Author's Note: I am sorry to have been away for so long but a serious health scare in October 2013 put me of commission for quite awhile. But hopefully things are getting better now. :) Thanks for understanding!

Disclaimer: All characters of StarGate and StarGate Atlantis belong to their respective writers and MGM. This is a work of fan fiction.

Nosphorous 24

He was close.

She could feel him like a cold breath on the back of her neck. The skin on her arms prickled but she didn't dare to stop.

He could catch her. She knew that much. He was fast. Much faster than before but then again so was she.

And it wasn't just her Wraith DNA now.

Stop it!

She forced herself not to think about anything but what she had to do. She couldn't let her thoughts get lost on whatever had happened to her or the man that had once been her friend.

She didn't know what he could do now and that made him even more dangerous. He was part of the darkness now. Sheppard could be anywhere and she let her gaze slide over the shadows that flowed along the dark walls of the city.

Teyla felt a shiver. Sheppard had been so in tune with the city. He'd always tried to hide it, tried to make it look like it didn't bother him. But there were times that he'd seemed so lost in thought that it made her wonder just how much power he really had where the city was concerned.

Sheppard had always been a loner. Had never let any of them get too close. His charming smile had always been friendly but there was something in his eyes. Something that he had learned to keep hidden away but Teyla had seen it before. It had always unnerved her and if it had scared her before it terrified her now.

Her mind raced as fast as her legs as she sped down the twisting hallways. Even if he was no longer a man could he use the city against them? He probably could. The city didn't care as long as it could sense his DNA. Rodney would know but Rodney was his now. She would have to rely on Radek for help. He was smart. Almost as smart as Rodney.

She would just have to hope that 'almost' was good enough.

"Teyla!"

The whisper was as loud as a shout. Eyes blazing with anger she looked around. Even in the dimness she saw the man easily and she sprinted toward him. She dropped into a crouch and glared at him.

"What are you doing?" She hissed. "You know that he could be anywhere. Are you trying to lead him straight to us? I told you to wait for me, Mills-"

"I did." He hissed back. "But we saw him, prowling around the gate room."

"What was he doing?"

Mills shook his head. "I don't know. He was only there for a few minutes and then he was…" The man swallowed hard and shook his head. "It was like he just disappeared, Teyla. He just...shadowed out."

Teyla shook her head. Sheppard was learning fast. He'd always been quick, keeping his true knowledge hidden behind an easy smile. And he had Rodney with him. Together they could be a formidable team.

But under it all he was still an animal and no better than the Iratus bug that had claimed him. Grimacing, Teyla slid the knife from the sheath on her boot. "Hold out your hand."

"What?' Mills gave her a wary look. "What are you doing?"

"We need to leave a trail. Something that Sheppard can follow."

"But-"

"Just give me your hand. All we need is a little blood. Enough to leave a few drops." The man hesitated. "He would know me, Mills and he would know that it was a trap."

He looked doubtful and then he held out his hand, looking away when Teyla sliced a thin line across his palm. Blood well up and she turned his hand over, letting a few drops spill on the floor.

Mills winced and shook his hand, spattering drops of blood on the floor as they moved toward the transporter. Teyla reached out and gripped his wrist, turning his hand over and quickly wrapping a clean cloth around the shallow cut.

"What do we do now?"

"What he expects us to do." Teyla looked at the trail of blood and hoped that it was enough to lure Sheppard. "We hide."

John stopped. He crouched down, dark eyes scanning the floor and the shadows that flitted across the walls of the Ancient city.

Something dark stained the floor. Tiny drops that led to the transporter door. There was no need to but he touched a finger to one of the drops. The center of it was still wet and he raised his hand to his face.

It was blood, old and fast drying but he could sense who it had come from. One of the Marines. One that had once been loyal to him but now that loyalty had shifted to fear. He breathed in the man's scent but instead of being sweet on his tongue the taste was as bitter as acid.

He scowled and wiped his hand on his pants as he got to his feet. He cocked his head slightly and listened to the silence. Far off he could sense the rapid heart beats, the rush of breath burning through tortured lungs as his prey scurried to hide.

He could smell the fear in their drying sweat. And there was another taste. Hot and bitter.

Teyla.

It was so pathetic. He knew what she was doing. She was trying to distract him, trying to move him away from the sheep herded into the Jumper bay. They were all working frantically and it would be so easy to just take what he wanted.

He should have done it but what would have been the fun in that? He wanted the chase, wanted to hear them running and squealing in fear. Teyla wasn't with them and when he decided to take it all he wanted that bitch there to see it.

He grimaced, lips curling back over sharp canine teeth. His senses were even sharper and as keen as the edge of a knife. Teyla was becoming…becoming what he didn't know but the taste of it was so strong that he nearly gagged.

Use it.

A shiver ran down is back as the hungry and impatient voice of the Beast whispered in his mind. The voice was so cold that just the touch of it burned through his brain but he didn't even think of resisting.

The Beast was the only thing he could trust now so he listened and let the voice tell him what to do. He let his senses spin out. He was alone here. There was no trace of Teyla or the Marine that had left the trail of blood behind. But still he moved slowly toward the transporter doors.

They slid open without his even touching a hand to the panel and he peered inside cautiously before he stepped through the doors. He knew that they didn't have anything strong enough to kill him but still they could have set a trap. Something that could slow him down.

Uncertainty itched at him until the doors whispered open again and a cool gust of sea scented air caressed his face.

Warily, he stepped out. There was no feel of Teyla but he knew that he had to be cautious. He was still learning his powers and he knew that she had to have some of her own now. She could be anywhere and he wasn't about to let her get the lead on him.

Still the sight of the sea made him stop and stare. Late afternoon sunlight glittered across the water making it look like a smooth sheet of deep green glass.

He'd always loved the sun. He remembered days of doing nothing but swimming and surfing or even just lying on the beach letting the heat soak into him. Just the thought of it made him sigh because those days had been some of the best ones of his life.

He closed his eyes, tilting his head back. In his mind he could feel the warmth on his face and it was a happy feeling. But John knew that it was only that. It was just a feeling that he would never have again because thanks to his 'friends' he would never be warm again.

He snarled angrily and turned away. He shoved down that tiny part of him that was still human and reached into the pocket of his coat. He took out his sun glasses and put them on. The part of him that was still John Sheppard clawed and screamed but he locked it down. He had to let those memories and feelings fade.

He didn't need those maudlin memories because he wasn't that man anymore.

He moved closer and put his hand on the smooth surface of the tower wall. A smile touched the corners of his mouth at the rush of energy that sizzled through him. He had thought that because his heart was cold the city wouldn't recognize him but it did. It didn't matter that his blood was nothing but dull sludge in his veins, the city still knew him.

Atlantis was his and it touched him. He felt the familiar link click into place as he melded with it. The city would not deny him. What ever the Iratus bug had done to him didn't matter. His DNA was still Ancient and the city caressed him like a lover.

He could hear its contented sigh as the circuits and pathways opened up to him.

Slowly, he opened his eyes and looked through the illusion that surrounded the edges of the imposing edifice. His sharp gaze easily picked out the places where a hand could easily grasp or a foot could carefully rest.

He didn't care about that and he had no fear of falling. He was just looking for the easiest route to the top. He supposed that he could just materialize up there but since that power was still new to him he still didn't trust it.

No matter how much he tried to kill that part of him that was still a man. Nothing could kill the part of him that still craved the risk and the challenge. He jumped up and grabbed onto the first support jutting out from the side if the tower. He moved fast, climbing higher. A few more jumps and he was climbing over the top railing.

He was at the very tip of the tower and the wind blew harder here. It raked through his hair and pulled hard at his coat but he paid no attention to it. He scanned the small platform and finding nothing he moved quickly, barely even pausing as the doors that blended seamlessly with the smooth walls sighed open.

It was quiet here and cast in shadows. This small room with his panels and control computers was their hidden secret. Only the command staff knew about it and from here he could access everything in the Gate room. Once he had pushed Elizabeth to let Teyla in on it but now he was glad that she had refused.

Teyla would have no way of accessing this room even if she wanted too. He controlled what was left of the command staff and they would never yield to her. Even under torture.

His expression hardened as he jerked the sheet off the main control panel and dropped it to the floor. It fluttered down and not even a speck of dust glittered in the shaft of fading sunlight that brightened the floor for just an instant.

He touched his hand to the panel and it came to life with a low hum. He worked quickly, making sure that the code that Rodney had created to hide his trail was still active and then he set to work.

Rodney was the computer expert but John had something even better.

The city loved him.

Rodney was hiding.

In the last few days he'd gotten really good at hiding.

The problem was hiding with Elizabeth. She had started muttering to herself, rocking back and forth, twisting her dark hair around her fingers. She was always hiding her face. She wouldn't look at him and her feeble attempts at helping him drag Carson along with him meant that he was carrying the whole load.

He grunted, trying to get a better grip on Carson and make sure that Elizabeth wasn't lagging too far behind. He looked back, she was about ten feet behind them, barely moving her feet, pale hands rubbing at her arms, then fingers plucking at her hair, her uniform top, her teeth worrying at her bottom lip until it bled.

"Damn it." He didn't have time for this. They had to keep moving before Teyla or one of the others caught them.

He was trying to keep them to the back hallways and service tubes but it wasn't easy and Teyla wasn't stupid. She would know what Sheppard was up to and she would have a team out looking for them. If she caught them she would lock them up. Lock them up and use them as bait to draw him out.

Rodney shuddered to think of what Sheppard would do to them if Teyla did catch them. Once he found them…

"Okay…get a hold of yourself, McKay. Don't be thinking stupid." He took a deep breath but he couldn't stop his hands from shaking. "Get it together, Rodney." He whispered to himself as he clumsily lowered Carson to the floor. "You've got to do this. You've got too. He won't hurt you if you just do what he wants."

Leaning closer he made sure that Carson was still breathing. The man was still knocked out, his head lolled and Rodney pressed his fingers against Carson's neck. Still alive.

"Sorry, buddy." Rodney breathed a sigh of relief and patted Carson on the cheek. He had no idea why Sheppard wanted him but Rodney had the feeling that if they let anything happen to him it would not be pretty.

But what was he going to do about Elizabeth? If he'd been using his damn head he could have grabbed a gurney or even better a wheel chair. He could have gotten Carson into it, tied him to the damn thing and made Elizabeth help him push it.

Now he was going to have to leave him alone for a few minutes while he went after her. He checked again, making sure that Carson wasn't just playing possum and then he got to his feet.

"Elizabeth?" He approached her carefully. She acted like she didn't hear him. Rodney sighed, he couldn't take the chance that she would run from him.

He tried again. Keeping one eye on Carson, he circled around her. She shied away from him, still pulling her hair down over her face so that she wouldn't have to look at him.

He held back his frustration. "Elizabeth, come on. We can't stay here. We have to hurry. Sheppard-"

She whimpered at the sound of the Major's name. Through the curtain of her hair Rodney could tell that her eyes were squeezed shut and her lips were pressed tightly together.

"Elizabeth-"

"No." She jerked away from him. "I can't…I can't."

Her voice was getting higher, more hysterical. Rodney knew that he had to shut her up and fast.

"Elizabeth, stop it. You have to be quiet." He gripped the sleeve of her top, frowning when she winced and made a hissing noise when his fingers dug in a little too hard.

"Rodney…" She looked up at him with her pleading eyes. For a few seconds he saw the Elizabeth Weir he remembered. "Rodney, we have a chance. He's gone. We can leave. We can find Teyla and we can get out of here."

"And go where?" He cupped her face in his hands and pressed his forehead against hers. "We can't go anywhere that he can't find us."

"We can. We just have to find Teyla. Teyla is our friend. She'll help us."

"We can't trust her anymore, Elizabeth. We belong to Sheppard now. We have to do what he wants."

"But Teyla-"

"Would lock us up as soon as she saw us. You know that, Elizabeth." He stroked her cheek with his thumb. "You want to get out of here…don't you?"

She stared at him and then she nodded. Nervously, she licked her lips. "What…what do we do?"

"We have to get Carson out of here." Rodney held back his sigh of relief. "And we have to get some supplies. Can you help me do that?"

Slowly, she nodded.

"Come on then and hang on to me." He took her hand and she followed him, her feet shuffling across the floor. Elizabeth wasn't strong enough to help him carry Carson's weight but she stayed close to him.

It was slow going but they made it to the store rooms without seeing anyone. He settled Elizabeth and Carson in a corner farthest from the door and huffed a sigh of relief. He wanted to keep an eye on them while he rounded up what they would need and nearly screamed when a hard cold hand suddenly gripped his shoulder.

He whirled around and cringed back from the dark look in the man's eyes. "Sheppard!"

"Take something warm." John ordered. "Where we're going you're going to need it."

"Where...where are we going?" Rodney asked cautiously.

"Someplace we've never been before." John glared at him. "Not do what I tell you and hurry it up."

He moved away from him and turned to Elizabeth. He touched her hair, running his fingers through the limp strands. He gripped her chin and made her look up at him. At first she cringed away from his touch and then her eyes grew darker and she gave him a slow smile.

"Get up, Elizabeth." She got to her feet, still staring up at him adoringly. He stroked his fingers over her cheek and she leaned into his cold touch, her lips grazing over his palm. He leaned closer and his lips barely grazed hers. "Help Rodney."

She made a whimpering sound and Rodney had to look away before he got sick.

"Go on now." John let her go and stepped back. A disappointed look crossed her face but she moved away from him and did what he said. She kept glancing at him but John ignored her and turned his attention to Carson.

He moved to where Carson sat leaning against some boxes on the floor. John pressed his face close to his and tapped him on the forehead. "I know that you're awake, Doc."

His voice was barely a whisper but Carson's eyes popped open.

"Surprise." John smiled, showing the sharp points of his teeth. Carson tried to back into the wall but John grabbed his shoulder and jerked him closer.

"Don't, Major...I...please...don't." The look in Carson's eyes was pure terror.

"Relax, Doc. I'm not going to hurt you." He stared, his thumb brushing lightly over the pulse point in Carson's neck. His voice dropped to a soft croon. "And I'm not Major Sheppard anymore. I'm just John."

Carson still resisted him. He looked to where Rodney and Elizabeth were busily packing supplies into some carry bags that Rodney had found. "What do you want? What did you do to them?"

"I didn't do anything to them." John laughed and pressed down harder. "There's no reason to be afraid of me, Doc."

He was fighting it but John was stronger and slowly Carson's eyes glazed over. His shoulders dropped and he gave a soft sigh.

"No reason at all." John's smile widened. "Not as long as you do what I tell you to do."

Carson nodded and smiled dopily, suddenly so agreeable that it was pathetic.

"What do you want me to do, Maj..John?"

"That's more like it." John said and slowly pulled his hand from Carson's neck. He patted him on the head. "Now, you're going to be a very good boy and pack up some medical supplies for the three of you."

"But the infirmary..."

"Is not our problem. Besides, I know about the secret cache you keep just in case we're invaded. I want you to take all of it."

Rodney stared around the room. "He can't carry all of-"

John turned on him and jabbed a finger into his chest. "Then destroy it. I don't want them to have anything left. Do you understand me?"

Carson nodded and John squeezed his shoulder and then hauled him to his feet. He watched as Carson started to haul down boxes from the upper shelves and from secret hiding places.

When everything was packed and stacked, Rodney looked at John. "What do you want us to do now?"

John's jaw tightened. "Do what I told you. Get rid of everything else. I'll take these stacks with me. When you're finished take Elizabeth and Carson through the access tunnels and meet me in the Jumper Bay."

"But how are you going to-" Rodney stopped talking when the Major's lips curled back in a feral smile. "Oh."

John picked up the first stack of supplies like it was nothing. "Don't worry about me, Rodney. Just do what I say. Now go."

When Sheppard disappeared Rodney grabbed Elizabeth's hand and pulled her close to him.

The people on this back water world were too trusting.

Even with the threat of Wraith they left doors unlocked and windows unlatched. Where they should have been untrusting of strangers they greeted them with open arms.

He licked at his lips, grimacing a little at the taste of dried blood on his lips. The woman he had taken had practically been standing there like a pig come to slaughter the minute that they'd come through the Gate. The need to feed had been over powering so he'd followed her quietly in the cloaked Jumper and she'd led them straight to the camp that she'd shared with the three others.

He'd parked the Jumper and left it cloaked while he went out to watch them. He'd left Rodney and the other two alone too long but he'd stayed in the shadows listening to them talk. They were hunters and their meager camp reminded him of the Athosians.

When he approached they'd invited him to sit with them and That had made killing them so much easier. Their blood had been hot and sweet and the forth…the forth had been no more than some sniveling little girl and as stupid as a cow.

Third times the charm, John though to himself as he walked on through the darkness.

The thick crust of snow and ice crunched beneath his boots, the harsh wind tugged and jerked at his coat and pulled at the hood. He really didn't need them or the heavy gloves that he wore because he didn't feel the bitter bite of the cold or the wind but he knew that he had to keep up the appearance until he found what he was looking for.

The hunters had been very talkative and he'd listened. He'd needed a place where they could stay so he'd taken their information and their supplies and the bags of money that the men kept tucked into pockets.

He'd left the bodies were they fell. They'd be a meal for the night scavengers that lurked just beyond the shadows of the trees. He stopped and a small smile touched his mouth. There was a break in the trees and he saw a golden glow glimmering in the distance.

He moved on, pulling the hood of the cloak lower as he passed through the gates leading into the village. It the daytime the place was probably bustling but now most of the buildings were shuddered up tight. There were a few people still out and they hurried on and all of them seemed to be heading toward the same place.

He followed, keeping alert but no one even seemed to notice him. The ground evened out under his feet and he stepped back, holding back the door as another cloaked figure brushed past him.

It was a woman and she glanced back at him, pale gray eyes staring back at him. He smiled back and pushed the hood from his head, tugging down the scarf so that she could better see his face.

She pulled down her own scarf and gave him an appreciative glance before she moved away from him.

Fuck but this was just too easy. John pulled off the heavy gloves and shoved them into the pocket of his coat as he took a seat at a table near the fire. This place reminded him of the tavern on the planet where he'd met Alissa.

He felt eyes on him and he looked up. The woman was at a table near the fire. She pulled off her cloak and hung it on a hook over the fire to dry. She glanced at him again and then quickly looked away as she sat down.

John snorted, leaned back in the chair and crossed his long legs. Apparently, being dead hadn't marred his good looks one bit. Not that he'd had that much of a problem with the ladies before. Now he just had a few more advantages with the fair and not so fair sex.

He played the same game, chatting up the girl that shyly came to his table. He let his cold fingers brush against the back of her hand when she handed a mug of something warm and sweet smelling. His whispered thanks had her blushing and she leaned a little closer when she placed a basket of hot rolls and butter in front of him.

She was a pretty thing, plump and buxom but there was nothing about her that interested him. Still, he smiled at her and lightly gripped her hand. She didn't try to pull away as he lifted her hand to his lips. She smelled fresh and clean and he kissed her skin gently, purring softly when he felt her pulse jump in her wrist.

He kept his eyes on her, willing the others to look the other way as he turned her wrist and slowly rasped his tongue over the pulsing vein. He gave her a nip and she sighed softly, her breath growing faster as he licked up the blood.

She stared at him like a love sick idiot and a frown crossed her face when he let her go.

"Later." He whispered softly and sent an image into her mind that wiped the frown from her face. She moved away and he toyed with the basket. He picked up a roll, tore it into and slathered butter on it.

He popped it into his mouth. It tasted like nothing to him but he forced himself to eat the other piece. He kept his face in shadow but his keen gaze stayed on the woman. She daintily picked at the food on her plate. The firelight softened her features but John saw the hard set of her jaw and the way her lips pursued with disgust when she looked around the room at the other patrons.

She was money.

More money than any of these poor fools would ever see. There was something else about her too. Something that set her above these others and she knew it too.

John watched her closely and then with a satisfied smile he sprawled back in the chair and lifted the cup to his mouth. He emptied it in one swallow and set it back on the table.

She was like him. She carried the Ancient gene and though it wasn't as strong as his it was there.

His lips tilted into a sly smile as he picked a piece of fruit from the bowl the girl had set in front of him. The fruit was heavy in his hand. He lifted it to his nose and inhaled the rich, peach like scent before he took a bite.

The sweet taste nearly made him gag but he made himself lick up the juice that dribbled from the corner of his mouth. He heard the woman's soft intake of breath. He knew that she was watching him but he kept his eyes on the fire. He finished the last bite, tossed the pit into the flames and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his coat.

"Sir?"

He looked up to see the serving girl gazing down at him. "Yes?" She shifted slightly, blocking his view of the woman and he frowned. "What do you want?"

The girl blushed, her fingers nervously plucking at the ragged hem of her stained apron.

"My father, sir. He wants to know if you want a room for the night or..." She hesitated and John held back the snort of laughter at the look on her face.

"A room." He drawled out the words as he let his gaze rake over her. She shivered and her tongue darted out to wet her lips. "Why not? I need a place to sleep and you..." He touched the tip of his finger tilting her head back slightly. "You need...something...don't you?"

She nodded and her breathing quickened as he tilted his head slightly and then slowly got to his feet. He watched the sway of her hips as he followed her up the narrow stairs to the rooms above.

He didn't give a fuck about her. She was just a warm body and he would use her but even if he had new tricks he still had to act like the man he'd been.

"Here." She stopped at the end of the hallway. "This room has the biggest bed."

"Does it now?"

She giggled at the low seductive tone of his voice. Candlelight from the scones set into the walls reflected the shadows on her face and almost made her pretty. John stood close behind her as she pushed open the door. He roughly shoved her inside, shut the door and was on her fast.

His fingers curled tight in her hair and he jerked her head back. She closed her eyes, sighing softly as he tasted her, grazing the tips of his teeth over the soft pulse point at her throat.

His fangs sank in. She smelled of sweat and dirt but her blood was sweet in his mouth. The Beast wanted him to take it all but he held back. It wouldn't do to kill her now. If they stayed here there would be time enough for that later.

First he had to find a place for them to stay and this girl could be useful. He would survive the cold but the three waiting for him in the Jumper wouldn't. Especially Elizabeth, she was fragile enough already and-

With an angry growl he pushed the girl away from him. She stumbled back and fell against the bed. She stared up at him, a half smile on her face. Blood still welled up from the wounds on her neck and she didn't seem to notice or care.

John rubbed at his mouth. This was taking too long. He looked to the window. It was snowing but he knew that it was going to be morning soon and he couldn't be caught here when it did. He looked at the girl and moved toward the bed.

"Stand up."

The girl slowly got to her feet and stood staring up at him. Her eyes were glazed over and she swayed slightly toward him. He smiled and reached up to lightly stroke her cheek with his fingers as he easily pushed into her mind.

"I need food. Food and blankets. You need to get that for me and put it someplace safe. Do you understand me?"

"The barn behind the sheds. No one will find it there." She nodded and the image of a large wooden building flashed into his mind.

"Perfect." He purred.

He dipped his head and lightly pressed his lips to hers, letting his mouth travel down over the swell of her breast and lightly licking at the bloody wound. She let out a gasp and clutched at him and he easily pushed the image of them together, tangled and wet with sweat in the quilts. He kissed her again and she sighed against his mouth.

"Let me stay."

"No." Slowly, he let her go and stepped away. "Go on and do what I told you."

He turned his back to her and stood staring at the snow falling thick and hard outside the window until he heard the door close behind her.

"Now for you." He whispered to the air. Gaze caught on the wall of white outside the window he let his mind search out until he touched on the woman's. She was coming up the stairs to her own room and when he heard her footsteps in the hall he was at the door.

He opened it, being careful not to make a sound. He caught her scent and the flash of her skirts as she went into the room down from his and shut the door. In his thoughts he could see her undressing for bed, brushing out her long dark hair as she stared into the dresser mirror and thought about him.

His lips curled back, showing just the tips of his fangs. She was wondering who he was and where he was from. He pushed harder and met with resistance. She had seemed easy but there was something that made her tougher, her will much stronger than the serving girl. He licked his lips and pushed harder until her resistance fell away.

She had what he wanted and he was going to take it. She was rich and easily he saw the house where she lived. It was old, a sprawling mansion far out in the country. A thought crept into his mind about a house that seemed just like it. It was an old television show filled with vampires, werewolves and witches. An old soap opera that he'd rushed home to watch every afternoon after school with his mother.

It had been one of their guilty pleasures before things had changed and his father had sent him off to boarding school.

A low growl rumbled up from his chest. He saw other things in the woman's mind. She was cruel and cold and the more he pushed a taste as bitter as acid flooded his mouth. She was too much like his father and the Beast flared up inside him.

He materialized in the room, standing so close behind her that he could feel her heat. She couldn't see him in the glass and she whirled around when she heard his low growl. Her eyes went wide but she had no time to scream when his cold fingers wrapped around her throat.

Slowly and quietly, he ripped her from the world.

Teyla was blinded by a flash of light.

Heart pounding in her chest she rolled from her bed. Her knife was in her hand, silver flashing through the air as she slashed and stabbed at the darkness.

Pale figures reached out for her. Slitted eyes, jagged teeth, a hand that carried nothing but death.

She jerked back and stumbled. She fell and her hip hit the bedside table. The candles toppled over and hot wax slashed across the back of her hand. She screamed and jerked back. The searing pain yanked her from the nightmare.

She stood there, stupid and staring. The knife slid from her numb fingers and clattered to the floor.

What was she doing?

The pain hit her and she shivered and clutched her hand to her chest. She stumbled to the bathroom and turned on the faucet. She shoved her hand under the cold water.

Rodney was shivering.

He knew that it was just his nerves but he couldn't help it. Thick snow had been falling since Sheppard had left them and the Jumper's view screen was nothing but a mass of white.

Rodney rubbed his hands together and wished that it would stop. He wished that he was back in Atlantis, safe and warm in his bed. He wished that he could wake up and realize that all of this was nothing but a nightmare.

But it wasn't a nightmare.

He supposed that he could have gotten Carson and Elizabeth awake. They could take what little provisions they had and make a run for the StarGate. He thought that it was close but what would really happen if he dropped that ramp?

He sighed and braced his back against the cockpit door. They'd all be dead, that's what would happen. If the storm didn't kill them then Sheppard would.

Rodney started to shake. Unfolding one of the blankets that he'd kept out for himself, he wrapped it around himself and settled himself on the floor. He leaned his head against the bench where Elizabeth was curled up and closed his eyes.

He was so tired and he was nearly asleep when a thud made him jerk awake. Sleep drained away from him when he saw Sheppard standing over him.

"Get up, Rodney."

Sheppard's voice was flat and toneless. Rodney couldn't tell if he was angry and that scared him more than anything.

"Where have you been?" Rodney asked quietly.

"I bought some things." John nodded toward the pile of sacks on the floor behind him. "Pack them up. The storm's almost over and we need to get out of here."

"But the snow-"

"We'll shake it off." John said as he strode past him and dropped into the pilot's seat.

"But-"

"Do you always have to argue with me?"

John's mouth tightened with anger Rodney stumbled back when he saw the flash of fangs. He turned away and quickly did what he was told. When he was finished he sidled back into the cabin.

Sheppard passed his hands over the controls and the engines hummed to life. He pointed to the seat beside him. "Sit down."

Rodney sat and the Jumper lifted smoothly from the ground and the snow slid from the screen.

"Where...where are we going?"

"Someplace safe." John brought the Jumper into a turn and Rodney caught a flash of lights that quickly disappeared.

Rodney took a deep breath to steady his nerves. He chanced a glance at Sheppard and the taste of bile rose up in his throat. Sheppard's jaw was clenched and there was a smear of something dark on his mouth.

The same dark substance was smeared on his hands and dotted the sleeves of his coat. Rodney didn't even want to think about what it was so he kept his mouth shut. He just sat there quietly until he saw a dark shape looming up out of the darkness.

"A house?"

"Its big enough." John said. "Unless you want to spend the night in the Jumper."

"I just meant...I thought that you were looking for one of the Ancient's outposts."

"I am." John landed the ship in a clear space behind the house. "But this place might be what we need until we can find another tower."

Rodney stared out the view screen. From the front he hadn't seen any lights but from the back a soft glow lit up the long narrow windows. Smoke curled up from a lone chimney and Rodney couldn't help wanting to be in that light and warmth.

He started when a shadow moved in front of one of the windows. "Someone's in there."

"I know." John said. "The stingy bitch didn't keep much help."

"Who?"

"Never mind." John answered roughly. He shook his head and got to his feet. "Get Carson and Elizabeth awake. I'm going to scout out our new home. Make sure that its safe."

Rodney reached out and unthinking touched him on the sleeve. "Sheppard...can't you...can't you just send whoever it is away?"

"No." John gripped his wrist. "This place has to be secure-"

"I know that. But just this once can't you just let them go? Make them forget?"

"Why should I?" John snapped.

Rodney didn't want to look Sheppard in the face. He hated the look in those cold hazel eyes but he made himself do it.

"Because they haven't hurt you."

John stared back at him, his mouth thinned into a grim angry line. His fingers tightened on Rodney's wrist until the man hissed with pain. John shoved him away and then he just disappeared.

Teyla was anxious.

She knew that the others were working hard. It was just too maddening to have to wait and watch.

Radek had already broken through some of the lock's that Rodney had put on the city's systems. Now he was bent over the central console and he was muttering to himself. He'd been doing it for days and though it drover her insane, Teyla left him to it.

She had to many other things to worry about.

Their few supplies were growing thin and with her people to feed as well as the Earth people...if they didn't unlock the Gate soon they were all going to starve.

And why was she in charge of the city? There were others that knew so much more about Atlantis than she ever would. She was a stranger here but for some reason when things had gone wrong with Sheppard they had turned to her.

Her right hand began to itch and she rubbed at her palm absently. Her fingers still ached where the candle wax had burned them and it had grown steadily worse. No ointment could ease it and she refused to take any of the painkillers that the Earth people had brought with them. There were precious few left and they hoarded them like they were treasure.

Only those that suffered the worse were given anything and the guilt of making the others suffer tore at her.

Feeling the need to move she headed for the balcony outside the main control room. The doors slid open and she rushed to the railing, dragging in great gulps of the sea scented air.

Her belly burned, churning with something vile. She gripped the railing with both hands and just stood there until the shaking stopped and she felt like she could breathe again.

Teyla's legs felt so weak that she could barely stand but she made herself do it. She hated it because these people had come to depend on her so much. But she would have hated herself more if she didn't try to help them.

She had been Sheppard's friend, probably growing closer to him than he had ever let anyone else. She had trusted him and let herself grow fond of him at the expense of her own people.

Maybe that was the reason that they trusted her. If she was that close to him then she would know how to fight him. But now was she going to fight him when she missed her friend so much?

Teyla choked back a sob and gripped the rail even tighter. She threw back her head and screamed out her pain and fear to the wind.

The doors behind her slid open and she turned on the intruder with fury. "Leave me alone!"

She caught a glimpse of a woman's pale, terrified face and then the door slid shut again. Tears streamed down her face, making her half blind but Teyla didn't care. She turned and beat the wall of the tower.

Over and over she slammed her fists against the smooth surface until they felt bruised and blood seeped from between her tightly clenched fingers. She sank to her knees, landing with a thud, curling into a ball at the base of the railing. She locked her arms around her knees and began to rock back and forth, hugging herself.

A hand on her shoulder made her jerk back. She lashed out at the figure kneeling next to her. "No! Don't touch me!"

"Teyla! Teyla, calm down! I'm not trying to hurt you!"

A gruff voice sounded too close to her. "Maybe we should sedate her."

"No, she will be alright."

A soothing hand touched her hair and she pulled back, blinking hard to clear her eyes. "Radek. What-"

"No. Sit still." His hand rested lightly on her shoulder. "You've hurt your hands. Let me see."

"I'm fine." Heat rushed to her face and she tried to push him away.

"Captain Williams," Radek ignored her and looked up at the man standing over her. "Bring some alcohol and bandages, quickly."

"Radek, don't. I'm fine. We don't have enough-"

"Nonsense." Radek smiled. He touched her wrist, his touch so gentle that she didn't try to fight him. "We have enough for this small thing."

He sat there holding her hand until Williams returned. He took the bandages and opened the alcohol. "I'm sorry, Teyla. This may hurt."

She hissed and then bit her lip while Radek poured some of the stuff into her bloody palms. Gently he cleaned the wounds and then bandaged her hands.

"Where did you get that?" She asked. "I thought that Sheppard burned all of it."

"He did not get everything." Radek smiled slightly. When he was finished he took a bottle from his pocket. He opened it, took out two white capsules and pushed them into her hand. "When you work with Rodney you learn to keep a supply of your own."

That made Teyla laugh. Shaking her head she popped the pills into her mouth and made a face as she dry swallowed them. She gave him a grateful smile. "Thank you."

"You are welcome." He touched her shoulder again, lightly squeezing. "Are you alright now? Do you think that you can stand?"

She nodded and with his help she pushed to her feet. Radek turned away from her and made a shooing motion with his hands.

"Away. Teyla is alright and you have work to do."

"You sure, Doc?"

Williams was staring at her. She knew him. He was one of the ones that Sheppard had called a 'conniving little bastard' and one that he had to watch. She had never paid much attention to the man but now she saw what Sheppard had meant.

The man was tall, with close cropped hair and a mean expression on his face. Teyla stared back at him until he was the one to look away.

Radek stepped between them. "I am sure. Away with you. I will clean this up and then Teyla and I must talk."

"I think I should stay here, Doc."

"For what?"

"With the way things are going on around here, Doc-" Williams kept staring at her. Mistrust seemed to pour off of him. Radek frowned when he lightly touched the hilt if the gun strapped to his thigh.

"Unless you intend to shoot both of us I suggest that you leave now."

The man dropped his hand and then slowly moved toward the door. When he was gone, Radek shook his head. "Idiot."

"Do you blame him?" Teyla sighed. "If I were him I would not trust me. I am not one of your people, Radek."

"Then they should not have placed you in charge."

"And I do not want to be in charge."

"What will you do then?" Radek asked brusquely. "Shoot yourself?"

"No, but-"

"They are afraid, Teyla. All of them."

Teyla smiled grimly. "Are you afraid?"

"Of you? Never."

"You should be." Teyla said as she moved away from him.

"Why?"

"What...what if I'm becoming like him? Like Sheppard?" She shivered and he took off his jacket and put it on her.

"Stop this, Teyla. That thing that wears Sheppard's face is not the man that you knew."

"I know that."

"And he wants to kill you."

"I know it." She felt the tears sting her eyes and she didn't try to stop them. "He blames me. Its why he took Rodney, Elizabeth and Carson."

"And why he killed Ford." Radek said. "He blames all of you."

Teyla shrugged. Radek's tone was comforting but she couldn't take any pleasure in it. "I think he only killed Ford because he was expendable. Atlantis could do without him but not without the others, especially Rodney."

"But what use does he have for Elizabeth and Carson?"

"I don't know." She stared out at the ocean.

"Do you think a part of the Major is still in that creature?"

"I don't know what to think. After he...died...he came to me and there was a part of the Sheppard I knew still there. I can only hope that it is still there, some part of him that I can save."

"And if there isn't?"

The look in her eyes hardened. "Then I will kill him, Radek."

"Can you truly kill your friend?"

She shook her head. "I must do it. For us and for John."

"And you will have us to help you. We will return our friends to us and those that are lost we will lay to rest."

Teyla looked at him and then turned away. Since everything had happened she'd grown close to Radek. Maybe too close. But she needed someone. Someone that she could trust and even if the others had grown to depend on her, she doubted that once word got around about this some of that trust would fade.

"I hope that I can trust that."

"You can." Radek smiled slightly. "Now I must tell you why I came looking for you. I have been able to break the lock that Rodney had on the Gate-"

Teyla whirled around. "You what?"

"Unlocked the Gate." Radek shrugged. "At least the address to the Alpha Site. We are still trying to access the files to the other Gate addresses but at least it is a start."

"I thought that they were all deleted." She frowned.

"Someone tried. But if there is one thing I have learned it is to always back up my files."

Teyla nodded and then began to smile. It was a start. At least they could access some of the emergency supplies they had there. If Sheppard hadn't gotten there first.

She could only hope that he hadn't.

John slipped in quietly. Carson and Elizabeth were asleep on the wide couch. Rodney was kneeling in front of the massive fireplace, adding more wood to the already blazing fire. John supposed that the room was warm but he still saw a shiver ripple down Rodney's back even before the man turned around.

Rodney cowered back a little and watched him warily. John ignored him and moved to the chair by the window. He sank down and just sat staring out. The sun would be up soon and he would have to disappear into the sealed room high up in the attic. Rodney had suggested that it would be safer for him down in one of the rooms on the lower level of the old tower but for John that was just too much like Dracula.

He leaned back in the chair and rested his hands on the arm rests. "Are you finished?"

"Almost." Rodney stood close to the window but not too close to him. "I've been trying to get the relays from the Jumper connected to the power base for the computer system."

John frowned. "Won't that drain the Jumper's batteries?"

Rodney nodded. "I've been trying to avoid that but without some other power source…" He shrugged. "This place is not exactly Atlantis, Sheppard."

John's lips twisted into a wry grin at the sound of the 'old' Rodney slipping into the man's voice. "We need that Jumper, Rodney."

"I know." Rodney looked at him and then quickly lowered his gaze. "We could go back to Atlantis...steal the ZPM or grab one of the Naquadah generators."

"No." John's gaze narrowed. "Not yet."

"Then is…is there somewhere else you could…what about the Wraith? I could adapt their tech. Make it work to keep this place powered up. This is one of the old towers that the Ancients abandoned. I could even rig up a protective shield or something…if you…if you want to keep this place-"

John looked at him when Rodney faltered. "Keep this place what, Rodney?"

Rodney shrugged. "You know…hidden."

"Hidden?" John barely looked at him and Rodney flinched away. He smiled coldly. "Don't be so scared of me, Rodney. I'm not going to tear your head off. At least not yet. Look at me when I'm talking to you."

The last words were said with a cool steely calm. Rodney swallowed hard and John knew that he was forcing himself to look up. Slowly, John got to his feet.

"I'll get you what you need, Rodney. But hiding this place would be a waste of time. I don't intend to stay here any longer than necessary."

"You just want to keep moving? But what about-"

"Do you really think that word of where we are is not going to spread back through the Gate?" John's fingers clenched into a fist and Rodney flinched. He snorted.

You know as well as I do that Teyla and the others are looking for us. If Radek has been able to break through the blocks-"

"I doubt it." Rodney blurted out and then his face paled. "Sorry."

John just ignored him. "If he's been able to break your codes they won't stop until they do find us. In fact...I want her to find us. But not yet." He stared at the couch and then turned his cold eyes back on Rodney. "If they do you know that I won't let them take you, Rodney. Do you understand me?"

Rodney nodded noticing that Sheppard hadn't mentioned Carson or Elizabeth. His hand went to his neck, his fingers lightly stroking over the spot where John had marked him. He dropped his hand.

"We…we need some other supplies too."

"You've got supplies. What else do you think you need?"

"Food staples, more wood. Especially the wood until I can find a way to get the power working again."

John nodded. "You'll get what you need, Rodney. Right now you'll have to make do with what you have."

He moved away from the window and reached out, patting him on the shoulder like he was a favored pet. "I need to rest now but when its time I'll come looking for you. Work on what you can and then get some sleep yourself. When I'm awake again I want the three of you ready."

Rodney ducked his head and John saw the flush creeping across his face. "What is it, Rodney?"

"I...I...ah..." Rodney rubbed at his neck again and his words came out in a rush. "I drew a bath for you."

John just stared at him. "A bath? Why do you think that I need a bath, Rodney? Its not like I sweat or have body odor anymore."

"No, but maybe..." Rodney hesitated and flicked a finger at him quickly. "There's...there's something on your mouth and your hands. I thought that maybe you'd want to wash it off."

John looked down at his hands. They were dirty and there was blood under his nails. A dark shadow fell over his face and his mouth turned down into an angry frown. He clenched his hands into fists. "I'll be back when the sun sets. Have some information for me."

Rodney flinched at the harsh sound of his voice. "I'll do what I can."

"You'd better." John growled and then turned and headed up the stairs.

Rodney watched him until he disappeared into the shadows and then he shuddered and headed for the computer setup that he had in the next room.

John had told him that he wanted them ready but ready for what Rodney was too afraid to ask. He settled into his chair and let his mind concentrate on the information on the screen.

Teyla sighed and leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. She rubbed at her tired eyes, trying to stay awake. Radek was already asleep, arms folded, his head on the desk and snoring lightly. She started to reach over and shake him awake but she let him be.

They'd been working hard and Radek had only managed to crack a tiny amount of the traps that Rodney had set in the city systems. He needed to rest and when she moved and felt the catch in her back, Teyla knew that she did too.

She pushed her hair back from her face and sat up. Quietly, she got up from her chair and moved to the window. It was night now and most of the city was dark. The only lights that did remain were from the Tower and even those weren't as bright as they had been before.

She crossed her arms over her chest and let out a frustrated hiss.

Curse the Iratus bug that had taken John and turned him into this monster! Curse Sheppard even more for taking Rodney and Carson and Elizabeth!

She missed them, feared for them. Teyla had no religion so there was no deity that she believed in. She had no way of knowing where they were and no one would know unless Radek was able to break through the blocks that Rodney had put on Atlantis's systems.

At least Radek had been able to break through the code that allowed them to use the Gate. But their choice of pilot's for the Jumpers was dangerously thin. Sheppard had made sure of that.

Teyla shuddered and turned her eyes away from the window. She couldn't see it but on the mainland the fires were still burning, turning the dead to ash and sending their spirits to the air.

She had stayed for awhile, helping to pile the bodies. She'd even lit a few of the fires herself but watching the people that she had begun to call friends burn had been too much.

She leaned against the wall and pressed her forehead to the cool glass. Even with the threat of the Wraith she wanted things back to the way they had been. She missed her friends. She missed Sheppard and the way he had always been able to make her laugh.

A single tear rolled down her cheek and she didn't bother to wipe it away.

John stepped into the bedroom and closed the door behind him. A fire blazed in the massive stone fireplace and he frowned slightly. Rodney was still thinking of him as human. He was going to have to break him of that.

Taking off his long coat, he threw it across the back of the thickly padded wing back chair and sat down. The chair creaked under his weight and a fine sifting of dust drifted up. John watched the motes of dust dance in the firelight and then he slowly leaned forward and held his hands out to the flames.

It hadn't been long since he had fed and just for a moment he thought that he could feel the heat. He turned his hands over and he looked at his palms. The skin was smooth, the calluses of his life had disappeared when he changed, even his scars had disappeared.

All except for the one on his neck.

He traced his hand over the puckered scar. The skin felt rough and still tender. He knew that he shouldn't feel anything and that it was all just a trick of his mind. But John was smarter than that. He knew that he could feel the tender spot as much as he could feel the flush from the heat of the fire.

Leaning back in the chair he gripped the arms tightly and closed his eyes. He sat still and just listened to the crackle and hiss of the flames. A wave of tiredness rolled over him and he looked toward the window. Gray light streaked the horizon and he knew that soon the thin line of gold would signal the rising of the sun.

Getting to his feet he went to the window. He stared out, watching the shadows start to draw back from the land. When night time came again he would take Carson with him. They did need supplies and for now it would be easier to let the man gather up the things they needed while John watched from a distance.

It was safer that way because he could feel the distrust growing in Carson every second. Pretty soon he was going to try and break away and John already had a plan forming in mind to let him

He leaned against the window frame. When the first tinge of blue touched the sky he roughly jerked the shutters together and pulled the heavy curtains closed until the only light in the room came from the fire.

Stripping out of his clothes and boots, he dropped them on the floor as he made his way to the bathroom. An old claw foot tub sat in the middle of the floor and an old fashioned toilet that looked like it came from the Victorian age sat in the corner next to a sink. Candles had been placed on every surface and the light bounced off of the spotted glass in the old gilt frame mirror over the sink.

He stared at it, trailing his fingers through the water but nothing stared back at him. He turned away from the mirror and stepped down into the tub. Lavender scented water rose up around him as he sank down and he smiled wryly. Did Rodney think that this was going to calm him?

He picked up the rough cloth and bar of soap that Rodney had left for him. He held it up to his nose and sniffed the scent. The soap might have been ninety nine and a quarter percent pure but from the way the water slowly started to turn red as he scrubbed his face and arms, he sure as hell wasn't.

He gave special attention to his hands, scrubbing at the short nails until his skin was nearly raw. He watched with fascination as the redness disappeared. His skin looked fuller, pinker. He did look more human after he fed and that was good. It would help him blend in with the others.

He leaned back, intending to lounge a little longer when the tiredness hit him. His arms and legs started to feel heavier and he got to his feet and stepped out of the tub. Without even bothering to dry off, he went back into the bedroom and got into the bed.

Lying on his back, he pulled the covers up over his head, closed his eyes and let the darkness take him down.

Rodney yawned and stretched.

His back was killing him and his legs felt heavy and stiff. It was an effort but he forced himself to get to his feet.

He stumbled a little as he headed for the kitchen and another cup of the vile tea they'd found on one of the cupboards. He really missed his coffee. Maybe the next time they went into the village for supplies he could find something better.

He pushed open the door and saw Elizabeth setting out bowls and plates on the long table. She was still too thin and her face too pale but she was humming to herself. Rodney didn't know if it was Sheppard's influence or the Elizabeth he knew was starting to fight back.

She looked up when he let the door shut behind him and she smiled, pushing a lock of dark hair out of her eyes. "Good morning, Rodney. I hope you're hungry."

"Morning." He mumbled back. Outside the window the first gray light of morning was beginning to brighten the sky. "What are you still doing up? You should be asleep."

"I just wanted to make sure that you had something to eat." She looked away from him. "Has he already gone to bed?"

"Yes." Rodney watched her face, seeing the look of relief in her eyes.

Sheppard had already disappeared to the shielded room upstairs and he wouldn't be back until the sun had set. At least they had a few hours of freedom although it wasn't exactly much of one.

"Where's Carson?" Rodney asked as he sat down at the table.

"Getting more wood, I think." Elizabeth turned back to the cook stove that sat under the windows.

"The both of you should be in bed." Rodney forced himself to smile.

"So should you." Elizabeth began to take pans from the stove and set them on the table.

"No time." Rodney shook his head. He'd been working hard trying to get the old heating system working besides everything else that Sheppard wanted him to do. Elizabeth and Carson tried to help but what Rodney needed was people that knew how to work the Ancient's technology.

He looked up when she set a plate of toasted bread and eggs down in front of him. "I didn't know that you could cook."

"I can when I have too." She took some of the food for herself and sat down across from him. She picked at it, barely eating anything until Rodney had to prod her.

Rodney should have known that the moment wouldn't last. She had drifted off again, her eyes looking dazed and confused.

"Come on." Rodney went to her and helped her to her feet. "Go to bed, Elizabeth. I'll take care of this."

"But Carson-"

"I'll make sure that he eats."

Elizabeth gave him a wan smile. "You shouldn't have to be taking care of me, Rodney. I should be helping you."

"Right now you can help me by going to bed and getting some sleep."

It took a few minutes but he finally got her into the small bedroom off the kitchen. The room stayed warm because of the stove and massive fireplace on the other side of the wall. As far as Rodney was concerned Elizabeth needed all the warmth she could get. She shivered all the time.

He didn't want her going up those stairs to the upper floor where Sheppard slept either. Hell, he didn't even want to go up there.

He had once and that had been enough. Sheppard had wanted him to try darkening all of the windows to see if he could stay awake longer but nothing he tried had worked.

Sheppard always felt the heaviness when the sun began to go down. On one night after they had gotten there, Rodney had snuck into his room...just to check.

At first he hadn't seen him and then Rodney realized that Sheppard was lying on the bed with the covers pulled up over his head. A fire had been blazing in the fireplace and Rodney had inched toward the bed, saying a useless prayer before he had timidly pulled the quilt back.

Sheppard had looked truly dead, his face even whiter than the pillow that it rested on. His dark hair still looked mussed but it was the look on his face that scared Rodney most of all. It didn't matter what Sheppard was, even when the sleep took him down, he didn't rest.

His arms rested at his sides but his hands were clenched, and his mouth twisted in a snarl of anger. Sheppard always seemed to be fighting with himself and now in whatever hell possessed him, that hadn't changed.

God help him but Rodney was almost sorry for him.

"Rodney, are you okay?"

Elizabeth's soft voice pulled him from his thoughts. he shook his head and lightly began to stroke her hair. "I'm fine."

She yawned and he pulled the covers up around her tighter. She snuggled down and he sat with her until she fell asleep. He didn't know how long he sat there before a noise from the kitchen caught his attention.

He knew that it couldn't be Sheppard. It had to be Carson or someone had gotten into the house. He left the room, leaving the door slightly open in case Elizabeth woke up. She might have seemed to have moments when she was getting stronger but they didn't happen as long as Rodney would have liked.

Most of the time Carson took care of her when they weren't helping him. It was a tough job sometimes because Elizabeth would sometimes wander and one of them would have to go after her. She never got far but there was always the chance that she would. God, if she ever got out during one of the snow storms they would never find her.

"Rodney."

He looked up and saw Carson sitting at the table. He poured out two more mugs of the tea and handed one to him. "Sit down before you fall down."

"I don't want anymore of that crap, Carson." Rodney averted his gaze and started to lear away the dishes. "You drink it."

"Rodney, sit down. Doctor's orders." Carson got to his feet and took the plates from him. he set them in the sink and then pushed Rodney down on the bench. "You look like you're about to pass out, man. When's the last time you really slept or ate for that matter?"

"Last week." Rodney sniped. He rubbed at his forehead and sighed tiredly. "I don't have time for this. I need to get back to work."

Carson laughed, a sound that Rodney hadn't heard in a long time. "I never thought I'd see the day when Rodney McKay refused food."

Rodney snorted and gave him the finger. "Screw you."

"Just eat." Carson said. "And then its to bed. You're not going to do any of us any good if you wear yourself too thin." His mouth turned down into an angry frown. "Especially him."

There was a tone in Carson's voice that made Rodney look up. The man had his back to him, running hot water into the sink. He was looking out the window and Rodney knew what Carson was thinking.

"Get that thought out of your head and now, Carson!"

"What thought?" Carson kept his gaze on the window but Rodney saw the slight twitch in his cheek and the way his hands gripped the edge of the sink counter.

"Don't play stupid, Carson. You know what I mean and if you're thinking it then he knows it too. Whatever it is you're planning? Forget it!"

"Forget what?"

"Carson, god damn it! Don't be a fool! We can't get out of here. Besides, you'd never make it to the Gate."

Carson turned on him angrily. "We could at least try!"

"And how far do you think we'd get before Sheppard caught us?"

"We could get far enough or at least one of us could." Carson slammed a dish against the sink so hard that it broke. "I've been watching, Rodney. We could leave when he sleeps. Have everything ready and be gone before he even knows that we're gone."

"And go where?"

"Once we get to the Gate? Anywhere! I'm sure that you have the addresses memorized, Rodney. We could get to someplace where we could contact Atlantis and Teyla-"

"That doesn't mean shit when he can move like that!" Rodney snapped his fingers. "And in case you haven't realized it yet the closest Gate is 20 miles away!"

"So? Either one of us could fly the Jumper, Rodney! Can't you even think about trying?"

Yeah, Rodney had thought about it. He'd thought about it plenty and every try got them killed.

"Do you really think that we could go back to Atlantis, Carson? The Gate is shielded and there is no way in hell that they would ever accept an IDC from one of us. We've been comprimised, my friend."

"Then we find someone else. Someone we could trust."

"And who in the hell do you think we are going to find to trust us? The Genii?" Rodney laughed and shook his head.

"The Athosians are traders. Couldn't there be a chance that at least a few of them were off world before all of this started?" Carson sounded like he was grasping for straws.

"What? That would be crazy, Carson. Like looking for a needle in a haystack!" Rodney snorted.

"We have to try something, Rodney. Teyla must know that we did go along with him by choice. There has to be a chance-"

"There is no chance!" Rodney snarled. "If they manage to break through all of my traps they wouldn't let us back in. Teyla would shoot us on sight."

"You can't know that, Rodney."

"Yeah, I can." Rodney shook his head. He knew that Carson was grasping at any wild thought and he didn't blame him. He wanted out of this too but he knew deep down that eventually there was only going to be one way out.

And that was Sheppard's.