The sounds of popping gunfire sent Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard into a sharp run as he dodged the bullets by maneuvering through the trees at a pace he had never run before. Or had time to set.
“Teyla!” he shouted into his communicator, before managing to miss another bullet. However, the tree right next to him had not been as steady as he’d hoped and it toppled over as he fell over a rock. Landing hard on the ground, John’s eyes widened as he looked up and he moved quickly to avoid being hit by the tree that landed next to his body.
Not having time to breathe a silent thank you to whoever was listening, John grabbed his rifle and continued on through the endless jungle of trees and toward where he hoped his ship was. “Where are you?” he continued as the shots moved closer.
“Sir?” came the voice of his female teammate and once again, John had to steal himself from sighing in relief. It wasn’t over yet. The Wraith was still behind him, and in the air.
“What’s your location?” he snapped into the communicator right before he jumped over a log, tucked and rolled, before jumping to his feet and continuing onward. He was so going to be sore in the morning.
“We’re at the ship, sir!” answered Teyla.
John took that moment to give into the urge, sighing in relief that his team was safe; he brought the device back to his mouth. “I’m on my way, and we’ve got company!” he yelled.
“Don’t worry, we have you covered.”
He nearly rolled his eyes. “How comforting,” he muttered. “Look just get the ship ready, we’re getting out of here.”
Turning off the communicator, John looked at the device that had saved him in so many situations over the past few months and pressed a button. Wincing, he turned and threw it into the forest before hurrying away. He would have to get a new one once he returned to Atlantis.
The explosive concussion nearly sent John to the ground, but he continued running, even as he heard the sounds of the Wraith screaming.
Doctor Rodney McKay cursed for what seemed like the millionth time as he continued to store his equipment back into its proper place, and then back into the ship.
“You’d think we would have a little more time,” he snapped at no one in particular.
A sigh confirmed that it was Teyla that had heard him. “McKay hurry up! We have to go, now!”
Looking up, Rodney glared at her. “You think I don’t know that?” he snapped at her. “It’s just a coincidence that every time we arrive somewhere and actually get a chance to check things out, we get attacked by the Wraith.”
Teyla shook her head. “We do not have time for this,” she said, grabbing her rifle and heading to the door, pointing it out at the trees.
Rodney put his hands up. “I am just saying that every time I get close to finding out anything about a particular planet, we have a Wraith attack. I’m starting to really think they like making our lives a living hell.”
“Hmm,” muttered Teyla. “Something you both have in common.”
“Ha, ha, funny!” snapped Rodney as he pulled more of his equipment inside.
Teyla looked over at Ronon and shook her head.
Grabbing his rifle, Ronon stood. “Rodney, look why don’t we discuss this later?” he suggested. “We’re kind of busy right now.”
Rolling his eyes once again, Rodney shouted. “I don’t want to talk about it later. Later, I might be screwed, or worse, I might be the Wraith’s next meal!”
“Rodney, shut up and get the rest of your stuff on board!” Came the voice of Doctor Elizabeth Weir, making all three of them look up.
Rodney swallowed his immediate response and nodded, as if she were actually in the ship with him at that moment, and sighed. “Yes, ma’am,” he said before disappearing back outside.
Teyla raised an eyebrow. It seemed as if every time their boss told the doctor to do something, it got done faster than when they told him.
“Looks like the good doctor has a bit of a crush,” said Ronon as he moved to the other side of the door.
Once again shaking her head, Teyla tried to hide her smile. “You have no idea.”
His heart was racing by the time he broke over the hill and began running down it. “McKay!” yelled John, when he caught sight of the other man loading his stuff onto the ship. “We don’t have time for this!”
Rodney turned and glared at Sheppard as he threw more stuff onto the metal tray that he would wheel inside. “Nice to see you too, Colonel,” he snapped, before throwing more stuff on.
They both looked up as a scream sounded, making John swallow through the dryness in his mouth. “McKay, get on the ship,” he said as nicely as he could.
Looking at the bags of equipment that had yet to be put onto the wheeler, Rodney shook his head. “No, I’m not ready yet,” he snapped.
John rolled his eyes. “Rodney, we don’t have time. In less than a minute we’re going to be under gunfire. Get this on board, now!”
“I know that, Sheppard. And I’m trying to move as fast as I can!”
“You aren’t moving fast enough!”
“John!” yelled Teyla from inside. “They’re coming!”
Both men turned to see the Wraith running down the hill.
Rodney swallowed. “Oh man,” he said, right before practically throwing everything onto the wheeler. “Help me!”
Pointing his rifle at the Wraith, John shot at them before breaking and grabbing Rodney. “We don’t have time, McKay. Get on board now!” he yelled at the other man.
“You don’t understand, John! If this falls into the Wraith’s hands…” he stopped, crying out as he slumped to the ground grabbing his leg as searing pain ran through his body.
John’s eyes widened. “Oh hell,” he said. “Ronon! I need backup, right now!”
The man in question hurried down the dock and helped John pull up Rodney until he was standing. He used the other hand to fire at the remaining Wraith that were moving toward them. “Let’s go!” he yelled.
Together both men pulled Rodney into the ship, struggling as Rodney tried to get free. “Leave it!” yelled John. “It’s over!”
Pushing Rodney into a seat, Ronon moved to the door, hitting the button to shut it. “We’re ready!” he shouted to Sheppard.
Once he had the ship online, John maneuvered it off the ground and once in the air, he began punching in the address for the Stargate.
“Elizabeth!” he shouted.
“Get Beckett and a medical team to the Stargate. Rodney’s been shot.”
“Dear God…they’re on their way.”
John nodded as he punched his code in and watched as the event horizon appeared. “We’re going in,” he muttered to himself before the ship disappeared into the watery horizon.
Hurrying onto the flight deck, Doctor Elizabeth Weir tried to control her racing heart, as Rodney was loaded onto a stretcher. There was so much blood…
Her eyes then went to John as he came down from the ship.
“What happened?” she asked, moving over to the man in question.
John rubbed his hands over his face, and Elizabeth knew then that he was worried about his teammate. It never ceased to amaze her the compassion he gave to his fellow comrades, or the fear that he managed to hide from everyone in plain sight, choosing to keep it inside.
Elizabeth knew he still carried the wounds from when Colonel Marshall Sumner had been taken by the Wraith, and the only way out was a bullet through the chest. She knew he still thought of the ‘what-if’s’. What if he could have gone in there that much sooner? What if he had been the one taken instead of Sumner? Sending the video letter to Earth had taken a lot of out of John Sheppard, but he pulled through and continued to impress her.
Which made her proud, each and every mission he and his team came back from. So to see not only Rodney, but also John in pain as well. It caused the same pain to come rushing back.
“John?” she asked again.
She watched as the other man ran his hands through his hair and took a step closer to her. “There was a Wraith attack,” he started.
Elizabeth nearly smiled, considering the situation they were already in. “I gathered that much, John.”
“They knew we were there Elizabeth,” said John, his eyes narrowing. “They were just waiting. Every mission we have gone on, the Wraith were there waiting for us.”
Frowning, Elizabeth began walking with him off the flight deck. “Do you think they could be sensing Teyla?” she asked. The simple fact that the other woman had Wraith DNA in her still amazed Elizabeth. And although she wouldn’t admit it out loud, it sometimes put her off.
John shook his head. “I don’t think so, Elizabeth. I think someone told them of our location.”
Elizabeth stopped and turned to him. “You think we have a traitor here on Atlantis?” she asked.
“Or a friendly ally that doesn’t want our help anymore,” he stated, making them both sigh.
Rubbing her hands over her face, Elizabeth shook her head. “The Genii,” she answered.
John nodded. “It could be.”
“All right, I want everyone in my office in an hour. We need to look at all the possible leads we have. It could be that the Wraith were just on the planet,” she said, although she didn’t believe it.
“Do you really believe that, Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth began to walk away. “I don’t know, John. But we have to look at everything.”
John took a step forward. “If it’s all right with you, I’d like to sit out this one and check in on Rodney,” he announced, making her stop.
Turning, Elizabeth smiled at him. “I’m going to Rodney now. Go and get cleaned up Colonel, and then meet me in my office. You can visit with McKay later.”
He sighed, before standing at attention. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, then turned to leave, but her voice stopped him and he turned.
“John? What happened to Rodney, it wasn’t your fault,” Elizabeth announced, her eyes going to his.
Swallowing past the dryness in his mouth once again, and even a lump that had been lodged there since McKay had been shot, he shook his head. “You’re not the one that has to live with that,” he said, truthfully.
Turning away from the pain he saw in her eyes, and hiding the one in his own, John walked away.
Elizabeth offered a smile as she walked into the medical bay, her eyes going to Rodney. Doctor Carson Beckett came to stand next to her.
“How is he, Carson?” she asked, her eyes solely on the man lying in the bed with his eyes closed. Elizabeth swallowed the lump that suddenly became lodged in her throat and blinked a few times to keep the tears from falling.
She should be used to this by now, her people getting hurt on missions. But it never got easier especially when it came to Rodney McKay. Not only was he a gifted scientist that they needed alert on a moments notice. Not only had he saved each and every one of the people on Atlantis more times than she could count. But when it came down to it, Rodney was a friend to everyone. And to see him hurt…it took a lot out of a person.
For Elizabeth, however, it was more than some. When no one was around she allowed her mind to venture to the possibility of more than a friendship with Rodney. Of course, she never let anyone know that, even Rodney. Hell, she was still trying to figure it out herself. When had it gone from leadership, to friendship, and now to something more?
Elizabeth swallowed again and realized that Carson was talking, and turned her head to acknowledge him for the first time since walking in. “Excuse me?” she asked.
Carson turned to her. “Have you been listening to anything I’ve been saying for the past five minutes, ma’am?” he asked in slight incredulity. Carson never pegged Dr. Weir for a woman who lost track of thought. Of course, he always thought the woman was in control all the time, but everyone had their weaknesses. Maybe Rodney was hers. Which could be a big problem.
Instead of apologizing like she should have, Elizabeth felt a surge of anger go through her. “Look Dr. Beckett, we have a serious problem that I have to attend to and I do not have time for long stories. So give me the short one!” she snapped out.
“I had to repair his leg…”
“I kind of figured that,” interrupted Elizabeth, glaring at the doctor. “Now tell me something I don’t know.”
Carson sighed and walked over to the bed. “His artery was slightly damaged making the loss of blood severe. Now, I have some blood on hand that will help him until we get some donations…”
“Contact all personnel and have them checked for the same blood type,” Elizabeth interrupted as she walked over and sat down in the chair next to the bed.
He took another deep breath to keep calm. “I’m already on that, Dr. Weir. Rodney is resting peacefully. I have to sedate him at times when the pain gets to be too much, but I believe he will make a full recovery.”
Elizabeth looked up at him. “You believe?” she asked. “Dr. Beckett that doesn’t quite help me, or Rodney right now.”
“I am doing everything I can…”
Carson took a step back at the tone of her voice and swallowed back his immediate response. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, right before taking his leave.
Turning back to the bed, Elizabeth reached out and took Rodney’s hand in hers. “I’m sorry…I never meant to yell at him,” she said, a smile coming to her lips. “I guess being scared is not something I’m used to.”
The machine right next to her beeped, making Elizabeth jump. Closing her eyes, she sighed and then looked back down at Rodney. He was pale, and she could see he had a slight trouble breathing, but his signs on the monitor were good.
“I hate seeing you like this, Rodney. So you do everything you have to come back. We all need you…I need you,” she whispered the last part.
“Elizabeth…” questioned a voice from behind, and Elizabeth turned to see Teyla standing at the entrance. Pulling her hand away she dried the tears that had fallen down her face and gave Teyla a shaky smile.
“Teyla…what can I do for you?” she asked.
Taking a step into the room, Teyla looked at Rodney and then at Elizabeth. “We are all ready for the meeting,” she said.
Elizabeth stood from her chair. “Yes, I’ll be right there, Teyla,” she answered. Once the other woman left the room she looked down at Rodney.
“I’ll see you later,” she whispered. Squeezing his hand, Elizabeth moved and walked out of the room.
“Maybe the Wraith were there before we even came to that planet,” announced Teyla after listening to everything Elizabeth and Sheppard had to say. “It makes sense. Maybe they needed to feed.”
John snorted. “On us,” he muttered.
Teyla’s eyes narrowed. “Maybe they were feeding when we got there and then they saw you.”
“Oh come on, Teyla!” snapped John. “You’re not really going to give these…creatures…the benefit of a doubt!”
“And what if I am, is that a bad thing?” she countered.
John stood. “After what they did to your people? To Sumner, and Ford? You better believe it.”
“Maybe not all of them are bad!”
“Maybe all of them are better off dead, than alive!”
Elizabeth stood. “Enough!” she yelled, making everyone look at her. “What the hell is wrong with you, John?”
The man in question glared at her. “Nothing,” he growled in answer.
“Then why are you fighting? We are all a team here…we’re on the same side!” she snapped out.
Teyla took a step back and looked down in shame. “She is right,” she said. “John, I am sorry.”
John closed his eyes. “No…I’m sorry,” he said.
Sitting down, Elizabeth pulled her notes in front of her, not giving her team a chance to calm down. She needed everyone alert. “If that was the Wraith’s feeding ground, we need to know. Ronon, I want you and Teyla to go back to the planet and see if there is anyone alive.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Ronon as he stood.
“What about me?” asked John, as he too, stood up.
Elizabeth looked up from her notes. “You’re staying here John. You and I have a lot to discuss.”
John shook his head. “We don’t have anything to discuss, and I am not sending my team out there without me, Elizabeth.”
“That was not an offer, John,” she said, standing. “I’m ordering you to stay. Don’t make me force you on temporary suspension.”
“Isn’t that what you’re doing?” yelled John. “McKay was hurt out there, what makes you think Ronon and Teyla won’t?”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to say something when the door slid open and Dr. Zelenka rushed in. “You’re not going to believe this,” he shouted.
“What is it?” asked John, moving away from the table.
“John!” yelled Elizabeth as everyone began piling out of the office. “Damn it!”
“Well…it’s not really a surprise, because it’s actually happened before and he’s been here…but…” he continued on without stopping.
“Radek…how about the short version?” asked John, folding his arms as they stood in the DHD room.
Taking a deep breath, Dr. Zelenka smiled. “We have a message from Earth,” he answered.
Elizabeth stopped, her eyes going to John’s as a smile of her own came to her face. “From whom?” she asked.
“From what I’ve gathered, since I didn’t listen to the entire message, just a bit of it…”
“Dr. Zelenka…” Elizabeth said, stopping him once again. “From whom?”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened and she took a step back. Only once had the General come to Atlantis. And although it had been one time, it still surprised her.
So to hear that a message had been received, and from General Jack O’Neill no less, it was a shock.
“I want see it,” she said, lifting her head straight. “Now.”
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