When McKay put his hand out to touch the supposed workstation, John felt a moment of apprehension. Not that he could put it into words really but it was more of a... well that feeling you get in car when you go over a big bump. A lightening of the gut, a swirl of fear.
'McKay, should you touch that?'
'Well what would you suggest?'
'I'll do it.'
'Be my guest.'
McKay had stepped back albeit somewhat smugly, like John would fail. Stepping forward John had simply meant to assess the panel and see if there were anything obviously dangerous. Except that hadn't happened. He heard Teyla gasp and a resounding thud. He knew it was McKay before he saw it was McKay.
McKay was on the floor but he looked like a destrung puppet. His limbs were limp and although his eyes were open it looked like he was losing consciousness.
'McKay?' John lightly tapped his face.
'Rodney, can you hear us?' asked Teyla as she also patted his shoulder.
It looked like he was slipping away right in front of them. Sheppard looked briefly for whatever had done this to McKay but nothing really stood out. Just a wall.
'Oh come on, McKay, don't be a drama queen now...' John watched as Teyla again attempted to wake him.
'We need to get him back to Atlantis,' said Ronon.
'I know. Help me with him. Teyla, radio ahead please.'
'Atlantis we have an emergency, over. This is Teyla, do you read? I am not getting through.'
'We'll take him to the gate.' Sheppard got McKay's feet and Ronon his upper body. They lifted and moved him away from the central column, which at first was fine.
'Stop,' said Teyla urgently. 'He's bleeding.'
Alarmed John looked down and saw blood coming from McKay's nose and ears.
'No, we shouldn't stop, we need to get him back right now.'
'What if it's a contagion?' asked Teyla.
'Get Beckett, Ronon. Teyla go with him,' said Sheppard conceded.
'I would rather stay.'
'I know but there's nothing we can do, so you better off guarding the way, help Beckett with his gear.'
'Very well.' Teyla nods at Ronon and they leave.
They are gone for a minute or two and McKay started to fit. Sheppard does the best he can to make sure McKay does not choke. After thirty seconds or so McKay stopped fitting and stilled. John rested his hand on McKay's chest and felt him breathing. The bag of guilt he'd been carrying around had become heavier. He looked at McKay for a moment, but the churning inside forced him to look away. Why had he said those things? John thought the others would be about ten minutes, given that Beckett had to grab gear and get to the gate room. McKay fitted a few more times, each time lasting longer, his back arching like he was being electrocuted.
'Come on, McKay, no giving up. I'm sure you can bore me with the endless details but you gotta wake up first bud.' John checked his vitals. His breathing had become shallow and John saw blood coming from his eyes too. He's going to die: the cold realisation hit him. John got up and started looking around, for something, anything. Recklessly he touched the 'workstation' or whatever it was. It lit with colours, it reacted to his presence but nothing else. John bent over it looking for some idea as to it's use. Nothing.
'Goddammit.' The helpless rage he felt wasn't aiding anyone but John raged anyway. 'I don't know if anyone is there or if you can even hear me, but you are killing him. Do you understand? He's going to die!' Sheppard punched the display in frustration.
'Now I'm pissed off and my hand hurts!' John didn't care if anyone heard him.
The walls suddenly flashed brightly, a blue green cascade which then dimmed, but remained giving the room a weird glow. Oddly, he felt immediately calmer. He checked McKay again, still breathing. John sat down next to him. He took out a sealed antiseptic wipe and tore the packet open with his teeth. Very hygienic, John, he thought. He wiped the blood from McKay's face; he'd totally freak if he woke up. When, John thought, when he woke up. The blue-green light now pleasantly thrummed through a variety of tones. A few minutes passed and John sat quietly beside McKay. He didn't fit or continue to bleed which John assumed was a good thing. He looked at his watch, it had been ten minutes. John got up and went to the entrance and looked for the others. Nope, nothing. He paced about for another five. McKay stayed still, breathing but nothing else. When a full twenty minutes had passed John went from mildly concerned to quite worried. From here he could see down to their original entrance, the door was still clear as far as he could see. Twenty-five minutes. He decided to wait the full thirty and then begin to move McKay himself. He checked to make sure McKay was still stable. He noticed McKay's eyes were moving rapidly as if dreaming.
'Oh, okay. Yeah... You have a little nap there, McKay... no no, don't get up.' John put his hands under McKay's arms and started to drag him to the doorway. He stopped and made sure all was clear. Thirty-one minutes. He checked the radio, still nothing. John dragged McKay down the adjoining walkway.
'Oh look, McKay, it's a normal mission, you're a dead weight and I'm carrying you... again.' John moved backwards and had to keep stopping to look behind him. It was when he was one third of the way when he heard a massive explosion. Ducking down next to McKay, John waited a moment before slowly popping his head up again. John felt like he'd been stabbed with an icicle of fear. Wraith.
'And I was having such a great day...'
John started dragging McKay back the way he'd come, but then down one of the many adjoining paths. The Wraith would most likely go to the centralised area like they had done previously. Hopefully one of the adjoining rooms would give them some cover. Sweat was beading on John's face and he felt that he wasn't putting enough weights into his strength routines. As he dragged McKay's prone body John wondered if Teyla and Ronon had made it back or if they had been captured by the Wraith. He hoped for their sake they had managed to return.
As Sheppard neared the end of the walkway he tried to assess which way to go. Now he was out of sight he picked McKay up and slung him over his shoulder. The Wraith were far behind him, but that didn't mean they wouldn't come this way eventually. Then he noticed a flashing light, a small green light. It was in the floor and as he stepped closer to it the light moved a step away from him. He stepped again in that direction, the light moved. Was it him, or was the light getting him to follow? He looked behind him, there was another light, but red and it did not flash. What the hell, he followed the green light. It led him down a side corridor out of the main expansive chamber. The lights came on as he moved down but they stayed low and the walls of colour were muted.
John stopped a moment to catch his breath and he checked McKay, still breathing and not bleeding. Good.
'Hope you're enjoying that dream, McKay,' John whispered and wiped his brow on his sleeve. He picked McKay up again and moved towards a door-pool thing. He touched it and it receded. The lights led him to a room off to the side so he followed, muttering under his breath. Once inside John stopped and looked around. There were beds, of sorts, weird bio mechanical tubes and a sound of trickling water. John placed McKay down on one of the 'beds'. He turned to look at the door and the green lights flashed around a button. John walked closer to the button and put his face right by it.
'Ok, you want me to push the button?' It's not going to lock us in is it?' He looked around the area not really expecting a sign but recognising that their might be. Nothing like hedging your bets is there. 'Ok, I'm going to press it, but I will be most displeased if I become trapped.' He pushed the button and the door rippled and came together. The green light still flashed, so he pushed it again. This time the black 'water' looked like it was freezing solid. John touched it. It was hard. He pushed it and it did not give.
'Well, that's not encouraging,' he shook his head, 'One life threatening problem at a time, John.'
Sheppard saw McKay was fine for now so he started to search the room. It was round, the bed heads were pointed at the centralised column. Colour flashed around McKay's only. There was some sort of projection on the wall behind his head. There was a regular blip, and on checking McKay's pulse he could see they were the same. A flashing wall caught his eye and he saw many compartments, one flashed green. He reached out to touch it and stopped.
'Green is good right?' John looked around and saw nothing else. He was starting to think that there definitely was some sort of intelligence helping him. Was it some kind of ancient computer? Maybe McKay was hooked up to it somehow?
'McKay... is that you?' John watched for a reaction, but nothing other than the panel in front of him flashed. Shrugging he tapped the green and a draw opened. Inside were little vials, all the same. He picked one up. The draw shut and another area started to flash. He went to it, tapped it and it opened. Inside were what he assumed were hypo-syringe type things. He picked one up. He looked to see how they fit together. He mashed them together and the wall flashed red.
'Oh... so not like that?' He tried another way and it clicked into place. The wall flashed green. John smiled and for a tiny moment forgot where he was, then the smile fell away.
'How do you know green is good and red is bad? Is that a universal thing?' McKay's bed flashed green. John walked over to it.
'So you seem to want me to inject my friend, well, not friend more colleague... well, maybe subordinate. Huh... not sure what he is, but I don't want to hurt him with whatever is in here.' John shook the syringe.
The bed continued to flash green. So it was crunch time. Make a choice John. He hovered the end of the syringe over McKay, then to his arm. The bed flashed red.
'Okay, not there,' John tried the other arm, still red. He tried the neck and the bed flashed green.
'So here?' He put it closer and the bed pulsed quicker. 'Hey, McKay, I'm going to inject you with an alien medicine. I'm pretty sure it's ok, the flashing lights said so. Say or do something now if you think this is a bad idea.' John waited, looked at McKay's face closely. Nothing.
'Yeah, you're not McKay', he said to the flashing lights, 'he'd be freaking out. All right then.' John pressed the syringe against McKay's skin he felt something release but no noise. He watched McKay closely. The eyes started to twitch more and his breathing picked up. He was waking.
Jumping had not been his smartest move.
'Bad idea, Rodney, stupid, stupid.' Shepard wouldn't have jumped into an unknown situation blind.
Rodney was at once overwhelmed by visions, emotions and random snippets of conversations in a language he didn't understand. Waves of information hit him over and over and he felt like he was going to drown. It was hard to separate his own thoughts from those flashing before him. His head felt like it was going to explode, the pain was incredible. He tried to hide from it as best he could. It felt like he was treading water in a sea of thought. But then he saw the lights again, flashing blue-green. They were far away in the distance. He'd have to make his way through the thoughts first. He dithered wondering what to do. The lights pulsed ahead, just greens now. Well he knew what Sheppard would do... Why did he even care what Sheppard would do? That thinking had got him here in the first place.
The well of self-pity he had rose up and he felt like he'd cry, well if he were awake. He knew what it was. Rodney was part of a group, the group wasn't perfect, but he was a part of it. He never really needed the approval of his peers and when he did meet people he actually liked, he tended to drive them away. He tried not to get attached to people for this reason. In Atlantis, those options were moot. They were all stuck with one another. He'd started to feel a part of the team, to become attached to them. He even felt liked. See that was the mistake, he'd broken the first rule. People like Sheppard usually didn't like him. Handsome, affable, charming those sorts of people normally despised him. Well, not much changed. Sheppard clearly thought Rodney was beneath him, and on his worse days, Rodney thought so too.
McKay looked up and saw the rapid flashes of green. It had gotten brighter while he had been thinking.
'Oh all right, I'm coming for god sake.' Other people's thoughts couldn't be much worse than his own dark ones could they? Na´ve, McKay, Na´ve, he thought.
If he didn't do something he would just sit here with his dark thoughts. And what if the others needed him? That thought propelled him. He made his way over and every time information threatened to overload him he concentrated on the stronger thoughts he had. Like the time when he'd dreamt about Samantha Carter or when he first found out about the Stargate program. More recently, the Wraith featured quite highly as did Sheppard's expression of disgust when he told McKay he had no redeemable features. The hurt that went with that also helped him focus.
The lights flashed rapidly and brightly once Rodney arrived. McKay felt happiness or maybe relief again, he wasn't sure. He was rubbish at discerning emotions at the best of times.
'Well, I'm here. I got through...' McKay pointed at the sea of thoughts and failed to find a word to describe it, 'That.'
The lights flashed and bobbed away slightly.
'Oh, I know this game already, you want me to follow? Is there more of... that?' McKay shuddered.
Flashes of red.
'No? Red is no, green is yes?'
Flashes of green.
'Ah, communication,' McKay smiled, pleased with the development.
'Am I dead?' He asked suddenly fearful. Red.
'Well, that's good to know. Are you dead?' Red.
'Excellent. Do you need help? Ronon seemed to think so.' Green.
'You are in danger?' Green.
'Ok. Right well this is a start.' Rodney didn't know what to ask next, but the lights formed a face again, it was his own in red. Then it flashed to Sheppard, as red too.
'Sheppard and I are in danger?' Green. Rodney felt fear flutter.
'Is Sheppard hurt?' Red. 'Okay, that's good.'
'What about Ronon and Teyla, are they hurt?' Red.
The lights then faded and formed a picture, of some of the people he'd seen when his mind was overloaded. He felt sadness, loss.
'Are those people here?' Red. Rodney felt something else, alongside the loss deep down.
'Are they alive?' A long pause and then red.
'You miss them.' It wasn't a question but then green pulsed.
Then the lights started to dim and flutter. McKay felt himself being pulled up, slowly through the deep of his mind. He saw the lights flash white and disappear. He felt it's hope and desperation.
And then he felt his headache, pounding. He put his hand to his head and winced as he opened his eyes and saw Sheppard watching him with concern.
'Well, nice of you to join us. You've missed a real treat.'
McKay tried to get up and Sheppard had to help him. He wobbled on the edge of the bed and Sheppard steadied him by holding his shoulder.
'Are you with me, McKay?'
'I... think so,' McKay squinted at his surroundings, 'Where are we?'
'Oh, McKay, I've been having a great time while you were passed out.'
'Give me the facts, Major. Not your delusion.'
'Well, you touched things after I told you not to,' Rodney tried to object but Sheppard held up a finger to stop him like he was a naughty school boy, 'I sent Ronon and Teyla to get the Doc. I haven't seen them since. So I tried to lug your sorry ass to the gate. But I had to redirect to here because of the Wraith.'
McKay's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to speak, but shut it again as Sheppard wagged his finger again. Rodney glared.
'Yeah, I haven't heard them, but they will find their way here eventually. Weirdness is happening though. I followed signs to this room and then... helped you.' Sheppard wore a sheepish grin that immediately made Rodney suspicious.
'How did you help me, exactly?'
'Well, I administered first aid. Look we should really be trying to find a way back to the Stargate.' Sheppard walked over to the door and listened. Rodney knew that look, that face said he was not telling him something.
'What did you do?' Rodney walked, unsteadily, over to where Sheppard was standing and faced him.
'I told you, first aid.'
'Yeah, what exactly did you do? I don't see anything here,' then McKay spots the syringe by the bed he'd laid on. He stomped over and picked it up. 'What the hell is this?'
'It's some sort of syringe-hypo-spray thing.' Sheppard shifted guiltily.
'Where did it come from?' McKay had a sinking feeling in his stomach which didn't help with the nausea he was already feeling. 'Did you use this on me?
Rodney gaped at Sheppard, unable to fathom his recklessness. He stuttered unable to get the words he wanted to shout at Sheppard out.
'I certainly didn't inject anything untested on you because you would completely overreact, lose your shit and panic,' said Sheppard sarcastically.
'How could you?' McKay squeaked.
'I thought you were dying.'
'Well I didn't know that did I? I had Wraith breathing down my neck,' Sheppard hissed as he gesticulated towards the door.
'What... so you just injected random alien meds in me?' McKay's disbelief soared.
'No, it wasn't random. There's some sort of on board computer, it told me what to use,' Sheppard justified himself.
'So you did!' McKay's head was now pounding with pain and fury.
The wall flashed behind Rodney, a pale muted blue.
'I know, I know. He's really very grateful. McKay, shut up,' Sheppard seemed to address another part of the room.
'Who are you talking to?' McKay looked around.
'Did you hit your head too?'
'Really? I just spent the best part of an hour trying to wake you up and I already wish you'd just shut up!'
'No, McKay, just worried.'
'Ok.' McKay skirted around Sheppard looking at his head.
Sheppard frowned at Rodney, 'What are you doing?'
'Looking for signs of a concussion'
'Oh okay. So do you regularly talk to alien architecture?'
'Only ones that communicate with me,' Sheppard grinned at Rodney.
'Right,' McKay pauses, 'So what does it say?'
'Nothing. Well nothing out loud.'
'So you are hearing it in your head?'
'For gods sake McKay. I'm not hearing voices. I'm seeing flashing colours that tell me whether I should or shouldn't do something.'
'Okay, then.' McKay's eyes widen slightly.
'Why are you saying it like that?'
'Like I'm a crazy person.'
'Well, I dunno... maybe because you are acting like a crazy person!' McKay shouted the last part. 'Rational people don't talk to walls!'
The wall behind McKay flashed blue-green again.
'Wait, did you say flashing colours?'
'I saw them too.'
'Yes, just now the room flashed.'
'No, I mean, I saw them in my head.'
'When... you were unconscious?'
'Why are you saying it like that.'
'I dunno, McKay, it kinda sounds like something a crazy person would say, don't you think?' The smug self-satisfied look on Sheppard's face was insufferable.
'Hilarious, ha ha.'
'What did you see?' Sheppard looked concerned for the first time since Rodney had awoken.
'Something was guiding me with flashing colours, red was no and green...'
'Was yes,' finished Sheppard.
'So it was helping us both?'
'Looks like it.'
'I saw other stuff. Alien thoughts and visions it was overwhelming. The lights guided me though. It told me we are in danger.'
'On that we can agree. I think we should get out of here and get to the gate if we can.'
'What about the... Alien? It's asking for help.'
'I guess that's something we'll consider on the way. If those Wraith are from a Hive ship, I think help at this stage is a moot point.'
'Ok,' said Rodney simply. His head was still aching and waves of sickness would wash over him if he nodded too much. He felt a tug of guilt, however, he didn't want to abandon whoever was trying to help them. He watched as Sheppard fiddled with a panel next to what he assumed was the door. He could see the other man's frustration mounting.
'Could you open the door?' Sheppard asked the room. The wall flashed red and Rodney felt a burst of fear.
'I think the Wraith are getting closer.'
'When it flashes I feel the corresponding emotion too, don't you?'
'No, I don't. What did you feel?'
Then McKay heard them, marching and presumably checking rooms. This one was shut so obviously they were interested in what was on the other side. They banged on it. Sheppard immediately put his arm out and indicated to McKay to fall back, which he did. McKay shakily withdrew his sidearm and pointed it down. Silently they moved so that the central column was in between them and the door. Rodney felt his heart hammering in his chest. The Wraith banged harder and louder. When they started firing their weapons, Sheppard grabbed Rodney's arm and gripped it silently. McKay wasn't sure who Sheppard was trying to reassure, he didn't care, the touch made him feel less freaked. A few minutes of silence and a new noise came. They were trying to cut through and it seemed to be working. A black dot could be seen from their side although it hadn't broken through yet.
There was a hiss of air from behind them and Sheppard spun around. A green light was flashing and Rodney felt hope coming from it. They stepped over, Sheppard glancing over his should frequently. There was a panel and McKay could see that it was loose. Rodney opened the panel and saw it was some sort of vent. There was enough room inside for them to get into.
'It wants us to go in here,' Rodney whispered.
'Ok, you first.'
Sheppard gestured to the door and the incoming Wraith, 'Unless you'd like to deal with that?' McKay's eyes widened and he got into the vent.
Sheppard followed after and the panel shut itself and hissed. The vent was tall enough for them to walk, but they were stooped over. The walls and floors were made with a spongy organic looking material. As Rodney walked he felt his feet bouncing slightly. After thirty feet they reached a junction, leading either left going down or right going up.
'Which way?' Asked Rodney.
Sheppard was watching their six and glanced over his shoulder briefly.
'Which one is green?' Rodney looked and saw that the left side had a light green glow as opposed to the right's red glow.
'Then we go left, McKay.'
Summary: Metamorphosis; to transform, to change, to evolve. Sometimes people change because they want to, sometimes because they are forced. An encounter with a powerful alien leave McKay & Sheppard changed in ways neither ever expected. McShep.