When It Snows by nebbyJen
Summary: When Beckett, Teyla, and McKay become lost in a snowstorm, they must rely on each other if they are going to survive.
Rated: Teen for possible slight language
Season/Spoilers: Sometime in Season 2 but with no known spoilers
A/N: This is inspired by a plot bunny shared with me by TJ who is in serious need of a good old-fashioned Beckett whumper.
Beta Reader: Gaffer. Thank you so much.
Disclaimer: As always, Atlantis does not belong to me in any way, shape, or form. (Except for the DVD's I legally purchased at Best Buy!)
When It Snows (part 1)
Teyla and Beckett had walked in silence ever since Rodney's last disgruntled outburst demanding that they refrain from speaking unless it was an emergency, for he was listening. To what, neither dared to question as they watched him take the lead with his head tipped to the side in concentration. He would hold up his hand and direct them to stop occasionally while he looked up at the sky, shook his head and mumbled under his breath, and then waved for them to continue
What had been clear blue and cloudless overhead when they'd departed, was now dark grey, filled with heavy snow falling hard around them. Visibility was damn near zero and they dragged their feet through the accumulating deep drifts on their way back to the gate. The return had started as a playful, teasing trek but now left them cautiously following every step that he led them by. Their faces protected from the cold by the down filled jackets provided by the SGC for just such temperatures, they looked like snowmen as they plodded on. The trio slowly and carefully made their way back along the mountain pass that they had climbed only a few days prior on a bright winter's day.
But then the path had been muddy and wet, cleared of snow by the villagers in anticipation of the visiting doctor. The people had ushered their honored guests into their homes with warm blazing fires, good food, and soft beds. Once the entire population of the quaint village was inoculated against the latest influenza outbreak, the people insisted on payment and loaded the team's packs with enough food and ornate gifts to take back and share with those on the other side of the gate. Stories had been told, gear was reassembled, and it was all too soon before it was time to head back.
That had been close to eight hours ago.
When Teyla stumbled over a rock hidden beneath the ever deepening piles of snow, Carson instinctively reached out and caught her by the elbow, helping her back to her feet.
"Dr. McKay appears to be unaffected by the cold," she whispered in astonishment, nodding towards Rodney as he continued to tromp ahead, oblivious to the fact that the others had stopped.
"Aye. I imagine where he grew up along the Great Lakes, the weather was not much different from this in the winter."
They watched Rodney walk in a large 'U' shape before straightening his path, his figure beginning to disappear in the near white-out conditions.
Carson gave her a friendly nudge to the arm, "Perhaps we should hurry and catch up before he realizes we aren't behind him."
She smiled, her face practically hidden within the deep folds of her hood. Turning to look at Rodney again, she noticed he had stopped and was looking back in their direction. "I believe that we are too late."
"Best we hurry then, lass. We don't want to keep the good doctor waiting."
Heading straight towards Rodney through fresh unblemished snow, they were both startled to see him suddenly waving his arms frantically while calling to them, but his voice was drowned out by distance and weather. When he began to run in their direction, his arms still waving and pointing behind them, they stopped to turn around and look. There was nothing there but their two sets of footprints that were rapidly vanishing.
"Go back!" they heard him yell as they spun around again to see him now standing several meters away, pointing anxiously in the direction they had come.
"Rodney?" Carson yelled, confused as to what it was they were supposed to see or do.
The frantic waving ceased as McKay went quiet once more, his head tipped to the side and then he looked down. When he glanced back up and Carson saw the scientist silently mouth 'Oh, God,' the physician knew there was something terribly wrong.
"Ice! The ice is breaking! Go back! Go back!" Rodney abruptly yelled, running through the path he had created minutes earlier.
"Oh dear lord," Carson exclaimed, suddenly remembering the small ice covered pond they had walked around on their journey to the village. "Teyla," he started to say but she was already a step in front of him heading back.
The sound of cracking ice, splintering beneath their feet sent fear streaking straight to their hearts, urging them to hurry. When a sudden creaking moan and shift occurred under Carson's feet, he gave Teyla a mighty shove, sending her sprawling forward before he disappeared beneath the dark freezing water.
It was if time had stood still as both Rodney and Teyla froze, watching the ice drift and slosh over the spot where the doctor had fallen in. It had been what seemed as though an eternity, but in actuality mere seconds, before an arm appeared, grasping for a handhold on the slippery surface. Then Carson's head and other arm broke the surface, gasping and flailing helplessly in attempt to pull himself free.
Seeing her friend in danger, Teyla cautiously moved back towards Beckett, only to halt in mid-step when Rodney yelled for her to stop. She hadn't noticed that he'd made it back to their side of the pond and was stripping off his pack and gear.
"Come back slowly," he ordered, watching her movements and the surface beneath her feet.
"But, Dr. Beckett…" she protested, turning to look at Carson as he slipped under again.
"Teyla, we both can't be on the ice at the same time. I can't help him until you come back."
The soft tone of his voice took her by surprise and she turned to face him once more. He was waiting for her as close as he dared with one hand held out, the other holding his warm jacket. Taking cautious steps, she made her way over accepting his assistance as he led her off the ice.
"Hold this," he then said, passing her his coat. When she looked at him startled, he nodded out to the water, "He's going to need it once we get him out." With that he took a cautious step and slowly advanced across the deadly hidden ice. "Carson," he called, watching his friend slide under yet again only to break the water's surface with another small splash. "I'm on my way, but you need to help me. If you keep struggling so hard, you are only going to wear yourself out faster and break more ice. Hold on to the edge and let me come for you."
The physician's arm flopped onto the ice once more, but this time he stayed put, his frightened blue eyes fixed on Rodney as the scientist edged towards him. "Stop," he called weakly, his teeth chattering so hard that he couldn't stop them even if he'd wanted to. "I don't want you falling in trying to save me."
"I have absolutely no intention of falling in," McKay retorted without any of his usual haughtiness. Slowly sliding down to his hands and knees, he crawled closer before lying flat out on his stomach and inching towards the broken ice. He could see Beckett shivering fiercely and Rodney knew the doctor was losing valuable body heat the longer he stayed in the water. They didn't have much time to get him out before hypothermia set in, if it hadn't done so already.
Now within fingers reach, Rodney spread out his arms and legs across the ice, distributing his weight before slipping his grasp around Carson's wrist. He looked over at his friend and saw the man watching him closely, his expression filled with trust. "On my mark, I want you to kick your feet slowly as if you were swimming, so that your body will float on the water. Understand?"
Carson wasn't sure he still had the ability to speak clearly and only nodded. When Rodney nodded back, he let his eyes drift shut in relief, before jerking them back open when a sharp tug on his wrist got his attention. He discovered the intense focus of the scientist fixed worriedly on his face. Taking a deep breath and forcing his numb legs to cooperate, he began to kick his feet.
"Slowly," Rodney encouraged, his grip tightening as he began to tug the physician in his direction. More pieces of ice began to break, but he continued pulling Beckett from the water until the man's chest came to rest on solid ice. Scooting back further, the scientist drew his friend away from the jagged hole until he was free of the water, and both men lay gasping in a snow drift on the freezing surface.
"Teyla," Rodney called over his shoulder, his gaze never leaving Carson's, "put my coat on and get it warm. Once we get off the ice, you need to help me get his wet one off and mine on him."
"You…you…need coat," Beckett slurred. He was exhausted and didn't have the strength to argue as he fought the impending darkness threatening the edges of his vision. But no matter how miserable he was, he was still able to make out the shivers coursing over his friend and knew McKay was going to be in as much trouble as he was if he didn't get warm soon.
Rodney rolled his eyes but refused to comment. Ignoring his own discomfort, he shifted his weight again and began to scoot backwards, taking Carson with him. When they got close enough to the edge of the frozen pond, Teyla hesitantly stepped back out and reached for the scientist's pant leg, helping to tug both men the final distance towards safety.