Just my idea of what might have happened immediately after The Defiant One from Season One.

Special thanks to Espiritu for leading me to this site in the first place and for answering my many annoying questions about how to post a story. I am forever in your debt.

Since this is my first story, I'm sure it's riddled with problems and I apologize for that in advance. At some point, however, you just have to jump in and hope you can swim. This is me holding my nose and jumping in.

The Long Trip Home - Chapter One

Ford and Sheppard stood in the hot sun baking as they watched McKay trying to disable the wraith-constructed shield surrounding Jumper One. They had actually managed to find part of the wraith's wrist mechanism that was used to control the shield. Sheppard didn't think it was necessary to mention to McKay that the device had still been attached to a small section of arm when he found it. Although he had been sorely tempted to take the whole lot back to McKay, he decided in the end that he was just too tired and too sore to deal with the aftermath of such an act. He had carefully separated the device from what was left of its owner and taken it to McKay. McKay had muttered "Good boy", patted him on the head like the family dog, and immediately gone to work. He really hated it when people messed with his hair.

Sheppard watched McKay quietly and intently. He could feel sweat running across his tired, sore muscles. Every inch of him seemed to ache and his ribs, hip, and arm were really throbbing. None of that seemed important at the moment. McKay was way too quiet. He had to be exhausted and starving - yet he had not uttered one complaint. Something was definitely wrong.

Sheppard stepped forward and put his hand on McKay's shoulder. "You did everything you could. He was just too far gone when we got to him. It's not your fault."

McKay stopped working, but did not look at Sheppard. He couldn't. He was too ashamed. His one task had been to watch over Gaul while Sheppard battled the wraith for all their survival. He had failed miserably.

"Isn't it?" he whispered quietly. Sheppard recognized the heavy mantle of guilt that McKay wore. He had been there himself on several occations. He was fairly sure there was nothing he could say to lighten it.

McKay turned to look at Sheppard. He knew Sheppard just wanted to help, but he wasn't ready for that yet. "This is going to take a few minutes and you're not helping by breathing down my neck." he said in his best attempt at his normal demeanor. "I'm probably getting skin cancer as we speak and you are starting to get on my last nerve. If you'd like us to get home while you are still young enough to father children, I'd suggest you quit annoying me. Teyla?"

Teyla stepped out of the back of Jumper Two, which was parked in the sand next to Jumper One. "You require my assistance?"

"Yes," said McKay. "Could you possibly get Major Sheppard out of my hair? Maybe you could clean up his arm. It looks filthy. I wonder what kind of bacteria they have on this planet. You've probably got a thriving infection as we speak. Beckett will probably have to cut..."

"Okay, McKay!" interrupted Sheppard. He rolled his eyes and sighed loudly. "Sheesh! I'm leaving already. Just do what you can." He paused a moment before adding, "Thanks again." Their eyes met for only a second, but carried a conversation of understanding.

McKay paused and watched as Sheppard walked slowly and carefully through the back hatch of Jumper Two. Their little adventure hadn't gone so well. Two men dead. Two men hurting. At least they were alive. McKay went back to work.

Teyla immediately noticed that Major Sheppard was walking very gingerly, as if trying not to jar himself. Was he limping slightly? She would have to find more subtle ways than just asking to find out. His standard response, no matter what was wrong. was always "I'm fine" or "I'm good". Stubborn man.

Teyla got the first aid kit out and took charge. "Sit there," she ordered, pointing to a seat. Sheppard obeyed without comment, suprising her. Maybe this wouldn't be so hard after all. She unwrapped the hastily tied field bandage from his upper left arm.

"Major!" she exclaimed in suprise. There was an entrance and an exit wound. The area around both wound sites was covered in dried blood with a coating of sand. The two open wounds, still damp and oozing blood, were also coated in sand. "How did you get so much sand in here? It looks as though you have purposely packed it in sand." She looked at Sheppard in exasperation. He felt a little like a child being scolded by his mother.

"Well mom, I was a little unsteady on my feet after getting shot. I may have rolled down a sand dune while running away from the wraith."

She had not missed the "mom" comment. She may not understand all the odd things these people from earth said, but the meaning of this one was all too clear. She sighed heavily.

"So once you escaped the wraith, would it have harmed you to pour a little water across it?"

Sheppard pursed his lips, hesitating. There was no way out of this one. "I...guess...I didn't think of that." Now he really felt like a scolded child. He glanced hopefully at the back of the jumper. If only Ford or McKay would rescue him.

"Well," she said, turning back to the first aid kit, "the first thing is to clean the wound. Dr. McKay may be correct about the possibility of infection. Take your shirt off."

She caught him completely off guard. "Excuse me?"

Teyla just looked confused.

He rephrased the question. "What did you just say?"

She sighed yet again. This whole make-you-feel-like-a-kid thing was getting on his nerves. "I said take you shirt off, Major. I need to clean the wound and I can't do that with dirty, bloody shirt sleeves hanging in it"

"Wouldn't it be easier to just cut the sleeve away?" he protested.

"No," she said simply. Her tone said not to argue. Tired, hurting, and still suffering from "scolded kid" syndrome, Sheppard began trying to take off his shirt. She noticed he was in trouble almost immediately. He couldn't lift his arms high enough to pull his shirt over his head. She let him struggle a minute until he finally sat still, his muffled voice pleading from under the shirt.

"Okay, I'm stuck. A little help?" She grabbed the end of his tee shirt and pulled it off. Ford, who had been patrolling outside, poked his head in the back of the jumper.

"Am I interrupting anything?"

Sheppard merely grunted in pain, holding his right arm close to his side as he shot Ford a sideways glance. Teyla draped his sweat laden shirt over a seat to dry. She gasped slightly as she turned back to face him. Ford took a couple of steps up into the jumper.

"Wow, sir. What'd he do to you?"

Heavy bruising had already begun to show on his back, right side, and chest. The marks on his right side dipped down below the top of his pants, probably extending to his hip. That would explain the slight limp. Sheppard grimaced as he shifted positions. "He gave me a couple of flying lessons. No plane included."

Ford imagined he could almost see the outline of the wraith hand in the pattern of the purple/blue bruising on the major's chest. "Quit staring, Ford! You're giving me the creeps. It's just a bruise --- I'm fine."

There it was. Ford and Teyla exchanged a look as Ford backed out of the jumper. "Yes, sir," he said as he returned to guard duty. Teyla continued to look at him.

"What?" he finally said in exasperation. Teyla silently shook her head and began cleaning the wound in his arm.