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Between the Whiskers

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[EPISODE 1]

John wanted desperately to stretch and yawn as he sat in the mission briefing from PXD 473, apparently the team who had gone found no sign of sentient life, but found what they thought was a research facility left by the Ancients.

The science half of the room seemed thrilled, none more so than McKay, who was currently sat forward in his chair, firing relentless questions at Corporal Davis.

John just let the conversation wash over him as he watched McKay.

McKay was an enigma he couldn’t quite get comfortable with.

He was the best scientist they had, one of the sole reasons Atlantis was up and running, and keeping it that way. But he was also a Shifter.

John hadn’t had much dealing with Shifter’s before, in fact, before McKay he had never met one in person. And being part of the military he was never really expecting too, after all, they were practically forbidden to work in high risk situation because of their rarity.

He had seen some stuff on TV and in films about Shifters, but that was the basis of all his knowledge. So far, he hadn’t seen McKay Shift into his big cat form. Sometimes he even doubted he actually was a Shifter. After all, they were meant to be placed timid things, of which McKay was not.

Even though, after Simmons’s death, Elizabeth had told John he was now one of McKay’s chaperones along with herself and Zelenka.

It was annoying. According to Elizabeth, one of them had to be with him at all times, it was one of the stipulations the Shifter Registry back on Earth had imposed on McKay actually being allowed to come on the mission.

So he had had to move into the quarters next to McKay’s with Zelenka at the other side and Elizabeth across the corridor.

John was just happy that he didn’t have to actually share with McKay. Because he was sure it would be hell.

At first he had been annoyed that he had to baby sit a grown man. But it had only taken a few days into his babysitting before he had to step into a situation with a few of the Shifter fans.

He had turned to talk to someone in the mess and when he turned back, McKay had been cornered by a couple of botanists and a few marines. McKay looked like he was about to explode in their faces.

John was ready to find amusement in the situation when suddenly one of the female botanists reached out as McKay swung out an arm to get past them. Her hand ended up wrapping around McKay’s wrist.

Everyone froze. Including McKay, who seemed to actually relax, even though his eyes were wide with something close to fear as he went very pale.

The whole Mess seemed to go silent in that moment with a collective indrawn breath.

Grabbing a Shifter by the wrist was forbidden, unless you actually owned it. According to law, it made them very subservient and compliant. Hell, even John had wanted to do it a time or two, just to shut McKay up, but would never act on it.

Katie Brown had let go immediately, apologising profusely as the crowd around McKay suddenly backed off.

McKay in turn had tensed up again and stormed out of the Mess. John had told one of the marines not involved to take names and report the incident to Elizabeth immediately as he ran off after McKay. He had then followed McKay to his lab, they hadn’t talked, mostly because McKay hid himself behind his computer not saying a word. John didn’t know what he could say, but he left him in Zelenka’s care when he was called to Elizabeth’s office to report as they put Katie Brown on disciplinary.

They hadn’t talked about it since, but it also meant everyone else on Atlantis kept a respectful distance, which McKay seemed happy about.

“I have to go!”

John was snapped out of his musing as McKay raised his voice.

“You know I can’t allow that McKay.” Elizabeth answered. “I’m sure Zelenka is more than capable of going.”

“He hates going off world.” McKay protested as Zelenka nodded in agreement. “I’m the best person to quickly figure out if this place is actually what I’m looking for!”

“He’s right.” Zelenka put in.

“You also said there wasn’t any danger?” McKay carried on glaring at Davis. “It should be safe if I go with Sheppard’s team and maybe SGA7. We could be back by supper if we go now.”

“Sheppard?” Elizabeth asked with a suffering sigh.

John just shrugged. “If Davis say’s it’s safe enough, I don’t see why not. It’s not that far from the gate.”

“Only about two miles.” Davis answered. “The terrain is forested, but it’s on a level.”

“Fine, Davis is your team willing to go out again?” Elizabeth asked.

“Not a problem.” Davis answered with a relaxed smile.

“Ok, go gear up. Zelenka can you help McKay. Sheppard a word.”

John stood as everyone else left the conference room. “What is it?” he asked when they were alone.

“I know I don’t need to say this. But watch McKay’s back.” She said with a smile. “He might be a rare Shifter, but he’s also a civilian and the most important scientist we have… bring him back in one piece?”

“I always try and bring everyone back.” He reassured. But there was something in her expression that made him uncomfortable.

“I know you will… but I think Rodney actually likes you, so try not to be too hard on him.”

John frowned, despite McKay being arrogant, condescending and maddeningly annoying at times. John actually liked the guy, it was rare when he found people he could get along with so well, McKay could bring out the geeky side of himself that he didn’t show many people. Also he liked watching McKay with his staff, there was no end of enjoyment there as they all ran around after his littlest whim’s or he would bark on for hours.

“I’ll try not to be.” He promised. “I should get going…”

“I’ll see you when you’re ready to depart then.” She smiled at him again before turning to leave.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney was beyond exited as Zelenka helped him get his kit together to leave on his first off world mission. He had wanted to be on a team since the get go, but knew it was too much to hope for.

But here he was all tacked up and ready to go.

He had two laptops with him, enough power bars to last a few days, a little stash of coffee, just in case they had time to make it. A tool kit with all he should need.

“Let me check you out.” Sheppard suddenly said behind him.

McKay tried not to blush as he turned, giving Zelenka a scowl as he did so, the little elf had a grin on his face Rodney didn’t like.

Then John was pulling on the straps of his backpack, moving them into a more comfortable position on Rodney’s shoulders. Then he bobbed down in front of him and Rodney swallowed hard.

“You need to double tie your laces.” Sheppard said matter of fact as he tied Rodney’s laces.

“I could have done that myself.” He snapped in embarrassment. “I’m not a child.”

Suddenly Sheppard was grinning up at him and Rodney’s heart missed a beat. “Not with that backpack. You sure it’s not too heavy?”

Rodney stepped away. “It’s got to be alright. I need everything I have.”

Sheppard just stood with that annoying grin on his face as he turned away to go help someone else.

Rodney watched him go. The man could sometimes make him have the strangest feelings he couldn’t put names too. He did like Sheppard though. It was rare to find someone who actually seemed to enjoy being his chaperone. At first he knew Sheppard resented it, but so did a lot of other people and Rodney had just learned to ignore it. But soon he found out that Sheppard could actually make him laugh. And Rodney was sure Sheppard wasn’t as thick or as laid back as he made out to be. That didn’t mean Sheppard couldn’t be an annoying bastard at time.

“Well, good luck Rodney.” Zelenka said behind him. “And make sure you stay with Sheppard, he’s a good man.”

Rodney gave him another glare, “He’s the one who has to stay with me.” He snapped as he followed the other marines out to the gate room.

--

Rodney couldn’t help but keep shifting his weight from foot to foot in his excitement. He wanted to be on his way already.

“Ready to go?” Sheppard suddenly appeared at his side again. Rodney was sure if he didn’t know better, Sheppard was trying to kill him through fright.

“I was ready ages ago!” he seethed angrily.

Sheppard just gave him one of his funny smiles before he turned to the control platform. “Ok, open the gate!”

Rodney watched as the chevrons lit up and finally the gate whooshed into life. Then Davis’s team started going though. Following them Teyla and Ford.

“Come on then.” Sheppard said and Rodney found the man taking his elbow and moving him forwards.

Rodney would have protested but he was too thrilled to care as he closed his eyes, and for the second time in his life, he stepped through the event horizon.

When he opened them again he was on a planet that looked a lot like any forest on Earth. It was a bright blue day that made Rodney sneeze out of habit, even though he had grown out of his allergies.

“Donavan, Johannes, you guys watch the gate.” Davis was instructing his men. “We need to go that way.” He said pointing off in one direction.

“Ford, Teyla, take our six.” Sheppard was saying as he pulled Rodney down the small ramp supporting the gate.

“On it!” Ford said as he waited for them to pass.

“You stay behind me at all times.” Sheppard said to him. For some reason Rodney was thrown by the way Sheppard seemed so business like and serious. “No wandering off.”

“Fine.” Rodney replied, finally pulling his arm from Sheppard hold.

Sheppard didn’t seem offended as he nodded then started walking in front of him.

Rodney rubbed his arm where Sheppard’s hand had been, where it now felt cold and just a little lonely. Quickly he made up the space between himself and Sheppard, determined to stay close to the other man, telling himself it was because he was on a strange and probably hostile planet.

--

Thirty minutes later and Rodney was regretting bringing so much stuff. His backpack felt like someone had put lead in it at some point, so keeping up with Sheppard was getting even harder.

“Wait up.” He panted out. “Can we take a rest?” he had a thought that if he Shifted, four feet were better than two as he stumbled over another tree root. But the thought of stripping naked in front of so many marines, never mind Teyla was just to embarrassing. Also he would have to modify his backpack before Shifting and someone would have to help him put it on. And the thought of someone touching him in cat form was just too much to contemplate. He hated it more than dreaming about waking up naked in the gate room, which was an actually possibility, being a Shifter, so whatever his shrink said, it was plausible paranoia.

“It’s not much farther McKay.” John said turning to look at him with a frown of disapproval on his face.

Rodney knew exactly what the stupid Major was thinking. “Well sorry.” He bit out, deciding taking his annoyance out might help a little, and Sheppard was an easy target right now. “But I’m not a muscle bound fitness freak like some people!”

“Wouldn’t hurt you if you spent some time in the gym.” Ford said behind him. “You should look after yourself, get out more.”

Rodney bared his teeth as he glared over his shoulder at Ford. “Oh and where exactly am I meant to get out more? Hu?” he barked.

Ford just snorted dismissively at him. “I don’t know. Maybe you should try getting a date instead, relieve some of that stress?” he finished the innuendo with a leer.

Rodney stopped in his tracks, fed up of all the jarheads he had to deal with on a daily basis. “Date?... Stress!” he seethed. “To right you don’t know, you don’t know anything!” he started shouting. “Go on a date? Do you have any idea what that could mean for me? Hu? Do you!”

“Hey man.” Ford said as he backed up a little.

“Guys.” Sheppard said in warning, but Rodney chose to ignore it.

“Well let me tell you!” he lowered his voice to a hiss. “It means I will probably end up being raped for the rest of my life, bonded to some dick like you who has no idea what or how to deal with a Shifter. You have no idea what I’ve had to give up to keep this little bit of freedom I have, constantly followed around by minders because if they weren’t there, some bastard will try and Bond with me because they ‘think’ it will be cool to own a Shifter!” he took a deep breath. “So excuse me if I can’t ‘get out’ much, or want to make myself all pretty and buff like some kept Shifter whore, so I apologise that I can’t be more like you!” with that he turned around, ignoring the look of startlement in Ford and Teyla’s eyes. Then walked past Sheppard, he could see Davis not to far away, waiting for them.

“I…” he heard Ford stammer.

“Can it!” Sheppard replied, he sounded angry. Rodney guessed it was mostly at him for his emotional outburst. But sod them, sod them all. He had lost his freedom at thirteen when he had been shoved into a State Shifter Dormitory and locked up like some animal in a zoo, ready to be shipped off to the first person that smelled good or made his heart flutter… or so the other Shifters whore’s described it.

After he had reached eighteen he had lost count of how many prospective Bond Mates he had been forced to meet. All of them had looked at him with hungry eyes. It wasn’t his fault he had been a pretty young man, all skinny with blond hair and blue eyes. Not one of them gave a crap about what he wanted to do with his life, all promising anything he wanted, so long as he hung off their arms and fawned over them. But the moment he mentioned science and astrophysics he saw their hungry grins turn a little stiff as he continued to baffle them.

Not one had ever understood him. They had never been interested in the child genius, just the colour of his pure skin or fur coat.

So he had put his head down and got his doctorates, and before he knew it he was twenty five and was allowed a bit more freedom.

The Dormitory staff had despaired of him and was almost glad when he managed to secure himself a place in the military. And that was where he had met Doctor Samantha Carter. He had found her very attractive, and she was the first person he had ever wanted to bond with. After all, she was a scientist almost at his own calibre and the doors she could open for him would have been numerous. But she had rejected him completely, more so when she realized he was a Shifter.

He almost resented her for that, but he knew how precious freedom could be, and even though they would have been bonded, he would still be a loadstone about her neck.

So, here he was somewhere in his mid thirties on an alien planet in another galaxy with a lot of Jarheads and Shifter fanatics who just wanted a piece of his fur.  What was more annoying was that he couldn’t even be the head of Science on Atlantis, even thought he was smarter than Zelenka just because he could be a cat some of the time.

“Hey… you ok?” Sheppard asked at his side, he hadn’t even been aware the man had caught up with him, which was saying something as he was usually always aware if anyone got close.

“I’m used to it.” Rodney sighed. He was to busy walking now to be angry anymore. “There are three type of people, one’s who think it would be cool to own a Shifter, those who are ignorant to what a Shifter is, other than the crap they show on TV,” he threw a thumb over his shoulder at Ford. “And the last, those who know enough about us that they don’t want it. Those are the smart ones.”

He glared at Sheppard when the man snorted a laugh.

“So you’re saying I’m smart?” Sheppard asked, his stupid mouth up at one side.

“As smart as your stupid hair.” Rodney retorted, unable to keep the smile from his own mouth.

“Me and my hair could have been in Mensa.” Sheppard said casually.

Rodney laughed aloud at the loonisy of that statement, before he saw the look on Sheppard’s face. “What?... really?... How?!” he blurted out.

Sheppard just shrugged one shoulder. “I took the test and passed, but I was to busy at the time to follow through.”

Rodney almost stumbled on another tree root and was surprised when he felt Sheppard’s hand on his elbow again, but it was only a fleeting touch once he had his feet again.

“How could you be too busy?!” Rodney demanded, acting like the touch had never happened.

Sheppard shrugged again. “Look, on the way back, I’ll take some of your stuff; I have room in my pack. Ah, looks like we’re there.”

Rodney watched as Sheppard jogged up to Davis. Wondering why Sheppard was being so nice. Usual he didn’t say much, just sat nearby and played his video games, or watch with a smile when Rodney balled out his staff. They had talked before, but it was like getting blood from a stone most of the time. Rodney guessed maybe the great outdoors was more Sheppard’s natural environment.

He had to admit, even grudgingly that he liked the man and wondered if maybe they could be friends?

Sheppard might be a jarhead, flyboy, whatever, but he was also smart, and smart enough not to want a Shifter destroying his life just like Samantha.

It was actually nice knowing he had two people in two galaxies who he liked and didn’t look at him with hungry eyes, well, Sam was more distain, but there was some comfort in the fact that she didn’t want him. Where as Sheppard, well, Sheppard didn’t look at him like anything really. It was just the same look he gave everyone, not wanting anything from him, which was comforting.

 

++++++++++

“Are you sure it’s wise leaving him alone?” Teyla asked as she ate her MRE.

John looked over again to make sure McKay was in sight. The man was so deep in his work, that even the temptation of food hadn’t brought him over to the camp they had set up. And John knew how much McKay liked his food.

Apparently the little ancient outpost wasn’t for making ZPM’s, but McKay had found it interesting enough he was now trying to download all the information he could from it. So they contacted SGA and they had agreed to stay the night and set back at first light.

“He should be fine.” John answered as he drank some more coffee he had found in McKay’s pack. He already kept some aside for the scientist for later and for first thing in the morning. There was no way the rest of the group could survive McKay’s temper in the morning if he didn’t have his fix.

“But what if something happened to him?” she asked. “Isn’t he one of your people’s very special people?”

“He’s a Shifter.” Davis said softly, so his voice didn’t carry to McKay. “They are special, but they are just like normal people most of the time, I’m sure he will let us know if he needs us.”

“Elizabeth said he could turn into a big cat?” Teyla said looking a little confused, even John knew they didn’t really have anything like lions or tigers in the Pegasus galaxy. “But I haven’t seen him do so yet?”

“Some don’t like Shifting much.” Davis answered, “I imagine McKay is like that too. I have a sister-in-law who’s got a brother, who’s a Shifter, and he only Shifts in public if his Bond Mate asks him to. Which she does sometimes.”

“Ah, what is this about a Bond Mate?” Teyla asked. “Is it like marriage?”

Davis frowned. “Err… kind of… but it’s more so. Once a Shifter is Bonded to a human, they are tied to that person for the rest of their life.”

“Yeah.” O’Moore said, who was one of Davis’s men. “If the Mate dies before the Shifter, the Shifter dies too. It’s why the poor bastards aren’t allowed to work in any high risk environments. In case they find a Mate there, or just get killed accidentally. People like to see Shifters get old.” He shrugged like he didn’t get it himself.

“I’m guessing that’s why Doctor McKay hasn’t bonded with anyone.” Davis said as he took another bite of his MRE. “He might be a high strung selfish twat, but I guess he cares enough not to be a burden on anyone, especially on this expedition.”

“That or he just doesn’t want to die because someone got themselves killed.” Ford muttered a little too darkly.

“Ford…” John warned. He thought the younger man got his dressing down earlier by McKay, but it seemed it might take a proper talking too. John might not know much about Shifters, but even he was affected by McKay’s little rant.

He had never thought of it quite the way McKay put it earlier. After all, John had resented having to follow the scientist about, but he shared it with two other people, he couldn’t even imagine having someone with him twenty four sever just because he was different ‘some’ of the time.

“It all sounds very restrictive.” Teyla carried on. “So, how do they become bonded? To another human. Is it something that is easy but not so easy to reverse?”

“It is, kind of.” Davis said. “It’s why in our culture it’s seen as bad if you grab someone by the wrist or back of the neck. The wrist thing is just a way of controlling a Shifter, it makes them do whatever you want them too. Where as grabbing the back of their neck will start a Bonding ritual.”

“But what if the Shifter doesn’t want to Bond with the person who grabbed their neck?” Teyla asked sounding more stressed as she kept looking over to where McKay was still working. “Do they still have to bond?”

“I was told that it will only work if the Shifter has some feelings for the person who grabbed them.” O’Moore said as he settled down against the log he was leaning against. “But I did watch this one flick once where the person who grabbed a Shifter then rejected her and she died because of it. Duno if it’s true or not. But it had my mum in tears for ages.”

“Poor Rodney.” Teyla sighed. “Maybe that is why he sometimes comes across as so arrogant… to keep people at a distance so he doesn’t have to care about them?”

John guessed she was right, then he saw McKay come towards the camp. “About time!” he called. “I saved you some coffee.”

He watched as McKay frowned dangerously. “You went in my pack!” he accused as he stomped over and grabbed the cup from John’s hand and looked into it mournfully.

“We didn’t drink all of it.” Teyla smiled up at McKay. “John made sure you have some for morning.”

“Really?” McKay asked, his eyes wide as the frown disappeared.

“Sure.” John offered with a smile. “I don’t want to listen to your bitching as we go home.” He watched with satisfaction as McKay rolled his eyes then sat down besides him, reaching out for his own MRE that sat by the fire.

“I guess you have already passed out the power bars.” McKay snarked.

“Power bars?” O’Moore said sitting up.

“Crap.” McKay muttered, but John was surprised when McKay reached for his pack then started throwing bars at everyone in turn. “There. enjoy.” He growled as he started eating. “Those are almost the last that we have.”

“Thanks man.” O’Moore said happily as he ate his bar.

John thanked him too, but decided not to say that McKay still have more in his pack, after all, the gesture from McKay was actually a nice thing.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney was full of coffee and power bars as they set out that morning, all his downloads had gone smoothly and Sheppard had done as promised and lightened his load by taking his tool kit and his spare laptop.

The day was also nice with a bright blue sky, but it wasn’t that hot, more a comfortable warmth to be trekking though a forest.

So he was actually in high spirits. Which was rare in and of itself for him. He even began to think Ford might be right, he should try and get out more, even if it was to go sit on a pier somewhere every now and again. He was sure Elizabeth wouldn’t mind.

He was just sharing a flippant comment with Sheppard, that the other man never seemed to take offence at, but in fact kept a stupid smirk on his face as he gave them back.

“Are we going to end up on ‘your moma’ joke or what?” Rodney snapped finally.

“Humm… not today, but I still say you are wrong, Spiderman would never…”

/“We got trouble!”/ they all heard O’Moore shout over their coms.

Davis and his men today were taking up the rear, with Ford and Teyla taking point.

“What kind of trouble?” Sheppard demanded.

Rodney felt something whiz past his arm and looked down to see his t-shirt was torn and blood was oozing from underneath.

/“Native… looks like they have arrows!”/Davis shouted.

“Shit.” Sheppard cursed as Rodney heard more little whizzing noises around him. “Run!” Sheppard shouted at him and suddenly Rodney was running for his life.

He could hear Davis and his men shooting off burst of rounds behind them.

“Packs!” Rodney managed out as he kept running, taking in lung full’s of air.

Sheppard cast him a look, then seemed to understand. “No. keep it on… might take an arrow instead of your back… keep up!”

Rodney guessed he had a point, also loosing the data would be a pain, and it wasn’t like they would be likely to get it back. So he kept running.

--

His lungs and legs were burning as he could finally see the clearing with the gate through the trees and he tried to put some more effort into it. But just as he did his foot caught on a tree root and he went face first onto the ground. He only just got his hand up to save him breaking his nose, but instead he felt and heard something snap in his wrist. With a cry he forced himself onto his feet, only to feel something thud into his backpack.

“Get DOWN!” he heard Sheppard cry. Then Sheppard was on him, shoving him behind one of the huge tree’s.

Once again Rodney found himself face first on the ground, a mouth full of moss. He groaned as he tried to shove Sheppard off him.

He was successful for all of a moment before his world seemed to lurch off its axes.

“Stay down, damn it!” Sheppard growled at him.

But all Rodney knew was the fingers that were digging into his neck, just below his skull.

The sound of gun shot and arrows thudding into the ground as well as shouted orders all seemed to melt away.

There was nothing but a spreading heat from the back of his neck where Sheppard’s fingers dug into his skin, keeping him down.

“Get the gate open!” he heard Sheppard call to someone.

Rodney was slightly aware when he heard the gate whoosh into life, then Sheppard hand left his neck and grabbed his arm, slipping as Rodney struggled sluggishly to his feet, then as Sheppard began running for the clearing and the gate, his hand moved to Rodney wrist and once again he found he could do nothing else but follow.

The world around him seemed insignificant as they ran towards the blue puddle. Sheppard dragging him the whole way.

Then they were through and still running as they entered Atlantis. Sheppard pulled him off to one side before letting him go completely and going back towards the gate.

Rodney groaned when Sheppard left him and he crumpled to the ground as his whole body seemed to be on fire. He tried to get his wobbly legs to work, tried to follow Sheppard. But the man was to far away and he couldn’t get the breath to call him back.

“Rodney?” someone was calling his name, but he ignored it as he kept his eyes on Sheppard. “Rodney, crap you’re bleeding. Someone get me a gurney!”

Rodney sobbed then as he was being moved onto a gurney, then he was being wheeled away from Sheppard.

He tried to fight, tried to call out. But as he was taken out of sight his whole world seemed to collapse in on itself.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson was furious with Elizabeth. She should have known better then to send Rodney on an away mission. Even though it should have been a peaceful one, they had still come back under fire. And now the only Shifter on Atlantis was injured and unresponsive, even though he wasn’t unconscious.

Carson had moved him to the quietest corner of the infirmary and quickly drawn all the curtains, knowing how Rodney craved his privacy.

So slowly he took his friends pack off, then started removing his t-shirt, so he would have easier access to the bleeding wound on Rodney’s arm.

“I’m just gonna take your shirt off.” He said, still worried that Rodney was being so complacent and not bitching about the cut. Even in the long months they had been here, he knew Rodney loved to play at being a hypochondriac when he was bored.

As he looked at the shallow cut, he was starting to worry it might be poisonous. That might explain why Rodney was being strange.

So he cleaned the blood away and bandaged it up as best he could, then he went and got a needle to take some blood. But he almost dropped everything as he looked up and saw Rodney’s back.

There were finger tip bruises at the top of Rodney’s neck, and Carsons heart sank.

“Oh, lad.” He whispered as he took a closer look, now careful not to touch his friend at all. Then he moved to the front of Rodney and looked at his friends wrists.

His right one was swelling up alarmingly, the other, again, had bruises where someone had grabbed his wrist.

The urge to pull Rodney into his arms was strong, but he knew enough about Shifter law to know that would only cause Rodney more pain. He had no idea how he had actually sat though Carson manhandling him in his current condition.

“Lad… Who did this?” he asked softly. “Come on, talk to me?” he pleaded.

Slowly Rodney looked up at him, his normally vibrant blue eyes seemed dull and grey.

Carson had never seen someone who was drained of hope, but he was looking into those eyes right now.

“Who is it?” he asked again. He instinctively knew that this wasn’t something Rodney could get out of, whoever had laid hands on him, Rodney must have had some feelings for.

Now it was just a case of seeing if the other person had any emotions back.

“J....” was all Rodney got out before his eyes suddenly filled with tears that slipped down his cheeks as he looked down.

Carson froze, then he got angry. “You wait here lad, I’ll be back soon.” Then he went out into the main part of the infirmary.

His staff were treating the rest of the away team, as far as he could tell, no one had suffered anything life threatening, only scraps and near misses. Then his eyes fell on John and he went over to him.

“Hey Doc.” John said with a smile. “How’s McKay.”

Carson didn’t even answered as he grabbed John’s elbow and dragged him away so they wouldn’t be overheard.

“What’s up?” John was asking in concern.

Carson had to take a calming breath. “What happened?” he asked.

John looked at him in confusion. “We got attacked by natives with arrows… wait, they aren’t poisoned at they?”

“I don’t think so… but I’m not talking about that… I’m talking what happened between you and Rodney?”

He watched as John frowned at him, then his eyes got wide. “Ah… I pulled him towards the gate… I, err, thought it would be easier if I took his wrist.”

“Is that all?” Carson demanded. “What happened before you got to the gate and you decided to use one of his weaknesses against him?”

John had the decency to look ashamed. “We were getting shot at, so we ran, then McKay went down and I had to push him behind a tree and keep him down… Look Doc, is he ok?”

Carson took another deep breath. “How did you keep him down?”

“I had a hand on his back… Look, we were under fire, I did what I could.” John protested.

Carson snapped then as he pulled John towards the curtain hiding Rodney, then he pulled it aside a little. “Look at his neck.” He seethed, shaking John’s arm.

“Wha…” John said before he came to a realising halt. “Can’t be…” he breathed out.

“It can, and it is!” Carson snapped.

“But I…” John whispered.

Carson saw Rodney move out of the corner of his eye, then turned to see his friend turn around, when his eyes saw John; he slid from the gurney and tried to stand using the gurney as support.

“John…” Rodney let out brokenly as he held his broken hand out to the Major.

“I…” Sheppard uttered, then Carson didn’t have time to react as John ran out of the infirmary.

Carson was just in time to watch as Rodney crumpled to the floor unconscious.

“Crap.” He uttered as he went to his fallen friend.

 

++++++++++

 

“Still haven’t found him?” Carson asked as he kept vigil at Rodney’s bedside.

It had been almost two day’s since John had fled and gone to ground somewhere in Atlantis.

“Zelenka think he’s somewhere in the south pier.” Elizabeth sighed. “I can’t believe he did this.”

“I know lass.” Carson sympathised. “But right now I just want to hit him.”

“You and me both… how is McKay doing?” she asked softly.

Carson looked at the man in the bed. He seemed to have shrunken in on himself. And even though he wasn’t unconscious his eyes looked off at nothing. He hadn’t said a thing since John had run away. The only reaction anyone got from him was when Carson had had to put a splint on his wrist and change his bandages.

“Same as yesterday… though the last blood samples we took already show his organs are failing.”

Elizabeth let out a gush of air. “So soon?” she asked.

Carson nodded, “From what I was forced to research by the Shifter Registry, it’s quite common. Rodney must have has some deep feelings for Sheppard or he wouldn’t be in such a state now.”

Elizabeth rubbed a hand over her eyes. “I never even suspected they would get along so well… it’s why I made John one of his chaperones. They are like oil and water.”

“Who can see into someone’s heart?” Carson offered. “I’m sure if it was me or you, or even Zelenka, who had done this, we wouldn’t be sat here right now. Rodney would have gone though some discomfort, but he would have rejected us.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I knew they were becoming friends, but I thought that’s all it was. Have you heard them fight?” she smiled a little. “If I had to bet on it, John would have been my last option for a winning bet at someone becoming Rodney’s mate.”

“I think Rodney liked it because John is intelligent enough to give as good as he gets, and not make it personal.” Carson sagged into his chair.

“Right, well, I’ll get back on the search.” She said as she started to leave.

“Good luck.” He called as he got to his feet stiffly, he guessed Rodney would be okay for a while as he went and got another coffee.

What he didn’t expect was to see John leaning against a gurney at the other side of the curtain.

“Where the hell have ya been!” he shouted as he took in John’s appearance, the man looked like he hadn’t slept in days, or eaten.

“What is it?” Elizabeth asked as she came back into the infirmary. “John?”

John looked at his own feet as he crossed his arms defensively. “Is what you said true?” he asked in all but a croaked whisper.

“Which bit?” Elizabeth asked sharply.

“He’s dieing because of me?” John asked, not looking up.

“In short.” Carson said. “Yes… He’s also in physiological pain evertime we have to touch him… his entire system is shutting down.”

“And there is no other way of helping him?” John asked.

“I could give him enough morphine he won’t feel anything anymore.” Carson couldn’t help but snap. “Look, don’t think ya will do him any favours if you decide to play the hero!”

Sheppard looked up at him then with anger in his eyes. “I was just asking.” He growled back. “Even I know he’s too important to lose!”

Carson let his own anger out as he stepped up to the Major and poked him in the chest. “Just because Rodney is irreplaceable for this damn city, doesn’t mean you can play the sacrificial lamb!” he poked again. “Rodney saw something in you that he liked, god only knows what, and he was foolish enough to let you get under his guard… so if you can’t return them feelings, I’d rather he die now than suffer a lifetime bonded to someone who doesn’t love him in kind, damn it, he deserves that!”

Sheppard pushed him away as he stood up properly. “Don’t question me!” he shouted. “This has just been a hell of a lot to take in! so excuse me if I freaked out because I did something by accident!” he took breath before lowering his voice. “I’m perfectly aware that this is something that will impact the rest of our lives, so excuse me for asking if there was anyway I could stop Rodney being lumbered with me!”

Carson blinked in surprise as he stepped back, he hadn’t quite seen it from John’s perspective, and it took him back a bit.

“Now excuse me.” Sheppard said as he pushed passed him and went through the curtain to Rodney.

Silently Carson moved to watch, Elizabeth at his side.

They watched as John stepped up to the bed. “Hey buddy.” He whispered thickly.

For the first time in day’s Rodney moved his head to look up at him.

Then all hell broke loose as the monitors hooked up to Rodney started going off like sirens.

Carson quickly went over to them, the reading weren’t making much sense, they were showing signs that Rodney’s system was in distress, but that they were also improving. Carson just couldn’t understand as he turned to his patient.

“Don’t touch him!” John growled out as he stopped Carson from going to check all the leads were still attached to Rodney.

“I have to check…” Carson was saying as he watched John finally reach out and put his hand on the side of Rodney’s face and some of the monitoring equipment went silent.

“Sorry I was gone so long.” John was saying to Rodney, then he looked up at Carson. “What do I do now?” he asked, looking a little lost.

Carson shared a quick look with Elizabeth before answering. “Ya have to bond with him.” he replied to John, then felt embarrassed as he looked back down at his friend. “From what I read, you actually have to have sex with him… though in his current condition I’m not sure that’s possible.”

“Is he safe to move?” Elizabeth whispered.

Carson sighed. “I don’t know… but I canna do anything for him anymore.”

“All right.” Elizabeth said keeping her tone soft. “I’ll have the halls cleared and we will move him to your quarters, John… From there only you can figure this out, just do what feels natural.”

Carson watched as John nodded, he was slightly relived that John hadn’t looked away from Rodney the whole time, even though he didn’t look comfortable, like he was still battling with something he wasn’t sure of. “Can ya see to it Elizabeth?” he asked. “John… if I canna touch him, can ya remove the monitoring equipment for me?”

“Sure.” John replied in a whisper.

Carson gave Elizabeth a nod as she gave him a tight smile, then left.

 

++++++++++

 

John sat on the edge of his bed, his thigh pressed up against McKay’s own as the other man seemed to be asleep.

Once he had wheeled McKay’s bed to his quarters, he had pulled McKay off onto his own bed, then kicked the gurney out into the corridor and locked his door practically in Beckets face.

Slowly he put his head into his hands, wondering what the hell he had got himself into. For Christ sake they had only just been talking about how crappy being a Bond Mate to a Shifter was… and here John was with the only one in the sodding city, galaxy for that matter.

For almost thirty six hours he had skulked the corners of the city not yet explored.

At first he was sure it was some huge galactic mistake, that maybe McKay had fallen awkwardly and got the bruises that way. But he knew somewhere deep down that that wasn’t the case. As he scoured his memory he knew he had done it. Mostly to save the guys life, but that was no excuse now.

He gritted his teeth in frustration. He fucked up every personal relationship he had ever had, from his parents to his brother, even his disastrous marriage had ended in him hurting Nancy.

He was a lone wolf, no matter how he looked at it, he liked being by himself, it made things easy. He was bad at communicating, bad at understanding others feeling, in short he was just bad luck to anyone he got to close too.

So it had just been easier not to get emotionally attached to anyone. That way he could keep them, as well as himself, safe.

He had liked Antarctica for that very reason, there were only a handful of guys he had to work with, and then the thought of going to another galaxy with just a few people seemed a great option, there was less people who might give a crap about him.

But then he had been lumbered with looking after the most annoying guy in the city… and somewhere along the lines of arguing about comic books and playing chess, or the ancient version of SimCity… he had given a crap.

“Nugg.”

John looked up to see McKay blinking open his eyes. “Hey buddy.” He whispered as he instinctively reached out and laced his fingers with McKay’s uninjured hand.

McKay’s hand tightened on his own before their eyes met and John had to take a gasp of air as his chest constricted. Before he could think of anything to weird, he pulled on McKay’s arm, then reached out and pulled the other man up till he was resting against John’s chest. Instinctively he wrapped his arms around McKay, pulling him into a tight hug.

He closed his eyes as he felt McKay melt against him, and he held on tighter, like if he let go he would loose all warmth he had ever known. Which his rational mind knew was stupid, he should be weirded out by this, the last guy he had ever hugged was his brother for gods sake, when he was like eight.

“Better?” he asked.

He felt McKay nod against his shoulder, then a hand fist into the back of his t-shirt.

They stayed like that for about five minutes before he felt McKay pull away a little so he could look up at him and John found himself staring down into wide blue eyes.

Before he could think about it John leaned down and laid his lips against McKay’s. Then he was running his tongue over those strange but alluring lips as something inside John shifted.

It was strange like an ‘Oh’ realization moment, like when an idea or something just clicked into place, and he pushed his tongue in-between unresisting lips. Suddenly hungry for the taste, needing to fill all his senses with the person in his arms. He couldn’t even close his eyes as he looked into blue ones.

He’d never been with a guy before, it had never even really crossed his mind, but as his pants got tight he knew he needed to be inside McKay right now.

So as he was vaguely aware of Atlantic singing happily into his mind, he lay Rodney down onto the bed without breaking the kiss and slowly began to pull his scrubs open.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney lay looking up at the ceiling as he fought to get his breathing under control.

John was still laid on top of him; his hand still fisted around Rodney’s cock while his own cock was still buried ball’s deep in Rodney’s ass.

Despite the fact Rodney still felt like he had been run over by a truck for days, he just had the best orgasm of his life.

But it wasn’t like he had any experience beyond his own hand and imagination.

He groaned when he felt John move as the other man levered himself up on his elbows and looked down at him.

“Hey.” John uttered in a gravely tone that just tingled at the tremors already going through Rodney’s body.

“Hi.” He smiled up at John.

“I take it you’re feeling better?” John asked.

Rodney couldn’t keep the grin from his face as suddenly John was leaning down and Rodney closed his eyes as once again John’s tongue invaded his mouth and god it felt wonderful as he pushed his own tongue against John’s. Not in his wildest fantasies had he imagined it could be this good. And the feel of John on top of him, skin to skin was making his whole body hot and tingly, it was like a really good pudding he just couldn’t get enough of.

Without thinking he reached up and tried to pull John closer if that was possible. But instead he found an unpleasant bolt of agony engulf his right wrist then shoot up his arm.

He pushed John away as he brought his arm to his chest and cradled his crudely bandaged wrist. He was only dimly aware of John pulling away and out of him hurriedly. And Rodney was subjected to a whole new world of pain.

With a grunt he reached out blindly, his hands at first caught John’s knee, mindless of the physical pain in his wrist he forced himself against John’s chest, wrapping his arms around the other man. It seemed to take ages before he could breath again as he sat awkwardly, clutching at John like a child.

“Rodney?” John asked after a while.

“I’m ok… I’m ok…” he recited as he felt shameful tears still coming out of his traitorous eyes. His wrist hurt like hell, but the thought of the agony when John had pulled away from him was just too much to have it happen again.

“Come on… let me look.” John was pushing at his shoulders now.

“No!” Rodney said defiantly as he pushed against John again. Then John was slipping away from him and Rodney could do nothing but follow.

“Oof!” John let out as they both fell off the end of stupidly small bed.

Rodney let out a growled scream as he felt bones grinding in his wrist where John had fallen on his hand.

“Right, that’s it… we need to sit up and I need to see you hand.” John snapped and despite his annoyed tone, John was actually rather gentle with him as he moved them both so they were sitting up. Now Rodney sat with his ass on the floor, but his legs over John’s as they were almost facing each other.

Then John was taking his bandaged wrist. “I thought Becket had sorted this out.” John was saying, and he sounded pissed as he began to unwind the bandage.

Rodney couldn’t quite understand why he was letting John do this, but there was no way he could pull away.

It was almost like when someone grabbed his wrist, like all his will suddenly wasn’t his own. But this didn’t carry the humiliation and he had no inkling to even form the thought of fighting back.

As he gave it a fleeting thought. He felt surprisingly calm. His mind was quiet, his body relaxed. It was the best he could ever remember feeling.

“Ouch!” he complained half-heartedly as John gently ran fingers over the swelling in his wrist.

“Sorry.” John winced. “We really need to get this seen too.”

“Yeah.” Rodney replied.

John was looking up at him again, a worried look in his hazel eyes, almost like an apology. Then he was leaning forward to start kissing him again.

Rodney didn’t have any qualms about that, it seemed it was something John was keen on, and Rodney could hardly blame him as his mind stilled again as he just lived the moment.

John was pushing him down to the floor again as Rodney became startlingly aware of something leaking from his bottom and he gasped and squirmed. “Bathroom.” He squeaked. “I need the bathroom!”

“Can’t it wait?” John murmured as his wonderful lips trailed down to Rodney’s collarbone.

Rodney closed his eyes and looked away in embarrassed shame. “It’s coming… out.” He whispered miserably.

Suddenly John was letting go of his broken wrist to lay it on the ground as his hand moved to between Rodney’s legs, that he parted instinctively, then for the second time that day he felt John’s fingers enter him and he couldn’t help but groan with pleasure as his muscles tightened around the invasion.

“This the only reason?” John asked huskily as his mouth moved to one of Rodney’s nipples, then he was biting down softly. Rodney gasped as his back arched off the floor with startled pleasure.

“Uh, hu.” He affirmed senselessly as John slowly started to thrust his fingers back and forth inside him. He could feel himself getting hard again as all the blood in his body once again left his brain and travelled to his cock.

 

++++++++++

 

John rested with Rodney spooned up against his chest, the arm that he had around the other man was now cradling Rodney’s broken wrist.

Rodney was now very much asleep and snoring lightly, more like snuffled breaths of air that made John feel strongly protective of his sleeping friend.

He lazily looked out the window at the night sky and all the stars. As he let his mind slowly turn itself over, not really catching on to any subject as he started to remember the last six hours.

He had made love to Rodney four times, each time Rodney lay beneath him almost like a doll, which was strange because John preferred more active bed fellows. But as he smiled at the way Rodney would react to even the slightest touch in the most alluring ways, he came to the realization that threatened to send a chill through him.

Lightly he pushed as Rodney’s shoulder with his chin, and was satisfied to hear a grumbled snort. “Hu?” Rodney asked out sleepily. “Again?”

John would have chuckled if the question wasn’t burning in his brain. “You’re a virgin?”

Rodney squirmed a little, like he was trying to get closer. “Was.” He clarified and John could hear the smug smile in it.

John rested his forehead against Rodney’s back and sighed. Trust him to go and pop someone’s cherry at his age, when he hadn’t done it before, ever, not even when he was a stupid teen. Well, at least it explained why Rodney had seemed a little bit like a sack of potatoes.

But there was also something else that was bothering him, something seemed incomplete, and he couldn’t put his finger on what. “Something’s missing.” He whispered out without meaning too.

“Humm?” Rodney hummed, then turned just enough to look over his shoulder at John. He looked tired and John regretted waking him. “Err… you haven’t bitten me yet?” he sounded unsure.

John pulled his arm from under Rodney’s head as he rested on his elbow to get a better look at his friend. “What? But…” he bit his lip as he looked down, he could still see the faded bruises on the back of Rodney’s neck. “Isn’t that just a TV thing?”

“Not if I remember the crap they tried to teach me in Shifter Bonding class.” Rodney yawned as he put his head back, then moved his chin towards his chest, exposing his neck as he moved slightly so he was half laying on his side.

John guessed he should at least try as he leaned down and ran his tongue over the finger marks he had left their. The marks that had started all this insanity.

Rodney twitched and groaned beneath him, “Oh… crap.” He uttered a little desperately.

“Too much?” John asked pulling away, feeling how much Rodney was trembling.

“Hard!... do it again!” Rodney muttered demandingly into the mattress.

John blinked, then he slowly rested Rodney’s broken hand on the bed as he moved his hand down Rodney’s almost hairless belly then came in contact with Rodney’s erection that was straining and twitching as John wrapped his fingers around it.

“Christ.” John uttered out as he pressed his own awakening erection into the crack of Rodney’s ass, then he pushed Rodney down into the mattress with his own body as he ran his teeth over the back of Rodney’s exposed neck. Once again feeling the tremors go through his friend.

He knew he wouldn’t last long, as he tightened his grip on Rodney’s cock as he pumped it and he crushed his own against Rodney, his hips jerking a little, all the time he licked and nipped at Rodney’s neck, then as he came he opened his mouth and bit down hard, growling as he released, his jaw contracted a little as he heard Rodney scream out his own orgasm.

John must have blacked out a little, because when he came too, his teeth were still on Rodney’s flesh and his cock was limp in his hand.

He pulled away, tasting blood in his mouth, then looked at the damage he had caused. Just below Rodney’s hair line were livid deep bruises a perfect imprint of his teeth, it didn’t help that some of them were bleeding. “Shit… Rodney, we have to get this seen too!”

Rodney gave a high pitched whined as John tried to move. “Stay here.”

“No.” John tried to insist. “They could get infected.”

“Then just lick them and make them better.” Rodney uttered and John knew he was falling asleep again.

John felt the moment Rodney slipped into sleep, and to be honest, he really didn’t want to leave the sanctuary of his room right now. The thought of having to take Rodney thought Atlantis made him very uneasy.

So with a sigh he settled back down as he looked at the marks he had left and smiled, despite the gory sight of blood that still trickled down Rodney’s neck.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and finally went to sleep.

 

++++++++++

 

“Should we go next door?” John asked as he pulled some clean boxes from his drawers one handed, the other was still holding Rodney’s left hand.

When they had woken that morning, they soon found out that letting go physically was a really bad idea. John had felt sick as they had tried to get up off the bed, Rodney had let out a desperate little sound that John hadn’t liked one bit.

So with blushes and averted eyes, they somehow managed to get through going to the toilet. Then John had found a little pleasure as he had shoved Rodney into the shower.

The smell of stale sweat and dried come might have pushed all John’s happy buttons, but he didn’t want the rest of the base smelling it too. It was something he selfishly wanted to keep to himself, just like he wanted to keep Rodney in his room. But practicalities wouldn’t allow that.

So he had pushed Rodney to the back of the shower stall, then taken his time in washing him down. Rodney had blushed through the whole thing until John had moved him around and started playing.

One touch to Rodney’s hole, and he knew he wasn’t going to get any today. Rodney was over sensitive and the little groan of pain made John back off instantly. It didn’t stop him lapping a tongue over the bruises and small scabs that had formed on the back of Rodney’s neck though, which got him a much better response.

When he had made Rodney come again, he pulled him out and dried him off.

Rodney seemed terribly embarrassed by it all, but he accepted everything John did to him. Which only made John that little bit more possessive.

He knew Rodney could be brave, even if he bitched about it. But John doubted that anyone had ever been this physical with him before.

John was used to being naked with other people. He was just a little surprised at himself at how touchy feely he was being right now. But he couldn’t resist, neither did he mind as he laid hands on Rodney. He had never even been so hands on with Nancy, and he had been married to her.

“Err… I…” Rodney stammered.

“Ok, you can just wear mine for now, they should fit.” He said holding up another pair of boxers.

They stood for a moment just looking at them before John grinned. “I even have to dress you now?” he joked as Rodney blushed furiously. John grinned as he moved in close and gave Rodney a chaste kiss. “I guess I’m the only one with a free hand. Don’t worry about it.” He assured softly, kissing a warm cheek.

He put the hand he was holding onto his shoulder, then bent and opened the waistband of the underwear as Rodney put his feet through the holes, then John pulled them up. Copping a feel, to make sure Rodney was in them comfortably.

“I can’t…” Rodney uttered out.

“I know. Just making sure they fit.” John grinned. Then he turned and opened another draw for a loose t-shirt and some stretchy sweat pants.

The pants were easy to get on. The T-shirt was a different matter. “Ok… err…” John made sure the shirt was the right way round, then put a hand thought the right arm hole and out the bottom hem. “Ok, gimmi your hand.” He said as Rodney placed his swollen wrist into John’s hand with only a wince. Carefully John pulled the shirt over Rodney’s wrist and up his arm. “Ok buddy, let go and put your other arm in. I won’t let go.”

Once again without a word, Rodney did as he was told; quickly taking his good hand off John’s shoulder, as John pulled the t-shirt over Rodney’s head, and pulled the hem down. “Ok… I think we are going to have to go to your room and get some shoes.”

Rodney just shrugged one shoulder.

“Fine… I guess I’m making all the decisions today?” He bitched a little, thought he couldn’t put his heart into it.

Rodney just gave him a little lopsided smile that John couldn’t help but kiss. Before he pulled Rodney’s hand from his shoulder and took hold of it. “Ok, lets go.” He turned to the door then stopped when he realized Rodney wasn’t moving. “What is it?”

Rodney looked down at their hands. “Umm… can you hold my wrist?” asked.

John shook his head as he moved his grip. “Whatever you want.” He said, this time when he moved, Rodney followed.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson couldn’t help but smile as he saw Elizabeth come into his little office. “Good afternoon lass.” He greeted as he turned to her. “What can I do for you?”

Elizabeth gave him a tight smile as she rested her hip against the end of his desk. “Have you heard anything yet?” she asked and he knew what she was talking about.

“Not yet. But I was going to get some food from the Mess and leave it outside their door.” He confessed. “I’m a little concerned that Rodney hasn’t eaten anything in the past few days. So I’m worried about his hypoglycaemia.”

“I don’t think Sheppard’s eaten anything either.” Elizabeth sighed. “I was just refreshing myself on the Shifter Law last night… Bonding can take anything from a few hours, to a week.”

“Ay, it can.” Carson nodded. “But it’s also very taxing on the system and Rodney wasn’t in good shape to begin with… I’m almost starting to think I should actually try and talk to them… Maybe John will let me see Rodney.”

Elizabeth gave a little snort of a laugh. “You think that’s even possible?”

Carson sagged. “I guess not… but I also don’t want to see them suffer ineffable damage if they don’t show up soon.”

“Ah, speak of the devil.” Elizabeth said.

Carson turned to see John peeking into the empty infirmary. “Come in lad!” he called as he stood.

“I’ll talk to you later.” Elizabeth said as she walked out the other door.

Carson kept his attention on John as the Major came into the room, Rodney in toe, the latter was being led by John’s hand on his wrist. Carson felt a moment of shock before he had to remember this was natural for a Bonded pair. “Come in… You’re lucky, today I have no patients.” He went to the closest bed and began to pull most of the surrounding curtains closed. “Sit down lads.” He offered patting the bed.

He watched as John pulled Rodney behind him as they made their way over. Then John turned to Rodney and began helping him up onto the gurney.

Carson moved in to help and was surprised when John blocked his way to Rodney with his back. “Ah… sorry.” He said backing off with his hand up.

Finally John turned to him, an apologetic slant to his mouth. “Rodney needs his wrist fixing.”

“Ah, yes!” he exclaimed, “It’s a simple fracture. I would have fixed it earlier, but Rodney was in to much pain… Let me get the stuff I need.”

“Thanks.” John offered.

When Carson got back, John was now sat on the gurney next to Rodney. Carson took it as a reassuring sign. “Ok, let me look at your wrist, I can see the swelling hasn’t gone down much.” He said as he reached out to the affected limb. As soon as his fingers brushed skin, Rodney let out a distressed whined as John knocked Carson’s hands away and pulled Rodney into his arms.

“Don’t…” John seethes out dangerously as he slipped off the bed. “I knew this was a bad idea.”

“Wait, wait!” Carson soothed quickly. “I canna leave the break like this…” he was relieved when John glared at him but didn’t move. “Look, I have everything here. I’ll talk you through what you need to do, and you can put the cast on.”

John nodded, ever his silent self.

So Carson talked him through putting the padding around Rodney’s wrist, then wrapping the fibreglass properly around it. “Not to tight.” Carson warned. “How is it feeling Rodney?” he asked. But when he looked up, yet again, Rodney wasn’t looking at him, his eyes were just fixed on John.

“Well?” John asked.

“It’s fine.” Rodney said, his voice soft. To Carson he almost sounded content, which was something he had never heard before.

“It’s fine.” John parroted with a slight grin before he finished off wrapping the yellow fibreglass around Rodney’s hand. “There… Is that it?”

“Should be.” Carson answered. “Is there anything else I need to see?”

John bit his lip before looking at him a little guiltily. “Err… the back of his neck… I… I drew blood.” He trailed off.

“It’s ok son.” Carson tried not to chuckle as he moved around the gurney. “Don’t worry, I’m just goanna look.” He said, and sure enough he could see the imprint of a bite mark where some of the skin had been pierced and were now forming little scabs.

“Nothing looks to bad, I’ll get you some antibiotic cream to put on it.” He said as he moved back around the bed, noting how John’s eyes hadn’t left him the whole time.

He gave John a nod then went to get the cream.

When he got back he placed the cream and a small bottle of lubrication on the bed. “I thought you might be needing that too,” he offered, letting his grin show.

John looked a little embarrassed.

“When you both need more. Just ask.” He couldn’t help but tease.

“Thanks Doc.” John sounded like he was almost being throttled to get those words out.

“Ok… Now I want you both to get something to eat, especially Rodney. So just go to the Mess.”

“I… can’t…” John bit out.

Carson shook his head, “Ah, I’m sorry lad…” finally he belatedly realized that they both must still be going through their Bonding Ritual. And knowing what a private personality John had, he guessed going to the Mess with a lot of people, just might be harmful. Mostly to the rest of the Atlantis population.

“Ok, Go back to your room. I’ll personally bring you some supplies. Just let me and Elizabeth know when you’re ready to surface again.”

“Thanks.” John nodded to him. Then he was turning to Rodney and pulling him off the gurney, they left without another word.

Carson ran a hand over his face as he moved back to his office and sat down for a moment before he went to the mess.

He still didn’t know how he felt about it all. He knew John was concerned for everyone on Atlantis, especially his team, but he had always had an air of standoffishness. To see him suddenly as Rodney’s almost care giver was a little eerie. And then there was Rodney, he hadn’t complained once, at least not verbally.

His view on the two men was thrown out of skew.

“Hey… have they gone?” Carson jumped as Elizabeth came into his office, a grin on her face. “So, how did it go?”

“They are still in the Bonding stage… So I had to get John to put a cast on Rodney’s arm.”

“That all?”

Carson saw the glint in her eyes. “Well, to put it bluntly. John’s not being subtle about leaving his mark on Rodney’s neck.”

“Really?” Elizabeth grinned. “So you think John’s going to be the possessive type?”

Carson rolled his eyes. “And dominant… To be honest, I had thought it would be Rodney.”

Elizabeth covered her smile with a hand. “John is a great leader though.” She said. “I wonder how much he will let Rodney get away with.”

Carson smiled too. “As much as Rodney bloody well wants to.”

They laughed together.

“Come… I have to get our love birds some food… and maybe Rodney some of his own clothes.” He muttered as he stood.

“What?” Elizabeth asked as she walked at his side.

“Rodney was wearing John’s clothes.” Carson clarified.

“But their quarters are side by side?” she frowned. “Wow, maybe John really is going to be that possessive.”

“Who knows.” Carson shrugged. “But they both smelt like they had showered before coming to me… Lets just hope John doesn’t start marking his territory.” He chuckled, happy that Elizabeth joined in and it warmed Carson’s heart. Hell knew, they had to find some humour amongst the permanent threat of death.

 

++++++++++

 

John stretched lazily as he woke up, Rodney still in his arms. He hugged the other man closer to himself as he was aware of Rodney waking up too. “Morning.” He uttered into Rodney’s ear.

“My god we have to get a bigger bed!” Rodney muttered.

John grinned, he couldn’t agree more. Even if he enjoyed spooning with Rodney, it was still a little cramped. “I’ll get us one as soon as possible.” He promised, on his trip around the unexplored sections of the city, he had found untouched apartment, and was sure there must be something there. In fact, he was sure he could find a bigger place for them both, somewhere a little more quiet. Especial now he knew how vocal Rodney could be while he was screwing him.

He grinned at the memoires of the last few days. If he could give a crap, he would feel sorry for Zelenka and Elizabeth.

For the past three day’s, in-between their most intimate moments. They had eaten what Carson left for them outside the door and managed to watch nearly ever episode of Doctor Who Rodney had stashed away on the Atlantis servers.

Yesterday they had found they could finally let go of each other for short periods of time so they could go to the toilet alone, even if Rodney threw an almost tantrum if John tried to close the door.

And that was another thing, Rodney had started reverting back slightly to his old personality and stopped being so silent. Which John didn’t mind too much, he preferred their sparing matches, which had been numerous as he bitched about Doctor Who and the physics that couldn’t possible work behind it.

At one point John had grabbed Rodney’s wrist and the Shifter had shut up instantly. John had felt guilty, so he had moved his hold, but Rodney had just grinned at him, called him a cheat then cuddled up to his side.

“Do you want to use the head while I go see what Becket’s left for breakfast?” he asked as he got up a little.

“Sure.” Rodney yawned and stretched. “It better be something non healthy or I’m going to eat my entire stash of chocolate in front of him.”

John laughed as he laid a kiss on Rodney’s bare shoulder. “And you think he would let you?”

“No.” Rodney scoffed. “But you would stop him.” he grinned, his blue eyes sparkling.

John narrowed his eyes. “Would I now?”

“Yup.” Rodney purred. “Because I would let you lick off what was left.”

John closed his eyes as he thought about getting some chocolate spread from somewhere, if not he was sure he could think of something. “Fine.” He said as he got to his feet, slapping Rodney’s hip as he went to the door. When he was sure no one was in the corridor beyond he opened the door. “Err..”

“What?” Rodney asked as he rolled onto his back.

“There’s nothing here.” John looked up and down, nothing.

“Maybe he forgot?” Rodney sighed. “And I’m hungry now too.”

John thought about grabbing his radio. But he really didn’t want to put out a medical emergency just because they needed something to eat. “How about we go to the Mess?” the urge to stay where they were was very strong, here he could keep Rodney safe. But he also needed to get out and check his city, even if it was just for a little while.

Rodney looked a little unsure before he nodded. “Can we make a stop at the Lab after?” he asked softly.

“Anything you want.” John promised. “Come on, lets get you showered.” He also wanted to make sure Rodney looked his best.

It took a little longer than usual to finish with their shower seeing as Rodney had to keep his cast outside the stall, it didn’t stop John going to his knees and giving the Shifter a blow job though.

Then he had shaved the stubble from Rodney’s jaw, finding it unbelievably sensual. Rodney had offered to do the same, but John had just smothered him in towels as he shaved his own chin, promising the pout Rodney was giving him that he could do it when he had two hands so he wouldn’t end up slitting John’s throat.

“Is this going to be a permanent thing of yours?” Rodney suddenly asked as John fished about for clean clothes of his diminishing pile.

“What?” John asked as he pulled out boxes and another t-shirt that might fit Rodney’s broader shoulders. They were almost of a size anyway, only Rodney was stockier looking where as John was just taller.

“Me wearing your clothes?” Rodney asked as he caught the pants John tossed his way.

John blinked at him as he held two t-shirts in his hands. He knew all they had to do was go next door and get Rodney’s own clothes. But there was something inside him that just didn’t like that idea. Sure he had to concede where boots were concerned, he had bigger feet. “Is it a problem?” he asked instead of anything else.

He half expected Rodney to get mad at him, instead the Shifter smiled and shrugged. “I guess not… but you don’t have a science uniform.”

John walked over and sat besides Rodney and took his hand in his own, for some reason he had a moment of embarrassment, not at the fact they were both still naked, but at what he was about to say.

“Maybe it will get better when we move our stuff in together.” He trailed off, not looking at the man besides him.

Rodney was silent for a moment. “We should start looking for an apartment?” he whispered with trepidation.

John looked up at him then and couldn’t help but smile through his stupid awkwardness. “That’s what I was thinking… more room for a bigger bed too.”

“Want to look after we eat?” Rodney asked.

“Sure.” John answered, feeling a lot better about things. “I’ll get the laundry to wash my stuff with all yours… It might take the edge off.” Then he held up a t-shirt. “But till then…”

“Fine.” Rodney said rolling his eyes as he took the shirt with the fingers of his cast hand. “Sure you don’t want to dress me too?”

John hung his head as he tried not to admit that he would.

“Oh, for heaven sake.” Rodney groaned as he shoved the t-shirt back at him. “Get on with it then.”

 

++++++++++

 

John couldn’t help being on edge as he led Rodney into the Mess, they had met a few people on their way here, but most had just given them a quick greeting. He had hoped the place would be almost empty this early in the morning, but sadly, it wasn’t.

If anything, it was packed.

With a deep sigh to try and calm his nerves, it didn’t help so he tightened his grip on Rodney’s hand and pulled him towards the food line.

“Get as much as you want.” He told Rodney as he grabbed his own tray.

His skin was crawling with everyone’s eyes on them as he mindlessly put stuff on his tray.

“Wait, not that!” Rodney suddenly said at his side,

John looked down to see an orange in his hand. “Ah… Really?”

Rodney sighed dramatically. “Citrus allergy.” He snapped with no bite. “And I don’t have an epi pen with me.”

John put the orange back down. “Anything else I can’t eat now?” he couldn’t help but smile.

“Just nothing with Lemons.” Rodney grinned back. “Well… unless you brush your teeth and don’t come near me for about twelve hours.”

“So no lemons ever again then.” He purred as he crowded into Rodney’s space,

“Can you move on?” someone asked behind them.

John tried not to growl as he pushed Rodney in front of him in line.

Once they had got food and coffee John immediately walked over to where he had spied Teyla and Ford sat at the back of the room together. It was a little awkward carrying his tray in one hand, but he still couldn’t let go of Rodney.

He put his tray on the table, then pushed Rodney past him, Teyla looked up then pushed her tray to the other side of the table and moved, so John could push Rodney into her chair.

“Good day.” Teyla greeted them. “I’m glad to see you are better Rodney.” She said without sounding offended.

“Err… ya, thanks.” Rodney said as John watched him blush then he put his head down and started stuffing his face with buttered toast.

“So.” Ford said, and John tried not to cringe. “Sir… Is it true what everyone is saying?”

John cringed anyway. “And what would that be?” he asked instead as he picked up his coffee, not looking at the younger man.

“That you two have been at it like bunnies?” Ford uttered.

John almost chocked on his coffee as he glared at the lieutenant.

“I’m not a bloody rabbit!” Rodney suddenly exploded. “And if you are implying that the Major has Bonded me to him, then you would be right!”

“Then should we not celebrate this union?” Teyla added softly as she smiled at them both.

“Not really.” Rodney added as he started eating again. “Some idiots throw parties for it… Oww… maybe we can get a cake from this?” Rodney said brightly as he turned to John.

“I’ll ask.” John promised. Thought the thought of having a party was a little daunting, after all… it wasn’t like they got married… but then they kind of had… crap. At least he had dodged the bullet of a reception dinner and the disco afterwards.

“If you don’t mind, I would like to see to the cake.” Teyla offered. “As to small token of respect… Though I am still not sure what you would look like as a… a big cat?”

“Ah… well that won’t be for a while.” Rodney said as he held up his cast hand. “Not unless you want to see me rolling around on the floor with a crushed paw.”

John hadn’t thought about that. He actually didn’t even know what Rodney Shifted into. He hadn’t even thought to ask.

“So what can you Shift into Doctor McKay?” Ford asked and John pricked up his ears.

Rodney snorted. “Into a big cat.” He said dismissively, avoiding the subject.

“So you’re a rare then?” Ford leaned forward. “Don’t tell me you’re a Jaguar?”

John went very still.

“Do you know how rare those are?” Rodney shrilled angrily. “And males more so… and if I was there would be no way I would be sitting here right now!”

“What is the significance?” Teyla asked looking a little lost.

“Male Shifter Jaguar’s can actually get pregnant and give birth to children of their own.” Rodney explained. “So I’m sorry Lieutenant Ford, but there won’t be any rugrats running around Atlantis. I’m just a Rare Coat. That’s all.”

John let the breath he was holding out very slowly in relief.

“Aren’t rare coats sterile then?” Ford pressed and John didn’t like a slightly cruel smirk on the other man’s face.

“That’s a myth by hack fantasists to make films more exiting for idiots.” Rodney sneered. John caught Rodney glancing at him. “And not like it’s a problem even if I was.”

“Well, for what it’s worth.” Teyla gave Ford a ‘look’ before she carried on. “When you are ready, I would be honoured to see your Shifted form Rodney. And welcome to the team?” she said looking at John.

“Team?” Rodney squeaked.

“Err… I haven’t thought about that yet.” John confessed as he rubbed his knee against Rodney’s under the table. “We’ll have to talk to Weir, but I guess I can’t just leave you behind.”

“Oh… well…” Rodney looked like a deer in headlights.

“That’s if you want to?” John said quickly.

“Err… Well we don’t know what effect the gate will have on a Bond… Earth’s the only place we have ever found Shifters, and as far as I know, non have ever used it.” Rodney stammered. “I heard that the bond is subject to distance… I never thought…”

John couldn’t help putting his arm around Rodney’s waist and pulling him tight against his side. “We’ll figure it out.” He reassured.

“Oh god… I just remembered something else!” Rodney whispered and the distress radiating from him made John very uneasy. “When I signed the contract to come here… It said I wasn’t allowed to become Bonded. It was in the Shifter Registry and the SGC ones… I’m so screwed!”

“It wasn’t your fault.” John said as his hand went up Rodney’s back to rest on his neck. He could feel Rodney relax. “It’s not like they can do anything now… that’s if we ever make contact again.”

“But…” Rodney sighed out calmly. “They will call me back to Earth when we do… They would stop my pay!”

John smiled at that, it seemed a big thing with most of the scientists on base. Give them money, coffee and free rain and they were mostly happy. “That’s fine… it’s not like I’m strapped for cash.” He grinned. Then it hit him. This was for the long haul. All that ‘death do us part’ nonsense was actually blindingly true. That and it also meant leaving the first place he felt like he actually made a difference.

He let out a long breath as he rested his forehead against Rodney’s; he guessed the honeymoon was almost over.

“I’m going to be a Kept Shifter.” Rodney snorted with a bit of amusement. “Who knew?”

John couldn’t resist the urge as he tightened his grip on Rodney’s neck, moving his head back a little as he leaned in and kissed his Mate.

He only pulled away when he heard the Mess suddenly burst into hissed whispers. As he looked around he saw way to many disapproving looks.

At first he saw Katie Brown and her gaggle of Shifter Fans. They all glared at him with thinly veiled hate. A few others looked disgusted, mostly the marines. About the only people who didn’t look dismayed or shocked were the scientists he recognised.

“Congratulations.”

John jumped; he hadn’t even seen Zelenka approach.

“Yes, yes... Thank you. We all know you are just happy that you no longer have to Chaperone me anymore.” Rodney said dismissively.

Zelenka just ginned. “I am happy still for you.” He said as he patted John on the shoulder a few times. “Oh, and let you know, City is still standing.”

“That or you just haven’t found a problem yet!” Rodney gasped.

John squeezed his fingers a little where they still rested on Rodney’s neck. “Thank you Radek. I’m sure he will be giving you more grey hairs soon enough.”

Zelenka grinned some more before he turned and went back to the table he had come from where he proceeded to get grilled by the other scientists there.

“I’ve got… err… stuff to do.” Ford said as he stood stiffly. “Sir.” He grabbed his tray and stomped away.

“What’s his problem?” Rodney asked.

“I believe he is still young.” Teyla said as she also watched Ford disappear out of the mess. “And he might not approve of his commanding officers choice of partners?”

John shared an understanding look with Teyla. Ford was a good lieutenant, but he sometimes had a hard time understanding not everyone thought like he did.

“Hu… well it’s not like he can do anything about it now.”

“I’m sure he will get over it.” Teyla assured.

“Yeah.” John said, but he wasn’t so sure.

 

++++++++++

 

Rodney never usually took notice of other people, let alone their emotions.

But he could feel the eyes on him when they had been in the Mess, and it had put him off his food. About the only thing he was glad about, was that the group of Shifter fan’s now wouldn’t be trying to touch him. Or they could, but if John didn’t shoot them, he could.

“So… this one doesn’t look so bad.” John said at his side, their hands still clasped as they look around the sixth apartment they had found.

Rodney sniffed. “Well, it’s closer to a transporter than the others, and it’s got a bath… and the view isn’t half bad.”

“You sure?” John asked. “It’s only two bedrooms.”

“We need more?” He never really cared where he lived so long as there was a bath, enough room for a bed, a couch and a wide screen TV.

“I thought you would like an office or something?” John questioned.

“Hn, I have a whole city for that… anyway if we need more room, I’ll just kick someone out from next door or something.” Then he realized John might want a bigger place. “Unless you don’t like it?”

“No.” John nodded. “It suites me fine… So.” John turned to him and Rodney could see the twinkle in his Mate’s eyes. “Want to christen our new apartment?”

Rodney just grinned as John closed in on him.

/”Major Sheppard?”/

Rodney froze as he heard Elizabeth’s voice in his ear.

John grimaced as he raised his hand to his ear. “This is Sheppard.”

Rodney grinned at his Mate.

/”Davis hasn’t reported in yet and we can’t reach them on radio… I don’t mean to disturb you, but you’re team is the only one free to go search for them…”/

Rodney let John pull him into a tight hug. He didn’t really understand it, so he just fisted his good hand into the back of John’s t-shirt

“Fine, can we take a jumper?” John asked Weir.

/”I believe so.”/

“Right, we are on our way. Sheppard out.”

“So much for the honeymoon.” Rodney sighed.

“I was thinking the same thing earlier.” John chuckled.

Then Rodney felt John’s tongue down his throat again, which quite frankly he didn’t mind one bit. Well, apart from in the Mess, but the bastard had cheated by grabbing his neck.

When John pulled back, Rodney found himself clinging on as his knees threatened to buckle underneath him.

For Christ sake, no one had touched him since he was thirteen, and in the past two days he just couldn’t get enough physical contact. It was insane. He never thought in a month of Sunday’s that he would be such a whore. And like it.

“Come on buddy.” John was grinning at him smugly. “Let’s get going.”

 

++++++++++

 

“It looks like a storm was setting in.” Elizabeth was saying though the Jumpers coms. “But we couldn’t see Davis and his team with the Malp and it was getting dark.”

“Ok, we are good to go.” John answered.

It had taken a little longer to get geared up, mostly because Rodney really didn’t have a proper off world kit. So John had been happy enough to kit him out as best he could with his own stuff. But then he didn’t plan on letting Rodney out of the Jumper if he could help it, even though he hadn’t managed to get two feet away from the other guy yet.

Carson had had a fit when they realized he was taking Rodney out. But John had somehow managed to convince him it would be ok. It would have been easier if Bates hadn’t been on Carson’s side. But his stand point that Rodney wasn’t trained. Which he did have a point, and soon as they got back, he would be running Rodney though some survival training.

“Open the gate!” Elizabeth called.

“Rodney. Come here.” John said as he motioned behind himself.

“But?” Rodney muttered, but he still came up besides John.

John just took Rodney’s hand and placed it on his own shoulder. “Don’t let go till we are through the gate… then you can sit down.”

“Ah, ok.” Rodney said as he leaned against the chair.

“You sure that’s wise?” Ford asked. Apparently he still hadn’t got over whatever hang up he had from that morning.

John just glanced at him. “You’ll understand one day Lieutenant.” Was his only reply as the gate activated and the Jumper lowered itself into the gate room. “Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!” he called as he moved the jumper through the gate as Rodney chuckled at his side.

--

John gasped when they materialized on the other side of the gate into darkness. For a split second something shot through his chest taking his breath, then it was gone and the grip Rodney had on his shoulder was almost painfully tight.

“The storm is bad.” Teyla was saying as John brought up the HUD. Outside was very wet and was about 4 Celsius.

“At least it’s not windy.” John tried to sound positive. “Davis, come in?”

“There… there, is that them?” Rodney asked as he pointed at the screen. And sure enough there were four life signs huddled together. With a thought he brought up the terrain. Davis and his men seemed to have been separated from the gate by a deep gully. “Ok, Atlantis, we think we found them. Going to see why they aren’t responding now.”

/“Ok, Good luck!”/ Weir said as suddenly the only illumination was the Jumper’s lights as the gate shut off.

It took a little while for John to actually find somewhere to land.

“Are you sure it’s safe?” Rodney asked worriedly.

“It’s as close as I can get.” John answered as he got up. “Ok, it’s going to be cold and wet, so let’s get this over with.” He said as he hit the release for the hatch.

The cold air threw rain about just beyond the hatch and even Teyla shivered. “This is not going to be pleasant.” She muttered as she pulled on her night vision goggles and stepped into the night with Ford close on her heals.

“You stay here.” John said as he turned to Rodney who was looking at him with wide eyes.

“But…” Rodney uttered and John could tell he was caught between relief and concern.

“They should be less than six hundred foot away; they have probably already seen the Jumper and are on their way over. But I need you to stay where I know it’s going to be safe.” He said putting his hands on the Shifters shoulders.

Reluctantly Rodney nodded. “Be safe.” He whispered.

John just leaned in and placed a kiss on his lips before turning and going out into the storm.

As he jogged to catch up with his team, every step he had to resist the urge to look over his shoulder. He just wanted to turn around and go back, but he gritted his teeth and carried on.

That was until he was thrown to the floor as the very earth shifted under his feet. He saw Teyla and Ford also go down as the ground shook.

“Earthquake!” he shouted as he got to all fours and waited it out.

It only took a few moments before it ended.

/“JOHN!”/

Before he could even click his radio he heard a rumbling sound coming from behind.

“Rodney!” he said clicking his radio.

/”The ground just opened up… The Jumpers gone!”/ Rodney came back.

John’s heart missed a beat before he realised Rodney was still talking, so he was safe. “Are you ok?”

/”Yeah, I got out…”/

“Stay where you are, I’m coming back for you!” then he turned to Teyla. “You guy’s go find Davis, We’ll catch up.” Then he turned back.

“Knew we shouldn’t have brought him.” John heard Ford snap out.

John ignored it as he started running. Every step felt better as he got closer to Rodney. And in no time at all he found him huddled up against a tree.

“Rodney.” He said in relief as he took the other man in his arms, needing that connection again, it also meant he could feel his Mate shivering, so he rubbed Rodney’s arms as he looked over to where the Jumper had been, he could still see some lights coming up from what now looked like a mud slide. “Come on, walking will keep you warm.” He said pulling Rodney with him. “We’ll find Davis and his men then find somewhere to shelter for the night.”

“Sure.” Rodney replied miserably. “I’m starting to think I’m bad luck.”

“Nah. Stuff happens. Lets just think about getting home.”

They were walking for about ten minutes when he heard Teyla come over the radio.

/”Major, we have found Davis and his men, they are safe but got caught off guard by the storm and the earthquakes and lost their radios and most of their gear.”/

“Ok, just hang tight. We’ll be there soon. Is there any shelter nearby?” John asked.

/”Some, we have a fire going to keep the chill off.”/

John was just about to say they would only have to wait it out another hour before Atlantis dialled in again and another jumper could be sent when he was thrown to the floor again, Rodney at his side.

The ground seemed to scream this time as a tree nearby fell over, its roots spraying them with splinters and mud.

John climbed over Rodney, trying to shield him form anything else that this world might at throw and them, and clung on.

It seemed to go on longer this time before the world stopped moving and it became quiet.

“Is this place trying to rip it’s self apart?” Rodney whined beneath him.

“Who knows.” John answered as he sat up. “Teyla?”

/”We are fine.”/ She replied quickly. /”though I’m afraid we are cut off, another fissure has opened up the way we came.”/

“Fine… Just stay put… if you can, get somewhere that might be safer.” John replied as he pulled Rodney up too.

/”Be safe.”/ Teyla replied before the radio went dead.

“Oh my god!” Rodney suddenly exclaimed. “John, you’re bleeding!” then Rodney was holding his head and looking at his forehead.

“Hu?” he answered as he tried to bring his own hand up but Rodney just batted it away.

“It’s a deep cut… don’t you have any emergency bandages?” Rodney asked as his hands moved to John’s flack jacket.

John reached for the pocket that had his emergency dressings and pulled it out, at which point Rodney grabbed it and started tearing it open with is teeth.

“Bloody rain!” Rodney cursed as he pulled the night vision goggled off his head then held the padded part of the dressing to his wound. “Hold this.” And John complied as he winced as the wound began to sting and throb. “At least it’s washing the blood away… we need to find somewhere not so wet.” Rodney was babbling as he secured the bandage around John’s head.

John held out the goggles. “Here, this should make it easier.”

Rodney rolled his eyes then pointed at his own eyes “Shifter, I have good night vision.” He said as he stood and looked around. “Over there…” he pointed to his left. “Couple of trees leaning together.” Then he reached down and hauled John to his feet.

For a moment John couldn’t move as the world went a little wobbly. At first he feared another earthquake before he realized it was his own legs. He hadn’t thought he had lost that much blood and it didn’t feel like he had a concussion.

“Come on.” Rodney said as John felt arms around him, then he was being led forward.  “You better not faint on me!”

“Trying not to.” John growled as he clung on.

“Ok… almost there... OUCH! What the fuck!” Rodney yelped and then John felt something hard hitting his head and bouncing off.

“Hail?” he gasped as he saw something white and large fall past his face and Rodney was all but dragging him forwards.

“The temperatures dropping!” Rodney huffed. “Keep moving I can’t carry you.”

John tried his best to keep his feet under him, but it still seemed to take and age before Rodney was dropping him to the floor.

“Hun, at least we won’t get concussions even if it is still wet.” Rodney sighed as John felt him sit down at his side. “You ok?”

“Felt better.” John muttered as he looked out past their little shelter as more hail began to fall, covering the ground with white.

Rodney cuddled up a little closer as they waited.

--

Three hours later and still they were sat in the same place.

“Why haven’t they dialled in yet?” Rodney whined as he moved a little, pulling his feet away from the bank of hail stones that were still farming in front of them.

John shivered again feeling miserable, he had lost feeling in his hands and feet hours ago, which was a small blessing as he was sure the ground around them was freezing.

At least he knew Teyla’s group was doing fine, they still had a fire and were fairing well wherever they were as they radioed in every half hour.

/”Major Sheppard?”/

John closed his eyes as he heard Bates come over the radio, finally Atlantis had opened the gate. He tried to answered but his teeth were chattering too much.

“We need a Jumper evac immediately!” Rodney spoke into his radio. “We found Davis’s team, they are safe, but we lost our Jumper. The ground is highly unstable and we are all cut off from the gate. Also the temperature is still dropping. Me and Sheppard are separated from Teyla and Davis. The Major is hurt and I think he’s going into hypothermic shock.”

/”We have a situation here.”/ Bates replied, and John was surprised the guy actually sounded distressed instead of his usual anger. /”We will try and get someone to you as soon as possible… but I can’t say how long that will be… We were just gateing in to update you on the circumstances.”/

/”I’ll try and get a medical team to you as soon as we can.”/ Weir suddenly said.

/”The hail seems to be easing, we can try and get to you Rodney.”/ Teyla said.

John closed his eyes, they hadn’t told her how bad he was finding it.

“No, no… I have an idea… you can’t reach us anyway.” Rodney signed. “Just stay safe…”

/”I’m sorry but we have to disconnect.”/ Weir said regrettable. /”Make sure you make it all home.”/

Then the connection was severed.

/”Rodney, how bad is the Major?”/ Teyla asked and she sounded pissed.

“A head wound and we are freezing here.” Rodney snapped back. “I’ll contact you soon… I’m gonna try something.”

/”Rodney…”/ Teyla said now sounding concerned.

But Rodney didn’t reply, then John watched as Rodney began tugging off his tack vest and messing with the straps and lacings.

“What are you doing?” he asked through chattering teeth.

“Shut up.” Rodney uttered as he seemed satisfied. Then he started taking off his jacket, that he then laid over John’s chest.

“Rodney?” he warned. If he was freezing, then Rodney had to be just as cold.

“I said shut up.” Rodney growled as he stood and began pulling off his boots, John watched in horror as he also began removing his pants, then his t-shirt till he was totally naked. “This is hardly the time.” He tried to joke as he feared that Rodney had lost his mind, he could see the goose bumps all over his Mate’s pale skin.

“I’m about to do something stupid.” Rodney snapped as he laid his clothes over John. Then he picked up his tac vest and put it back on. John could see how loose it now was as it hung from Rodney’s shoulders.

Then Rodney leaned in and gave him a kiss. “Don’t die on me ok?” he said, his eyes wide.

“Ok.” John answered as he watched Rodney pull off the cast on his arm with a growl of pain.

“Next time, Carson’s putting this on.” Rodney said as he pulled the sodden cotton wool padding from his broken wrist. “Ok… Show time.”

John watched Rodney crouch on all four, then muscle and skin morphed, if he would have blinked he would have missed the hair that sprouted all over Rodney’s body. Then, in front of him stood a huge white tiger. Familiar blue eyes looked at him from the huge head of the cat and John’s heart swelled in his chest.

“Beautiful.” He muttered as the tiger opened its mouth in what John guessed was a smile. Then a large pink tongue licked up the side of his face and the cat turned round and ran into the hail.

John watched it go with amazement at it was soon lost in the pale light that the stars illuminated off the hail.

“Well… wow.” He muttered to himself as he snuggled down, at least he was a little warmer with Rodney’s added clothes, that or it was just an illusion of his Mate’s scent.

 

++++++++++

 

The hail under Rodney’s paws was biting cold and made his footing unsteady now and again, but it was easier than if he just had two feet. Well, it would have been even easier with four paws, but his broken wrist meant he had to keep it up as best he could.

At least his thick coat was keeping the best of the cold out, even if the frigid air was burning his nose and throat as he took in lungful’s of stinging cold air.

But it had taken him no time at all to see where the Jumper had gone down, it’s lights still shone up from the gully it had fallen into. When he got to the edge of the gully he could see the Jumper half on its side at the bottom, it had only slipped about twenty feet, it was just getting down to it.

He limped his way up and down till he finally found somewhere to get down. And almost laughed because it was more like a direct path.

When he got to the Jumper he was relieved when all he had to do was hit a paw against the external door release. He did have to stumble out of the way as the door moved past his face. When it opened fully it slammed into the side of the gully, rocking the Jumper more onto its side.

He had to wait till it stopped rocking as he looked longingly into the light warmth it offered. Then he cautiously walking inside, the footing was treacherous, a lot of equipment had spilled out and now littered the side of the Jumper. But at least it was warm inside.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and Shifted, then shook the slight moment of pain off as his muscles and skin morphed back into his human form. It seemed like years since he had Shifted, and his skin was itching because of it.

With a deep breath he started reaching for the locker that held the medical supplies, luckily it had stayed closed as he started pulling out the emergency foil blankets, as he pulled out powerbars from the largest pocket in his flack jacket, he considered taking the cotton thermal blankets too, but they were to bulky. So as he worked quickly on tightening and loosening straps on his jacket he spied some hand warmers, so he tucked them away too.

He looked over at the cockpit, once again annoyed with his Shifter blood that meant he couldn’t just fly the Jumper to John. With a growl he turned away and as he Shifted back into his tiger form he ran back towards his Mate, knowing instinctively where to go.

 

++++++++++

 

John felt his head suddenly rock to the side as he blinked open his eyes to a warm breath being puffed into his face, followed by an annoyed grunt.

“Wha…” he said as he looked up to see a tiger staring back at him. “Hey.” He said happily. “Sorry, I must have nodded off.” He smiled when the Tiger rolled it’s eyes, then yipped as it turned, nudging his arm with it’s huge head.

John got the overwhelming feeling that he should open the pocket on the flack jacket the Tiger was wearing. So sitting up he freed his numb hand and fumbled with the velcro till he was pulling out two foil thermal blankets.

The Tiger nudged him again.

“Yeah, yeah.” He answered back. “You know it would help if you could give me a hand.

The Tiger snorted.

“Well you shouldn’t have taken all your clothes off!” John answered as the thought of talking to a Tiger seemed a little obscure, but it was like Rodney was speaking to him, just not in words. He fumbled the blankets out of their packets and put them over himself as best he could. Once the Tiger was satisfied, he slumped next to John sides.

John couldn’t help but sink his fingers into the soft fur at the cats neck. Despite how damp the Tiger was, past the outer fur it was warm, and warm was what he needed as he shoved his face into the cat’s shoulder.

“You smell like wet dog.” He chuckled, feeling the tiger grumble. But John didn’t care as he felt himself drift off.

--

When he awoke again, the world was still dark, but he felt warm. He moved a little and the warmth he was resting against, moved.

“Don’t!” he mumbled as he looked up to see the Tiger still at his side, looking down at him. “What?”

The Tiger stood, nudged John’s legs with his nose then looked off into the night.

“You want me to move?” John asked as he tried to get to his feet anyway. “Can I get to the Jumper?”

The Tiger nodded its huge head, then moved close to John, pushing up against his legs. John reached down, realizing that the cat came up to his hip as he ran his hand over wide powerful shoulders. Then the cat was moving and John followed.

“What about your clothes?” he asked, concentrating on moving his numb feet.

The cat made an annoyed sound.

John struggled when the Tiger started hopping and he remembered Rodney’s broken wrist. But there was no way he would let go of the support the Tiger offered, so he just kept moving until he went to his knees, slipping on hail that had covered a patch of rock.

The Tiger whined as he tried getting John to get up. “I’m getting, stop pushing.” John huffed out, trying to get his shivering under control. He got a foot under him, but as he used the Tigers shoulder to get up he slipped again, this time scraping his knee open.

John tried to push the Tiger away as the animal tried to get under him, it’s head had gone under one of his arms, it took a moment before he realised what Rodney was trying to do. “I’m too heavy!” he protested.

Rodney gave out an annoyed roar, pushing some more.

John got the message as he manage to get himself onto the Tiger, he lay on it’s back as he wrapped his arm around its chest holding onto the straps of Rodney’s tac vest while his leg hung down either side of the Tigers own back legs.

Then Rodney was lurching to his feet with only a slight huff and grumble of pain.

“Told you I was heavy.” John gripped as he buried his face into the warm fur at the back of the Tigers neck.

Then they were moving and John let himself relax, despite the fact his toes were dragging along the ground and his fingers were nothing but numb pain at the end of his arms as he clung on to the swaying awkward gait of the Tiger. He was warm, and it was radiating into his belly and chest.

As they moved and John warmed up a little, he couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle.

The Tiger looked over its shoulder at him.

“I was just thinking how nice this was.” He explained.

He got a distinct feeling that Rodney wasn’t thinking it quite that way as he snorted.

“Well… maybe in better circumstances.” He teased and suddenly had to cling on tighter as their angle changed, they were going down hill, then he looked up past two fluffy black ears and saw in the distance the welcoming warm light of the Jumper.

She was on her side, but she looked whole. A small hope welled in his belly that maybe she was still working. But this being the Pegasus galaxy, he knew that was more than unlikely. At least it looked warm.

As they got closer, Rodney limp was becoming more apparent as they started uphill towards the Jumper.

“Let me get off… I can walk the distance.” John said. But Rodney just kept moving and John knew better then to try and slide off and make it on his own.

So slowly he watched as they got closer, when Rodney breached the inside of the Jumper the warmth that hit John’s skin was painful and took his breath away as the Tiger slowly laid down and John could now feel how hard Rodney was panting.

He rolled off, trying to ignore the crap that was digging into his side as pins and needles crippled his hands and feet, so he closed his eyes and shoved his freezing hands under his chin.

“John… Are you alright?” Rodney asked at his side, and John groaned as a cold hand covered his own and started rubbing. “John.”

“How about you?” John asked as he opened his eyes and looked up at his Shifter.

Rodney looked relived before he replied. “You are heavy.” He complained with a grin. “But I’m fine… I never did suffer much from the cold… Shifter and all.”

“I didn’t know that was a Shifter trait.” John said as he sat up, noting how Rodney was keeping his right arm against his bare chest, it looked swollen again. “Crap, your arm.”

“It hurts like hell.” Rodney complained about his arm. “And it depends on the Shifter… Now do you think the Jumper can still fly?”

John reached out and put a hand on Rodney’s shoulder, feeling better just by the physical contact. “Don’t know till we try. Help me up… Also… that’s a good look on you.” He said as Rodney pulled him to his feet.

Rodney blushed furiously. As John looked him up and down. All he was wearing was his loose tac vest and dog tags. “If we just had a little more time.” John purred in Rodney’s ear as he pulled the man closer to him.

Rodney yelped as John felt himself being pushed away. “Not when you’re so cold!”

“Spoil sport.” John pouted as he looked towards the cockpit. “Come on, I should think the others want to get of this rock asap too.”

“We still don’t now what’s happened at Atlantis.” Rodney said as they climbed into the cockpit. “Do you think it’s the Wraith?”

John shrugged, “Let’s hope not.” He said as he tried to get a look at the controls. “Ok, stand with your back on the floor.” He told Rodney, he didn’t even have to look to know he was doing it. He managed to reach the controls for the door, so he closed the inner door, then closed the outer hatch doors. He grabbed onto the chair as the Jumper rocked more into an upright position.

One it stopped rocking John hit the button that would lift the Jumper of the ground.

He couldn’t keep a hold on the chair as he was thrown to the ground as with a screech of metal the Jumper righted itself.

“You ok?” he asked Rodney.

“Yeah, you?”

“Fine.” John said getting to his feet, then he turned to help Rodney.

“No, no, I don’t feel like giving the others a peep show.” Rodney said as he sat on the floor.

John grinned. “But I don’t mind it too much.”

Rodney grinned back as he started blushing again. “If you could, why do I think you would stick a collar on me and drag me about naked everywhere?”

John laughed as he got into the pilot chair. “Don’t be stupid.” He said as he brought up the HUD as he looked for the others. “I want to keep your naked ass all to myself.”

He heard Rodney laugh, then felt the moment Rodney Shifted back into a Tiger. “Though you are naked now.” he said looking down at the big cat.

Rodney growled at him as he sat his backside on the floor.

“Ok, I’m going. They aren’t too far away.” Then he reached up and tapped his Radio as hail started pounding the outside of the Jumper again. “Teyla?”

/”John, it’s good to hear your voice.”/ Teyla said.

“Yours too… Get your stuff together, I’m bringing the Jumper over now.” he said as the Jumper shuddered sideways. “Looks like you’ve got something to fix when we get back,” he told Rodney, who just grunted.

/”You got to the Jumper?”/ Teyla sounded surprised.

“Rodney found a way to get to it… She’s not handling to well from her fall, so I don’t want to land.”

/”We are ready.”/ Teyla answered.

John was just seeing if he could get any closer, when a sensor went off on the HUD. It was saying there was another earthquake. “Teyla!”

/”Hurry!”/ She came over the radio.

John gritted his teeth as he pushed the Jumper a little harder, it only took another minute to find the stranded group. “Rodney secure yourself… somehow.” He said as he moved the Jumper straight down and opened the rear hatch while also opening the inner door. “Teyla, can you see us?”

/”We are trying.”/ Teyla called back and this time John could hear Davis shouting at everyone to move. The ground was still shaking and John got as low as he could as a tree in front of the Jumper fell over.

John turned in his seat to see O’Moore dive onto the hatch, then get to his feet and start pulling others after him. Finally all of them were on bored with Ford and Teyla bringing up the rear.

“Move!” Davis called back at John.

John didn’t need telling twice as he moved up, shutting the outer hatch as the ground seemed to slip away beneath them and the Jumper gave another lurch sideways. “Secure yourselves!” John ordered as he got above what was left of the tree line.

“In all this mess?” Davis asked with an exhausted chuckle.

“I can live with the bloody mess.” O’Moore laughed. “but can this heap of metal get us home?”

“Working on it.” John answered as he made his way to the Stargate, he just hoped it was still standing.

“John… where is… What the…” Teyla was asking before a note of shock entered her voice.

John turned to see her pulling out her belt knife as she stared behind John’s chair. She looked like she was about to pounce. “STOP!” he shouted in realization as he struggled out of his chair to stand in front of Rodney, who had backed up as much as he could. “Put your knife away.” He ordered as he saw everyone else stand and look into the cockpit.

“McKay?” Ford gasped behind Teyla.

“A bloody white!” O’Moore gasped. “No wonder you never Shifted on base, Doctor McKay” The Irish lieutenant carried on. “Them Shifter-nuts would have had you for breakfast!”

Rodney huffed from behind John’s leg.

“So what happened?” Davis asked actually looking up at him.

“McKay found the Jumper, then lead me here.” John answered. “Seems the Jumper just slipped into a gully.”

“Hu…” Davis answered as he turned away, “Come on, get sat down. Sheppard, aren’t you mean to be driving?”

“Sure.” He answered, but wasn’t ready to move yet because Teyla still seemed on edge. “This is Rodney’s Shifted form.” He said softly as he rested a hand on Rodney’s large head.

He watched as Teyla forced herself to relax as she put her knife away. “I’m sorry.” She said bowing her head to them. “It just took me by surprise.”

John gave her a respectful nod back. “That’s fine… I better get us home.”

“Yes… please do.” Teyla said as she edged into the cockpit and sat down in the co-pilots seat.

John gave Ford a lift of his chin as the younger man took his chair behind Teyla.

Satisfied, John got into his chair and moved the Jumper towards the gate as he felt Rodney move up on his left side. John gave him a look then put his hand on Rodney’s head again.

 

++++++++++

 

Teyla looked out of the Jumper window, watching the huge hail still pelting down around them as John tried again to get a connection with Atlantis.

So far it had been almost three hours since they had found the gate, it was still standing, but the ground beneath it looks ready to slip away. John had assured them the gate was on bedrock, and probably wouldn’t fall. But it didn’t ease her worry.

She sat back in her chair as Davis and his men played cards with Ford in the back of the Jumper. And yet again she found herself looking over at the large animal sat next to John.

She had never seen something like it before, it was hairy with black stripes through its white fur. It looked almost cute, if it wasn’t for the claws that she could see on its huge feet, or the white teeth when she had seen it yawn.

She was in no doubt that the animal could kill her very easily.

“Still no luck.” Davis asked from the back.

“Nope.” John answered as he sat back in his own chair.

Teyla watched as John put his hand back on the huge animals head that rested in his lap. The animals blue eyes, that seemed so familiar, were looking up at John.

“Stop worrying.” John whispered and at first Teyla was about to answered before she realized he wasn’t talking to her.

“I’m sure there is a perfectly good reason why we can’t dial in.” John continued as Teyla watched him start stroking the huge head, then grabbing one of its fluffy ears and tug on it.

The large cat shook its head a little before resting it back down as John started stroking again. “I’m fine… How’s your wrist?”

The animal gave a little whine.

“I did say I would let Carson do it this time didn’t I?” John was saying. “I’ll try and not flip out… He can also do this.” John touched his head. “Do you think it will need stitches?”

The cat’s face twitched.

“Recon it will leave a cool scar?” John was asking before he chuckled to himself softly.

Teyla was growing more concerned as John closed his eyes. He looked very pale, but at least he had stopped shivering as he had dried out over their wait. She had tried to intervene after their first dial in had failed, but John had just told her to back off. And with the look in his eyes, she had done just that.

Now though he was talking to himself and looking very ill. She feared that maybe the wound on his head was more serious under the badly placed dressing.

“Here.”

She jumped as she looked up to see Davis stood at her side. He was holding out a cup of coffee.

“Thank you Major.” She said taking it as he eyes moved back to John.

“Worried about him?” Davis whispered.

She nodded as she glanced at him with a smile.

Suddenly Davis was facing John and the large animal. “Doctor McKay?” he said and the cat opened its eyes to look at Davis. “Will Sheppard be ok?”

Teyla couldn’t quite believe it when the cat lifted its head slowly then nodded.

“Ok, but if he falls out of the chair, I’ll have to make sure he’s ok, can you cope with that?” Davis asked.

The cat rolled his eyes but nodded.

“And finally… would you like some coffee?”

The cat’s ears suddenly stood straight up and swivelled forwards.

“Fine, I’m sure I can find a pan somewhere, just wait there.” Davis said as he moved into the back.

Teyla watched as the cat looked up at John, then slowly began to move from besides the chair to sit behind it. Looking back into the rear compartment with interest. She could also see it was holding it’s right paw against it’s chest.

Finally Davis came back in holding a billy can. “Hope this will do.” He said as he put the can on the floor about a foot away from the large animal.

The cat suddenly gave a purr as it tried to lean down to the can of lightly steaming coffee.

“Ah… err…” Davis said. “I can hold it up for you?”

The cat backed off then looked at Teyla.

“Not good enough hu?” Davis chuckled as he stood again. “Teyla, can you help him drink? I think he knows you better?”

Teyla really didn’t want to get any closer than she was to those claws and teeth.

“It’s only Doctor McKay.” Davis whispered. “He still has the mind of the man you know.”

Teyla swallowed as she looked back at the cat. Even if she couldn’t put McKay together with the cat in her head, she knew she had to help, even if it was for John’s sake.

Slowly she stood and took the can from Davis. “I will do what I can.”

Davis slapped her on her shoulder. “Good, just don’t touch him. Oh and Doctor McKay. Sorry, we did look to see if there were any spare clothes, there aren’t even any scrubs.”

The cat gave a huff that sounded a little like understanding.

“Well… I have a game to win, if you will excuse me.” Then Davis was gone and Teyal found herself practically alone with the huge creature.

Slowly she bobbed down and held the can out as far as she could towards the cat.

Then tried not to flinch as the cat came forward on three legs, sat down and sniffed at the can.

She watched in horror as it opened its mouth to reveal its teeth, then a large pink tongue came out and started lapping at the coffee. Every time it took a drink it purred like it was happy, its eyes closed.

It didn’t take long before all the coffee was gone and the cat gave a little grunt of displeasure as it got up and made its way back to John’s side where it put it’s huge head on his lap again.

Teyla stood. She knew the best way to conquer fear, was to know more about what you were scared about. She would quiz John when all this was over. Or better yet, he would talk to Rodney.

With a sigh she went and sat down again to watch the gate.

 

++++++++++

 

Carson was exhausted as he waited for Sheppard’s Jumper to land in the hanger.

He had been on his feet all day helping out with the injured from one of their trading partners that had been hit with a tsunami. So Atlantis was currently full of refugees as they waited for the waters to recede.

“Hello Doctor!” Major James Davis said as he stepped out of the Jumper. “Just one walking wounded, so I’ll get my men to the infirmary.” He said as he thumbed over his shoulder.

“Oh, thanks lad… so where is my wounded?” he asked as O’Moore gave him a grin as he came past.

“Right here Doc.” John called.

Carson could see John stood past Teyla and Aiden, then his eyes moved to the huge white tiger at John’s side. “Oh my.” He uttered. Then he got over his shock as he waved them forward. “Come on then, let’s get you seen too… I’m sure I can find somewhere private to see to you.” He couldn’t help seeing the dark look of Aiden’s expression, or the way Teyla seemed to want to be as far from Rodney as she could. But he was too tired to deal with them right now as he could see blood coming from under John’s soaked bandage. “Do I need to get a gurney?” He asked as he saw John wobbled and reach out to Rodney for support.

“No… I’m good, lead on.” John sighed, sounding very tired.

So Carson led the way to the nearest transporters. “Sorry Teyla, Ford, I don’t think there is enough room.” He said as he tried to squash himself in the corner as Rodney limped into the small space with John at his side.

“Not a problem Doctor.” Teyla said looking relived.

In a flash they were in the corridor for the infirmary.

Along the corridor make shift beds were still set up with injured Refugees, once Rodney got out of the transporters, those who were aware enough to be awake took one look and shrank back as they stared at the huge animal walking past them.

“It’s ok.” Carson called, trying to reassure them. “He’s one of us, he won’t harm anyone!” No one looked convinced, but there wasn’t really much he could do, so he just led the way, taking a quick look behind.

Rodney might have been limping badly on three legs, but his head was held high and proud as he resolutely ignored everyone, even John was walking past like nothing was out of the ordinary as he kept one hand on Rodney’s shoulder, any sign of weakness put away for now.

“Come on.” He said as he went into the infirmary proper, one look around told him there wasn’t going to be any quiet corner, so with a moment of inspiration he lead the two to his office, then held the door open for them to enter. Before he followed he turned back to the main room, where even his staff was gauping at them. “Get back to work!” he shouted. “It’s not like you haven’t seen a Shifter before!” then he walked into his office and slammed the door. “Sorry about that.” He apologised.

“We kind of expected it.” John said as he slouched in Carson’s chair, once again looking tired. “Also, Rodney is a fine looking Shifter, if I do say so myself.”

Carson couldn’t help but smile as he watched John scratch behind Rodney’s ears while the Tiger looked almost shy.

“Well, I really need to get a look at that wound on your head.” Carson said taking one step forwards. “Can I?” he said lifting his hands.

John sighed, “It’s not like we have a choice. Go ahead.”

Carson reached for the bandage and started unwinding it, then carefully pulled the padding away as John winced.

“Oh, Crap.” he uttered; the wound was deep and already showed signs of infection as it still bled a little.

“What?” John exclaimed as Rodney whined.

“There are stitches and antibiotics in your immediate future Major… I also want to do a scan. How did it happen?”

“A tree uprooted near us and I must have got hit by a rock or root or something.” John grimaced. “Is it goanna leave a scar?”

“Probably. But I’ll do the best I can to minimise it.” Carson offered then frowned as Rodney gave a huff of breath and John chuckled.

“It’ll look cool!” John suddenly said.

“I’m sure it might.” Carson said before he realized John wasn’t talking to him.

“I don’t have to see it to know its goanna look cool.”

Carson blinked as John almost pouted.

Then John was looking up at him. “Will you tell him?” he asked tugging on one of Rodney’s ears.

Carson looked down at blue eyes that were glaring up at him. “I’ll do my best to make it ‘look’ cool and not be so noticeable.” He promised. “Right well, I’ll just be a moment to get the things I need. And do you want me to find you something to wear Rodney?”

The Tiger nodded his head, looking relived.

“And I was hoping to drag you through the city and show you off.” John said indulgently.

The Tiger held up his right paw and whined again as he glared at John, then turned imploring eyes on Carson.

“Ah, I forgot about that, I’m guessing I’ll need to scan that too?”

Rodney nodded.

“Ok, I’ll just be a little while, try not to injure yourselves while I’m gone.” He chuckled as he left his office.

He was just getting a syringe for the local antithetic when he was aware of Teyla striding towards him determinedly. “What can I do for you lass?” he asked.

“How is Major Sheppard?” she asked.

“Oh, he should be fine once I stitched him up and he’s got some rest.” He assured as her frown deepened. “Is there something else?”

“When we were waiting in the Jumper.” She started. “John kept talking to himself… or really, talking to… to…” she struggled. “The Shifted?” she finished a little lamely.

“You mean Rodney?” he asked.

“Err… yes… It’s still a little… odd. I’ve never seen such a thing…”

“Well, he might look like a big fluffy Tiger, but it’s still Rodney inside.” He smiled. “It’s not that common on Earth to come across people like Rodney, so you don’t have to worry. Just speak to Rodney like you would normally, he’ll understand. You just wont get any of his flippant remarks.” He tried to Joke, but Teyla didn’t smile.

“I had guessed as much.” She continued. “But John was holding a one sided conversation… like Rodney was taking to him… Could it be the knock on his head?”

Carson frowned, “I’m not sure… I’ll ask them about it. Don’t you worry, I’ll fix them both up.”

“Thank you Carson.” She smiled at him. “Now, I must help with the refugees.”

“Ah, don’t you need to rest?” he asked as she started to walk about.

“I can rest later.” She smiled back.

Carson watched her go; hoping what she said wouldn’t turn out to be something more serious. So with a sigh he turned and got everything else he needed.

--

“Ok.” Carson said as he entered his office pushing a trolley. “Lets get your head seen too.”

“Did you get the stuff for Rodney’s arm? cos he wont stop bitching.” John said as he closed the door.

“Ay. I got everything I need, and some scrubs.” Carson said as he remembered Teyla’s comments. But first he busied himself with getting the scrubs. “Here ya go.” He said putting them down on his table. “I’ve seen it all before, so don’t mind Shifting while I sort John out.” He said turning to the trolley.

“Oh my god that hurt!” Carson heard Rodney shrill complaint and he couldn’t help but turn back to see John with the shirt of the scrubs in his hands.

“Here, put your hand through.” John was saying.

Carson watched as John then helped Rodney put the shirt on, then reach for the pants and hold them open so Rodney could step into them and pulled them up.

“It really hurts.” Rodney moaned, and Carson could see his right wrist was swollen again.

John took Rodney’s hand in his own. “You idiot, it looks worse… you did this carrying me?”

“Carrying you?!” Carson gasped.

“It’s not like I had a choice!” Rodney bitched. “We had to rescue ourselves, so I did what I had to… It was also that or watch you get properly hypothermic!” he snapped at John.

“Can you fix his arm first Doc?” John asked.

Carson sighed. “I’ll stitch you up first. Rodney why don’t you sit down and try not to move your hand?”

The entire time Carson was cleaning and stitching John was looking at Rodney and holding his hand. It was like watching some young newlyweds, at least it kept Rodney’s mouth shut, so Carson guessed he could cope.

“There we are. Almost done.” He said as he started on the last few stitches. “That was another thing I wanted to ask you boys.”

“And that would be?” Rodney asked.

“Well, Teyla brought it up actually. She said you were talking to Rodney when he was Shifted?”

“Well yeah.” John answered with a slight sarcastic lilt to his voice.

“She said you were acting like Rodney was talking back? Is that true? Or did you get hit harder than I thought?” He watched as John glanced up at him as best he could, made almost comical by a forehead full of anaesthetic. Then he was looking at Rodney.

“Don’t look at me.” Rodney shrilled a little. “But you were answering back to what I was thinking…”

“And you didn’t find this odd?” Carson asked.

“Err… no.” Rodney replied though he sounded a little unsure.

“John?” Carson asked.

“Well… It’s just like I know what he’s going to say… saying… I thought it was just a Shifter thing?” John replied.

“I thought so too.” Rodney agreed. “It’s not like I just go Bonding with every bed headed fly boy I meet.”

“I thought you liked my hair.” John was pouting.

“That’s besides the point.” Rodney said dismissively. “And this is the first time I’ve managed to Shift since I broke my wrist… which still hurts by the way.”

“I guess you have a point.” Carson said as he finished stitching. But he couldn’t remember reading anything about such a bond being formed, but he guessed it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility. He would have to experiment on them later. When he wasn’t so tired. “Right, I’ll put another bandage on this, then see if you’ve done anymore harm to yourself Rodney.”

“About time.” Rodney groused.

 

TBC