Title: Finding the Way

Rating: K+

Disclaimer: SGA belongs to MGM/Paramount and a bunch of others. No copyright infringement intended with the use of these characters.

Spoilers: Set directly after "Reunion" and refers to events of that episode.

Note: Originally written and posted for the LJ Sga Genficathon. Genre: Friendship, Prompt: Endings and Beginnings.

"Off the path!"

Rodney stumbled but maintained his footing as he frantically tried to obey Ronon's order. Bullets whizzed by frighteningly close as the Satedan somehow managed to simultaneously shove Rodney toward the thick line of trees and return fire. McKay followed the gentle slope toward the woods.

"We're almost to the gate. Where are you?" Sheppard harshly questioned over the radio.

McKay could hear P-90 fire in the distance. "Hiding!" he managed to answer. "They've got us cut off," he realized out loud as another group of natives riding horse-like beasts appeared from the direction of the gate. He turned toward Ronon as the former runner continued to fire on the first group of assailants that were gaining on them.

"What are we…" His question was cut off as Ronon lurched back, half spinning and falling against him. Unprepared for the full weight of the larger man, Rodney went down under him with a squawk. Tangled, they rolled twice before coming to a stop.

"What the hell are you doing?" McKay shoved at Ronon with just enough strength to roll the big man off of him. Ronon just laid there, completely unresponsive. "Oh God."

Shaking, Rodney reached for Dex and pulled him close. "No. No. No. No. No." He pushed a clump of dreadlocks back off Ronon's face and out of the way, his eyes widening at the gushing wound just above his teammate's temple. "Oh God." He fumbled at his vest for a bandage, but renewed gunfire had him going for his radio and Ronon's weapon instead. He didn't know what to do first.

The natives were closer now. They outnumbered him by at least ten, and he and Ronon were sitting ducks in the open. "Sheppard!" he hissed for the colonel, unsure if any of their pursuers were close enough to hear him. "Teyla!" The radio buzzed with static. "No. No. No." Rodney grasped onto the collar of Ronon's coat, pulling with all his might and dragging the unconscious man into the forest. He didn't dare fire Ronon's weapon for fear it'd only help the Wyatt Earp wanna-bes to follow their escape route. Instead, he paused just long enough to shove it into his vest and then grabbed Ronon's collar with two hands, ready to drag him deeper into the forest. He froze when he heard voices just beyond the tree line and hurriedly managed to get Ronon and himself behind a wide tree trunk.

"Where'd they go?" The voice was heavily accented and McKay recognized it as that of the leader that Sheppard had tried, rather unsuccessfully, to negotiate with earlier.

"Don't know." Rodney couldn't see enough of the second man as he hovered protectively over Ronon's unmoving form. He held his breath, listening.

"They were here. There is no other way they could have gone without being seen."

"The woods then."

Rodney could feel their eyes, straining to find them.

"Yes sir. I can order my men to…"

"No," the leader cut the other man off. "It will be dark soon. Set up guards at the ring and organize patrols. Tell the men to keep watch for the others as well. If the fates allow, these two will simply lose their way and if the woods don't take them, we will when they emerge."

Rodney stayed still until he was certain they'd moved away. Then he started moving, pulling Ronon along with him. He didn't stop until he could no longer see the edge of the forest. The trees thickened the further he dragged Ronon. Branches scratched and grabbed at him, pulling at his clothing and smacking his face. Sweat ran down his face, stinging his eyes. His back burned in protest to the bent over posture and heavy weight of the Satedan. His side ached and cramped.

"Colonel? Teyla?" he whispered as loud as he dared, cringing as twigs snapped and leaves crackled under his footsteps and Ronon's body. There was nothing in response.

Pausing a moment, Rodney strained to listen for any sounds of pursuit in case the leader had changed his mind, but there was no sign of any life. The forest had simply closed up behind them.

Sucking in a deep breath, Rodney decided it was safe to stop for a few minutes. He squatted beside Dex.

"Ronon?" Ronon remained still. "Damn it."

Fumbling in the fading light, McKay examined Ronon's wound and swallowed back a wave of nausea. Blood continued to ooze from the groove the bullet had neatly carved just above Ronon's temple. Finding what few bandages he had stashed in his vest, Rodney did his best to clean the wound, trying to remember the long ago lessons from Carson about field dressing a head wound.

"Come on, big guy." He talked as he worked. "This is not good, you know." When the wound was clean enough, he peeled open two large adhesive bandages and shakily pressed them over the gash. Out of clean bandages, he wet the edge of his sleeve with his canteen, and carefully attempted to wash away as much blood as possible from Ronon's face and neck, hoping the cold water would rouse the Satedan but it didn't. There was so much blood. "Head wounds tend to bleed a lot," he whispered, wondering where in the world he'd heard that. From Carson? God, he didn't want to think about Beckett right now. Finishing, he frowned, not quite satisfied with the job but there was nothing more he could do.

"Ronon?" His voice sharpened, but Ronon still didn't so much as twitch. "Not good." Rodney wiped his bloody hands on his pants and unbuckled his vest. He slipped it off and then shrugged out of his jacket. Balling it up, he shoved it roughly under the Satedan's head. "You better wake up." He threatened before pulling his vest back on and re-buckling it.

Shivering slightly he pushed himself up and peered through the trees. "Sheppard?" He tried to figure out which way might lead them closer to the gate as he waited for any answer, but none came. "Crap." He pulled the radio off and stared at the cracked casing and ripped wires. He must have broken is when Ronon fell on him, or dashing through the woods. Dropping back to his knees he reached for Ronon's only to find it was gone.

"Well, this sucks," he mumbled. He glanced around but found only a wall of trees on all sides. Tall, looming and closing in as darkness continued to settle over them. A wave of panic washed over him and he fought for control.

"Perfect, Rodney, perfect. Panic now," he scolded as his heart rate quickened and it got harder to breathe. "Not enough that you're being chased by trigger happy cowboys straight out of a Clint Eastwood flick or that Ronon's been shot and is probably brain dead already or that you're cut off from anyone who might be able to help you, but now you have to freak out because the damn trees are closing in on you. Perfect. You know nothing about wilderness survival. Your teammate is hurt and you can barely remember first aid training and the rest of your team is God knows where by now, hopefully back on Atlantis mounting a rescue but until that comes…what the hell are you going to do?" Gasping by now, McKay pushed back to his feet and paced in the tiny space beside Ronon. "Calm down. Calm down." He focused on breathing, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Closing his eyes he counted to twenty…in Russian and opened them again. He glanced down as turned and stopped, surprised to find dark eyes staring up at him.

"Oh thank God."

Rodney dropped down beside Ronon again.

"Wha' happened?" Dex groaned as he tried to sit up. Rodney grabbed his arm, holding him still and helping him stay upright.

"Careful. You got shot, sort of…grazed the side of your head."

Ronon swayed slightly and began to swallow compulsively.

Rodney found himself staring at Ronon's adams apple. "Are you going to puke?" he questioned as the Satedan paled drastically.

"Maybe." Ronon squeezed his eyes closed, pain lines deepening across his face. "Where are we?" he asked once he obviously had regained control.

"Woods on P9J-433." McKay waved his free hand around. "I dragged you in here to hide from John Wayne and his posse."


Rodney frowned, realizing suddenly that Ronon's eyes didn't seem to focus on him the way they should. "Nevermind. Point is we need to keep moving. They said something about sending patrols to find us."

Ronon nodded slowly as if testing himself and then pushed himself up. He brushed off Rodney's attempts to help, choosing instead to use a tree trunk to steady himself. "Where are the others?"

Rodney gathered up his jacket and shrugged it on over his vest. "I don't know. Last contact, Sheppard and Teyla were close to the gate but then…we lost our radios."

Ronon frowned. "What about Tyer, Ara and Ra Kai?"

"Who?" Rodney stared at him. "What?"

"My people." Ronon spit out harshly. Rodney swallowed slowly, his fear growing. If Ronon didn't remember…

"They're...they're gone. Don't you remember?"

Ronon's scowl deepened. "What do you mean GONE?"

Rodney gestured nervously in the empty space between them. He did not like the look Ronon was giving him. "We lost them on our last mission. Their mission. Things…" He paused. How much should he tell Ronon right now? "Thing didn't go as planned. They were never here on this planet with us."

"They're dead?" The devastation in Ronon's tone hurt to hear again.

"I-I don't know." Rodney lied, hoping that for once in his life he looked convincing. He couldn't tell by Ronon's reaction if the other man believed him or not. "We need to move. Can you?" He motioned in a direction he hoped was away from danger.

Ronon simply stared a moment. Rodney wondered what was going through the bigger man's mind. "What direction's the gate?" Ronon asked finally, standing straighter and letting go of the tree he'd been clinging to.

Rodney shook his head. "I'm not sure. I know it was northeast of the settlement but in here…" He started wringing his hands worriedly. "They took the scanners. Thought we were spies for the wraith. We made a run for it but they managed to separate us. I don't know where…"

"Let's go." Ronon cut him off and started walking…weaving through the forest.

They moved in silence, climbing over rotted tree logs and squeezing through tight clusters of growth. There was no path to follow and Rodney hoped he was right in trusting Ronon to lead. Even befuddled, Ronon knew more about surviving in this setting than he ever would. Rodney's mind raced as they plodded along. Thoughts he didn't dare say out loud overwhelmed him. He was worried about Ronon. The former runner was moving slowly with none of the stealthy grace McKay was used to seeing. Was moving this much even good for Ronon? And what about his lack of memory? Had Ronon simply blocked out the whole incident with the Satedans? He obviously remembered finding them but—how could Rodney tell him that his friends had turned out to be Wraith worshipers? It already burned to remember how quickly Ronon had been willing to leave Atlantis for them. Rodney didn't understand it. He'd tried, but he was still kind of angry that he and Teyla and Sheppard had obviously meant so little.

"I've gotta stop." Ronon's voice startled Rodney from his thoughts. He barely had time to react as Ronon immediately started to go down.

"Whoa. Whoa." Rodney tried to help catch the man, but just barely kept him from full on collapse.

"I can't…" and Ronon was unconscious again.

"Damn it." Rodney eased Ronon onto the forest floor, sliding underneath him so his own legs provided a pillow for Ronon's head. He didn't know what to do. They hadn't made a lot of progress really. The woods were thick and there were no paths. Absently he plucked at random leaves and twigs untangled in Ronon's hair feeling foolish that there wasn't more he could do. He left the bandaged wound alone, noting that it at least hadn't started bleeding again.

They were almost out of natural light, he could barely see. Did he dare use his flash light? What about indigenous creatures? He shivered at the thought of what might be lurking around them. He didn't know what to do. He covered his face with his hands, suddenly overwhelmingly tired and he wondered exactly how cold it would get when it was totally dark. He wasn't sure he could do this. "Come on Colonel," he muttered, leaning back against a tree. "Now would be an excellent time for one of your famous rescues."