Finding the Way part 3

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Rodney hadn't intended to fall asleep. Hadn't thought it was possible, but between the fear that had kept him awake all through the darkest part of the night and then the worry over Ronon, he was exhausted. The next thing he knew, he was opening his eyes to the gentle rays of the sun breaking through the canopy of leaves above him.

Thank god for sunlight.

He glanced at Ronon, surprised the big man was also asleep or… "Ronon!"

Ronon had slumped over against the log and lay half facing him. Carefully, he nudged Dex's shoulder. "Ronon, wake up!"

Ronon groaned and managed to quell Rodney's fear. He wasn't sleeping, but he'd slipped into unconsciousness again. Dark eyes opened and tried to focus, but Rodney could tell that Ronon was not completely with him. He was about to say Ronon's name again, louder when he heard it…

Something was coming.

He listened intently, fear growing in the pit of his stomach.

Branches snapped and crackled. Voices murmured indistinctly.

Some ONE was coming.

Fear drove him to his feet and he stifled a shout as agony burst through his leg. What the hell? If he'd thought his leg had been on fire before, now it was a freaking inferno. Swollen twice the normal size already, he could barely put pressure on it, but he knew he had to. They had to move or they were going to be found and captured. That was the last thing he planned on dealing with right now.

"Ronon, come on. Get up," he hissed as loudly as he dared and tugged on Ronon's arm. Ronon moaned incoherently, but obeyed. He staggered and Rodney was forced to hold him upright for a minute. "Come on, I can't carry you right now. Walk, you idiot. Walk!"

It took some coordination Rodney was sure he'd never had before, but he managed to drape Ronon's arm over his shoulders and half support, half use Ronon as a support and start them moving. He was certain that he was going to screw this up. They weren't being quiet at all or stealthy or fast. God, they were like a lumbering mutant beast. Plod, crash, grunt. It wasn't pretty or effective, but it was moving.

Rodney tried to figure out where the voices were coming from. Were they behind him and Ronon? To the left? To the right? Which way did he need to go to avoid them?

The voices seemed to be getting louder and, as much as Rodney tried to go faster, he couldn't. Ronon was leaning heavily on him now and his leg buckled every other step, forcing him to grab onto or lurch into trees to simply stay upright.

"Come on. Come on. Come on," he chanted as he dragged Ronon another step. "Don't make me do this by myself, Ronon," he pleaded and it seemed to work as Ronon's weight shifted a little.

There were more voices. He heard them now. They must have signaled to their search parties or something, because it sounded like they were everywhere now. No matter which way he turned, he felt like he was headed into a trap. He tried to move faster.

He felt confused and hot and dizzy and what the hell was wrong with him? He needed to think clearly, but he couldn't. He didn't know which way to go and it felt like the trees were starting to spin around him. His leg began to feel numb and useless beneath him. He couldn't feel his steps and, with each one, the limb gave a little more until finally it just stopped functioning altogether. One minute he was standing, dragging Ronon along, and the next—he was falling, landing hard as Ronon came down with him.

Blinking back tears of pain, Rodney rolled and tried to push himself back up, but nothing in his body would cooperate. Ronon was on his knees beside him, shaking his head with obvious confusion.

The voices were loud now. Rodney could hear the words, but they didn't make sense. Oh God, they were gonna die, strung up by some cheroot chewing Pegasus cowboy.

Hands were on him, pulling and rolling him over. He could hear Ronon struggling and tried to put up his own fight until finally a voice broke through his haze.

"Rodney! Stop it! It's us." Sheppard's voice was the best thing he'd heard in his lifetime, but he made note never to tell John that.

With effort, Rodney managed to focus on the face leaning over him. "What?"

"Yeah, I know. I don't know what's wrong with you, but your leg is the size of a watermelon and you're running a fever. Just let us do the work."


"He will be fine, Rodney," Teyla's voice soothed.


"Who?" There was confusion in Lorne's voice. "What's he talking about?"

"The natives."

Rodney swore he could hear John's smirk. "They're taken care of, McKay. Now, relax so we can get you back home."

" 'kay." He couldn't find any reason to argue with that order.


Rodney woke in the infirmary back on Atlantis, hearing snippets of conversation around him as he floated in a haze of pain and drugs.

"Puncture wound."

"Fast spreading infection"

"Needs surgery."

Keller's tone was calm, but sober, and though Rodney knew he should be concerned about the things he heard her saying…he couldn't find the energy and simply let himself drift off.

When he awoke again, the questions were now serious, but Keller's tone was much lighter.

"Surgery went fine. Nothing complicated. It looks like the operation did what our antibiotics couldn't."

"He's going to be okay?" Sheppard was asking.

She must have nodded, because Rodney couldn't hear her response, but he did hear John's "Good. Good."

"His leg?" Ronon's voice was laced with concern.

"You're not supposed to be out of bed yet," Keller reprimanded, then continued, "his leg will be fine too as long as the infection stays out of it."

Rodney let himself relax again at hearing her response.

The next thing he knew, Keller was looking down at him and smiling. "You awake, McKay?"

He grunted a response, his mouth not quite communicating the way he wanted.

"Charming as usual," she teased, patting his arm. "You're gonna be just fine, okay?"

"Yeah," he managed. She smiled again and moved out of his line of sight. He felt like he should be asking her more questions, but he wasn't quick enough to think of them before she was gone.

"Your leg's gonna be fine. Won't even need physical therapy."

Rodney looked over to his side, surprised to find Ronon sitting in the chair beside his bed. The Satedan looked better than Rodney last remembered. The rough bandage Rodney'd slapped over his wound was replaced by a new one.

Ronon must have sensed him staring at it because he shrugged and touched his bandage lightly. "I'm fine. Still have a slight headache, but Keller says that'll fade eventually."

Rodney nodded slowly. "Good." He tested out his voice, finding it raspy but working.

"You did good out there." Ronon continued looking decidedly uncomfortable. "Getting us into the woods and keeping us safe."

" I didn't…" Rodney felt like he hadn't done nearly enough.

"Keeping me in check."

"Ha. Yeah." He grimaced sarcastically. "I did a masterful job with that whole..." He waved his hand as much as he could with the IV tethering it down.

Shaking his head, Ronon leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. He looked at Rodney and then down at the floor. "Look…about back there."

"Don't worry about it." Rodney shifted in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position and not wanting to rehash the whole thing under the bright lights of Atlantis. " I'm sorry about what I…"

"I remember…some things and…" Ronon interrupted and shifted again, sitting back. "When I first came here, and Weir and Sheppard showed me what was left of Sateda... I felt more alone than I had the entire time I'd been running."

Rodney wasn't sure what led to Ronon's sudden openness, but something told him to shut up and let the man talk.

"I thought I'd lost everything, and then Teyla and I ran into Solen, and I found out that there were actually survivors out there." His voice seemed to deepen but he went on. "At that point, I had hope again that I might be reunited with my people and maybe even my family." He looked at Rodney. "I held on to that hope, and when we found Tyre and Ara and," he paused swallowing hard. "And Ra Kai, I thought I'd found my family again."

Sitting back, Ronon ran his hand over his face and then met Rodney's gaze again. "It took…what happened, losing them, realizing what they'd done…it took that to make me realize and truly see that it was over. I had to let it go. I thought, when I did that…that I was losing something irreplaceable. Something I would never have again."

He stood up and grinned somewhat sheepishly as he laid his hand on Rodney's chest with an uncharacteristic gentleness. "Thank you," he whispered. "For reminding me that what I was looking for was right in front of me the whole time. All I had to do was stop being an idiot and accept it."

Rodney wasn't sure how to say "you're welcome" or if he even could without slipping into emotion he didn't want to deal with so instead he grinned. "Took you long enough."

Ronon's laugh brought a genuine smile and Rodney closed his eyes again as Ronon patted his chest twice and let himself slip back into a restful, healing sleep.

I hope you enjoyed the story! Thanks again for the reviews.