Set in season three, tiniest of tiny spoilers for 'The Intruder'. No pairings but a nice dose of h/c for the boys :) No warnings unless you're scared of plants (or had nightmares after reading John Wyndham's novels, if you've read them, you'll get it ;))
This story will always be known in my head as the 'fic that went Rodney'. I was ord-requested to write a Sheppard whump fic. Whilst Sheppard gets whumped alot in this fic, it somehow turned into a Rodney story. He gets whumped too of course. Ah well :) Many thanks to Rachel who not only looked over this chapter and whipped it into shape (ow btw) but also sent me cookies :)
Rodney's only concession to his mechanistic view of the universe was that once in a while, it developed just enough personality to hate him. It didn't take a lot (look at Kavanagh). And today, the universe was obviously even more pissed at him than usual, because he was running through a goddamn jungle, breathless and packless, with a certain Colonel (who weighed a lot more than he looked) balanced precariously over his shoulder.
The mission had begun on a sunny day in mid-November (Earth calendar). It was early morning planetside, and they'd left the jumper behind in favour of walking. Not that there had been much of an option; the entire planet was covered in trees. Trees and trees and would you have guessed it? More trees! It was dull, boring, and far too hot. Rodney had taken comfort in complaining until Sheppard gave him the look that said 'shut up or I'll get Ronon to shoot you', and Ronon backed it up with a 'you know I will' glare of his own. Rodney, with his keen sense of self-preservation, had taken the hint.
And about five minutes later, they ran into the things.
The first sign of trouble was an animal, something resembling a small deer, lying dead a few metres in front of them. Slumped across it was a huge flower, large red petals draped over its neck like some monstrous napkin. From its stem protruded two limb-like leaves, and fastened to these were brown nodules, each about the size of a child's fist. Aside from the sheer size of the thing, (it would be a good four feet tall when upright), it had seemed quite innocuous.
It was only when they got close and the plant stood up that Rodney realised they might be in trouble.
The petals rose from the corpse, leaving a sticky patch of red where the centre of the flower had been. This centre, they saw, was oozing something sickly yellow, and about half a foot down the stem was a small black-blue orb, jelly-like and glistening, and scarily reminiscent of . . .
"Oh shit," Sheppard cursed, stopping dead, "is that an eye?"
If it wasn't, it was a damn good imitation. There was no visible pupil, but the whole thing could have been one huge one. The flower swayed gently in the breeze. No one moved.
"It's only a plant," Ronon muttered, but his hand was moving towards his blaster, "It's not dangerous."
No, except that Rodney didn't use to think that clouds were dangerous, either. Then one started wandering round his neighbourhood and sucking the life out of people. It had looked about as friendly as this flower.
Rodney waited as Sheppard stared at it for a minute. The plant stared right on back.
"Alright," the Colonel began, starting to move into the trees to their left. Ronon passed Rodney to follow suit. "Let's just—"
He didn't get any further because the plant leaned back, and then, like some damn baseball pitcher, swung its limbs forward to hurl several of the brown nodules at them. One hit Sheppard and exploded in a cloud of what looked like pine needles. Some hit the floor, a few got stuck in Ronon, and a lot got stuck in Sheppard, dozens of them stabbing into his arms, neck, and chest. Sheppard stumbled back with a cry, curling in on himself; Rodney caught him before he could fall.
Then the roots of the . . . thing slid outof the soil and started to move, pulling the plant along like some freakish beached octopus, and fast. That's when Rodney slung Sheppard's arm over his shoulder, Teyla grabbed Ronon, and they ran like hell.
Rodney wasn't sure when he lost sight of Teyla. There were so many trees, and Sheppard seemed to have lost all sense of balance. By the time Rodney realised that they were alone and there were no red flowers in sight, he couldn't go back because he didn't know which way they'd come. So he let the Colonel's arm drop from his shoulders and helped him settle against a tree trunk before pulling out his radio. "Teyla? Ronon?"
He was more than a little relieved when Teyla responded immediately. "Rodney! Where are you?"
Like an idiot, he looked round, as though a signpost might be lurking somewhere. "I don't know, somewhere with trees?"
"Well what do you expect me to say? They don't exactly have GPS in the Pegasus galaxy."
Teyla, as ever, ignored both the Earth reference and Rodney's attitude. "Fire your gun into the air. I will try to work out your position."
He didn't ask about the "I," just did as he was told. It seemed wrong to make such a bang when everything was so quiet. "Teyla? Did you hear that?"
A pause, then, "Yes . . . but it is hard. There are so many trees. You are at least half a mile away." Really? Apparently the three or four times a week (on average) he ran for his life were starting to pay off. "Try again."
Finally, after three more efforts, he and Teyla reached the conclusion that regrouping wasn't going to happen. "Perhaps we should both head to the Stargate? Ronon is . . . not well. But I believe we can make it. How is the Colonel?"
Sheppard? He turned back to the tree trunk, which he'd been ignoring in favour of watching out for more red plants. The Colonel was picking ineffectually at his sleeves, trying to extract the needles. When he caught Rodney looked he scowled. "McKay, little help here?"
Rodney told Teyla he'd call her back and, after taking another look round, knelt gingerly in front of Sheppard. "Here, let me." With his sleeve pulled over his hands, he began to pull out the small projectiles. Sheppard's breathing hitched, but he didn't jerk away. More for something to say than anything else, Rodney asked, "So umm, does it hurt?"
The contempt was palpable. "No Rodney. It feels great."
So the things didn't contain happy drugs, then. Pity.
"Give me a break, it's not everyday that the plants of this galaxy try to eat us." He got the last one out of Sheppard's arm and glanced a little nervously toward his chest, which had hopefully been protected by the flak jacket. "Should I . . .?"
"Just do it, McKay."
The next couple minutes were possibly the most uncomfortable ones that Rodney had experienced in this galaxy, up to and including the possession of his body by a certain Lieutenant. Physical contact just wasn't something he did. He was getting the last couple of needles out of Sheppard's neck when the man commented, almost casually, "I can't feel my fingers."
Rodney's hand froze at Sheppard's neck for a second. "What?"
"My fingers. Can't feel them. Or my toes actually."
Something hard and cold dropped into Rodney's stomach. He kept his eyes focused on the final needle as he pulled it out. "Pins and needles. You'll be fine."
"That animal died of something."
Boredom. Old age. "Quit the pessimism. It doesn't suit you."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I get a little edgy when I'm attacked by killer plants."
"We don't know they're killer. Maybe they're just scavengers."
"Scavenging plants, right. And the baseballs full of poison darts are just for kicks."
The rock in Rodney's stomach got a little heavier. He changed the subject. "Teyla and I think it's best to head to the gate separately. Whoever gets back first brings back a rescue team. If we keep a heading of due south, we should be back in—"
"Hours. Shouldn't take long at all. Ronon's not feeling great, but Teyla can handle him. So all we have to do is—"
He stopped, looked back at Sheppard with a face of frozen calm. "What?"
"Leave me. Get going and don't look back. Keep an eye out for the plants. I guess they don't show up on the scanners."
Rodney snorted, "What did they get you with, stupid juice? As if I'd—"
"McKay, that wasn't a request." There was ice and steel behind Sheppard's voice. But he was slouching against the tree trunk, and his hands were shaking a little in his lap.
"Forget it," Rodney answered, a little surprised by how much he meant it. "I'm not leaving you."
"I'm ordering you to—"
But Rodney wasn't listening anymore. A slither of red about ten metres caught his attention. The roots slithered forward, dug in, and pulled the plant along almost casually. Rodney slid an arm round Sheppard's shoulders. "Move, now."
"Now, Sheppard, unless you want us both to be pin cushion pizza at the killer plant buffet!"
Cursing like a marine, Sheppard hauled himself up none too elegantly, giving Rodney a neat bruise between the shoulder blades. They were barely ten metres away when the lurid red petals swung round Sheppard's tree. Rodney paused for a second, then spun, fumbling for his pistol.
"McKay?" Sheppard grunted, clinging to his shoulder.
He fired once, twice, five times, using up the round. Three bullets hit the plant, but it didn't even slow down. Letting loose a decent curse of his own, he readjusted Sheppard's arm round his neck and proceeded for the second time in an hour to run like hell.
He didn't stop running until Sheppard shouted in his ear for what must have been the third or fourth time that they were safe, going the wrong way, and he had to throw up. It was mainly the last one that got Rodney to stop and let Sheppard collapse to the ground. Almost immediately, the Colonel started retching (how revolting). Rodney sort of hovered, not sure if he should hold Sheppard's hair or rub his back or something. But Sheppard's hair, while annoying, was in no way impeding the vomiting process, and Rodney didn't see how the back-rubbing thing would help, nor did he really want to try it. So he just kept an eye out for signs of red, and when Sheppard was done, he was there to drag him back to another tree so at least he didn't fall face first in his own vomit.
Sheppard hung forward over his knees, his arms draped loosely over them. He was breathing too hard, face turning all the wrong shades of red and white. Rodney tried to think of something to say that didn't sound stupid. No luck.
"Huh? What?" He jumped, eyes darting round the trees. "Is there another one? Where? Can you—"
"Oh, yes, right." He pulled off his pack, trying to calm down a little. Not every part of this jungle could have killer plants, could it? They'd walked for hours before seeing the first one. This was just a coincidence. He held out the canteen to Sheppard, avoiding eye contact.
"That might not work so well."
Startled, Rodney looked up. What might not— oh . . . Sheppard's hands hung like dead fish on the end of his arms. That was fast. Too fast.
"You want me to—?"
"Please." Sheppard replied levelly, but he was avoiding eye contact too. At least Rodney wasn't the only one who found this horribly uncomfortable.
The drinking process went about as well as you'd think. By the end of it, Sheppard's jacket got more water than he did. But at least he'd managed some fluids. Water was good if you'd been poisoned, right? Or were you not supposed to give people anything to drink? Well, Sheppard would know. He wouldn't drink anything if he didn't think it was safe, would he? Oh, who was he kidding? Sheppard had flown them both into a sun before because he thought it was a good idea. That it'd worked was not the point.
Sheppard wasn't looking any better. He was leaning back against his pack, eyes closed, mouth tight. Rodney wondered if he was in pain. Paralysis didn't hurt, right? He could ask Sheppard if he wanted something for it . . . But then he might say yes, and they'd really be in trouble.
Before he could do anything, his radio buzzed. "Rodney? Colonel Sheppard? Are you there?"
"Teyla, thank God, are you two alright?"
"We are fine for now. However, Ronon is— Ronon!" A click and then nothing.
"Teyla? Teyla!" Static.
"What happened?" Sheppard was sitting up straighter, skin clammy and pale in a really bad way. Rodney just stared at him.
"I don't know."
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