Title: Just Breathe

Author: imskysmom

Author's e-mail: URL: http/imskysmom. October 16, 2005

Feedback: yes please but flames will be incinerated

Archive: SGAHC, Wraithbait, Fanfiction, anyone else please ask first

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category: Gen

Rating: K+

Summary: Tag for Lost Boys

Beta: Tammy, Goo and Jill – my heroes!

Season/Episode: Season Two

Spoilers: Lost Boys

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the rights to "Stargate: Atlantis" or the characters but I can dream

Author's notes: Any mistakes are all mine and are on purpose – so there!

McKay looked down at his shaking hands. He could feel the trembling all over his body, even in his lips. He rubbed his hand over his mouth, smearing the drops of sweat over his lips until they were sticky dry. Taking a deep breath, he again picked up the tools, if they could be called that, and began again trying to coax the delicate filaments through a narrow channel, trying to convince Wraith dart technology to merge with the Genii computer parts Ford's men had stolen. The light Jace held jittered in flashes off the polished metal and pierced his eyes. He tried to still his hands and chanted under his breath, 'fix the dart, fly home, fix the dart, fly home,' making sure his mantra was quiet enough to go unnoticed by(don't know his name? LOL) ME NEITHER! Jace.

"Having trouble?"

McKay closed his eyes. It was Barrett. He'd taken a particular dislike to McKay from the beginning and something about him catapulted McKay mentally back to high school, being tortured by the football jocks. He crowded Jace out of the way, shouldering the smaller man aside easily. He had a strange accent unlike the other men.

"I'd'a thought you'd be done with that by now, smart as you say you are," he said, peering over the scientist's head, his breath hot on McKay's scalp where the hair was thinning.

"Do you mind?" snapped McKay, wheeling around in the cockpit of the dart to glare into the man's jowly face. Barrett had been taking the enzyme nearly as long as Ford, being one of the first to join the former Special Ops soldier in his lost cause. The thin line between sanity and madness had begun to blur for him, as it had for Ford. It was obvious Barrett had been hoping for an opportunity like this.

He giggled and it was incongruously high-pitched. "Why yes, little man, I do," he said, savoring the words. "I do mind quite a bit."

McKay felt the fear settle over his face like a mask, pins and needles prickling across his skin, and then he felt the anger burning up behind it, roaring in his ears and filling his vision. He pushed his face close to Barrett's.

"Unless I am mistaken," he spat, "and as familiar a sensation as I'm sure that is for you, it is very much the exception for me. Therefore, I'm sure I'm NOT mistaken, and you are just one more peanut brained gorilla hopped up on steroids, one of several. Whereas I am the only one here that can get this dart moving and get your psychotic Boy Scout leader's plan implemented. So unless you have something substantially more useful to do than your alpha male testosterone drenched routine, I suggest you give the light back to Jace and stay the hell away from me!"

McKay's head throbbed painfully in time with his heartbeat in the hushed silence that fell as the last of his words died away. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face, and he impatiently scrubbed the tickle away, still not taking his eyes from Barrett's.

"Enough!" Ford came stalking up, his dog tags jangling and his clothing a strange motley fool's uniform. He grabbed Barrett by the arm, and although the other man was easily several inches taller and pounds heavier, he spun him away from the dart without visible effort and sent him sprawling to the ground. He loomed over him, menace written on his disfigured face. "Leave him alone, Barrett, unless you can make that thing work," and he jammed a thumb over his shoulder toward the dart. The man stared down at the ground sullenly, refusing to answer. Ford glared at him for a moment, then turned to stare at McKay.

"What are you waiting for, McKay. If you're tired, I've got an extra dose of enzyme all ready."

McKay swallowed and turned back around, reaching once more for the tools, his hands shaking even more violently. Those of Ford's men who had gathered at the sound of raised voices began drifting back into the caverns where they continued practicing the new moves they were learning from Teyla and Ronon.

McKay sat unmoving, Ford's threat coiling through his gut, making his stomach churn. He felt eyes on him, glanced up and saw Sheppard standing at the nose of the dart. He walked to Jace, took the light and nodded for him to move off. The blonde man looked uncertain, then shrugged and walked off. Sheppard shone the light on the interior of the cockpit.

"So," he said. "How's it goin'? Finding everything ok?"

"That would be substantially easier if you were actually shining the light where I was working."

"Oh," Sheppard said as McKay snatched the hand Sheppard held the light in and aimed it in the right section. When he went to lift his tools to start working again, they suddenly felt too heavy for him to move.

"I can't do this, Colonel." McKay felt drained, limp like the pasta noodles the cafeteria staff perpetually overcooked.

"You have to, Rodney. Besides, this is nothing compared to the Wraith attack," Sheppard said persuasively.

"Yeah, tell that to my heart and other internal organs that are suffering permanent damage from that enzyme," snapped McKay.

"We don't know that, Rodney. Besides, you're getting a lower dose of it."

McKay sighed. "How long? Can we really trust anything psychoboy says?"

Sheppard clapped him on the arm. "You can do this, Rodney. Just focus."

McKay sighed again and started nodding his head. "Focus, right. Thank you, Yogi Sheppard, very helpful," but his words didn't have any real bite.

"I'm gonna go talk to Ford. See if I can find out any more about the Genii. I figure we should pump him for as much information as we can as long as we're here." Sheppard started to walk away, then stopped and came back. "Rodney, it will all be ok. We'll be back on Atlantis just as soon as you get this fixed up."

McKay glanced up at Sheppard. "I've got a really bad feeling about this, Colonel."

Sheppard looked down and his mouth twisted a little. "Yeah, me too. Uhh . . I could . . .maybe I should stay."

"What? And bring the wrath of the gorillas down on my head?"

"I could protect you!"

"Yeah, right. Thanks anyway. Look, you were a jock. What does the rest of the pack do when one of you tries to protect a geek?"

Despite himself, Sheppard grinned a little. "Uhh . . . takes it as a challenge?"

McKay glared at him. "Glad to see you're enjoying this! Just paint a bullseye on my back, Colonel."

Sheppard's smile faded. "I hate this."

"Me too."

McKay watched him go, feeling sick and resigned, angry that he was once more entering the skittish mindset of a high school geek. He WAS as smart as they said, but the only way to prove it was to fix this damn dart and have Sheppard fly them the hell out of here. Otherwise, he risked being torn limb from limb by a pack of ravening jocks. He snorted, and taking a deep breath, began again. He didn't notice that his hands had stopped shaking.