Title: Four Times Rodney McKay Got Shot Saving the Day (And One Time He Didn't)
Genre/rating: Gen, PG13 (language, violence)
Spoilers: None that I can think of past season 2
Disclaimer: SGA and its characters are mine, all mine! Bwahahaha! *cough* Um. Never mind.
AN: Written for astridv , who won this fic through the help_haiti auction on LJ. Her prompt was fantastic, and her patience in waiting for her fic was awesome. Hope you like it!! Beta'd by the ever fabulous wildcat88.
A bullet ricocheted off the rock with a metallic zing, and Rodney slid further down behind their boulder, nearly folding himself in half to keep his head under the line of fire.
"You're not going out there, Major," he said, panting.
"No," Sheppard agreed beside him. He fired a short burst from his P90 as if in punctuation. "I'm not."
They'd been on the run for an hour — dodging and trading fire, hiding and trading fire, trading fire and trading fire with an enemy that not only wanted them dead but also had an endless supply of bullets to get the job done. Teyla and Ford were hunkered down behind their own boulder less than twenty yards away, and how all four of them had gotten this far without a scratch, Rodney had absolutely no idea.
How they were going to get out of this without one or more of them getting killed, he also had absolutely no idea.
The gate and DHD were right in front of them, just a dozen feet or so. It might as well have been a mile.
"Really," Rodney said, because even though he'd known Sheppard for less than a year, he was intimately familiar with the man's propensity for self-sacrifice. "You're not going."
Another bullet whizzed by, so close to his head that he heard the whine.
"Glad we're on the same page." Sheppard said. He fired another short burst only to have the weapon click and fall silent after a few bullets. Sheppard cursed and tossed the P90 to the ground. Rodney knew he'd already run through the gun's spare magazine and spare-spare magazine. Sheppard's 9-mil and its spare clip were long gone. Sheppard cursed again, then reached over. "Give me your gun."
Rodney had fired two shots at the beginning but none since. They'd been running, hiding, and he wasn't a good shot even standing still with time to aim. He'd left it to Sheppard, Ford, and Teyla to defend them.
To defend — him.
While all he did was run.
Rodney opened his mouth to say. . . something. But nothing he could say would fix this. He closed his mouth with a snap and handed over the weapon. Then he patted his tac vest, found the spare clip and handed that over too.
Ten shots in the gun, twelve in the spare clip. It was all the ammunition he and Sheppard had left, and Teyla and Ford couldn't be far behind.
Even if he'd been the stupidest of stupid men he'd know twenty-two shots weren't going to get them out of this when hundreds of bullets hadn't managed to yet. And Rodney was far from stupid.
Beside him, Sheppard fired off a shot.
The natives were angry because Rodney had gone into their sacred temple. In his defense, there was an energy signature. A strong one. And even though the Knari were supposed to have been a pre-industrial fishing village, they showed disturbing signs of being very industrial thank you very much, especially when it came to weapons. It was the Genii all over again and Rodney wasn't about to be tricked a second time by homespun Amish-imitators. Except the sacred temple had actually been sacred, and guns and bullets were the only things the Knari mass produced, and apologies only seemed to make them angrier.
So the team took a step back. Then another. And when a young Knari woman fired the initial shots, they ran first, shot back second, and tried like hell to beat the mob to the gate.
Sheppard fired off another shot and Rodney flinched.
A dozen feet between them and the way home. They just needed to dial. Someone needed to dial.
Someone who wasn't currently busy keeping them alive.
Rodney shifted and Sheppard's hand shot out and grabbed his wrist, and for a split second Rodney thought he'd read his mind. But Sheppard just yanked him further down behind the boulder and then let go. Sheppard didn't even look at him.
Right. So. He could do this. He could. A dozen feet, ten seconds to dial and connect. The odds of him getting shot were —
He really wished he hadn't just calculated the odds.
Something clattered to the ground nearby and Rodney jumped. But it wasn't the natives. It had come from the Teyla and Ford's hiding place. Rodney leaned forward slightly to peer past Sheppard. Ford's P90 now lay on the ground and he was slamming what could only have been his last clip into his handgun.
Rodney was up and bolting for the DHD before he realized he'd even made the decision to go.
Behind him he heard Sheppard shout, "McKay!" but Rodney was already at the DHD by then, was already hitting the first symbol and the second symbol and the third —
A bullet skimmed his shoulder. Rodney yelped and dove for whatever cover the DHD could provide. He slipped a shaking hand between his tac vest and t-shirt and frantically patted his shoulder. No pain. Oh God, no pain was bad, right? That meant he was in shock. He was in shock and he was going to die and he hadn't even won a Nobel Prize yet. Rodney twisted and turned to see where he'd been hit, but he couldn't find any blood. He couldn't see any holes. Okay. Okay. No pain. No pain was a good thing this time.
He blew out an unsteady breath, let his head thump back against the cool metal of the DHD.
"McKay!" Sheppard shouted, firing two shots at something — someone — to Rodney's left. "Get your ass back here!"
Rodney had never been good at following directions.
He stood and hunched over the DHD to make as small a target as possible. He hit the last symbols as fast as he could, fourfivesixseven—
Another bullet skimmed his thigh this time, so close Rodney felt the heat of it. But the dialing was done, the wormhole engaged. He heard the sound of pounding feet and Sheppard radioing Atlantis that they were coming in hot.
Rodney took just one step toward the gate before his leg folded underneath him.
He screamed because this time there was pain, a streak of fire through his thigh where the last bullet nearly — did — hit him. He clutched at his leg. Blood was soaking through his pants, the coppery smell so strong that Rodney gagged on it. He wanted to pass out. Wanted so badly to pass out and be somewhere not here, but there were angry people with guns behind him and an open wormhole in front of him, so Rodney planted his free hand on the ground and began to inch forward.
Suddenly someone grabbed his arms and lifted him into the air.
He fought for a moment because, no, nononono, he was close, so close, and he couldn't be captured and killed now, not when he was so damn close.
But then Ford said, "Calm down, doc," from his left and Sheppard said, "Hey, hey, we've got you" from his right, and Rodney realized that each of them had an arm and he was being hauled toward the gate, not away from it.
He looked up just in time to see Teyla disappear through the gate. Then he saw nothing but blue.
The next thing he knew, Ford and Sheppard were carefully setting him down on the gateroom floor.
"We need a medical team!" Sheppard shouted, pulling out a field dressing. Then to Rodney, "Sorry about this, buddy."
Rodney didn't have time to ask what Sheppard was sorry for before he pressed the field dressing so hard against Rodney's leg that the pain of getting shot felt like a needle prick in comparison. Rodney let out a strangled cry and tried to pull away, but Sheppard's other hand was gripping his arm, holding him in place.
"I know this sucks. I know, I know," Sheppard said in a way that might have been comforting if he didn't then curse at the seeping blood and press so hard that it made Rodney see stars.
"Stay with me," Sheppard said, jostling him a little. "C'mon. Hey."
Rodney opened his eyes, unaware he had even closed them. Activity danced on the edge of his peripheral vision, but it didn't seem important. Actually, everything seemed less and less important with each passing moment.
Sheppard jostled him again. "Jesus, McKay, you scared the hell out of me. Have you completely lost your mind?"
"No." Rodney licked his lips. He was very thirsty. "Not. . . no?"
"Good. Because you will never pull a stunt like that again."
"Had to —"
"You didn't have to. We would have — hey, are you listening to me? We would have found another way."
"Yeah," Rodney said, though it was more of a groan than an understandable word. He closed his eyes, on purpose this time. The room was starting to spin.
"McKay." More jostling.
"Don' worry," Rodney said as the sounds of the world faded away. "N'ver happ'n again."
Rodney was the first one to find Ronon, which was both good and bad. Good because it meant the fever-addled Neanderthal wasn't missing anymore.
Bad because it meant Rodney was alone with said fever-addled Neanderthal in a remote part of the city.
And, oh, hey, look at that, Ronon had found his blaster.
"That thing's set to stun, right?" Rodney asked nervously, gesturing with his
hand that held the life signs detector.
Ronon just grinned — making him look even more feral, if that was possible — and kept the blaster aimed at Rodney's head.
Rodney's heart beat double time. Ronon was intense and intimidating even when the only thing at stake was the popcorn bowl during movie night. Here, in a dark, abandoned hallway, sick, drugged, hallucinating, and armed, he was absolutely terrifying.
But, Rodney realized as the seconds stretched into a minute, Ronon hadn't fired at him.
Ronon had a clear shot, but he wasn't taking it. He wasn't running, either, even though they were standing at a hallway junction that offered at least two free escape routes.
Which meant Ronon might not be as far gone as his greeting with the blaster implied.
"So," Rodney said, fighting and failing to keep his voice steady, "how about coming back to the infirmary?"
It was, apparently, the wrong thing to say.
Ronon growled, stalked two steps forward and adjusted his aim so the blaster was now dead center of Rodney's forehead.
"Or not, or not!" Rodney said quickly, throwing his hands into the air so fast that he lost his grip on the LSD. It fell to the floor with a clatter. "We'll stay here. Here's good. No need to go anywhere."
Except Ronon's eyes were wide and glassy, and he was sweating so much that the neck of his scrub top was damp. He needed help.
And Rodney, who still had a blaster pointed at his head, needed help getting Ronon help.
"So, I, uh, I'm just gonna — " Rodney gestured to the LSD on the floor in front of him. He bent slowly, keeping his hands up, giving Ronon a chance to object. He picked up the LSD and rose just as slowly as he went down, only this time he scratched briefly at his ear. . . and toggled his radio to the emergency channel.
"Sheppard," Rodney said, trying to give the word just the right inflection — firm enough to get the colonel's attention but conversational enough that it wouldn't make Ronon suspicious. "He's, you know, worried about you."
Sheppard clicked on. "McKay?"
"I can see why you wouldn't want to leave, though. Ronon. It's, uh, cozy here. In. . . where are we? The L-16 junction?"
All right, so he wasn't exactlyJames Bond. But as long as Sheppard got it and Ronon didn't —
"Crap," Sheppard said. There were muffled words and then the sound of pounding boots. "We're on our way."
Rodney almost sagged with relief. But the blaster. He had to tell Sheppard that Ronon was armed. How was he supposed to do that?
"I, uh, don't think you need the blaster anymore, Ronon." Oh. There. That wasn't so hard.
The pounding boots pounded faster. "How the hell did he get — never mind. What's it set at?"
"I don't know whether you want to kill me or just stun me, but I get nervous when people aim weapons at my head." Hey. He knew he deserved that lead role in acting camp.
"At your head? Wonderful. Hang on."
Rodney eyed the blaster trained on him. Hang on, the man said. Hang on. Like he had a choice.
"Like I have a choice," Rodney snapped.
In front of him Ronon had narrowed his eyes and was tilting his head, staring at Rodney's ear.
At the radio in Rodney's ear.
Before Rodney could react, Ronon reached out and snatched the radio. He did not look happy.
"We're close." Sheppard's voice was tinny and barely audible, but unmistakably coming from the earpiece. "McKay? Are you there? Rodney. Talk to me."
The last thing Rodney saw was the light from Ronon's blaster and, in the split second before unconsciousness took him, four soldiers tackling Ronon to the ground.
It was called jere.
A game, the natives said. Amusement and sport for the young ones, they said. We would be honored if you cemented our trade agreement with play, they said.
Nobody, Rodney was certain, mentioned anything about blow darts.
"Come on, McKay," Sheppard wheedled while they watched two teams gather on the nearby grassy field — each player carrying a hollow stick and clutching a handful of colorful hard berries. "It's a kids' game."
And, yes, okay, the players were young. Pre-adolescent even. Still.
Rodney crossed his arms. "No,"
"Jere is very entertaining. We played it often when I was a child," Teyla said. "The berries sting slightly on bare skin and leave a colorful stain. But I have never heard of anyone being truly injured in a game."
"Yeah," Rodney said. "No."
"'Kay." Ronon slapped Rodney on the shoulder and loped out to the field. "Too bad," he called back. "Only the winner gets the donos bars!"
Rodney's head shot up and he abruptly stopped rubbing his slap-sore shoulder. "Wait. What?"
Sheppard grinned and hauled him onto the field.
Donos bars were something like s'mores, but without the annoying graham cracker. They were chocolaty and gooey and had a hint of something that tasted like cinnamon. They left little sparks of flavor dancing on Rodney's tongue. He ate one during the trade dinner and was instantly obsessed. He wasn't the only one.
"We would very much welcome the recipe," Teyla told one of the elders and delicately licked a stray spot of chocolate from the corner of her mouth
The elder smiled but shook his head. "Apologies, but tradition prevents it. While donos may be shared — should be shared — its secrets cannot."
Rodney didn't think much about it as he reached for another bar. He figured he'd have a second one now and take a third one back to the city. The cooks on Atlantis had many faults — not the least of which was their tendency to homicidally place lemon chicken next to Rodney's favorite meatloaf — but they knew their way around Pegasus Galaxy food. They could reverse engineer the dessert. Donos bars for all! But before Rodney could take a second bar, let alone a third, the elder removed the platter and said the rest would be served later.
Apparently "later" was after the game and "served" meant they'd be given only to the players left standing.
Rodney lingered on the edge of the field, the grass almost luminous in the soft glow of the setting sun. God, he hated playing sports. The running and sweating and running. It didn't help that he and Sheppard were on one team while Ronon and Teyla were on the other. Teyla already knew how to play. And Ronon was — Ronon. The object of the game was to get a little ball away from the other team and back to home base without getting shot with the blow dart things. Three shots and you were out. First team to get the ball to home base won. Ronon could win all by himself while the rest of his team went and took a nap.
Which was an actual possibility given the age of the other players.
Around him the game had started. Two-dozen little urchins ran from one end of the field to the other, laughing and shouting, their clothes already smudged with grass stains. Every few seconds one or more of them would pause, aim and fire, shooting the berries at someone's leg or arm or chest. Sheppard ran among them, dodging berries and jumping for the ball, guffawing with open abandon. At the far end of the field, Teyla —
Out of nowhere, Ronon ran by Rodney with a roar, one of the young players tucked under his arm. The boy giggled maniacally and blew berry darts at everyone in their path.
Rodney felt the sting on his right wrist, a glob of blue left as evidence. Ronon laughed. "One, McKay!"
Rodney glared. Oh, it was so on.
He raised his blow dart and took aim.
Rodney really didn't know how it happened. One minute he had a whole team of people behind him.
The next he didn't.
Sheppard was out, having falling prey to a quick triple blow by Teyla. All of Rodney's little urchin team members were out, even the smallest, fastest, smartest one — a girl who was named Khura but who Rodney had taken to calling "minion."
Ronon and Teyla's team had dwindled in numbers, too. Of the dozen players, only three were left. Which would have been fantastic except for the fact Ronon and Teyla weren't among them. They'd been shot three times each and retreated to the sidelines ten minutes ago.
And that meant that Rodney was the last Atlantean standing. If he lost, there'd be no one left to take a donos bar back to the city.
After an hour of play, Rodney had been shot just the once. Until now. He stared in horror at the yellow splotch on his knee.
His second. One more and he'd be out.
"Come on, Rodney!" Sheppard encouraged from the sidelines. "Donos bars!"
Behind him he heard giggling. One of the kids from the other team. Already taking aim, no doubt. Already —
Out of the corner of his eye Rodney spotted the ball. It was brown, made out of clay, and nearly hidden in the grass.
He dove for it, rolling at the last minute as if dodging a wraith culling beam. A red berry landed in a splotch not two inches away. A child's giggle, close. Too close.
Rodney snatched the ball, jumped up and ran toward home base. He used every evasive maneuver he could think of: dodge, feint right, duck, feint left. At one point he jumped over one of the other team's players — a small boy of about six — and narrowly missed getting his third shot in a very uncomfortable place.
From the sidelines, there were cheers.
Then home base was there, right in front of him. A white, spindly tree, its branches bowed almost to the ground. With a sudden burst of energy, Rodney sprinted forward. He was almost there. Almost there. Almost —
He lunged, tapping the ball to the base of the tree a split second before he felt the peppered sting of berries.
"Victor!" the elder declared and the crowd erupted into cheers and applause.
Rodney let go of the ball and allowed it to roll away. He lay there for a long moment, eyes closed. When he opened them, it was to find his team — his real team — grinning down at him.
They looked happy and more than a little —
"What?" Rodney asked, because they were way too amused for his liking.
"You are very colorful," Teyla said with a smile.
Rodney looked down. His uniform and bare arms were covered in red, yellow and blue splotches. He wiped a hand across his face, down his neck. It came away smeared with color that soaked into his skin so fast that his fingers were already stained with it. The remaining three players must've fired everything they had at him. He let his hand thump back in the grass.
"This stuff isn't coming off for a while, is it?" he inferred from their grins.
"Two, three days," Sheppard said and extended a hand to help him up. When Rodney stood, Sheppard took a closer look at his face, at all the colorful stains Rodney imagined were there. Sheppard's grin got wider. "A month, tops."
The arrow pierced his left arm, in the meaty part just above his elbow. The sharp bite of pain distracted him for a second, a split second, shunting aside grief and fear and frenzy for hurthurthurt. But the distraction didn't last even long enough to break his stride.
In a move that would have made him feel super human if he hadn't been so damn scared, Rodney pulled the arrow out with a yank and a howl, and kept running.
Nine minutes, fifty-six seconds, he counted silently, frantically, as he pounded through the forest, the crunch of dry leaves loud under his boots. Fifty-seven. Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine.
Oh, God. They'd given him ten minutes and he wasn't —
Rodney stumbled over an exposed root, going down on one knee just as another arrow streaked overhead. Panting, he pulled himself up and kept running.
A voice in the back of Rodney's head screamed that it was useless, that he might as well drop the thing right now, lie down in the leaves and let the sharpshooters take him because it was too late. He was too late.
The Miiloth had killed Sheppard.
But Rodney firmly squashed voice and plowed on. Ronon and Teyla were still. . . they hadn't yet been . . . they still needed him.
Rodney's left arm suddenly tingled, a streak of pinpricks hard and sharp, and in its wake left — nothing. He couldn't feel anything. His fingers fell open, lax, and he fumbled for the package even as he saw it drop. He snatched at it, grabbing air, air, air before his fingers closed around the rough material just inches from the ground. Rodney clutched the package in his right hand, then pressed it against his side for added security.
The Miiloth said he was the weakest. They were right.
There was sunlight ahead. The clearing. He tried to pick up speed, pushing himself to move, but his lungs burned and his legs ached and his left arm flapped uselessly at his side, a dead weight holding him back. He burst into the clearing just as his silent count ticked twelve minutes.
"I got it!" he shouted to the circle of Miiloth, their backs to him. "Stop! I got it! Don't — "
One Miiloth man moved, then another. Rodney caught a glimpse of three people on their knees, tied to stakes in the center of the circle, and his heart seized. He was too late for them all. He'd killed them all.
Rodney stumbled, fell. He didn't bother trying to get up again. The numbness was creeping up his arm now, past his shoulder and in a band across his chest, but he didn't care.
Murmurs filled the air.
Shouting, far away. Then closer.
"Rodney? They didn't. Jesus, Rodney, can you hear me? They didn't. They said no one's ever made it back that fast. They let us go. C'mon, look at me, buddy. Look at me!"
But Rodney let the darkness take him away even as hands scrabbled at his clothes and voices begged him to stay.
A bullet hit the trunk with a solid thwack, spraying bark chips along the top of Rodney's head. Rodney slid further down behind their tree, nearly folding himself in half to keep his head under the line of fire.
"Don't even think about it. You're not going out there, McKay," Sheppard said.
"No," Rodney agreed beside him. He fired a short burst from his P90 as if in punctuation. "I'm not."
It was déjà vu all over again, and Rodney would have laughed at the Pegasus Galaxy's sense circular absurdity if it wasn't, at that moment, trying to kill him. Kill them. Ronon and Teyla were hunkered down behind their own tree less than twenty yards away.
"Really," Sheppard said, firing a shot above Rodney's head. Rodney heard something — someone — fall through the branches of a tree and hit the ground with a heavy thud. "You're not going."
The gate and DHD were right in front of them, twenty feet away. Someone just needed to dial. Rodney shifted and Sheppard's hand shot out and grabbed his wrist.
"So help me," Sheppard said, yanking him further down behind the tree and keeping a grip on his wrist, "I will shoot you myself if you so much as peek around this tree."
Rodney tried to pull his arm out of Sheppard's grasp, but he held on. Dammit.
"I know you like to play dumb, Colonel, but now is not the time," Rodney spat. "Simple math: lots of people plus lots of shooting equals four dead us unless someone dials that gate. Soon. And since you, Teyla and Ronon are currently busy keeping us alive —"
Sheppard gave a significant look to Rodney's P90. "And you're doing what here, playing video golf?"
Rodney narrowed his eyes. "Fine. I can cover you or you can cover me. Knowing my scores in the target range, which would you prefer?"
But instead of answering, Sheppard toggled his radio. "Plan B, guys. In thirty."
"What are you — "
"I'm going to let go of you," Sheppard interrupted. "But only so you can get down and cover your ears. Trust me, you're not going to want to go out there."
Sheppard dropped his hand and for the briefest of moments Rodney considered dashing for the DHD. Sheppard could have been lying, buying time to talk him out of what he needed to do. But then Sheppard ripped open a lower pocket of his tac vest and pulled out a black cylinder.
He toggled the radio again. "In three, two, one —"
Rodney had just enough time to squeeze his eyes shut and cover his ears before the white light and bang.
Keller said the ringing in his ears would go away. Eventually.
In the meantime, Rodney told his minions he simply couldn't understand them.
"Sorry, flashbang!" he shouted and flapped a hand at his ear by way of explanation. "Try back next week!"
Radek heaved a long-suffering sigh and said something in Czech that Rodney was pretty sure demeaned his intelligence, his sanity and his parentage in one long, creative invective. He heard probably ninety percent of it. The ringing wasn't that bad.
It was certainly better than getting shot.
Which was why when Sheppard came by the lab and dragged him off to team movie night, Rodney let him. Rather than, say, demand to know what the hell Sheppard had been thinking, risking everyone's life when only Rodney's needed to have been on the line.
"So what the hell, Sheppard?" Rodney demanded on their way to the rec room. Okay, he couldn't help himself.
Sheppard's lips twitched. "We were going to call it Plan R for Rodney, but that just seemed silly."
Rodney shook his head. "I'm serious."
Sheppard cast him a sidelong glance, any trace of a near-grin vanished. "I'm serious, too. We knew you'd pull that crap again next time we got into that situation. We weren't going to let you."
"I should have — "
Sheppard stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned on him. "Should have what? Stepped in front of another bullet?"
Rodney lifted his chin. "Yes!" he said, exasperated.
Rodney pointed angrily at Sheppard. "Because you, Teyla and Ronon shouldn't have to be the only ones risking your lives!"
Sheppard huffed a laugh, and for a long, confusing moment Rodney was pretty sure the man had totally missed his point.
But then Sheppard said, "Right back at you, buddy" and Rodney got it.
He opened his mouth, closed it. He had no idea what to say.
A few minutes later Rodney found himself in the rec room, with only the vague recollection that Sheppard had all but towed him there. Teyla was settled on one end of the couch, her legs tucked under her. Ronon sat on the floor in front of it, a large popcorn bowl in his lap.
Sheppard started to move toward the couch, picking his way over the pillows, cards and board games left by the room's previous occupants. When he got to the couch and found Rodney wasn't with him, he turned around, picked his way back, and, with a hand between Rodney's shoulder blades, propelled him forward.
"Is Rodney all right?" Teyla asked, pausing in her reach toward Ronon's popcorn bowl.
"Fine." Sheppard gave a little jerk to his arm and Rodney sat down heavily in the center of the couch between Sheppard and Teyla. "He just had an epiphany.'
Ronon looked at him over his shoulder. "There's usually more yelling."
"Different kind of epiphany," Sheppard said and started the movie.
It was another minute before Rodney's brain clicked into gear.
"Thanks," he said. "For, you know. Thanks."
"You, too," Sheppard said.
Teyla patted Rodney's leg.
Ronon passed him the popcorn bowl.