On the Run by Annie
“Run!” John yelled, turning on his heel as he saw the downed Wraith’s clawed hand descend towards the self-destruct button on its chest. He caught a fleeting glimpse of Rodney’s horrified face and then he was running, Rodney’s footsteps echoing behind him. He ran a few meters then threw himself forward, hoping Rodney would have the presence of mind to do the same before the blast hit. A cacophony of sound battered him at the same moment he did, the force of the explosion picking him up and carrying him forward to land in a bone-jarring thud on the hard earth.
He was stunned but still managed to turn his head to see where Rodney was. Blinking quickly to clear his blurred vision, he made out Rodney’s slumped figure only inches from him. “Rodney! You okay?” His gut clenched when Rodney didn’t stir, didn’t respond at all, and John forced his shaky legs under him then pushed himself unsteadily to his feet and over to Rodney’s side.
“Rodney.” John reached a hand out to Rodney’s neck, relieved to feel his pulse beating steadily under his fingertips.
Moments later Rodney groaned and then, after what seemed an eternity to John, his eyes opened. “Wha’ happened?” he asked, his words slurred.
Blood was trickling down his chin from where his teeth had cut into his lip when he’d the ground. More blood oozed down the side of his head from a gash just above his temple and John reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a few gauze swabs in sterile packs. “You were too slow,” he groused good-naturedly as he opened the packs and then dabbed gently at the cuts. “You’re going to need to hold this one in place for a few minutes till the bleeding eases,” he said, helping Rodney to roll onto his back and then guiding his hand to the swab at his head.
“Is it night time already?” Rodney asked, blinking his eyes rapidly.
“No, you were only out a few minutes. Wait a minute.” John waved his hand in front of Rodney’s face. “Can you see my hand?’ he asked, dread roiling in his gut.
Rodney flinched away and John heaved out a sigh of relief. “Of course I can see it,” Rodney snapped. “What are you trying to do? Poke my eye out. My vision’s kind of blurry, like there’s a grey mist over everything. Oh god!” Rodney made an ungainly attempt to sit up till John put his hands on his shoulders and pushed him back to the ground. “What if I’m going blind?”
“You’re not going blind, Rodney,” John said patiently, though he was more than a little concerned at this development himself. They were a good five miles from the stargate and the rest of his team had already headed off to the village where Teyla’s friends lived. Added to that was the concern that there was no guarantee that the kamikaze Wraith they’d encountered was alone. The last thing they needed now was for Rodney not to be able to see clearly enough to make the trip back to the gate at a good speed. He patted Rodney’s shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting manner. “You’ve just got a bit of a concussion. You’ll be fine soon enough. You think you can walk? We should really get out of here just in case he’s got any friends on the way.”
Rodney accepted his helping hand up with alacrity at that proposition then sat for a minute, one hand held to his head. “God, my head is killing me,” he muttered.
“We really need to go,” John said, pulling him the rest of the way to his feet and then steadying him with an arm around his waist. “Okay?” he asked, looking worriedly at Rodney’s ashen face and bleary eyes.
“Yeah, I’m fine, let’s go.” Rodney stumbled off and John grabbed him again and turned him in the direction of the forest. “The idea is to head towards the gate, Rodney, not away from it.”
“Well, excuse me for being sight-impaired. I’ve got a concussion, remember,” Rodney huffed indignantly but he latched onto John’s arm again and let himself be towed along.
They’d traveled for about a half hour into the forest when Rodney pulled up short. Looking around, John saw him sink to his knees and bend forward.
“Hey, what’s up?” John asked, moving over to crouch next to him.
“I don’t feel so good,” Rodney said miserably, his face sheened in sweat. “I think I’m gonna –“ Leaning forward, he retched violently then fell to his side, only John’s hand clenched in the back of his tac vest stopping him from falling face-first into the mess on the ground.
Rodney stirred, his mouth opening and closing, as if he couldn’t quite find the air to say words. His face was even paler now, the gash on his head standing out in stark relief against the white skin, the trail of dried blood dark crimson.
"Rodney?" John patted Rodney’s shoulder with increasing urgency. "Can you hear me?"
Rodney nodded finally, his eyes damp as he squinted up at John. “Okay,” he managed to get out. “God, that was foul.”
“Here.” John pulled his canteen off his belt and unscrewed the cap then lifted Rodney up and helped him to recline back in a half-sitting position against John’s bent leg. He held the water bottle to Rodney’s lips and let him take a few sips.
Rodney swished the water around in his mouth then turned his head and spat it onto the ground. He grabbed for the bottle with both hands then and took another greedy gulp.
“Whoa, slow down,” John said. “You’re gonna make yourself sick again.”
“I’m thirsty,” Rodney said petulantly but he relinquished his tight grip on the bottle and let John put it away.
“Look, we’re not gonna get very far with you in this state,” John began.
“You are not leaving me here!” Rodney interrupted, pushing himself away from John’s supportive hold and stumbling to his feet. He stood, weaving a little drunkenly till John stood as well and grabbed hold of his arm, steadying him.
“Of course I’m not leaving you here, Rodney,” John said patiently. “I was thinking maybe we should find some shelter, settle down till morning. By then Ronon and the others will be searching for us.”
“Oh. Okay then.”
“You didn’t really think I’d leave you here, did you?” John asked as he grabbed Rodney around the waist again and started off back the way they’d been going, setting an easier pace this time.
“You’re not going to quote that old chestnut about no one gets left behind, are you?” Rodney said. He sighed. “No, I didn’t really think you’d leave me behind, not behind behind anyway. I did think you might be planning on doing one of your Captain Kirk routines where you leave the injured party behind so you can go riding off to save the day and bring back help.” He stumbled and John hauled him back to his feet.
“Tell you what? How about we just don’t talk for a while,” John suggested. “Save your energy for walking and for looking where you’re going.”
“Fine,” Rodney said shortly but he clamped his lips together and moved along a little more quickly.
“What do you think it is?” Rodney asked in a hushed whisper as John pushed him down to sit behind a clump of tall bushes.
“It’s a building,” John said.
“Well, I know it’s a building,” Rodney snapped. “Even as blind as I currently am I can see it’s a building. What sort of building? Is it inhabited?”
John shot him incredulous look, which was probably wasted given the current state of Rodney’s vision. “How should I know?” he asked. “Look, you stay here and I’ll go check it out. And no, Rodney, I’m not leaving you behind or doing my Captain Kirk thing. I just figure I can get in and out a lot quicker without having to hold you up.”
“Did I say anything?” Rodney asked, sounding offended. “Go. I’ll be fine here. Just put my gun in my hand, will you? And take the safety off for me. I don’t think I can see clearly enough yet to do it myself.”
“If you can’t even see the safety on your gun, there’s no way I’m giving it to you,” John said reasonably. “You’re just as likely to shoot me when I come back.”
“Not if you call out and tell me it’s you, I won’t,” Rodney said just as reasonably, fumbling for his weapon.
“Okay, here.” John freed the gun from its holster, snicked off the safety and placed the gun in Rodney’s slightly shaky hand. “Don’t use it unless you really have to,” he warned as he turned and headed for the building in the clearing.
Even close up John had no real idea what the building’s purpose was. Looking through the windows though he could see that, right now, it was empty of people, Wraith, or any other beings. There were what looked like rows of computers inside but they all appeared to be inactive. He walked all around the building, checking in at each window again as he went just to make sure. Reaching the door, he pushed on it. “Of course it’s locked,” he muttered to himself. “Did you really think it was going to be that easy.” Shrugging, he looked over at the door’s control console, wondering if he should try prying it open with his knife. Deciding that was more in Rodney’s line though, he left it alone and headed back to fetch his injured team-mate.
“Don’t you dare shoot me, Rodney,” he called as loudly as he dared as soon as he got within earshot of Rodney’s position.
“You’re supposed to say your name,” Rodney sniped as John crouched down at his side and took the gun from his hands.
“You knew it was me,” John retorted. “You really think a Wraith’s going to say that?”
“Maybe,” Rodney said but he smiled a little. “Okay, so what is it?”
“I have no idea,” John replied, hefting Rodney to his feet. “It’s empty though. Well, empty of people at least. It’s also locked so I need you to jemmy the door.”
“Why didn’t you just shoot out the control panel?” Rodney asked. “That’s your usual response to locked doors.”
“Because, Rodney,” John explained almost-patiently, “it might be booby-trapped and besides the gunfire would alert any lurking Wraith in the area.”
“Oh. Right. Well, point me towards it and I’ll work my usual magic. Hey, how am I going to do that when I can barely see my hand in front of my face? I could blow us both up anyway.”
“I can see,” John said as he propped Rodney against the doorframe. “I’ll tell you what’s in the control panel, okay?”
“All right but if we get blown to pieces, don’t you come running to me to complain,” Rodney said.
“I won’t. I promise.”
“At least we didn’t get blown to pieces,” Rodney said consolingly as John settled him on the floor then walked back to the door of the room they were now locked into and pounded on it with his fist.
‘No, Rodney, we didn’t. There’s that. We just got locked inside a tiny little room,” John shot back, leaving the door to walk around the room’s perimeter instead.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve been locked in a tiny little room with absolutely no hope of escape,” Rodney observed.
“Yeah?” John replied distractedly as he continued to circle the room in hope of finding a way out.
“You won’t find a way out,” Rodney went on, “I accidentally disabled the door access controls when the wiring to the control panel fused. When I say accidentally I mean of course totally accidentally. I mean, I could have done it deliberately if I’d wanted. I’m a genius after all but it was totally inadvertent this time. I’m almost blind, remember.”
John sighed and sat back down next to Rodney. “Tell me again what happened… in less than a thousand words if possible.”
“You’re not the one who’s injured here and who would like nothing more than to be able to get out and go to the infirmary and get good drugs,“ Rodney replied, rubbing his hand pointedly across his forehead. “I have a terrible headache. I used to get migraines when I was a kid. My dad always said it was genius bursting to escape-“
“Rodney!” John said warningly. He leaned forward and checked the gash on Rodney’s head then the new bandage on his left hand. “The bleeding’s stopped,” he said, sitting back and wiggling his fingers for Rodney to continue.
“Um, where was I? Right, well, once I got us inside the main building and you wandered off to do whatever it was you were doing-“
“I had to pee, Rodney.”
“Thanks so much for the amplification,” Rodney said with a grimace, but hello! TMI. Anyway, I was trying to find out what this room was because it’s kinda small for a lab and it’s obviously not a bathroom but there’s those interesting-looking panels on the wall so I stepped inside and I tried to get the cover off one of the panels and it was stuck so I was using my penknife to prise it free when you walked in and distracted me by yelling, “What the hell are you doing, McKay?” and the knife slipped, cutting my hand, and I must have touched something when I jerked my arm back and the door closed behind you and here we are.” Rodney gave him a pallid smile. “There, definitely less than a thousand words, he said almost triumphantly. “Anyway, where was I? Oh right, the first time I was stuck in a room like this was when I was in college and the Neanderthals parading as jocks thought it’d be really funny to lock me in the janitor’s closet.” He held up a hand as John opened his mouth. “If you stop interrupting I’ll tell you why.”
John let his head fall back to bang against the wall behind him. “I just know I’m going to regret this, but why?”
Rodney opened his mouth then closed it abruptly as a loud pounding started up on the door. “Shit! Do you think it’s Wraith?”
John was already on his feet with his weapon out. “I really don’t think the Wraith would bother knocking, Rodney,” he said quietly, “but just sit tight while I take a look.”
He crouched down and pulled Rodney’s gun from its holster and handed it to him. “Don’t shoot unless I tell you to, and if I tell you to, try not to shoot me, okay?”
Rodney nodded, wincing as his headache soared again but clutched the gun tightly and aimed it somewhat shakily towards where he could see the door through the fog obscuring most of his sight.
John crept towards the door to renewed thumping then stopped and cocked his head to listen. Holstering his gun, he walked quickly over to the door and leaned against it, cupping a hand around his mouth. “Ronon! We’re in here. The door’s jammed. You’ll have to try to knock it down.”
“Stand back!” Ronon shouted back and John moved away back to Rodney’s side.
Put your head down and cover your eyes,” he told Rodney, waiting till he complied. “We’re clear, Ronon. Go for it!”
There was an echoing blast of sound and the door buckled. Another burst of sound and it popped open to hang crookedly on its hinges, Ronon framed in the center of the doorway, a huge grin on his face. He waved his blaster in the air. “I figured if I knocked it down, I’d probably dislocate my shoulder again,” he said as he entered with Teyla, Lorne, and two marines at his back. “This works better anyway. You two okay?”
“I’m fine. Rodney’s injured,” John said succinctly, patting Rodney’s back. “Told ya we’d be fine,” he went on as he got an arm under Rodney’s elbow and helped him to his feet.
“Yeah, yeah,” Rodney muttered. “About time,” he added but he gave a smile of relief that took the sting from his words. “Please tell me we don’t have to walk back to the gate.”
“Nope,” Lorne said. “Jumper’s parked outside. We’ll fly you home in style, Doc.”
“Oh thank god,” Rodney replied, holding out his injured hand for Teyla to cluck over.
“Thanks for the rescue,” John said pointedly, coming up on his other side and putting an arm around Rodney’s shoulders to help him along.
“Oh right, yeah, thanks,” Rodney said. “Okay, gratitude shown. Now can we please go home?”
“He’ll be fine in a few days,” Dr. Carson Beckett said, shooting a smile at John, Ronon, and Teyla who were all clustered around Rodney’s bed in the infirmary.
“Easy for you to say,” Rodney griped sourly. He lifted his head a little off the pillow and glared at Carson. “No good drugs? Do you have any idea how much my head hurts?”
Carson winked at the team then turned back to Rodney. “You have a nasty concussion, Rodney, and it gave your optic nerve a little bleed so we can’t give you narcotics until the concussion passes.”
“Be a bit late then,” Rodney said grumpily, settling back against the pillows with an arm resting across his eyes. “I get to eat at least, right? I almost went into hypoglycemic shock while we were running around on that planet, trying to escape the Wraith.”
“We did escape them,” John pointed out.
“Just barely,” Rodney muttered.
Carson waved them from the room. “And yes, you can eat, Rodney, but just some soup and jello for now till we’re sure the nausea is under control…”
John waited for the explosion but there was only a muffled whimper from the bed behind him. “See you tomorrow, Rodney,” he called.
“Not unless you bring real food,” Rodney called after him.
Jon turned back and grinned at him. “You got it,” he promised. “Real food it is.”