Rating: K +
Genres: Gen, H/C, Whump
Word Count: 2,034
Warnings: Minor language
Characters: Rodney McKay, John Sheppard
Disclaimer: I do not own them; I would have treated them better.
Summary: McKay and Sheppard are in a race for their lives against a raging fire.
Author's Notes: Written for LiveJournal community sga_saturday's Week 25 Prompt: smoke.
"Come on, McKay…" John Sheppard was supporting the injured Rodney McKay as they ran from the fire raging behind them. "It's not that much further to the gate…you can do it."
"My ankle hurts," he was breathing hard; the acrid fumes from the flames stung his eyes, his sprained ankle swelling tightly against his boot.
"I know, but we have to keep moving, the fire's gaining on us." Sheppard was breathing as hard as Rodney was, as he tried to keep them ahead of the rapidly moving fire line.
Several hours before, Sheppard and his team had gated to Balmira to check on a mining operation that Atlantis had assisted the inhabitants establish. Many of the Atlantis scientists had completed their part of the operation, and Sheppard sent Teyla and Ronon to accompany them back to Atlantis. McKay wanted to stay to troubleshoot a minor glitch the automated mining process, so Sheppard remained with him. Once Rodney was satisfied that the programming for the mining machine was working well, they took their leave.
The mine was located about four miles west of the stargate, which was standing alongside a wide river. The largest town in the area was across the river about one mile from the bridge. It was late autumn on the planet, fallen dried leaves crunched beneath their feet as Sheppard and McKay had covered about two miles of the narrow lane leading to the mine. The temperature was unusually warm, the air heavy with humidity. As the sky darkened and brisk winds began to build, thunder rolled above their heads. When lightning began to flash with increasing frequency, Sheppard picked up the pace, forcing Rodney into a trot. They had gone about a quarter mile when a bolt of lightning struck a copse of dried timber and ignited a fire. Picked up by the wind, within a matter of minutes, the fire was rapidly spreading across the ground, jumping from tree to tree.
Sheppard pushed McKay in front of him and yelled for him to run, which McKay managed to do for about a quarter of a mile before he stumbled, tripping on a thick exposed root on the lane and fell, taking Sheppard with him. Sheppard fell against a tree, the rough bark scraping skin from his right cheek. He pushed himself upright and grabbed Rodney, who yelped in pain as he tried to put weight on his left foot. Knowing that regardless whether McKay's ankle was sprained or broken, they had to keep going; Sheppard yelled at him to suck it up and move. The fire was nipping at their heels.
They continued running, trying to stay on the lane, which would take them directly to the gate, but the thick acrid smoke had reduced their visibility. McKay whimpered each time his left foot met the ground, but Sheppard kept nudging him forward. They had gained a bit of distance from the leading edge of the fire but the heat was intensifying. Sheppard was shifting more of McKay's weight onto him, hoping to speed them up, when he heard a loud crack over his head. He looked up in time to see that the fire had jumped to the canopy of trees above them and the brittle trunk of a dead tree had broken from the heat. The burning trunk was falling directly over them.
Sheppard pushed McKay out of the way, the scientist falling roughly to the ground. McKay rolled onto his side, glancing toward the area where Sheppard should be. Panicking when he didn't see his friend, he yelled.
"Sheppard…Sheppard, where are you?" There was no answer, and as he pushed himself up, he cried out for the colonel again. "John, John..." Then he spotted boots sticking out beside the burning tree trunk.
McKay scrambled to Sheppard's side; using his injured leg to push the burning timber away from his friend, but not before, the flames spread to Sheppard's BDU trousers. The fabric covering the colonel's calves was on fire; dropping to his knees, Rodney began to beat at the flames with his hands. He was so intent on extinguishing the fire that he barely noticed the burns developing on his palms and fingers.
Once he knocked out the flames, he rolled Sheppard over, "John, John, you okay?" When he didn't receive a reply, he looked closer at Sheppard, and realized he was unconscious; blood was flowing from a wound on Sheppard's forehead. "Oh…damn it, how the hell am I supposed to get us out of here?"
Looking around him, he saw that the fire line was approaching, the flames leaping higher than they had moments before. The air was filling rapidly with dense black smoke. Somehow, he had to get himself and Sheppard to safety.
McKay racked his brain, trying to remember the training session that the Marines conducted for the scientists on the proper way to carry an injured person. He crouched over Sheppard, facing him, took hold of the colonel's arms, and pulled him upright, while trying to keep his own weight off his left foot. Once he had Sheppard on his feet, he knelt until Sheppard's midsection was on his right shoulder, then as gingerly as he could he stood up. Grasping Sheppard's right thigh and right arm, he wrapped his friend around his shoulders, and began to walk as rapidly as he could toward the stargate.
He didn't have any idea how far the gate was, and visibility was getting worse by the second. His lungs felt like they were on fire and his ankle was incredible painful. McKay figured the only reason he could walk on it was the tight boot supporting the injured ankle. He was cognizant of his hands hurting but the adrenaline coursing through his body was masking most of the pain.
Sheppard's frame, wiry and slender, concealed the colonel's muscle weight; he was much heavier than he appeared. In addition, Sheppard's P-90 was caught on the corner of his TAC vest, cutting into his shoulder. With each step, carrying his friend was becoming more and more difficult. He stumbled once over a stone and once when he turned his sprained ankle, but managed to remain upright, the third time he stumbled, McKay wasn't so lucky. Visibility had become so bad that he could barely see in front of him, and he stubbed his toe on something, pitching him forward. He grabbed Sheppard's leg and arm tighter and tried to throw his body weight backwards to counteract his forward momentum, but it wasn't enough. He tumbled forward, Sheppard hitting the ground first. He rolled overtop of his friend, and continued to roll into a clump of bushes. McKay lay for a minute, trying to get his breath; but in the sooty haze, even shallow breaths were pulling smoke into his lungs.
He could hear the crackling of burning wood as the fire continued to advance. What little progress they had accomplished was lost by the fall. He pushed up, pain now radiating from his right shoulder, and reached out to check Sheppard's pulse. The colonel was alive but not breathing well. McKay remembered that Sheppard always carried a black bandana, and he searched the colonel's TAC vest pockets, finally locating it. He pulled out his K-Bar and cut a slit in the cloth, then tore it apart with his hands, wincing from the blisters on his fingers. He poured water from his canteen on the cloth halves to wet them, then tied one piece around Sheppard's mouth and nose, then the other around his own face. He hoped at least to keep them both from inhaling any more smoke. Washing his mouth out with water, he tossed the canteen, then stood up so that he could pick up Sheppard.
The wind had changed direction slightly and McKay made some headway on the fire. He was in agony but had disassociated his mind from his body in order to deal with the pain, the adrenaline flooding his system helping. He tried to focus on how far they had been from the gate when the fire started and where they might be now. He thought they could be close to the gate, but he couldn't be certain. He hadn't been paying attention to the landmarks as they walked to the mine, but even if he had, the smoke had obliterated any possibility of using his memory of the earlier walk.
"Damn it…" he coughed roughly, "if Ronon…" he coughed again, "or Teyla was here, they'd know." He paused trying to his breath, then whispered, "Sorry…John…I don't…don't know if I can get you home."
McKay kept trudging as quickly as he could with his heavy burden. He was beginning to think he might make it, when the wind shifted, blowing much harder than before. Twisting his body gingerly to look behind him, he felt a fresh flood of adrenaline send heat through his body. The fire, which had been at least 300 yards behind him was racing toward him, driven by the brisk winds.
Channeling Sheppard, McKay yelled, "Oh crap," picking up his pace as much as he could. After several feet, risking a glance back, he forced the panic gripping him down, as he saw that, the fire was much closer, moving rapidly.
McKay felt his injured ankle protest with each strike against the Earth, but he had to keep going. The fire's heat began to prickle his limbs, but he kept pushing forward. His breaths were coming in jagged gasps, and he was so exhausted tears were streaming down his face, leaving trails of black soot, from the effort. He kept going.
Through the smoke, he thought he caught a glimpse of something; as he got closer, he realized it was the DHD. Relief washed over him, but the fire was so close that he could feel the flames lapping the ground around him. He pushed himself to the gate where he laid Sheppard out of the way of the event horizon whoosh, and hurried back to the DHD. The ground beneath the DHD was sparkling from embers landing there, pushed by the wind. McKay began to punch in Atlantis' address, as rapidly as he could. A flame erupted next to his right boot; leaning on the DHD, he stamped it out, continuing to press the stones on the dialing device. He was certain there was no sweeter noise than the sound of the event horizon swooshing outward from the gate, masking the sound of the fire. As the gate settled, he tapped his IDC, grabbed Sheppard under the arms, and dragged him through the gate, oblivious to the fact that his BDU pants were on fire.
The deep raspy voice drifted into McKay's consciousness over the soft beeping sounds of the infirmary, "Sheppard?"
"Yeah, getting…worried about you, buddy; you weren't waking up."
McKay opened his eyes, finding he was lying in the infirmary, Sheppard in the bed next to him, "Y-you okay?" McKay didn't recognize his own gruff voice.
"Yeah, concussion, needed eight stitches on my head, first and second-degree burns on my legs…but okay. Both of us, have lung issues but Carson…took us off the vents earlier. You just wouldn't wake up."
McKay moved his legs, and felt the restriction of bandages along his left upper thigh, something encased his ankle, and his hands were bandaged. "What…what's wrong with me?"
"Badly sprained ankle, bruised shoulder, burned your…left butt and thigh, and your hands. Lorne said you were on…fire as you dragged me…through the gate." Sheppard began coughing.
"I…I burned my butt?"
Although still coughing, Sheppard chuckled, "Yeah, you burned your butt…but you saved…us both." Sheppard took a shallow breath, "Good…job, Rodney; you're being hailed as…a hero…around Atlantis."
"I burned…my butt?"
Sheppard dropped his head onto the pillow, mumbling, "He's not…gonna let me forget that."
McKay smiled slightly and mischievously as he heard Sheppard's whisper. The colonel was correct; he wasn't going to let Sheppard forget that he had burned his gluteus maximus while saving him. Being a hero was going to be fun.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed.