Title: Knowing you
Character(s): Sheppard and McKay
Stargate Atlantis: Gen. Angst. H/C.
Summary: McKay really needs a new hobby.
McKay clutched the 9.mil in his hand. Trying to make himself as small as possible, he crouched behind the outcrop of rocks. Stooped beside him, Sheppard fired over the top while simultaneously yelling out orders to his men. Two new recruits, who weren't important enough for McKay to remember their names, Botanist Doctor Henderson, Sheppard and him. Hardly a crack team in the first instance, and now the not so friendly locals were firing on them for desecrating their sacred ground and by desecrating he meant getting caught short and peeing in the bushes.
"This isn't my fault!" McKay shouted for the third time, "I mean…come on!"
Sheppard sank down next to him to reload his gun, "I never said it was your fault."
"But you think it is!"
"I don't think anything McKay…especially about that!"
"It's a perfectly natural bodily function. When nature calls-"
Sheppard reared back up into the line of fire and depressed his P90's trigger.
"How was I to know that-"
Gun fire cut him off and then Sheppard was turning to him.
"Get to the gate. We'll give you cover!"
McKay peered over the outcrop and then ducked again when a chunk blew off right next to his face, "Are you insane? They're firing at us!"
"That's why I said we'd give you cover!" Sheppard pulled a pained expression, "Rodney, just move it!"
McKay could see everything around him being peppered with bullets and he turned back to Sheppard, "Which way?"
"To the left…….follow the tree line. We'll try and draw them away from you."
Doctor Henderson, who was pressed into his side and making a low level whining noise suddenly snapped his head up, "We're moving?"
McKay extricated the hand that was curled around his arm, "We'll be fine. They're drawing fire."
Though he didn't even believe it himself. He just didn't want Henderson, a grown man, clinging to him the whole way back to the gate.
Sheppard ducked as more of the rock splintered in front of his face.
McKay gulped down a steadying breath and then took off dragging Henderson with him.
The gun fire sounded close. Too close. He was convinced that any second he would be taken down by a well aimed bullet or that Henderson's head would explode right in front of him.
"Keep going!" he shouted in a voice that sounded constricted with panic.
"They told me not to go on off-world with you!" Henderson was babbling as McKay grabbed his arm and pushed him forward.
"The others," Henderson said throwing a worried glance over his shoulder, "They said this would happen."
"Everyone!" Henderson snapped, "They said that anybody that goes off-world with you or Sheppard….even Ronon for that matter, inevitably ends up dead or injured…I didn't believe them! But…..this is hard to ignore."
"Are you kidding? This doesn't happen every-" and then he paused and thought about it because something did always happen on their missions and usually him or Sheppard was there.
"We go off-world more," McKay argued, gun fire forgotten, "Probability dictates that we'll encounter more danger and….." he snapped his fingers together, "-Last week, the food trade, went without a hitch! Ha!"
"I thought you twisted your knee."
Gunfire split the air behind them and they both stopped.
"Just keep moving okay……."
They'd been running for a few minutes when he heard Sheppard's voice crackle over the radio. It was a welcome relief.
"Lee and Smith are right behind you. Whatever you do don't stop!"
"Do all of our missions go bad?"
There was brief silence and then, "What?"
"Henderson thinks all of our missions end badly."
"Well……look Rodney. This really isn't the time. Just……..the food trade last week?"
"Twisted knee," McKay muttered irritably.
"Look, forget about that! Keep moving. I'll be right be-"
And that's all Sheppard got out before the radio suddenly went dead and McKay was left standing, he hadn't even realised he'd stopped running, waiting for the rest.
There was no answer.
"The radio cut out or maybe Sheppard-"
And then he could see Lee and Smith coming towards him, not even breaking into a sweat from their run.
"Keep going!" one of them ordered.
McKay turned to Henderson.
"He got cut off…what if-" and then he paused because what if? What if something awful had happened? Sheppard was alone and their missions really did always go bad and……. "We have to go back." He said when the soldiers joined him.
Lee gave him an aggrieved look, "The Colonel ordered us on."
"Something's wrong. We need to go back."
"Oh no," Henderson protested, hands up as if there was a loaded gun pointed at him, "You saw what it was like back there."
"Exactly," Lee said with a sigh, "The Colonel drew away the fire. He's going to cut through and-"
"He's right behind us."
"Is he?" McKay waited and one of the soldiers grabbed his arm and tried to push him on.
There was a time when he would have allowed himself to be pushed and prodded towards the gate but he couldn't help but shake the feeling that something was inherently wrong. That's what happened when you were around someone long enough. You could sense it. He just knew that Sheppard wasn't right behind them.
"I'm going back," and before the words had escaped his own mouth he realised how ridiculous that sounded.
"It's too dangerous," Henderson groaned, "We need to get back to the gate."
"Colonel Sheppard gave us an order and-"
"Something is wrong. He should be here by now!"
"I told you something always happens."
"No, look here……." And he searched for a name tag and spotted one, "-Smith! We need to go back."
The soldiers looked from one another before one of them tried their ear piece, "Sir?"
"He's not going to answer!" McKay paced back and forth.
Smith's lips stretched with grim realisation, "Sir?"
"Okay, okay…you go back to the gate and we'll-"
"No," McKay said.
"You're not coming with us!"
"Yes I am!"
He didn't know where that had come from but too many times he had gone through the gate and something awful had happened. Call it superstition, but he couldn't leave without Sheppard.
"You'll only slow us down."
"No, you're slowing me down," and he turned to the solders, "Well, come on.," and took off back to the danger.
McKay felt his heart leap into his throat when he spotted Sheppard. He was propped up against a tree. His P90 was resting on his knee, finger curled around the trigger, aimed at the undergrowth beyond. His other hand was clamped at his neck. He looked up at McKay with wide eyes when he saw him and tried to move.
"No, no," McKay said grabbing him by the arm and stilling him, "What have you-" and then he spotted what was wrong and felt sick.
The hand around Sheppard's neck was covered in blood and more was seeping through the gaps in his fingers.
"You've been shot!"
Sheppard rolled his eyes. Eyes that were barely restraining the pain behind them.
"Caught……." Sheppard choked on his words a little, "-off-guard."
As McKay removed his P90, he found himself being pulled backwards and Lt Smith was coming in close, "It's pretty bad," he said examining the wound.
Sheppard tried to move away from his prying fingers, but lacked both the strength and the co-ordination to do anything but slam his free hand onto the ground.
"I can see that!" McKay said with a sigh, "We need to get him back to the gate."
"Yeah……" Lee gave him an understanding nod.
"Okay so-" and McKay felt something tugging on his arm.
Sheppard gave him a look and slapped his free hand down onto his thigh holster. It took a moment for him to make a connection and realise what he meant and he was right. They were out in the open. Exposed, tending to a wounded man. Easy picking.
"But Sheppard would probably want you to check the perimeter first."
Sheppard blinked slowly and tried to nod.
The soldiers gave McKay a strange look and then turned to their CO.
"That's what he said!" McKay snapped.
"We didn't hear him say anything," Lee said.
Sheppard tried to move but they got the message.
"We'll be right back."
"Be-" Sheppard paused, momentarily lost in his pain.
Lee and Smith turned to him, "Watch your backs!" McKay finished for him.
"Oh god," Henderson said fidgeting nervously, "What are we going to do?"
McKay felt equally panicked and he wanted nothing more than to pace and babble incoherently like the botanist, but it was the serious look that Sheppard gave him that seemed to calm him. It was a look that said, "Everything will be okay," and McKay clung to that. He had too. Because if Sheppard died because he had to take a leak then he would have to kill himself. There was no way he was explaining that one to the rest of the team.
Sheppard tried to speak again.
"No, no don't speak….just…stay still on breathing."
He was already pale. Possibly in shock. McKay wasn't a doctor. He'd made numerous excuses to get out of the medical training, feigning important maintenance work that was vital to their survival or even sickness. Now he wished he'd paid more attention, but then he was sure they had never had training on what to do if a member of your team had been shot in the neck.
Think, think, think.
He snapped his fingers and startled Henderson, "Do you have field dressings?"
Henderson nodded and fished through his tac vest. McKay removed his own supply and then searched through Shepard's vest. It was already slick with his blood. That was a bad sign. Very bad.
"We need to stop the bleeding," McKay informed him, distractedly wiping blood off his hands.
Henderson looked like he was going to be sick, but nodded weakly.
"Okay, this might hurt and I'm sorry but….this is the only thing I know when it comes to bleeding and-"
Sheppard grabbed his arm and squeezed.
"Okay, so…here goes-" and then he was prising Sheppard's hand away from his neck and pressing the dressing into the wound. Sheppard grunted and tried to move away.
"Would you rather bleed to death?"
Sheppard was struggling for air and coughing thickly, "Can't…breathe."
"I know, I know. Try not to speak."
"Yes we'll get back to the gate and no we're not leaving you here."
"We're not leaving you here!"
"Might come back…...yes, yes……but……it's my turn to do the life-saving okay and I've never failed at anything except-"
Sheppard narrowed his eyes.
"-Okay so I blew up a solar system. Are you going to bring that up forever?"
Sheppard raised his eyebrows.
"It was an accident…just………look…….we'll get you out of here."
Henderson stopped his pacing and crouched beside McKay.
"How do you he's saying that?"
Sheppard took over from pressing the gauze into his neck. McKay let him. Sheppard didn't like being vulnerable.
"Because-," and McKay went silent.
The truth was that he spent way too much time with Sheppard.
"They've gone!" Smith called out as they approached, "Looks like they've gone to ground again. We shouldn't stick around here too long though."
Sheppard reached for his IDC and passed it to McKay.
Sheppard swallowed thickly and raised his hand.
"Oh…." McKay nodded, "You want them to go back to the gate and bring back help."
Sheppard nodded again.
"We could carry him?" Smith suggested.
"No, he's right."
The soldiers shared puzzled glances.
"I don't think we should move him."
Sheppard's hand was falling away from his neck and McKay pushed his hand against his to help stem the bleeding. He was bleeding out before their eyes. Moving him might make it worse. It might even kill him. Sheppard obviously realised that. No, the best thing was to wait until the professionals arrived. He just hoped the natives didn't come back.
"Bring Keller back, brief her on his condition….we'll wait here."
Sheppard whacked him in the arm.
"I'm not leaving you here!"
"No buts……look I don't want to stay here, really I don't but…….." I can't leave you.
Sheppard maybe understood and his hand dropped.
"What about the natives?"
McKay swallowed thickly, "As I just said we can't move him!"
"And we can't leave you here. You're completely exposed."
"Take Henderson with you, leave Smith. We can take turns watching. Look, just bring Keller here now! And a Jumper!"
Sheppard's eyes were sliding closed but he managed to nod weakly.
There was so much blood. It was everywhere by now and McKay didn't know how much longer he could watch Sheppard bleed out. Maybe they should have gone back to the gate with the others. Maybe they should have tried to move him. Sheppard's eyelids fluttered and he shifted restlessly. He hadn't been able to hold the dressings in place by himself, he'd quickly started to fade in and out of consciousness and now McKay was inextricably tethered to his survival. His hand had gone to sleep but he couldn't move away. Daren't. He also couldn't stop staring at Sheppard's blood as it pooled beside them.
"Any sign of them?" McKay asked, "They should be here by now right?"
Smith looked up from his post and shook his head.
"He's going to die isn't he?" he asked quietly.
Smith didn't answer. He had a job to do and McKay knew that he was distracting him by asking him if there was any sign of the others every two minutes.
McKay let out the breath he hadn't realised he was holding, "And you better still be here tomorrow. I'm not going to endure that Athosian moon festival on my own."
Sheppard smiled, "Try……"
"You had to get shot didn't you?!"
Sheppard closed his eyes, took in a painful breath, and then fixed McKay with hazel eyes.
"I'm talking about Henderson. You had to prove to him that something like this happens every time we go on a mission."
Sheppard pulled a face.
"Well…..when you think about it……this does happen a lot. Now he'll think we're cursed."
McKay recognised Sheppard's look.
"You're right. We are."
Sheppard made a choked sound and stiffened. There was blood on his lips. Time was running out.
"We need a rabbit's foot…..or…..one of those shamrocks…..but then I'd probably be allergic to the rabbit foot and the shamrock would mutate and try to eat us. Sheppard?"
The Colonel cracked his eyes open; his slow blink confirmation that he was still listening.
"You'll be fine."
Sheppard struggled for air a little and coughed again.
"I know this is bad. It always looks bad. The bullet just nicked you…..just a scratch. I know it hurts. Yes."
And then McKay stopped talking because he realised he was having a one sided conversation and Sheppard was just staring at him, blinking slowly, slipping away before his very eyes.
"They're coming!" Smith shouted.
McKay felt his muscles relax, "About time!"
Smith held his hand up to quieten him, "Not them…the natives! They're back and I think they have re-enforcements!"
"Our luck couldn't get any worse!" and then he turned to Sheppard and responded, "Well…it couldn't!"
Smith crouched down, "Stay down and-"
McKay turned to see Keller rushing over, flanked by soldiers and Ronon was pushing ahead of her to get to them first.
"Get down!" Smith hissed and everyone ducked in unison.
Ronon clapped a hand down onto McKay's back, gave him a silent nod, and then went over to Smith. They didn't need words. Never had.
And then the gun fight started all over again.
McKay cowered as stray bullets pelted the tree that Sheppard was leaning against. They were high enough not to strike them but still way too close.
Doctor Keller looked petrified, "What's his condition?"
"Uh….bad? He's bleeding a lot."
McKay realised he had loosened his hold and pressed on the dressing harder, only for Sheppard to stir.
"It's okay, Doctor Keller's here."
Hearing the gunfire Sheppard reached down for his 9.mil.
"They have it covered….I think," McKay informed him.
Keller was working silently, checking Sheppard's vitals with shaking hands and reacting to every sound around her. He'd give her that though; she was still persevering even though they were in imminent danger of well……dying themselves.
"Well?" McKay asked, anxious to leave.
"It's not good," she said in a shaky voice, "but the bullet just nicked his neck. I need to get him back to Atlantis and straight into surgery."
"Can we move him?"
"I don't want to but-" Keller cowered when something struck the tree and bark rained down onto her.
Sheppard, tired and slipping away, reached out to touch her hand as if to say, "Do it!" and McKay knew why. They were in danger. It was his fault. Even though it was McKay's really.
It was time to leave.
"Colonel…" and Keller swallowed thickly, "…..you're bleeding heavily. I need to suture the wound here….tie off the damaged artery and then we can move you safely."
Sheppard's eyes were slipping closed again and McKay wanted to shake him awake.
"He's lost a lot of blood. His blood pressure is…it's critical."
"Do it," McKay snapped.
The gunfire was making him crazy. The air around him was crackling with noise, people were shouting, he felt light headed and-
"Are you okay?" Doctor Keller asked.
"I'm…." No. he wasn't okay. "Just please hurry up."
Time seemed to slow and then speed up again all at once. One minute, Keller was suturing Sheppard's neck and he was awake, staring out towards the gun battle, fingers twitching, wanting to be a part of it. The artery was tied off but he was still losing too much blood. Then they were transporting him to the Jumper under duress. It felt like eternity.
The next moment and McKay was standing in the middle of the infirmary, a flurry of activity around him, people speaking very quickly, nurses jogging everywhere, equipment being rushed passed him and he was in the centre of it.
He was startled out of his fugue by one of the nurses touching his shoulder.
"We should get you cleaned up," she said in a soft voice.
McKay could only watch as Sheppard was rushed into surgery amid beeping machinery and panicked voices.
"Why?" he asked.
"We should get you some clean clothes."
He realised that he was covered in blood, Sheppard's blood, and the reality of what had just happened began to sink in.
"He needs blood," he said.
The nurse nodded and didn't seem to understand what he was saying.
"I'm the same blood type."
The fact that he knew that was proof that he definitely spent too much time with Sheppard. Too much time here in this infirmary in this situation. Maybe Henderson was right.
The surgery had gone well, the ruptured artery had been repaired and Sheppard was going to sport an impressive scar for a while before it faded. Just another battle scar.
McKay had indulged in more one sided conversations, hearing Sheppard's reactions even though he was out for the count and then one day Sheppard had opened his eyes.
McKay nearly dropped his laptop in his haste to get to the bed, "You're awake?"
Sheppard's voice was ravaged, but he continued, "MX822."
McKay helped him ease the bed up and passed him some water, all the while knowing he should get Keller, but something stopped him.
"MX822. Nothing….. happened on that mission."
McKay sighed, "That's the first thing you say?"
Sheppard blinked tiredly and nodded and McKay knew what he was talking about.
"That's because we walked through the gate, you realised you had forgotten your sunglasses and then redialled and made us go back through."
Sheppard nodded and pressed a hand up to his sore neck, "Still nothing…..happened."
"MX822. It was a bust from the start Colonel…I mean-"
McKay smiled. He totally got him.
"Still……… Henderson doesn't need to know that right?"
Sheppard settled back into his pillow, McKay instinctively reclaimed the glass of water he had passed him and headed towards Keller's office.
As he was walking away, he sensed Sheppard moving. He turned down the light, realising that Sheppard had been reaching for it in the first instance.
He really had to get a new hobby.
A/N – This is a silly little bit of fluff that I wrote about Sheppard and McKay's friendship. Oh and I just had to get the whump in there. Please comment if you read. It makes me smile :D