He didn't like it. He glanced over at Teyla and saw the same wariness, her eyes searching the tree line, her hand not quite on her knife, but hovering near it. Despite the cool fresh breeze brushing his face, something felt wrong. They could just see the 'gate in the distance, about two klicks away as they walked through what had once been a thriving farm long years before the Wraith had come. There were fallen stone walls, buried in tangles of grass and weed. McKay had tripped more than once, to Ronon's amusement.
There were birds calling from a small copse of trees that had once provided a windbreak for the old farmhouse that now lay open to the sky. He flared his nostrils, drinking in the heavy warm smell of the grass, trying to catch a hint of something that would explain his unease. The skin between his shoulder blades twitched as if he'd been bitten by a fly. The two Earthers ambled along, oblivious that there was anything around them but the sun and the wind and the trees and the bugs.
"I can't understand how he's survived this long," he finally growled, his exasperation getting the better of him.
Teyla's lips pursed in a small, wry smile. "He has excellent instincts."
"Not right now. He's too distracted by the scientist."
"I was TALKING about the scientist."
Ronon stared at her and then snorted, amused.
"He's still alive, despite attempts by many enemies," she reminded him. He just grunted in response, too irritated to be reasonable.
Sheppard wasn't usually this blind to his own safety, but get him around the yappy little scientist, and he seemed to lose all sense. McKay, well, he was like this with everyone, but he seemed to take a particular delight in baiting Sheppard. Ronon twitched again, wanting to itch that spot on his back where the skin tensed, waiting for an arrow. He glanced at Teyla again and indicated a direction with an eyebrow.
"They will wait until we are in the middle of this clearing." Teyla's lips barely moved and her voice was so soft, you'd barely hear it. But he did.
"Or sooner if they're as weary of the sound of McKay's voice as I am," he rumbled, the words audible only to Teyla. He met her gaze and one of her brows arched just so.
He looked over at the Earthers. "Can't they feel it?"
She heaved a sigh. "They . . . have their own gifts." The corner of her lips quirked.
He snorted. Shook his head. "How they've survived this long.."
Teyla answered him without looking, her eyes still scanning the heavy undergrowth. "They are used to fighting a different kind of enemy. They will learn."
"Learn or die," he said shortly.
Her lips tightened in pain or anger, he didn't know which. "They've begun to understand that."
He grunted noncommittally. He had little patience for fools who had to be protected from their own stupidity. Catching Teyla's eye, he indicated where he'd seen more movement in the undergrowth. She nodded, the motion almost imperceptible, and they both drifted back and away to flank the still bickering doctor and colonel. Their voices were very loud in the quiet air, and there was an edge, an anger that wasn't usually there.
Sheppard seemed finally to sense the disquiet from Teyla and Ronon, his head coming up, eyes shifting rapidly from them to the quiet meadow they walked through.
"Rodney, shut up."
"I realize this is hard for you to comprehend but even I…, oh you mean shut up…" McKay trailed off as Sheppard glared at him meaningfully, and rolling his eyes, stopped.
All was still for a moment, and then the air vibrated with a hum like angry bees, the dirt puffing around their feet from the shots. McKay ducked his head and ran, Sheppard a few strides ahead and then yanking him down behind the remains of one wall of the farmhouse. A dozen feet away Teyla and Ronon both dove behind an old log, grey and cracking with age. He tried to fold himself into as small a target as he could as bullets ate away at the brittle wood. He envied Teyla as she collapsed into an impossibly compact form, her eyes dark with intensity as she returned fire.
Ronon easily located at least three of the shooters. His energy weapon pulsed red and left scorch marks on the trees. Shots whined overhead and around them, the old log they were hidden behind shuddering and splintering under the impact. And over it all, in complete and utter disbelief, he heard them arguing. Or more specifically, he heard McKay.
"No, I HAVEN'T talked to Zelenka about it, now just leave it alone, Colonel!"
Ronon cringed down and sighed, wondering if their attackers could be incapacitated by laughter. He thought he might have heard a few sniggers out there. For the life of him he couldn't recall a gun battle like this in his experience. Or the experience of anyone he knew. Not that they'd admit to, anyway.
"Fine but you are going to deal with this whether its with me or Heightmeyer or RONON but you ARE going to get past it!" growled Sheppard.
"Not with me," Ronon growled over at them but neither one even looked his way. The log he and Teyla lay behind was at an angle to the wall that sheltered the colonel and doctor. Sheppard and McKay were nearly nose to nose and still shouting at each other, McKay snorting indignantly, hands gesturing wildly. Ronon tried not to twitch every time his long fingers cleared the top of the stone wall they sheltered behind.
"NOW you want to talk! I guess I should just be grateful this time I got to come along! Sure you don't want to offer me up as a ransom? You could always come back and get me later, right?"
"What the hell are you taking about, Rodney?" There was a quick burst of gunfire.
Ronon glanced down at the charge left in his blaster and considered shooting them himself. He looked up and the grin on Teyla's face told him she knew what he was thinking.
"That wasn't exactly a Club Med you left me in when you flew out to play space invaders with your groupie Ford!"
"Group . . . SPACE INVADERS? Jeez, McKay, that's low. At least you could go for Halo."
"Halo makes sense. More or less. Unlike that absolutely delusional supply raid you ran for Ford."
"What makes you think I wanted t . . .Wait a minute. McKay! Hold it. Just a minute now, are you having this argument with me in the middle of a firefight? You aren't, are you?"
"Oh….," McKay sneered. "And I thought you wanted to 'have this discussion,'" McKay fingerquoted hugely in the air.
Ronon turned a puzzled look to Teyla. "What does this mean?" and he moved his fingers as McKay had.
Teyla's mouth turned down a little, she guessed, "Perhaps it is an insult?"
McKay continued."I wouldn't put it past you to have staged this whole thing just to trap me here!"
"If I'd staged this you would have gotten shot at the beginning!" Sheppard barked back, firing off another burst. "We're in the middle of a damn ambush. I'm a little busy!"
Ronon chanced a look and saw a bullet slam into the stone wall inches from Sheppard's head. Flying rock chips sliced a cut on Sheppard's forehead and he ducked hastily back down out of sight.
McKay popped over the edge of the wall, fired off a few rounds and then scrunched down beside Sheppard, glaring at him. "Would it have been too much to ask for you to let me know you were ok?"
Ronon stared at Teyla wide-eyed. He could feel his mouth hanging open slightly. She just shrugged a little wearily.
"My God, Rodney, I don't know if you sound more like my girlfriend or my mother!"
Teyla's eyes widened. There were sounds of incoherent spluttering followed closely by a sudden increase of gunfire and then an outraged yelp of pain and Sheppard cursing. Both Ronon and Teyla peered over the top of the log in time to see Sheppard's arm vigorously yanking McKay back out of range and then the nose of the his P-90 spitting return fire.
"Have you completely lost it, Rodney, or do you just have a death wish?"
"I'm bleeding, oh my God, do I need a tourniquet?" squawked McKay. "And what do you expect me to do when you say something like that, smile and nod vacuously?"
"You're supposed to use your brain to get us out of this instead of standing up for them to use as target practice! Beckett is going to be all over my ass if he has to put up with your whining in the infirmary again."
"They DO say drug use impairs the judgment making portions of the brain," McKay snarled back. "But obviously my poor decisions started back with agreeing to be on this team!"
Ronon slumped onto his butt next to Teyla. They sat, side by side, backs to the log, heads resting against the splintery wood. Teyla popped up and squeezed a few shots off, then plopped back down next to him.
"You will never convince me they aren't sharing a bedroll," he said to Teyla, squeezing off a few shots at a Tirellian that was stealthily trying to outflank them.
"They aren't," replied Teyla, pushing Ronon back and steadying her shot on his shoulder.
Sheppard's voice was rich with righteous indignation. "So since we're 'having this discussion,'" and he fingerquoted back awkwardly with his free hand, "what the HELL were you thinking when you got busy shooting yourself up with a Big Gulp of enzyme!" Another round of P-90 shots were fired off.
"I can understand your confusion, since obviously we weren't on the same wavelength. You see, I was concerned about the rest of my TEAM and how you were going to survive Ford's brilliant plan!"
There was a momentary lull in the shooting. "Is THAT what this is about? You're angry because I didn't need you to rescue me? I know you think you're Superman, McKay, but I did just fine!"
"So did I! Without you charging in at the last moment! I think sometimes you wait just to amp up the drama!"
"Wait a second! Are YOU actually calling ME a drama queen?" Sheppard's voice was slightly squeaky with outrage. "Kettle!" and Ronon heard an 'oomph' and hurriedly peeked over the log to see Sheppard jabbing his thumb at himself. "Pot! But that's not the point!"
"Then what IS the point? And don't poke me! I bruise easily."
"What did I do to piss you off so damn much?"
Ronon snorted and smirked at Teyla. "Bedmates, I'd stake my best knife on it."
One graceful eyebrow arched. "The one with the ivory haft."
Ronon held out a hand without hesitation and they shook on it, the strength in her small brown hand startling him a little.
"You are so clueless! And by the way, it was so heartwarming to hear that you went racing back to Ford's planet as soon as you got back safe to Atlantis. Oh wait, that's right, you DIDN'T!"