[identity profile] neevebrody.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] atlantisbasics

Recipient:  insight2
Title:  
Pas de Deux
Part 1: Entrée, Part 2: Adagio Part 3: Solo Dancer – Rodney, Part 4: Solo Dancer – John, Part 5: Coda
Author:  
neevebrody
Rating:
(PG-13, maybe R for language)
Category:  (Gen – Slash – Hurt/Comfort – Team – First Time)
Spoilers:  (Season 3 – Up to Sunday)
Betas:  [profile] thepouncer  [personal profile] lavvyan  [personal profile] nora_charles
Summary:  John knew what each one was thinking – their only mission now, at this moment, was to get Rodney back to Atlantis.


Solo Dance – Rodney

 

Before entering the shack, Sheppard instructed Lorne and Ronon to patrol the front perimeter of the clearing.  He looked behind him and saw Teyla talking to two of Major Lewis' men.  She was pointing to either side of her position.  John watched the Marines head off in opposite directions, he assumed to patrol both flanks.  John signaled to Teyla, who gave him a quick "thumbs up" before continuing her patrol. 

 

John's eyes adjusted to the darker interior.  The temperature inside must have been well over three figures.  John thought of the metal roof; it was like being inside an oven.  Breathing in the leaden, acrid air was a struggle. 

 

Rodney lay on a small mound of earth and looked as if someone had just dragged him inside and flung him down.  There was no sound inside except for Rodney's ragged breathing.  Rodney didn't seem to have reacted at all to the breach.  He appeared to be unconscious. The size of the room, together with the dim light, made even John feel a little claustrophobic.  Had Rodney become so panic-stricken that he had just passed out?

 

“McKay?  Rodney?  It’s Sheppard,” John said, at once feeling for Rodney’s pulse.  It was faint and thready.  “Rodney-- c’mon, talk to me buddy.” 

 

Rodney didn't answer and John set about checking him for obvious injuries.  Recalling that an unconscious person should always be turned on their side, John supported Rodney's neck and carefully rolled him onto his left side.  He really should have had help, but he didn’t have time.  He needed to make sure Rodney had a clear airway.  John suspected it was okay; however, because Rodney was breathing -- or wheezing more like -- but he didn't seem to be in any immediate distress.

 

As John rolled him over, the right side of Rodney's face was exposed.  John froze -- rooted to the spot.  It was like going through the wormhole.  He felt as though every molecule of air had been snatched from his lungs.  For a long moment, he couldn’t breathe.  He couldn’t speak.  He could only stare at Rodney’s face.

 

When John was about nine years old, he and his best friend rode their bikes all over town.  They loved to ride down the steepest hill in their neighborhood – to see who could reach the bottom first.  Even at that early age, John loved to go fast and loved the thrill of doing something dangerous.  Tyler Lockhart – he and Tyler were some team.  For a while, you never saw one without the other, neither lacking a bandage, sling, or cast of some kind.  There didn’t seem to be anything they wouldn’t try, at least once, and if they didn’t get hurt doing it the first time, one or the other of them would keep trying until they did.

 

John had never forgotten one particular trip down Anthony Street.  They had started off just like always, only that time Tyler got a little ahead of John.  He looked back over his shoulder, coaxing John to go faster.  It had only taken that split second - when he turned his head - to hit a rock in the road or to lose his balance. John saw Tyler’s front wheel begin to wobble.  Tyler couldn’t correct it in time and John watched in horror as Tyler and the bike went down, tumbling and sliding all the way down to the base of the hill.

 

John would never forget what Tyler’s face had looked like -- like someone had used a meat tenderizer on his cheeks and nose and temples.

 

When John could finally marshal his body to move, he quickly swept his fingers inside and through Rodney’s mouth - there was no obstruction.  Taking his mini flashlight from his vest, he held up Rodney's arm and grasped Rodney's elbow with his thumb pressing down on the bicep tendon.  He struck his thumb with the flashlight a couple of times until he felt Rodney's elbow bend in response.  John pocketed the flashlight and, reasonably satisfied that Rodney had not suffered a spinal injury, he rolled Rodney back to lie flat.  The thing that worried John most was that Rodney had still not responded to his voice.

 

John bent and gently scooped Rodney up by the shoulders to get a better look.  Damn, Rodney was heavy – dead weight.  But, as John gripped his back he could feel hard muscle.  Going on missions over the years had been good for Rodney.  The muscles trembled beneath John’s hands – or was it John's hands?  John wasn't sure.  He groped for his P-90 and switched on the lamp, making sure to tilt it away from Rodney so there was enough light, but it didn't shine directly in Rodney’s face.  

 

Rodney’s face was a mass of tissue and clotted blood; a few places still oozed.  A razor-thin slit halved the swollen mass that, that morning, had been Rodney's right eye.  All things being equal, John thought, Rodney probably looked a little better than Tyler had, but not by much.

 

“Jesus, Rodney.  Who did this to you?”  On impulse, John hugged Rodney’s body as close to him as he dared.  He could smell blood and felt wet stickiness against his neck.  Sure, John had seen worse – in Afghanistan, in Pegasus battlefields – a lot worse.  But this was Rodney, not a soldier or an enemy or some unknown villager.  This was his friend who, for all his annoying idiosyncrasies, had never – John was sure – done anything to deserve treatment like this.  

 

Looking down at Rodney’s chest, he noticed Rodney’s shirt had been torn or cut.  John pulled the light a little closer.  The edges of a large purple bruise rose like the tip of an iceberg from the tear in Rodney’s shirt.  John wondered what other injuries lay beneath the clothing.  Lying Rodney back down, John grasped the shirt in both hands and pulled, rending the fabric.  Splotches of dried blood littered Rodney’s chest.  John immediately felt for swelling.  He pressed slightly on the outer curve of the ribs checking for any obvious sign of breaks or fractures.  He was relieved to learn there were no other open wounds.  The blood must have come from Rodney's face.  It was then that John noticed Rodney’s eye was open, but not focused on anything in particular.  John bent over Rodney.  He brought the lamp a little closer.  Rodney’s pupil contracted slightly.

 

He carefully gripped Rodney's chin and turned Rodney's head so he could see John.

 

“Rodney?  It’s Sheppard.  It’s going to be okay, buddy.  Can you talk to me?

 

Rodney seemed to be trying to focus on Sheppard’s face.  John noticed that Rodney was clammy and the hair around his ears and back of his neck was wet, but who wouldn’t be drenched in sweat in this heat.  John tried to remember what he could about shock from his training. 

 

But something about the way Rodney looked reminded John of the time Rodney insisted on exploring "just one more" room in the nether sections of Atlantis.  John had been talking to Rodney when all of a sudden Rodney stopped responding.  He was seated before a control console just staring straight ahead.  His hair had been wet then too, along with the entire front of his shirt.  He hadn't seemed to recognize John.  Carson had later confirmed a low blood sugar attack.  Since then, glucose tablets and glucogon emergency kits had been standard equipment for his team. 

 

Looking at his watch, John calculated how long it might have been since Rodney had eaten anything, if he'd only had breakfast and forgotten to snack.  Almost seven hours.  Even with his injuries, John thought, Rodney probably hadn’t lost enough blood to be in hypovolemic shock.  His pulse seemed okay -- so John was betting on a low blood sugar attack.  The level of unresponsiveness probably meant Rodney's blood sugar had dropped dangerously low.  John clawed inside his tac vest for the glucogon.  It would bring Rodney the quickest recovery.  

 

John cradled Rodney’s head in his lap.  His hands shook slightly as he pushed the liquid from the syringe into the vial containing the glucogon powder.  He turned the vial over and over to mix it and filled the syringe.  Exposing the meaty part of Rodney's upper arm, John punctured the skin with the injector.  The only thing he could do now was wait.  John felt some relief spread through him.  Even though Rodney looked a mess, John didn't believe his injuries were that severe and the glucogon always produced a predictable result, even though Rodney might be a bit disoriented for a while.

 

Not knowing how long Rodney may have been kept there in the shack, John considered the possibility of heat exhaustion and dehydration.  Now that he was fairly certain Rodney wasn't in shock or suffering from any other serious injury, the next order of business was to get some water into him.

 

John reached for his canteen.  He poured a little of the water into his hand.  It was not very cool, but it would have to do.  He dribbled the water over Rodney's chest in an effort to bring down his temperature.  Dirt and blood trickled down Rodney's sides.  John lifted the canteen to Rodney's lips.  The first drops ran over and dripped to the ground.  John tried again and this time Rodney was able to open his mouth and swallow – a few precious sips at a time.

 

Without warning, John felt bile rise in his throat, along with an aberrant sense of anger.  Jesus, who would do something like this to McKay – and why?  John noticed a small bit of spittle dripping down Rodney’s chin.  He wiped it away with his thumb.  Rodney appeared to turn his head and press the unmarked side of his face into John’s palm.  It was a small, insignificant movement, maybe even an unconscious one, but it stopped John cold.  Seconds later, the warmth seemed to bleed into John’s palm, up his arm and throughout his body.

 

John looked at his watch again.  Already, Rodney was beginning to twitch and shift on the ground.  John was worried.  If this was an ambush, they should have been besieged by now.  They had precious little time to waste. 

 

"Rodney, can you hear me?  McKay?  It's Sheppard."

 

Rodney began to roll his head back and forth.  His hands pushed at the ground.  John helped him to sit.  He leaned Rodney back against his chest.  The first sounds from Rodney were, predictably, groans of pain.  Anger welled up in John again as he watched Rodney try to push himself up to sit on his own.  John heard Rodney hiss and saw him clutch at his right side.  John thought of cracked ribs.  If so, it was going to be hard enough to get Rodney out of this squalid shack and back to the jumpers without risking injury to his lungs.  Unfortunately, the size of the clearing wouldn't let them bring the jumper. 

 

“Sheppard?  John?”  Rodney slurred.  His voice was weak and sounded as if his tongue had grown two sizes, but John almost buckled with relief at hearing it.

 

Rodney hardly ever used his first name.  The sound of it was nice.

 

“Yeah, Rodney, it’s John,” he said as he helped Rodney to sit.  “How about you?  Do you know where you are?  How you got here?”

 

Rodney groaned in pain again.  Reflexively, he brought his hands to his face before John could stop him and whimpered as his fingers touched raw skin.

 

“Oh god," Rodney said. “what happened?”

 

“You don’t know?” John asked.

 

Rodney took a deep breath and exhaled.  He didn't answer.

 

“Okay, Rodney.  Start from the beginning?  Do you remember how you got here?”

 

“By jumper.” Rodney said seriously.

 

John stared at Rodney, trying to figure out if he was being obtuse on purpose or if he was still pretty much out of it.

 

“Not how you got to the planet Rodney.  How did you get here?” John waved his hand around in the air, then pointed at Rodney, “and who did this to you?”

 

Rodney shook his head.  He looked like he was trying to remember. 

 

John suddenly thought of the power bars he was carrying.  Now that Rodney was conscious, he needed to eat something – maybe that would help.  John jerked open another flap on his tac vest.  Rodney immediately recoiled as the loud zzthwack of the Velcro rent through the silence. 

 

“Oh, god, Rodney, I’m sorry.  It’s okay – it's okay."  He was going for a soothing tone, but his panic and anger worked to make it harder than it should have been.

 

“Rodney?” John said as he placed his hand solidly on Rodney’s shoulder.  “We’re gonna get you out of here, but first I need for you to eat something. You haven’t eaten since this morning have you?”

 

“Sheppard?” 

 

“That’s right Rodney,” John said reassuringly, “here, you need to eat this.”  John had pinched off a small piece of the power bar and was holding it to Rodney’s mouth.

 

Rodney made a weak effort to shrug John off.

 

“Okay, okay,” John said and put the power bar in Rodney’s hand, “here -- you gotta eat something.  C’mon Rodney.  It’ll help.  We’ve got to get you out of here.  I don’t feel too good about the fact that we’ve been able to spend so much time –”

 

“Sheppard, you okay in there?” Ronon’s voice through the back of the little hut startled John.  “We need to get out of here.” Ronon sounded antsy.

 

“Rodney, I need to go talk to Ronon. I’ll come right back.”  Rodney grabbed John's arm.  “Okay?  Right back.  I’m not leaving – not without you,” John assured him.  He wasn’t sure if Rodney understood him -- he still seemed a little unfocused.  Just in case, he squeezed Rodney’s hand reassuringly.

 

John got up and made his way out of the hole in the wall.  The bright sunlight hurt his eyes and he raised his hand as a shield against it.  Teyla was still on watch ahead of him.  Off to his left, he saw one of the Marines patrolling as well.

 

"We need to buy a little time,” John told Ronon.  “Rodney’s in pretty bad shape.”

 

“It's too easy," Ronon said at once.  "We need to get him out of here.”

 

“Yeah, I've been thinking the same thing.”  John was even more convinced as each second passed.  “I just need five more minutes.  At least he’s conscious; hopefully he can move out on his own.”  John eyed Ronon ruefully, “Otherwise, one of us will have to carry him back to the jumper.”

 

Ronon looked thoughtful, “Yeah, okay," he mumbled.

 

“You guys just keep watch out there," John said.  "If that guard even twitches, you stun him again and any other pain-in-the-ass that happens to show up, got it?”

 

Ronon appeared happy at the prospect of getting to shoot something.  He playfully spun his blaster, “Got it.”

 

John turned as the sound of heavy footfall moved back around to the front of the shack.

 

 

****************

 

 

He returned and sat down beside Rodney, who was pinching off pieces of the power bar and putting them into the left side of his mouth, chewing carefully. 

 

John winced.  “Rodney, do you know who did this to you?”

 

Rodney seemed to nod and shake his head at the same time.  He appeared to be trying to decide whether to answer or put another bit of the power bar in his mouth.  John scrubbed his hand over his face.  He would have to be patient with Rodney.

 

“It was because I didn’t talk.” Rodney said around a mouthful of power bar. 

 

 “I said. I didn’t talk, this time.” Rodney repeated when John looked at him blankly.  “Didn’t tell them what they wanted to know.” Rodney tried to smile; it sounded to John as if he were boasting.

 

John grabbed Rodney’s arm and let go like he'd been burned as Rodney winced.  John looked, and for the first time realized that Rodney’s jacket was haphazardly wrapped around his arm. 

 

“Who, Rodney?  Who was it?  What did they want to know?” John asked.

 

Rodney shrugged, “Wanted to know about you.  Wanted to know why you weren’t with us.  I didn’t tell them,” Rodney repeated.

 

Realization seized John’s gut.  Rodney had taken this beating to protect him.  Sure, Rodney had toughened a little over time, but still, if it came down to threat of actual physical harm, John had always figured Rodney would cave.  Rodney’s plaintiveness from that morning drifted through John’s thoughts again, followed by John's own terse denial and dismissal.  He closed his eyes against the roiling in his stomach.  

 

“How many were there?” John asked as he carefully unwrapped the makeshift bandage.  He wondered absently if Rodney had kept quiet to try and impress him.  The wound uncovered, John stared at it.  An icy foreboding crept through him.  He looked back to Rodney.

 

“Not many,” Rodney said finally, “two or three.”

 

“Let’s see if we can do a little better than this,” John said, holding up Rodney’s jacket.  

 

With more care, John took a field dressing out of his vest pocket and proceeded to dress the wound.  His hand shook just a bit while tying it off – his foreboding threatened to escalate into full panic.

 

*********************

 

The wound properly dressed, John took a moistened wipe from his vest.  He wanted to wipe away some of the dried blood on Rodney’s chest and face.  As he did so, he was suddenly aware of their proximity to one another.  Rodney seemed to sense it as well.  Rodney tried to edge away, but ended up losing his balance.  John had to throw his arms around him to keep him from falling over.

 

John saw Rodney’s face and neck flush and suddenly his skin felt warm.  Maybe it was the glucose kicking in.  John was aware of his own pulse quickening - the heat rising in him, too.   

 

There was a splotch of blood on Rodney’s chin and John daubed at it with the wipe.  Rodney's lips caught John's eye.  They seemed to be altogether untouched, though there was a tiny bit of blood there too.  John gently rubbed his thumb over the corner of Rodney’s mouth.  Out of left field, John found himself wondering if Rodney’s lips were as soft as they looked.  Absently, John swept his thumb over Rodney's full lower lip.  John stared. 

 

“Colonel?”  Rodney’s voice sounded soft and unsure.

 

John raised his eyes to Rodney, his thumb still poised near those lips.

 

Rodney’s good eye began to widen, but he didn't look away.  For a moment, there was no sound.  No breathing.  Time seemed to have stopped.

 

The sound of gunfire rent through the air, startling John from the cocoon where for a moment only he and Rodney existed. 

 

Rodney’s hands instinctively flew to his head.  Just as instinctively, John covered Rodney with his body, pushing him back to the ground.  John ducked his head and threw a leg over Rodney.  He could hear the automatic fire from the P-90’s and gripped Rodney tighter as he heard foot steps running past the shack.

 

John couldn’t tell how long the gunfire had lasted.  It ended as abruptly as it started.  He waited a few more seconds.  When all was quiet, he extricated himself from Rodney and helped him to sit up.

 

“You okay?”  John asked, his chest heaving.  His ears rang slightly from the report of the weapons.

 

“Yeah, yeah.  I think so.”

 

“Sheppard!” Ronon scrambled through the hole in the wall.  “We need to go, now!  Can he move?” Ronon nodded toward Rodney.  A brief flash of revulsion clouded Ronon's face as he got a first glimpse of Rodney.

 

John ignored Ronon.  “Do you think you can stand?” John asked Rodney softly.

 

“Standing? Maybe,” Rodney said.  "Walking?  I'm not sure."  Rodney was still a little shaky.

 

John held out his hands to help Rodney.  But Ronon was stepping over John.  He gently pulled Rodney to a standing position.  John watched as Ronon gingerly helped Rodney through the hole and out into the sunlight. 

 

Teyla was a few paces away sweeping her weapon back and forth in the direction of the interior.  She froze in her motion as soon as she saw Rodney.  Her eyes widened a bit before softening in a look of concern.  She immediately steeled herself and continued her sweep.

 

Before Sheppard could ask about Lorne, the Major’s voice rang out.  “Colonel Sheppard!”

 

Lorne was at the edge of the clearing across from the entrance to the shack.  The other two Marines were sweeping the area behind Lorne.

 

“Let’s go,” John muttered.  He grabbed Rodney's left arm and pulled it around his shoulders.  Grasping Rodney’s waist, they walked between Teyla in front and Ronon at the rear.

 

A few paces inside the foliage, John released Rodney and sat him down.  “Ronon,” he said in a tone that was meant to indicate Rodney was his responsibility.

 

John then followed Lorne several more paces into the herbage.  Lorne stopped and turned.  There, lying on the ground was what looked like a soldier.  John cut his eyes at Lorne, his eyebrows raised.

 

“I checked.  He’s dead.”  Lorne said.

 

“What do you figure, Major?”

 

“Only two others that we actually saw, besides him,” Lorne said nodding toward the body.  “Couldn’t have been many more.  I think Teyla hit one of them, there’s a little blood just over there – the same direction they ran off in.”  Lorne pointed his P-90 in a northwesterly direction.

 

Squatting down to get a better look, John recognized the jacket but noted it was extremely worn and the man was wearing regular surplus type pants.  He also recognized the weapon lying on the mossy ground near the body.  It was almost identical to the one the guard had.  John looked up.

 

“Genii?”

 

“Looks like, sir.  No question about the weapons anyway,” Lorne answered.

 

John took the gun and rose to his feet.  “Nope, definitely Genii.”

 

He hadn't really made the connection with the guard, mainly because the guard hadn't worn a uniform.  After all, the weapon could have been stolen or traded.  But the presence of another Genii weapon and more men did not bode well. 

 

John looked back at the body.  He couldn’t shake the feeling that this man was familiar somehow – he just couldn’t figure why.  John handed the gun to Lorne.  His face was still, his brows furrowed.

 

“We need to get back to the gate.” 

 

John tapped his earpiece, hoping they were still in range.  It didn’t matter anymore if anyone heard them – they knew they were there.

 

“This is Sheppard.  Stockton?  Something I need you to do.”

 

****************

 

“Rodney, you need to move faster,” John said, trying not to sound too exasperated.  His arm circling Rodney’s waist once again, he was doing all he could to hurry Rodney along.

 

“I’m doing the best I can,” Rodney whined, “my chest is on fire here.”  His breathing was shallow and rapid.

 

John felt a stab of regret.  Damn it, he knew Rodney was doing the best he could – it just wasn’t good enough.  Rodney’s back was soaked with sweat – John could smell the pungently sweet odor from underneath Rodney’s arm.  He turned and saw sweat trickling down from his temple and behind his ear.  John knew the salty fluid dripping onto the raw skin couldn't be pleasant. 

 

Once they had gotten Rodney out of the shack, out in the sunlight, Rodney hadn't looked so gruesome.  John had managed to clean a lot of the blood away and that had helped.  John knew Rodney was still a little disoriented and possibly in some pain, but John was curious to see how much mileage Rodney would try to get out of his injuries.

 

“You okay?” he asked Rodney.

 

“Yeah,” Rodney panted, “just hard to take a deep breath.”

 

“Yeah, well, you might have a few cracked ribs there.  Don't worry, Carson’ll fix you up.  ‘Course, he might be fresh out of live chickens and fetishes.” John said looking sideways at Rodney.  John flashed him a smile.  It felt odd, like he hadn’t smiled in ages.

 

Rodney barked out a laugh and immediately winced in pain.  Reluctantly, John let him slow up just a little.

 

John looked around at his team.  Lorne was on point with Teyla and Ronon at their six.  The Marines were off on either side in the undergrowth.  John knew what each one was thinking – their only mission now, at this moment, was to get Rodney back to Atlantis.  It made John feel proud.  After Ford, he had doubted they would find that cohesiveness again.  He couldn't have been more wrong.  If anything, his team was even stronger than he had hoped. 

 

****************

 

"Dr. Weir it’s nice to hear your voice again, what can I do--”

 

Ladon Radim’s greeting was cut short by a concerned and impatient Dr. Weir.  She had not been happy at all to hear Lieutenant Stockton's report that John believed Rodney had been taken prisoner by the Genii. 

 

“I’m sorry, Ladon,” she interrupted, “but this isn't a social call. We have a situation here and I was hoping you would be able to help us.”

 

“Of course, Dr. Weir, but what type of situation could the Genii possibly help you with?” Ladon asked.

 

“Earlier today, my chief scientist was taken prisoner on M7X-427.  Colonel Sheppard and his team were fortunately able to rescue him, although they've not yet made it back to Atlantis.  The team met with some resistance and Colonel Sheppard seems to think the Genii are involved.  Can you explain this, Ladon?

 

“Excuse me, Dr. Weir,” Ladon said patiently, “You are under the impression that the Genii captured and held Dr. McKay?  Let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth.  What possible reason would we have for doing such a thing?”

 

Ladon listened intently as Elizabeth related the circumstances of Rodney’s disappearance and the subsequent message from Colonel Sheppard.  For all that Ladon tried to look sympathetic but resolute, his eyes betrayed him.  Elizabeth saw his worry and concern. 

 

Ladon was quiet for a long moment following her explanation.

 

“Dr. Weir, as you know there are bands of loyalists spread out across the galaxy – to escape punishment -- to attempt to regroup.  Some of these bands are Cowen loyalists and some, for whatever reason, remain loyal to Kolya.”  Ladon broke eye contact with Elizabeth for a split second, but it was enough for a seasoned negotiator to notice.

 

 

***************

 

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