Disclaimer: For the last time! We don't own this! We're merely playing with them, but we'll put them back in the box once we're done :D

Authors' Note: Sorry for the lateness in getting this up; that little thing called 'real life' gets so annoying sometimes!

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Epilogue

"You can go in and see him if you'd like." Carson smiled tiredly at Sheppard's team. "He should be waking up now."

"I'll go," said John quickly, as he glanced across at Teyla and Ford.

Ford gave him an almost guilty look. "Tell him I didn't mean any of it," he said, shuffling awkwardly, "about him not being... well you know."

"You can tell him yourself when you go in and see him, Lieutenant," John told him. He stood up, wincing as some bruised muscle in his leg pulled and followed Carson through the infirmary to where Rodney's bed was.

The man himself was already awake, blinking stupidly at them. "Major?" he asked sounding incredulous.

"The one and only," John flashed him a smile and pulled a chair over to sit on. "How're you feeling?"

"Like a Wraith shot down my 'jumper." Rodney stared at him tiredly.

"You know you're supposed to avoid the shots, not fly right into them," John teased him, leaning back in the uncomfortable plastic chair.

Rodney sighed. "Much as I want to argue how totally wrong you are, what are you doing here, Major?"

Okay, time to bite the bullet. John leaned forward. "I came to check on my team mate."

"I'm not on your team, Major."

"Yes you are."

"No, I'm not! Resigned, remember?"

"Well, Zelenka decided to leave; he couldn't handle Ford calling him 'Zippy' all the time," John smirked. "I got a spot open for a scientist." He gave Rodney a sideways look. "Think it's something you'd be interested in?"

Rodney stared at him. "You don't need someone like me on your team."

"Oh, you mean a brilliant astrophysicist who can double as a combat pilot when the situation calls for it?" John leant back again, one arm dangling over the back of the chair. "I know what happened with Kolya. You should have said something."

"You didn't ask!" Rodney shot back, rubbing his arm uncertainly.

Feeling a weird sense of déjà vu, John held up his hands in defeat. "Alright, I dropped the ball on this one. I'm sorry." He sighed. "Kinda galling to hear it from Kolya what happened in my own damn city!"

Rodney blinked. "You met up with Kolya? I assume you got out alright – what did he want?"

"The ZPM," John shrugged. "No one got it though. Didn't find it before him and his goons showed up, they spilled the beans on Earth and Alina wouldn't keep looking for the ZPM. She said it needed to be kept hidden till the true Ancestors returned."

Rodney visibly bristled. "True Ancestors?! I'll give her true Ancestors! Does she have any idea what we're doing here? Did you even explain about the whole being their descendants thing?"

"I didn't really have time for chitchat between being captured by Kolya and coming back to Atlantis." John gave him a searching look and paused to collect his thoughts. "You know... if you were assigned to one of the off-world teams again you could go back and talk to her." Or beat her down with snark and logic till she was begging to give them the ZPM, either worked.

"Yeah," Rodney said, "I could, couldn't I?" He glanced at John and gave a theatrical sigh. "Mind you, Kavanagh has been on the waiting list for a team for a while now, it really wouldn't be fair to deny him yet again."

John's eyes widened. "What? No... I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. Elizabeth could handle his assignment." He cleared his throat. "So, you back in or what?"

"Well clearly no one else is capable of keeping you out of trouble," said Rodney after a pause. "I mean since I've been lab based you've been attacked by a super-Wraith, got Ford and Zelenka covered in pink tree sap, had a run in with Kolya and successfully lost a ZPM to a woman who believes the 'Ancestors' will reward them for keeping it."

"Says the man recovering from being in a 'jumper crash," John snorted.

"My injuries are a result of defending the city – what was your excuse?"

John rolled his eyes and the two men fell silent.

"I can't promise I won't tell 'em what they want to know if it happens again." Rodney stared down at the small scar on his arm.

"You did your best," John replied. "And we've still got the city. Besides, it's not like you were trained for it, no one could've expected you to hold out against that kind of thing."

Rodney squinted at him. "More your forte?"

"Something like that," John shrugged and stared at him. "Just so we're clear, you are back on the team?"

"Yeah," said Rodney quietly, and he smiled ruefully. "Looks like we're back to square one."

John shrugged. "Least we're on a square."

o o o o o

Aiden sidled into the infirmary and, after a hesitant nod from Doctor Beckett, shuffled across to where McKay was laying. McKay looked up as he approached and for a second Aiden thought he saw something pass across the older man's face, but it was gone as quickly as it flashed up.

"Hey, Doctor McKay," he said stiffly, focusing his gaze on the mattress.

"Lieutenant," McKay replied curtly. There was a pause and then he sighed. "Look, sit down. You're looming and it's unnerving."

Aiden nodded his thanks and took the seat left abandoned beside McKay's bed. He inhaled deeply and stared at McKay. "I'm sorry," he said resisting the urge to fiddle with something. "I didn't know –"

"No, you didn't know," McKay cut in sharply, pushing himself up against his pillows. "And you judged me anyway." He paused and grimaced. "I guess it's only to be expected from a dumb grunt." There was a teasing look in his eyes for a moment before it faded again and he sobered. "I was on your team, Ford... yeah, I guess I'm not the easiest of people to get along with, but I deserved better than the treatment you gave me."

Aiden could feel his cheeks grow warm with embarrassment. "Yeah, I know that. I'm really sorry, McKay – but you know..." He paused feeling a sudden flare of anger. "You quit on us and you didn't even have the decency to tell to our faces. You just left and stuck us with someone else and then you were wandering round looking all grumpy and cradling your arm. It pissed me off, McKay!"

McKay blinked. "Wow," he said dryly, "that was one hell of an apology."

Aiden bit back a retort and sighed. "I'm sorry for what I said."

"Yes, well..." McKay shuffled awkwardly. "I'm...I should have told you all face to face, it just seemed so..." He gestured vaguely. Inexplicably he brightened. "Still, my thing's way smaller than your thing – you owe me, Ford!" He leaned forward with a wince and whispered conspiratorially: "Get my laptop past the voodoo witch doctor over there and consider it debt paid..." He grinned. "For now."

Aiden glanced back at Beckett for a moment, considering his options. Face the possibility of the Doctor's wrath or face McKay bitching and whining. He looked back at the pale, injured man lying in the bed beside him and nodded. "Alright, but if I get caught," he grinned, "I'm taking you down with me."

McKay rolled his eyes and flapped his hands at him. "Go, fetch! The faster I get it the faster I can sort of whatever mistakes the minions have been making in my absence."

Aiden nodded and rose to his feet. He stared down at McKay. "You okay, Doc? Really okay?"

McKay gave him an oddly inscrutable look, then finally shrugged and flapped his hands at him. "I'd be better if I had my laptop."

Aiden smiled. He had almost reached the door when McKay called out to him "Don't think this gets you off the hook completely, Ford! There's months of grovelling ahead 'til I'm satisfied!" Chuckling to himself Aiden left the infirmary and walked straight into Sheppard and Teyla. "Sorry, sir, Teyla." Then he noticed the object held guiltily in Sheppard's hands. "That Doctor McKay's laptop, sir?" he whispered, checking behind him to ensure no one was around.

"We thought it would keep him occupied," said Teyla keeping her voice low. She gave Aiden a knowing smile.

Sheppard gave him a suspicious look. "McKay ask you to get this?"

Aiden nodded and pulled a face when Sheppard chuckled and said, "Oh he's got you for life now, Ford." He handed over the laptop and the three of them stood staring at each other in silence.

Sheppard grinned and cleared his throat. "It might be easier to get this to him with all of us working together." He glanced towards the infirmary doors.

Unfortunately their good intentions when straight down the pan as Sheppard suddenly sidestepped causing Teyla to abruptly adjust her position accidentally knocking Aiden which lead to him almost going face first into the chest of one of the nurses. Unsurprisingly, Beckett came out of his office to see what the source of all the commotion was, and upon seeing the laptop clutched in Aiden's shaking hands confiscated it immediately and shoved them all towards McKay's bed with dire warnings should it ever happen again.

McKay stared at them in disbelief. "I don't believe it! There's three of you and you still failed to get it past Carson! Three! I've never seen such a shoddy display of stealth in my life!" He started to laugh. "Although watching Ford trip over and almost faceplant into that nurse's chest was a moment I shall treasure for the rest of my days. Good thinking on keeping hold of the laptop by the way, they say those things are shockproof but who knows what being chucked against ancient flooring will do to them? I'm sure you could maybe steal it back from his office later?" He looked at them all hopefully.

Teyla smiled and inclined her head. "Perhaps it is best for you to rest until Doctor Beckett believes you are ready to work." She looked so innocent it would be hard to believe she had even had thoughts of laptop smuggling if it weren't for the fact Sheppard was rolling his eyes and mouthing 'her idea' at Aiden.

Scowling McKay turned away from her and staring across at Aiden, he visibly brightened. "Ford! You can get it back later, seeing as you totally messed up getting it to me in the first I figure I'm being generous at giving you another chance to earn my forgiveness."

"McKay! Do you have any idea of the size of the needles Beckett threatened us with?" Sheppard asked leaping to Ford's defence. "We need him in one piece and not whimpering. You'll just have to wait."

McKay sighed. "I wouldn't have to ask if you hadn't all failed so atrociously. I mean come on! All that experience and you still managed to get yourself caught! And I'm trusting my life to you people."

"Rodney," said Teyla her voice gently chiding.

"Fine," McKay grumped.

"Hey I got an idea," said Sheppard grinning. "Why don't we keep you entertained for a bit?"

"I got a pack of cards," Aiden volunteered, pulling an extremely dog eared pack of cards from his pocket.

McKay stared at him incredulously. "You carry a pack of cards in your pocket?"

"You never know when you might need 'em," said Aiden defensively, pulling across another chair.

"Fine," said McKay, rolling his eyes. "What game?" He still seemed a little distrustful, Aiden noticed, staring at them all as if he expected them to disappear – kinda like he had in the beginning, only then he didn't know them well enough to trust them.

"What do you want to play?" Sheppard asked diplomatically, throwing himself down in the nearest chair to McKay and putting his feet up on McKay's bed.

"Not poker," said McKay emphatically, staring at Sheppard's feet in annoyance.

Sheppard smirked. "I can't help the fact you've got the worst poker face I've ever seen."

"I do not!" McKay spluttered.

Aiden started absently shuffling the cards as Teyla sat down, perching herself gracefully on the very end of McKay's bed. Something in McKay's expression shifted and he seemed to relax. "I really am sorry," he blurted out.

They all stared at him. McKay raised his eyebrows. "Okay, I heard you the first time. Continually apologies don't get you out of doing my bidding though, so if that's your game you can forget it."

Aiden smiled embarrassed. "Wouldn't dream of it."

o o o o o

Four days later...

Rodney stood in front of the Stargate, staring at it with a certain sense of apprehension. Sheppard gently bumped his shoulder.

"You ready?"

Rodney swallowed and nodded. Teyla and Ford took up their positions beside them and a small part of Rodney's mind noted with relief and satisfaction at once more being nestled in the middle of them all, where he used to be.

"Good luck," Elizabeth called out to them.

Rodney and Sheppard groaned simultaneously.

"Is she trying to kill us?" Rodney muttered darkly.

"Talk about tempting fate," Sheppard agreed.

"Are you two ready?" Teyla asked a hint of impatience in her voice.

"Yep, lets get this show on the road."

And together they stepped through the 'gate.

000 That's all folks! Let us know one last time what you think :) And it's Goodbye from me! (Exploded Pen) And Goodbye from me! (The Libran Iniquity) 000