Chapter Five: Home Away From Home
Major Sheppard paced the balcony above the Stargate. Ford and Teyla had just returned to report that the villagers knew nothing of McKay's whereabouts. It was starting to look truly hopeless, despite all their efforts to find him. Sheppard closed his eyes, fighting back the creeping despair. 'Damn it, McKay! Where are you!'
He felt useless. He hadn't been able to save his friend and he'd spent the last few hours asleep in the infirmary. Sleeping! While Rodney was facing who knows what! Dr. Weir had been adamant that it wasn't his fault, but he didn't believe it. It had been his decision. He had been giving the orders so therefor it was his responsibility.
He turned to see Elizabeth's concerned face. "Are you alright?" she asked.
"Oh just fine," he answered, unable to keep a sarcastic bite from his voice. "Except that one of my team is out there in the hands of the worst enemy in the history of the universe!" He winced. He hadn't meant to take his frustration out on her. "Sorry."
"We're doing everything we can," she said, trying to assure herself as much as him.
"Well it doesn't look like it's enough." He sighed. Neither wanted to admit that they couldn't do anything else. Sheppard found it hard to accept that he might not see the cranky scientist again. Despite all their differences, he had started to think of the man as a friend. He stared mournfully at the silent Stargate. 'Come on, Rodney. Come back to us.'
As if in answer, the gate lit up with a spiral of blue and an explosive blast of water. John ran for the controls so fast that he jarred his hand painfully on its side, but he didn't care.
Peter Grodin stared at the computer screen in shock. "It's Rodney's IDC!"
John's heart leapt, hardly daring to hope. "Let him in!"
"You can't!" Sgt. Bates cried. "This could be a Wraith trick!"
"I'll take that risk!" He reached over and slammed the shield control before the man could argue further.
For an instant nothing happened. Then a Wraith dart screamed through the gate. Soldiers dove frantically out of its way as it crashed into the stairs with a horrible grating sound and a shower of sparks. It kept going until its point smashed halfway through the window across from the gate, shattering the colored glass.
"Raise the shield!" Elizabeth screamed. John didn't hesitate and slammed the button a second time. The barrier had barely been raised, when something large struck it, followed by another before the gate shut down.
For a moment the room was completely still. Then people began to recover. The security team quickly surrounded the dart with their weapons drawn and ready. Sheppard grabbed a gun and a life signs detector before joining the circle of men.
"We got two life signs inside. We'll try to take them alive. Do not fire until ordered to do so," he told them evenly.
For nearly a minute nothing happened and Sheppard was beginning to wonder if the Wraith had been injured in the crash. Then the rear hatch opened and he made out two figures in a haze of smoke and gloom. 'Funny,' he thought, 'they look a little small for Wraith.' Then one of them raised its hands in surrender and spoke in a very familiar, irritated voice: "Hey! I thought you'd be happy to see me!"
Sheppard lowered his gun and nearly laughed with relief. "McKay you little...where have you been!"
"Oh you know...staying alive." He waved his hands dissmissively.
"Rodney, thank god! Are you alright?" Elizabeth asked, coming down the stairs.
"Oh just fine," he said sarcastically. "I'm getting used to near death experiences."
Sheppard grinned. It was McKay alright, still his usual self. "Your driving hasn't improved," he said jokingly.
He crossed his arms in annoyance. "Very funny. But actually she was driving." He jabbed a finger behind him at the second figure.
Sheppard noticed her for the first time. Her eyes were wide and darted about the room, trying to take in everything at once. He smiled and held out his hand to her. "Hi and welcome to Atlantis."
She just stared at him and said nothing. Finally she gave a nod and said: "Thank you." Her voice was soft and quiet and she seemed nervous and uncertain. Sheppard didn't blame her. He had certainly been nervous when he first came to Atlantis. By now, though, he was used to weird things, so it didn't bother him so much.
"What is your name?" Weir asked kindly.
"Well, Ree'an, I think Dr. Beckett should have a look at both of you before we do anything else." She led the way to the infirmary, and introduced her to the other people as they walked. Ree'an continued to stared at the sites around her, as McKay talked about the Wraith and the dart. She didn't understand half of what he was saying, but she was too absorbed in the beautiful city to care. She had never seen a more wonderful and mysterious place and it fascinated her.
In the infirmary, Ree'an was instructed to sit on a bed and wait, while a dark haired man in a white coat, which Dr. Weir called Dr. Beckett, examined McKay. While he worked, they talked about what had happened on the planet. Occasionally they asked her a question, which she tried to answer as best she could. She hadn't spoken this much to other people in long time, and besides she was distracted by all the curious and strange things that were all over the room.
Finally, Dr. Beckett finished with McKay and came over to her. He's speech was different from the others, but not difficult to understand. "Now lassie," he said, "I'm goin' to have a look at you. Nothin' to fret about."
He began by flashing a small bright light into her eyes that made her wince. Then he poked a cold tube briefly in each of her ears and made her open her mouth so he could look inside. This continued for several minutes. She was extremely nervous, but the man kept talking to her in his kind pleasant voice so she let him continue his prodding.
Last of all he brought out a tiny needle on a a clear tube. "I need to take some blood," he told her. "It'll only hurt a little." 'Hurt?' she wondered. 'Why would they hurt me?' Before she could puzzle this out, he stuck the needle into her arm.
She reacted without thinking, and yanked her arm away. She clamped her other hand on the spot where blood had begun to pour and glared at the man in anger and a little fear. "What was that for! I have done you no harm!"
She started to jump off the table, but the one called Major Sheppard stopped her. "Relax!" he said firmly. "We're not trying to hurt you. We just need to make sure your healthy, alright?"
She considered. They had been kind to her so far, and it hadn't hurt that much. She nodded. "Alright." She let the doctor finish and at the end he put a sticky band over the wound. "There," he said. "All done."
X X X
Nearly an hour later, Dr. Weir came out of the briefing to find Ree'an on the outside balcony. The girl was staring out at the wide expanse of water in silent wonder. As Weir moved closer, she jumped. "I'm sorry," she said nervously, as if she expected to be scolded. She started to leave.
"No, wait," Elizabeth held up a hand to stop her. "I need to talk to you."
She nodded, but her eyes wandered back to the sea. In the light breeze her hair waved slightly. She was quite lovely now that she was clean. Her eyes were a deep blue-gray just like the water she enraptured by, and her skin was as pale as Elizabeth's own. The older woman leaned casually on the railing. "It's beautiful isn't it?" she asked.
"Yes," she replied distantly. "So much water. It goes on forever. I have never seen so much before."
Dr. Weir smiled. "Do you like it here?"
She nodded. "It is so magnificent and so big and so full of amazing things. I will be sorry to leave it."
"Actually, Ree'an, we just discussed it and we want you to stay."
She stared at her in shock, hardly able to believe what she was hearing. "Truly? You do?"
"Truly." She was slightly taken aback by her reaction. "Of course if you don't want to, you don't have to. It's your decision."
"I do want to." She turned back to the rolling waves. "I'm just not sure if I deserve it."
Weir was aghast. "Of course you do. Without you Rodney would be dead right now, and as I understand it, you could easily been captured as well. If anyone deserves our friendship, it's you."
Ree'an smiled happily. "Then I will stay. It will be a great honor." She bowed, still smiling.
Weir smiled back. "Good. I'm glad. Major Sheppard wants to give you a tour of the city, or at least as much as we've explored." She turned to go, but stopped suddenly. "Ree'an, why did you rescue McKay? You risked your life for a complete stranger, that doesn't seem to make sense."
Ree'an shrugged. "My old teacher would say I wasn't thinking straight, but the way I see it, we're not that different. You, me, my people, your people, we're all just food to the Wraith. We're all human. When it comes down to it, we're all the same."
Dr. Weir smiled again. She was going to like this girl. "Come on," she said. "Let's get you settled in."
AN: Thank you so much for all the reviews! I'm glad you enjoyed the story so much. It makes me so happy! I do hope to write a sequal, so please tell me what you think. Especially let me know of any ideas; I would love suggestions!