Summary: What if saving the city was just the beginning and not the end. For Rodney the nightmare was still ongoing. Will he let his friends help or let the ennemy destroy everything he has worked so hard to build...

Updated: 28 Jul 2013; Published: 22 Jul 2013

- Text Size +

Story Notes:
AU-version for the ending of the episodes 'The eye' and 'The storm'. Mentions of torture.

"Oh god, what have I done." Rodney dropped on his bed as his legs would no longer carry him and the full weight of the last couple of hours crashed down on him. With his right arm cradled against his chest his mind started to whirl through the memories of the past day. His body felt exhausted and his stomach clenched from the turmoil of all the emotions running through him.

Although there was joy and even a sense of achievement from having saved the city and seeing his friends saved from the threat of the Genii, it was completely outweighed by the shame and guilt he felt. He'd let all the people, he'd come to consider his friends, down. Although he'd managed to bring up the shield in time to save the city, he could hardly assign this achievement to his own contribution. He'd almost singlehandedly sabotaged it and caused it to fail. In fact, if it hadn't been for Sheppard, the city would've fallen to the Genii and he would've been a lot worse off. He could've been enslaved to that mad man Kolya for the rest of his life or even been killed !

The headache, these thoughts brought on, was effectively killing him. He brought his hand up to rub his gritting eyes. How he wished he could just get up, go to the infirmary and let Carson take care of him. But there was nothing for him to show Carson except for a few bruises and a small burn mark on his right forearm which still tingled. For all the times Carson's mother henning drove him up the walls, now he longed for the blessed relief some good drugs could bring him and the care his friend would normally bestow on him. That's if he could still call him a friend. Again, if it hadn't been for Sheppard, Carson would be dead right now cause yours truly would've raised the shield early at which time Carson and Teyla – God, Teyla had been along with Carson in the abandoned hallways of Atlantis coming to his rescue – would've died when the electricity generated by the lightning hitting the city coursed through the corridors.

Rodney moaned and let himself drop back on his mattress, which off coursed jugged the bruise on his back and made his breath hitch. What a mess! He should've known he would never be able to keep this appearance up. After their encounter with the energy creature and his last-minute save, or 'Hail Mary' as Sheppard liked to call it, the people had started to look at him with a different attitude. So different from how he'd been treated back on earth, where they'd actually shipped him to Russia to get rid of him. Here they thought he could be brave as he'd saved them time and time again with his bursts of last-minute courage/brilliance. He'd off course soaked himself in their approval and had enjoyed every minute of the building new friendship with Sheppard following this encounter. He should've told them the truth then. He should've told them, there and then, that he wasn't brave at all, that in fact Elizabeth had been right all along when she'd called him a coward when it had been proven that he could in fact manipulate the shield to stop at anytime! Now the cat was most definitely out of the bag. All of his friends had now witnessed his true nature, that of the coward he really was, a person who most definitely wasn't entitled or worthy of their friendship! He'd betrayed their trust in telling Kolya the plan to save the city from the impending megastorm. All it had taken were a few well-placed punches and that retched box and he'd squeaked like a little girl. He'd tried to tell them lies but Kolya had seen right through them. He knew he had a terrible poker face but it had almost seemed as if he could read his mind. Maybe Rodney had wanted him to extract the truth as to avoid any future punishment, yet another knife twisted in the backs of his friends. He should probably be grateful they hadn't thrown him in a cell charged with treason. Maybe the realization of what he'd done hadn't hit them yet and they would be there tomorrow morning, or should he say in a few hours as he could see a hint of the upcoming sun on the horizon, to cuff him and take him to the detention center. He could already visualize their disapproving faces and glares. With that last depressing thought his exhausted body finally succumbed to sleep which would prove to be pitiful and troublesome.

"Hey, did you see that spike?" The officer on guard duty in the control room asked the scientist manning the monitoring station, whom in turn adjusted his glasses whilst trying to interpret the readings the computer was relaying. "The city sensors are reading a small power surge. We need Dr. Mckay to come and take a look at this immediately." He'd already reached for his radio when the guard snatched his upcoming hand.
"Are you insane." The guard almost shouted towards the scientist "You heard Major Sheppard, he made it clear that he, Dr. Weir or Dr. Mckay shouldn't be disturbed unless the city was on the verge of destruction or apparition of a wraith armada ! There's no way we're waking any of them up over a small power surge. Can't you just, I don't know,..." the guard gestured at the scientist with his hands whilst glaring at him "solve it or maybe call in Dr. Zelenka to take a look at the readings."

The scientist looked offended but finally decided to follow the guards' advice and call for Dr. Zelenka instead of Dr. Mckay as the latter would most definitely chew him out and cast him through a space gate should the readings indeed turn out to be insignificant. With a last sigh and look at the readings, the scientist once again raised his hand for his radio and requested the presence of Dr. Zelenka in the control room.

A few minutes later an unhappy looking Dr. Zelenka came through the doors and headed up the stairs for the station at which the scientist, whom had disrupted his well-deserved rest, sat. Muttering some Czech curses under his breath, he tried to master some patience for the supposed scientist sitting at the station. "If this turns out to be mistake," Radek spoke whilst glaring openly at the scientist "I will gladly hand you to Dr. Mckay to do with as he pleases. Understand?" Not giving the scientist the time to even start his defense, he gestured for him to move out of the seat. With a small sigh he turned toward the screen to look for the anomaly reported to him at 7:00 AM Atlantis time.

Radek tried to eradicate the lack of sleep still lingering and concentrated on the rows of figures showing on the monitor. Once he saw the reason for the scientists' concern he immediately focused as the readings where indeed troublesome. No one was in immediate danger but anything showing up on the Atlantis scanners could be a problem, even as the energy readings were on the low side. He was just about to try and determine the source of the strange readings when they disappeared.

Rodney woke up gasping for air. The words "No please, stop..." were still on his lips and the cruel words of Kolya were still lingering in his ears. Looking wildly in his sunlit quarters he tried to shake the tremors racking his body in the aftermath of his nightmare. Turning to his alarm clock, he sighed in realization that he'd only slept 2 measly hours. His back still throbbed with pain and his body felt twice as heavy with lack of sleep, but after the nightmare he just had, there was no way in hell he was lying back down. With grim determination he turned to his bathroom to take a shower.

Looking at the mirror he let another sigh escape his lips. He looked like death warmed over. His hair was sticking in every direction, his face looked pale with big bags under his eyes from lack of sleep. Thankfully Kolya hadn't hit him in the face so there were no apparent signs of the beating he'd taken, but looking in the mirror again he could see his heavy conscience in his eyes, his normally vibrant blue eyes were dark and dulled. Turning away from his own reflection and the message he saw there, he took on the task of getting out of his uniform. When he'd gotten to his quarters earlier on, he'd been so exhausted he hadn't even undressed. He grabbed his shirt and started pulling it over his head and winced when the movement caused several muscles in his back to twitch. With a hiss he managed to pull the shirt over his head and let it drop to the floor. His eyes were immediately drawn to the 2 small burn marks on his inner wrist. Those 2 little marks were all there was to show for his run in with Kolya. Rubbing his thumb carefully over them all the memories of the last 24 hours, the guilt and the disgust he felt for himself, came crashing down again. His stomach revolted and the few bites of the power bar he'd managed to swallow prior to returning to his quarters found their way out. After dry heaving for a few minutes he finally managed to stand up and turn the showers on. He rinsed his mouth a few times with some water from the sink, stepped in the shower water and leaned against the nearby wall.

At the first touch of the water on his skin, he flinched. His whole body felt oversensitive and the pressurized water almost felt like a beating on its own. Withstanding the urge to run, he just stood there until he didn't feel like every nerve ending was on fire. He shut the water off and dried himself off. Every rub of the towel sent stings across his body. Ignoring everything, he just continued dressing. As he couldn't stand a minute longer in his quarters pondering the events that had passed, he decided to go to work. That would at least keep his mind occupied. The flood had, after all, undoubtingly added numerous tasks to his already impressive work load.

He opened the doors to his quarters, half expecting to see guards posted at his door to escort him to the cells as soon as he left, and felt a flood of relief flowing through him as soon as he realized that the corridor was mercifully empty. With this small reprieve, he made his way to the commissionary first as there wouldn't be a lot of people yet at this hour. Most expedition members had come back from their adventure off world around 02:30 AM where they'd immediately heard the whispers of a thwarted Genii invasion and, no doubt, the first rumors of his own failure. After seeing the first group come through the wormhole he'd retreated to his lab to make sure there were no impending disasters in the making. 2 hours later he'd walked back to his quarters with his head held down to discourage anyone to come up and talk to him but mostly because he couldn't meet anyone's eyes. He was too afraid of what he could see in them. Luckily the corridors to his lab were mostly void of people. Just in front of the lab doors his step faltered. After one last inhale, he thought the doors open.

At first he thought he had the room to himself until he spotted Radek in his corner of the lab. Squaring his shoulders, bolstering all the false bravado he could muster, he stepped forward. Years of hiding himself and withstanding various degrees of bullies had taught him to put up a front that could throw off almost anyone. Only in Atlantis had a few managed to worm themselves underneath his shields. Elizabeth, Teyla, Carson and even Radek could read him fairly well, but none as John could. With that last thought he headed for his own corner of the lab without really acknowledging the other scientist's presence. Whilst his computer was booting up, he headed for the coffeemaker and was extremely grateful to notice that Radek had thought of making a fresh pot. Filling his cup he sniffed the familiar sent of fresh coffee and slowly sipped his cup, closing his eyes at the divine taste. He immediately refilled his cup and headed for his desk. Viewing the various damage reports which had started to flood his mailbox, he sat down heavily in his desk chair and rubbed his eyes trying to work out the lack of sleep.

As if a sign had been given, Radek suddenly addressed him and started to recount a problem which had apparently warranted Zelenka's attention this morning, which in turn explained his presence in the still abandoned lab. But Rodney was only listening with one ear, picked up his work kit, quickly scrolled through his mails and picked a reparation route which would take him to the far ought regions of the inhabited part of the city. He quickly closed his laptop and added it to his bag. "I'm sure you can locate the problem and, If need be, assign one of the IT techs to try and track it down." With a last "The labs are all yours today." and "Don't disturb me unless the city's sinking." he quickly strolled out of the labs on route for his first reparation. He never even noticed the flabbergasted look Zelenka was giving him at his unconventional reply and listless snark.

John woke up as usual with his head half beside the pillow, lying on his chest, sprawled all over his bed. Turning his head to glimpse at his alarm clock on the night stand, he noticed that the sun outside was shining bright and standing high in the sky, which would concur with his alarm clock stating it was 2:00 PM. He'd slept for almost 12 hours straight. Stretching, he could feel muscles cramping and bones shifting back into place. He scooted to the edge of his cot and rubbed his face. A new day ahead. He got up and walked into his bathroom for a quick shower and was soon headed for the cafeteria for breakfast. Or should he say a late lunch, he smirked at the thought. Entering the room he noticed that there were only a few people present. As the lunch rush hour had already passed he was able to quickly grab some sandwiches and made his way over to the seating area. Looking around for a place to sit, he noticed Elizabeth and Carson sitting at one of the tables. The decision quickly taken, he headed over and put down his tray. They both looked up and he was glad to notice that they looked a lot better than they had last night. Elizabeth had looked dead on her feet when he'd last seen her, her face and eyes portraying both lingering fear and stress, whereas Carson's face had been pinched from the pain undoubtingly radiating from his head wound and the accompanying concussion. They both smiled at him when he settled in his chair.

"How are you both doing?"
Elizabeth seemed to grind it over for a second before answering "Better now that I'm finally warm again and had a good night's sleep."
Carson nodded "Aye lass, indeed. Although my head still feels as if someone cracked it open with a nutcracker."
John couldn't hold back his smile at the description of the Scot "Common doc, it was just a little hit to the head. Here I thought that hardheaded skull of yours would be able to easily withstand a little nut cracking." With that last jibe John was al out smirking at Carson.
"Laugh all you want Major, see if I try to make you comfortable the next time you come into my infirmary after pissing of some alien tribes' leader."
Putting his hands up in fake surrender "Common Carson, I was joking off course." His last statement was off course emphasized by the grin plastering on his face. He could see that Elizabeth was also trying to hold back a smile and he felt incredibly grateful that they'd all come out of this nightmare mostly unharmed and the city wasn't much more worse for wear. He could still clearly remember his despair when he heard the gun shot roaming through the city towers after his conversation with Kolya, the sharp stab around his heart when he realized that Elizabeth had been killed. Something must've shown on his face because he suddenly felt a little squeeze on his hand. Looking up from where he'd been staring, he saw that Elizabeth looked a little worried and Carson looked pensive. Forcing the thoughts at what could've or might've been out, he started unwrapping his lunch and took a bite after casting a reassuring look at both of his friends. Seemingly reassured, they all dug back into their lunch trays.

Trying to fit his broad shoulders in the section of wall where there seemed to be a disruption in the power flow wasn't easy for someone the size of Rodney. More so, he had to distract himself from the small space he was working in because he had enough to worry about without letting his claustrophobia mingle with the rest. "Wide open spaces, clear blue skies, green pastures, ...." Finishing up the last of the calibrations after replacing one of the broken crystals, he carefully closed off the wall panel and sat back against it. His hands had started to shake over the last few minutes, a clear tell sign that his blood sugar had dropped. Unwrapping a power bar and taking a bite, he leaned back and let his tired head rest for a few minutes. Unaware that he'd started to drift off, he was suddenly awoken by a frantic talking Zelenka in his ear. Still coming back from the doze in which he had, yet again, started dreaming of what happened only the day before, he snapped angrily in his radio "Zelenka, if you can't even deal with a small power fluctuation on your own, I'm going to really start doubting your mental capabilities. Take care of it and don't bother me with this again !"
With that final comment he shut his radio back off and took it out of his ear. With a little more force than Rodney had intended, he let his head fall back against the wall. "Ow.... idiot" Sighing he got up and glanced at his watch. Apparently his little nap had taken almost an hour, which meant that he was now even more behind on all the repairs he had to do. He checked his datapad for the next stop on his reparation route, and took off.

Sheppard walked in the main lab in search for Rodney and had tried to exit without anyone noticing but that had been without counting on Zelenka. Radek had glanced off his screen, taken one look at him and had started ranting at him about his impossible boss, Sheppard's team member, and how he was the most infuriating person he'd ever met. Then Radek had trailed of in Czech and John had lost trail of the conversation. Any hope of him getting back out of the lab at that moment had been shot. When Radek finally stopped muttering, he'd trailed him back to his desk and showed him the energy readings they'd registered this morning and again not even an hour ago. The mysterious readings had stopped both times before Radek had actually been able to get a fix on their location or the origin of the energy increase. "Have you felt anything through the city Major?"

Thinking back to those points in time he could only shake his head. "Zelenka, are these reading dangerous because otherwise we should..." before he could finish his sentence, Radek had waved him off.
"The readings are rather small but anything showing up on the sensors like this is troublesome. It is not because they are fine now that they may not become dangerous." With that last statement Radek had taken off his glasses and was cleaning them lost in thought.
"What did Rodney have to say of them?" The words had just left his mouth and Zelenka had started muttering again. The only words he could understand were arrogant, ass and ego, which off course made Sheppard laugh because that described his scientist to the letter. Taking off, as Zelenka had waved him off, he tried raising Mckay through the radio but without luck. He was probably engrossed in some kind of problem. He would undoubtingly catch him at dinner in a few hours.

The afternoon passed fast and uneventful as he took stock with his XO of the damages and equipment losses taken at the hands of the Genii and the storm. When his wayward scientist didn't show for dinner he didn't even think about it much as Teyla and Ford were there to hold him company.

Dragging his exhausted body through the empty halls of Atlantis, Rodney couldn't help but be glad that he didn't encounter anybody. He felt like crap and he was sure that he showed it. He would have to try and get some rest tonight if he had any hopes of being up for work tomorrow. Picking an MRE out of his stash, he sat down and ate in silence. But the food tasted like sawdust and he stopped not even halfway through. A quick brush of his teeth and he was quickly dozing off to sleep.

Radek was going insane. The evading energy reading kept popping up at random intervals and varying strengths. Each time he got a little closer to the destination but he hadn't been able to determine the source yet and it was driving him šílený. When the alarm on his computer indicated for the fifth time tonight that an energy surge had been recorded, he rubbed his head which off course made his hair stand out in all directions, and called for Sheppard via the radio.

"This better be important." sounded a tired Sheppard.
"I'm sorry to disturb you Major, but I require your presence at the lab. I've registered 5 more power surges and am getting worried."
Resolving himself to getting up, he replied "I'll be there in 10 minutes."
"Thank you Major."
Sheppard yanked his trousers from his arm chair, pulled his sweatshirt on while trying to stifle a yawn and rubbed his hands through his hair trying to tame them, which off course only made it worse. Making his way to the labs, he wondered what these power surges meant. Coming around the last corner, he quickly entered the labs. "Major, good you're here, I've been trying to find the origin of the energy spikes." Nodding, Sheppard acknowledged their conversation earlier that afternoon. "While I've been unable to pinpoint them, I've gone over the logs once more and have stumbled over a worrying fact. I've traced the first spike registered by the city and you're not going to like it !" Zelenka stopped there and Sheppard had to bite his tong not to grab the scientist and urge him to go on. Apparently some of his irritation must've bled through as Zelenka continued suddenly "Major the readings first started the day before yesterday at approximately 6:00 PM." His sleepy brain had trouble placing this fact. But Zelenka kept watching him expectantly as if that statement should've set off some serious alarm bells. The day before yesterday 6:00 PM.... and suddenly it dawned on him and he almost slapped himself for not making the connection immediately.
"Radek, you mean to tell me that this started when the Genii had control of the city?"
Zelenka nodded but John's brain had already started going over the possibilities – an intruder, some kind of emitter, even a bomb could be possible - when Radek's computer started buzzing Radek turned immediately and started tapping at his computer.
"This is the 6th one so far this night alone. I cannot distinguish a pattern."
"Look I'm going to wake up Rodney, you fill in Dr. Weir about what has been going on and our assumptions about the Genii." He would hold off on his own ideas till they had a clearer picture off what the hell was going on. "Tell Elizabeth I'll meet her in her office with Rodney in half an hour." And with those last words he quickly set off for Rodney's quarters.

He felt like his body was on fire. His muscles spasmed as the electricity coursed through his body. He was unable to hold back his cries of agony as the box pressed to his forearm sent flames of pain through his entire body. When Kolya eased the pressure from his wrist and the electricity faded, he could hardly hold up his weight anymore. Forcing Rodney to look at him by grabbing his chin and lifting his head, he caught the glimpse of insanity in the other man's eyes. Kolya was enjoying this. "You know doctor, I've had much stronger men then you break at my hand." At first Rodney had tried to deny any such plan existed but Kolya wasn't buying it. He tried to lie but Kolya wouldn't have any of it. After what seemed an eternity but what was probably only closer to half an hour, he was pleading under his breath for him to stop. "I'll ask you one more time: what's the plan to save the city?" He couldn't, his friends, Atlantis was counting on him, and so he shook his head. Kolya stepped forward, reaching for his arm once more "Such a shame doctor, I tried asking nicely." Rodney had to hold back the sarcastic response just lying on the tip of his tong but somehow he managed to hold back. Because antagonizing the man who was torturing him wasn't a good idea. Although that hadn't held him back from making some wise ass remarks at the beginning of their little 'discussion'. Watching the box come closer, he tensed and once more attempted to break free from the two men holding him in place but to no avail. He was too weak to put up a real fight anymore. When he felt the connection to his arm, he immediately went ridged as the electricity coursed through his entire body and he fought to breathe as it seemed his lungs would no longer collaborate and he started to panic even more. His brain desperately sought a way out of this nightmare but he just couldn't concentrate. When Kolya finally withdrew the box from his arm, he collapsed and his guards were the only thing holding him up anymore. "Are you ready to answer my question now doctor?" All he could do was nod because he couldn't take anymore and he didn't trust his voice to form the word. Kolya's harsh laugh and the words "I knew you were a coward, good doctor, no need to try and hide it" cut through him like a knife. But while he lowered his eyes to the floor he opened his mouth and explained the plan to save Atlantis. Knowing Sheppard was out there trying to save them all just made his head throb in time with the muscles in his body still spasming from his last connection with the box. The pounding just wouldn't stop and he felt unconsciousness tugging at him.

Shooting up from his bed, his felt himself pant for air and shiver, as the sweat covering his torso cooled from the rush of movement he created. He rubbed his head trying to calm the pounding and the lingering panic when he suddenly realized that the pounding wasn't just in his head but that there was actually someone standing outside his quarters trying to get his attention. Reaching out for his shirt and tugging it on, he stumbled for the door and palmed the release. On the other side of it stood a frantic looking Sheppard with one hand still raised as if trying to knock at his door again. Both men were taken back a second and Rodney couldn't help gazing at Sheppard. He seemed to have just gotten dragged out of bed, with his hair ruffled and a rumpled sweatshirt covering his torso. He longed to reach out his hand and brush through his hair and to lean in to Sheppard and let John hold him for a few minutes as he was still riling from his nightmares.

Rodney had never shown his interest in Sheppard as he knew John was straight. It's not like he stood a chance in hell on a normal day. The man could probably choose from half the population in the Pegasus galaxy, both male and female. He'd never made a move on Sheppard or shown any interest aside from friendship and had resided to being happy with what he got. And now, with all that had happened, he would be lucky if he could still count on Sheppard as a friend. He wanted desperately to hold on to the small bit he did have. Trying to shake of his melancholia, he realized he'd been staring and with a sense of foreboding he looked back up and braced himself for the storm to come!

John was taken by surprise by Mckay's sudden appearance. He'd been trying to wake him for over 5 minutes now, frantically pounding on his door when Mckay hadn't answered his radio or the chime. Now that the doors to his quarters were finally open he frowned upon his friend's appearance. He looked sweaty, ruffled and exhausted. John immediately felt guilty for disturbing his sleep when the other man seemed to need it so much. Trying not to show his worry for the other man he quickly said, maybe harsher then he'd meant "We need you Mckay, Radek has been reading some power surges which have become increasingly more worrisome. Elizabeth's expecting us in her office in..." he glanced at his watch "...15 minutes now." Seeing the stubborn reaction already forming on the scientists face he quickly added. "We think the Genii are involved somehow." The reaction to those words was beyond comprehension. Rodney's face seemed to crumble one moment and became stone the next. His eyes, which always showed his emotions, seemed to darken and shuttered close. Rodney's words threw him off as well. The "I'll get dressed and be out in five minutes" were spoken with an ice cold tone. Before he could even reply the doors shut close in front of him.

Cursing himself as he realized that maybe not everyone was handling thing as well as he'd thought, he also realized that he hadn't seen the scientist at all since securing the gate room after the Genii invasion. That could've come off as not caring to Rodney, he started looking for the right words to say when Rodney would come back out, but was cut short when the doors swooshed open and a fully clothed Mckay stepped back out. Just a short look at him ensured that John was going to have to find a way to apologize for his careless behavior, but right now he had to run after said scientist as he'd quickly marched off heading for Elizabeth's office. John would just have to find a way, after this latest crises was over, to put things right between them again.

Rodney had used the few minutes separated from Sheppard to recompose himself. Right after he'd closed the bulk heads, he had needed to rest his weight against them at the pain coursing through his heart. The irritated look on Sheppard's face and the grating tone of voice had bashed in all his hopes. He'd avoided just about everyone over the last day, but mostly Sheppard as he'd been scared of his reaction to the events that had taken place. He'd started hoping again, when at the end of the day nobody had come to arrest him or yell at him, that maybe it wouldn't be as bad and that his friends would be able to find it in their hearts to forgive him, but how John had stood outside his quarters had clarified everything. It looked like he couldn't even stand to be in the same building with him and, oh lord, how John had spoken to him. The teasing but friendly manner in which Sheppard had always addressed him had been completely lacking. Straightening from the doors, he quickly grabbed his uniform and dressed while searching for some hidden inner strength to hide the many cracks in his failing armor. Coming up short, he summoned the old Rodney Mckay, the one who couldn't care less about how people thought about him. Feeling frail but resolved, he stepped out and headed, without as much as acknowledging Sheppard's existence, to Dr. Weirs office. Good that was what he needed to do, no more Elizabeth of Sheppard, only Dr. Weir and Colonel.

As they both walked silently toward the gate room, Rodney tapped at the datapad which he'd thankfully grabbed on his way out of his quarters. Finding traces of Radek's mysterious energy spikes in the logs of the city internal sensors, he let himself get lost in his mind.

Noting the silent treatment and the walls Rodney had pulled up, John tried to find some words to break through them, but al to soon Elizabeth's office doomed in front of them.

Entering without knocking, as Elizabeth had clearly been waiting for them and had seen them walk up the stairs, they both settled in the chairs in front of her desk. She frowned immediately as she noticed Rodney's strange behavior. Normally he would've been ranting or talking about his findings as soon as he'd passed her office doors and would've been pacing the office from side to side explaining and waving his hands all over the place. Now, he just sat there silently and seemingly completely enthralled by what his pad was showing him. Elizabeth managed to school her features to a more neutral expression and cleared her throat. The attempt to gain Rodney's attention had worked as he lost all interest in the readings and his head shot up as if someone had called "Wraith". Elizabeth eyes widened momentarily in surprise at what she apparently saw in Rodney's face but quickly hid it as all those years of experience reasserted themselves.

Anticipating all of her questions, Rodney started explaining in a very controlled manor and with a restrained voice, nothing at all what they were used from their CSO and friend, what had been going on exactly and the possible extent of the readings. He wasn't even surprised to note that Mckay had been able to absorb everything that had been going on with only 5 minutes of prodding at his datapad. His line of thinking was abruptly cut off when Mckay rose from his seat and promised to go to the main lab to meet Zelenka immediately and examine it in more detail. He would get back to them as soon he had any news but what shocked him more were his leaving words. "Dr. Weir." With a nod Mckay had turned and fled the office. Mckay always used Elizabeth's first name when addressing her, especially when they were talking amongst the 3 of them. Elizabeth had off course noticed. Nothing got by her and she looked at him with a wordless question as she raised her eyebrows in surprise at Mckay's words.

"I'll fix it, he...." and he trailed off as he didn't know exactly what was wrong, but something was most definitely wrong and he needed to fix it. He wanted his friend back, the arrogant but faithful friend he'd gotten to know and appreciate since their time in Atlantis. Maybe Elizabeth could help him. "Is there anything I need to know about what happened with Kolya and his men?"
Elizabeth looked startled at his question and he realized that it had come somewhat out of the blue. "No, I don't think so, most of it you know already. The whole experience was .... stressful. Kolya was very aggressive and as time went on, I really started to believe that it was going to be the end for all of us." She looked lost in memories as the words left her mouth.
Coming up from his slouch he placed his hands on his knees. "So you were with Mckay at all times? Well then..." and Elizabeth interrupted him as if suddenly realizing something.
"No I wasn't, at one point Kolya ordered Sora and me to the infirmary for the medicines and to retrieve the wraith device."
Sitting up in alarm Sheppard asked urgently "How long were you gone for? Did he tell you anything afterwards? Did he look hurt?" the questions all stumbled over in each other as his mind went over this new information.
Elizabeth had that lost look on her face again "We were gone maybe half an hour...."
Crap, a lot could happen in that time. "How did he look to you when you got back in the gate room?" What did that sick basterd Kolya do with Mckay. All of his protective instincts were screaming at him to find out, no one messed with his family, especially not with Mckay. Why especially not Mckay was something John didn't want to linger on right now. His thoughts were interrupted when Elizabeth suddenly tensed and her eyes shot open, and his heart almost clenched at the mere thought of what could have Elizabeth react that way.
"After...When I returned.... Kolya had the plan to save the city."

His mind was racing when, what she was implying, hit him. "Are you ... you think..." Unable to pronounce the words and barely withholding the growl in his throat, he shot up from his seat and headed for the labs.
"John, wait !"
Turning back to face Elizabeth he could tell that she was shocked at their discovery and worried for their friend. "Don't go barging in there all angry and questioning."
He was a little hurt by her words but acknowledged deep down that if he was to be any help, he needed to use his head. With a short nod he left Elizabeth and headed for his office instead.

He didn't use it often but he needed his computer. He should be able to access the security feeds from the gate room from there. He was going to find out what had happened and if his suspicions were proven right he was going to hunt that piece of shit Kolya down. If he was still alive, he was going to regret the day he was born and the day he decided to mess with John Sheppard's family!

After listening to Zelenka's update on all the events he'd already outlined from his datapad, they went through his efforts of tracking the treacherous energy reading down. Each time the limited timeframe, in which the energy signature was strong enough to be picked up by the internal sensors, had been too short to track it down. After agreeing upon writing a program to backtrack the readings, they both went to their respective desks and went to work. The thought of another Genii operative or contraption made him queasy but he quickly shut the non-productive thought out, just as he hadn't allowed himself to ponder on his meeting earlier with Elizabeth and Sheppard. Steering his mind away from the dangerous path it had gone on, he sighed and concentrated on the program he was trying to devise.

Finding the desired security footage had proven a little more difficult which shouldn't have surprised him as Sergeant Bates was very strict as to who should have access to these files and had therefore hidden them well. Luckily, as unscheduled head of the military branch of this operation, his password quickly opened the database and after clicking around a bit he found what he was looking for.

His stomach clenched and his breath caught as anger surged through him. He hoped to god that what he was going to view wouldn't be as bad as he could envision. And the fact that Rodney was still walking and talking, except of course to him, should reassure him but Rodney's reaction earlier seemed to contradict this. Drawing in a deep breath he opened the file and started fast forwarding till the time stamp in the right top corner indicated the right time slot and indeed, on his screen, the Genii had just walked through the gate disguised as refugees requiring assistance. As the events unraveled his posture grew rigid and his anger surged.

Two of his men killed because they'd longed to provide assistance to the incoming injured refugees, then Kolya standing there in HIS city looking as if he owned the place, coming to the moment where Kolya sent Elizabeth and Sora away. At that point he had tensed even further in anticipation and he was almost glad the security feed didn't register sound as one of Kolya's goons hit Mckay in the stomach. Clenching his fists and digging his nails in his palms he watched as Kolya instructed his men to restrain Mckay. The satisfied look on Kolya's face, as he put in a few punches himself when Mckay was unable to defend himself or even curl up, made him growl and his stomach churn in sympathy.

When Mckay seemed to regain some composure, he snarled something at Kolya and the man's look changed to unhappy and then to fury. He held his breath when the military commander reached for his vest and Sheppard released it as he took a square box out of his pocket. Thank god for small favors, it wasn't a gun or knife. Mckay's face seemed to crumble as Kolya talked and the bravado there succumbed to a fearful look. Trying to decipher what was so threatening about the box to warrant such a reaction from Mckay, he froze one of the frames and squinted his eyes to get a better look at the box.

It had 2 small antennas sticking out front and a few buttons on top. The design looked vaguely familiar and then it hit him, the box looked like an ancient gadget. This didn't bode well as ancient gadgets could go both ways and looking at the man handling the instrument he could guess in which direction it would lead. Reluctantly he pressed the play button once more. He watched as Kolya stepped closed to Mckay and, with a small nod of his head, his men held out his right arm. Kolya unstrapped his knife and looked pleased at the fearful gaze it drew from Rodney. He quickly cut at Mckay's sleeve until his forearm was bare. Mckay started struggling again once the knife was out of skin contact, which earned him a few more punches to the ribs until he stopped struggling and the man on his right once more grabbed his wrist and offered the arm to Kolya. He brought the box up to the skin of Rodney's inner forearm just a few inches above his wrist and pressed one of the buttons. The effect was immediate. Rodney's face went from surprise to fear, to pain in only a few seconds. His whole body tensed and trembled as a current raced through him. After a few unending seconds Kolya withdrew the box from his arms and he could see Rodney trying to recover from the last spasms wrecking his body. Kolya asked him a question but Rodney just looked recalcitrant and shook his head forcefully. Kolya just closed the distance between the box and Mckay's skin and Rodney was shaking again, screaming in agony.

John didn't even know where to look anymore, he just wanted to destroy something, someone. This had happened under his watch, but all he could do for Rodney now was finish this, go look for his friend and offer what little comfort he could or would be allowed. The torture continued with Kolya looking exhilarated at Rodney's reactions, he tweaked the command on his box twice. He could see Rodney's resolve weaken as pain etched in his face and his body spasmed until he finally gave in, nodded at Kolya's question and dropped his head. By the way his shoulders slumped and the way he just radiated guilt he could guess this was the moment he'd spilled the plan to the Genii. He noted that the entire experience had only taken half an hour but he was just glad this part was over and hoped that this had been the worst of it.

As time passed, he noted absently that the Genii were starting to drift over the gate room and were trying to access the commands. This must've been when they'd tried tracking him through the internal sensors. But he couldn't concentrate on any of it as his focus was fixed on Mckay. After the guards had released him, he'd slumped to the floor, unable to sustain his own weight. He could see several spasms course through him but bit by bit Rodney started to pick himself back up. By the time Elizabeth returned, Mckay almost seemed his abrasive self again. But that changed quickly as Kolya was talking in a radio and suddenly pointed his gun at Elizabeth. Realizing that Kolya was talking to him at that point, after he'd hid the C4 the Genii were after, he watched as Mckay stepped in front of Elizabeth and argued with Kolya as the panic almost radiated of him. He'd never been more proud of Mckay then at that moment. Both people on screen flinched when Kolya shot his gun at the ceiling, and he couldn't restrain a similar flinch when he went back in time and could feel the despair nagging at him. The rest of the footage rolled by and for, what he could tell, nothing else had happened that he didn't already know about. Unfortunately he hadn't found any information either off what was currently going on in their city with the evasive energy signature.

Closing his computer, he took a moment to find his composure and went to find his friend. They were going to have a serious conversation about this and once he'd reassured Mckay and comforted him, he was going emphasize that he was never ever... EVER going to hide something like this from them again. He should've been sitting in Carson's infirmary the moment the city was free once again instead of roaming about the labs. God only knew what kind of charge that box packed or what damage had been done. Determined, Sheppard got up and strode towards the labs, where he was sure Mckay would still be.

They'd been at it for an hour or so and, after some 'friendly' discussion, had an idea which was currently uploading to the mainframe. If they were correct, the system would finally tell them the locations where the energy surges had been registered on the sensors. Radek had just left to bring them back some breakfast when the computer indicated the upload complete and the results started pouring in. Examining the data on his screen, his mind started looking for connections and started integrating each new peace of the puzzle in the whole picture. As the last of the information displayed on the screen, Rodney reviewed the locations and time stamps. The nagging feeling at the bottom of his stomach flared when his mind finally connected all the dots. When realization hit he turned and ran out of the lab as if Atlantis was on fire.

Entering the corridor where the lab was situated, he watched Zelenka arrive carrying breakfast and he swore to himself that he would let Rodney eat before confronting him about what happened. God only knew if the scientist had been eating these last few days with all the stress starting a day before the Genii occupation when they'd realizing what was heading their way.

Trying to look confident and his usual casual self they entered the lab together and stopped in their tracks when they found it empty. Frowning, the scientist put his loaded tray down on a nearby empty lab bench and walked forward. They reached Rodney's station and he immediately concentrated on the information mentioned on the screen. In the meanwhile, John tried to raise Mckay on the radio but quickly spotted his radio discarded next to his computer. "The program worked !" Zelenka exclaimed suddenly.
Both worried and curious he asked. "What does it tell you?" Sheppard looked expectantly at the entrance of the lab as if Rodney would come in any moment to answer his question, but the doorway remained uncharacteristically void. Where was Rodney, goddamit !
"All the locations where the energy surges have been reported by internal sensors."
Immediately intrigued he glanced over the results. Pointing at a few identical locations throughout the log, he asked "Hey, can you pinpoint this location on the map? Maybe it'll tell us where Rodney went."
Zelenka immediately called up some city wide schematics and asked the computer to pinpoint the location reported. The screen shifted throughout the city until they indicated some quarters not far from the lab and the central tower. Zelenka went still beside him and alarmed by his reaction he began to search his brain for the occupant of those quarters and stilled when realization dawned on him: those were Rodney's quarters !!!!
"Okay, what the hell is going on here?" He'd just voiced the question when another computer in the room pinged. Zelenka raced towards it and pushed up his sliding glasses. "Another power surge."
"Major, I ...."
"Zelenka, we don't have time for this! I'm aware you don't have all the facts right now, but I need to find Rodney and get to the bottom of this immediately. I'm going to check his quarters. Try and pinpoint this latest surge. I'm willing to bet that we'll find Rodney there." The last words still echoing whilst he erupted in a run straight for Mckay's quarters. Arriving there, he used his magic gene to force the doors open, but the empty quarters confirmed his suspicion. "Rodney, where are you?" he desperately wondered.

How... how was this possible and, more importantly, was did it mean? He was responsible for the power surges. Was he possessed, brain washed, ... how could he be emitting energy without him knowing. His mind was racing in a thousand different directions at once, trying to understand. The Genii must've done something to him, but to what end? Were the power surges going to grow until they became uncontrollable and he.... what.... exploded? Moaning he grabbed his head, his brain spewing questions he couldn't possibly know the answers to.

With a snap his head shot up. Would they think he betrayed them, siding with the Genii to force them out of Atlantis or sabotaging the expedition. They would want answers, answers he didn't have. Shivering, he considered the question how far they would go to get their answers. Where they any better than Kolya and the Genii? Shivering at his train of thought he quickly forced his mind down another path. He huddled in a corner of this abandoned lab and slumped to the floor. He needed to think and get moving. Zelenka would realize the implications of the readings and inform Elizabeth and Sheppard. Zelenka might be able to trace him as he had no idea what he did that triggered the energy readings as they were apparently not constant. They would come looking for him and the thought sent another shiver through his body.

"Common Mckay, use that big brain of yours and come up with a plan!" But his mind came up blank. A small voice at the back of his head whispered to call Sheppard or Carson, to trust them with this, they would help him. And, if it had been a week ago, he would've, but now everything seemed in ruins and he wrapped his arms tightly around his waist and winced when he pressed on several bruises. He drew up his legs against his chest, closed his eyes and rested his head on his knees whilst panic coursed through him.

Tapping his earpiece impatiently "Radek, have you been able to..." but he was soon interrupted by Elizabeth.
"Major, Dr. Zelenka has informed me about the situation with Dr. Mckay. Have you been able to locate him?"
Trying to ignore his irritation at the interruption "No, no sign of him here. Radek, we need the location of this last energy spike NOW !"
"I'm trying Major, system is triangulating, but if signal stops transmitting like last times, I will not be able to give you live data."
"Ok Zelenka, I understand, I'm coming back to your location."
"Wait Major, I have a fix on power surge. Control tower, third floor down, an abandoned lab. It should be the 6th room on your left if you take the central stairs."

Running, he asked Carson to meet him there but to wait outside. Panting as he lept down the stairs he heard Elizabeth's gentle "Major, bring him back safely" in his ear.
Arriving in the corridor he quickly counted the doors and asked Atlantis to open the right one for him, which she willingly obliged. He vaguely heard Zelenka say that the energy spike had resided again. Refusing to draw his weapon he stood in the doorway and searched the room for his missing friend.

Hearing the doors swoosh open and someone enter, his heart beat picked up and he tensed. Looking up, he found Sheppard standing at the lab entrance with a strange look on his face, slightly out of breath and searching the room. Although his panic had resided. Just John's presence in the room made something inside unclench but he still tensed and pressed himself against the wall in a feeble attempt to remain undetected. Unsuccessful, of course, as he could literally feel the moment Sheppard's eyes focused on him.

"Rodney" Sheppard almost took a step forward when he found the one he was desperately looking for, but froze when Rodney tensed even more, which seemed almost impossible as he was already coiled up tight as if the slightest movement would set him off. Then Rodney looked up and the deer caught in the headlight look was nothing compared to the one on Rodney's face. Terror was clearly etched upon it and fear made his blue eyes shine bright in the dark lab corner. He could see from this distance that Rodney was steadily working himself up to a panic attack of massive proportions.

Suddenly his radio sprung to life and Zelenka's voice rang clearly in his ear "Major, what's your situation, the last energy was spiking higher than any of the others! Have you found Rodney?" Deciding to ignore Zelenka for now, he tapped his earpiece 3 times, the telltale sign for radio silence, and concentrated on Rodney again. Rodney, who hadn't moved an inch or spoken up at all since his arrival. His eyes were the only thing moving as they followed all his movements carefully.

Speaking quietly and making sure to keep a soothing tone he broke the silence "Rodney, you had us all worried when you disappeared from the lab. What's up buddy, are you okay?" Rodney didn't reply or move but it seemed as if some of the dread awful tension left his body.
"Do you mind if I join you over there?" That was clearly the wrong thing to say because his body went rigid again. Trying to sooth it out again "Don't worry, I won't do anything you don't want. I think I'm just going to sit down a bit, at least If you don't mind sharing this place with me for a little while." Rodney slightly turned his head to the side as if he didn't know what to make of Sheppard's behavior.

The reaction was encouraging but the lack of vocal input, for which Mckay was known, was still alarming. "You're being awfully quiet over there, the cat got your tong?" and he saw a small burst of fire in Rodney eyes which eased some of his own anxiety. The Mckay he knew was still in there, he just needed to coax him out. And if there was one thing he was really good at it was at getting Rodney riled up !

"Come on Mckay, I'm starting to feel bored over here. Why are you hiding down here?" Rodney's mouth moved but no sound emerged, but he was clearly on the right path. Going for honesty and the short pain he admitted "I watched the security footage from the gate room. I know what you went through at the hands of Kolya." He watched Mckay flinch and turn his head away from him.

Sheppard crawled a few feet in Rodney's direction when he heard a small sound 'I.... he .... You....' The hesitant tone was so unlike Mckay that his anger at Kolya flared again. This was all his fault. Rodney had turned his head back in John's direction and seemed to tense again when he read the other man's anger thinking it was directed at him. Putting it back under lock and key, Sheppard knew he needed to be honest with Rodney if he wanted to get him out of here.

"I kind of feel insulted that you didn't come to me with this? Did you think you couldn't trust me? Have I done something to make you believe that?" and got a snort in return.
"I don't think you watched the complete tape because if you had.... you wouldn't be here." He had to strain to hear that last part.
"I don't understand, I'm your friend Rodney. I'll always come looking for you." He saw Rodney swallow hard at those words and his bright eyes began to shine from unshed tears. And it dawned on him there and then. Rodney thought they were mad at him for succumbing to the torture. Did he actually believe they would turn their backs on him? He knew Rodney could be abrasive and difficult to understand, which made it difficult for people to relate to him and be friends with him. But since arriving on Atlantis, Rodney had changed for the better and he could count on several people here: him, Elizabeth, Carson, Teyla, Ford, Zelenka for sure and probably many others. How could he make Rodney understand what he meant to them and to him. He couldn't hold back the impulse to touch Rodney, to comfort him, any more so he reached out for his arm.

Rodney, unaware of the other man's thoughts was trying to fight of the tears that threatened to overflow from his eyes and the crop in his throat following the softly spoken words and promise. Maybe he'd misread John, maybe everything was going to be OK. Turning around to tell John how he'd longed for the meaning in his words but had been so afraid to hope for them, that it would be different this time around. Those words froze on his lips when he saw a hand coming up to reach his right forearm and he immediately flashed back to Kolya. As his fear and panic surged at the memories, he watched, almost with an unattached feeling as a yellow glow appeared in front of him and Sheppard went flying back until he landed against the walls with a thud. Falling down, Sheppard lay there unmoving. Carson must've been standing outside, because at the sound he came rushing through the door, he immediately kneeled at the Major's side and started looking for injuries. All Rodney was able to do was to get up and flee his last sanctuary.

What to do? He needed to get away from everyone? He hadn't meant to hurt Sheppard but he had, he just prayed that his injuries were not life-threatening. The mere thought of it made his stomach lurch and he could taste the bile rising. He had no control over what was happening to him. He needed.... he needed to get away from Atlantis... it was the only thing he could do to keep his family and friends safe. Swallowing frantically, he made his way to the armory. Thanking whatever deity was still looking out for him, he managed to reach it without passing anyone. He was a little surprised the city wasn't on full alert, but wasn't going to look a given horse in the mouth. Snatching a wraith stunner, he made his way to the gate room.

Waking at the voice of Carson, John wondered what had just happened. He'd been making progress with Rodney, finally understanding a vital part of Rodney's distress, when he'd reached out and the next thing he knew he was lying here slumped against the wall, trying to get his bearings.
"Major, can you tell me what happened?"
"Carson, I don't know, where did Rodney go?" He'd only just realized that Rodney wasn't in the room anymore. Alarmed, when the realization set in, he moved to get up of the floor and couldn't hold back the moan when several bruises flared to life. "Careful lad, you took a serious hit!"
"I need to find Mckay, do you know where he was headed?" As he saw Carson shaking his head "He reached for his radio, thankful that it hadn't dropped from his ear at impact, he radioed Zelenka.
"Radek, can you tell me where Rodney is right now?"
"Major, no the last reading we had showed him at your location. We also just noted another energy spike at your current location. What happened?"
Good questions John thought, what in hells name had just happened. "Where you able to get a clear reading through the sensors? Can you tell me what's happening with Mckay? There was .... some sort of yellow glow around him and it sent me flying across the room."
"Oh" was the only immediate reply he got from Zelenka.
"Come on Zelenka, help me out here, what's happening? Has Mckay been in contact with any new or weird ancient doohickeys lately ?" and as the words flew out his mouth he got it "Radek, is Elizabeth still with you down at the lab?"
"John, ..." Elizabeth replied "Yes I'm still here. What do you need?"
"Good, Radek'll need your help to access the security footage from when the Genii invaded Atlantis. Go to the point where you left with Sora. Kolya had some kind of box he used on Mckay and it definitely looked ancient to me. Oh and Elizabeth, Radek .... you're not going to like what you see but I need you to focus on the box for now. We can discuss the rest later."
Elizabeth sounded hesitant and was undoubtingly thinking back at their conversation in her office but he would deal with them later.

Pushing away from the wall, he headed out the lab. Carson was next to him and seemed a little lost in thought. Suddenly, Carson was standing in front of him with a determined expression on his face, an expression he knew all too well, it was the one he got when he was in all-out CMO-mode and wouldn't back off until he knew what was going on. Although John could see that most of it was born out of concern for his friend, he didn't have time for this. "Carson, I need to find..." when he was interrupted by Zelenka.
"Major, an energy surge was registered in the gate room."
He could hear Zelenka's voice crack and more of the foreign influence invaded his English meaning he was emotional and John didn't need to guess what about. But, crap, what was Rodney doing in the gate room? He just hoped that he wasn't doing what he thought he was doing as he started running through the corridors and taking steps two by two in a desperate need to get to his friend.

The 2 guards standing at the doors of the gate room never knew what hit them but the technician at the controls had almost taken him by surprise. The yellow haze had danced around him again and he managed to shoot the technician with the wraith stunner. Worried about the energy he was radiating and the time he had left before it got out of hand, not that he had any control now, he made his way up the stairs to the dialing device. He'd searched his mind for a safe and suitable world to gate to, one without population he could harm, he'd finally settled on a desert planet they'd visited a few weeks ago in search for yet another fleeting energy reading which had turned out to be static from an ingredient in the rocky sediments. He'd tried to master the courage to dial a space gate but the thought of explosive decompression just made him want to turn away and hide in his room, so he'd settled for an uninhabited world.

The last chevron locked and the shimmering blue of the gate horizon surged to life. Making his way back down the stairs, he tried really hard not to think about all he was leaving behind. Elizabeth, who'd put her trust in him and made him Chief Scientist on the expedition; Carson who'd found him worthy enough to be his friends while they were still on earth; Teyla who, with her patience and compassion, had wormed herself under his shields; Ford, with his youthful enthusiasm and easygoing character; Zelenka, who'd proved to be a fine 2nd in command and even friend and; John, god leaving John behind felt like ripping his heart out. From the moment they'd stepped through the gate together or maybe even from the moment he'd found that flyboy, with the gravity defying hair, sitting in the chair in Antarctica, he'd felt drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Even if he stayed, he was sure to get burned, because John didn't feel this way about him. Reaching the bottom of the stairs he only needed to take a few more steps to leave the life he'd finally managed to build....

....when the doors on his right swooshed open and the object of his desires came running in. Although Rodney was glad to see he was apparently alright, he wished things didn't have to be this hard. They stared at each other for a few seconds when a second door opened and several security guards rushed in and aimed their weapons.

And all of a sudden everything happened at once. His only conscious thought was that he needed to step through the gate before it disconnected. Then the yellow haze appeared again enveloping him entirely and it was almost as if he could feel the energy and could touch it, as if it was tangible. Sheppard was screaming at his men to drop their weapons immediately but they seemed to hesitate at the strange glow coming of him. Pondering if he should just make a run for the gate, Sheppard suddenly moved and was standing between him and his exit.
"Rodney, please ..." and John seemed lost for words.
Don't go, don't leave, stay, trust me, ... all of them unsaid but hanging in the air.

Rodney was standing there at the bottom of the stairs looking afraid and so lost, that he just wanted to hold him and whisper soothing words in his ear till he'd lost that frantic and desperate glance in his eyes. He stepped forward and he could see the effort it took from Rodney not to back away. Reaching out for Rodney, he could see the yellow screen shiver and pulse a little brighter.
"I need to leave..." Rodney started hesitantly "You know I can't stay. I could destroy the city and everyone in it!" Out of the corner of his eye he could see his soldiers stiffen.
"You would never hurt us intentionally Rodney." and he saw the guilt in the man's eyes as he remembered the lab earlier with John.
"Off course not !" He snapped as if John just wouldn't see reason here. "But I don't have any control on this."
"I think you do." Saying it he realized he really did believed that. He just hadn't connected the dots before. "We think that the device Kolya used on you is causing this." Just the mention of the name "Kolya" made the shield, because that was what it was, pulse and expand a little. "Rodney, your emotions are setting it off to protect yourself, can't you see that?" Rodney looked confused and weary. "Please Rodney, we'll search the database to find out what's happening with you, we'll do everything we can and more but you've got to trust us, you've got to let us help you!" He could see the wheels turning in Rodney's head as his gaze shifted from John to Carson, who'd come in right after John, trying to look reassuring and hopeful, to the soldiers at the other side of the room.

Was John right, could he unconsciously be controlling the energy. He remembered his brief interest in the box in Kolya's hands, as it was obviously of ancient design. But once the apparent purpose of the device became clear he'd only wished to have never laid eyes on it. Could it really be causing all this?

Rodney was obviously conflicted, desperate to believe but afraid to. Behind him the doors opened and Elizabeth, Teyla, Zelenka and Ford came rushing in. Feeling the tension in the room they all stopped dead in their tracks and looked intrigued by Rodney standing in the middle of the gate room encompassed by a bright yellow bubble. Looking at his tired face and uncertain posture, Elizabeth got that calming look on her face that could always appease any distrust anyone facing her had, Zelenka just straightened his glasses, Ford stood a little taller, drew back his shoulder and then just smirked a little, Teyla just radiated calm and trust towards him. But none of them, including Carson and Sheppard, showed any fear of him or anger at him.

He didn't want to leave his family behind. He would just have to believe John that he was in control and that his friends would help him through whatever this was. As that last thought echoed through his mind his yellow shield blinked and vanished. If he'd needed any further proof this would've been pretty convincing. The soldiers lost the tension in their stance, his friends looked relieved, the gate shut down as if Atlantis herself sensed the need for it was gone and John came closer and set his hand on his shoulder. All of his movements had been careful and measured, watching Rodney closely for any sign of panic or fear. The feel of his hand on him, the warmth and comfort just radiating through it, had Rodney leaning into the touch and closing his eyes. Feeling like he could just stand like this forever he felt a little squeeze and opened his eyes again. The soldiers had spread over the room helping up their fellow expedition members who were coming out of their daze.

Looking up at Sheppard he asked "What now?" feeling a little lost at what to do now.
"Now you're coming with me to the infirmary..." Carson interjected reaching for the shoulder where John's hand had been just a few seconds ago "...and I'm going to check you out and run every test known to humanity."
Groaning as he was hurdled out of the gate room past his friends he mumbled "Let the bloodletting begin" which forced smiles on his friends' faces and drained the last of his own tension. John was still standing at the same place but a crooked grin showed on his face at his last mention.
"Major, don't think for a minute that I've forgotten the fall you took half an hour ago, you're coming too lad. Come on, along you go."
Resigning himself to the Doctor's order he fell into step next to Rodney as they headed for the infirmary.

He looked over to where Rodney lay sleeping in his own hospital bed. The curtain between their two beds was slightly ajar allowing him an unobstructed view of his friend. After a few tests and a lot of bloodletting Rodney had been dead on his feet and had drifted off to an exhausted sleep fairly quickly. The emotional turmoil of the day had taken a toll on all of them so he wasn't surprised that Rodney, who'd been at the center of it all, had crashed. He felt a little brittle himself, they'd come so close today to losing a friend. He'd come so close to lose so much more. Just the thought of Rodney standing in the gate room ready to leave made his heart squeeze painfully. They still hadn't figured out exactly what was going on and what the long-term effects were going to be. But they'd made the first step: they'd all been there for Rodney to show him that he wasn't alone in the matter, that he had friends who wouldn't give up on him easily. He hoped Rodney had gotten the message loud and clear.
He'd been so enthralled in his thoughts that he almost jumped when he suddenly noticed Carson standing next to his bed. He followed Carson's gaze over to the bed next to his. Nodding his head in the direction of their mutual, and sometimes infuriating, friend he asked quietly "Is he going to be okay Carson? Did your tests get us any answers?"
"Nae, he has some bruising on his back and torso, and one cracked rib. The blood I examined only showed that his electrolytes are slightly off balance and that his sugar levels were quite low? I think the last part was mostly due to his lack of appetite..."
Carson trailed off absently and he could see, by the absent look in his eyes, that he was also thinking about what had happened.

Carson had watched the security footage. He'd needed to know in order to adequately treat Rodney. John could see that the knowledge haunted him as, even the mere concept of torture, went against everything Carson believed in as a physician, not to speak of the fact that it was his personal friend at the receiving end. What also stung was that Rodney had kept this from them. He understood where Rodney was coming from and, he thought Carson did as well, as he'd known Rodney even longer then John did, but it still stung ! Maybe even more for Carson as he was Rodney's doctor as well as his friend. Carson interrupted his stray thoughts.
"I need to monitor him when he's having one of his episodes to understand exactly what's going on. The results afterwards are just too vague to provide me with ..."
Alarms suddenly started blaring. He heard Zelenka talking in his ear, whilst Carson moved to Rodney's bed where the heart monitor was showing an elevated heart rate and Rodney had started moving restlessly. He just managed to grab Carson and hold him back when the golden shield sprung to life. He hadn't forgotten his own painful experience in the abandoned lab. Hovering, Carson went over the various monitors vicariously which were spewing results now that Rodney was in the midst of an 'episode'. Be careful what you wish for John thought ruefully. Rodney wasn't conscious, he was still asleep and had started trashing around as off a minute ago and also started mumbling. "Please.... pleeeaaaase..... stop". He could see Rodney tremble slightly and his breath was fastening to his panic.

Somewhere in his mind another piece of the puzzle was added. All those times Atlantis' internal sensors had detected a power surge had been at the most unearthly times of day, and most had even been at night. Rodney had been having nightmares all along and unconsciously his shield had formed each time, which in term registered as a power surge. It also explained why Rodney hadn't known the origin of the readings at first. And now he was here along with Carson and the shield was effectively cutting them off from their friend, even days after the Genii had been overthrown, they were still torturing his friend and they couldn't help him!

'Rodney, wake up, you're safe and sound, no one's going to hurt you."
Carson caught on to what he was doing and added his own reassurances "Common lad, you're perfectly safe here, it's just me and John here, wake up. Common, you can do it, just open those wea eyes of yours."
"Yeah Mckay show us those pearly blues, we're here. Just let us in, please..."
With the last word drifting away in the dark, Rodney jerked one last time, opened his eyes staring intensely at John as if he'd known all along he was there and the shield dropped away immediately. John stepped forward and put a hand on Rodney's shoulders comforting. Rodney all but leaned in the touch as if John was the only thing grounding him in the here and now.

"Are you okay Rodney?" John asked quietly.
He could see Rodney swallowing convulsively before attempting to speak. "What happened?"
"You had a nightmare, lad," Carson replied "and had another episode." He pointed to some of the print-outs from the various machines Rodney was hooked to. Rodney flushed a little, seemingly embarrassed.
"Hey, how do you feel?" John asked trying to distract Rodney from his thoughts.
Rodney seemed to think it through before answering "Okay, still a little tired, but nothing more, maybe a little hungry."
And that last admission was just so typically Rodney that John couldn't hold back his chuckle and Carson was laughing also, whilst Rodney scowled at them but his upturned lips betrayed the smile he was trying to hide.
"Lay back down lad, you should rest some more." Rodney glared at Carson and John smirked at the order, at least until Carson directed his gaze towards him "And so should you Major, I've not forgotten about you either lad."
"Common Carson, I could use a bite to eat. You know I hate to stay in the infirmary when there's nothing wrong with me!"
"Oh no you don't laddie, you're not leaving my sight till I'm happy with your test results and am dam well ready to clear you back to active duty, so you lay your little obstinate ass back down on your bed right over there and don't even think about escaping."
Beside him Rodney was snickering but trying to disguise it as coughing. "Little obstinate ass Carson. Really?" Rodney asked, raising his eyebrows trying to look intrigued but was soon chuckling loudly.
John was just happy to see Rodney in a good mood and laughing, even if it was at his expense, but beat Rodney over the head with his own pillow, as it was expected of him.
"Buddy, it seems we'll just have to subject to Carson's will." He headed for his bed as Rodney scooted back down his own bed and tossed a little trying to find a good position.
"Jesus Carson, I thought these beds were made to improve the health of its patients not add insult to injury?"
Carson ignored Rodney's comment and just tucked up the blanket to cover Rodney's shoulders again.
John yawned and stretched explicitly and then dug into the mattress. When he noticed Rodney tucking in his blanket and closing his eyes, he winked at Carson. He in turn closed the privacy curtain so the two men were isolated from the rest of the infirmary, lowered the lights and left for his office.

John had started to drift when he heard a hesitant "John?"
"Yeah, what's up?" and his voice sounded low from exhaustion.
"Thanks for..." being there, having my back, watching out for me, being my friend, ... all those words were floating between them and none needed to be said aloud as he already knew.
"No worries buddy, anytime" and he meant it. Rodney gave on last sigh and succumbed to sleep once more. Convinced that all immediate dangers had been averted, his friend was safe and within reach, John drifted off as well.

The next few days were filled with frustration as far as Rodney was concerned. Carson had released him the next day, almost against his will. The results from his little 'episode' had shown that the physical impact on him during one was minimal. Aside from the electrolyte imbalance, the rest of his symptoms – rapid heartbeat and increased breath sounds – could all be attributed to his panic and had nothing to do with his current condition. In other words, his condition wasn't affecting his health. He'd seen the relief in both John's and Elizabeth's eyes at Carson's declaration.

On the one side, he was immensely glad that he wasn't dying a terrible and painful dead and incinerating Atlantis at the same time. But he couldn't share their relief at the 'good' news because he still felt out of control and hyped. He'd just nodded at the news and had tried to keep his expression neutral. Zelenka's search through the ancient database had also been a disappointment. After 2 days of spitting through the mountain of information retained in the database they'd finally found mention of the device. The explanation made reference to an attempt of the ancients to provide ATA-gene carriers with special powers but. Kolya hadn't realized the full potential of the device, distracted as he was by its, at first glance, evident purpose. He must have been the first person that Kolya had used it on who effectively had the ATA-gene. As so often with the Ancients, the results of their early experimentation had shown an unstable result and the means of administration to painful for most to bear. At that last mention Rodney couldn't do anything but agree, not that it helped him any further. There had been nothing else mentioned, just a few reports of successes and failures, some promising results whilst others reported trauma cases and coma. Each case had been different and the results inconsistent at best.

All he felt was frustration and it was rising. The last day or so he'd been very careful to contain his emotions as the link between them and his shield was as clear as daylight. But the containment field for his rising emotions was slowly failing. The last few hours he'd started snapping and shouting at his fellow scientists, or what was supposed to pass as scientists. Some of them were easy marks as even on most days, he could easily puncture holes in their theories. Usually he tried at least to withhold some of the bite in his words, whereas today he couldn't find the energy for it.

Therefore, he wasn't surprised when Sheppard appeared in the doorway to his lab. Rodney glared in Zelenka's direction, as he undoubtingly had called Sheppard to inform him of Rodney's foul mood. Radek, off course, just smiled, dropped his gaze and seemingly concentrated on his computer. With a sigh he returned to face Sheppard. "What?" He almost cringed himself at his tone, but he kept his shoulders high, his chin raised and his eyes glaring. Dammit, they had no right to berate him, he was trying really hard to contain his emotional responses, which meant that he had no other choice then to tone down other unimportant efforts like politeness, compassion or even general courtesy. He could feel that he was on the verge of exploding, 'in the figural sense' off course.

John saw the emotions flash on Rodney's face: irritation, anger and maybe even some fear. Zelenka had called him earlier to alert him that some of the scientists had been on the verge of a mutiny due to Rodney's behavior. They'd decided to restrict the knowledge of Rodney's condition to a need to know basis, which meant that other than those present in the gate room, only a few handful of people were aware of what had been going on. As a result, most of Rodney's colleagues didn't understand his behavior which they usually easily forgave when the crisis was ongoing. This crisis was a little more personal and Rodney had practically begged them to keep it a secret. John wasn't so sure that had been a good idea. It also reminded him that he still had to address some issues with Rodney and the guilt the guy still seemed to drag around regarding the situation. He hadn't missed the lack of eye contact with everyone and the few glances Rodney had thrown his own way when he thought John wasn't looking.

"Come with me." He could read Rodney's reluctance to comply with his request/order, phrase it as you like. Another thing he had noticed, aside from the lack of eye contact, was his compliance. However recalcitrant Rodney was behaving towards his staff, his behavior towards himself and Elizabeth had been exemplary. It was frightening him because it was so unlike Rodney. As he'd foreseen, Rodney swallowed his reluctance away and turned towards the doorway to comply with his request. He could see Zelenka's worried glance at the, for Rodney, uncharacteristic behavior. Which also confirmed for John that it was unique and only towards him. When Rodney stepped out of the lab without so much as a single jibe in his direction with regard to his status as CSO and his refusal to comply with orders as any ordinary single-minded military trained ape, John heaved a sigh and waved a hand for Rodney to follow him.

Why had John lead him to the gym. Rodney glanced around for a clue as to why John would bring him here when the answer was provided.
"Have you had any more episodes?"
Rodney shook his head refraining from vocally expressing any reply for now.
"We're going to try if we can conger one up."
At that statement Rodney took an involuntary step back and glanced towards the door wondering what his chances of escaping were. Taking into account Sheppard's supergene he correlated the odds were not in his favor to make it out the doors without the Major's agreement as the doors were probably locked. Resigning himself that simply running away wasn't going to work he tried plan B.
"Major, I hadn't realized that you had hit the wall that hard last time but maybe we should ask Carson to reexamine you because I think you may have scrambled the few IQ points I'd actually attributed to you !"
He could see by the set of the Sheppard's shoulders that he wasn't going to get away that easily
"Maybe whatever it was has worn off. I haven't had an episode..." He couldn't help making air quotes when he used the word Carson had used to describe what had happened. " ...since my nigh- since that evening in the infirmary."
Sheppard cocked his head at that last statement and he could see that he wasn't buying his story. Luckily for him the Major had no way of proving he was lying. It was true that he hadn't had any more episodes but that was entirely due to his own effort at restraining his emotions. He could still clearly feel some kind of new awareness like a current just under his skin. An itch he couldn't reach and refused to scratch even if it was driving him insane. He'd even set his alarm clock to ring every hour so that he wouldn't get sucked in any nightmares. It had worked so far and he would be dammed if he failed now. He was going to burry this thing so deep it would never find its way back out. He had a nice little box for it next to where he kept his feelings for the, sometimes, infuriating Major currently standing in front of him.

"Fine, then you wouldn't mind proving it to me?" Then the Major thrust a pair of bantos sticks to him. Crap, brilliant, he was going to take another beating just because he wanted to keep his friends safe. Al to quickly Sheppard took his fighting stance and, before he could properly plot a defense strategy, Sheppard attacked. He threw block after block in an attempt to keep the sticks from touching him, but it didn't take long before Sheppard just outclassed him and he felt a smack against his thigh. Dam him, Rodney could feel his anger rising and with it the energy spark from deep within. Thankfully he was able to push the reaction back down, but Sheppard was already getting ready for the next round. How in heavens name was he going to keep this reaction hidden if Sheppard was hell beat on getting it out of him. Another flurry of movement came at him in the form of a suspicious Major and after only a few movements he felt another hit on his upper arm this time. Just the location of this hit made restraining his reaction that much harder, so much that he was panting with the effort.

"What's up Mckay, you seem a little out of breath. If you're already tired after only 2 rounds I should really put you on an exercise regime."
Sheppard was baiting him. He could see it in his eyes and the smirk on his face. Well he wasn't going to get what he wanted. He raised his own sticks in an act of pure defiance because there was no way he could take Sheppard down in a fight. Teyla could, off course, but Rodney was more experienced in verbal lashings then physical ones, even taking into account his experiences being on Sheppard's team.

Dam him, why wouldn't he just admit to it. He should've known it wouldn't be this easy, nothing ever was with Mckay! He could talk all he wanted but he'd seen the spark in his eyes. Rodney was a terrible liar. It had gotten the team in trouble before but, right now, he was thankful for Rodney's inability to keep a secret from him. This led him, off course, to the question as to why Rodney was choosing to hide this from him. Fake right, and hit number three was a fact. But still no shield. Rodney was one stubborn human being. He wasn't in this to hurt him so as this was apparently not wielding the desired result, he stood down and threw his sticks aside. He would just have to find another way to get Mckay to open up.

Oh thank god, was all he could think, he already had enough bruises as it was. He was a little surprised that the Major was giving up this easily but he wouldn't look a given horse in the mouth and threw his own sticks aside. He wasn't fooled. Sheppard wasn't giving up entirely, oh now that would be too easy. He knew the Major could be almost as stubborn as him, but apparently he'd won this round. He made his way to the door which opened without a hitch – thank God for small favors – but before he could disappear through them entirely Sheppard spoke.
"Don't think you're fooling me for one minute Mckay. I wish you would just talk to me."
He almost succumbed to Sheppard's pleading tone but kept his back turned at the Major.
"You must realize we need to know what you're capable off and, for that, we need to train on it. As long as you keep hiding, Elizabeth will never let you go back on active duty."
At that he turned and scowled at Sheppard.
"Talk to me Mckay. What's going on in that big brain of yours?"
"I don't know what you're talking about Sheppard. I can't train something that's not there in the first place so back off." He couldn't help it if the last few words snarled out of his mouth. He turned again and left but he could hear the sigh Sheppard exclaimed following him in the corridor.

As he walked back to his quarters, the Major's words started to sink in and he had to acknowledge that he needed more control on this thing because all his attempts to bury it so far had failed miserably. So he did what he did best and started working on a plan to get his new skill under control. Maybe if he could prove to Elizabeth he was in control of everything she would let him back on the team and off world. He needed some place where he could work on this without alerting everyone when the power of his shield set of the sensors. Maybe one of the damaged sections. Happy that he at least had a course of action, he started looking through the database for a suitable location.


This was a bad idea. No really Mckay, this is such a bad... bad idea. But Elizabeth had left him with no other choice. He would be dammed if he let that sick basterd 'play' with John for one minute longer and he'd already been with them for over 3 hours. 3 long, antagonizing hours wherein Kolya had sent the rest of Major Sheppard's team back through the gate with their hands tied behind their back, a hood over their faces obstructing their view, a note tucked away in Ford's chest pocket demanding Rodney be sent through the gate and a 7 symbol gate address. Non-negotiable. There had also been a threat attached that after 12 hours they would start sending body parts through the gate. It was still unclear how they'd gotten their hands on an IDC but they had.

He'd been in the gate room at the time because it was the 2nd mission the team went on without him because that witch Heightmeyer refused to clear him for active duty. She accused him of not dealing with what had happened. And so what, if it was the case, it had happened to him and if he chose to deal with it in a certain way then they would just have to deal with it. It wasn't his fault that they didn't like him hiding from his team, with only the bare minimum of contact with them over lunch and dinner and even then he tried to get away with the lamest excuses. He just couldn't talk to anyone about it because he wasn't avoiding them for the reasons they thought he was. It wasn't because of what had happened during the storm. Okay... that ... was only partly the reason. He understood that apparently his colleagues didn't blame him for spilling his guts to Kolya and almost getting them killed, which just proved they were all a little insane. Pff ... and very good friends. But mostly he only wanted to avoid the Major. He just couldn't stand to be near him right now. He was a bad liar on any given day, but with the way his emotions had been reeling lately, he just couldn't keep up the façade of good friend when he wanted so much more. He knew he had an expressive face and he didn't trust himself not to give away his desire for John. He still felt a little brittle, a little out of control and a lot exposed most of the time. He was working very hard to get his emotions back under control but it was taking longer to build his shields back up, and he wasn't speaking of his actual shield but in the metaphysical sense of the word.

In any case, he'd found excuses to be there when his team returned from their 1st mission off world and had found another reason to 'hover' in the gate room this time. He'd frozen when his team mates had come through the gate bound and gagged but his heart had frozen over when the gate had switched off and Major Sheppard was nowhere to be found. At that time he'd raced down the stairs to his team mates who'd already received help from one of the guards.
Elizabeth had also been present and had ushered them off to the meeting room to debrief as soon as it was clear that nobody was in need of immediate medical assistance. He'd staid uncharacteristically quiet as Ford had recalled the occurrences which lead them to this point. Once the name Kolya had been dropped, his whole posture had frozen and he'd clamped his hands together to stop himself from demanding where John was. He'd felt Teyla's and Elizabeth's glances in his direction but had refused to meet their eyes afraid of what he would let slip in his eyes. Once the story over with, he'd been unable to hold back any longer and had demanded what they were going to do. He was going over the multitude of possibilities in his head, discarding some, calculating their odds of succeeding for others. When it remained disturbingly quiet at the table he shot his head up and glared around the room. "Common people, we have some of the brightest minds on earth here, there must be something we can do." But even then they remained quiet. "Okay, as always I'll come up with the brilliant plan and save the Major's ass. I'll gear up and pretend to surrender myself in exchange for the Major. You can send a cloaked jumper with me with a dozen badass marines. We take them by surprise, overpower them and bring Sheppard home in one peace. Yes yes... sounds like a good plan if I say it myself." But when he glanced over to Ford and saw that he refused to meet his eyes, he turned his head to Elizabeth. The look on her face made his stomach drop. "What-" but before he could finish his question, Elizabeth interrupted him.

"Rodney, I can't approve that. We have procedures in place in case of hostage situations. We would be willing to negotiate for the release of Major Sheppard but I won't risk your life or the life of anyone else by sending you off on a mission to an uncharted world without any information about what'll be waiting for you on the other side of the gate or how many enemy combatants will be waiting there for you. And I'm certain that Major Sheppard would agree with me".
Rodney had wanted to rant and raise hell at that point but the lack of support he felt in the room mad him ache and swallow his retort. "We'll reevaluate the situation as soon as we dispose of more information." At that, Rodney shoved his chair back, stood up and walked out of the room.

How could they so calmly condemn the Major to who knows what at the hands of that mad man. He was absolutely fuming with rage but his brain was also racing in an effort to find another viable plan to save John. He'd been so concentrated that he hadn't heard Teyla calling for him. When a hand on his shoulder startled him, he'd been ready to yell at the person disturbing him. As he followed the hand on him to the person it belonged to, he could feel the rage building and some of the betrayal he felt must've shown on his face because she looked wary. "Rodney, may I speak with you for a moment?" He'd felt like denying that request but Teyla had always been gentle with him in the past. It was the only reason he didn't snap at her now. With a sigh, his shoulders slumped a little bit and he waved in the direction of his quarters. Forcing his chin up as they walked beside each other he just hoped she wasn't going to try and persuade him to let this go. He wouldn't, they could all just screw themselves, he was going to get John back. He didn't even want to think about the alternative, an Atlantis without Major John Sheppard was unthinkable. A Rodney without John, even as only a friend, was unbearable !

Thankfully that hadn't been her intention. Together they'd devised a plan and so here he was standing in the gate room. Elizabeth had been called away. The scientists were under his command and, Aiden, who thankfully hadn't been willing to give up on Sheppard despite the regulations but unwilling to force Elizabeth's hand, had control over the guards as Sheppard's second in command.

"Rodney, are you certain of this. We'll understand and not blame you should you reconsider."
Squaring his shoulders and with a very determined look in his face turned towards her "Just make sure to hold up your end of the bargain."
"We will Rodney. Be safe."
At that point Teyla stepped closer to him and put her hands on his shoulders and inclined her head towards his in the typical Athosian greeting. Closing his eyes he lowered his head and accepted the small comfort.
While the gate technician dialed the address, he glanced at Ford standing on the side speaking to one of the guards. Ford saw him looking and walked over to him. "Okay Doc, you ready for this. You know what to do. Just keep your head down, try not to antagonize them and stay out of trouble. We'll be there to save you before you know it. Just stick to the plan !"

So he stepped through the gate and rematerialized on the other side where 4 men immediately stepped up to him and grabbed him by the arms. "Hey easy, I need those." He snapped but they just ignored him while they padded him down in search of hidden weapons. "Well well, I must say I'm surprised to see you so soon Doctor. If I didn't know better I would say you missed me."
And there, at the bottom of the steps, stood his arch nemesis, grinning madly! It took all of his restraint not to use his shield right there and then, because if he did than he would be giving up his only advantage and ruin any chance he had off getting out of here alive. He would do anything for John but he would take his own life before he let Kolya take him to the place he wanted, to be used as a slave for the rest of his life. "Common good Doctor, let us go check on your lost team mate."

Following him for a short trot through some dense forest they arrived at the entrance of a cave and Rodney could already feel the world closing in on him. He hesitated for a second but a not so gentle nudge from one of the armed grunts behind hem forced him to take another step. And another till the daylight was completely obscured and the torches were the only light in the intense darkness. Kolya led them through a labyrinth of pathways and Rodney wondered if he would ever be able to find his way back out again. And then suddenly there was light ahead. He was momentarily blinded by the bright sunlight but after blinking a couple of times he could once again make out his surroundings. They were in a small clearing, maybe 50 feet wide and 70 feet across. As far as he could tell the only entrance or exit was the one they'd emerged from. Not good ! He wanted to ask Kolya why he'd brought him here when he spotted John across the clearing chained to the rock wall.

Walking over he tried to catalogue John's condition. He was sagging a little, his arms were chained just above him, almost behind his head, his wrists seemed bruised probably from straining against the bond. One eye socket was black and blue, and almost swollen shut, a small cut on his eyebrow was bleeding a thin stream across his face. He was still dressed so he could only guess what other bruises were hidden by his clothing but he was panting a little so he was guessing a few bruised, cracked or broken ribs. He was standing in front of the Major now and was a little worried that the other man hadn't acknowledged his presence yet. Maybe he should also consider a concussion. Reaching a hand up to cup the uninjured jaw, he asked "Major, are you okay?" He knew it was a stupid question considering their circumstances but he needed some reassurance from his friend. John finally stirred at the sound of his voice and tried to focus his one eye on Rodney.

"Rodney, finally, what took you guys-" but he cut himself of when he realized Kolya and his men were standing behind Rodney and growled "Mckay, what did you do?"
John threw a hard glare at his scientist but he had this sinking feeling in his gut that Rodney was standing there in front of him without any cavalry to back him up which wasn't good. Forcing his aching body to stand up straight, he let his one eye wander over the clearing they were in and groaned when he realized they were fucked. They were outnumbered 6 to 1 and, by the way Kolya was grinning, he knew it.

"Well, although I hate to disrupt this joyful reunion, that's not why I brought you here."
Rodney turned swiftly at Kolya's voice behind him. He'd been so completely focused on John that he'd almost forgotten about the situation they were in. He was immensely glad that John was alive and not to bad off but they were still in this mess. "Okay Kolya, you have me now, let the Major go. He is more trouble than he's worth anyway." Kolya just quirked his eyebrow and the Major grumbled in a low voice.
"Now now doctor, you don't really expect me to just let him leave do you. Here I thought you were supposed to be the smart one."
"But..." Rodney sputtered "...the note said-" and Kolya cut him off again.
"I only promised to not send the Major's body parts through one by one if you graced us with your presence. I'm certainly not done with the Major yet, he and I have some unfinished business to attend to."
The way Kolya rubbed absently at the shoulder the Major had shot, promised retribution.
"Look, you know my people will be coming for us. It's better to cut your losses while you still can. Just turn around and leave and you might survive this encounter."
Kolya just laughed, stepped one foot closer and backhanded him across the face. "Did you really think Doctor that I wouldn't have taken my precautions to stop any rescue party from coming after you. I'll not make the same mistake of underestimating your kind again. There'll be NO rescue, you should come to term with that soon Doctor, it'll spare you further hurt."
Rodney had fallen to the ground with the force of the blow. He vaguely heard the Major yelling behind him but Rodney needed to concentrate his entire mind on blocking the flashbacks which were storming at him at full force and keeping his shield in check. When Kolya's words finally registered, he felt a shiver down his spine and he suddenly felt cold. With no back-up it would rest on his shoulders to keep them alive. Looking up, he locked eyes with John's and he could see the same sense of dread in them at Kolya's words.
"I must say Doctor that I'm surprised your Dr. Weir let you come by yourself."
"You and me both" he could here John murmur behind him. Feeling himself slump a little at the words and anticipating the dressing down he would get from the Major once he realized that he'd gone against orders, he got up, risked a little glance at the Major and saw realization dawn on his face.
"Well well ... what a pleasant surprise! Who would've thought you had it in you Doctor. And here I thought that I'd beaten all the insolence out of you during our last meeting. It seems I'll have to reinforce some of your training."
The implication of what Kolya meant hit him full force and he couldn't stop himself from taking a few steps back, unconsciously closing the distance between him and John in a futile attempt for some kind of support. He was feeling sick at the mere thought of what Kolya could have in store for him. His eyes searched the other man for the box that had haunted him in his nightmares and felt his shields nudging at him, his unconscious whispering at him to bring them up to keep him safe. But if he did that, his only tactical advantage would be blown and he would need any advantage he could find to keep them alive. Trying to be his snarky self he said "Well I can provide you with several eyewitness statements who'll all confirm, beyond any doubt, that many have tried and failed. Insolence is ingrained in my very soul !"

John cursed Rodney with his whole being and watched the scene in front of him unfold.
"We'll see about that !" Kolya sneered at Mckay and ordered 2 of his men to grab a hold of the defiant scientist. When they forced him to step forward, closer to Kolya, John lost his cool and tried to avert the Genii commander's attention away from his scientist. "Hey Kolya, I thought that I was going to get your undivided attention, I would've thought that killing 60 of your men and kicking your but out of my city would at least earn me that." John threw his most mocking grin in as a finishing touch.
Kolya' head snapped up at the taunt and the rage in his eyes could burn a hole through wood. But it wasn't the gaze but the words that had John fighting his restraints with despair as a growl of fury worked its way out of his throat. "Don't worry Major, I'm sure that the good Doctor won't mind accepting some of the attention you deserve. Now Doctor Mckay, I'm afraid that when I was forced to abandon my home world I was unable to bring along all of my tools but I'm sure I'll be able to make do." At those words Kolya uncovered a long sharp knife which had been lying on a table nearby under a cloth. While he was eying both John and Rodney's reaction, he caressed the sharp blade with a reverent touch. "Our time was cut short last time but I'm sure we can take up where we left off. Once you've told me how I can gain access to the holy city of Atlantis, my people will welcome us back into their midst with the honor we deserve." Kolya stepped closer to Rodney who, in terms, blanched even further losing all of the color he had left, and started to struggle against his guards. The whole scene reminded him of the tape he'd watched only a week and a half ago and the horrors that had passed in the gate room. He struggled even harder against the chains holding him tight and didn't even notice the trail of blood dropping from his chafed and abused wrists as he watched Kolya put the knife against Rodney's skin. The first drops of blood appeared and Rodney was unable to hold the wail of agony back.

"Now Doctor, tell me how I can conquer Atlantis?" Rodney shook his head as he didn't trust his voice. He was trembling with the effort of holding back his shield. If he showed it now, he might be able to fend off a few of Kolya's men off but probably not all of them and with the Major restrained and his gun out of reach they would probably overpower him. All they had to do was threaten John and he would surrender. So, as he had no other choice, he let Kolya bring the knife back down again and felt his skin split and his nerves were screaming in agony as Kolya sliced another line in his forearm. He was panting now. His whole world had retreated to Kolya's taunting smile, the knife on his arm, the men holding him and John's burning eyes in his back. He was glad he couldn't see John's face. All other thought was cut out of him when he felt a third line being carved in his forearm. He zoned out a little, he couldn't even make out the questions Kolya was throwing at him. He was somewhere in his mind where he felt at least a little safe, maybe he could shield a part of his brain. And then suddenly all hell broke loose.

The men were shouting and they released the hold they had on him. He trembled a little and made his way over to where John was still restrained against the wall. He could hear Kolya shouting orders but he couldn't make them out over the shooting going on all around him. Feeling almost surprised that none of the bullets had hit him, he finally realized that they were shooting at the sky where 2 puddle jumpers had uncloaked.

The cavalry had arrived and he almost sagged against John right there and then, but John was shouting something at him in an urgent tone of voice. Making an effort he concentrated on what John was trying to convey and everything which had been vague and hazy just seconds ago became clear and sharp in an instant. Kolya was heading in his direction and made a move to grab his arm. "You're coming with me!" Rodney felt the pressure on his arm mount and decided enough was enough. He twisted his arm an using a move Sheppard himself had thought him in one of the self-defense classes he'd hated – because it remained an exercise – and loved – because it meant spending some quality time with John with plenty of touching – and shoved Kolya back whilst getting in a punch at the same time. The sound of a bone breaking was gratifying to say the least. Whilst his men were scrambling away from the clearing and back in the caves, Kolya was shaking his head to clear some of his daze. Kolya seemed to be getting back on his feet and was glaring at Rodney.
"You shouldn't have done that Doctor. Now I'll have to make you pay and believe me you'll not enjoy your punishment. If you come with me willingly I'll go easy on you. If you don't, you'll remember our first encounter and your education today with longing. Now GET over here!"
Rodney just took another step back and looked around for anything that would help him defend himself and the Major. He feared that if he showed his ability to Kolya the man would become even more hell-bent on getting him. Finally finding a weapon, he quickly made a grab for it and pointed the gun towards him. That at least stopped the man in his tracks. But his amused grin told Rodney that he didn't take him seriously. Aside from John, Rodney and Kolya were the only ones left in the clearing. Although he knew his friends had arrived in the puddle jumpers, he also realized that the clearing was to small and the rocks to unstable for them to risk landing here. This meant they would have to land outside and find their way through the labyrinth of caves, and also meant that Rodney was alone till then.

"Leave now Kolya! You lost. Just GO!" Rodney yelled at Kolya. His voice may have wavered but the hand holding the gun never did. Kolya seemed to think it over for a second, trying to assess Rodney and then, apparently making a decision, grinned and made a step forward. Rodney only hesitated a second but squeezed the trigger trying to remember all the lessons John and Aiden had forced on him. The sound of the single gunshot was very loud and echoed against the rocks. The shot went just over his head as intended but the look on Kolya's face crumbled. It only remained that way shortly before it regained its fanatic gleam.
"You seem to think doctor that you have a choice in the matter. You must have missed the fact that my men have armed a bomb when they retreated from this location."
Rodney's face blanched and searched the clearing in the direction Kolya was waving. He noticed it immediately. He recognized the Genii trademark alloys used and the writing on it. All the flickering lights indicated that it was active. Kolya showed him the remote control in his hand. "When I press this button, the bomb will start a countdown of 2 minutes before exploding and obliterating everything in this clearing. So your only choice Doctor Mckay is to come with me or die."
Rodney risked a quick glance in John's direction and saw his fear mirrored there. He quickly returned his attention to his adversary in fear of a surprise attack but Kolya seemed pretty convinced that he had all the cards in hand. Rodney might be a genius but even he wasn't able to dismantle a bomb within the available time without knowing the specs, layout of the wiring or any specific tools.

"I'm sorry Major Sheppard that we won't be able to continue our previous conversation but my men had the key to you restraints. I shall have to content myself with knowing that you at least died at my hand."
Just the mere mention of John dying elicited a small whimper from Rodney's throat. Kolya retreated to the entrance of the caves and with a psychotic grin pressed the button in his right hand. He saw several lights start to blink and then stop one by one starting the count down. CRAP.
"I'll wait for you doctor Mckay at the exit." With those final words he turned and disappeared in the caves.

Rodney turned immediately, trusting John would alert him if Kolya would reappear. He allowed himself to stare at John for a second before rushing over to him and looking for a way to get him out of the restraints. He tried pulling, hitting it with the butt of the gun and contemplated shooting at it but discarded that as way to dangerous, he was trying to save the Major not kill him. He'd been so concentrated on the task that he hadn't heard Sheppard calling his name.
"Rodney.... Rodney..... Rodney, look at me ! You have to go. These restraints are cast iron, you're not going to break them."
Rodney looked at him as if he was speaking Chinese because none of the words made sense to him.
"I'm not leaving you behind. Are ... are you insane!"
"Rodney please, there's no time to argue about this, the bomb's counting down. There's maybe a minute left on the timer. You need to get out of here. GO. Teyla and Aiden will be waiting for you at the entrance. Trust them, they won't let Kolya get away!

Rodney was stunned into silence. John actually expected him to leave him here to die. To just walk away. He... he just couldn't do that. "NO"
"NO Major I'm not leaving you here to die alone. You taught me to never leave a man behind and I'm not starting now. You wouldn't leave me and I'm certainly not leaving YOU!"
"I would !" John all but shouted but Rodney could easily see the truth.

He stepped closer to John, invading his private space. He had nothing left to loose. He looked in Johns eyes and stepped even closer. He shuddered as his body came in contact with John's.
He brought his hands up to John's face until they were staring at each other. He let all his barriers drop and let the truth out. He let the love, admiration and respect he felt for John shine through. When the other man seamed to finally get what he was trying to convey his mouth dropped open.
"Rodney, please I... " Taking advantage of the opportunity he closed his mouth over John's and tentatively swirled his tongue over John's lips before dipping in and chasing John's elusive taste. After a few seconds where John didn't react he seemed to catch on at last and began kissing him back. When he heard a distinctive whine building up he knew their time was almost up. He reached around John with his arms, threaded their fingers together and poured everything he had, he was and felt into their kiss. Just before the whine stopped, he rested his forehead against John's and then the bomb exploded.

Before the explosion hit, he felt the wind blowing him even further into John's body. At that second he raised his shields and gave them every ounce of energy he possessed, all of his rage at Kolya for putting them there and all of his love for John. And he hoped it would be enough. He could feel the heat of the explosion against his shield and the strain it was under was making his knees buckle and his breath catch until finally it anticipated and the world seemed to quiet once more. He panted for a second as he felt completely exhausted. He'd closed his eyes as soon as he'd started kissing John, wanting to maintain some illusion of John wanting him and loving him back. Now he was afraid to open them, afraid of what he might see. He'd never tested his shield this way, he'd never even thought to check if he could enclose someone else within his shield. He had been to intent on hiding and pretending everything was back to normal. Now there had been no other choice if he wanted to save John's life.

He dropped his shield but refused to open his eyes just yet. If it hadn't worked he would die. Oh his body was mostly unharmed but his mind, his soul, his heart would shatter. And then he felt two strong arms close around him hugging him tight. If it was an illusion he just wanted it to last forever so he still kept his eyes closed and allowed himself to rest his head on John's shoulders and let him take some of his weight.
"Rodney" John whispered in his ear and Rodney just squeezed his arms tighter around the other man's shoulders. "Shhhh, everything's okay, I'm fine. Open your eyes and look at me!"
Rodney had been muttering pleas and prayers under his breath the whole time. When John finally withdrew a little forcefully and shook him slightly he opened his eyes abruptly and let his breath escape at the sight of John in front of him alive and smiling that genuine grin he adored.
"Hey, are you back with me?"
As he didn't trust his voice to speak just yet, he just nodded an affirmative. His confusion at John being able to hold him must have shown on his face because John quickly answered the unspoken question "The blast crumpled the rock holding the restraints in place."
Rodney nodded again, he didn't feel up to anything more. He suddenly heard running footsteps behind him and without thinking he swirled around, pushed John behind him, keeping him close and his shield flared around them once more.

John startled as he was suddenly pushed by Rodney and watched in awe as his shield encompassed the both of them again. Before he'd been totally distracted by their dire situation, the feel of Rodney's body against his and the gentle nibble of lips and tongue assaulting his own. Now he felt at least a little more aware of his surroundings even as his body was letting him know of all the aches and bruises he'd sustained and the emotional turmoil was still rolling inside after Rodney's silent declaration. Looking over Rodney's shoulder he watched Teyla, Ford and a company of Marines run into the clearing. The look on their faces as they took in the devastation around them following the explosion was telling. Then their gazes settled on the both of them who, in comparison with their surroundings, were relatively unscathed. The look of horror was replaced with one of awe at Rodney's shield as the realization set in that his shield had been able to absorb the impact of that enormous explosion that had made them stumble on their way to the clearing and which had made them fear the worst for their missing team mates.

"Rodney, it's okay. It's the cavalry coming to our rescue." He squeezed the hand holding his in the hope of reassuring his friend.
Rodney looked at him and he seemed to struggle with what John was telling him. John's relaxed stance seemed to finally let the words sink in that they were safe and their ordeal was over. The shield flickered a few times before it dropped completely. The shield wasn't the only thing that dropped because as the last of the tension left John, Rodney's knees buckled once more and this time he was unable to stable the exhausted scientist. Trying to slow his descent, John grabbed Rodney around the waist and lowered him slowly till he was sitting on the ground with his back against the stone wall. This event seemed to break the spell his colleagues were in as they suddenly rushed forward towards them. John was extremely glad to find Carson in the group coming in his direction. In the few yards it took the group to reach them he could see Carson cataloging his apparent bruises and the way he was cradling his bruised ribs, and Rodney's bleeding forearm and clear exhaustion.

The next few hours flew by in some type of haze. He vaguely remembered him and Rodney being helped into one of the puddle jumpers, Carson tsk-ing as more of their injuries were unraveled and him slowly approaching the head of science as not to startle him as Rodney was a little out of it. Once Rodney had acknowledged Carson's presence he was quickly hooked up to a sugar drop to raise his plummeting levels. He vaguely remembered arriving in the shuttle bay and seeing Elizabeth there watching a little warily but glad that they were alive. Then they were quickly wheeled of to the infirmary where they were poked and prodded by Carson and his staff. Rodney's cuts were stitched up and John was x-raid to check for broken bones, taped up and prodded for internal bleeding. Luckily, no major injuries were found and they were both dismissed, although reluctantly, from Carson's care. They had debriefed shortly with Elizabeth and Caldwell, who , along with the Daedalus, was responsible for their miraculous rescue party. The complete debrief would be held at a later date. Elizabeth had cast both furious and wary glances in Rodney's direction. John had no doubt that a serious discussion, with or without screaming, would be in Rodney's immediate future, but not today.

A few hours after they were released, John found himself standing outside of Rodney's quarters. It was still mid-afternoon, but they both had been exhausted and Carson's orders had been clear about where they were supposed to be heading when leaving the infirmary. Neither of them was really in any shape to defy those orders. So much had happened over the last few weeks culminating in the events earlier that day and he found himself unable to shut down and get some sleep. So here he was hesitating in front of Rodney's door. He put his hand on the door shime before his mind could go on another round of "Should he even be here, should he leave it be, maybe it would be best to wait till the morning, what if...." but the doors opened, revealing a tired looking Rodney and that cut his last thought off.
"Hey" was the only word he managed to wring past his frozen vocal cords but Rodney seemed to catch on and stepped aside clearing a path for him to step into the room. The doors shut behind him and left them standing inside the room shooting insecure glances at each other. Maybe it had been the wrong thing to do, they were both exhausted and he should've waited till tomorrow to clear the air. He was looking for the right words when Rodney made a move and stepped closer to him.

Eying his reaction, Rodney made another step until their bodies were touching again just like on planet P- what's its name. Then Rodney reached up a hand to cup John's face and the last tension he'd been feeling drifted away. This's what he'd been wanting and waiting for. He let his arms travel up until one rested on Rodney's elbow and the other curled around his waist to land on his lower back. This seemed to give Rodney the last courage he needed to lean into John and kiss him. Just like on the planet John was stunned for a few seconds before joining in enthusiastically. They kissed until they had no other choice then to come up for air. Panting they let their foreheads rest against each other.
"Stay" Rodney asked quietly and John nodded. He didn't need any more words. He was an expert in speaking Rodneyesk. Using that skill, it was easy to hear everything Rodney really meant with the word: I thought I was going to lose you, I was so scared, never leave me and the most important of all – I love you so much, I have for so long.
Rodney's actions earlier had told their own story. Coming to his rescue like that, facing his worst nightmare Kolya, letting him cut into his body, staying there in that clearing and facing the odd's together. For John, who hated talking about emotions and although he seemed easygoing on the surface, tended to keep his real emotions hidden inside. To have let Rodney kiss him on the planet, to have come of his own free will tonight, it was all Rodney needed to know right now. They could try and put their feeling into words later, but neither of them was that good with words when they pertained to their emotions and feelings.

Rodney stepped back towards his bed and pulled John with him. Before long they were both installed on his bed. Their gazes never drifting away from each other, taking in every detail. They'd undressed each other gently until they were lying there in their boxers only, facing each other lying as close as they could possibly get. Although the mind was willing the body was just plain tired and they were both getting a little older, neither was sixteen anymore.
Rodney was shuddering a little and John could see an entire range of emotion rolling of his face. The events of the last few weeks had taken a toll on both of them but mostly on Rodney.
"John, I need to..." and he didn't seem to know how to finish the sentence.
"Shh its okay, I don't mind" and he caressed Rodney's back and pressed a little kiss on his lips. Rodney closed his eyes and the shield flared to life encompassing them both, shielding them off from the rest of the world. Encompassed by the soft glowing shield and holding each other tight they finally drifted off to sleep feeling secure, safe and loved in each other's embrace. They were together, they were alive and they had tomorrow.....

Any alarm which may have gone off in the control room was quickly turned off by Zelenka who had seen how the two men had looked at each other when they were brought back. Any nightmares Rodney may have in the future would be dealt with swiftly. No need for outside meddlers. With a smile he reset the internal scanners and headed off to deal with the minions as Rodney called them. He would give his two friends as much time together as he could, they deserved as much....