Rating: PG

Season: Season Three

Summary: When Sheppard and his team go off-world, things don't go to plan and Sheppard gets beaten, tied to tree and nearly killed by his team-mates.

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Major Lorne and his team stumbled down the embankment towards Sheppard's team.

As he made his frantic decent, he was already turning over scenarios in his mind.

What had happened to them? How long had they been like that? Why had it taken them so long to get back to the gate?

Lorne had been even more confused when he had found Ronon, Teyla and McKay just sitting motionless while Colonel Sheppard laid beside the river, soaked through, completely still and appearing for all the world as if he were dead.

"What the hell…?" Lorne asked as he made his way over to his CO and tried to find a pulse.

There was no flutter beneath his fingertips. Sheppard wasn't breathing and his skin was ice cold to the touch.

"Shit!" Lorne turned to one of his marines and ushered him over, "He's not breathing, start CPR."

Lorne watched for a few seconds, completely absorbed in the stillness of his Commander. He had to physically shake his head to drag himself back into reality.

"How long has he been lying there?" Lorne shouted to Sheppard's team-mates.

There was no answer.

Lorne's mind was working overtime. Were they in shock?

"How long?"

Maybe he had fallen? Of course, that had been Lorne's first instinct but there was something about the secretive looks that his team members were sharing and their absolute inertia in helping their fallen leader that was making him doubt it. Something was off alright, because to all intents and purposes, it looked as though they were willing to let Sheppard die.

Lorne couldn't wait any longer, panic was nipping at his heels and he turned back to the marine to check his progress. He was still pumping away at Sheppard's chest.

"Gray, come and help!"

Sheppard was covered in cuts and bruises and his gear……..it was all gone and yet the others still had there's.

Lorne felt a tightening in his gut at the implications.

"Doctor McKay?" he called out over the low rumble of thunder above and waited for a response. Anything, to confirm that the scientist hadn't completed lost it.

McKay was frozen in place, unable or reluctant to speak.

Lorne threw a look back over his shoulder, his treacherous eyes seeking out the downed body in the growing deluge, and cleared his throat, "Anything?"

Gray shook his head and continued to pump at Sheppard's chest with increased vigour.

"Keep trying!" Lorne amended.

What else was there to say?

"What happened?"

Nothing.

Ronon was crouched low on the floor with his hand hovering over his weapon, Teyla was standing awkwardly, her tanned features flushed red with fever and Doctor McKay was sitting in the mud and staring at his hands.

"Why didn't you help him?" Lorne could feel his anger swelling with every vacant response.

They knew what had happened. He knew it.

McKay looked up, opened his mouth as if he were going to say something, and then promptly clamped it shut again.

Lorne didn't know what the hell had happened here. All he knew was that eight hours ago Colonel Sheppard was radioing Atlantis and telling them that something was wrong. And now that same man was lying prostrate on the ground, arms outstretched with his lips turning blue.

The two marines resumed their compressions.

TBC…………….