This takes place after the episode "Trinity" in the second season, but is not really an episode tag. There are a couple of references to things said in the episode.

Disclaimer: I have no legal rights to Stargate Atlantis characters or anything else.

Chapter 1

Rodney McKay slowly came to a stop and bent over, hands on his thighs, gasping for air. He absolutely could not run another foot, he didn't care who was chasing them. He heard Sheppard slow to a stop beside him. They stood like that, gasping and catching their breath, for several minutes. Sheppard started to take a step forward and weaved a little bit, bumping into McKay's arm. McKay took hold of Sheppard's upper arm and placed his other hand on his back, guiding him towards a large tree. There he helped the colonel turn and slide down into a sitting position, his back against the rough tree trunk.

"Thanks," Sheppard managed to say between breaths.

McKay stood and looked at him for a minute before saying anything. Mostly he was looking at the arrow sticking out of Sheppard's right shoulder, an ever widening circle of blood staining the area around the entry site. He kneeled in front of Sheppard. "Do you think we lost them?"

Sheppard nodded. "I haven't seen or heard them in a while. I think the run down the stream helped. We should be okay for a few minutes." He looked McKay right in the eyes. He needed McKay to understand and agree. "You've got to get the arrow out. I can't run around the woods like this."

McKay was already shaking his head. "Oh, no. I'm not a doctor or a field medic. I'll do a lot more damage than good. We'll circle around back to the stargate and let Beckett have the honor. That's what we pay him for."

Sheppard's expression did not change. "No, Rodney. I can't wait that long. Look, I'm going to be straight with you because I need you to understand the situation. I should have stopped bleeding by now. It's not gushing or anything, so it didn't hit an artery, but I think I may have nicked something bigger than a capillary. If we don't get a pressure bandage on this thing soon, I'm going to bleed out before we make it to the stargate. I can't do that with the arrow there. I need you Rodney. Don't let me down."

Rodney winced, remembering a time not so long ago he had assured Sheppard that he could trust him and he would not let him down. And then he had. Actually, he'd blown up most of a solar system and almost taken them with it. He could see determination in the man's face. He had promised to regain Sheppard's trust. This was a chance to start.

"What do you want me to do?"

Sheppard smiled. "Nothing to it. Do you have a knife?"

McKay's face went white and he broke out in a cold sweat. "A...a...a ...knife?"

"Relax, McKay. I just want you to cut the vest enough I can get it off my arm."

McKay let his breath out so fast, he made himself slightly dizzy. "Oh...yeah...I knew that." He dug around and found his knife. "Got it!" He tried to cut away the fabric as gently as he could, but a certain amount of tugging was necessary. He grit his teeth together as he heard Sheppard inhale sharply. "Sorry."

When he had finished, he pulled the vest carefully down Sheppard's arm. The whole right side of the vest and Sheppard's tee shirt underneath were wet with blood. The clothing was so dark that McKay had not realized how heavily Sheppard was bleeding. "Why didn't you tell me it was this bad?"

"I don't know. I seem to have a hard time carrying on a conversation while running for my life through a thick forest with an arrow in my shoulder. Just a me thing, I guess."

"Oh, that's funny. If you bleed to death, I am not carrying your smart ass self back to the gate. I'll leave you here to get...eaten by the natives."

"I don't think they're cannibals, McKay, they're just pissed at us. Now take a deep breath and get a grip. It's going to be okay."

McKay nodded. "Okay. I'm okay. What next?"

"I basically need you to cut the sleeve out, but I need you to cut back far enough that you cut out around the arrow."

McKay nodded he understood. "You realize this is going to hurt."

Sheppard really wanted to say something sarcastic, but McKay was looking a little green around the gills, so he decided to play nice. "I's okay. We've got to do this."

McKay nodded again and swallowed hard. Sheppard was starting to get worried because they hadn't gotten to the hard part yet. It took McKay several minutes, but he finally got the fabric cut and torn away. He noticed Sheppard was starting to grow pale and his face was covered with a film of sweat.

"You okay? We can stop for a minute." McKay suggested.

"No. Let's do it before I lose my nerve." McKay really looked worried at that. "Check my back. I don't think the arrow went all the way through."

McKay leaned forward and looked down Sheppard's back. "No, it didn't go all the way through."

"I was afraid of that. Well, I can tell it's almost all the way through. It's going to be easier going out the back than the front." He pulled his gun out of the holster and pushed it toward McKay. McKay looked terrified.

"What do you expect me to do with this?"

"Well not shoot me, if that's what you think. Jeez, McKay, calm down. I need you to be calm and focused for this. I want you take the butt of the gun, line it up straight as you can, and hit the bottom of the arrow. You've got to hit it hard enough to pushthe arrowall the way through. I'd prefer we do it straight and hard enough to do it on the first try. I don't really want to sit here while you hammer it through slowly."

McKay just sat there staring at Sheppard with his mouth slightly open. Finally, he managed to say, "'ve got to be kidding. I can't do that."

Sheppard looked at McKay firmly. "McKay, I understand. I honestly do. But I need you to look at how much blood I've lost and think about how long it will take us to get back to the gate. I can't keep bleeding like this and live. It's as simple as that. I need you McKay...and I trust you. You can do this."

McKay looked at Sheppard's shirt. Even though it was black, you could see the line of saturation. Almost the whole front and side of his shirt was saturated and beginning to leach onto the top of his pants. The glistening of the area around the wound told him that fresh blood was still flowing. Sheppard was right. They had to get pressure on it and soon. And Sheppard said he trusted him. "Right. Okay, I'll do it. Let me know when you're ready."

Sheppard smiled weakly at him. "Thanks! Just try to go straight and hard."

McKay tried to smile back. "I won't let you down."

Sheppard nodded, closed his eyes, and held his breath. This was going to hurt. "Ready." He hoped he didn't sound as shaky as he felt.

McKay was terrified he would hit the arrow crooked or too hard or not hard enough. But he mustered all his courage, lined up the butt of the gun, and hit the base of the arrow. Sheppard had clenched his jaw tightly to muffle the cry he knew would come and his good hand held the wadded up bottom of his shirt in a death grip. His head was leaned back against the tree trunk and he was gasping for air. McKay put his hand on Sheppard's good shoulder to help steady him. Sheppard's eyes opened to slits. "Please...tell ...went...through."

McKay leaned forward and looked, sighing with relief. The head of the arrow was now visible, completely through the back of his shoulder. Blood streamed down his back. "It's okay. It's through."

Sheppard sighed, visibly relieved. "Good. Break the arrow and pull it out."

McKay broke the shaft of the arrow and then pulled the remainer of theit through Sheppard's shoulder, concern for his friend etched in his expression. "I got it. It's out. Are you okay?" Sheppard was white as a ghost and panting shallowly.

"McKay...sick..." McKay caught on quickly and helped Sheppard lean over so that when he vomited, it didn't get all over his clothes. It was bad enough to be covered in blood. He sure didn't want to have to smell returned lunch the next several hours. When the heaving stopped, McKay helped Sheppard back to sitting in front of the tree.

"Well, that's a heck of way to say thank you. I'm not sure helping you is worth the trouble. But...I guess I will anyway. It's not like anyone else will put up with you." McKay began pulling bandages out of the pockets of his vest.

Sheppard looked up at him weakly, a small smile forming on the barely conscious man. "Thanks." he whispered softly.

"No problem."