Chapter 5

Rodney sat on the floor, his eyes closed, concentrating on taking short, shallow breaths. The transporter was unbelievably warm, and he was drenched in sweat. Next to him, her breathing more like a gasp, was Sonya. She hadn't moved in the last half hour, and Rodney stirred enough to crack open an eye to check on her.

Her face was deathly pale, and he could see her straining to breathe in the thick, humid air. The water bottle lay at her side, empty. Rodney ran a dry tongue over his lips, his body crying out for water as well as fresh air.

It had been at least four hours since they had sent their message, and Rodney knew they only had minutes left. His initial fear of the confined space had dwindled into a morbid acceptance that they were going to die in this little room. Rather than becoming panicked, Rodney was surprised to feel only a sad sort of regret. They had tried to do what they could to escape this fate; their lives were now in the hands of the others. Rodney wasn't sure their message had been received, or that there was even anyone to receive the message. Now, he thought, it doesn't really matter.

"McKay?" He opened his other eye, and tried to focus on Sonya. Lord, he was dizzy. He felt her slide closer to him, then she took his hand. The movement caused her to start coughing, and she bent over, her lungs desperately trying to pull in air. Alarmed, Rodney leaned towards, horrified to see her lips turning blue.

She waved him away, her coughing gradually becoming a wheezing, then slowly coming under control. She gripped his hand tightly, then turned to him.

"Thanks for trying, Rodney. You were great," she whispered. He saw her smile, then her eyes closed. He tightened his grip on her hand, relieved that he wasn't going to die completely alone. Shutting his eyes, he felt his head slide down, coming to rest on Sonya's shoulder. Then nothing.

"Rodney! Rodney! Come on lad, breathe! Come on." The harried voice of Dr. Carson Beckett echoed down the hallway. He was frantically strapping an oxygen mask onto the unresponsive physicist. Dr. Stein was administering the same procedure to Sonya. Neither one was breathing, and both Rodney and Sonya's lips and fingers were tinged blue.

Dr. Weir, Colonel Sheppard and Dr. Zelenka looked on, their faces revealing their fear. With Carson and his trauma team standing by, they had finally opened the doors to transporter one.

The sight that had met their eyes had been shocking: Rodney was lying with his head resting on a woman's shoulder, her hand clasped tightly in his. Both appeared to be sleeping peacefully, until Carson had started pounding on Rodney's chest. No heartbeat. No pulse.

Now, Elizabeth and the others watched as Carson had Rodney lifted on to a gurney, still pumping oxygen into the lifeless doctor's body. Calling out for adrenaline, Carson and his team raced down to the medical lab, the Scottish doctor continuously pounding on the scientist's chest. Directly behind Carson was Stein, also performing CPR on the woman.

Elizabeth reached out and grabbed John's hand, her eyes revealing her distress. He returned the look, then tugged her in the direction of the sick bay. If Rodney wasn't going to make it….John quickly tossed the thought away. Rodney always made it. That was his charm.

Rodney felt cold. Which was strange, because it had been stifling in the transporter. He heard something weird, too. Beeping, maybe. Keeping his eyes closed, he did an internal survey of his body, and decided that being dead was just as painful as being alive. He hadn't figured on that.

Sonya. Where was she? He pried his eyes open, shutting them again immediately at the brightness. White light. Well, at least he made it to heaven. After all he'd done on Atlantis, he'd damn well better.

"Welcome back, Dr. McKay." Rodney reopened his eyes at the sound of Carson's gentle Scottish voice. The doctor sat next to his bed, exhausted but smiling. "We got your message, although we already knew where you were."

"Sonya." Rodney's voice barely came out as a croak, and Carson leaned forward, a frown on his face. He reached over, taking a glass of water, plopped a straw in it, and held it to Rodney's mouth.

The scientist slurped in a mouthful, his eyes grateful. He leaned back down, then tried again.

"Sonya. Is she…?" Rodney couldn't continue. He didn't want to think about another death on his hands, especially not hers. If she hadn't been in the transporter with him, lugging all that stuff around, he would've never been able to send a message for help. And he would've died…alone.

"She's okay. See?" Carson backed up a little, and Rodney focused his eyes on the next bed. Sonya was there, sleeping, her breathing a little harsh.

Rodney closed his eyes in relief. They were alive…both of them. His mind at peace, he felt blessed sleep rise up and take him.

Rodney McKay waited at the transporter, impatiently checking his watch. What was the problem this time?

He had meticulously gone over Radek's work, and, finally, agreed that the entire transporter system was now restored to normal. Still, this was the first time he was riding it. Alone.

He looked to his right as someone walked up to the transporter, and his eyes widened in surprise.

"Hey Dr. McKay."

"Hey yourself, Miss Davidovich. I trust you're well?" Rodney scrutinized the dark-haired nurse, relieved that she had lost the pallid look. It had taken her a bit longer to recover than Rodney, and he had been worried.

"Just peachy," Sonya said. She tugged her backpack up on to her shoulder, and Rodney gave her a half-smile.

"Exploring?" he asked, and she nodded in response. His warnings about wandering around Atlantis alone were waylaid by the arrival of Radek Zelenka, who was also carrying a small backpack. Rodney's gaze switched between the two, and he stifled a knowing smile.

"Radek," Rodney greeted. Sonya grinned shyly at the Czech scientist.

"Rodney," Zelenka replied, a light pink blush staining his cheeks. Rodney just shook his head.

"Got everything you need?" he teased, and Sonya smiled in reply.

"Of course," she said. "Someone even repaired my I-pod." She slipped off her headset, and placed the headphones around her neck.

They all turned as the transporter doors slid open, and, with obvious reluctance, Rodney stepped inside. He turned, surprised they hadn't followed.

"Aren't you coming?" Rodney watched as Sonya mulled over his question, then shook her head.

"I think I'll take the next one, Dr. McKay. Thanks anyway. Oh, by the way, I have something for you," she added, tossing a small bag at him as the doors shut.

Rodney awkwardly caught the bag, and started to smile as he identified the contents. Humming happily, he waved his hand over the control panel, feeling the transporter start to move. Then, he reached into the bag, and with a happy sigh, pulled out an Oreo and stuffed it in his mouth.

The End