managed to dial into the SGC and then the SGC found they couldn't shut down the gate. They finally used a naquadah bomb as a counter-force that shut the gate down."
"And that helps us how?" John asked, obviously amused.
"I'm thinking, if you don't mind," Rodney huffed. "Trapped, here, if you didn't get that part."
"Got that, Rodney," John answered patiently – his job was to keep Rodney talking to keep him from panicking. "Same question. That helps us how?"
Rodney frowned, concentrating. "The Wraith don't have a black hole powering the gate. What they have is finite. Maybe..." He tried to snap his fingers, and exclaimed, "Ow... that hurt!"
"Rodney," John made it sound like four syllables, getting Rodney's attention.
"Yes. Sorry. But that did hurt," Rodney complained. "Okay. We don't need the power of a naquadah bomb, just something strong enough to disrupt the gate connection for a moment. In the time the Wraith figure out what is going on, we should be able to dial out and get out of here."
Ronon looked at him. "The gate will be guarded and there's a Wraith cruiser up there that will be trying to take us down, McKay," Ronon growled.
"Yes. Yes. I know that," Rodney replied absently. "If we can...." He stood and took a panel down from the ceiling of the jumper. He started reaching in to move crystals and swore as his bandaged hands fumbled the task.
Teyla stood, "Tell me what to do." Rodney looked at her. "It may be slower for me to do it since you will have to explain, but it won't be as slow as you will need to be with your hands," she told Rodney patiently.
Rodney talked Teyla through a number of crystal movements. He carefully typed on his computer to test the circuits as they went along. His burnt hands kept him from typing as fast as he would have liked, but Teyla studiously ignored his swearing and they soon settled into a workable pace. Ronon hovered over them, trying not to pace in the limited space of the jumper.
About an hour after they started, Rodney announced, "Okay, that's all I can do here. We need to move closer to the gate to finish this up."
"Not before you explain what you're going to do," John replied patiently. Making Rodney explain things was his way of making sure Rodney had thought through everything that he needed to do. It also gave John an excuse to listen to Rodney talk, although it was usually harder to get Rodney to stop talking!
Rodney sighed. "I've re-routed as much power as we can spare to the weapons array. There's no way to do anything to the drone itself, but by shooting it out at a higher velocity from the ship, it will discharge more energy on impact. By rigging the ship to shoot four drones as close together as possible, they should hit the gate close enough to simultaneously to go off as one detonation. I figure that four drones should be enough of a blast to disrupt the gate so we can dial out," he elaborated.
John considered. "Where are you taking the power from?" he asked.
"I've taken some of the secondary circuits offline, reduced life support to the bare minimum and had to reduce the power to the shield by twenty percent," Rodney listed.
"We're going to need that shield," Ronon argued.
"Yes, I understand that," Rodney retorted. "But we need power to the engines even more since we'll have to move fast once we dial the gate and I'm assuming we're going to have to dodge some nasty shit as we make for the gate. Nowhere else to take it from."
John closed his eyes for a moment. "That's cutting it fine," he warned. "And, we're not exactly the best pilot between us." That admission told Rodney how much John was hurting.
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Like you can't fly this thing one handed," he snarked. "Oh, wait, you're going to have to." The tone was light, but his eyes were worried. This entire plan would have been risky enough if John was healthy. With John's broken arm and bad shoulder, the entire plan was suicidal, but they all knew it was their best option.
"I can fly the jumper with one hand tied behind my back," John teased back. "I'd offer to show you, but I don't think Teyla's pain pills are quite up to that."
"Okay, then, where do we gate to first?" Rodney asked.
"Someplace where there are no people, if possible," Teyla pointed out. "If we do not get through the gate alone, we should not place others in danger."
Rodney put his fingertips together as if to snap them. He grimaced at the pain and offered, "How about that planet where those people gave Ronon back to the Wraith? The Wraith already culled the village at the least and there won't be anyone near the gate, anyway."
"Do you remember the address?" John asked.
"Duh. I remember every gate address of every planet we've been to," Rodney retorted. He recited the symbols and John nodded agreement -- Rodney suspected that John could have come up with that address on his own.
"When do we do this?" Ronon asked.
Rodney considered. "The sooner we do it, the better since the longer we sit, the more power we use. Since our piloting will be interesting, I'd rather do this in daylight, if we can."
"Wraith move better in the dark, so full daylight is no advantage to them," Ronon put in. "Since the gate was in a field, if the sun shines brightly, the guards will be slightly less alert. If it were only one or two guards, that would be a definite advantage to us. But there will be too many for us to take them by surprise."
"We need to use any advantage we can," John told them. "Teyla? Can you handle this?"
Teyla tilted her head to consider. "If you will allow me to start my meditation as you move the ship. I hope you will not need me to assist you once we are closer to the gate, for I will not be able to concentrate as I need to."
"No," Rodney told her. "John and I will pilot the ship and Ronon can dial the gate for us." He thought about it. "The inertial dampeners should take some of the load, but you should settle in someplace securely before we move. We don't want you thrown about if we have to do any sudden maneuvers."
"Here," Ronon pointed to a spot where she could sit comfortably, wedged between the end of the benches and their packs. The webbing for the packs would give her something to hold on to if needed.
"Thank you. I will prepare," Teyla told them as she moved to position herself in the space.
"Ronon, help Sheppard into the front?" Rodney directed. He was back in mission mode and it was Colonel or Sheppard. It was for his sake as well as John's to keep up the façade. He had to keep John separate from the Colonel, but sometimes the shift back and forth wasn't easy. He hoped he didn't slip some day when it was someone other than Ronon or Teyla they were with.
"Are we ready?" Rodney asked his teammates. Hearing Ronon's calm, "yeah," and John's, "ready" steadied Rodney more than anything else. He took a deep breath. "Powering up the engines."
The flight to the gate was a good practice run for them. It had taken almost an hour to get to the ruins from the gate; the circuitous route back took almost two hours. During the flight back to the gate Rodney couldn't afford to think about how much flying the jumper had to hurt either of them. He and John did a credible job getting the jumper into position near the active gate but he could see the sheen of sweat on John's face by the end of the trip. There weren't as many Darts as they had feared, but the gate was closely guarded by what looked like over a hundred armed Wraith on foot. This wasn't going to be easy.
"Once the worm hole jumps and the connection disengages, dial as fast as it will allow you," Rodney directed Ronon. "I've reset the dialing protocols to let you dial almost as fast as you can." He focused on the weapons array he had brought up. "Sheppard, when I say ‘go' tell it to shoot those drones." Rodney's hands danced over his computer and on the controls in front of him. He was shunting aside the pain to deal with it later.
"Okay, ready, set, GO!" Rodney commanded. John's hands moved on the controls and Rodney pressed another. The drones shot out as one burst toward the gate and even with the inertial dampeners Rodney would swear he could feel the jumper lurch to one side as John moved the vehicle immediately to a new position to avoid weapons fire from the Wraith. The shield around the jumper automatically darkened as the blast rang out against the gate, but it wasn't fast enough to block the glare and Rodney found himself blinking against the flare of light. There was a too-long moment where nothing happened and then the gate shut down. Rodney heard Ronon dialing as the Wraith started shooting in their direction. Darts came out of nowhere and started to criss-cross in front of the gate. Shots from the ground and the Darts hit them in random places and the splash-back gave the Wraith a target to focus on. Larger, heavier shots came from above, presumably from the cruiser. Luckily, it hadn't gotten a bead on them yet, but it was getting close.
"Come on.... " Rodney muttered as the gate dialed, as if to encourage it to dial faster. John had the jumper dancing about to avoid as much of the shooting as possible, but they couldn't move far. The last chevron locked and the gate ka-whooshed at them, taking out several Wraith who had been too near the gate in the process. "Go, go, go," Rodney commanded, putting his hands back on the controls.
They rocketed through the gate and then immediately made a left turn to move off to one side as an evasive maneuver. "Shut it down!" Rodney directed to Ronon. Half a dozen Darts came through the gate before it closed.
"Better odds now," Ronon grinned. Rodney rolled his eyes – six to one might have been better odds, but not what he had been hoping for.
"Dial P78-47X," Rodney told Ronon, reciting the address. The Darts whined through the air near the gate, now between them and the gate. Ronon looked confused but did it anyway.
Rodney knew John got it when he grinned. "Good idea." P78-47X's gate was underwater. If they stayed here, they had to hope at least a couple of the Darts would go through the open gate assuming the Lanteans had gone through also. The jumper could maneuver underwater, they didn't know if Darts could. At the very least, some of the Darts would be distracted.
Once the Gate was open, three of the Darts went through, but three remained behind. John almost-shrugged. "Best we could hope for," he admitted. "Dial home," he directed Rodney.
"These will know we're still here," Ronon pointed out.
"Can't be helped," John replied. "Let's go home."
Ronon dialed Atlantis as they positioned the jumper as close to the gate as they dared. They didn't want a Dart to slip in front of them. "Atlantis, this is Sheppard, coming in hot. Close the shield immediately behind us," he radioed. He sent his IDC along with the transmission.
"Glad to hear from you. Shield open," Chuck sent back.
Mindful of the three Darts still hovering around the planet, John and Rodney worked to get the jumper through the gate. Rodney couldn't afford to think about the sweat on John's face as he worked through the pain. Together they brought the jumper home.
"Shield up," came the report on the radio as they entered the gate room.
"Have a med team meet us upstairs?" Rodney asked. Now that they were in Atlantis, they could let the auto-pilot move them from the gate room to the jumper bay. John slumped in the chair and only Ronon's quick hand kept him from sliding out. Ronon held him steady until the jumper was docked and the med team was on board.
Opening the rear door of the jumper released a feeling of claustrophobia Rodney didn't realize he had been suppressing. Once they had moved John to a gurney, Rodney finally gave into the terror, pain and exhaustion. He barely felt the hands that helped him out of the chair and on to another gurney.
The next thing Rodney knew was the dim lights of the infirmary. He tried to sit up, but a warm hand on his shoulder kept him down. "You're okay, now, Dr. McKay," Jennifer Keller said gently. "Relax."
"Jo-... Sheppard?" Rodney asked, wincing at his near miss.
"The Colonel is resting comfortably, and is sleeping, like you should be," she spoke sternly. But her eyes were relaxed and he knew that John was okay.
Rodney lay back in the bed and closed his eyes.
The next time he woke it was daytime and Ronon was sitting at his bedside. "What are you doing here?" Rodney asked without thinking.
Ronon grinned, "You're welcome, McKay. Keeping you company so you don't wake alone. Teyla's with Sheppard. Although this would have been easier if they had put both of you in one room." Rodney understood that their teammates were keeping an eye on them and making sure they knew someone was watching over them. It was something Rodney still wasn't used to... teammates who cared.
"Oh, okay then. Thanks," Rodney mumbled, not sure what else to say. "Sheppard?"
"He was in rougher shape, but doc says he'll be fine. Probably out of commission for a month or so. Shoulder was bruised and not broken, but still will take time," Ronon recounted. "He asked after you, too," Ronon told Rodney with a grin.
Rodney blushed. God, he was a fourteen-year-old girl. He nodded at Ronon, who seemed to understand.
"I'm supposed to get the doc when you wake," Ronon reported, getting up. "Stay here."
"Like I'm going to get up and wander off," Rodney retorted, although, there had been times he or John had done just that while they were supposed to be in the infirmary. Today he was too tired and hurt to think about leaving on his own.
Keller came in a few minutes later, followed by Elizabeth Weir. Keller held up a hand to Elizabeth. "Let me finish first?" she asked. Rodney could see Elizabeth nod reluctantly and wait while Keller asked Rodney questions about how he was feeling, noted his blood pressure from the monitoring equipment and briefly checked the bandages on his hands. When she was done, she turned, "All yours, but you still can't talk to Colonel Sheppard until I say so. Okay?"
Rodney would have sworn Elizabeth wanted to roll her eyes, but agreed, "Not a problem. Thanks." As Keller left the room, Elizabeth came over to the bed. "How are you feeling?" she asked Rodney.
"Like I've been blown up, flown a jumper through a Wraith culling and been spat back out, thanks," Rodney replied testily.
He was touched when Elizabeth placed a careful hand on his arm, "Welcome back, then. Ronon and Teyla told us what happened. You rest and get better." She squeezed slightly and smiled.
"Between McKay's hands and Sheppard's arm, they are going to need some help once they get out of here," Ronon commented practically. "Put them in together so they can help each other out." The suggestion was casual, but Rodney nearly panicked at the words.
Elizabeth considered. "No one else would put up with them, I suspect," she replied.
"Hey! Right here," Rodney had to protest. He mentally crossed his fingers.
"Let me think about it." She looked at Rodney who concentrated on looking innocent but wasn't sure he carried it off. "Think you and the Colonel could survive living together?"
Rodney shrugged. "We do it off-world. Guess we could manage," he told her slowly. "I do want to get out of here as soon as I can, so whatever I have to do...."
Elizabeth grinned. "Well, there's an enthusiastic response if I ever heard one. Let me talk to Dr. Keller and see what she thinks." She patted his arm. "I'll be back later."
After she left, Rodney had to close his eyes to control himself. He opened them to see Ronon grinning at him. "I do not owe you for this," Rodney retorted to the unsaid comment.
"We'll see," Ronon smirked.
Rodney looked down at the blanket and said softly, "Thanks."
When he was released, a day earlier than John, Rodney was shown to new quarters, something resembling an apartment with a common room, two smaller rooms that could be used as bedrooms as well as a decent bathroom. He wondered how he didn't know about this before now – Zelenka he suspected, just wait until he talked to that man. Ronon and Teyla had moved his things – he had a bad moment thinking about Teyla handling his underwear, but had to ignore it since they had moved John's things also.
The next day, Rodney was in the room when Elizabeth wheeled John into the door. Teyla and Ronon were sitting in the common room, waiting for them. John looked confused for a moment and Rodney could see him tense. "What's this?" he asked warily.
"Keller only let you out of the infirmary if someone would stay with you," Elizabeth explained. "We've moved you and Rodney together to help each other out."
Rodney could see the moment John understood. He slouched further into the wheelchair and asked pathetically, "I have to live with McKay?" He rolled his eyes but Rodney could see the grin that was trying to surface.
Ronon smirked. "I asked around. No one else would do it, so you lose," he reported with a straight face.
Rodney would bet a year's salary that Ronon had indeed asked, in case Elizabeth ever checked, but it would have been in such a way that no one would have dared volunteered to move in with Rodney. He wasn't sure they were really fooling Elizabeth about anything, but what she didn't really know she didn't have to do anything about.
As they got ready for bed, they really did have to help each other – the final effort being pretty awkward. Rodney's hands were just starting to heal and were somehow more painful to try use. John's shoulder wasn't broken just deeply bruised but the arm itself really was broken and in a lightweight cast. The result was they had about one and a half hands between them. After a sketchy cleanup, John decided, "That will have to do. I'm too tired to care."
Rodney carefully wound his arms around John and brought him into a clumsy embrace. "Stop scaring me like that," he whispered. He felt John put his good arm around him and they held on to each other.
The assignment was for Kylie Lee ( kylielee1000)
(1) Ship-in-a-bottle claustrophobic adventure, all set in a single small space (like a puddle jumper, or a locked room, or an offworld cell), any slash pairing;
(2) Ronon and John and their LOVE for one another, offworld, with weapons and restive natives, and (one may hope), hot sex;
(3) Carson as mad medical genius with no ethical constraints (which is on the prompt list but OMG! I really, really like it...). Actually,I'm pretty zen, plotwise, if you just give me my SLASHY GOODNESS.
I picked option #1 and hope this is near what you wanted. The puddle jumper was the prompt that made me ask myself what would happen if both the ATA carriers were hurt – who would then fly the jumper? This is what happened from there.