AU - Alternate Reality

Rodney McKay was dying and he knew it. He laid curled in the brig of Atlantis, gingerly holding his broken arm to his chest and trying not to aggravate the wounds in his abdomen. It had been three days since the Replicators had found him hiding in one of the lower labs, trying to tend to his wounds while sabotaging their efforts. They had promptly thrown him in a cell, changing the password and then shooting the panel. There was no way Rodney was breaking out. At least Radek hadn't been discovered - at least he didn't think he had been caught. Maybe Radek would come for him. Assuming of course, he was still alive.

Rodney shivered with the fever that had begun the second day of his confinement. He knew the infection from the gashes in his stomach was spreading. He could practically see the hot redness spread across his torso for God's sake. The pain was getting worse and he had lost time that morning - he didn't know if he had passed out from the fever or the hypoglycemia which he had barely held at bay with some power bars he happened to have on him at the time of his capture. He only knew that one or the other would eventually cause shock - then death.

He had to hold on. Someone would come for him if he could just hold on. Rodney closed his eyes and tried to remember everything Teyla had every taught him about meditation, everything John had taught him when he almost ascended. "Wide Open Spaces," he murmured, trying to breath through the pain . "Green grassy fields and wide open spaces and . . . Crap." What a bunch of new age voodoo. What Rodney really wanted - really needed - was morphine - and a lot of it, preferably with a hot meal and a comfortable bed. However, it didn't look like he was going to get medical attention anytime soon and there was only so much he could do to keep himself from going into shock. Radek had better hurry.

Rodney had been smug the first time they had come to interrogate him. He had held out against the Replicator mind meld by reciting pi to the 200th decimal. The second time was harder as he suspected the fever had already started to weaken him. He knew a third interrogation would probably break him. He almost hoped he would go ahead and die so he couldn't betray Atlantis - almost. But then the galaxy needed him. And John and Teyla and little Toren needed him to bring them home. If he was still thinking correctly, he still had seven days before the bridge would be inoperable. He couldn't maroon them in another galaxy. Rodney sighed deeply and then winced from the pain, tears forming his eyes. "Wide open spaces, open grassy fields, the sky, the ocean, the, the, shit," Rodney murmured, unable to think of anything else. Where the hell was Radek?

SGASGASGASGASGASGASGASGA

The next time Rodney awoke, he was pretty sure he was hallucinating. He hoped he was hallucinating. Otherwise, he was doubly screwed - or he could have died maybe and this was hell. Rodney closed his eyes tightly and said to himself, "Not real - Not real," but it didn't do any good. Across the cell from him sat Sheppard and he was . .. .WTF. . . . Was he singing to himself?

"When I was a baby, my momma told me son, always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns. But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."

"It's a hallucination," Rodney muttered. "Please let it be a hallucination." The faux John looked up suddenly, the flask? Yep it was a flask, he was drinking from half way to his mouth. It was really amazing what Rodney's mind could conjure up when he was in trouble. While it was nice to see John, he would have preferred Sam Carter, preferably in a black bra.

"Hey, uh . . . Hey, how you feelin'?" faux John asked.

"Other than the chills, nausea and excruciating pain? Wonderful," Rodney answered the hallucination trying to leverage himself up into a sitting position. "You?"

The faux John looked at him strangely, which made Rodney giggle - at least until the movement jarred his stomach.

"Here, let me help you," Not-John said.

"Sure," Rodney answered weakly. "While you're at it, can you fix me a sandwich? Oh, I would prefer something byYes or the Who. I didn't even know your Johnny Cash obsession had sunken so far into my subconscious."

"Are you lucid?"

"Of course not," Rodney grunted, finally finding a position that didn't make the pain any worse. "If I were lucid, would I be hallucinating you?"

Faux John gave him a rueful smirk. God it looked just right.

"I'm not a hallucination, McKay."

"Uh-huh. Of course not." Rodney was going to say more but he realized he had started listing to the left. Suddenly his faux friend reached out and righted him.

"Thanks," Rodney replied softly, closing his eyes again. God he was so tired.

"No problem," the figment answered. "You know, if I wasn't real, you would have just fallen."

"Not if you're a hallucination of mine - you'd be surprised what my hallucinations can do." Rodney smiled drunkenly thinking back to Sam Carter and the way she kissed him. She was so hot.

"McKay!" faux John barked. "pay attention. I need your help if we are going to get out of here. I am here. You are NOT hallucinating." the figment insisted.

Rodney sighed. He wished Not-John would go away so he could go back to sleep. Grumpily, Rodney muttered. "You ARE a hallucination. I KNOW you are a hallucination because John Sheppard is not here. He left Atlantis on a gurney, barely alive . . ." Rodney's voice began to fade away with his consciousness. "And I have seven days left . . . Seven days to get him back, get them back."

Just as Rodney began to slip away, his good arm was jostled. "Quit that! Wounded man here!" he growled at the hallucination.

"Rodney, listen to me. Yes, you sent your John Sheppard through the gate - and into my universe. I am John Sheppard - just not THAT John Sheppard."

Rodney frowned but didn't open his eyes. "That's not possible. I haven't reestablished the link to the gate."

Rodney could almost hear faux John run his hands through his hair. "I don't know how they did it but they thought they had your Sheppard but it was really me. And now I need to know how to get out of this cell."

Rodney cracked one eye open, looking again. Not-John really didn't look like Sheppard now that he thought about it. The plain black BDUs fit him loosely, like they weren't his. He didn't remember that scar above his eye either. Maybe . . .

"Ah, and how is the reunion going?"

McKay looked up at Bates, his eyes widening. If Bates was here and free that could only mean . . .crap Bates was a replicator. Which could only mean . . .

Rodney's eyes widened and he looked back at John. "Oh very clever." Rodney muttered. "but you can't fool me." he said more strongly. "I know your hand is in my head and none of this is real. You'll get nothing from me. 1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13 . . ." Rodney continued to counting primes ignoring both of them.

Bates smiled at John, turned and left.

John looked at McKay, sitting there with his eyes closed, still counting. "McKay! McKay! You can stop! He's gone."

McKay ignored him, muttering numbers under his breath. John sighed and pulled the flask back out of the pocket of his BDUs. It was going to be a long night.