"Take a break from the lab, you said." Rodney growled. "We'll have a good time! you said."
Rodney took a breath and aimed his side-arm. He took careful aim, aware that he was running out of ammunition.
"Hey! It was your people that told me this was a safe location!" John protested. He stood back-to-back with Rodney, shooting at anything that moved.
"Biologists! You trusted biologists?" Rodney protested.
"They're your people, of course I trusted them!" John countered. "How's your ammo?"
"I'm almost out," Rodney said, taking careful aim as he shot again.
"Damn, I am, too," John said.
"Any ideas?" Rodney asked.
"Best option we're going to have is make a run for the Jumper," John replied. "It's not that far, and we have to try before we run out of ammo or we're surrounded too badly. And it's at least another twenty minutes before anyone can get here."
As soon as he had realized how serious the problem was, John had called for help, but since the city was half an hour away by Jumper, it would take time -- too much time -- for help to arrive.
Rodney sighed, then nodded. "I feel like we're in an Indiana Jones movie."
"While I don't exactly hate snakes, I do hate these snakes," John said, firing carefully at one that was creeping up on them.
"They can move fast," Rodney replied. "Can we out run them?"
"We'll have to do our best," John said.
"Let's go before I think about this too much," Rodney said.
"Okay, let me get the remote ready," John said. He fumbled in his pocket for a moment. "Got it!"
"Good thing you closed that up," Rodney commented.
They both shuddered, thinking of snakes in the Jumper.
"Okay. Ready?" John asked.
He felt more than saw Rodney nod.
"Go!" John commanded.
Rodney had already been facing toward the Jumper, so he had a few steps head start on John. John was glad he had kept Rodney running regularly; it might save both their lives today.
John made himself ignore the noises that paced them in the surrounding forest. The rustling of the underbrush prevented John from hearing if the snakes themselves made any noise. Not that he really cared at the moment.
A snake dropped to the ground between them from the tree above, and John took a step to one side to shoot his last bullet at it. He jumped over the writing body, narrowly avoiding the slashing fangs.
"Keep going!" John shouted as he saw Rodney hesitate.
The Jumper finally came in sight, luckily the ground in front of them was clear of snakes. John used the remote to open the rear hatch, keeping an eye out for anything untoward. Rodney stumbled into the Jumper and John followed, sending the close command even as he started up the ramp.
John didn't relax until the hatch sealed behind him. He dropped to the bench, next to a panting Rodney.
He touched his comm. "Atlantis, this is Sheppard. We've made it safely to the Jumper. We're going to take a minute to catch our breath and then we'll be in the air."
"Good to know," Chuck replied calmly. "Do you still need assistance?"
"I don't think we need it, thanks," John replied. "You can recall the second Jumper."
"Will do," Chuck replied.
John dug out canteens of water from the Jumper, they had dropped their backpacks when they started running from the snakes. Good thing they had taken weapons with them on what was supposed to be a picnic.
"Here," John handed Rodney a canteen. "This will help."
"Remind me not to complain about all the running you make me do," Rodney panted. He took a mouthful of water. "At least not for a while."
"Done," John promised. He took some of the water himself. "Ready to go back?"
Rodney nodded. "More than."
They made their way to the front of the Jumper. Rodney picked up a life sign detector and turned it on.
"And I'm not seeing much of anything," Rodney complained. "At least not around here." He fiddled with the detector. "Oh!"
"What?" John asked as he went through the steps to get the Jumper up and running.
"Look!" Rodney held the detector so John could see the screen. "Umm... is that?"
"Looks like a swarm of snakes behind us," Rodney said. "Is that the right word?"
"You'll have to ask your biologists," John replied. "But that's a huge mass of snakes and we walked right into the middle of it."
"I always thought of snakes as fairly solitary creatures," Rodney replied. "Maybe a bunch of eggs just hatched?"
"If those are hatchlings, I don't want to meet the mommy snake," John replied as he urged the Jumper into the air.
"The biologists are going to want to come out here and study this," Rodney sighed.
"I'll make sure they go out with a squad of heavily armed Marines," John replied. "Just in case."
"Good idea," Rodney replied.
They endured some initial ribbing when they returned, but when Rodney showed them the scans of the snakes that he had taken, there was a moment of silence.
"I've never seen anything like that," Ronon admitted. "Those are huge."
"And they're kinda smart," Rodney replied. "They actually chased us. And I don't think we did anything to provoke them. At least not intentionally."
They turned in their weapons to the armory and John herded Rodney to the infirmary, so they could both be thoroughly checked out. Trips to the mainland didn't normally require medical check-ins, but this hadn't been a normal trip.
Luckily, there was no evidence of contact with the snakes, and they went to the mess for a late lunch. Or really, an early dinner.
"Nap?" John asked as they ate sandwiches. "Or at least a movie and an early night? It's still our day off, after all."
Rodney yawned. "Probably a good idea," he agreed. "All that excitement and running is exhausting."
"Let me grab a snack for later, so we don't have to leave our room," John suggested.
"See if there are cookies!" Rodney replied.
"Go ahead, then. I'll be right behind you," John promised.
There weren't cookies, but there were brownies, which John knew Rodney would enjoy. Chocolate in any form was always a good option. He grabbed some fruit and a carafe of fruit punch that they would both enjoy. Thanking the kitchen staff, John made his way back to their room.
He found Rodney perched on the couch, feet off the floor, looking around anxiously.
"Everything okay?" John asked.
"No! Maybe!" Rodney sputtered. "I don't know!"
John put the food down on a table and sat next to Rodney. He put an arm around the tense man and waited.
"I'm being silly!" Rodney said, relaxing into John.
"What happened?" John asked softly.
"I don't know what it was, but I saw something move out of the corner of my eye," Rodney said. "It was low to the floor and all I could think was that there was a damned snake in the room."
"Okay, that is not a good thought," John said. "Have you seen anything since you've sat here?"
"No," Rodney admitted.
"Okay, then. How about you take a shower and I'll keep an eye out while you do that?" John suggested.
"Now you're humoring me," Rodney protested.
"Maybe a little," John admitted. "But it can't hurt. And if it makes you feel better, then it's worth it."
Rodney leaned in for a kiss. "I knew I liked you for some reason."
John kissed him back. "There's the Rodney I love."
Rodney got up and made his way back to the bedroom and the attached bathroom. "Just a quick shower," he said.
"Take your time," John replied.
Unnerved from the day, John thoroughly checked out the rooms in their apartment. Besides the large living space -- which was both living room and kitchen -- there were two bedrooms, one of which they used as an office. The second bedroom had its own bathroom. Before starting to search, he had grabbed a golf club, telling himself he was being silly. He checked behind all the furniture and curtains before he decided it was clear.
Rodney was coming out of the shower as he returned the club to the bag in the closet.
"Did you see anything?" Rodney asked.
"Nothing," John replied. "I checked all the rooms, behind and under the furniture. I closed the door to the office while I was at it."
"Good," Rodney came up and gave him a warm kiss. "Thank you for indulging me."
"You'd do the same," John said.
"Now get your shower," Rodney gently pushed John toward the bathroom. "I have plans for you."
"You do, do you?" John grinned. He leaned in for a quick kiss. "Be right back."
John took a quick shower, knowing he was sweaty from their run and the adrenaline that had coursed through his body. He was warm and relaxed when he climbed into bed next to Rodney.
Rodney did indeed have some excellent plans and when they finally snuggled next to each other, John knew he'd need another shower in the morning.
It was dark when John suddenly woke. He didn't know what made him wake up, but he listened for a moment. Hearing nothing, he turned over and leaned into Rodney's warmth.
Just as he was falling asleep again, he heard a faint rattle.