"I see him… he's not moving."
He's in the jumper… the hud glows as if alive. Ronon's solid bulk is beside him… everyone is there.
They are returning from a mission. Rodney turns slowly in his seat and he sees both Teyla and Sheppard as he remembers them, in the rear of the spacecraft… she is sitting passively, while the colonel stands, grasping the slim arm that is held awkward and stiff, high above her head.
It's wrapped in a chunky makeshift bandage - Rodney's own spare T-shirt has been employed to staunch the relentless flow of blood. Teyla is silent and strangely pale beneath the honey of her skin and her expression is tight and anxious.
Rodney, too, feels anxious - the tension of the moment; but more than that he feels the closeness of his team, the easy trust and their dependency on each other. Their dependency on him.
He feels the hum of the engines rumble through the pilot's seat beneath him.
He turns back to the task in hand; he must get them home and do it quickly. Teyla has ripped open her forearm on a piece of discarded mining equipment, and the bleeding is severe. Their return is not difficult today, though… Atlantis is close and even now the jumper is rising into the bay where a medical team is waiting.
The engines die and he pops the back door with the ease of practice and without a backward glance. He hears the noise of feet and the rattle of equipment behind him. He relaxes into the chair… into the dream, and it feels comfortable… warm… he doesn't want to move and he doesn't have to.
Voices are raised, but Teyla will be fine… skilled suturing and antibiotics will see to that.
After all, this happened days ago.
They will probably return to the mine, it's worth further investigation; in fact, they'd gone back today, hadn't they? Rodney finds it difficult to recall, events hanging in a mist of confusion. Past merges with present and he lets his mind drift for a moment, the sounds around him fading along with the dream.
"The ground where he is? It's riddled with fissures and holes..."
"I can do it… I've done it many times, sir"
A lilting voice that seems to echo and come from all around says, "Don't fight me, doctor… nice and still…" and as his eyes flicker open, he realises he is slowly being dragged by the shoulders across an uneven and stony floor. Around him is a musty scent… like a damp basement. Charcoal blackness surrounds him and he blinks at a pale, inverted face that hangs above his. It's female but he doesn't recognise it.
The unfamiliar face breaks into a tight smile and he hears, "We'll get you home, sir… just relax."
Both legs feel… strange; numb and heavy. It's wrong to be so incapacitated, and he pushes back against the fog which seems to be clogging his brain. Instinctively, and in spite of her instructions, he tries to move. The white-hot pain that shoots up his right leg is immediate and hits him like a sledge-hammer to the centre of his forehead. It's impossible to stay conscious. So he loses himself again in dreams and shifting images.
"We need to go this way.. here and here... but you'll not get a stretcher through…."
"Don't need a stretcher… "
When lucidity returns, he is surprised to discover that he's being carried; carried by Ronon Dex.
He's bent.. folded up, with his face very closely pressed into his teammate's shoulder. It's still pretty dark and Rodney's head feels hot and confused. The glimpses he gets of his surroundings, suggest to him a cavernous interior; he recognises wet, dark rock, its surface has the shine of a rain-soaked pavement.
He can hear the big man's boots crunching, like he's stomping through wet sand and grit. His face in shadow, only flashes of the Satedan's grim expression can be seen. Breathing heavily, Ronon's mouth is slightly open, and on his brow is a determined line, glistening with sweat.
At times he thinks they stop and in the abrupt silence only the sounds of Ronon's rough breathing echo around the cavern. The gloom is temporarily swept aside by the lamp in the Satedan's hand; it moves here and there awkwardly. Then, it's as if he is held even more tightly, folded more entirely and he is swung this way and that, hefted and squeezed through spaces where he feels they are pinned on all sides by unyielding, menacing rock.
But movement brings pain, pain that Rodney cannot ignore. His breathing quickens, he wants to claw himself away from the agony that is creeping up his right leg. The limb feels heavy and cold, like it's encased in ice.
"Hold on, McKay… not long now." And Ronon's voice is a soft but gravel-edged whisper so close to Rodney's left ear he flinches in shock at the sound.
"You say this passage is long and narrow? We have a stretcher... the major and I can take him from there"
"Rodney… it is good to see you… all will be well."
It's Teyla. She wears a yellow hard hat, with a light clipped to the front; it flashes in his eyes briefly. There's a stretcher; he smells damp canvas or what he imagines is damp canvas. It reminds him of camping… camping in the rain.
He feels himself dip and lurch as he is passed carefully on, like a parcel perhaps... or maybe a passenger, on the long and hazardous journey homeward.
He wants to speak to Teyla, and his eyes follow hers as she works above him. Her face is shadowed and the head light half blinds him, but he sees her dark eyes glitter in the dimness. She is intent on getting him secure so he allows his eyes to close and he focuses instead on the light touch of her hands working on him here and there – on his shoulders, at his ankles, against the side of his neck, and finally, for a short time, laid warmly upon his chest. He's still trying to speak but the simple action of moving his mouth is making his face ache, and setting his head to pounding.
Teyla's soft hand descends to his face and rubs a warm swathe around his cheek bone; he can smell a hint of perfume at her wrist.
Then, the hand is gone and he's looking up at the face of Evan Lorne. The major looks busy… focused… and then Rodney realises, he's busy with me. Lorne turns and takes solid hold of the head end of the stretcher. Rodney can't see Teyla, but he knows she is there taking the weight of his legs.
Now he is bouncing along in time with two sets of crunching footsteps. The rocks above him slide past and he watches the thin pencil beam of Teyla's lamp track through the darkness and across the water-slicked stone.
He feels disoriented and slightly sick. He cannot keep his head still, however hard he tries, and this only adds to his nausea. Awareness comes and goes and it's hard to tell what is real and what is imagined. There are shadows moving, creeping across the rock which surrounds him. Most are simply indistinct shapes; some are disturbing images of things he cannot name or even define.
At times he has the sensation of being pushed… alone on the long stretcher, through narrow spaces where his head is almost grazing the rock ceiling. He hears far away voices… calls and echoes… scuffles that could be the sound of feet slipping and sliding over greasy rocks… the scrape of metal as his stretcher tilts and drops. Panic surfaces then, and it is only his weakness and injury that keep him firmly in place.
And then there is a lull; a break in his journey. There are more voices chattering like static in the background, but he doesn't know them.
"Colonel? You asked for a volunteer medic... that's me, sir."
He opens his eyes and sees someone's broad back; a dark uniform, dark hair…
"John?" he whispers. But it's not Sheppard that turns at the sound of his voice, it's a stern-faced marine… again, someone he doesn't recognise. He has a neck like a tree-trunk.
This stocky marine stares at the scientist intently for a moment and then, turning his head, barks an order. Rodney's never been altogether comfortable around military types. Now the face of the stocky marine is close to his own. His eyes are piercing grey steel.
"Doctor McKay? I'm going to lift you now, sir." And it's a surprise because the stocky marine says this quietly like a medic would, and his hands are gentle when they push around and under the scientist's body to gather him up. It's only then that Rodney notices the stethoscope looped around the man's neck.
A faint voice by his feet says, "Pressure's low… he may have other injuries. What about a line in?"
There's a sigh and then the answer comes: "No... we can't afford to take the time. Let's get him out of this hole as quickly as we can."
He's swung around and gently deposited into a lumpy cocoon-like frame. There are straps snapped across his chest and some across his legs; all these are secured by the stocky marine's capable hands. He feels the weight of a blanket settle across his chest.
After a brief touch to his patient's neck, the medic looks up, nods, and with a hand to his ear says, "Roger that… right leg closed fracture… he's responsive, but shocky - there may be internal injuries."
Rodney's eyes close briefly and then, when they open again he finds he is looking up at a strange sight.
Above him, is a chimney… or what certainly appears to be a chimney. Immeasurably tall, straight and true, right up to the chimneypot on the top - only, rather than a pot, he sees in outline against an immense brightness, a ring of tiny faces peering down. There are ropes hanging like vines.
His frame is jostled into position and the ropes are attached. He feels very alone.
Then, before he has time to consider anything else, the lines tighten with a painful jolt and he feels himself drawn upwards by degrees and in short, dizzying bursts of motion. His head is lolling again... side to side to side to side, and he sees the interior of the chimney moving past him.
It's like a reverse trip down the rabbit hole; he almost expects to see junk-piled shelves and cupboards; instead he sees rough and ancient walls, punctuated here and there by rotting timber supports and cobwebbed beams.
Then the light of an unfamiliar outside world assails him as he emerges from the shaft, and he closes his eyes against it.
He is buffeted and knocked until he comes to rest at last; a cool wind brushes his face as his eyes open a crack.
Beyond a dizzying sea of legs, a figure moves and draws his eyes. It's the girl from earlier; her uniform is dusty and he watches as she snaps open harness buckles and pulls webbing straps from around her legs and shoulders. She sees him looking - says nothing - but tilts her head and smiles slightly as she continues shedding the climbing equipment.
It's the last thing he sees for a while.
A familiar smell... a more familiar humming sound... the ringing clatter of feet scrambling on metal floor grills...
He's in the back of jumper one, and he finds his voice at last:
"What… what's happening?" he asks.
"Just a rescue, McKay," is the answer.
He's lying on one of the bench seats, he sees the underside of the bulkhead where equipment is stored, and hanging from the edge is a bag of liquid.
He's not used to being on his back in the jumper… it just isn't right. The ancient ships are his responsibility – after all, they're his place of work. It's like Carson taking a nap on the floor of the operating room.
Well, enough is enough and he whispers, "I can…" and he tries to raise himself from the undignified position. Immediately a firm hand pushes him back.
"Where's Carson?" he asks, head bouncing slightly as it comes to rest.
"I'm here, Rodney. You'll be fine... now go to sleep if you can" and it's Carson Beckett's hand on his chest, Carson Beckett next to him, looking like a doctor... a doctor with all the right drugs... the good drugs.
Sheppard says from the front, "Just let us rescue you, okay, Rodney?"
So it seems it's all taken care of. Nothing needs fixing and nothing is his fault. No one needs him to look at this, check over there, calibrate that, or modify the other.
They are all here for him. All of them. The stocky marine medic... the girl who likes to climb. His friends... his colleagues. All there to bring him home.
And what do you do when your friends band together and pull you out of a rotten, stinking hole? Well, you lie back and let them get on with it, that's what you do.
So he lets them.
This has been on my computer for ages and I thought I would share. Hope you like it!