Title: Running

Disclaimer: the characters, Atlantis, etc. all belong to MGM, Gecko, Showtime and the Scifi channel. No copyright infringement is intended with their use.

Spoilers: up through Runner (season2)

Major Characters: Rodney, John, Ronon

Summary: Tag/Alternative Ending to Runner — Rodney doesn't escape from Ford completely unharmed and why is John acting so harsh/cold with Rodney in this ep anyway?

Feedback: I live for it!

Thank you to NT for always being so willing to beta and always doing such a tremendous job! And thanks to "you guys"- you know who you are. Without y'all I'd not even bother.

Hope you enjoy it!


For a moment, as his world swung wildly and his head throbbed in time with the beat of his heart, Rodney was certain that the giant man scowling at him was simply going to leave him hanging and rush into the trees after Sheppard and Ford. But as the dark eyes swept over him, a new fear filled him. Could he trust this stranger?

Rodney blinked, his eyes stinging as a mixture of sweat and sunblock rolled into them. He focused on the dangerous looking knife still grasped in the stranger's fist and tried not to panic.

The man looked like an extra from Hercules or Conan, a warrior…and he stepped closer.

"Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait." Rodney flailed as if he could back away from the man,but he was helpless.

"Be still," the surprisingly soft but gruff voice ordered as McKay continued to try to shrink back.

The stranger raised the knife and Rodney scrunched his eyes closed and curled his arms around his head, waiting for the sudden, inevitable plummet to the ground, but a solid muscular arm wrapped around his shoulders pulling him lower and straining his leg as the rope cut into his ankle. He heard the whoosh of the knife and the twang of the rope breaking and the tree branch snapping back. The arm around his shoulders tightened, holding him up as the lower half of his body hit the ground hard.

McKay let out a grunt as pain spiked through his abused legs and the warrior lowered him the rest of the way to the ground. As soon as he was able, Rodney tried to scurry from the huge man's grasp.

"Stop." A single, gargantuan hand pushed at his chest, effectively knocking him back down.

"Hey!" Rodney protested, pushing up on his elbows, anger and frustration overriding his fear. "I have had just about enough of being pushed around today. First Lorne with his 'you're his friend crap', shoving me out into the open, and then Ford, shooting at me multiple times and dragging me around in circles on this godforsaken planet and now you…"

"You're hurt."

"…start pushing me around, too. I appreciate the help and all,but that doesn't give you the right to…what?" Rodney stared at the filthy face and then followed the dark gaze to his leg.

"You've been shot." There was no other warning as the younger man's hand clamped down over the jagged tear in the leg of Rodney's hazmat suit. Fire burned through McKay's thigh and he gasped, struggling against the pressure. Dizziness and nausea swept over him as he fell back against the ground again. "Easy." The grip eased a moment and he heard the thick rubber fabric sliced open before the horrible pressure returned. "It's not bad."

"Oh oh. Sure." McKay waved a hand, accidentally smacking the stranger. "Easy for you to say. You're not the one with the bullet hole in your leg, bleeding to death." He opened his eyes to find the young man staring down at him with one eyebrow raised. "Sorry," he muttered overwhelmed by a new wave of fear. How the hell had he been shot? Could this day get any worse?

As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he knew he was in trouble. Rodney could hear clearly now—someone was running through the forest, coming in their direction and wraith darts were zooming overhead.

The stranger heard too and somehow managed to draw and aim an awesome looking weapon without easing the pressure on McKay's leg—just as a figure jogged out of the trees.

"It's just me." John raised both hands though he didn't let go of his P-90.

The stranger lowered his weapon.

"What happened?" Sheppard approached, casting a wary glance up at the night sky.

"What happened?" McKay propped himself back up. "What happened? You left me with Lorne, and he let Ford kidnap me, drag me around at gunpoint all day and shoot at me." He stared at John as the colonel looked everywhere but at him. Did Sheppard even care? "When I finally got away,I got caught in a trap.Ford almost killed me and then you left me to his," he motioned at the stranger. "his mercy."

"Ronon Dex," John filled in.

"What?" Rodney asked, confused.

"He's Ronon, and I hardly think Ford was going to kill you. Can you move?"

A dart roared overhead,but there was no culling beam. "We need to get out of here," John added, his eyes searching the sky again.

"You got something for his leg?" Ronon asked. "He's bleeding."

John frowned, fumbled with his vest a second and threw a field dressing to Dex. "Hurry up," heordered.

Focused on Sheppard and the darts above, Rodney was caught off guard as Ronon tightened the bandage around his injured leg with a sharp yank. He cried out and his vision dimmed. There was no time to protest though as he was immediately scooped up and slung unceremoniously over Ronon's shoulder.

Upside down again and disoriented, McKay could hear John urging them to hurry. Dex's hard, armor covered shoulder dug painfully into his stomach with each jarring step. Exhaustion and fear warred within Rodney as he tried to block out the discomfort and stay aware of what was happening around him but the next thing he knew—he was being dumped onto the bench in the back of the jumper.

"What the bloody hell are you thinking, carrying him that way?" Rodney was stunned to hear Carson's angry voice but the doctor didn't give Ronon a chance to defend himself. "I just stitched you up, son. I don't intend to have to do it again."

Stitched Ronon up? Carson knew Ronon? What? Rodney felt a combination of relief and confusion as he looked around at the others, spotting Lorne and Teyla.

"What's our status?" Sheppard demanded, pushing to the front of the jumper.

"Wraith still have the gate active," Lorne told him. "We cloaked the ship as soon as they started dialing in."

"Good." John studied the HUD. "Your guys in good cover? Looks like we need to sit tight awhile."

"Yes sir," Lorne nodded. "What about Ford?"

"He's gone." John's short answer silenced everyone for a moment.

"It was really Aiden?" Teyla asked softly.

John glanced at her. "Yeah."

"What happened? Rodney?"

"What?" Rodney hadn't realized Beckett was trying to talk to him. His thoughts were swirling. What did John mean—Ford was gone? Was he dead?

"What happened?" Carson asked again, squatting in front of him, trying to take inventory of any injuries.

"Which time?" Rodney snapped sarcastically. Ford couldn't be dead. Seeing the lack of patience flash in Carson's eyes he gestured to his leg. "I got shot."

"Shot?" Immediately Beckett reached for his leg. "How?"

"With a gun. How else would I mean?" Rodney shook his head. By Ford! He wanted to scream it. He still couldn't believe Ford had planned to kill him.

"It's a graze." Ronon spoke. "Took a chunk off."

"A chunk?" Rodney looked at the runner and swallowed, his throat suddenly very dry. "A chunk?"

"Small chunk."

Carson sat back on his heels, seeing that Ronon had done a decent job with the hasty bandage. There was no fresh blood and he obviously didn't want to mess with it for the moment. "Aye, you'll be alright."

"A chunk." McKay whispered, suddenly feeling the weight of his exhaustion again. He closed his eyes. Ford had really shot him. Aiden would have killed him as he'd hung defenseless if not for Ronon showing up when he did. Now, Ford was possibly dead himself. Had John killed him? God. A shiver ran through him and though he'd been hot all day, now…he suddenly felt chilled to his core. His body ached and his head felt outrageously heavy. He leaned back against the side of the jumper.

"Rodney?" Carson's voice sounded far away and though he knew he should respond—he didn't have the energy or desire to even try.


John stared at the display before him watching the wraith darts skim the sky. One branched off from the others and disappeared through the event horizon. He cursed under his breath, hating that he could do nothing to stop them. If he tried to shoot them down, he'd draw attention to the very fact that they were there…that Atlantis had survived, not to mention it would kill Ford and endanger the men outside. But in letting them go—he was watching his chance to save Ford disappear. Could Ford survive? Even with super strength he'd be alone against who knew hoe many Wraith…would Aiden give up Atlantis or earth even? He thought of Ford's cousin, remembering her question and feeling the weight of his own failure. He was responsible for Ford and he'd lost him…again.


John heard the concern in Beckett's voice deepen and take on an urgency that filled him with a new fear. What was wrong with McKay? He'd been so focused on the darts and the gate, he hadn't heard any of the conversation behind him.

"Rodney, stay awake for me now." Carson pleaded. "Damn it."

Sheppard turned and glanced to the back in time to see and hear Carson tell Teyla to get him another blanket from their supplies. "What's wrong?" John demanded more harshly then he meant to. Lately, it seemed he always sounded harsh, even to his own ears.

"He's starting to get shocky." Beckett shook out the blanket that Teyla handed him and tucked it around McKay as he gently eased the scientist down onto the bench and put his legs up. "I need another blanket or something for under his legs."

Teyla immediately slipped off her jacket and John watched, half amazed as Lorne offered his up too.

"He okay?" Sheppard found his voice as he stood and took off his own jacket, passing it to Lorne. Ronon tried to move out of Carson's way, sliding down to the very end of the bench. The jumper felt crowded with all of them and Carson's supplies but John wasn't about to send anyone else outside.

"Aye, he will be. Has he eaten today?" Carson directed the question at John but Sheppard had no answer for him. He hadn't seen Rodney since he'd sent him out with Lorne that morning.

"I don't know." He admitted finally, another weight of failed responsibility falling on him. He looked at Lorne.

The major shrugged. "Not with me, but I was only with him a half hour tops before we were attacked." His eyes flickered to Ronon.

"Not by me," the runner said simply.

"Ronon was already with the Colonel and I." Teyla told him.

"Ford," John whispered the name as movement outside caught his eye and he turned forward again. The last two darts were leaving. They would be able to return to Atlantis soon they just had to wait for the gate to shut down.

Rodney had been with Ford all day then. "He probably hadn't eaten anything other than the power bars he keeps stashed in his vest." John looked at Carson again.

"He didn't wear the vest," Lorne interrupted. "Insisted on wearing that stupid suit instead." He waved to McKay's bright orange attire.

"McKay…" John growled under his breath, cursing Rodney's paranoia. He watched as Ronon began to work on undoing the rope still tightly knotted around McKay's ankle.

"Suit kept his ankle from getting tore up." Dex reported quietly. "Protected his skin from the sun here too."

"Why the hell was he running around on his own in the dark?" John couldn't help his anger. Didn't he have enough to deal with without worrying that Rodney was going to go and do something stupid? Get himself hurt…or killed?

If he'd been with Ford, why hadn't he just stayed with Aiden until they were found? Or brought Aiden in?

John knew he wasn't being fair, even as the question crossed his mind. Ford had been determined he was not going to be brought in…at any cost. Aiden had drawn on John, forcing him to shoot him. Sheppard looked at Rodney again, knowing the answer to his own question even as Ronon answered.

"Your friend was trying to kill him."