Title: "You Go;We Go"
Word Count; 2300
Rating: K / Gen
Summary: Things don't go well for Ronon and Sheppard on "Limestone World." Bonding, sacrifice, the usual for our heroes.
Notes: My muse wanted a diversion from the longer project. Hope you enjoy the results. All comments feed the writer.
Thanks to Wildcat88 for another fast beta!!
The air smelled of ozone, the sky cracking open with yellow lightening. Purple clouds rolled across the horizon against a violet backdrop. The wind wailed and battled against Sheppard; every three steps he took, it beat him back two. His whole body shook, legs trembling from running for so long and so hard.
"Hurry up!" Ronon hollered.
The Satedan was a blur of leather and dreads ahead of him. A streak of blue weapons fire missed Sheppard's head by inches. His feet slipped for the millionth time, rubber soles useless on the slippery stone ground. He scrambled for purchase, boots sloshing over the slick slate.
"Come on!" Ronon breathed in his ear, words nearly inaudible over the storm.
A strong hand jerked him up by the tac vest, and three more bolts of blue sizzled by them. "I..got it.." Sheppard wheezed.
Their feet pounded over the unrelenting surface, racing by walls of endless green rock. The limestone world was harsh; the ground, the trees and even the grass all made of the same mineral. Sheets of rain drenched his clothes and created rushing rivers under him. He tried not to breathe or swallow the honey sweet droplets dripping down his lips.
Limestone world was home to pissed-off roaming raiders, goat-people who wore horns and sported even worse personalities. Tough-padded feet chased after them, their furry coats and coarse hair protecting them from the elements.
Ronon spun around to fire a few more red bolts, knocking down another one of their pursuers. That left two or three bad guys. Piece of cake.
The raiders were really hard to freaking kill. Thank goodness Teyla and Rodney made it to the gate; unfortunately the whole diversion-then-double-back thing didn't work. An entire tribe had been on their tails since the initial, disastrous encounter, chasing and wearing them down to exhaustion. Ronon and Sheppard were able to pick them off one by one, but the enemy was relentless.
Sheppard ran every morning, and Ronon used to run for his life, but neither of them were conditioned enough to race a two-hour long marathon during a hurricane. His teeth chattered when he wasn't gasping for oxygen.
A noise roared behind him; the raiders were gaining on them. He lost his P-90 in the petrified forest, and he only had a half a clip in his Glock. They were in trouble.
Ronon tried to get another shot off, but the raiders beat him to it, a blue energy blast striking him in the shoulder. Ronon grunted in pain; his left arm hung limply by his side, but he kept moving.
Sheppard half-turned, disoriented by all the rushing shades of jade and mint-green. He squeezed the trigger, one of the remaining bullets striking the mass of animal fur behind him. The raider bellowed, bleating barks clashing with the next clap of thunder, and went down. Then Ronon cried out, and by the time Sheppard snapped his head around it was too late.
Ronon's body vanished from view. One moment he was there; the next he was gone.
Sheppard lost his breath, and shock rooted him to the ground in horror. He swatted at the rain that kept his eyes closed to mere slits and gazed numbly into the pink-hazed storm.
A body barreled into him full force, knocking the wind out of him. They rolled around, wrestling for control with Sheppard flat on his back. He felt a crack and fire down his side. An unbelievable weight landed on his chest, and a stone branch was pressed against his windpipe.
Sheppard's nostrils were assaulted by rotting breath and stained teeth. Yellow eyes peered at him from a face hidden by layers of cloth wrapped around his head.
Breathe; he couldn't breathe. His world was all about air and the stench on top of him.
All he could think about was Ronon.
Ronon falling. Ronon disappearing before his eyes. Ronon, whose back he was covering, in trouble or worse. Dead.
With his body flailing, his lungs bursting, Sheppard grabbed the raider's face and twisted with all his might.
The alien went limp, and Sheppard rolled it away. He made it to all fours, coughing and gagging. He crawled on hands and knees, skidding across the wet stone. His chest expanding and retracting painfully.
He screamed desperately over the deluge. "Ronon!"
"Ronon!" he bellowed.
He scrambled toward the voice, foot slipping out from under him. Sheppard rocketed forward, the ground dropping out of sight.
There was no way of knowing about the cliff until it was too late. His body sprawled to a halt at the very edge. Ronon hung there from the tips of five fingers.
"Hold on!" Sheppard grabbed Ronon's forearm just as his fingers gave away. "I've got ya!"
Sheppard's wrist popped, his elbow along with it. Two hundred and ten pounds of force nearly pulled his shoulder out of its socket. Something crunched inside his joints, and he cried out.
Ronon peered upwards anxiously, water cascading over the cliff in a mini waterfall. "John?"
"I'm...okay," Sheppard said, breath hitching.
Sheppard battled physics as his body slid forward. His friend's larger weight dragged his leaner mass closer to the ledge.
Ronon's eyes went wide in alarm. "I'm pulling you down."
"No, you're not," Sheppard lied. "Can you lift up your other arm?"
"It's still numb." Ronon strained his neck to look upwards, his feet dangling uselessly.
Rain poured down in buckets; tributaries swelled under Sheppard's body, greasing the path over the cliff. His body shook from exertion, veins and tendons bulging like ropes in his neck.
Ronon tried contorting his body, stretching and grappling to no avail. There was no leverage, and he growled in frustration. "I can't climb back up."
"We'll...we'll think of something," Sheppard sputtered over the pain.
The edge of the cliff dug into his chest. He held on to his friend with one arm and clung to the rim of rock with the other.
"You can't lift me."
Sheppard didn't like the finality in his friends' voice. "You…never know. Might be able to."
Ligaments and tissues tore along his bicep, and his entire limb trembled from the growing strain. He was losing feeling in his fingers.
"I outweigh you by forty pounds."
"So?" Sheppard groaned.
"I don't want you to die, too."
"Don't say that!" Sheppard tried crabbing backwards but didn't have the strength.
Ronon's voice was tight, his coat bellowing in the wind. "It'll be a quick death."
Sheppard squeezed his eyes closed, drawing on every reserve, every source of energy, and began pulling.
Nothing happened except burning. Down his arm, into his shoulder. He would not let go no matter what.
Momentum had other ideas. It was sudden; the flowing rainfall created a raging river. Weight and gravity did the rest.
Sheppard slipped forward, unable to fight the pull. He was falling, but he lashed out with his left hand, grabbing a protruding rock, his body acting like a bungee chord. It hurt. God it hurt so much. Ronon dropped further, suspended over a chasm. Sheppard's entire right arm screamed bloody murder as the two of them swung like a pendulum.
"Let me go, Sheppard."
Sheppard wouldn't do it. Both arms were on fire, but he ignored the tearing.
"Thank you," Ronon said.
Ronon stretched his hand and pried Sheppard's fingers out of their grip.
And Ronon fell.
Ronon heard screaming from above then white hot pain in his left ankle and knee. The upper part of his body slammed on top of another ledge. A hidden ledge. His legs once again swung freely, but he was able to pull himself to safety. With the air knocked out of him, his mind struggled with all his aches and pains.
He was alive.
Water continued to flow over his prone form, his weather resistant coat shielding him from most of the effects. He stared up to catch a glimpse of Sheppard, only to be blinded by multiple streams of runoff and rain. Ronon's head felt heavy, his water-logged dreads straining his neck, but a noise above warned him of danger.
It took a split second, but he recognized the body toppling over the waterfall. Despite his injuries, Ronon stood up out of instinct and ended up cushioning the weight that came crashing into him. He didn't know how long he lay unmoving. Seconds? Minutes?
Water pelted numb cheeks, and something lay unmoving on top of him. All he wanted to do was accept the consuming blackness, but a low moan snapped him awake.
Ronon managed to roll his friend away. Sheppard laid motionless, eyes dazed, face gray. "What the hell?" he coughed.
That was all it took to get Ronon's stunned body moving and alert. He sat up, shocked to see an opening to a cave. A rocky platform jutting out from the side of the cliff was what saved them both. It was shelter, and that was all that mattered.
"Come on," Ronon ordered.
Sheppard didn't respond, and he yanked on his team leader's vest again. "I can't carry you, so move."
For once it was the truth, Ronon's left knee was already swelling, and his ankle couldn't hold any weight. He limped/hopped, jerking Sheppard along into the dark chasm. Ronon's leg buckled, and they both fell to the ground in a heap.
At least it was dry.
The desire to sleep was overwhelming; hanging on to the cliff drained him to the last of his reserves, and the rest of his adrenaline had worn off. "Sheppard." He shook his friend's shivering form.
"Am... here," the colonel said between chattering teeth.
"Why did you do that?" Ronon growled.
Ronon chuckled in the darkness until his belly hurt. Then he sobered, knowing his friend would have never let go. "We're screwed."
"Rodney's not here... No need...to say...that." There was a long sigh. "You hurt?"
"Messed up my ankle and knee."
There was feeling back in Ronon's left arm, and he patted the cold ground searching for his friend. The waterfall outside the cave entrance blocked most of the light. He dug through soggy vest pockets and pulled out a tiny mag lite, flipping it on.
Sheppard flinched at the light, holding a hand up to ward away the illumination. "Got to find...a way…outta here."
Ronon laid the light on the floor and rested his side against the wall. "Teyla and Rodney will come back with a search team."
"Lime planet. S-somethin's throws-s off our s-sensors," Sheppard slurred.
"Got a plan?" Because didn't he always?
Sheppard shook and shivered, arms wrapped around his body. "Maybe...I can climb...back up."
The flashlight cast rays of illumination over the ground, a tiny portion ghosting over his team leader. Sheppard was soaked; water dripped from the creases of his BDUs to the floor, and his spiky hair was plastered to his forehead. He looked terrible.
"Hold up your arms," Ronon said.
The colonel glared, unfolding them with a grimace. He straightened out his left arm and lifted it halfway up until his pasty completion grew paler. Sheppard didn't even try with the right one. "We...can't...just...wait here."
For some odd reason the pilot tried to stand even though the ceiling of the cavern was too low for either of them. What he didn't expect was for Sheppard to suddenly go boneless and collapse.
Fear, endorphins, sheer terror catapulted Ronon towards his teammate, hand reaching for a pulse. He found a rapid, steady beat and skin that was freezing. Sheppard was stone cold, and after a search of his vest, they still had no emergency supplies.
No fire. No blankets. There was no telling how long Ronon could stay awake or know when help would come. He was cold too, but his insulated long coat had kept most of the rain away. He fumbled with the various buttons, wasting time trying to undo them. His fingers didn't want to work right, but after a while he got the folds of his jacket open. He pulled his arms free of the sleeves so he could use the clothing as a blanket.
Ronon removed Sheppard's heavy vest but decided to leave the t-shirt alone. He was losing the battle for consciousness and didn't want to waste time. He manhandled Sheppard until the colonel leaned against his chest. It took patience, but he pulled and tugged, hissing at moving his busted knee and ankle. He laid on his side, tucking and folding Sheppard against his bulk then struggled to wrap his coat over them.
Then he encircled his arms around his team leader and wrapped his hands around Sheppard's smaller ones and tucked them away. Ronon huddled as close as he could, trying to share his body heat through a layer of drenched clothes.
Ronon rested his chin on Sheppard's shoulder. "Shut up and sleep."
When he woke next it was to a pile of warm sheets and a fuzzy feeling dripping into his veins from an IV. The infirmary was dark, but it didn't glow green, and it didn't feel like a tomb. Ronon's leg was propped up, an ice pack on his knee and ankle competing with the electric blankets.
He turned his head to the other body in the bed next to him. "Sheppard?"
"Shoulder's immobilized. Cracked rib. Not bad." "
"Okay." Ronon snuggled down in the bed, allowing heavy eyes to slip back closed. "Sheppard."
"Thanks for not letting go."
"I wouldn't have. And we're going to talk about what you did later."
Ronon knew they would. It didn't matter; he would do it again.
"Hey, big guy?"
"Thanks for the...you know. Afterwards."
Ronon grinned. "You're welcome."