Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or its characters...

Author's Note: I wrote this a very long while ago, in one of those spurts of inspiration, which left the overall story with large gaps, that I've barely paid attention to over the years since I originally started this. So, I'm not really sure why I'm posting it…maybe to see if it's worth filling in the holes. I like it enough that I reread it every so often, so perhaps it is good enough to entertain someone else?

"C'mon, Rodney. Help me out with this!"

"Wh-what?" the agitated scientist responded. "I'm not a medical doctor, colonel. I-I…"

"Just get a firm hold on it and pop it back into place!" John Sheppard growled through clenched teeth. It was difficult enough dealing with the pain, let alone convincing his friend that he could in fact aide him.

Dr. Rodney McKay threw his hands up in the air, and backed away from the man pleading for some assistance. This was beyond his abilities. "I have no clue-I have no idea how to put a joint back into place! I'm not Beckett. I'm not even a nurse. You've seen my first-aide skills-they're inadequate at best. I can't even put a band-aid on correctly. It's those little bits you're supposed to peel off. I just can't seem to manage it without touching the sterile part and getting bacteria all over the pla-"

"Rodney! Some help! Please!"

The scientist took a step forward, responding to the forceful plea as if it were an order. He reached out a shaking hand tentatively, and touched his companion's slack arm. Catching the wince deepening upon Sheppard's face, Rodney jumped back.

"How would I even know that I'm doing it right?" he asked in protest, a final attempt to weasel out of participating in the procedure. "I could do more damage than good!"

"You'll hear a loud 'pop'!" Sheppard barked at him.

McKay gave him a surprised look. "Really?"

John simply growled at his friend, who was very quickly losing that status, finally giving up on coaxing the stubborn man into doing what he asked. The pain was becoming close to unbearable.

"I'll do it myself," the injured man hissed.

John looked around their cave-cell for a part of the concave, roughly hewn wall that was flat enough -bar smooth-to serve his purpose. Finding an area that might suffice, he quickly moved onto the next step before he had second thoughts. He grabbed his throbbing, limp right arm with his still functional left hand. Palpating his shoulder for the socket, wincing at the more piercing waves of pain it caused, he made sure the head of his humerus would align correctly. Then he clenched his teeth and propelled himself, injured shoulder in front of him, with some amount of force against the rough rock wall.

Rodney found himself frozen in place at the display, only able to watch in horror the colonel's attempt at fixing his shoulder. The injured man cried out when he impacted the wall, then proceeded to collapse to the sand-covered floor as his legs gave out beneath him. The scientist felt that he probably should've rushed to the aide of his friend, but only continued to stare in morbid fascination as the broken form swore, collected itself and rose back to its feet.

John took several steps back from the wall after forcing himself to get up. Second time's a charm?

This time, along with the trauma of the impact, there was an intense feeling of release that washed over his body in a wave, dulling the intense pain that had been consuming the right part of his upper body. And he nearly pissed himself in relief, but caught his bladder in time, instead allowing himself to once again collapse to the sand-covered floor. His chest heaved as he breathed freely once more. It felt like he had been holding in the air the entire time, thinking that if he kept it trapped in his lungs, it couldn't escape his lips in an anguished scream.

"What did they want?" Rodney asked, finally able to aide his friend, helping him to sit up.

"I don't know Rodney," he replied gruffly. "They just threw me in some sort of fighting ring with some Conan-like guy who came at me like I was after his horde of gold and women. I barely managed to stay alive, let alone ask them why they kidnapped us."

"So they didn't tell you anything?" the scientist asked disbelievingly. "No threats, no plots for galactic domination, no dinner invitation? What? I'm starving!"

"Rodney, surely you know the first rule of Fight Club?" the colonel asked, regaining part of his sense of humor with the subsidence of the pain.

"Yeah, yeah," he answered, not amused in the least. He was hungry and scared and hungry and terrified and really, really hungry. The colonel gave him a challenging look. He wasn't going to be satisfied until his friend let him make the allusion. "You don't talk about Fight Club. Are you sure they didn't say anything about dinner?"

"What's the second rule of Fight Club?"

"You don't talk about Fight Club," Rodney conceded very much unpleased. "Okay. I get it! But I just can't believe that you weren't able to pick up anything at all, any clue to where we are… something, anything!"

"We're in a cell in a cave, Rodney," Sheppard replied sarcastically.

"Well, thank you Captain Obvious," He snapped back. "I mean are we even still on PF3-728?"

"I don't know, McKay! I didn't exactly pause to ask for directions while my arm was being torn from its socket!"

John sighed heavily, repositioning himself with his back against the rough rock wall. It was cold, but not as cold as he had expected for a cave wall. Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes, fighting the nausea over the comparatively dull throb in his shoulder. Ironically, this was looking to be the best part of his day so far, even with the spastic McKay.

But still…

"I could really use a few minutes rest, okay?" he cut off another super-charged, long-winded, rambling Rodney rant.

And with that, John Sheppard allowed himself to fall into the blissful realm of unconsciousness where it didn't matter that they had been zapped and hauled off by aliens, that he had nearly been torn apart by a man twice his size, or thrown in a musty cave with the most aggravating man he had ever met (and yet somehow called a 'friend')…

A/N: Two Things: 1. I need a better title. 2. The next section, if I post it, will show the weird style twist I intended for this story.

A/N (update 8/20/08): If you are only interested in the gore, you may want to skip ahead to chapter five…