TITLE: Whatever They May Be
AUTHOR: Parisindy
RATING: T for Violence and Whump, Team fic.
DISCLAIMER: No money was received or exchanged. I do not own Stargate Atlantis or any of its Characters. This is purely for fun.
NOTES: Takes place directly after the episode 'The Return P1' S03E10 This is an alternative tag to what happened in P1
BETA: Thanks to ElJay for being my Beta reader.

"A man is responsible for his choices and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.

W.H. Auden, A Certain World

Whatever They May Be

This isn't the way he had planned things to go. John Sheppard sat detached and bemused, staring down at his outstretched leg. Blood, and he was sure he saw some exposed tendons, gleamed brightly in contrast to the dry grey dust that surrounded him. Grit dug in to the heels of his hands as the dust billowed around him in the breeze that always seemed to drift over the ocean. He was in that split moment after injury. The moment where you can analyze what happened without the consequences. Shock and disbelief at the turn of events left him feeling detached, blinking at his injury blankly. It didn't hurt yet, but it would.

There shouldn't be dust here. He was sitting on Atlantis' the north pier, why was there dust? His befuddled brain didn't allow him the time to sort the puzzle out when everything caught up to him.

The pain washed over him like the breakers at Del Mar. He leaned forward grasping his knee, not quite touching the wound and gasping for air as pain drove the oxygen from his lungs. He slumped forward slightly but straightened as he heard the click clack of the damned Replicator bugs. Why did they have to be bugs? Incoming enemy fire exploded like firecrackers all around him. He rolled over trying to gain his feet but the shudder of pain drove him back down. Dammit, this was supposed to work. But like all his best laid plans of late…it hit the fan quickly. Actually it had probably hit the fan way back when they lowered the jumper in to the Gate room back at the SGC. It seemed like days ago, not hours.

More explosions left his ears ringing and he flung himself to the side hugging the steel floor beneath him. Even if there had been no incoming enemy fire his ears would have been ringing from pain. Hearing was over-rated anyways.

As if he needed proof that he was off his game, a hand on his shoulder startled him. Sheppard jerked back, hands up in defence. But it was Ronan so he stopped his meagre attempt at a heroic, 'Butch Cassidy' style, last stand. His leg bellowed with agony protesting his movements, so much so that he was sure for a moment that he would throw up right then and there. He swallowed hastily and held it in. Butch would have been proud.

Need forced John to focus. "Ronon! Where are the others? We need to find them!"

Another explosion and they both hit the ground hard, spitting blood and whatever that damned dust was. The pain in his leg flaring to a higher level and Sheppard swore between gasps of air. He was pissed. It's not like they didn't see this coming.

They had entered Atlantis with both guns blazing…literally. But the Replicators had battled with an efficiency that he hadn't expected. It was stupid, how could a computer not be efficient? What really sucked was the redundancy of their effectiveness; the Replicators simply out numbered them and out powered them. But how could something that looked like badly put together Lego carry that much firepower? And the bug creatures were just the start of it; the human Replicators were an even bigger pain in the ass. He hadn't really underestimated them; he knew this would be a tough battle. But he had hoped that they could use some of the city's own fire power. But the Ancients had completely locked them out. He couldn't even get the doors to open properly anymore.

It hadn't taken the bloody things that long before they were cornered out on one of the piers. The Colonel swore when he found he lacked the strength to immediately right himself, as his vision grew dark around the edges. Ronan's meaty hand reached over and gave him the help he need to sit up.

He needed to stop them; he couldn't let them get away with this. But they were outnumbered on all fronts. John gritted his teeth; if he was going to do anything he was going to need to be on his feet, but first he needed his weapon. He twisted, and attempted to grab the ARG from where he had dropped it. The pain in his knee twisted in his gut as he moved, but he had no time to worry about it as more explosions peppered the pier, chewing up the ancient construction like it was tinfoil. A loud boom, shrapnel flew, the ground shook and his weapon spun away like a child's top.

"Dammit, you bastards!" he screamed in to the wind.

"Sheppard, time to go." Ronan's voice echoed through the din.

"No, not yet." But as the Colonel attempted to get to his feet, he fell forward, unable to stop himself or put any weight on his injured leg.

Ronan, not taking no for an answer, suddenly grabbed him around the middle and started to haul him towards the near-by outcropping of what looked like miniature turrets. He struggled, his arms were pinned by the steely embrace. Not ready to give up yet, he kicked out but his one good leg found no purchase on the loose and blowing terrain. Why the freaking hell was it so dusty!?

He growled and screamed like a wild thing in his attempts. Okay so he wasn't being rational anymore but he had enough of this. He would not submit! Not to the Replicators, not to the Ancients, not to the US Military, not to anyone. He needed to find the rest of his team, the general, hell even Woolsley.

But Ronan had other plans, and bigger muscles.

The Runner threw the Colonel unceremoniously up against one of the balcony rails but also behind one of the small turrets. It offered them minimal protection, but for now it was better than nothing. Ronan quickly ducked down beside him while returning fire on the approaching bug battalion.

Everything grew black for a few minutes after John hit the ground. When he came back to his senses he woke coughing violently, blinking hazily realizing that they weren't alone anymore. Rodney was there, not two feet away, looking like he had seen a ghost, wide-eyed and shaky. His 9mm was drawn, firing odd shots around the turret before quickly ducking down again, closing his eyes with relief.

John had to stop himself from laughing as the ridiculousness of it all, three guys hiding behind one small turret trying to hold off an army. He realized it must be the blood loss leading him towards hysterics like a lamb to the slaughter, but John was anything but a lamb. He was 'the Sheppard' and he was about to prove it. Lurching forward, he tackled the surprised scientist, his body weight, as slight as he was, was enough to cause them both to fall back. McKay yelped and hit the deck hard. "Colonel what the hell!?" Sheppard twisted with both hands on Rodney's weapon. When Rodney's arm bent well past being comfortable the scientist let go with a yelp, allowing John to elbow himself free.

"You could have freaking asked!" shouted the enraged scientist but John ignored him focusing his attention and the gun on the approaching enemy.

"Where are the others?" He kept his voice low and steady, but easy enough to be heard over the oncoming blasts. It pissed him off even more that Ronan looked annoyed but not worried.

"Sheppard we don't have time for this," the Runner hissed not even sparing him more than a glance.

"I said, where are they?"

Ronan lips curled back half snarl, "We lost them in the corridor, we got separated don't you remember?"

John's hands wavered slightly; he wasn't feeling so well. Nausea and weakness were threatening, but damned if he was going to give his body the satisfaction.

Ronan turned and seemed to say something to Rodney but John couldn't hear what was said over the din of the battle. Rodney; he had forgotten about Rodney. His memory was really going to crap now. He was having trouble thinking in a straight line. He paused for a second. His thoughts weren't even making sense now.

The scientist seemed to take offence to what ever Ronan had said to him.

"Are you freaking nuts!?"

"McKay!" Came the low warning growl. "There's no other choice. We can't stay here. Sheppard first, then you, and I'll follow."

Torn between keeping his eyes on the approaching enemy and the argument, John used his good leg to push himself backwards. But that single moment, a minute loss of focus by them all was all that was needed. The Runner dove sideways, caught in the shoulder by a bolt of light. John's finger flinched instinctively, discharging the 9mm but it was to late. They were being swarmed.

McKay moved, faster the John could have though, swinging his arms over the surprised Colonel's head. What the hell is he doing!? "Rodney!?" he shouted but the Doc ignored his protests and hoisted him up against the balcony railing, while Ronan got to his feet and continued to provide cover fire. John clung desperately to the rail as Rodney kicked and stomped at two of the electronic bugs when they got to close but quickly returned to his side. John coughed, wheezed and then wavered. "Dammit, Rodney! OW!"

"Up and over!" Rodney shouted in his ear.

"Are you freaking nuts!? We're at least 20 stories up!"

"That's what I said, but this time, Conan is actually right. This is our only way out."

Before he had time to protest again, Rodney had him around the legs. Pain flared and he screamed as he flew over the side.

The last thoughts he had as the water rushed towards him weren't of his meagre life flashing before his eyes but of his teammate.

Rodney was a hell of a lot stronger then he looked.