Ronon swung his head to the left as he heard McKay grunt in pain. McKay was shoved up against the wall of the mine, a gun digging into his neck.
“You’re not working hard enough,” the guard shouted, pulling back the weapon, and then slamming it into McKay’s back.
Ronon gritted his teeth, a sub-vocal growl the only sign of his anger. He wanted nothing more than to take the guard by the throat and rip him apart but a stunt like that would no doubt end in both their deaths.
McKay had fallen to his knees, gasping for breath. He flicked a pain-filled glance up at Ronon, shaking his head warningly, as if he knew what the Satedan was thinking. “Okay,” he muttered, tears of pain tracking through the grime on his face. “I’m working.” He stood shakily, then grabbed the pickaxe and began chipping ineffectually at the mineface again.
“If your bucket’s not filled with ore by the next bell, you don’t eat,” the guard snarled. “You!” He glared at Ronon. “Get back to work!”
Ronon did, working with renewed speed as the time for food drew nearer and he saw McKay’s bucket was still only half full. Moving carefully in order not to draw attention to himself, he sidestepped till he was standing closer to McKay and began digging at the wall again. For every chunk of ore he dropped into his own bucket, he dropped two into McKay’s.
“What are you doing?” McKay whispered. “You need to eat too.”
“I’ll manage,” Ronon replied casually, tossing two more chunks into McKay’s bucket, another into his own.
“We need to get out of here,” Rodney said softly. “I don’t think I’ll make it through too many more days like this.”
“Yes, you will!” Ronon snarled. “You have to because I’m not leaving this hell hole without you, McKay. You got that? Sheppard will find us and they’ll come in here and tear this place apart. Until then, you stay on your feet and you keep digging at this rockface right alongside me, you got that?”
“How can you be so sure? It feels like we’ve been here forever.” Rodney dropped the pickaxe as the bell for the meal break rang, one hand reaching to rub at his bruised back.
Ronon nodded down at the full buckets at their feet. “Because I’m a survivor, McKay, and so are you.”