Title: "Black Water"


Word Count; 5400

Rating: K+

Genre: Gen, Action/Adv, H/C

Characters: Sheppard, Rodney, Ronon and Teyla

Spoilers: Takes place in Season 5 but no spoilers

Summary: Bogs, bullets, bugs, and bonding. Sheppard and the Team are in trouble and things go downhill from there.

Notes: Written as a way to cheer myself up and for Wildcat88 who wanted swamps and the team protecting Sheppard.

Major thanks to everybetty for an amazing and swift beta.

Their feet battle the suction of mud and small flowing rivers. No matter which direction any of them step, their boots slosh into peat and rancid brown water. Rodney's legs mush through the wet terrain, each foot slurping up gunk with every step. The thick humidity smothers his lungs; buckets of sweat pour down his face.

"Move faster!" Ronon growls from behind, blaster firing in the distance.

Teyla's P-90 burst swallows up Rodney's angry retort. "I'm...trying!" he huffs. He's precariously off balance. Sheppard's extra weight is trying to tip him over. "Come on, Colonel."

The pilot's left arm is draped over Rodney's shoulder while he drags most of the lanky man's weight. Sheppard cries out every few seconds, skipping the typical grunting noises when he conceals his discomfort. Rodney wishes for those stoic sounds over the pitiful ones in his ear. Sheppard's in agonizing pain and there's no stopping anytime soon.

"Mc-Kay," Sheppard gasps.

Rodney holds him tighter around the waist, fingers clutching the top of his BDUs. "Just a little longer," he lies. The next set of tremors hits and Sheppard's screams are only barely cut off by weapon's fire.

They've been going forever it seems, bullets zipping past Rodney's head. And what are bog men doing with enough guns to arm an army for crying out loud? There's half a freaking village after them.

At least the marsh is too thick for the hovercraft.

Sheppard jackknifes after both their legs sink into a pool of black sludge. Teyla comes up from behind, places a hand at each of their backs and pushes. "We must hurry!"


A bullet snaps apart a low hanging tree limb and Rodney accidentally gets tangled up by the vines that fall. First black pools of death, now killer plants! All that's missing is quicksand.

Sheppard's sweaty arm slips over Rodney's rain slicked back, his body falling sideways. "No, no, don't!" Rodney struggles to keep Sheppard from collapsing.

"Just...God...leave me!" Sheppard wails, body contorting away and fighting him.

Rodney struggles – wrangling and clawing at the tac vest to pull him back up. He's so afraid of hurting him but drags Sheppard through water that's knee deep now. Teyla's yelling, shoving them forwards once more-- the swamp is filling with gunfire and blasters.

"We're gonna make it; we're gonna make it," Rodney huffs for himself as much as for Sheppard's sake.

He must be tapping a hidden reserve of adrenaline, because all six foot of Lt. Colonel is using him to stay up and Rodney's doing it. He's keeping Sheppard alive, practically carrying him for miles, and riding high on the magical properties of fight or flight. He's probably fractured three vertebrae and pinched even more nerves, but traction will have to wait.

Rain plunks down in heavy drops on his face to smear his vision and add in the fun and confusion. His arm burns and screams from keeping Sheppard's weight across his shoulders, the other one locked around the pilot's lower half.

Keep moving, keep going!


Nothing but floodplains and trees.


Teyla has him by both shoulders, her hair a tangled wet mess around her eyes. "We can stop."

Rodney's not sure if that's possible; his entire body shakes and his heart is ready to explode. "What?"

"You can let go of John," Teyla says, reaching out to accept the burden.

Sheppard is fused to his side and when he releases him, the colonel almost topples over. Ronon comes from out of nowhere, snatching Sheppard up and laying him gently down under a large uprooted tree. The colonel's been quiet the last few minutes but all the movement opens the floodgates and Sheppard squirms, whimpering.

Rodney loses what little control he has left. "Can't you do something?"

Ronon goes to his knees, one hand on Sheppard's chest to calm him, the other trying to hold his right leg down. "Teyla," he grunts.

Despite all the rainwater, blood stains Sheppard's BDUs, a steady flow leaking out of his thigh. Rodney's on the ground too, grabbing a flailing boot, eyes horrified at how freaking pale the colonel looks. His face is twisted in pain, cheeks chalk white, traces of vomit stain his shirt.

"God, please! Get it outa of me!" Sheppard screams, causing all the plastered hairs on Rodney's neck to stand on end.

John Sheppard does not beg.

Ronon hands over a knife to Teyla, then holds the colonel's upper body more firmly to the ground. "Sheppard, be still."

Teyla's made quick work of the pant leg, ripping the fabric apart a few inches above the knee. The flesh surrounding the entry point is swollen and puffy. Sheppard's hands make white fists, pounding the ground.

"I'm sorry, John," Teyla whispers, pressing and exploring the wound.

The colonel screams in response, his howl able to attract every predator within three miles.

"Sheppard!" Ronon hisses, his face betraying conflicted emotions. "You must stay quiet."

"I think it is in lodged in the bone," Teyla reports, eyes brimming with anger.

Rodney's no witch doctor, but he knows that has to be excruciating. "Don't we have any morphine?"

Ronon's voice is flat, his left eye twitches. "No."

"Get...get it out!" Sheppard's panting so fast he's going to hyperventilate.

Stop, stop, stop! Rodney's next to Sheppard, hands hovering uselessly over his writhing form. "Just...just...oh, man I'm not good at this, I'm not!"

Sheppard grabs a nearby root, crushing it in a vice grip, choo-chooing for air. Ronon presses both meaty hands on his shoulders to hold him in place. "We need to stop the bleeding."

"John, I know you are in immense pain, but try to take slower breaths," Teyla instructs, her voice uncharacteristically quivery as she unwraps a pressure bandage. Ronon prepares to push down harder and he stares at Rodney with intent.

Of course. A distraction. He'll just discuss the crappy weather. Sheppard has a death grip on a thick root, his other hand sunk deep into the drenched soil. His entire body is strung tighter than a bow and he keeps trying to clamp his mouth shut, but all he does is struggle for air.

Think. No time for idle chit chat. "What's the square root of one-thousand, three hundred and forty five?"

"What?" Sheppard huffs, the cords in his neck bulging.

"Snap, snap."

"Thirty..." Sheppard gasps, swallows. "Thirty-six...something?" His chest moves rapidly with every stuttered breath.

"Thirty-six something doesn't even go past the decimal," Rodney chastises. "The square of four-thousand and forty-two?"

Teyla applies the field dressing and Sheppard's back arches as he screams. Ronon struggles against his bucking and flailing as Teyla tries to wrap the bandage in place.

"Think, Sheppard! The square of four-thousand and forty-two? Come on, you can do it!" Rodney hisses, eyes darting around for the bad guys. "I'll help. Sixty... what?"

Sheppard gulps, inhaling and exhaling rapidly. "Sixty!--Five!" he heaves, trying to twist away.

Ronon adds more weight, leaning above Sheppard's face, whispering and encouraging him. Teyla finishes securing the wrap and wipes at her face. "I'm done, John. It's over."

Sheppard groans, eyes clamped close, moisture leaking down his face. His exhausted body gives out and he simply lays there.

Watching his friend suffer endlessly is too much. "Maybe one of us can go to the gate, bring help back?" Rodney asks, body trembling from stress.

"I'll do it," Ronon's rising to his feet.

"Don't. There are too many of them," Teyla's states calmly, her tone betraying fear. She's trying desperately to hold things together.

"So what?" Ronon snaps.

"Because Rodney and I can not fend off an attack by ourselves," she growls. Teyla rarely displays such anger, but this situation is killing them all. "We are vastly outnumbered."

Ronon knows she's right, face twisting in a scowl.

"What then?" Rodney demands, hands twitching with nothing to do.

"We use the life signs detector to keep monitoring their movement and avoid them," she states.

"They have three large groups searching for us," Ronon reminds them all.

"Maybe they're using patterns that we can circumvent," Rodney suggests, never taking his eye off Sheppard.

"Whatever the case, we will not have long to rest here," Teyla says, regretfully.

"And we must hurry," Ronon adds.

Rodney doesn't need to be told twice but there's something between his teammates that they have not shared with him. He checks on Sheppard again, at the hair plastered with sweat, the face pinched and haggard. "What's wrong? I mean, besides the obvious."

"It is the bullet, Rodney. I think it's pressed against a nerve or worse, has shattered the bone. It is what is causing so much pain," Teyla says gravely.

"So, besides blood loss and shock--"

"--the pain could kill him," Ronon finishes for him.

Ronon listens as the reeds whistle, paying attention to buzzing insects and searching for changes in their patterns. He swats at large dragonflies while thousands of multicolored eyes stare back at him from the foliage. They're surrounded by predators and prey, claws and teeth, things that slither and fly.

He clutches a bit of metal in his hand, heat burning his cheeks in fury. How often do these missions go badly because of ignorance? Misunderstandings and suspicions. One after another until the people of this swamp wanted to kill and burn their bodies to fend off the Wraith.

Sheppard lays half on his side, one hand with a death grip above his knee, chewing on his bottom lip until it bleeds. To have your inner torment so totally exposed to others is unfathomable—not being able to do anything about it is far worse. Ronon peels back a bit of bark and sidles up next to his friend. "Chew on this... it'll help."

Pain can consume a man, eat him up alive in hot, white fire, draining you until there is nothing left. Sheppard's senses are still intact; a shaky hand takes the piece of bark and slides it between his teeth.

"Be strong." Ronon squeezes his shoulder, feeling the vibration of constant tremors and holds tightly a few seconds longer than necessary.

Sheppard steels his face, blood-shot eyes try to focus. "Tryin'," he confesses.

Ronon presses the bit of metal in his palm until it stings, then slips it into his jacket pocket. He contemplates the hidden thing and his anger grows. Sweat glistens and pools on the ashen canvas of Sheppard's face, draining the color away as it rolls down his neck, emphasizing the fluttering pulse point in his throat.

Hordes of birds take to the air, their flapping wings a warning signal. Ronon doesn't need a life signs detector to know the danger. A group of swamp people are edging closer towards the dead tree they've been using for cover.

Ronon's fingers curl around his blaster, eyes flicking down on Sheppard, his chest tightening.

He bends down, and hands, flexed and readied for violence, uncoil in benevolence. Ronon slips his arms under his friend, scooping him up carefully with fluid grace.


"I'm going to carry you and you're gonna deal with it," Ronon says, brooking no argument.

Sheppard glares; Ronon stares back defiantly.

Rodney flusters by his side. "Um...don't we need you to...uh...like, shoot the bog people?"

"We need to get off this planet and that means being fast," Ronon says, knowing that his teammate is right. But he doesn't care, going against his better instincts to be armed—to be the warrior. "This is the best thing."

"Don't do--"

"--We're going now, you don't have a say in the matter" Ronon interrupts the pilot.

Teyla takes point, understanding in her eyes with Rodney on their six, hands firmly around his P-90. Ronon doesn't tell them about the shell casing. How he found a stray bullet in a nearby trunk that was far from normal. Instead of flat and round, it was mushroom shaped, meaning it expanded as it tore through flesh to damage and maim.

And it did the job perfectly. Probably used to kill prey a lot harder to kill than humans.

His friend groans with every jostle, bites down on the bark so hard its splits between his teeth. Sheppard fists Ronon's coat, buries his face in the fabric to muffle the screams.

Ronon holds onto Sheppard when he sinks deep into the mud, grips harder when native animals get close enough to hiss, and he doesn't let go when things go to hell.

"I told you they were gaining ground!" Rodney yells, shooting his P-90.

Teyla lays down cover fire, both teammates encircling behind them. Bullets fly all around, followed by the battle cries of rushing enemies. In the distance, a strange whirring sound gets closer.

Ronon searches left, searches right.

"Put me down!" Sheppard shouts.

There's no cover, nothing but standing water.


Then the hovercraft appears.

"Drop me!"

Ronon has no choice, and lets go of Sheppard, whipping around to kill those responsible for this.

The boat is nothing but a platform with a huge fan, but it's faster than running on foot and skids towards them. Five bog people fire from the hovercraft, using the speed as an advantage.

Teyla and McKay protect the rear while Ronon goes after what Sheppard called the swamp buggy. There's more water and fewer trees, areas of soggy ground sending Ronon waist deep into the muck. The hovercraft circles closer and he spots the shaved heads and painted faces of the enemy. Greenish-brown dirt covers most of their pale flesh, blending them in with the environment, but the hovercraft makes a prime target.

Ronon fires then drops to his knees, hiding in the mud, using it for cover.

He waits for the craft to get even closer before exposing his presence. The marsh people stand taller, yellow eyes flashing in anger. Ronon's eyes flash back harder and the roaring engine of the fan becomes a loud buzz. He plays the chicken game and rushes towards the craft. The bog men take aim as they get a clear shot.

The swamp buggy is almost upon him; the men open fire as Ronon dives down.

He sinks, listening for muffled noise as the craft passes over him. Then he lunges upwards, half-blinded by mud and latches onto the back of the boat. A C-4 charge is slapped onto the engine before he lets go.

The hovercraft spins around wildly and a few seconds later explodes. Ronon doesn't look back, powering his way through the mire towards Sheppard. His eyes find Teyla and McKay struggling through the marsh, whole and unharmed.

They've won this round.

Ronon makes his way over, eyes searching and praying that the swamp hasn't claimed his friend. He wipes at his face, fingers coming away with clay and leaves.

"Ronon, where's John?"

Teyla and McKay search franticly, the browns and greens of trees and dirt all appearing the same. Ronon runs faster, the swampy water levels dropping towards higher ground, but they can still drown a man who can't fight back.

Where is he? Ronon scans the grasses and giant willows.


Ronon moves with mud covered limbs towards a clump of stalks. "Sheppard!"

The colonel lays shivering on the ground, hands wrapped around thick reeds as if he's going to be washed away. Ronon rolls his friend onto his back, so he's not breathing in fetid water.

Teyla and McKay arrive, frazzled, breathing hard but no worse for wear. They all share the same horrified expressions. The colonel looks dead, skin sickly white, clothes soaked and dirty.

"Sheppard," Ronon calls out again, finger reaching for a pulse.

"Ronon!" Surprisingly bright eyes open wide, red-rimmed and pleading. The colonel practicality claws at his shoulder, digging his fingers in painfully. "Get it... cut... cut this damned bullet out of me!"

"What is he going on about?" Rodney squawks.

The vein under Ronon's fingertip is furious, the skin freezing cold. "I can't. The docs will take care of you in Atlantis."

With more strength than he thought possible, Sheppard pulls Ronon down. "I order you," Sheppard pants for breath. "Get this... bastard ...outa me."

Ronon pulls Sheppard towards him, wrapping both large arms around the man. "I can't," he tells him. "I'm sorry," he says squeezing harder.

He hates himself for not being able to do anything. Teyla's hand is on Ronon's shoulder, McKay's on Sheppard's.

And the colonel's body shakes and trembles beneath them, his whispered voice repeating,"Get it out, please, get it out."

John's entire leg is a throbbing, radiating streak of lightning. He can't feel his knee or his toes because they've become one large extension of the same thing. He's torn open his lower lip, left teeth marks in his hand and ground his jaw into dust.

He wants to pass out, wishes for oblivion, but every time his mind steps towards blackness, something jars him awake. Time slips away into a blur of vicious torture. Someone keeps drilling into his bone with a screwdriver, slowly chipping away at the femur with every agonizing twist.

It's hard to think, the moments of clarity becoming fewer and fewer. There's running and falling. Being carried and arguing. All John wants is for this to end, to allow the fire to consume him.

The bullet digs deeper, vibrating like a tuning fork with every movement. The wound must be filled with some alien substance, or acid, because he's never felt anything like this.

It's wearing him down, beating him into submission.

Ronon lets him go and it's a blessing. He can suffer alone now. Except the swamp water seeping through his BDU's is burning and scalding the wound. Grinding him down, willing him to give up.

John won't, gripping the willow reeds with numb fingers, knowing deep down that he has to hold on just a little longer. The sounds of battle rage around him and he wants to grab his gun to join in the fight.

If he could only get this chunk of lead out of his leg!

His team is here and he pleads at them to get rid of the bullet and release him from this Hell, but they won't listen.

"I order you to get it out!" John shouts.

They won't. His vision has gone white; he's blind with pain. Someone holds onto him, to keep him from slipping away.

John breaks down and pleads.

"We're not hacking open your leg!"

"Battlefield... triage," John grits to McKay.

Teyla's running fingers through his hair, Ronon's still got him in some big hug. But it's not helping; it's not getting rid of the dagger sticking out of his thigh.

"We cannot risk getting the bullet out, John. We could kill you."

He opens his eyes; the blurry image of Teyla looks down on him. "I'll... I'll take... the risk." John gulps, swallows and tries not to gag.

"You'd bleed out," Ronon states.

John's brain comes online long enough to realize he's huddled against the Satedan's chest. This is a nightmare, but before he can complain, another jolt rips down his leg and he hacks his lungs out.

There's more talk around him while he swims in a haze of red. Things about shock and blood loss. Arguing over surgery and death.

John knows there are hostiles and danger all around. He can't risk his team. But they continue to argue over him.

McKay yells at Ronon. "Don't even think about using that knife on him. If the bullet's in the bone, you'll nick an artery or do so much damage going in that he'll die anyway!"

"You cannot, Ronon... Rodney is right. The femoral artery is too close."

John's world is blurring in and out. He wets his lips, his lungs too worn out to pant anymore. "Stun... me...then you don't... don't have to worry." Then he won't be a hindrance. A liability. He knows they won't leave him behind... he's taught them too well.

"I do not think you could survive being stunned, John," Teyla tells him. "You are very weak."

John's hands are shaking but he's too cold to feel them.

"He is getting worse," he hears Teyla say.

"The swamp people are circling, but they're not advancing," Rodney explains.

"Night is approaching. We need to go," Ronon's voice echoes near John's ears.

"We need a plan," Teyla responds.

Rodney sputters and laments about blowing up the only thing that could have been useful. The hovercraft is in tiny pieces and it can't be used to help transport them.

"Can you make something out of it?" Ronon asks.

"Like what? A robot?"

Teyla listens to the arguing with one ear, and John's distress with the other. She's gathered him into her lap despite his protests and after a few minutes of struggling, he buries his head into her side. She wants to help him, to ease this prolonged torture. All she can do is give him hope and comfort, lend strength and be a source of will.

He shivers and Teyla rubs her hands up and down his back. He tries to peel at the bandage and dig at the wound and she grabs his desperate fingers and stills them. "Don't," she orders, feeling guilt at the scolding tone.

John apologizes one moment then bucks and fights the next. She's seen this before, the strongest Athosians brought to their knees by a stab to the gut, or the removal of a limb.

Teyla presses her forehead into his damp hair, hoping that more physical contact will break through his frantic mind. She knows he is beyond thinking straight. "John, you can do this," she whispers.

He squeezes her arms so hard Teyla winces, but allows him to hang on, his body wracked by tremors. The shaking subsides and he barely lifts his head. "Stun me, Teyla... Escape... just... knock me... out... Leave--" his hoarse, disjointed words are cut off by a familiar spasm.

Teyla acts quickly, holding onto him as he dry heaves over and over and over again. With his body spent, John sags into her arms as she keeps him upright. She lays him against a clump of plants, and peers down in the darkness to study the growing red stain over his bandage.

Adding another dressing will require help and Teyla looks up, noting in alarm how the night has crept up while she's been trying to console him. Rodney is a shadowy figure, giving them space and lessening the number of witnesses to the colonel's torment. With nightfall it is amazing how much the swamp has come to life.

Ronon is deathly still, his posture taut and alert. "What is it?" she asks.

The Satedan doesn't reply, body only tensing further. Rodney moves, but Ronon raises a hand.

"What? The swamp people are leaving! This is our chance," Rodney whispers, frozen to the spot by his teammate's signal.

Their pursuers are abandoning chase? Why? Teyla picks out the thrum in the air, the slight shift in noise. The insect chatter is higher in pitch, the tree frogs louder and the animal caws all but silent.

Evening closes in, bringing with it more danger. Teyla grips her P-90 that dangles from its tether. They need to go. Now.

She hears a snap. A blur jumps out of the tall grasses and Teyla sidesteps in time. A gigantic insect creature lands on slender legs, holding up two more appendages as if to strike. It looks like a picture of one of those praying mantises in Earth zoology books. It's a foot shorter than her, but its long articulated arms give the creature an advantage in size.

Rodney screams in the background, firing his P-90. Ronon's blaster echoes with it and the marsh fills with strange chik, chik, chik noises. Teyla dares not take her eyes off the creature in front of her, its dangerous front limbs seemingly identical to its legs, but with spiked fingers.

More and more of these insects leap from out of nowhere to go after Rodney and Ronon, their green and brown skin perfectly camouflaged with their surroundings. The only things that stand out are the orange eyes bulging at each side of their heads.

A second smaller creature lands next to the first in front of her and both launch an attack. Teyla ducks the swift arc of forearms and squeezes the trigger. The creatures skitter around with amazing speed and a third joins the others, trying to overwhelm her.

Teyla strides left in a semi-circle, spraying the jumping creatures with bullets. Their thin, segmented bodies make for difficult targets. She is shocked to see small wings that flutter as one of them leaps over, trying to knock her down. Teyla weaves and swerves away, cutting it in half with a spray from her P-90.

The other two come at her from opposite sides and she rolls out of the way as their furious arms slice at each other. The two mantis hiss at each other and she uses the opportunity to open fire, killing them.

Ronon and Rodney are not in sight, being pursued by the agile insects. She can still hear the rattle of weapon's fire and exhales heavily knowing they are still alive. She listens intensely to track the sound.

Then the swamp cracks from the sound of a Beretta and her heart rate doubles at the implication.

Teyla whirls around. "John!"

A mantis creature knocks the gun out of the colonel's weak grasp, then pins John's shoulders down with its sharp appendages. Teyla aims for its weird head, just as it lashes out with a tail she's never noticed before.

Her bullets hit just as its long wiry tail whips over its head, striking John in the chest.

"No!" Teyla screams.

The mantis falls but another one comes out of the night to try to snag John by the shoulder. Teyla runs forward, shooting the insect before it can drag the prone pilot away.

Out of nowhere more and more emerge, attracted by the blood of their vulnerable prey. The air fills with their chik chik chiking noises. The insects clatter around John and Teyla unleashes a well guarded flurry.

She will not let them scavenge away with him!

Her weapon is joined by red bolts of energy. She doesn't turn around as Ronon runs to her side, Rodney joining her as they fend off the predators.

After too many agonizing seconds, the marsh is quiet except for the chirping of smaller menaces. Teyla avoids the mutilated remains on the ground and kneels in front of John in a panic. He is deathly still, eyes rolled in the back of his head and his mouth open as if frozen mid-scream.

"Oh God," Rodney moans. "Is he?"

Teyla runs her hands over the colonel's body, searching for injury. "One of them stabbed him with its tail. I do not think... I mean..." There is a tear in John's t-shirt and she wastes no time pulling it down to study a small, shallow hole. "It does not seem serious," she says, but something is wrong.

"Sheppard?" Ronon calls out, shaking a shoulder.

"This is not right," Teyla says, reaching for a pulse. "It is barely there," she hisses.

John's breaths that were so rapid before are shallow and irregular.

Rodney examines parts of the remaining mantis creatures with disgust. "You said one of them struck him with its tail?"

Teyla touches the sides of John's clammy face. "Yes."

"Poison," Ronon states.

"He's right, kind of like a scorpion. Probably uses a paralyzing agent to subdue its prey so it can um... you know... eat it," Rodney swallows.

"Which means--"

"Which means we need to go now," Ronon finishes for her.

"I failed to protect him," Teyla says, guilt ridden.

"You saved him," Ronon answers, scooping up John. "He'd be dead without you. And now we need you to clear the way if any of those things come back."

Teyla nods, knowing that second guessing will not help any of them.

"At least he won't feel all that horrible pain," Rodney offers, but his face betrays him.

Teyla moves to take point.

The three of them cut through the swamp as they race towards the gate. Rodney clutches the life signs detector like a life-line, franticly searching the wetlands for those orange eyes and casting worried glances at John.

Ronon doesn't show any signs of strain as he carries his burden, his face a mask of concentration. The swamp does its best to swallow them up with strange yellow clouds, but it does not deter them.

"Swamp gas! That's all we need," Rodney curses.

Teyla says nothing, only focusing on clearing the quickest path to home. Nothing stands in her way and twenty minutes later they've reached their destination.

She doesn't even remember stepping through the wormhole, her adrenaline still pumping through her veins as they arrive in the infirmary.

He approaches the rows of curtains that make up the rooms of the infirmary. He's missing too much valuable information and there really needs to be a preliminarily report on this whole thing. It's been hours and it's not like he's demanding a triplicate version right now.

Tomorrow is fine.

Woolsey turns a corner, slows his speed and hovers slightly out of sight. Something tells him that barging right in will not earn him any points in the future. He re-thinks about interrupting, feeling like an intruder.

Colonel Sheppard's team sit exhausted in chairs around his bed, obviously breaking the rules of the ICU. Then again, who could force them out at the moment?

"If you bother the nurses one more time, Rodney, they will kick you out," Teyla says from her place next to Sheppard's left side.

"Excuse me, if I think the beeping is too fast," he hisses back.

"Doc says Sheppard will be good," Ronon replies.

"Yes, yes, his vitals are at acceptable levels. What exactly defines acceptable?'"

"You think you'd be doing any better?" Ronon dares him.

"Me? No, I'd be dead. Sheppard should be... I mean. Of course high pain threshold and all that, but still. The bullet was pressing on the anterior nerve of his thigh after... after lodging in his femur for Pete's sake. I know that means nothing to either of you, but he's lucky the shock didn't k--"

"--It didn't," Ronon growls.

"No, it did not," Teyla says taking Sheppard's hand.

Rodney sags in his seat. "Of course not. Guess we're lucky we got attacked by praying mantises on steroids. Jennifer says the paralytic agent kept Sheppard from going further into shock. It actually saved him."

This would be the time to ask about what led to the attack and maybe assess how this encounter might change some of the SOP approaches that seem to end so disastrously on first contact missions.

Woolsey thinks about clearing his throat; it has been hours since the long surgery. He's given them enough time to deal with the fallout. And it's not like any of them are going to sleep anytime soon. There are procedures for his.

A moan interrupts Woolsey's internal debate and he finds himself holding his breath as the three of them crowd impossibly closer. Doesn't the man need room to breathe?

McKay is on his feet, hand hovering over the blankets. Ronon has grabbed one shoulder and Teyla has not let go of the colonel's hand.

"Sheppard?" McKay whispers.


Ronon smiles, his eyes bright and sharp.

Teyla talks to the colonel so softly that it is hard to make out the words.

McKay bounces on the balls of his feet in sheer relief.

All three of them close in, creating a circle. Woolsey isn't privy to the words or the forms of physical contact that won't be spoken about later. He feels very much like a voyeur and takes a step away.

This is their moment, their time. And he won't interrupt.

The report can wait till morning. He knows exactly where to find any of them and knows the only change he'll see will be which chairs they occupy.


This was a little more self indulgent than usual. Well a lot more G, but sometimes it's all about old fashioned H/C. I'll go back to the serious stuff next round :D