A/N: Hello, hello! This is my very first (completed) SGA fic, so please forgive any errors pertaining to the 'Gate or the technology or things of that nature! I'm still working on getting the characterizations down, so please keep in mind that all constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated! Not to mention, reviews are love, so if you enjoy this, please don't forget to drop me a line!

Rodney

It all started with the trip back to Earth. That's when things really started to change. It was his fault; he knew that much. In his defense, it was the first time that they'd been back and hadn't been plagued with duties relating to Atlantis or the Stargate or the fucking Air Force. It was a trip of leisure and while John Sheppard was one of his best friends, he needed some time away. Some time to himself.

He almost felt bad for sticking Teyla and Ronon with Sheppard because he was sure that Sheppard needed that time away from everything involving the damn Pegasus Galaxy and that wasn't exactly possible with two aliens in tow. But Sheppard had assured him that it wasn't a problem, told him to have a good break and that they'd catch up later.

Which was why Rodney had been caught off guard when Sheppard called him less than forty eight hours later to invite him to a football game. He'd said no without thinking twice. He hated football almost as much as he hated Kavanaugh and that was saying something. He'd been annoyed that John had even asked.

But now, sitting in the dark, dirty cell, all he could think about was that fucking football game and how different things could have been if he'd just gone along.

Dropping his head back against his prison walls, he willed away the tears that were stinging at his eyes. It was bad enough that he'd been captured, beaten and left in this filth hole; he would not add insult to injury by sitting around and crying like the little bitch that John and Ronon thought him to be.

Shifting just slightly on the hard earth beneath him, it took every ounce of strength he had to keep from moaning in pain as he jostled the knife wound in his side. Glancing down at his blood soaked shirt, he pressed his hand against the injury, closing his eyes when he felt the heat radiating from it.

"Gotta get outta here, McKay," he whispered, swallowing hard to keep the rising nausea at bay. "Gotta get outta here."

"Unfortunately, Dr. McKay… that's just not written in the stars for you today," a gruff voice sneered, startling Rodney more than he cared to admit. Turning his head slightly, he caught sight of the angry native, his ugly face turned down in a scowl as one of his minions slid a key into the lock of the door.

"You… you could just let me go," he managed, his tone borderline pleading. "They… if you just let me go…"

An involuntary whine tore from Rodney's throat as dumb and dumber stepped into the cell, grabbing him roughly as they pulled him to his feet.

"As I said, your release is not written in the stars."

"They're going to kill you. When they… when they find out what you've done to me…."

A loud laugh escaped the leader as he nodded to his minions. "Take him downstairs. I shall be down to deal with him shortly. And Dr. McKay?"

The two men holding Rodney up turned, forcing the scientist to face his captor.

"You don't honestly believe they are coming for you, now do you?"

Had he been asked even a month earlier, Rodney would have said without a doubt that yes, John would come for him. But things had changed and now? Now he didn't know.

Four Days Earlier

Leaning back in his chair, Rodney released a loud sigh and sagged, running his hands over his face. He was exhausted. It had been a long day filled with correcting other people's mistakes, and while it was much earlier than he usually called it quits, he needed a break.

Pushing himself to his feet, he pressed the button on the lamp on his desk and made his way toward the door, his stomach grumbling loudly.

"Yeah, yeah. We're going," he muttered in reply as he set off for the mess hall, running his hands over his face tiredly. He felt like his entire body was dragging and by the time he made it to the mess hall, he wanted nothing more than to eat, go back to his quarters and collapse.

He was so tired that he didn't even see them at first. It was until he heard the Caveman's obnoxious bark of a laugh that he turned, his face flashing when he saw them there together. Without him.

He'd hoped he could just turn around and hurry back out before they spotted him, but when John called his name, he knew there was no hope.

"Rodney!" John called again, as though he hadn't been heard the first time.

"Colonel," Rodney greeted with a nod.

"Finally managed to drag yourself away from the lab, huh?"

"Finally," Rodney muttered, fiercely fighting the frown that threatened.

It wasn't the first time that Sheppard and Ronon had eaten dinner without him. On the contrary, there were many nights that Rodney found himself eating alone in the mess hall well after the majority of Atlantis had retried to their quarters for the night. It was, however, the first time that John hadn't even bothered to stop by the lab to attempt to drag him away.

Most of the time, it annoyed him. He hated being disturbed almost as much as he hated Kavanaugh and football, but he had to admit that he'd grown to enjoy John's attempts at dragging him away from his work. He'd become more inventive over the last year or so, but clearly, Rodney was better at blowing him off than he realized.

Clearly, the Colonel had finally taken the hint.

He ignored the pair as he grabbed a tray and briefly wondered if he could slip past them and back out of the mess hall without them noticing, but as he neared the doorway, John called out to him again, waving him over. Veering off of his escape course, he made his way over to the table and sank down at in his usual seat, stabbing his mashed potatoes.

"Coulda waited for me, you know," he sniffed, shoving his fork into his mouth as he lifted his gaze to glare at both John and Ronon.

"But—"

"Watching you eat would be enough to make anyone lose their appetite," Ronon interjected, smirking when Rodney stopped shoveling long enough to fix him with a harsher glare as the pair started snickering loudly.

"Ha. Funny." Dropping his fork to his tray, he turned his attention back to John. "I wanted to speak with you about tomorrow's mission."

"What about it?"

"I'm not going."

"'Scuse me?"

Releasing a loud sigh of indignation, Rodney reached up to rub at his face tiredly. "Zelenka needs me in the lab more than you're going to need me in the field. We've already been to that planet once and you know as well as I do that there's no ZedPM, so really, my presence is pointless. You certainly don't need me to help negotiate whatever you're trying to trade for."

"Lots of stuff we don't need you for, McKay," John responded, suppressing a smile when Ronon snorted into his water. "But the fact is, you're still part of the team and—"

Rodney had heard enough. Standing up, he grabbed his tray from the table, his jaw set stubbornly. "Okay then. Gate Room at 1430 hours?" He asked curtly, not waiting for a response as he hurried over to the trash can.

"Rodney!" John called, pushing himself up as he stared after the scientist. "Come on, Rodney! I was just kidding!"

Holding up his hand, he waved the Colonel off as he dropped his tray into the trash and stalked out of the mess hall, leaving John and Ronon staring at his retreating form.

Present Time

He'd only been vaguely aware of his captors shoving him roughly through the narrow hallways of whatever facility he was in and it wasn't until they forced him into the chair and bound his wrists behind his back that he realized just how well and truly fucked he really was.

His head fell against his chest, his eyes fluttering closed as he listened to the sound of his labored breathing. He could hear the sound of footsteps in the distance, but at the moment, he couldn't quite bring himself to care. All he was focused on was pain. There wasn't a single part of his body that didn't hurt and he wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and allow the darkness take over. But he couldn't. He couldn't because Sheppard was coming.

"No, Dr. McKay, he isn't."

The voice startled him. It took nearly every bit of strength he possessed to lift his head and force his eyes open. A quiet whimper escaped him as his captor came into focus.

"I'm… I'm sorry. Did I say that out loud?" He managed, his words slurred. "I'm… I'm surprised you could comprehend, of course. It continues…" he trailed off, swallowing hard as he forced back the bile that was rising quickly. "It continues to amaze me that you're even able to understand the simplest words in the English language. You don't… you don't know Sheppard."

He didn't even have time to brace himself for the punch he knew was coming. He could feel his lip split as the fist connected with his face and try as he might, he couldn't swallow back the pain filled moan that escaped him as his head lolled against his shoulder.

"You…" His captor laughed loudly. "You are a weak man, Dr. McKay. I may not know Colonel Sheppard personally, but based on his reputation throughout my world, I can't imagine that you serve any purpose other than to continually get in the way."

"He… he needs me."

"I believe you are mistaken. You? Yes, I believe you need him. But do you really and honestly believe that they need you?"

Three Days Earlier

"There's nothing here," Rodney huffed, glaring at Sheppard and Dex before he lowered his gaze back to his scanner. "This was pointless."

"Yes, Rodney, you may have mentioned that a time or seven," John growled. Glancing over at Ronon, he stifled a laugh at the look the Satedan threw his way before he tapped his radio. "Teyla, what's our status with the trade?"

"I am nearly through John," Teyla responded, her voice crackling slightly over the radio transmission. "However, I could use some assistance."

"Everything okay?" John asked, his shoulders tensing slightly as his fingers gripped his P90.

"I am fine," she assured him.

"Alright. I'll double back. Should be able to reach your position in ten."

"Very well. I shall be waiting for you. And John?"

"Yeah?"

"It probably would not hurt for you to hurry. Teyla out."

"Is Teyla okay?" Rodney asked, his face contorting in a frown as he lifted his eyes from his scanner.

"She's fine. Gonna head back to her location and check on her. You two maintain radio silence for the time being. I'll make contact in twenty, after I've assessed her situation, but you stay put unless I say otherwise."

"Got it," Ronon responded, leaning against a tree as he fingered the blaster at his hip.

Without another word, John set off through the trees, leaving Rodney in the company of the Neanderthal that was slowly but surely taking his place on the team.

"Well," he sniffed, his eyes returning to the scanner in his hand. "Looks like it's just me and you, Chewie."

Ronon merely grunted in response, his dark eyes narrowing at Rodney. "What are you doin'? Thought you said there was nothing here."

"There doesn't appear to be, but then it never hurts to second check, now does it?"

"Nope," Ronon said with a shrug, turning away from the scientist to resume his check of the area.

Rodney paused, his fingers hovering over the scanner as he eyed the caveman before he shook his head. "You don't say…" he trailed off at the loud beep emitting from his scanner.

"What's that?"

"I'm getting a reading," Rodney responded, his voice slightly awed as he started towards the thickening trees. "Huge energy spike!"

"Hey! Where you goin'?" Ronon growled, grabbing the back of Rodney's tac vest. "Sheppard said to wait here."

"No, no, no! You don't understand, Big Guy! These are ZedPM level readings! We'd be doing the entire city a huge, giant disservice if we didn't check this out."

Ronon's grip didn't loosen.

"Are you not listening or are you just too stupid to understand what this could mean?" Rodney growled. "Zed. P. M levels!"

Ronon's eyes flashed angrily briefly before he released his grip on Rodney's vest. "Why didn't you pick up on it before?"

"I don't know, hence part of the reason we should go check this out! Come on, we can't be too far away. We could be there and back before the Colonel ever notices we aren't here."

Shifting impatiently on his feet, Rodney resisted the urge to stomp his feet in irritation when the Satedan seemed to take his time to make up his mind.

"If you aren't—"

"Okay," Ronon finally agreed, nodding at Rodney. "But you're sure we won't have to go far?"

Rodney stopped, faltering slightly. He'd been expecting the giant to put up more of a fight. "I'm fairly certain. With levels reading this high, we have to be close."

"Let's go then. But make it quick." With one hand on his blaster, he pushed past the scientist, starting a trek further into the woods. "But McKay?"

"What now?" Rodney complained, releasing an indignant sigh.

"You whine one time and I'll tie you to a tree and let Sheppard deal with you. Got it?"

Swallowing hard, Rodney nodded, relaxing only briefly when Ronon's face broke into what he assumed was supposed to be a grin before the caveman gestured to the trees.

"After you then."

Setting off into the woods, Rodney ignored the feeling of the Satedan's eyes on his back as he led the way through the thick branches. They'd walked only ten minutes when they came across the dark cave and it was all Rodney could do to contain what he was sure was an unmanly squeal as his scanner beeped once more.

"This is it!"

He was vaguely aware of Ronon's voice grumbling behind him, but he paid the other man no mind as he stepped into the cave, his eyes wide in awe as he looked around.

"I'm going in," he muttered to nobody in particular as he slipped into the passageway, ignoring the feeling of claustrophobia that immediately settled over him like a thick veil. "Wide open spaces, McKay," he muttered to himself. "Just think… this will all be more than worth it when you get your hands on the ZedPM."

Taking a deep breath, he barely stifled a cough as the dust and stale air settled in his lungs before he shook his head and pushed further into the cave. He hadn't made it but ten more steps when the walls narrowed down into a small passageway; small enough that even Teyla wouldn't fit through.

"Of course," Rodney muttered bitterly. "In my excitement to locate the damn ZPM, I seemed to have forgotten that this galaxy abso-freakin-lutely hates us. Things can never be easy, can they?" With an angry growl, he started inching his way back out, already making plans and a list of what equipment they would need to come back with in order to get further into the cave.

Stumbling back out into the forest, he inhaled deeply, savoring the fresh smell as he turned, looking for his companion. A dark frown formed on his face when he realized that Ronon was nowhere to be found.

"Uh… Ronon?" He called tentatively, circling around again as though he expected the Neanderthal to jump out from behind one of the tall trees. "Where… where the hell have you gone?"

No answer. Not that he'd been expecting one, anyway.

"Come on, buddy! I didn't even whine on the way out here! I mean, not really, anyway. You weren't… you weren't serious when you threatened to leave me out here for John to deal with, were you? Because I can tell you from previous experience, he's going to be just as mad at you for…" he trailed off at the sound of a branch snapping in the distance. "Ronon?"

His frown deepened as he gripped his scanner tighter in his hands in an attempt to stop the limbs from trembling.

"Okay, this? This is so not funny, Dex! John?" He could just imagine the pair somewhere out there, hiding among the trees and laughing at him. Teyla too, probably. This whole thing had most likely been some stupid prank to see just how much he would panic when left alone, but unfortunately for them, he was far too smart to fall for something like that.

Narrowing his eyes in anger, he grabbed the pack from his back and replaced his scanner before he pulled the Life Signs Detector from the front of his vest, his jaw set stubbornly as he powered it on. "I guess the joke is on you guys now," he muttered smugly until he saw the dozen or so white dots that clearly had him surrounded.

"Oh no."

Present Day

"You left me," he muttered to nobody in particular, his heavy lidded eyes beginning to close without his consent as he recalled the last moments before he'd been taken captive.

Over the course of the last three pain filled days, he'd hung on to the idea that maybe something had happened, something that prevented Sheppard and his team from coming after him, but now…

A hand gripping his shoulder roughly pulled him from his thoughts and it was all he could do to swallow back a gasp as fingers dug into his skin, forcing him to remain in the here and now.

"You still believe they are coming for you?" A cold voice from the doorway asked. "Surely they would be here by now… if they were actually coming."

Rodney said nothing as he dropped his head to his chest, his breaths coming out in short, ragged little spurts as the panic began to rise in his chest.

"They're… they're coming."

"You are a fool if you actually believe that," the man laughed as he circled the chair, eyeing the battered and bruised man in front of him. "They are not coming, Dr. McKay."

Swallowing hard, Rodney released a ragged gasp and blinked back unshed tears. He could feel the wetness spreading along his side from the wound that had never really stopped bleeding and before he could stop himself, a half sob tore from his throat. He'd been in similar situations before; even now, as he sat tied to this fucking chair, he could recall time after time that he'd found himself in a less than desirable position, but John had always come.

He'd always had faith that John would come.

But now, as the life slowly seeped out of him… as he sat dying in this God forsaken underground cave, surrounded by fucking alien natives, he knew that something had changed.

For all the times that John Sheppard had saved his ass at the last hour, he wasn't coming now.

And it was with that knowledge that Rodney McKay released a quiet resigned sigh and closed his eyes.