Thank you so much for reading this through to the end. Enjoy!!!! Sorry for the double alert, I loaded the wrong draft the first time.
Rodney had felt many different types of pain in his life, but two stood out far worse than all the others: the gunshot wound John had given him months ago and his current headache. He was seeing double of everything, including a stranger who may or may not have just been his imagination. Not that there was any time to dwell on this. Rodney didn't know how many details he was still missing, but he'd caught enough to understand. Holding back his nausea and doing his best to ignore the pain, he started to get up.
"What do you think you're doing?" Carson asked as Rodney shook away his hold.
"We have to get out of here."
"Aye, we do, but you're not in any condition--"
"He's right," Sheppard interrupted. Rodney wasn't sure if Sheppard was wobbling in place from his concussion, or if Rodney's vision was playing more games with him. "We've wasted enough time in this dump. Ronon, you and Teyla secure Lorne so we can get him up the stairs. Carson, you--"
"No, I'm not lowering my gun."
Rodney threw his hands into the air despite the extra dizziness it caused him, answering Ronon in a loud, panicked voice. "Yes, because pointing your gun at us is going to keep people from getting injured. Ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, you'd be the one doing the shooting? Tell me that it's at least set to stun."
Ronon shrugged. "Teyla and Carson can carry Lorne."
"That answers the first question, what about the second? Somehow I think that's a little more important than--"
"Set it to stun, Ronon," Sheppard interrupted, his voice raised to a near shout. "Carson, Teyla, secure Lorne for transport. Rodney, keep your sidearm ready." Sheppard leaned low, taking his P-90 from the floor as Rodney checked that his Berretta was still on his thigh. He wasn't going to be much of a shot with this headache, but he was really hoping not to have to use it anyway. Not on his friends. Not on his family.
"I'm fairly sure I can get up on my own," Lorne offered.
"No you can't. You'll be staying still until I get a better look at your back, Major." Carson's expression left little room for argument.
"He'll kill you," someone whispered. Rodney whipped around, but saw no one. "But only if you don't kill him first."
Rodney shivered, realizing the dark was in his head, though he had no clue which "him" the voice was referring to.
Shaking the thought away, and willing himself the courage to continue, Rodney helped gather their scattered possessions together. A moment later, they were ready to venture upstairs. Rodney took a few steps when he saw her.
The young girl from his nightmares stared back at him, holding up her doll. "When Ronon's done with you, you won't be much better off."
No one's there, he told himself firmly, though he could feel her breathy voice against his skin. He pushed past her, not daring to look back.
The stranger, Sheppard said her name was Meri, walked in front of them, Ronon keeping a closer watch on her than anyone else. Her eyes, with their absence of color and rich blackness, were creepy, soulless.
The dark had stopped whispering to him, but he couldn't shake the need to raise his gun and shoot Ronon. Ronon had the dark in him and his gun had yet to lower. What if Ronon killed them all? Maybe if Rodney just injured him, then they could get out of here alive. Yes, just injure. That made sense, right?
No! He caught his hand reaching to his holster, and forced himself to breathe. Ronon wasn't the enemy. His team wasn't the enemy.
They reached the stairs, and Rodney groaned. He could barely stand up, much less crawl up the narrow path. He watched as Teyla and Carson maneuvered Lorne around the curves. Both of them were sweating. Then John started his ascent, holding fiercely to the rail and wobbling all the way. One foot missed and Rodney flinched, sure John would come crashing down. It wasn't exactly a short distance and it was amazing Lorne hadn't broken his neck when he'd fallen.
"John!" Teyla screamed.
John caught himself and then waved her reaching hands away from him.
"You two, go." Ronon motioned with his gun for Rodney and Meri to take the lead.
Rodney's eyes narrowed. "How do I know you won't shoot me in the back?"
"Is that supposed to be some kind of an answer, because--"
"Move it, McKay," Ronon snarled. Rodney wanted to comply, but there was an image of him falling down the stairs, a gun blast on his back, imprinted in his mind. It wouldn't shake away.
"No. You first."
Ronon came toe to toe with him, looking positively feral. "I said go."
Rodney was terrified, but something held him in place. "And I--"
"Rodney!" Sheppard shouted, "Snap out of it and keep moving. Ronon, shoot him and I shoot you, got it?" His P-90 was aimed right at Ronon's chest, emphasizing his point.
Reluctantly, Rodney began to climb. He really believed that this was the final moment--that he'd die there. He knew Sheppard couldn't offer enough protection. Yet somehow he made it to the last step and over the threshold. Moaning, he fell against the nearest wall. He was so dizzy, and in pain. He felt confused and so many other things all at once. He should trust Ronon. Deep down, he knew that, so why couldn't he get it through his head?
Teyla screamed, and Rodney swung around, immediately wishing he hadn't. The movement nearly cost him his consciousness again. Ronon's firm grip stabilized him. Trying to focus his eyes, Rodney looked around for whatever had caused the disturbance.
Teyla was trembling. She stared at the floor, backing slowly away as if something was there, approaching her.
"It's not real," John assured her.
"Do you not see it?" Teyla asked. "The whole floor is flooded with blood. We must…" she yelped, jumping back.
Sheppard took that moment to grab her. "It's not real!"
Teyla fought John's hold, terrified. "We need to find another way out. We cannot…"
"Trust me." John tightened his grip, forcing her to look into his eyes, silently telling her what could never be said aloud. "Trust me," he repeated in a gentler voice.
After a long held breath, Teyla nodded, breaking loose of John's hold. She stared at the floor, and Rodney could tell that she was no longer hallucinating. "Forgive me, I forgot myself."
"Just keep fighting it," John told her, but his words were directed at all of them.
They continued forward in a tight cluster, Ronon insisting on taking their six. "He'll kill you yet," the dark whispered, though it was more a thought than a voice. Rodney stared at the wall as he walked. It was taking all he had not to reach for his gun, though he knew if he did, Ronon would be the quicker draw anyway.
They were almost to the room, when Rodney saw it. An iratus bug hanging on one of the torches. It leapt forward, toward John, and Rodney reacted in an instant, raising his gun and shouting, "Look out!" He managed a shot before Ronon grabbed his hand, easily removing the sidearm.
Someone screamed, cursing, and with horror Rodney looked up to see crimson staining John's shirt.
"Oh crap, oh crap." Rodney tried to push free from Ronon's hold, but the Satedan was holding on tight. "Let me get to him, you big oaf!"
Teyla had caught Sheppard mid fall and was now lowering him to the floor. Meanwhile, Carson was racing through his bag, grabbing the necessary equipment while muttering to himself.
"It's not bad," Sheppard assured them, though he kept wincing.
Ronon still hadn't let go. Why hadn't he let go? Rodney looked up to see Ronon glaring down at him. "Stop moving or I kill you."
"Yes, because killing solves everything!"
"It might." Rodney saw the bloodlust in Ronon's gaze and it petrified him.
Trembling, Rodney stopped trying to wiggle free. "Whoa, whoa. Snap out of it, Ronon. Team, remember? You don't want to kill me."
Ronon's grip tightened.
"Ronon!" Teyla shouted.
Both Rodney and Ronon turned to her. Her face was stained with John's blood. Beside her, Carson was cutting away Sheppard's clothes, assuring him he'd be okay.
Rodney felt Ronon release him, and before anything more could hold him back, he raced to John's side. "He's okay, right? I mean, I didn't…."
"You took a chunk out of his side, Rodney, that doesn't make him bloody okay," Carson yelled.
Stricken, Rodney debated running away, finding a place where he couldn't cause any more trouble. It was only his refusal to leave an injured John alone that kept him in place.
John reached for Rodney's hand, and Rodney was all too happy to offer it. Only John didn't hold it, he grabbed it, as tightly as he could given his injuries. "Keep it together, McKay," Sheppard muttered through gritted teeth.
Rodney swept his hand away. "Well excuse me for just trying to save your life."
"You shot me, Rodney! That hardly qualifies…" Rodney could see Sheppard struggling not to lose his temper. He bit down on his lip, and then finally answered in a cool, commanding voices. "Concentrate on getting us out of here and I'll concentrate on keeping myself safe, okay?"
Rodney glared. What had everyone expected him to do? Just let the bug attack Sheppard? "Selfless bastard. Always risking your life for others and never caring about what we'd do if you died. See if I try to save you again. You just die for all I care!" The words left his mouth before he could stop them. He knew he didn't mean them, but his stomach was a tight ball and he was angry, tired, and hurting.
Sheppard looked like he was ready to breathe fire. He glared, shaking from anger or pain, Rodney wasn't sure which. Viciously John pushed Carson away and lunged. Rodney was ready to fight back, but Teyla had grabbed the colonel's arm, holding him back.
"Stop this. Both of you," Teyla demanded, and Rodney could see that she too was fighting for control.
Meri stepped forward, her head held high. "The dark can sense how close you are to escaping. It's doubling its efforts. Fight it!"
No! Rodney screamed within himself. It was so hard to keep sight of reality. Why? And that stupid rat kept gnawing, his head screaming for relief.
Carson moved to his bag, and began working again. "Try something like that again, Colonel, and I will sedate you."
"We're almost there," John said softly. "Let's just do this."
Carson finished tying the bandage, then looked up. "Sorry for snapping at you, Rodney. You took a chunk out of him, but I think you managed to avoid anything major. I won't know for sure until we get him to the infirmary, but I think he'll recover."
Rodney had been frozen in place, watching the scene as though he were no longer a part of it. At Carson's words, though, he came back, letting relief wash over him.
They had to reorganize if they wanted to continue forward as one unit. Ronon reluctantly returned Rodney's gun as Meri and Carson lifted Lorne's stretcher. A moment later, Teyla and Rodney had John standing up and moving. It was like the blind leading the blind, since Rodney could hardly walk himself. Yet somehow they made it.
The computer room was a tight fit for three people, much less seven. They left the door open, settling for Lorne, Carson, John, and Teyla to stay outside. Ronon made Meri stay against the wall, his distrust evident.
Rodney looked back, watching John fight through his pain. He was pale, but conscious. Noticing Rodney's gaze, he stared back. "Get moving, McKay."
His hands sweaty and his heart beating faster than a cheetah could run, Rodney grabbed his laptop and set to work. Problem was, most of the letters were fuzzy and he could hardly tell what was going on. He leaned over, pressing a few buttons while steadying himself on the console. Teyla had given him all the details he had missed, most notably that the dark could merge with any machine. So how was he supposed to use computers to solve this problem? They were screwed.
He had to try, though. "You," he pointed at the woman, "get over here and help me."
Ronon growled at this, but Rodney could care less about his argument.
"If I'm going to do this, I need someone to tell me what these letters say. She can read the language which is a far cry from the rest of you, not to mention you're too busy pointing your weapon at all of us."
Meri walked slowly to the console, gazing unsure at her captors. She took a seat on one of the stools and in a timid voice asked, "What do you need?"
Rodney could see enough of the letters to know she was reading the inscriptions correctly, and that was at least one thing in their favor. It was important to count in situations like these, when nothing seemed to go right.
"Rodney!" Teyla screamed. He whipped around, just on time to see a bolt of red light. Teyla caught Carson halfway to the ground.
"What happened?" Rodney demanded. "Why'd you shoot him?" He glanced at Ronon's smoking gun, then back to the unconscious doctor.
"He was going to shoot you," Ronon answered.
"Seriously, you had it set for stun right? Tell me that was stun because if you just killed Carson, even if he was going to shoot me, I just…"
"It was stun. Get back to work."
Rodney continued to stare at Carson's motionless body. "You shot, Carson. Crap, you shot, Carson."
"So?" Ronon asked, and Rodney could see there was no remorse in his eyes. "Stun isn't lethal."
"No, but he's our medic and in case you haven't noticed we have injured here!" Rodney shouted. "Are you a complete moron or are you just good at acting like one?"
Ronon's glare was as a thousand daggers. "Get to work, or I shoot you too."
"And trap us all!" Rodney found himself reaching for his own gun. "Both of you. Get out of here now."
"Rodney!" Rodney was fairly sure that John had meant to shout, but his voice was weak. Concussions and gunshots had their way of doing that, and Rodney wondered if his guilt for the latter would ever abate.
"No, this isn't the dark, or whatever the hell that creature is, this is me. I need both of you," and he motioned to Meri and Ronon, "to leave, now."
"Why?" Ronon asked, now aiming at Rodney.
"Because I can't work while wondering if someone is going to shoot me. If I lock myself in here then none of you can get to me and I can work in peace."
"And if you collapse?" Sheppard asked. "Or the dark convinces you to turn that gun on yourself?"
Rodney couldn't pretend he hadn't thought of that, but the need to lock himself in was great. He couldn't work like this. He couldn't breathe like this. "I won't let that happen," he said, tightening his grip on the console.
"No," Sheppard shook his head. "It's too dangerous. Keep working. We do this together or I don't think we'll be able to do it at all."
Rodney slowly leveled his weapon, knowing Ronon was still targeting him. Teyla raised her own in response.
"I won't let any of you kill me." Rodney knew his hand was shaking, but he didn't care. "And I won't tell any of you again. Go away and leave me be."
"This is not you, Rodney." Teyla took a tentative step forward. Rodney almost fired, but didn't. "This is not any of you. Remember, we have to trust one another."
"The dark won't let you," Meri answered. Her voice was monotone and she stared awkwardly at the ceiling. "If you leave, it loses everything. It loses me."
Teyla, Ronon, and Rodney paused their standoff to watch her as she stepped between their lines of fire. "I won't go with them," she called. "I'll stay with you if you let them go."
At first Rodney was confused, trying to understand what she was saying. Then he got it. She wasn't talking to them. She was talking to the dark.
The creepy girl from his dreams appeared once more, but judging by the gasps, he wasn't the only one that saw her. "You want to abandon me," the girl accused in her breathy, singsong voice.
"Yes, but I will stay if it will save them."
"Why?" the girl asked, staring incredulously at Meri.
Meri wept softly, shaking. "Because I've known too much death," she answered, nodding slightly to Sheppard as she did so.
"Death. Anger. Hurt," the girl smiled maniacally, "These are food to me."
"Only because you chose it to be so," Meri answered sadly.
Rodney took a tentative step back, unsure what was going on. He turned to the controls, wondering if a creature that could be multiple places at once could ever truly be distracted. His answer came in a bolt. After pressing two wires together he was tossed backward, colliding against a console. It was too much for him and he lost consciousness.
"No!" Meri shouted as Rodney flew across the room, knocked out. The wires, John realized. The dark was in the machine, so it was also in the wires. It was getting desperate.
Teyla raced to Rodney's side. John watched as she felt for his pulse, feeling her relief as his own. He too wanted to race to Rodney, to check him over and make sure he was alive, but he was concussed and bleeding, dizzy and barely conscious. Slowly, he moved into a crawling position, testing the level of pain it caused him. He reacted as he suspected, ripples of pain tearing through his body, consuming him. But then he took one step and then another until at last his hand was on Rodney's shoulder.
"He is breathing and his pulse is weak," Teyla explained in a whisper, but her gaze was on the girl and Meri. John had forgotten about that conversation, so consumed was he by the need to help Rodney.
"You would deceive me!" the girl was yelling. "You would escape with them the moment you had the chance."
"No," Meri cried. "No. I would stay here for them."
"You are weak." The girl stepped forward, tossing aside her beaten doll. Though she was short, she stared up at Meri. "You will watch them all die."
"You do not want this!" It was Teyla, moving cautiously forward, her voice soothing but panicked.
"You do not know what I want!" the dark cried.
"No," Teyla told the dark, "I do not know what you want, is this really it? Can you honestly say that all of this is what you wanted?"
Before the girl could answer, Meri whispered, "You want to never feel again. You watched the old man die and you thought that if you made death a good thing then it wouldn't hurt anymore. But it does, doesn't it? So many died that night and now you've tried to drown out their screams with more screams, but it's only made things worse."
"Quiet!" the girl shouted, and simultaneously all the lights went out. A faint glow emanated from the child. "I do not care what you think, you stupid woman." But the girl held her hands to ears as if trying to ward away some unheard sound.
"I know your thoughts; you've always shared them with me. You saved me because I was innocent, because I was too young to hate," Meri persisted.
"I saved you," the girl answered, as though her words were bile on her tongue, "because there was no one else."
Meri trembled, but pushed on. "I see it at night, in the dreams you share with me. You still think about them. You wished you could help them."
"Man is nothing but anger, betrayal, and hate," the girl spat.
"Yet you sense the loyalty and friendship of these strangers, don't you? You sense the goodness, also, in those that work endlessly to free them. You knew, even as you were destroying my people, that there was good within us. Why didn't you latch onto that? Once, long ago, you felt compassion."
"That was my mistake!"
"Or your greatest triumph," Teyla added, taking another cautious step. "You cannot undo what has been done, but you can do good now. I suspect that would go a long way in lessening your pain."
The girl laughed maniacally, flames growing around her, lighting the darkened room. But then the flames dimmed and the girl's face softened. She stared at Meri, tilting her head quizzically. "If I killed them, you would hate me even more?" she asked, and Sheppard realized she was in Meri's mind, hearing her thoughts as well as her spoken word.
"Yes," Meri answered. "I would sooner kill myself than stay with you any longer. Unless you were willing to spare them."
The girl gazed at everyone around her, then ran to pick up the doll she had tossed away. She held it away from her, as though unsure whether she should hug it or toss it away once more. "I do not want to be alone," she said.
"You don't have to be," Meri answered.
"Hold on." Sheppard tightened his hold on Rodney's hand, while facing Meri. "You don't have to do this. You don't have to sacrifice yourself for us." He realized his breathing was labored, his words coming out in short bursts.
"Yes, I do," Meri answered sadly. "I have nothing else."
"There has to be another way," Teyla said, but the girl glared at her in return.
"No!" For a moment Sheppard thought the dark was going to kill them all as the flames rose again, filling the room with smoke, but then he saw the tears glistening on the girl's face. "It is the only term I will accept."
The fires died. The lights returned to the room and the hallway, but they were no longer in the mansion. The white walls were plain, vacant of any decorations. All that remained were the computers.
"I've turned off the holographic program. Go, before I change my mind."
Before anything more could be said, the girl disappeared in a whirl of smoke. John held tight to his wound, watching Meri carefully. "Come with us."
"No. I gave my word."
"This is not the life you want," Teyla interjected, reaching for Meri's shoulder.
"Go," she replied, brushing away her own tears. "Just go."
"No. We will not leave you behind."
Meri turned around, and John was shocked to see her angered expression. "I said go!" she shouted. "Don't you understand? You try to take me with you, and it kills all of us. Your people are injured and this is your only way out. Take it now!"
Teyla was about to object, but John, holding tightly to his wound, interrupted. "She's right. It's time for us to move out." He hated leaving her here, but the alternative was death, and he wasn't going to accept. Not now, not as long as he could help it.
Teyla looked from Meri to John and then back again, but did not speak again. A soft crackle echoed from Sheppard's earpiece. "Colonel Sheppard, do you read? Rodney?"
John reached for his radio, but Teyla was faster. "Dr. Zelenka. It is good to hear your voice."
"Teyla? Where are you? Is everyone okay? I was just trying to bypass the controls when everything turned off!"
"We are preparing to leave the bunker now. We will need jumpers to help with the wounded."
"Understood. We have two waiting already. Do you need assistance getting out?"
John glanced at the unconscious form of Carson, who seemed to be slowly waking. Rodney was going to be out for a while, and Lorne was going to be a pain to get up the stairs. As for himself, well, he was going nowhere. In fact, passing out soon sounded like the best idea he'd had in a long while. Tapping his own radio he answered, "Yes, we could use some help."
Sheppard clicked off his radio, turning to Meri. "You're sure about this?"
"There is no other way. Farewell. May you have a safe journey home." Before anyone else could say a word she backed toward the door, disappearing out of sight.
The wait for the rescue team seemed to take forever. John counted down the minutes, trying not to think about the sticky bandage covering his wound, or the fact that Rodney hadn't woken up yet. At some point, Carson had recovered enough from being stunned to march over to the two of them and start patching them up.
"You shouldn't have been moving with that wound," he chastised.
"Sorry, doc." Though Sheppard knew he'd have done the same thing over if given the same situation.
Soon, everyone was safely loaded in the jumpers. Sheppard watched McKay sleep, patting his shoulder. "You better be okay," he warned softly, before losing consciousness.
Nearby, Ronon watched over the two of them with a somber expression. The jumper raised into the night sky, and moments later, the gate lit. They were going home.
The infirmary was dark when Rodney woke up, not at all surprised to see his team waiting by his bedside. "Hey," he whispered. Ronon and Teyla had taken nearby seats, while Sheppard lay one cot down. He was pale and sickly looking. Rodney's stomach sank, remembering everything that had happened.
"I'm fine," Sheppard insisted, reading Rodney's mind like the open book it was.
"That's good. I, uh…"
"You shot me."
Rodney wanted to sink below his own covers, but then he saw Sheppard's grin.
"Guess we're even now."
"What about the time you shot me in the arm?"
"Well, mostly even then."
The infirmary smelled of antiseptic, which only increased Rodney's nausea. He felt somewhat numb, knowing it was from the pain medicine. The pain was still there, though, looming in the background, but his guilt kept him from complaining. He knew Sheppard was a hundred times worse off.
Across the room, Lorne was sitting up, talking animatedly to one of the nurses.
"So we escaped?" Rodney asked, feeling stupid for stating the obvious, but no one had volunteered any details.
"Yeah. Looks like everyone will make a full recovery, though the doc says we'll be stuck here for a while. Sergeants Jeb and Barka weren't so lucky on the surface."
"I'm sorry." Rodney knew how Sheppard took each death to heart.
"Meri saved us," Teyla explained sadly, holding tightly to Rodney's shoulder. "She would not allow us to help her in return."
Rodney saw the sadness in Teyla, and sensed it from everyone else. "She's still there?"
"No other choice," Ronon replied. He straddled his chair, looking more tired and worn than Rodney had witnessed in quite a while.
"Perhaps we will find a way to help her someday," Teyla offered.
There was silence in the room as everyone felt the sacrifice that had been made. It would stay with them for a while.
Ronon stood up unexpectedly, kicking his chair away. The surge of anger caused Rodney to jump back slightly, exasperating his dizziness. He didn't need a doctor to tell him that he had a concussion.
"Easy there, big guy." John looked half-dead, his words were mostly mumbles. Rodney suspected he was on the good medicine, though what the colonel was doing awake was anyone's guess.
"Sorry," Ronon answered, sitting down. "I…" He was at a loss of words, Rodney realized. Although Ronon was known for his curt replies, Rodney had never seen him like this.
"What's going on?" Rodney pushed up further in his seat, worry and curiosity feeding him energy.
"Sorry I tried fighting with you," Ronon finally said, his gaze downcast. "Sorry I wasn't able to keep you safe."
Unsure how to respond to that, Rodney exchanged quizzical glances with Teyla and John.
"You did a good job. I'm alive, aren't I?"
"Yeah. Suppose so." Though Ronon hardly seemed satisfied with the response. Truth was, neither was Rodney. They had all done things it wouldn't be easy living with.
"So when were you going to tell me they were awake?" Carson marched up between their beds and started fiddling with the equipment. Though he smiled down, squeezing Rodney's shoulder tenderly.
He moved to Sheppard, checking the wounds. "You shouldn't be awake. Not so soon after surgery."
"Couldn't help it," Sheppard replied, grinning.
"Aye, well I'll be putting you back to sleep in a moment so you better say your goodbyes now."
Teyla perked up, walking toward the doctor with Ronon taking her six. "Surely a few more minutes wouldn't hurt?"
Carson sighed deeply, "You lot will drive me mad yet!"
Through this discourse he kept glancing at Rodney warily, and he wasn't the only one. There was a tension in the room, palpable and chilling. The words were right, but there was something under the surface that wasn't. Even someone as socially inept as Rodney knew what it was.
"It wasn't your fault," Rodney told Carson. "I don't blame you."
Carson gazed downward. "Aye, thanks for that."
Ronon and John glanced at each other than back at Rodney, each looking sheepish. Finally it was Teyla who spoke, "We are a team and we survived as a team. I trust you. All of you."
"And so do I," Rodney added. He almost added 'You're my family,' but knew it sounded far too corny. He didn't have to say it aloud anyway, they knew.
"Me too," Ronon said.
There were general nods around the room--silent forgiveness that was greater than any that could be said aloud. The tension broke. They each smiled. Carson shifted slightly, patting Rodney's shoulder. Then he turned to the others with his mollycoddling glare. Ronon and Teyla returned to their seats, which earned a deep sigh from Carson.
"Don't think I won't kick the lot of you out of here. Ten minutes, I said. It's been thirty."
"Ten more minutes?" John asked.
"And you'll be wanting another ten after that, won't you?"
"I'm not leaving," Ronon insisted, kicking his legs up on Rodney's bed. Surprisingly, Teyla followed suit. They both crossed their arms defiantly.
Rodney leaned against the headboard, laughing to himself. It might take a little time, but Rodney knew everything would be okay. As Teyla said, they were a team, a family of friends that would travel to the ends of the universe to save one another. There was nothing that would ever take that from them, of this Rodney was certain.