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Warnings: Spoilers for "The Hive". This time Rodney swears in Quebec French. Mon dieu! Translation at the end.


"We getting closer, McKay?"

"Yeah, yeah," Rodney answered, not bothering to look at John as he responded. Instead, he focused on the device in his hand, trying to trace the faint energy reading they'd gotten as soon as they'd flown through the gate. He brushed an impatient hand across the screen, wiping away the moisture that had settled there.

"Because the sooner we can get off this smelly, hot, humid, slimy rock..."

"Here," Rodney said firmly, interrupting John. He stopped walking and looked up. Directly in front of him was what appeared to be a solid wall of greenery. "There," he said, nodding.

"There?" Ronon said, using the back of a hand to wipe away the sweat threatening to drip into his eyes. "Looks like a bunch of plants."

"There," Rodney snapped, waving an annoyed hand at the greenery.

"Still no life signs?" John asked Rodney.

"No, still nothing," Rodney replied, shifting impatiently. "But the energy signature is definitely coming from inside there."

Teyla looked to John and shrugged, then took a careful step forward, using her P-90 to part the overgrown vines. She triggered the weapon's light and peered between the fronds. "There is an opening here, Colonel. Some sort of structure."

"Right," John answered. He stepped forward, taking point, while Ronon fell to the rear. Pushing aside the overgrowth, John walked forward, the rest of the team following cautiously.

Rodney passed through the opening and was immediately hit by the heavy stench of decay. The air in here, impossibly, was actually damper than that outside, although it was blessedly cooler. He waited as his eyes adjusted to the low light.

"Wow," John whispered from beside him.

"Yeah," Rodney answered, looking around him. The room was huge. Although the ceiling was low - maybe only eight feet high - the room itself went on for...

"The structure must go on for miles," Teyla said from nearby, giving voice to his thoughts.

The only light in the room, other than that cast by their flashlights, trailed in from a series of small, narrow windows, really no more than slits along the edge of the ceiling. Those that still had glass were greyed with grime, while the others were filled with leaves and vines, allowing only the smallest amount of light into the large space.

Despite the dimness, Rodney could see a series of several shelves along the near wall, each crowded with dusty junk. Rodney stepped closer to the items on the shelves, and frowned. Even if anything there was of interest, with this damp, it was unlikely that any of it could be saved.

Rodney looked down at his instruments. "Hmm..."

"Is that a good 'Hmm,' or a bad 'Hmm'?" John said.

Rodney didn't bother responding. Instead, he simply stepped backwards until he passed through the doorway, and the energy readings were suddenly clear. He murmured, "There you go." He re-entered the building, and the energy readings immediately became less distinct again. "Something is definitely here, I'm just not sure what, or where." He looked at John. "Something about this place is dampening my readings."

John nodded.

"This place is huge," Ronon said, his first comment since they'd entered the structure.

Rodney grimaced. It took everything he had not to say "Duh". Instead, he muttered, "Welcome to the party," sarcasm on high.

John cast him a sharp glare. Turning to Ronon, he said, "We'll split up. You and Teyla, search this room. Focus on the items on the shelves. McKay and I will check the next." Rodney looked where John indicated, and saw a doorway on one of the nearest walls. As John began walking, Rodney followed close behind.

Fabulous, he thought bitterly. Just what I needed - more time alone with John. It was their second mission together again as a team, post-enzyme, and Rodney was feeling pretty comfortable with the situation at this point. Well, not exactly comfortable - he was still stiff around John, and he could tell that John also felt - but whatever, he was fine, they were working together, things were fine. And he was sick of thinking about it.

John lead the way into the next room, which was also large and seemingly empty, although Rodney could see a small doorway off to the left. He stepped to it and peered inside the small, dim space. "It seems to be some sort of storage closet," he said back over his shoulder. He glanced down at his instrument. "No life signs, that I can tell. And the energy readings seem to be about the same."

"I'll check out here," John answered. "You go on in."

Rodney stepped into the space. It was much smaller than the room he'd just been in. He sneezed. And mustier - he could feel the pressure build in his sinuses. Great, now he'd have a sinus headache to look forward to.

There were shelves lining the walls from floor to ceiling. The room was packed with them - there had to be over a dozen, with narrow paths, just big enough for one man, winding between them. Each shelf was piled high, crowded with this and that, the detritus illuminated by one small, dirty window on the far wall.

Rodney walked up one path at random and passed a cursory glance at the objects, just to see if there was anything of interest. He ran a finger along one shelf, pulling it away in disgust when he felt the slime and damp. It was unlikely that any tech here could have survived this.

Reaching the end of the shelf, he rounded the corner and "God!" burst out of his mouth as he started in shock, taking a hasty step backwards. There was a Wraith on the floor, blocking the path. Dead, obviously, with a large object, probably from one of the shelves, crushing his shoulders and head.

Rodney took a slow step forward and, with a shaky hand, illuminated the Wraith with his flashlight. The Wraith was quite obviously dead, but he'd either not been dead for that long, or else he was extremely well preserved.

Rodney squatted down next to him, careful not to touch. His eyes traced the Wraith's arm.

He wondered how long the enzyme would last, once a Wraith was dead. Would its potency be affected, or -

Rodney stood suddenly, shaking his head and muttering a soft, "No, no no." He took a step backwards and hit the shelf behind him, setting the objects on it to clanking.

Rodney stood over the Wraith and stared down at it, the room very dim and quiet around him. His vision spiralled down to the Wraith, his whole world focused on that one point.

"Jesus," he hissed between clenched teeth, his P-90 hanging limp from his hand. He started running through his options aloud. "I saw Ford do it, it seemed easy enough," he said, running through excuses, unsure if he was trying to convince himself to, or not to. "After all, I'm a smart guy," he said, his voice low but his words coming out in a torrent. "I could always rig my ever-present Epi-Pen. Or maybe something from the team's med kit. Take what I need."

He tore his eyes away, instead staring at the grimy window in front of him, unseeing. "But I don't need it," he whispered. "Not anymore."

"But what if later on, I do?" he asked more forcefully. "What if there's a situation where I end up needing it, in the future, where, say, Teyla or Sheppard were trapped, and I need..."

He shook his head violently, then stared down at the Wraith.

He heard movement behind him. "McKay?"

Rodney slowly tore his eyes from the Wraith on the floor. He turned to the door where John was now standing. "There's a dead Wraith here," he said in reply, surprised to hear his voice come out so calmly.

John's eyebrows raised and he stepped forward. He peered over Rodney's shoulder at the dead body. Taking a quick step back, he radioed Teyla and Ronon and told them what Rodney had found. Then he stood in the doorway, his arms crossed, his P-90 tightly clenched against his chest. He stared at Rodney, his gaze starkly appraising.

"You good?" John finally asked, a whole bunch of meaning in those two words.

Rodney suddenly understood that John knew what he'd been thinking. Contre crisse, the man knew. He glanced back at the Wraith on the floor, then full at John. "Yeah," he replied, trying to put meaning behind that word. That he was fine. That, despite the fact of what he'd been considering - no, that was a lie. More like he'd been trying to talk himself self into it, testing himself. Because, staring down at the Wraith, thinking about the enzyme, he realised that he never, ever wanted to -

"Yeah," he repeated again, this time more firmly.

John paused, then finally asked, "Anything here you can use?"

"No," Rodney said. His face broke into a slow smile. "Nothing at all."

John nodded, and Rodney could tell that he was relieved. "Cool," John said, his tone smooth.

Rodney gave a half-smile at that habitual, yet incongruously slangy expression coming from someone of John's rank and position.

John smiled back.


That's the end. Thank you for reading! Please comment and review and let me know what you thought.

Contre crisse - A slangy Quebec French piece of profanity.