For Kodiak Bear Country.
This is a fic written for the Sheppard H/C community challenge, revenge of an old adversary. I thought with the new season coming up, and the much anticipated episode 'Common Ground' rapidly approaching, that this could be a good little run up to that. Thanks to Kodiak for her beta skills
As John walked through the steamy, hot forest, he smiled to himself. McKay was doing his usual routine: whining and generally being a pain in the ass, even though the mission was his idea in the first place. John stopped, turned around and shook his index finger at the physicist.
"Rodney, quit complaining. It was your idea to explore S6Q-136, and as I remember, you moaned, cajoled and bribed me into bringing you here. So, if planet sauna isn't to your taste…well, it's your own fault."
McKay gave Sheppard a withering look.
"Oh, how mature. 'It's all your fault. You wanted to come here.'" Rodney mimicked John's voice. "Unlike some people, I take my job seriously. Teyla's contacts suggested there could be a ZPM here, so, personal comfort aside, I thought it'd be important – no, vital for us to explore the ruins."
John shrugged and gave McKay a dazzling smile.
"So, quit whining then. If you have to suffer so nobly for your science, suffer in silence!" he quipped.
McKay trudged on muttering under his breath, stopping every now and then to check his LSD for any unusual readings.
"You guys okay?" Sheppard called to Teyla and Ronon.
Teyla smiled wearily.
"I am fine- though somewhat wet."
"Kind of nice here. Pretty," Ronon commented gruffly.
"Pretty?" McKay's annoyed voice answered Ronon. "How is forty degrees and nearly one hundred percent humidity, and I quote 'pretty'?"
"Didn't say it felt pretty, said it looked it. You're in pretty bad shape, McKay. If you worked out more, you'd have more stamina."
McKay spluttered in outrage.
"I'm not in bad shape! We can't all be athletes. Some of us have more important things to do. Like…oh yes, using our brains to regularly save your Neanderthal butt."
"McKay. We all know how invaluable you are, just about everywhere, all the time. Now shut up and get moving!" John finally lost his temper.
McKay huffed and walked slowly forward, his shoulders slumped.
"Someone obviously got up on the wrong side of bed today…" Rodney muttered under his breath.
"And that would be you. Can it, Rodney." This time Sheppard's voice was sharp, and Rodney knew to shut up.
As the four-team members trudged wearily on, Sheppard began to feel uneasy. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end, and he cocked his P90 in response to a sudden intangible danger.
Just as he was about to warn Ronon and Teyla that something was wrong, gunfire erupted around him.
"Take cover!" John yelled at his team-mates, as he dove under the nearest bush.
Bullets continued to spray around, and John fervently looked around for the rest of his team. He immediately spied Rodney and Telya cowering behind two large tree trunks. Looking around, John saw Ronon laid out flat on the ground behind a fallen tree, gun at the ready.
Tapping his earpiece, John looked around before talking.
"Ronon? How many hostiles? I see two at three 'o'clock, three at six."
Ronon's gruff voice crackled in John's ear.
"I see five. Genii, by the looks of it. Looks like we're surrounded."
Sheppard licked his lips nervously.
"Colonel Sheppard. Surrender your weapons, and you have my word that your team will be unharmed and allowed to return to the Stargate."
"Okay, sit tight. Let's see what they want," Sheppard ordered into his mic. "Who are you, and how do I know I can trust you?" John shouted by way of reply to the disembodied voice.
After a brief pause, the voice answered.
"Really, Colonel. I'm insulted you don't recognise my voice."
Sheppard cringed as the voice's owner suddenly became horribly familiar.
"Kolya? What the hell do you want?"
Kolya's voice was hard as steel and his words succinct.
"Well, you can't have him, you annoying son of a bitch!"
John found himself smiling at McKay's loyalty.
"Dr. McKay. How wonderful to hear that you're still whining as much as you were the last time we met. Sheppard, surrender or Dr. McKay and the charming Miss Emmagen will not be – quite as whole as they are now. Or should I say, more full of holes," Kolya laughed.
Sheppard chewed his lip, and looked over to where the two team-mates were hidden. He groaned as he noticed two Genii guards behind Teyla and Rodney, their double barrel shotguns aimed at his friends' backs.
Reaching a decision, Sheppard threw out his P90 and held up his hands.
"Okay. Hold your fire. Let them go, and I'll come with you willingly."
Sheppard turned and saw McKay's shocked face.
"Colonel? What the hell are you doing? You don't seriously expect them to let us go do you? And what about you? Are we supposed to go home to Elizabeth and say, 'Oh, Sheppard? Sorry we gave him to Kolya this afternoon, but it's okay, as we got away!" McKay's arms flailed around, as nervous energy pored from the man.
Sheppard smiled, relieved Rodney had caused the distraction he was relying on. Turning, he yanked his concealed nine mil from it's hidden place, tucked in the back of his pants.
"Now, Ronon. Teyla, McKay – get to the 'gate," he screamed as he rolled to the ground and started firing at the Genii covering Teyla and Rodney, while Ronon picked off any Genii he saw.
Sheppard continued firing, rolling under the nearest cover while he re-loaded his weapon. He saw Teyla and Rodney make a dash for the 'gate, and tapped his radio.
"Ronon, you clear?" he whispered into his mic.
Static burst through his headset, until Ronon's voice filtered through.
"I see three more. You're clear, I'll cover you."
"Negative. I see them. You make a run for it, I'll take out as many as I can, then when you're safe, cover me. That's an order."
Ronon immediately ran at breakneck speed, firing wildly as he ran for the nearest tree trunk.
Seeing Ronon was clear, Sheppard followed, and both men ran furiously in the direction of the 'gate, turning periodically to fire at their pursuers.
"Teyla, you there yet?" Sheppard called into his radio.
"Yes. Rodney is dialling Atlantis," came the Athosian's reply.
Sheppard smiled in relief.
"Don't wait for us. Go through. If we don't follow, bring back reinforcements."
"Understood," Teyla replied calmly.
Sheppard saw Ronon a few hundred yards ahead of him, as he burst silently through the trees, and inwardly sighed as he saw the 'gate in the distance.
"Ronon. Don't wait for me. Head straight through, I'm right behind you," John panted into his radio.
Ronon's response was as elaborate as it usually was.
Sheppard was starting to tire. The heat was exhausting, and even though he wore his usual grey pants, black t-shirt and TAC vest, he was over-heated, and rapidly running out of steam.
As he neared the 'gate, John saw Ronon in front of the luminescent puddle, gun at the ready, waiting loyally for his team leader to catch up and arrive safely.
"Ronon. I'm fine – go! John shouted, as he summoned every last vestige of strength he had to sprint towards the wormhole that would lead him to safety – and home.
As John approached the circle of pale blue, he saw Ronon tense in alarm, and watched as the Satedan opened his mouth and shouted a warning.
When the first impact struck the back of his vest, John fell to the ground, the wind knocked out of him by the force of the blow. Managing to raise himself to his feet, he continued to sprint towards the 'gate, using the adrenaline now pumping through his veins to push him forward.
The second impact hit John at the back of his left shoulder, and instantly he knew the bullet had pierced the fabric, as he felt the burn of torn flesh, and the crunch of shattered bone. Falling to the ground a second time, he managed to lift his head to see Ronon hit by a bullet, and fly backwards through the wormhole, as the velocity of the shot blew him into the event horizon. As John's vision greyed, and his eyes started to close, he smiled, as he knew that even though he hadn't made it home - at least his team had.
As soon as Elizabeth heard the 'gate alarm sound, she instinctively knew something was horribly wrong. Weir was a woman led very much by her intuition, and she had a feeling of dread overwhelm her as she heard the klaxon sound. The only team off world was John's, she knew, and they weren't due to dial home for a check-in for another four hours. She always knew when he was in trouble, and her head was screaming at her now telling her something was up.
Weir ran from her office to the control room.
"Have we got an IDC?" she asked, knowing full well it would be one of the four team members GDO that had sent the code – if there was one.
The 'gate technician nodded seriously.
"It's Dr.McKay's code."
"Lower the shield," Weir ordered as she ran towards the stairs, in time to see Rodney and Teyla appearing wet and flustered in the 'gate room. Waiting with baited breath, Elizabeth stood silently at the top of the stairs, praying that the other two members of her flagship team would return shortly. She thought her prayers were answered when a figure flew through the shimmering puddle, hitting the floor. Running down the stairs, Elizabeth tapped her headset and called for a medical team, as she noticed Ronon roll over and groan, clutching his thigh, blood dripping through his fingers.
As she ran towards the injured man, who was already being attended to by Teyla, she stopped dead in her tracks as the 'gate shut down.
"John?" she asked nervously.
"On the planet. He took a hit, maybe two," Ronon grunted through clenched teeth.
Rodney barged forward.
"Elizabeth. Get a rescue team ready, now. We've got to go back, Kolya's got Sheppard." Turning to the 'gate tech, he screamed into the air, not waiting to get Weir's permission. "Dial the planet right now, so they can't dial out!"
The tech didn't wait, he immediately dialled and breathed a sigh of relief as the wormhole engaged.
"Major Lorne? Get a team down here immediately, you have a rescue mission. I'll fill you in when you get here," Weir called into her headset urgently.
Ten minutes later, Ronon had been wheeled to the infirmary, and the rescue team was ready to go, Teyla and McKay accompanying them.
Weir smiled grimly at Lorne.
"Major? Bring the colonel back safely to us, please"
The major nodded his head.
"Will do, ma'am," he answered succinctly, as he headed out with his team behind him.
Sheppard was aware of motion. Opening his eyes tentatively, he squinted as he tried to bring the world into focus. What the hell was going on? John shook his head, and suddenly his brain made sense of the images it was receiving. Upside down. He was upside down. Someone was carrying him. John bit back a groan, as nausea reared its ugly head.
"Down…I need to get down…" he whispered groggily.
The answer was brutal and swift.
John cried out, as he was unceremoniously dumped on the hard ground.
Curling into himself, John panted and groaned as spikes of red-hot pain radiated from his shoulder into his chest and down his back.
"You're down," the Genii guard carrying Sheppard sneered.
"You shouldn't have done that, Maddon. Commander Kolya wants him alive. His wound looks pretty bad, and he's bleeding too much…"
"Shut up, Lennox! It wasn't my fault he got in the way of my bullets. I'm not going to kill him, just…treat him to some Genii hospitality before we hand him to the Commander. Wouldn't want to not show our appreciation to a man who killed sixty Genii soldiers," came the reply.
John listened to the men's conversation, knowing he was in big trouble. Straightening out, he considered his options. Once the big goon who'd carried him had got through with him, he knew he'd have bruises at least to go with the gunshot wound. Then, if he were to be handed over to Kolya. Well, John knew he wouldn't be around long enough to enjoy the reunion with his nemesis.
"You enjoyed your little rest, Atlantian scum?" Maddon asked, before brutally kicking John in his unprotected ribs.
John moaned, and returned to his former curled up position, as the Genii thug continued to kick at him.
"Enough! What are you doing, Maddon? I thought I made it clear that I wanted Sheppard captured unharmed!"
Maddon stopped his brutal assault instantly.
"I apologise, Commander. He was giving me a bit of trouble, and I forgot my position."
John opened his eyes, and watched as Kolya drew his gun.
"I expect my orders to be followed. You won't fail me again, Maddon."
The single shot to Maddon's head killed him instantly, and John involuntarily flinched as he heard the bullet hit its target.
"Well, well. Lt. Colonel Sheppard. I see my men have been a little – over zealous in their capture of you." John recoiled as the Commander knelt over him menacingly. "No matter. They've saved me time, and have hastened your departure from your pathetic existence."
John looked up defiantly.
"Do what you want to me, Kolya. My team got away, and they're more important than me," John ground out between shallow breaths.
Kolya let out a deep, guttural laugh, as he stood and started to pace.
"Always putting your team first. Your humanity is your downfall. You really should have killed me when you had the chance, Sheppard."
John squeezed his eyes shut, as his ribs burned and his shoulder throbbed. He was beginning to feel light-headed, and knew he was going into shock from the blood-loss and his injuries.
"My humanity…is what stops me…from becoming you…" A sudden flare of pain stole John's breath away from him, and he coughed and spluttered in agony.
John felt a foot nudge him, and opening his eyes to slits, he saw Kolya looming over him.
"I've waited a long time for this moment. I had planned a different end for you. But…considering the circumstances, I'll adapt it," Kolya sneered.
"Lennox. Carry him back to the 'gate. I think he'll survive the trip."
John whimpered as he was roughly slung over the guard's shoulder, and gasped as he desperately tried to suck air into his constricted lungs.
"That's far enough. Drop your weapons and lower Colonel Sheppard to the ground."
John inwardly sighed as he recognised Lorne's commanding voice, and a small, involantary cry escaped his lips as he felt himself placed on the hot, forest floor.
"Back away. Keep those hands up. Commander Kolya, I presume?"
"Yes, yes, that's him. Oh shit, Sheppard. What's the bastard done to you?" John smiled as he heard McKay's ascerbic tone.
Suddenly, hands were on him, undoing his vest, and feeling his chest. Breathing was becoming a chore, and John couldn't help a soft whimper, as Rodney's fingers touched bruised flesh, and damaged bones.
"This is going to hurt, I'm afraid. So, I'll apologise in advance, Colonel."
Sheppard knew what McKay was referring to, as he felt a field dressing firmly pressed into the front of his shoulder. Then more pain flooded John's senses as he felt another shoved into his back. Both times, John grunted, biting his lip so hard that he drew blood.
John heard McKay shout, and distantly heard gunfire, as his head swam from the overwhelming pain and lack of oxygen, as he struggled to draw in enough air.
"Leave Kolya, Teyla. We need to get Sheppard back to Atlantis," John heard Rodney shout.
On the edge of his hearing, John made out Kolya's voice.
"Until next time, Colonel," the commander's voice promised, as it faded in the distance.
"I will go after him. He must not be allowed to escape, Major." John recognised Teyla's voice. Summoning his last ounce of strength, John opened his eyes.
"No," he whispered. "Let him go."
"We need to go – NOW!" John heard McKay yell, as his ears began to ring, and his vision greyed. The air became heavy, as John struggled to draw air into his lungs.
"Sheppard? No, no, don't do this. Stay with me. Just a few more minutes and we'll be back in Atlantis. Carson'll fuss over you, and everything will be fine. Sheppard? Sheppard…." Were the last words John heard as his eyes closed and he slipped into oblivion.
Beeping invaded his hearing. An annoying, repetitive beep. What was that noise? Shifting slightly, to search out the noise caused pain – crushing, breathtaking agony. Struggling to open glued together eyes, John groaned as he tried to remember where he was and what had happened. He then recognised the familiar smell assaulting his nostrils. An antiseptic odour. Unique in its origin. The infirmary. He was in the infirmary.
A soft Scottish brogue interrupted John's observations.
"Colonel? No, don't move, Son. You're safe and in the infirmary on Atlantis. You've done it again, and landed up in my care after a wee altercation with some Genii troops. Do you remember?"
John struggled to piece together the images in his head. Kolya? Wasn't he dead? No. John remembered the Genii Commander's face peering into his own.
"My team?" John was startled to hear his raspy voice.
"All safe, Lad. Ronon was shot in the leg, but he's healing well. Only Captain Smith was injured other than that. Took a bullet to the arm. Nothing too serious I'm glad to report. As usual, you came off the worst."
John felt the tug of an IV in his hand.
"I'm going to give you something for the pain, now. It'll make you sleepy, but sleep is what you need right now. Just close your eyes, and rest."
John heard Carson's soothing voice, and felt cool, numbing liquid course through his veins.
"Kolya?" John had to know.
"Got away, I'm afraid. Don't worry about that at the moment. That's it, just relax and you'll be good as new in no time."
John's last thought before sleep enveloped him, was that he very much doubted that.
Elizabeth bit her lip as she entered the infirmary, and slowed her run to a brisk walk. Approaching John's bed, she closed her eyes in shock, as she saw her battered and pale military commander lying unconscious in his bed, with Carson standing to the side of him.
"Carson. How is he?"
Beckett turned to look at Weir.
"Just woke up briefly. He was a little disoriented and confused, and in a great deal of pain. I just knocked him back out again." Carson saw Weir's worried expression. "Now, don't worry, love. He'll be fine in time. His shoulder's not as bad as you might think. The damage wasn't as serious as it could have been, and we've replaced the blood he lost. His ribs are a bit of a mess, but fortunately his internal bleeding has stopped, so he won't need further surgery."
Elizabeth lowered herself into a chair at the bottom of John's bed.
"We nearly lost him again, Carson. Thank you for bringing him back."
Elizabeth thought back to the scene that had met her when she descended the 'gate room stairs, the previous day. John had been laid on the floor, blood over his face, neck and shoulder, his black t-shirt clinging to his lean frame. Rodney was screaming for Carson, as he held a blood-soaked field dressing on John's shoulder. When Rodney called out that John wasn't breathing, Elizabeth had thought that her heart had stopped beating, and everything around her had seemed to move too slowly. But Carson had saved the day. Running in and taking over from Rodney, breathing life into John's weak body. He'd been revived quickly, so Elizabeth had known John should recover, but Carson hadn't allowed anybody to visit John in the infirmary, though he'd kept all informed of the colonel's condition.
Weir had known the previous afternoon that surgery had been successful, and that despite John being very sick, that he was likely to recover – eventually. However, hearing that was one thing, seeing with her eyes was another. When she'd got the call from Carson early that morning informing her that she could see John, she'd ran all the way, desperate to confirm that her friend was alive and well. As she looked at him now, she realised how close they'd come to losing him.
"Aye. He certainly has nine lives, doesn't he?" Carson mused.
"And how many has he used up, Carson?"
"Now, don't go fretting, Elizabeth. He'll be fine. Shame we didn't get Kolya. He asked about him, you know." Carson finished checking the monitors, and turned to face Weir.
Elizabeth shook her head in disbelief.
"I worry for John. Kolya wants revenge so badly. I'm scared he'll succeed and kill him."
Carson strolled over to Weir and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"We won't let him. Ronon is so pissed at Kolya, when he gets hold of him…"
"I know. I visited him last night, and he was itching to get out of bed and search for him."
"I had to threaten to sedate him, to get him to lie down. Fortunately Teyla managed to talk some sense into him." Beckett smiled warmly at Weir.
"Colonel Sheppard's team are very protective of him, you know. Rodney was here earlier spitting blood about Kolya's actions. They'll not let Kolya harm him again."
Elizabeth exhaled, and concern was written in her features.
"I know. They might not have much say next time, though."
Carson grimaced, and squeezed Elizabeth's shoulder.
"Aye, I know. Come on. Let's get you a nice cup of Athosian tea."
Beckett led Weir out of the infirmary, leaving his patient to sleep.
Waking up a second time was every bit as painful as it had been the first. John's head felt groggy and heavy, his shoulder pounded mercilessly, and pain lanced his chest with every breath he took.
Opening weary, heavy eyes, John tried to focus on his surroundings. As his vision came into focus, he managed a feeble smile, as he saw Rodney and Teyla sitting by his bed, both sleeping.
Summoning the strength to talk, John was surprised when nothing but a croak came from his parched, dry throat. An annoying tickle formed in his airway, and John knew if he coughed, it would hurt like hell. Trying to suppress such a natural reflex was impossible, and John tensed as he started to cough. Pain instantly kicked in, and the harder he tried to relax, the tenser he became.
John closed his eyes and felt himself hunching over, unable to stop his body from reacting to the painful spasms it was enduring.
"All right, Colonel. Let's just sit you up a bit."
Sheppard was relieved to hear Carson's placating voice. John's coughs started to die down as he felt the head of his bed rise, and an ice chip was placed between his dry lips. The chilled water slipped down soothingly, and John just lay motionless, eyes squeezed tightly shut, panting, with sweat dripping into his tear-filled eyes.
"You've got yourself in a bit of a state, haven't you, Lad?" Carson tutted. John thought that was a slight understatement, but could only managed a moan by way of reply. "I expect that was extremely painful. Just bear with me, and I'll give you something for your pain. Rodney?" John heard a shuffling. "Hand me that syringe over there. Yes, that one."
John's hearing faded in and out, as he struggled to slow his heart rate, and control his pain. He thought he heard Rodney and Teyla's concerned voices, but couldn't make out what was being said. John knew Carson had taken care of his needs when he felt a familiar cooling numbness permeate his abused body. Instantly, John felt his body relax, and let out a soft groan as his pain finally diminished.
"Is that better, Colonel?" Carson asked hopefully.
Opening blurry eyes, John managed a weak nod.
"Would you like some more ice chips? I'm afraid I can't let you drink anything yet, but the ice will ease your dry throat."
John didn't have the strength to answer, but again nodded his assent, parting his lips as more ice was gently manoeuvred into his willing mouth. He closed his eyes in bliss as the liquid trickled down his oesophagus. At times like these John thought how much he appreciated Carson, and made a note to tell him as much.
"Thanks, Doc," he managed to whisper in a slurred, gruff voice.
"You're welcome, Colonel. Rodney, Teyla. Don't keep him up for too long, he really needs to rest some more. I'll be back in ten minutes and I expect you both to be gone, understood?"
A weak smile crossed John's lips, as he heard Rodney mutter 'fascist' under his breath, and Teyla's subsequent admonishing of the scientist for his unkind comment about Beckett.
"Are you going to open your eyes, or are you enjoying yourself too much in La-la Land?"
John opened his eyes to see Rodney's face looming above him.
"Ah, here we go. We have made contact with intelligent life. Well, as intelligent as you ever get…"
"Thanks, McKay. And I thought Elizabeth needed to practice her bedside manner…" John replied softly.
Sheppard felt a gentle, warm hand on his arm.
"It is good to see you awake, John. We have been most worried about you."
John turned his head slightly to see Teyla smiling warmly at him.
"Thanks, Teyla. You okay?"
The Athosian bowed her head.
"We are all fine. Ronon is over there." Teyla jerked her head in the direction of the Satedan's bed. "He is fine, but sleeping at the moment. I believe Carson may have drugged him with out him knowing," she chuckled.
John grimaced in sympathy.
"He'll love that. Is he all right?"
"He's fine. I don't know why Carson didn't let him go. I mean it's not as if the wound was serious or anything. Yet he gets the good drugs, which, I might add, I never seem to. I swear it's a conspiracy…"
The corners of Sheppard's mouth twitched as he listened to McKay's complaints. Remembering the events that got him his ticket to an extended stay in the infirmary, John's face tensed.
"Thanks for coming back for me, guys. I guess I had a lucky escape."
"There was no luck involved, Colonel. My quick thinking saved you from Kolya's clutches, if I hadn't had us dial the planet's address again so quickly, he'd have 'gated with you somewhere else, though I suppose Lorne may have helped a bit too."
John smiled again.
"Well, yes…you're welcome," the physicist stuttered.
Teyla's worried expression caught John's eye.
"I am sorry I failed to capture Kolya, John. Our first priority was to return you safely to Atlantis. You were very seriously injured…"
"As I remember, I ordered you to let him go, Teyla. Don't worry about it. As I said, I had a lucky escape. Next time I will kill him," John said seriously.
McKay's face showed his annoyance.
"I never thought I'd say this about anybody. But, I really hope you do kill him. You should have on Dagan, not that I wasn't impressed with your less than gung-ho attitude. It's nice to know you're not completely heartless, though I think you erred on that occasion. Of course, hindsight's a wonderful thing…"
John interrupted McKay's rambling.
"I didn't kill him because I'm better than him, Rodney. My humanity is what separates me from the likes of Kolya. God knows, I've done some terrible things in my military career, but killing someone when you don't have to…well, not even I'm that much of a cold –hearted bastard."
"You are a warrior, sometimes we have no choice but to end another's life. You are a good man, John."
Teyla's eyes bored into John's, and he nodded once, to acknowledge her serious words.
"Well, I think that's enough of the touchy-feely cheesey feelings stuff. Wouldn't want you throwing up now, would we, Colonel?" Rodney's voice didn't hide his emotion.
"Yeah, throwing up's definitely not on my list of things to do…Look, seriously, thanks guys, I owe you one."
"Think nothing of it," Teyla replied soothingly. "You look very tired. I think we should let you rest. We will come back when you are feeling better."
John's eyes closed as exhaustion started to claim him.
"Yeah. Later, guys," he yawned.
As sleep approached, John thought about Kolya. The bastard had wanted him dead, not that he was surprised. He knew he'd had a lucky escape, despite Rodney's protestations, and he also knew he'd have to be careful in the future. Kolya was bent on revenge, and John's last thought before he finally succumbed to sleep, was that he'd be damned if Kolya would succeed. He'd protect his team and Atlantis at all costs. The next time Kolya came knocking, John would be prepared.