CHAPTER 8

Carson wheeled the gurney into the operating room issuing a stream of orders. I already have a sedative hooked up; let's get an antibiotic drip going. Get her out of those rags; sterilize the leg. We'll deal with cleaning the rest of her later."

Nurses and doctors hurried to implement his instructions and he took a moment to appreciate the professionalism of his team. Organized chaos reigned. People expertly dodged around each other getting their assigned job done without interfering with anyone else's progress.

"She's lost a lot of blood, Dr. Beckett."

"Let's get O positive in her. We've no time to find out her blood type, but we need to know it as soon as possible."

"I'll get the O positive and then start the typing." Anna hurried out of the room.

By the time he had scrubbed and gloved his team had her stripped, sterilized, and covered with a surgical sheet. The anesthetist had the blood pressure cuff on her arm and heart monitor electrodes attached to her chest.

At Dr. Beckett's nod he covered her mouth and nose with the anesthesia cup. The packet of blood was hung and another I.V. put in her other hand. The blood began to flow into her body. Carson waited to see if her body rejected it.

With a satisfied nod, he turned his attention to her leg. "Dr. Biro, let's have a look."

Dr. Biro nodded and bent her head to study the leg with him. "Those cuts are deep." She glanced up at him. "Luckily the tendons are on the backside of the upper leg so it's mostly muscle damage."

"Ummm, yes. That'll be bad enough. Teyla says a saber-tooth tiger did this."

Dr. Biro blinked at him in disbelief. "Saber-tooth?"

"I know, unbelievable. If it hadn't been Teyla, I wouldn't believe it myself." Carson took a deep breath and let it out. "Let's see if we can't get this lass walking again."

Five hours later, Dr. Beckett slowly walks out of the operating room to find Sheppard's team lounging in the infirmary. Well, to be accurate, Ronon was reclining on a gurney, calf bandaged. The rest were lounging.

"Carson?" Rodney jumped to his feet.

"She'll live," he said wearily taking a vacant seat. "I'm fairly certain she'll walk; possibly with a limp, but she'll have the use of the leg. No nerve or ligament damage. The arm wound was fairly superficial. I'd say a glancing blow. "

Rodney slumped down in the seat. "Thank God."

"A saber-tooth? Really?" Carson asked leaning back.

"Yeah," Ronon answered. "Really. Kept it from killing McKay."

Carson blinked. "Can you tell me anything at all about the lass?"

"Not really. She was living alone in a cave on Jurassic Park. She kept ghosting us, but wouldn't let us near her. She likes power bars, and something similar to blackberries. She saved us from some frilled lizards, guided us to drinkable water, and risked her life to save Rodney from the tiger."

"Well, it is a mystery." Carson leaned forward and something clinked in his pocket. "Oh, she was wearing this." He held up a corded necklace with two gold bands tied on it far enough apart that they wouldn't clink together when around her neck.

"Wedding bands?" McKay muttered.

"Looks like." Carson agreed. "We've put her at the end away from the other patients to hopefully minimize cultural shock when she wakes which will probably be a in a day or two."

"Days? Is that normal?" Teyla asked concerned.

"She lost a lot of blood and she's malnourished. Add the trauma of the injury and the surgery to that and I decided it's best to keep her sedated. Give her body a chance to recover somewhat before she has to cope with waking in a strange place surrounded by strangers."

"Alright." Sheppard nodded. "Let us know if you want us here when you wake her up."

"I will. Now I think you should all go get some rest. Except you, Ronon. You'll be spending the night."

"Perhaps I should stay." McKay said hesitantly. "I did bump my head pretty hard when dodging the saber-tooth." He gently fingered his scalp behind his ear.

"Did someone look at it, Rodney?"

"Yes, Anna. She said I was fine. A slight concussion, but…"

"Then you're fine. Go to bed. If his wound isn't infected, I'll release Ronon in the morning." Carson walked off to update the files in his office.

The next day after breakfast and checking in on the projects in the lab Rodney made his way to the infirmary. Someone on the team was always on hand when another was released from the infirmary and he wanted to check on the girl.

Ronon was sitting on the gurney, legs swinging slightly, drumming the metal frame with his fingers waiting impatiently for release. His leg hurt and he was hungry. He also thought that, at times, Carson was too cautious about their minor injuries.

"Hey."

Rodney raised a hand in greeting. He jumped up to sit next Ronon shoulders brushing slightly. "How's the leg?"

"Fine."

Rodney frowned; Ronon shrugged. "Aches, but no infection."

"Remember that next time Teyla insists on antibiotics. She probably saved you from being imprisoned for a couple of days, maybe a week."

Ronon looked appropriately horrified.

"Imprisoned?" Carson came up behind them. "That's not very nice, Rodney."

"Ah, oh, Carson, hi. How's the girl doing?"

Carson flipped open Ronon's chart, scanned it, then signed the bottom. "She's stable. She's showing a slight infection, but the antibiotics are working; her blood pressure is holding steady; she isn't showing any reaction to the blood we've pumped into her."

Carson glanced at his two friends. "Alright, you're released." He grinned slightly at the impatience on Ronon's face. "Just take it easy for the next few days. No running; make sure any sparring partners know not to hit that leg; don't stress the wound."

"Sure, Doc." Ronon gave him a real smile, the one that made him look young, boyish. He slid gently off the gurney landing on his uninjured leg and then putting weight on the other. "Let's go."

Rodney jumped off the gurney and together they walked down the infirmary aisle. Rodney adjusting his stride to Ronon's slower than usual limping one. As they disappeared around the corner, Carson caught a glimpse of Ronon's arm slinging around Rodney's shoulders. Rodney was grumbling about not being a crutch within mere seconds.

They garnered a lot of sideways stares on their way to Ronon's quarters. No one could quite believe they were friends and not just team mates. Ronon kept his arm around Rodney's shoulders. Rodney kept his arm around Ronon's waist. Ronon leaned heavily on him, limping more and more. His face clenching tighter and tighter against the flare of pain every step brought.

Once in his room, he fell back on the bed with a groan. "Here," Rodney appeared next to the bed with a glass of water and two pain pills. "I'm sure they gave you two already this morning, but with your body mass two more is not going to hurt you."

It was a testament to the pain he was in that he didn't argue or try to get out of taking the pills. He just sat up, popped the pills into his mouth and swallowed them with a gulp of water.

"Stay upright," Rodney ordered moving around behind him. He pulled back the covers, knelt behind Ronon and pulled his shirt over his head. He came back around to Ronon's side of the bed and knelt, gently tugging off his boots.

"Lay down."

Ronon scooted back a little and twisted laying down on the pillow. Rodney tugged the sheet from under his legs and twitched the sheets over his body.

"I'll bring you some breakfast."

"Thanks."

Underneath the barbed hostility was a loyal friend, a funny, gentle man with a big heart. A big, soft heart yearning to love someone and to be loved. At first Ronon had despised the man. He thought he was petty, complaining cowardly and wondered why he was on Sheppard's team then he had noticed how hard Rodney was trying to emulate Sheppard. He saw, with careful watching, the deep need to belong. Teyla had seen the same. He and Teyla had went to McKay and struck a bargain.

In the course of fulfilling that bargain, Ronon had discovered the man behind the mask. Just as he masked his vulnerable emotions behind a fierce warrior exterior McKay masked his vulnerabilities behind verbal hostility.

Slowly, he had earned Rodney's trust in the field. Mission by mission he had convinced him that no matter what he wouldn't leave him behind, would protect him no matter how mad he was at him, and if separated, would come back for him no matter how many people he had to go through to get to him.

Then even slower he had won his friendship. Not knowing why he needed to befriend the strange little man, but only knowing that on some level McKay filled a hole inside of him. He had geared down the aggression; asked him questions; watched movies; bullied the bullies; joked, laughed. He realized he had earned his friendship when the injured McKay had insisted on joining the rescue team on Sateda even though he had been shot in the behind with a crossbow and couldn't sit without being in pain. Ronon finally had understood why Sheppard called McKay his best friend.

He had learned his favorite foods and desserts and started getting extras when he went to the mess for he had also learned that by the time McKay figured out it was time to eat his favorites were usually gone. He'd be sitting there watching people and McKay would come in with an eager look and head for the line only to realize whatever he had been told was there was gone.

The first few times Ronon had shoved the horded desserts across to him had been met with suspicion. McKay had as hard a time accepting friendly overtures as Ronon did. The first time Ronon showed up at the lab with a covered tray mumbling something about hypoglycemia McKay's mobile face had shown shock.

Then McKay had died. He had only stayed dead for a few minutes before the ancient machine and revived him, but to Ronon that run down the halls had seemed endless. Ronon had grabbed him up and put him on the platform before anyone else could offer to do it.

He had continued to snark and complain and Ronon had continued to glower and intimidate. Off the clock, in their rooms or out on balconies or even in the mess late when very few people were around they had talked about their childhoods, life experiences and watched movies. Slowyly, they became friends like Ronon and Sheppard were friends.

They had been on a mission. Running for the gate. Villagers chasing them because Sheppard had been caught making out with the Elder's virgin daughter. It was raining, pouring down and Sheppard had slipped. He had landed on his back, breath knocked out of him with a loud 'umph'. Ahead of Sheppard, Rodney had heard it and skidded to a stop and back tracked. Ignoring Ronon's yells he had raced to Sheppard's side and whipped out his gun firing warning shots into the dirt at the villager's feet.

"Back off!" He had shouted looking desperate and crazy with his hair sticking out in all directions and his face red with exertion. Stunned, the villager's had scrambled backwards. Rodney had helped a dazed and unsteady Sheppard gain his feet and while Teyla and Ronon had faced the villager's with weapons the two best friends had stumbled through the gate.

Sitting in the infirmary while Carson informed them that Sheppard had a mild concussion, Ronon had been hit between the eyes with the fact that the acerbic physicist who wouldn't even think of leaving a friend behind, who didn't even think of the danger to himself once he realized a friend was in danger was as much a warrior in his own way as Ronon was himself.

Sheppard came to collect him for lunch. Teyla and Rodney were already seated eating when they entered. They ate and chatted relaxed in that unique way they only did when the four of them were together.

The team's radios clicked. "Rodney, this is Carson. You may want to come to the infirmary. The girl is awake and terrified."

"Crap." Rodney got to his feet. "I'm on my way. I'd advise against cornering her."

"Aye, I've already figured that out." Carson's voice sounded pained.

Ronon got to his feet as well. "I'm coming."

"Well, hurry it up, Hop-A-Long before she destroys the infirmary."

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A/N: The sequel to this will be up shortly entitled Jurassic Girl. Reviews welcome.