By Leesa Perrie
Runner AU and Epilogue
(Dialogue from the episode is in italics)
Rodney was running. Not in any particular direction, just away from Ford. He couldn't believe he'd shot Ford. He'd really shot him! And now, well, if Ford caught up with him, he didn't reckon much for his chances of survival.
Just keep going. Someone should have heard the gunfire. Someone should be coming.
He was running and then something grabbed his left ankle, and he was falling, hitting the back of his head on the ground, before flying up into the air, ending upside down. A sharp pain lanced through his leg; his left ankle, knee and hip felt on fire.
"Crap," the pain was intense, "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!"
And, as if things couldn't possible get any worse, they did, as Ford appeared, giggling at the sight of McKay hanging from a tree
"Well, look at you!" Ford exclaimed, still giggling.
"Yes – look at me! It's funny, huh? You set this up? It's clever." Rodney managed to spit out despite the pain, and the nausea. He was sure it wasn't all caused by spinning around upside down from a tree, he probably had concussion as well.
"It wasn't me." Ford said, still giggling.
"No, huh? Well, I'm glad we could both, uh, still laugh about this together." He gave a laugh, more pain filled than mirth filled. "How about cutting me down now?"
Ford giggled again, and then, in the blink of an eye, turned serious.
"No. I think I'm still gonna kill you."
Oh crap, he knew this was going to happen. Okay, he just needed to keep talking, maybe distract Ford, maybe even get Ford to change to friendship again. After all, the guy was seriously unstable, if he talked enough he might be able to defuse things.
"What?! What do you mean, 'still'?! When did this escalate to killing?" Rodney asked.
"When you shot me." Ford replied.
"It's a flesh wound! I knew it wasn't gonna hurt you – you're, you're Super Ford, remember?"
"You tried to kill me."
"No, I wasn't trying to kill you. Honest!"
"Sure seemed like it to me." Ford aimed his gun at McKay.
"Wait, hey! You - you can't kill an unarmed upside down man!"
Oh, he was so dead. So very dead. But just as Ford was about to pull the trigger someone knocked him to the ground. Someone he didn't recognise. Maybe the 'guy' Ford had mentioned before, the one he thought had Sheppard and Teyla.
As he watched the fight unfold, he was aware of the increasing pain all down his left side, not that his right side was happy either. He hoped the other guy won the fight, not Ford. He had no doubts that Ford would kill him, and although he had no idea who the other guy was, he could only hope his intentions were different. After all, if he wanted Rodney dead, he'd have let Ford kill him. So, hopefully, that meant he didn't, want him dead, that was.
Oh crap, the pain was getting unbearable. And the fight seemed to be going on forever.
And then Ford was reaching for his wraith stunner, and there was a voice from the darkness.
Sheppard. Oh, thank goodness.
And then Ford was running, and Sheppard was diving off into the forest after him, leaving Rodney with his unknown rescuer. Oh great. Not that he blamed Sheppard, they couldn't let Ford go, he knew that. They had to try and get him back to Atlantis, and hopefully help. But just who was this…guy…this behemoth…he swallowed nervously, and then as the guy turned to walk away, he knew he had to say something.
"Hi! I'm Doctor Rodney McKay. Could you, um, get me down please?"
Oh that look wasn't so good. But at least the guy wasn't walking away. In fact, he was walking towards him, looking him up and down. Rodney gulped.
"You don't want that." The guy said.
"What? Of course I want that. Please, my leg is killing me here, you've got to get me down!"
The guy looked him up and down again, a slight smirk on his face. He levered himself under Rodney, taking the worst of the weight off his leg.
"If I try to get you down, you'll end up hitting the ground face first."
"Oh. Not good."
"Hmm. Okay, so I guess I'm just gonna have to hold on until someone else comes to help. You…er…you don't mind…erm…staying right where you are right now, do you?"
The guy didn't reply, but he didn't move either, so Rodney took that as a good sign.
"Specialist Ronon Dex."
"Hmm, what? Oh, that's your name?"
"Name and rank."
"Oh, okay. So, hi." Damn, this was hard work. And still painful, despite the weight the guy…Ronon…was taking. Oh no, no, no, no. "I think I'm gonna be sick…"
Ronon moved, still taking most of Rodney's weight, but moving himself away from potential splash back as Rodney heaved several times. Fortunately, there wasn't much in his stomach to come up, or down if you preferred, and Ronon avoided any mess getting onto him.
They fell into silence. Rodney was too tired and ill feeling to try and talk anymore, and felt himself start to drift a little. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when Sheppard reappeared from out of the forest. But Rodney noticed he was alone. Not a good sign.
"Damn, McKay, you look like shit."
"Thanks," Rodney muttered. "Think you could help get me down from here?"
Rodney lost track of things for a while, and then became aware of being carefully placed on the ground.
"Huh? What happened?"
"You passed out," Sheppard said, looking worried. "Looks like you whacked the back of your head good and proper."
"Hmm, yes." The pain in his leg made itself known again, "oh crap, I think my leg's going to fall off!"
"Easy, McKay, easy."
He drifted again, vaguely aware of Sheppard talking on his headset and asking for a stretcher and Beckett to come to them as soon as the wraith darts were gone. He wondered what Beckett was doing on this awful planet.
And then everything went black, as he fell into unconsciousness.
Pain. He stifled a scream as someone prodded at his knee. His eyes flew open.
Carson. Damn it, did he have to prod him like that?
"Hurts," he slurred.
"Aye, I'm sure it does, but I can't give you much for it, not with a head injury."
"Oh," and then more pain hit, "damn it, Carson, leave me alone!"
"Sorry, but we need to splint your ankle and your knee. It'll be a lot better once they've been immobilised."
He continued to groan and curse as the radiation suit and then his pants were removed, and splints were placed on both his ankle and knee. He was sure he'd passed out a few times during the process. He only wished he could have been unconscious for the whole of it. Damn, but it hurt.
"Aye, I'm here."
"How bad is it?" There was a pause, and then a sigh.
"Bad. It looks like your knee cap is dislocated, and you're bound to have ligament and probably tendon damage there as well. Your ankle looks like it may have suffered ligament and tendon damage too."
"Oh. Will I…er…I will be able to walk…won't I?" He tried to keep the panic out of his voice, but guessed he'd probably failed.
"I won't lie to you, Rodney. You're going to need surgery, and to stay off that leg for several weeks. Then there will be months of physio. You will be able to walk again, it's just going to take time. All being well, you should have near to, if not full, mobility. Eventually."
"Yes, Rodney, months."
He fell quiet at that, and started drifting again. He wondered if he would ever be fit enough to go off world again, or whether he was going to be confined to Atlantis. And then a thought suddenly struck him, making him panic again.
"Don't…don't send me back to Earth…"
"Rodney, calm down."
"Please…promise me…not to send me to Earth…want to stay…"
"We won't send you anywhere you don't want to go." Sheppard promised.
"Colonel, I'm not so sure about that," he heard Carson say, "it might be better for him to go back for a while."
"If he wants to stay on Atlantis, then he stays. I'm sure you and your staff have the necessary skills not to need to send him away." Sheppard again.
He heard an exasperated sigh from Beckett.
"I'm not promising anything…but I won't send him to back to Earth unless I feel it is the best option for his recovery."
"Then it will never be the best option for his recovery." Sheppard said, with a finality that even Carson felt wasn't worth arguing against. At least, not right now.
Rodney could feel himself floating away again. Damn, this was annoying. He kept losing track of time. But Sheppard wasn't going to let him be sent back to Earth, so that would be okay. He didn't know quite why he didn't want to leave Atlantis. Maybe he was afraid if he left, he wouldn't be allowed back…
He realised he must have passed out again, as he opened his eyes to what was undoubtedly the ceiling of the infirmary on Atlantis.
The pain seemed somewhat dulled, but he was still aware of it. His mouth felt dry. He needed a drink. Desperately.
"Hey, Rodney. Welcome back."
Sheppard. He turned his head towards the voice, blinking groggily.
"Here, Beckett said you could have some ice chips when you woke up. You have woken up, haven't you?"
Well, that was eloquent, he thought sourly. He saw Sheppard grin, and then offer him some ice chips. They were the most wonderful thing he had ever tasted. Well, okay, they weren't really, but right now, they certainly felt like it. He felt his eyes closing again. He really wanted to ask how he was…but he couldn't seem to stay awake.
The next time he woke up, he felt more alert. Not fully awake, but much better than before. Then he tried to sit up. Crap. That was a bad, bad, bad idea! The pain hit him with a force he hadn't expected, causing him to cry out.
Suddenly there was movement at the side of him, and he turned to see Carson injecting something into the IV.
"Easy, now, Rodney. Probably best if you don't try to move too much."
He didn't know what Carson had given him, but the pain was receding to a dull ache.
"Yeah. Much," he saw Carson smile. "How long have I been out for?"
"Several hours. I was initially worried about a head injury, but a scan soon put that to rest."
"You said something about operating?" He couldn't quite recall everything that Carson had said on the planet, but he was sure he'd heard talk of surgery and months of recovery.
"Yes. I've already done that. Had to realign your left knee cap which was dislocated, and sew a few tendons and ligaments together in both the knee and ankle. Fortunately, your hip is only strained, no serious damage there. Though you'll be feeling bruised and sore for some time now."
"Oh," the drug, he realised, was beginning to make him drowsy. "This sucks."
"Aye, I'm sure it does."
"You won't send me back to Earth, will you?" He looked at Carson, pleading with him silently.
"No. I don't think that will be necessary right now. If everything goes alright, you can stay here for treatment."
He relaxed at that.
"So, how long before I can get back to work?"
He heard a huff of amusement, and stared at Carson.
"Typical," he heard him mutter, and then add, "we'll see how things go. Maybe in a day or two I'll allow you access to your laptop, for short periods of time to start with. Then build up if you are coping. It'll be a while before I let you out of the infirmary, and even then you'll be on restricted duties."
Rodney rolled his eyes.
"You're acting like a mother hen. I'll be fine. Just bring me my laptop, I've got work to do."
"No, you've got some more sleeping to do." Carson injected something else into the IV.
"Damn you, Carson, there's too much I need to be doing to…."
He didn't seen Carson's satisfied smile as he fell asleep.
A couple of days passed. Various people visited, but a lot of the time was spent sleeping. Carson claimed it was to be expected what with the pain medication he was on, but he found it frustrating.
Now, at last, Carson had relented and allowed him access to a laptop. Zelenka had dropped it off for him, but admitted that it only had a small amount of his ongoing projects on it, as per Carson's orders. He'd scowled at that, and accused Radek of being afraid of Carson. Something Radek freely admitted to, the coward.
As if it wasn't bad enough that he only had a small portion of his projects to work on, after an hour, Carson insisted that he stop and rest, and the laptop was quickly whisked away. He'd growled and complained, to no avail, and had fallen asleep fairly soon after that, which was doubly annoying as it only made Carson believe that he'd been right to take the laptop from him when he did.
And now he was awake and bored. Bored, bored, and oh, did he mention bored? He wished he could make a break for freedom, but he knew there was no way his leg would support him, and as there were neither crutches nor a wheelchair within reach, he was going nowhere. He didn't think he'd last long at this rate, without going mad from boredom. And he knew he had a long way to go before being mobile again.
He was just about to call Carson over, just so he could annoy him, and spread the misery around a bit, after all, it was Carson who had confiscated the laptop until tomorrow, when Sheppard sauntered in.
"Hey, Rodney, how's it going?"
He rolled his eyes.
"Fine," he huffed out, "just going crazy from boredom, thanks to Carson, the little Hitler, taking my laptop away. And did you know he told Zelenka to ensure I only had a quarter of my ongoing projects on it, at that? How I'm supposed to get anything done?"
And damn if Sheppard didn't snort at that. He narrowed his eyes.
"Oh, why do I bother? Just go away and annoy someone else, if all you're going to do is laugh me."
"McKay, be nice. Or you'll miss out on the treat I had planned for you."
"Oh, and what sort of treat would that be?" He demanded.
Sheppard merely grinned, and then slipped around the curtain that separated him from the rest of the infirmary.
"Hey, where are you going? What about that treat you mentioned?"
"Hold your horses, McKay."
And then Sheppard was back, with a wheelchair. And Zelenka.
"Right, let's get you into the chair. Got to keep your leg elevated, but otherwise you'll be fine to go for a little trip."
"Does Carson know about this?" He asked warily.
"Yes. Well, he said we could do this in a couple of days, but hey, why wait?"
Sheppard, with help from Zelenka, who was stronger than he looked, were able to get him into the wheelchair, ensuring that his leg was kept straight. This meant that his left leg stuck out in front of him, but he could live with that if it meant getting out of the infirmary for a while.
"So, not so afraid of Carson, then?" He asked Radek.
"I will claim Colonel Sheppard forced me to help," Radek replied, with a mischievous look in his eyes.
"Oh thanks," Sheppard rolled his eyes, "put all the blame on me, why don't you!"
"Thanks, I think I will. You saw how he bullied me into this, didn't you, Radek?" He said.
"Yes, I did."
Sheppard merely shook his head.
"Should have known you geeks would stick together."
"Geeks?" He looked at Radek, "did he just call us geeks?"
"Do not bother yourself. It is a sign of jealousy, nothing more." Radek said with a grin.
"Hey!" Sheppard exclaimed, as he manoeuvred him out of the infirmary. "You'd better be nice to me. Especially you, McKay; I am, after all, in charge of where you go, and, more importantly, how fast you get there!"
Despite his protests, Sheppard refused to take him down to his lab, but insisted on going to a balcony. Claiming he needed the fresh air more than work. He disagreed, but was outvoted by Radek as well, the rat. He knew a conspiracy when he saw one.
Still, it had been nice to get out of the infirmary for a while, and the company wasn't that bad. And it was a nice sunny and warm day outside. They had talked about this and that, alternated the teasing; sometimes they ganged up on him, other times it was Radek and him against Sheppard, or Sheppard and him against Radek.
About an hour passed, and then they were interrupted by the arrival of one not-so-happy Scottish doctor, looking for his missing patient.
"I seem to recall saying that you could take Rodney for a bit of fresh air in a few days from now, and not now."
"Oh, did you?" Sheppard asked innocently, "I could have sworn you said we can take him out now. I don't remember hearing anything about a few days."
"Hmm, maybe I need to check your hearing. It won't do for the Chief Military Officer to be going deaf now, would it?" Carson replied.
"Um…well…it was Radek's idea!"
"It was not. I was…how you say…coerced into this."
Carson rolled his eyes, not looking the slightest bit convinced, and turned to glare at Rodney.
"Hey, don't look at me! I was…kidnapped! I was minding my own business, doing as I was told, when these two came in and bullied me out of bed…and then kidnapped me!"
"Uh huh, somehow I doubt that very much. At least these two galoots had the sense to keep you away from the labs. Now, how about we go back to the infirmary?"
It was not a suggestion. There went his freedom for the next few days, at least. But it had been worth it to get out for a bit, he'd been starting to go stir crazy already. He hated to think how he was going to get through the next few weeks, not to mention months to come. Even when he was released back to work, things were going to be difficult with his leg slowing him down. And he was going to be stuck on Atlantis for the time being. No going off world until he was fully recovered, Beckett would see to that.
All the way back to the infirmary, Carson lectured them on the idiocy of their trip, and the dangers to Rodney's health. By the time he was back in his bed, Sheppard and Radek were more than happy to flee the Doctor's wrath. Of course, this meant abandoning him to face Carson's ire alone, cowards that they were. Oh well, maybe if he feigned tiredness, Carson would relent.
Ow, damn it. Did Carson enjoy sticking needles in people? Hmm, no need to feign that tiredness after all…
In the end, Carson kept him confined to the infirmary, with just a few supervised trips out, for four weeks. He was allowed to work on his laptop, but frustratingly only for short periods of time.
But now, at last, he was allowed to return to his quarters, and to go back to work on a part time basis. It was something, at least. Carson insisted that he use the wheelchair for at least another week, and then he would need crutches for a while. And, although he balked at using it, and at only being allowed to return to work on reduced hours, he wasn't about to flaunt Carson's orders, or else he'd be back in the infirmary until the tyrant decided he could be trusted. He wasn't about to risk his new found freedom by annoying the Scottish dictator. The one with the needles…the very big needles. No, he'd try and follow doctor's orders, for now, anyway.
It was nice to get away from the smell of antiseptic that invaded the infirmary, and followed Beckett about as well. He was beginning to think of it as Eau du Carson…a new aftershave for the doctor abroad. He grinned. Of course, he wasn't about to tell the man, he needed to keep on his good side for now. Later, though…
He sighed, happy to be in his own quarters. It was good to be free, even if his freedom came with restrictions, and although he had months of recovering to do, he knew he'd be going off-world again. He was determined. No way was he going to be stuck on Atlantis any longer than absolutely necessary. He was surprised at how determined he was, considering all the trouble that awaited his team off-world, but the thought of staying on Atlantis all the time was too… well, staid. Boring. Huh, guess he had changed.
Anyway, Sheppard had assured him that, although they would need another member on the team, his place would be waiting for him to reclaim it as soon as he could. Sheppard and Teyla were both convinced he would rejoin them, and he wasn't going to let them, or himself, down by letting anything stop him from doing so.
So, follow the draconian doctor's orders, work with the physio, and try not to re-injure himself in the meantime. He could do that.
He wondered who Sheppard would place on his team…he'd heard he wanted that Ronon guy to join it, and it looked like that might be the case. He supposed he ought to try and get to know the guy a little if he was going to be a team-mate in the future. But who would Sheppard take in his place? Radek? He laughed, he could so see that going down well with the Czech! No, Radek wouldn't like the idea of going off-world, not one bit. So who? Pity Sam wasn't here…
Several months later
Elizabeth was on the balcony overlooking the stargate. She smiled as she saw Sheppard and his team wait for the gate to engage. John, Teyla and Ronon were watching, with some amusement, as Samantha Carter talked to an excited, though he was trying to hide it, Rodney McKay.
They had been lucky enough to be able to 'poach' Carter from SG-1 for the last month to join Sheppard's team. The previous months had seen a turnover of different scientists on the team, all of whom were relieved when someone else replaced them. Not that she could blame any of them, going off-world on a first contact team was dangerous, and many scientists were more than happy to leave that to others.
The last month had been better, with Carter on the team. Not just for her knowledge but also for her experience. It had been interesting to watch the dynamics between her and Sheppard, who she allowed to stay in charge although she technically outranked him. As she had put it, she was there as a scientist, not as an Air Force colonel. It had also been fun watching Sam and Rodney together. They argued, annoyed each other, but ultimately were able to work together when the need arose. Elizabeth grinned to herself. It was obvious to all that Rodney still held a torch for Sam, much to her irritation. Not that it had become a problem. She seemed perfectly capable of handling him.
This was the first time Rodney would be going off-world since his accident. And, as soon as the team were gone, Carter would be returning to the SGC via the gate to rejoin SG-1.
She watched Rodney approach Sheppard with some query or other. It was amazing how well his injuries had healed. No sign of a limp, even. But then, Carson had kept a tight rein on the man, insuring he didn't do any further damage by overdoing things. And Rodney, for once, had gone along with things without complaint…well, without much complaint, anyway.
The gate engaged, and she watched as the team headed into the wormhole. She hoped this mission would be safe, and that they would come back unharmed.
If Rodney had known what awaited him, he would never have stepped foot through the gate that day. They had called in extra people on discovering a world that had suffered a culling, hoping to find survivors.
As Beckett, Lieutenant Cadman and himself headed back to the gate, a wraith dart approached from the distance….