"Bugs. Why does it always have to be bugs?" John murmured as they picked their way across the chamber, balancing on broken pillars and damaged stone balustrades, moving as fast as humanly possible under the circumstances.
The floor below them was covered in strange black bugs with shiny chitin shells. The creatures swarmed, flowing like a black river towards the far side of the room, reminiscent of a horror movie. The one Pegasus native who was foolish enough to chase them with a spear had slipped and fallen into the swarming creatures. His screams had echoed around the high-chamber as he was eaten alive - literally. John had seen one arm desperately reaching out for help, but it was almost stripped to the bone with what flesh remained hanging off like tattered ribbons.
John ducked as another spear came close to striking him, wobbling a little until he regained his balance and sped onwards.
"Move it, Rodney!" he ordered, and was grateful for all the hours the team had put into pushing Rodney.
It helped that Rodney also had a strong sense of self-preservation and John breathed a sigh of relief once they reached the other side of the chamber, glad that the flesh-eating bugs couldn't climb the high, vertical sides of the fallen columns. He used his P90 to shove aside old cobwebs hanging over the single doorway from the chamber, grimacing as some of the web stuck to it. He just hoped they were not walking into an Iratus nest, or giant spiders.
The lights from their P90s played across the corridor as they moved swiftly along, aware of the spear-wielding natives at their back; crossing the chamber might not deter the more fearless for long. He just hoped he and Rodney could find another way out of here as he didn't think they'd make it if they had to turn back.
"Huh!" Rodney stopped suddenly and John walked into him.
"What?" he demanded, giving Rodney a firm push to get him moving again.
"The power reading is getting stronger." Rodney's eyes were an amazing blue in the light from the P90's flashlight, and his smile infectious considering they'd been in mortal danger barely minutes earlier - and quite frankly were not out of the woods yet. "We're getting closer."
Except they had reached a second corridor that stretched into darkness in two directions.
"Uh... This way," Rodney stated, pointing left.
As they moved onwards swiftly, John noticed the rough stone walls give way to the familiar metallic gleam and art decor favored by the Ancients. His suspicion that they'd left the temple and entered the real outpost was confirmed when long-disused lights began to flicker. The further in they moved the stronger the lights became as they reacted to the ATA gene carried by both him and Rodney.
They came to a door and when it did not register even John's hand pressed against the lock, he turned to watch their six while Rodney pulled out his electronics kit and began to override the door crystals manually. John could hear sounds in the distance, of bare feet slapping against stone, and the low murmur of angry, determined voices. He could see movement in the flickering lights further down the corridor.
"Hurry it up, Rodney!"
"Yes, yes. I'm going as fast as I can! You try convincing a ten thousand year old security system that we are the good guys!"
A spear clattered just ten feet in front of John and he knew they were running out of time. He really didn't want to open fire but he was running out of options unless...
John barely gave Rodney time to gather up his tools before he was pushing them both through.
"Lock it!" he yelled, though it seemed unnecessary as the door closed smoothly behind them, but John didn't want to take any chances that even the natives could open the door now Rodney had overridden the security.
He watched as Rodney scrambled for the door control panel and flipped two crystals.
"There. That should hold."
Unless there was another way out of the outpost - or whatever this place used to be - John knew they were only marginally better off. Different kind of death but same outcome. Given a preference he would rather die on his feet, fighting, but he had to put his faith in Rodney, and in Teyla and Ronon who had not been with them when Rodney blundered onto sacred ground while following his power spikes.
They moved further inside the facility, and though it was relatively clean, the weight of empty years hung heavy in the air. The corridor opened up into a chamber lined with consoles. Rodney made his way to one in particular, looking excited, and for a moment he reminded John of Doranda and the ill-fated Project Arcturus.
"Rodney," he growled low, in warning, pulling Rodney's attention towards him.
For a moment Rodney looked perplexed, and then realization must have struck him.
"No. It's not... It's not a weapon as such. It's a shield generator, but it ran out of power a long time ago."
Rodney pressed a section of the control panel and a ZPM raised from its housing. Barely a flicker of energy remained in it. Likely just enough to secure the doors, and to keep the lights on for them. They had yet to find a way to recharge the ZPMs, almost destroying two universes the last time they tried to use a bridge to draw energy from subspace time. John knew Rodney and Jeannie were working on it still but far more cautiously, but that didn't help them out of their current predicament.
Rodney pushed the ZPM back into place before the facility lost residual power and plunged them into darkness, and attached his laptop to the control unit.
"Might as well download the database while we can," he breathed softly.
"Can you bring up any schematics for this place?"
"Um..." Rodney glanced around and indicated a smaller console several feet away. "Environment and security should be there."
John moved over to it and placed his hands on the console, giving a mental command, and a holographic display flickered into life above the station. He leaned in as his eyes traced a path to a second exit. The mountain beyond it had collapsed across the exit at some point in the distant past but it was far enough away from the village that a team of engineers from Atlantis could excavate it within a few days at most. They just had to wait for someone from Atlantis to make contact.
He watched as Rodney moved away from the console and sank down against the wall, pulling two MREs from one of his vest pouches.
"It's going to take some time..." Rodney waved airily towards the laptop.
John smiled wryly and joined him, sinking down so his shoulder was pressed against Rodney's. He accepted the MRE, noting it was his favorite, and nudged Rodney in thanks.
"You're welcome," Rodney stated with a shy smile.
John's smile grew. "Not the most romantic setting but... A few candles, a blanket, and this could be a date," he stated, gaining a snort from Rodney, but his nonchalant words broke the post-adrenaline tension in the room.
He felt Rodney half-turn towards him, felt the gentle hand that cupped his cheek and willingly faced Rodney, still smiling. The press of their lips made him sigh happily. This was still so new, so fragile; this change in their relationship. He had waited years, trying to be supportive as Rodney moved from one bad relationship to another in search of elusive happiness. He wasn't even sure what had happened, just blinked one day and found Rodney looking back at him the same way Rodney had looked at Katie and Sam and Jennifer, with awe and enlightenment, as if he'd just had an Epiphany.
New yet familiar and comfortable, moving together beneath the sheets that first time as if they already knew every inch of the other, knowing instinctively how to please. It made John squirm a little just thinking about it, feeling his cock twitch and harden from the memory alone, but he quickly tamped down on the rising desire, flushing at Rodney's knowing, crooked smile.
"Not the time or place," John stated awkwardly, gaining another gentle but non-passionate kiss in response.
Two hours later, John was giving Lorne instructions over the radio and only a surprisingly few hours after that the engineers had removed some of the top level debris blocking the second exit to find a natural hole big enough for a man to crawl through. Of course John made Rodney crawl through first, considering it a perk of the job as he admired the firm, round ass that he intended to uncover and play with later, back on Atlantis.
Rodney threw a knowing look over his shoulder as he crawled through the last few feet, and John laughed softly.