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Fic: It Was Never Meant To Be This Way - Part 2 of 2 (Emmagan/McKay UST, 15)

Title: It Was Never Meant To Be This Way
Author: x_varda_x
Recipient: silver_galaxy
Pairing: Rodney and Teyla, gen, but with large amounts of het UST
Rating: 15 (T)
Disclaimer: "Stargate" and all related characters are the property of MGM Television Entertainment.
Summary: Teyla is being targeted and Rodney's just trying to help. But he always ends up being the one on the receiving end. Who's doing it? And, more importantly, why do they keep on hurting Rodney? Hurt/comfort/angst/friendship. Set towards the end of Season 2.

Author's Note: Word count for the whole fic is ~20,000. Have fun reading!

( It Was Never Meant To Be This Way - Part One )

-o-

Chapter Four – Thursday 7.15am, Atlantis

Teyla walked along the breakfast table in the mess hall as she collected her morning meal. As she approached the tea making machine, she could hear Rodney behind her, muttering about his citrus allergy and useless co-workers under his breath.

Despite his complaining, which was done half-heartedly and fairly quietly by his standards, he seemed to be in better spirits this morning, although he was still moving stiffly and wincing every now and then. It was like he was really making an effort to try and be in a better mood today, even with his many ills.

He had agreed to their team breakfast, although he had had to be reminded and almost dragged from his computer in the lab. It seemed like he could not bear to part with the laptop, so much so that he had acted like he was about to lose a limb. He seemed to have been there a long time too, whether he had had any sleep or not, Teyla was unsure. His eyes were still faintly bruised which she deduced was either a remnant of the explosion a few days ago, or from lack of sleep.

The tea machine, a contraption fashioned by the Ancestors like so many of the devices used on Atlantis, was being particularly troublesome this morning. It did not provide any tea into Teyla's cup when she placed it underneath, so she put down her tray with a silent sigh and reached forwards to try loosening the top. But the moment her fingers brushed against it, the pressure from the steam which had built up inside suddenly made it fly off at a terrifying speed. As Teyla had been watching and alert, she was able to duck away from the spinning disc to avoid being decapitated, but Rodney, grumbling and preoccupied by the toast and jar of what he called ‘homicidal' lemon curd, was not so lucky.

Teyla heard a muffled thud and a mournful yelp behind her. She spun around and watched as Rodney dropped his tray with a loud crash and she quickly grabbed the man himself to prevent him from falling too.

His eyes were tightly shut and his mouth was hanging open. She could already see the impact site; a large red mark stretching diagonally from his lower jaw, right the way up the side of his cheek, which could either signify a bad bruise at best, or a broken jawbone underneath.

"Ow!" he wailed, with a further pitiful complaint of, "Ow ow ow!" tacked on the end. He sniffed and winced and then glared at Teyla as though she was the one who had delivered the blow with her own fist.

"Rodney! Are you alright?"

He narrowed his eyes and moved away from her, breaking the grip, He immediately started speaking hotly though, which ruled out the likelihood of a broken jaw. "Do I look alright?! I just got whacked in the face by a chunk of flying metal death!"

Many heads were turned as the gathered breakfasters intently watched the scene unravelling. Rodney was not exactly a quiet man, so Teyla was sure they could all hear every word he said.

She moved to get closer to him to make sure he was not seriously injured, but judging by his ability to speak, she could tell that he was annoyed... and probably fine.

Rodney backed up with one hand on his face and the other held out in front of himself to keep Teyla at bay. He glared at her furiously and said, "Just... just go away!"

"Rodney?" She took a step forwards.

"Stop! Every time you're around me I get bruised, beaten..." he raised a finger with each complaint using his free hand, "...burnt, blown up and now this! It's all just too much!"

Teyla paused and watched him with her brow furrowed as his eyes welled up in pain and despair. She said, "Rodney, I am truly sorry!"

"No. I can't take this." He rubbed his face and grimaced. "I'm going to the infirmary... yet again... to see if my teeth can be saved. Carson's getting fed up with it, but not as much as me."

Teyla said, "As it is my fault, I should come with you."

"No!" he cried, in a panicked shriek, and then he lowered his voice at the silence around him as everyone listened. "No. Stay away from me! I can't stand being hurt anymore. Until you've found out who's doing this, I'm not going anywhere near you again. I could get maimed or killed next time!"

Rodney spun around on his heels and stalked away, still muttering darkly to himself and holding his face.

Teyla jumped when a weight suddenly landed on her shoulder. She had been so distressed by Rodney's outburst, that she had not noticed anyone sneaking up on her. For a moment she thought it might be the attacker, finally targeting the correct person, even in the middle of the crowded mess hall, and she cursed herself for her lack of vigilance.

But when she spun around in a defensive stance, John Sheppard was there. He quickly released her and backed away with a sigh. He said, "Let him go. He's been through enough lately."

"I have to do something," Teyla replied, with a wistful look towards the door where Rodney had disappeared.

"Carson can look after him. Come and have something to eat and I'll fill you in on the progress of the investigation."

It took Teyla a moment to recover from her reverie. John was right of course, Rodney would be in good hands... if he made it to the infirmary and did not just return to the labs. She abandoned thoughts of having a cup of tea that morning and John ordered that no-one else touch the machine until it could be checked out. It may have just been a random malfunction, or it could have been yet another attempt on Teyla's life, with the repercussions redirected towards hurting Rodney yet again.

As it turned out, John had a very different definition of the term ‘progress' than Teyla, as he told her in many words that there had actually been none. There were no cameras to show who had altered the washing machines, placed the bomb or exchanged the balm. The internal sensor logs showed life signs, but not who the life signs were and the perpetrator always went to communal areas with lots of people and became lost after they had done their deeds.

Cameras were now installed outside Teyla's quarters, so no direct attack could come that way again, at least, not without them knowing who had done it. Teyla's daily routine had been temporarily altered and adapted to change each day to throw off anyone trying to catch her out.

Once Teyla finished her breakfast, she excused herself to return to her quarters and prepare for her morning workout session.

After she was changed and ready to go, Teyla's door suddenly chimed. When she opened it, the last person she had expected to see was standing there.

"Rodney!"

He was holding an ice pack against his face and when he moved it away to give her a half-hearted wave, she winced at the sight of his face. He furrowed his brow at her reaction and averted his eyes sadly as he backed away a little. His cheek was purple and had some patches of dark red where blood vessels under his skin had burst. It looked extremely painful.

He turned his face to the side in shame, hiding the bruise, almost as though he thought the vicious and ugly mark marring his pale skin was somehow his fault.

He kept his eyes closed as he said, "I shouldn't have run away like that." He looked up at her and rubbed the fingers of his free hand together nervously at his side as he squeezed the ice pack in his other hand. "I, uh, it's just that it... hurts all the time, like a constant biting and burning sensation, and nothing I do makes it stop! Even Carson's painkillers don't quite cut it. He said he can't give me anything stronger without it knocking me out or making me as loopy as some of the scientists in my department."

Teyla furrowed her brow in understanding as he continued. "I thought... I thought that..." He suddenly shook his head and backed away until he was in the middle of the corridor. He suddenly became angry, and his voice went low and flat as he said, "No. This was a stupid idea."

He sighed and mumbled, "I shouldn't have come. Well, enjoy the rest of your day." With that, he attempted to walk away, but Teyla quickly jogged out into the corridor and up to him and grasped his arm firmly. He stopped and Teyla spun him around easily and gently pushed him against the wall and held him there by the fronts of his shoulders so that he could not escape.

She searched his face with her eyes and this time she made no reaction to the bruise which looked even more livid and sore at such close proximity.

She could almost feel the waves of sorrow coming from him and he only met her eyes very briefly in a question before he looked away again and sighed. She leant forwards and stood on tiptoes so that her forehead brushed against his. He obliged and tipped his head forwards so that she could relax. She could feel his breath on her neck and it made her skin tingle.

She continued to hold his shoulders and said, "I am sorry for what has happened, Rodney. But why are you here now?" Although she was fairly certain that she already knew the answer.

He pressed his head against hers more firmly and sighed heavily so that a gust of warm breath passed down Teyla's neck and over her chest. She shivered and he said, "I wanted to say I was sorry."

Teyla moved back so that they were no longer touching skin, but kept her hands on his shoulders and slowly moved them down to grasp his upper arms. She could feel the softness of his flesh and the strength of the muscles tensing underneath as he shifted awkwardly.

She said, "You have nothing to be sorry for."

Rodney looked away and blinked slowly. "I had no right to shout at you like that, especially not in front of everyone. It's not your fault someone's trying to kill you and always ends up getting me instead. I'm scared for you."

Teyla frowned, "And I am worried about you too, Rodney. But you are allowed to be angry when you get hurt. I would never hold it against you. Come."

She guided him over to the door to her quarters and he followed silently, moving the ice pack up and holding it to the side of his swollen face once again. She led him over to the bed and he sat down, just as he had done a couple of days ago.

He glanced at her nervously as she positioned herself facing him. He absently held his stomach with his free hand and asked, "You're not going to rub any more acid into me are you?"

Teyla gave him a small, mirthless smile. "Not today, no."

"Uhm, okay."

Teyla reached forwards and took his free hand in her own. She used both of hers to spread out his fingers and gently rubbed and massaged his hand. He allowed her to do so for a few seconds, but then he snatched it away and cradled it against his chest as though she had hurt him.

"What are you doing?" he snapped with a wince as his jaw movement made the ice pack slap against the bruising. "Are you trying to seduce me again?"

Teyla frowned at him and glared. "No. You have a very strange interpretation of events, Rodney. If I really wanted to be your mate then surely by now you would be flat on your back with me straddling you, would you not?"

Rodney looked away from her and his unhurt cheek turned rosy in a blush. "Well, when you put it like that..." He looked at her with his eyes wide in fear as he said quickly, "We're still friends though aren't we?"

"I would hope so, yes."

He gave her a painfully shy smile as he said, "Besides, you're beautiful and kinda scary with those sticks so you'd never see anything in me anyway. I'm not exactly conditioned, what with being so soft around the middle, weedy and weak."

She reached forwards and placed her hand under his chin, she lifted lightly until he tilted his head up and met her eyes. She said, "You are anything but weak, Rodney," and then let go of him.

"Then why does it hurt so much?" He scrunched up his face and hung his head down in anguish. He squeezed his eyes shut just after she saw they had become glassy.

Her heart twinged in sympathy for him so strongly that it felt like pain. She knew that even though his hurts appeared minor, everyone had a different perception of pain. She moved her hand up and cradled the unmarked side of his face with her palm. As she held him tenderly, he leaned into her touch and she ran her thumb over the rough, stubbled skin in a gentle back and forth stroking motion.

"It is understandable that you are upset. It is acceptable to be so."

Teyla lowered her hand and closed her eyes as she took a deep breath. "But I brought you in here to relax. Nothing more. Breathe slowly with me and try to clear your mind of all thoughts, especially those pertaining to the most recent events."

She heard Rodney take a single noisy breath and let it out in such a gust that she felt the loose strands of hair waving by her face and tickling her cheeks.

It was quiet and peaceful for a few seconds, and Teyla could hear that Rodney's deep breathing was now synchronised in time with her own.

Rodney abruptly broke the mood by nervously asking, "Am I relaxed enough yet?"

Teyla opened one eye in annoyance and looked him over. He had placed the ice pack down on the covers, which was promptly soaking them, but she refrained from remarking as her bedclothes would be dry by nightfall, so it was no hardship. Rodney was wringing his hands together, his face scrunched up and his shoulders tensed to the point where his posture was in the form of a permanent shrug.

Teyla sighed and silently asked the Ancestors to provide her with the strength of character not to lose her temper with this man as she leant forwards. She placed her hands on his shoulders and pressed down, "Relax." His shoulders slumped under her touch. "Do not think about anything. Do not worry whether you are doing it right or not. If you must think of something, imagine a clear blue sky or a calm ocean."

"No oceans," he said in fear. "Full of whales and crushing heavy water." He opened his eyes briefly and looked at Teyla's stern face. He closed them as he quickly added, "Skies are okay though. Big... blue... clear... wide open skies..."

Teyla checked him again a few seconds later, and his face was completely smooth. Despite the blemish of the injury, he was very handsome and appeared younger than she had ever seen him with his features no longer marred by stress or annoyance or anger, or more recently; pain.

She closed her eyes and carried on taking deep breaths in time with Rodney's.

A few minutes later, the calm was once again shattered by a low grunt. Teyla inhaled deeply and then there was another similar noise. She opened her eyes and saw that Rodney's mouth was open and his head was lolling forwards onto his chest. He grunted again and she reached forwards and patted his unhurt cheek gently. He was asleep and snoring.

She felt mildly put out that she had caused him to fall asleep as he opened his eyes and looked at her blearily. She frowned at him and scolded, "Complete rest is not the purpose of meditation. But perhaps if you are having trouble sleeping you should try it more often?"

Rodney smiled at her sheepishly and grimaced as he retrieved the ice pack and placed it against his face.

He stood up and said, "Well, uh, thanks for that, Teyla."

"It is quite alright, Rodney. I am here if you need me."

He nodded once and left her alone. She begrudged the loss of his company and looked down at the indentation on her bed where he had just been sitting. She felt strangely hollow without his warmth and the feel of his breath across her skin. But his scent lingered for a few more minutes even in the absence of the man himself, and she waited until it had completely dissipated before she carefully checked through her gear and headed to the gym.

----------

Chapter Five – Friday 4.23pm, P3X-449

Teyla walked behind Rodney and kept alert for danger while they headed towards the ruins. P3X-449, or Rokalla as the natives had lovingly called it, had been culled several years ago. The Wraith had left nothing alive and no-one had ever returned to claim the dead or raid the settlements. They had been simple dwellings built in and around a large ruin, and many still stood as a testament to those who had once lived there. As such everyone called it the haunted planet. But Teyla just found it mournful and sad.

It was cool and the sky was completely blanketed in dull grey cloud, which darkened the world. The landscape was barren and dead. Only a few shrubs grew here and there between the rocks and sand - another legacy of the Wraith attack. The carefully constructed river diversion towards the village had been broken down by time, or possibly weapon's fire, and now the tilled fields had vanished along with the once life-giving waters where they had gone back to their original course many miles away.

It was usually hot, bright and sunny, but it was now winter-time.

They had split up at the gate, John and Ronon had taken a few marines out for some offworld training, while Teyla and Rodney were sent to check out the ruins to see if there was anything worthy of their attention.

The bruise on Rodney's face was black today, and it prevented him from talking so much, which Teyla was grateful for. This place of death was one that should be treated with respect and solemn silence, which would not be achieved if Rodney had full use of his jaw.

Carson and John had both cleared him for the mission, as he was still fit enough to run or fight if necessary. She occasionally saw him open his mouth to make a comment as he waved his scanner around at the barren, rock-strewn valley where they were walking. But he could only shut his eyes and take deep, pain-managing breaths, just as she had taught him during their short meditation session.

They were now walking along the dry riverbed.

Teyla widened her eyes and looked around warily when several small pebbles were displaced nearby. They skittered down the slope with a sound like liquid and an echo of the past when real flowing water had filled the valley many years ago. The sound had come from the top of one of the valley's sides. Teyla grabbed the back of Rodney's tac vest and pulled him down into a crouch. She angled her P90 up towards the source of the sound.

Rodney broke the silence when he asked a little too loudly, "What's up?"

Teyla narrowed her eyes as a shadow appeared at the top of the hill and promptly vanished. She said quietly. "We are being hunted."

"By what?" Rodney asked shakily. "A scary animal?"

"No, something far worse," Teyla said, keeping her eyes on the top of the hill.

"What could possibly be worse?" he squeaked in an even higher pitched voice.

"A man."

"Oh." Rodney looked sidelong at her slyly, seeming to weigh up his words before he spoke. "You planned this, didn't you?"

"I am unsure what you mean."

"Don't play coy with me. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not exactly stupid or naïve."

Well, that was open to debate sometimes, but Teyla gave him the benefit of the doubt. "You are correct. Colonel Sheppard has a short list of suspects. They are all with us on this planet."

"Flushing out the perpetrator. Isn't that a bit dangerous?"

"I assure you Ronon and Sheppard are keeping an eye on us. We should be perfectly safe."

"Should be?" Rodney whined, with his eyes darting around the area in bare-faced terror.

"They will do their best to make sure no harm comes to either of us. I much prefer them watching over us, rather than John or Ronon being with me."

"Huh," Rodney huffed.

Teyla deemed that danger had passed for now and stood upright once more, indicating that they could proceed.

As they neared the end of the valley and entered a flatter field with a few sparse trees, Rodney turned and glanced at Teyla. He picked at his tac vest in disgust as he asked, "Is that why Sheppard was so insistent on me wearing this heavy plated vest instead of the science one?"

"Yes."

Rodney stopped and held up his hands briefly. He looked at the grim sky and said, "I'm doomed."

"Thank you for your concern, Rodney," Teyla said in a voice that could not help but betray a little indignation.

"Oh, uhm, I meant; we're doomed."

Teyla drew alongside him as he carried on walking. The ruins were now visible through the field, although the clouds had shrouded them in dark shadows just like everything else on the world. There were a few lonely trees around, which had long since lost their leaves in the final winds of autumn. That was another reason why the planet had been chosen; very little cover for an attacker.

Rodney suddenly stopped, and Teyla, who had been warily looking around rather than keeping an eye on him, bumped into him. He grumbled angrily and then muttered, "That's not very ninja."

"I am sorry. I was making sure we were alone."

"Well, we're not," Rodney said superiorly. He waved his scanner, "One life sign behind us. Just a solitary reading..." His voice changed into outright fear, "Where are Sheppard and Ronon? Where are the rest of the marines?" He turned around and looked at her with his eyes so wide in fear that Teyla flinched, but she found that she could not look away. "You don't know do you?"

Teyla furrowed her brow and tapped her radio, "Teyla to Sheppard. Ronon, come in please."

There was nothing. No reply and no static.

"This was a complete waste of time," Rodney muttered vehemently. "There's nothing here of any interest." He used a finger to jab the screen of the scanner angrily. "No energy readings, no worthwhile metal readings at all in fact. There aren't even any flowers or decent looking plants for the botanists." He glared at Teyla with his eyes burning. "If I wanted to be attacked, I would've stayed on Atlantis. At least the infirmary is close and Carson has the drugs ready to go."

Teyla placed a hand on his arm to stay him, but he shook her off with an angry huff and spun around. He quickly walked past her, in the direction back the way they had come.

The moment he was clear, she had no other choice but to turn and follow.

The air was suddenly split by a series of rapid popping noises. They broke the eerie silence, and were echoed soon after by another sound close at hand. Teyla heard the horrifying dull thumping sound of bullets slamming into living flesh as they hit Rodney instead of her. Had he not gone around her as quickly as he did, she would have been the one peppered with metal fragments rather than him.

The impact of the bullets into his body forced him to stumble sideways, but he didn't fall... at least not right away.

There were on screams or howls or cries from him. No complaints at all, in fact. What Teyla saw of Rodney's face, in that brief moment in time, was frozen in shock. His mouth was open and his bright blue eyes were wide and startled. In any other setting, his expression would have been mildly comical, but the situation was devoid of all humour by the rapidly spreading damp patch on the sleeve of his jacket, which dripped to stain the ground dark red with the only liquid it had received for many days. The parched earth greedily absorbed every drop of fluid that fell from him.

Rodney's face suddenly slackened and Teyla saw his awareness diminish as he retreated into himself. His eyes rolled back and slid shut like the very doors to his soul were slamming, as he bonelessly crumpled to the ground, spreading more blood around as he did so.

Teyla already had her gun up and was shooting the occasional bullet to cover them in their terribly exposed position. Rodney had been right to question, where were John and Ronon?!

She fired a few more single shots blindly at their attacker, who had not tried to shoot again, while she looked around for cover. The angle of entry of the bullets into Rodney's upper right arm and the direction he had been facing when he was hit gave her a rough location of the attacker as being back in the valley, probably atop one of the hills.

She curled her fingers around the handle on the back of Rodney's tac vest and began the arduous task of dragging his limp, heavy body backwards and behind a tree for cover. She could not help noticing that he left a very visible trail of darkness on the light coloured pebbles from the holes the bullets had made in him.

She soon had them both safely behind the tree and she tried her radio again, unable to avoid the slight waver of desperation her voice betrayed. There was still no reply. They were alone and Rodney was bleeding very seriously, but alive, for the moment.

She decided that she had better try to do something about it, attacker or no attacker, or he would die. She retrieved her knife and the bandages in both of their tac vests and laid them out on the ground. She hastily cut away Rodney's sleeve and baulked at the mess the bullets had made of his upper arm. It was clearly broken in at least one place by the way it was bending unnaturally. She decided that stopping the bleeding was more of a priority and cleaned away the blood with an antiseptic wipe. But as soon as it was clean, more blood oozed from the four holes she saw and ran across his skin, dripping to the ground underneath.

She grabbed the scanner and placed it on his chest, hoping that it would activate being in close proximity to him, so that she could make sure the attacker did not sneak up on them while she tried to save Rodney's life. It gave her a very small amount of relief when it did light up and clearly showed two life signs in the middle, with a third at the outer edge. Whoever it was, they were not yet close enough to be a threat, so Teyla continued to tend Rodney's injuries.

He was losing blood at an alarming rate and she soon gave up on trying to clean the wounds and settled on wrapping a bandage around his upper arm as tightly as she dared. A tourniquet was the last option, as Rodney could well lose his entire arm if it came to that. She knew that he was be most upset if she was forced to do such a thing, and she knew that if he lost his arm, he would be sent back to Earth for sure and she would never see him again. It would destroy his life and happiness. Whether he would rather die though, was not up to her. She would find a way to save him, but he had not yet lost enough blood for her to seriously consider it.

He had still not woken up, which was worrying, but also a small mercy as she had no desire to see him suffer any more pain, and he would be terrible if he was awake judging by the wounds. She was unsure exactly how many times he had been hit, and cursed the humans of Earth for creating such horrendous weaponry, even though her own P90 had saved her and the lives of her team many times. Hitting a Wraith with rapid fire bullets was one thing, but using the same gun to take the life of a man who had done nothing to deserve such a fate, and a civilian scientist at that, was unacceptable and horrifying.

She patted the unbruised side of Rodney's face when she had finished and called out softly to him, "Rodney?"

He coughed and shuddered. Teyla leant forwards to examine his pale face more closely and her eyes widened in horror when she saw speckles of blood against his rapidly bluing lips.

She moved quickly and efficiently, not allowing her fear to make her hands shake as she unzipped Rodney's vest and carefully removed it. His right side was covered in blood, but she had thought it was just from his arm and that the vest, along with the arm itself, had protected his torso from any major injury. She used her knife to cut away his jacket and shirt and her hands were soon bloodstained and slippery. There were several large and colourful bruises where the vest had prevented the bullets from going through, but a single bullet had punched through the cloth and flesh of his arm and then passed right through the gap in the armoured vest just beneath his armpit to become a great threat to his life. It was lodged in his chest somewhere, deeply enough to have punctured his lung based on the blood he had just expelled from his mouth.

There was hardly any blood leaving the wound, but he was struggling to breathe to such an extent that Teyla feared the next one he took may well be his last. Teyla quickly grabbed a special bandage from her vest and placed it over the wound just as Carson had instructed them on how to manage penetrating chest injuries. She taped it down securely and Rodney's breathing eased a little and some colour slowly seeped back into his lips. She wrapped the tattered and sodden remains of his clothes back around him and glanced at the scanner again where it rested upon Rodney's chest. The life sign was coming nearer and her hand moved up instinctively and tensed on the trigger of the P90 still clipped to her vest.

Not wanting to hurt Rodney further, but knowing that she had to do something to keep him strong and fighting and alive, she patted his face and said imperiously, "Stay with me."

He twitched and mumbled, "Why, where am I going?"

"You have been shot, remember?"

"Uhm, not really." He coughed and winced and then licked his red-spattered lips. He grimaced with his eyes narrowed up at her. "Blood?"

Teyla nodded grimly.

His eyes suddenly flung open wide in fright, "Th-that can't be good."

"It is not, but I will soon have you back on Atlantis and in the hands of Doctor Beckett, who has many drugs, so I have heard. Do you think you would be able to sit up if I assist you? It will ease your breathing."

"I'll try," he said sadly.

"Hold this." She retrieved the scanner from his chest and placed it into his left hand.

Teyla found that his body was a dead weight in her arms, but he tensed up when the movement made a tender place shift and it caused him pain. He was panting by the time they were finished and he was propped up against the base of the tree, it was a nasty wheezing noise deep inside him that unsettled her. She felt something twist in her gut, like an irresistible animalistic urge... or need to reassure and comfort him. So she moved her arm across his shoulders to support him and hugged him gently in a gesture of friendly affection, which he would probably never have allowed if he was not so badly hurt, at least not without believing that she had some ulterior motive for doing such a thing.

As he leaned against her, she manoeuvred his left hand up between them so that the scanner was visible. Rodney gazed at the screen blearily and asked quietly, "I can't see it properly. Is he still after us?"

Teyla sighed and nodded. She felt a small tremor run through Rodney where she was holding onto him tightly and her side was firmly pressed against his unhurt, one.

He started muttering a mantra in a broken and faltering voice. "Ow ow ow ow..." She looked at him and watched as his lower jaw trembled.

She could see that he was not only scared, but in a great deal of pain. He suddenly stopped and looked at her in sadness. "Please... I don't want to die." He let go of the scanner and grasped her arm. She could feel the weakness of his grip through the effects of the high volume blood loss. He looked at her fearfully as he said, "Please, don't leave me or let me die."

"It is alright. If there is anything I can do to prevent your passing, I will."

He nodded, although he did not look too reassured, retrieved the scanner again and held it so that they could both see the screen.

Her radio suddenly activated. "Sheppard to Teyla."

She felt Rodney jump in fright next to her, and he hung his head down and tightly shut his eyes as he wheezed painfully. She shushed him and moved her hand down his right side and held onto his hip; the only place on that side which was uninjured.

She tapped her radio and spoke quietly, "John, it is good to hear your voice."

"We only just regained consciousness. Lieutenant Harvey is missing. We found the remains of a stun grenade, it took us all out."

Teyla frowned down at the scanner, as the solitary life sign a short distance away from her and Rodney drew nearer. She could see that he was weaving between cover, so was probably been aware that they could track him. He would certainly be able to find them very easily as the blood Rodney had shed while being dragged clearly indicated where they had gone.

"We require your immediate assistance. Lieutenant Harvey found us. Rodney has been shot several times in the arm and chest and is losing a lot of blood."

John's voice hardened in reply, "We're at least a mile away from you. I'll get Ronon to run back to Atlantis and call for a medical team and a Jumper."

Teyla heard a mumbled affirmative in the background.

"We're coming towards your position now," John said breathlessly. "Try to keep it together until we arrive."

"I fear that you may be too late," Teyla said very quietly as she continued to look at the third life sign only a few metres away. "He is here." She quickly cut the connection and unwrapped herself from Rodney. She tilted the P90 up ready and used her ears and eyes rather than the scanner as she stood up and pressed her back against the tree trunk. Rodney slumped sideways where she had been sitting a moment ago with him resting upon her, but he managed to stay breathing and she could see that he was still conscious. His injured arm trailed uselessly on the ground and the bandage was already stained pink.

He tilted his head back as he breathed noisily through his gritted teeth with his eyes screwed shut in agony.

Teyla had a quick look around the tree and was rewarded with splinters of wood right where her head had been as the ra-tat-tat of the Lieutenant's P90 forced bullets once more in her direction.

Rodney cried out below her, "What do you want?"

"She's a Wraith!" The man replied, as though it was obvious.

Teyla thought that he sounded slightly unsound of mind. Rodney was sniffling and moved his unhurt arm up to hold his chest as his breaths rasped. Shouting had taken a lot out of him, and Teyla felt icy fear gripping her that he did not have a lot of time left.

Rodney continued to speak, but quieter than before, "Doesn't look like one to me. Have you ever even seen one? Pasty skin, white hair, poor dental care, bad diet? i.e. nothing like Teyla!"

"You're still alive then, McKay," the man shouted. "Why do you keep getting in the way! If you want to die before her, then so be it! But you were the last person I wanted to get hurt. You're just about the only one to stand up against them."

Teyla frowned and asked, "What happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"Who did you lose to make you this way?"

The man laughed nervously. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Teyla knew she had him. Hidden madness could be powerfully motivated and finally drawn to the surface by grief. She had seen it amongst her own people and upon many other worlds before.

Rodney grunted and held up the scanner. Teyla saw that several more life signs had now appeared at the edge. Events would rapidly change now.

Distant gunfire echoed around the empty landscape. She crouched down and rested a hand in the centre of Rodney's chest. He murmured, but he was close to losing consciousness. She rubbed him lightly and then peered around the tree again from the low angle. The Lieutenant was no longer looking at her, but was instead facing away towards the hills in the direction of the life signs. He backed up towards the tree Teyla and Rodney were using for cover.

Teyla was close enough now to incapacitate the man, but instead of shooting him, her retribution was swift, brutal and merciless as she spun the P90 over and used the butt to deliver a sharp blow between his shoulder blades. He silently crumpled to the ground and lay still. She tapped her radio and told the others to hurry, but to hold their fire as the danger had now passed.

She hastily removed all the weaponry from the Lieutenant and used zip-ties from her vest to bind his hands and feet. She then returned to Rodney and was distressed to find that he was now sprawled upon his back and was struggling to breathe. She gently rolled him onto his unhurt side, and held him there with one hand on his chest so that she could monitor his breathing and the other holding his uninjured hand tightly.

Ronon must have run like the very Wraith themselves were chasing him, as Teyla heard the whine of Puddle Jumper engines just before John and the marines found her.

The marines secured the Lieutenant while John came over to Teyla and crouched down. He rested a hand on Rodney's back and frowned at the blood-stained bandages before he glanced up at Teyla. His fear and concern was plain to see, and Teyla allowed her own mask to slip and reveal a little of her inner thoughts to him too. She pressed her lips into a grim line while they both kept holding onto Rodney and refused to let him go. They would not allow Rodney to slip away in physical contact, and certainly not in death.

Only the medical team, lead by a frantic Carson, were able to convince them otherwise.

Teyla was herded into the back of the Jumper while the marines took their prisoner and secured him to a chair in the cockpit.

Carson had several team members with him and Rodney soon had needles jabbed into various parts of his body and a breathing tube pushed down his throat.

Teyla was in a daze though, now that it was over. The adrenaline was still coursing around her as she looked down at Rodney's still and almost lifeless face. He was dying in front of her and she refused to let it be that way. She knelt down beside him on his unhurt side, while the medical team were too busy working to splint and rewrap his right arm to notice or shoo her away. She grasped his hand tightly but it was cool to touch and remained fearfully limp in her own. It was completely wrong. Rodney should be using his hands and arms for gesturing or experimenting on new Ancient artefacts by touch. His face and shining bright blue eyes should be lit up in enthusiasm or annoyance or glee. But his face was devoid of all emotion and the only colour there was the redness of blood as it slid from his mouth.

John placed his hands on Teyla's shoulders and drew her away from Rodney. "Let them work," he said. And Teyla grudgingly let go of that cold, immobile hand and rested it down on the stretcher.

She allowed herself to be held back by John once they reached the Jumper Bay and the waiting gurney whisked Rodney away for surgery before she could blink and recover from her trance.

The marines took their fellow to the brig and John requested that Teyla get herself checked out and they could worry about the debriefing later. After Rodney either lived or died. She thought, as she gathered herself together and took several deep breaths in a calming meditation that for a moment even she struggled to master just as Rodney had done. It would not do for anyone to see her without her stoicism, so she hid her emotions from John, although she did not mind him seeing it a little and knew that he would not ever hold it against her.

She headed to the infirmary to get checked and to begin a solemn and difficult vigil.

----------

Chapter Six - Saturday 1.32am, Atlantis

The man responsible for Rodney's condition was safely secured in the Brig. As much for his own protection as for everyone else's.

Rodney may not be the easiest man to get along with, but he had a lot of friends on Atlantis, many of whom he probably did not even realise he had. Sheppard was concerned about possible retaliatory attacks, from himself and Ronon included. So he had posted his most trusted men to stand guard and make sure the Lieutenant was unharmed before the Daedalus arrived to escort him back to Earth to face court-martial for what he had done.

It turned out that the Lieutenant had once served with a man who was killed in the siege a year ago. It had taken him all this time to get assigned to Atlantis in order to exact revenge. Why he had thought that retribution would be served by killing Teyla though, no-one knew. There was no reason apart from her minor Wraith connection which had never made anyone act with such fear and violence before. Dr Weir had ordered that no-one should go near him or question him before the Daedalus arrived to take him back to Earth.

After many anxious hours of waiting while he worked on Rodney in the operating theatre, Carson finally came through the door and approached Teyla and the rest of her team where they sat in the waiting area. They all got up as he neared and Teyla braced herself for what he was about to say.

Carson looked exhausted, but hopeful, although Teyla did not allow that to influence her emotions until he had spoken.

John stepped forwards first, "How is he?"

Carson sighed, not necessary a good sign, but Teyla allowed him some grace as it may well have been a sound of tiredness, rather than one of futility. He said, "The bullets broke Rodney's upper arm in two places, one staying lodged in the bone. The third one went right through his arm and fractured a rib on its way into his chest. Which actually means he's incredibly lucky. If his arm and rib hadn't slowed the bullet down as much as they did, we wouldn't be having this conversation now."

Teyla furrowed her brow and felt a little light headed with the worry... or perhaps she was tired too?

"I won't lie to you; he's in a bad way, but we're doing our best."

Teyla said smoothly, "That is all we can ask."

Carson turned and looked towards the door on the other side of the infirmary, "We're keeping him in the isolation room for now so that he can be closely monitored in private."

"Can we see him?" Ronon asked.

Carson frowned and then looked at each of them in turn, "Aye, but only one person, and just for a few minutes."

Teyla looked at John, she felt she really needed to see him as it she felt it was her fault he was so badly hurt. It should have been her in his place and this was the only penance she could have.

John nodded his approval and Ronon did likewise.

Teyla followed Carson, who paused just before they went through. He turned to her and lowered his voice, "We've got him hooked up to a lot of machines. Try not to be too alarmed. We're keeping him sedated and on a ventilator to help him breathe while his punctured lung heals and he regains his strength."

"I will just be glad to see that he is still alive."

"Ach, I know what you mean. He lost a lot of blood and he's still very weak. Please try to keep it brief."

Teyla nodded and steeled herself as she went through the door.

Teyla had some difficulty spotting Rodney in amongst all the machinery, which seemed more alive than he did, even with Carson's warning. It did not help that he had a tube coming from his mouth, obscuring most of his pale face. He had grey circles around his eyes and thick bandages wrapped around both his upper right arm and ribcage. The white sheet was pulled up to cover his lower half so that his chest was visible. Various and numerous bags of fluids connected to him were draining into his body and Teyla furrowed her brow that he could be rendered this way - going from a loud mouthed, abrasive man so full of life and vitality, to this - with nothing but antiseptic smelling sterile plastic and metal keeping him functioning.

It looked like a breeze would break him, like a leaf falling from a tree in autumn, if anyone allowed it.

She was unsure what to say to soothe him in his induced sleep, so instead she took his cool hand in her own, careful to avoid touching the needle threaded into the back and taped down. She held onto him as she sang a short and quiet song in praise of the Ancestors and graciously asking for their help. It was usually melodious, but her voice was weak and breathy with worry, and she could not help it as the tune synchronised with the beating of Rodney's heart signalled by the monitor's beeps nearby.

In order to survive and recover from such an ordeal, Rodney would need great strength of body and mind. Teyla had thought him weak when they first met. After all, how could anyone be strong, coming from a place without Wraith, where not everyone had to become a warrior out of necessity like the Athosians? But he had proven her wrong many times and she hoped that he would do so again now.

The Earth doctors were amazing, there was no denying that. But she had learnt that even they had a limit to the extent of the miracles they could perform. Because even they could not make a person's heart keep going if it did not want to continue beating.

Her voice faltered and trailed off. She gently caressed Rodney's fingers and placed a hand on his face. His skin was cool to touch, but the monitor signalled that he was still alive.

Carson came back then and Teyla released her grasp on Rodney's hand and face and looked away as though she had been caught doing a forbidden act. When she glanced up at Carson, he did not alter his expression, nor did he act like he had seen anything untoward, and for that Teyla was grateful.

He said, "I think that's enough for now. You should get some rest, lass. You look dead on your feet."

"Thank you, Carson."

"Don't thank me yet," he said, as he noted down some readings on the clipboard he had retrieved from the end of Rodney's bed.

Teyla placed a hand on his forearm, "But I must, for without you, Rodney would not be alive at all."

"Aye, well I'm just trying to keep him that way. I'll make sure I call you if there's any change in his condition."

With that, Teyla bowed her head and left. She could not help the heavy knot in the pit of her stomach at Carson's words.

After informing Ronon and John of Rodney's condition she bade them goodnight. She trusted that Rodney was being well looked after and there really was nothing more she could do there.

----------

Sunday Afternoon, Atlantis

Teyla headed down to the infirmary once more upon receiving word that Rodney should be waking up that afternoon. The previous day had been spent in great anxiety about Rodney's injuries and many de-briefings to find out exactly what had happened.

Any sense of relief she had had that the perpetrator (and her would-be attacker) was now known and secured, was overridden by concern for Rodney.

John never seemed to leave Rodney's side when they were not in meetings, and had to be pried away from him just to eat and sleep. Teyla allowed herself a small smile at that. She was more in control of her emotional attachment to Rodney, but only just. She believed that things would run their course whether she was there or not. As the breathing tube had been removed the previous night, she was confident that he was getting better.

If John were not so dedicated, then she would indeed have been with Rodney all the time herself. Even though he was resting, he needed the company and to know that when he did awaken, he was not alone in what he was going through because he had not been abandoned.

Had his condition been worsening, then she too would spend every moment by his side with John. She just held more patience that John did.

As she entered the infirmary, she rolled her eyes a little when she found that John was still there. Rodney had been taken out of the isolation room that morning and had less equipment around him than before. He was still well wrapped up in bandages though, but his face had gained a healthier pinkish tinge and the circles around his eyes were fading.

She approached John and laid a hand on his shoulder, "I have come to relieve you from your sentry duty."

He jumped and spun his head around, "Teyla!"

She offered him a smile and said, "It would be beneficial for you to have something to eat. I assure you, I will call if Rodney so much as twitches."

John blinked a little bleary eyed. Teyla did not like to think that he had been napping, but would not put it past him. Rodney was as trying and tiring in unconsciousness and injury as he was at all other times.

He looked down at Teyla's hand and frowned, "Are they for him?"

Teyla smiled as she lifted the flowers up. "Yes."

John raised his eyebrows and looked towards their sleeping charge. "He's not allergic to those is he?"

"I assure you that these have been cleared by the botany department and they do not contain anything which would harm Rodney."

"How do they...?"

"They have a list."

John looked at her incredulously and then back at Rodney. "Did he...?"

"I am unsure how the list was obtained, perhaps Rodney told them and they then made sure not to show or keep anything which might hurt him."

John looked at Rodney and uttered an incredulous, "Huh, well how about that..."

When John did not give any hint that he was about to move, Teyla cleared her throat. He glanced at her and said, "Oh, yes. Right. Going to get food. I'll see you later."

"Take your time," she said as he stood up and she took his place at Rodney's side.

When Rodney began stirring an hour later, Teyla watched and waited. She decided that she really needed to speak with Rodney alone before calling John as she had promised. After all, it was her fault that he had been hurt. John and Ronon had already forgiven her, as they felt responsible too for leaving Teyla and Rodney back on the planet without their protection. They also kept on reiterating the truth that none of it was her truly her fault, but the doings of a man who was less than sane.

She still felt terribly bad though, because all of Rodney's wounds were meant for her. Each time he had been hurt, it had always been her fault for not anticipating that the attacks were going to come and not being able to foresee the consequences. He stood in the way of the bullets and nearly died for it, so she felt she was the one who should be there when Rodney awoke.

She saw his eyelids moving and a hint of blue underneath. But instead of opening his eyes as she hoped, Rodney shuddered and moaned; a long and low mournful sound that made Teyla's insides curl tightly in sympathy.

Carson was already there before she could even turn around to call for assistance. Teyla moved back while he checked Rodney and topped up one of the medications he was providing to ease Rodney's pain. He spoke some reassuring words and gave Rodney some water before placing a hand on Teyla's shoulder briefly. He gave her a look of reassurance before he left.

When Teyla turned back to look at Rodney, he was gazing at her fearfully. She furrowed her brow, "It is alright, the man who hurt you is locked in the brig. You and I are quite safe."

Rodney's expression changed to one of relief. His voice was gruff when he spoke; a legacy of the breathing tube he had only recently had removed. "What happened, back on the planet... after...?"

Teyla quickly brought him up to date and Rodney was looking sleepy by the time she finished. His eyes caught the flowers by his bed and his expression changed to one of incredulity. "Flowers? My allergies! Aren't they for girls anyway?"

Teyla glared at him and his mouth hung open slackly and then his lips tilted further as he caught her stern expression. "Oh. Um, did you bring them?"

"I did. But if you would rather not have any gifts, I can take them away."

Rodney crumpled and sighed as he looked down at himself. "No. They... they're nice. Thanks."

Teyla reached forwards and took Rodney's left hand in both of hers. He looked down at where they were touching and appeared slightly timid at the contact.

"Thank you, Rodney. However unintentionally, it was you who saved me from being injured. Although I am sure that is small consolation to you now."

He flinched away from the touch and blushed furiously, as he stuttered, "S'okay."

Whether he really meant it or not was unclear. Teyla found Earth men to be so modest, especially Rodney. It was completely unnecessary for him to be so overly nervous and sensitive.

He tensed up, but was forced to relax with a pained sigh when the movement aggravated his injuries.

Teyla said, "I would very much like to continue teaching you the art of meditation when you are feeling better."

He frowned and narrowed his eyes, "I'm not sure about that. It wasn't so good last time."

He clearly did not comprehend his error, or the ingratitude in his words as he looked back at her blankly while he waited for her to reply. It genuinely looked as though he was innocent from any known wrongdoing, and she knew that Rodney often had difficulty filtering out unpleasant comments. Like he was unsure when to tell the truth and when he really should not. It was just the way he was.

As a diplomat, Teyla knew that many a heated word had led to a falling out between people, so she took a deep breath and smiled at him before she said, "Although I am deeply troubled by the extent of your injuries, it is agreeable to me that you are getting better. You are a good friend, Rodney."

He looked confused at first, as though unsure if her last words were true or complimentary. But then his face altered and a huge lopsided, yet charming, grin spread out across his face, "Uh, thanks?"

Teyla laughed, but not at him, and grasped his hand firmly in her own. It was pleasantly warm, so different from the last time she had touched him, and the muscles reacted and curled against her touch to prove to her in no uncertain terms that the man before her was very much alive and in time he would be well again too.

----------

A few weeks later, Atlantis

Teyla sat on the bed in Rodney's quarters while the owner of said bed sat opposite her with a jar in his hand, looking grim. His colour was back and his arm was now in a sling against his body while the bones knitted together.

He had expressed a desire to return to work and dial back on the medication. It was clear that he was deeply frustrated by his frail body's disobedience and slow healing.

She hoped that he would feel a lot better once he could work to his full potential again, without his sharp mind being addled by drugs, nor his one armed disability and pain slowing his progress, speech and flow of ideas.

She knew he had been speaking with Heightmeyer too, although how much force had been applied to him to make him talk to her, Teyla was unsure. Everyone knew what had happened to him, especially Teyla, who had witnessed it firsthand, but getting him to tell his side of the story would be a major undertaking as he was still reeling from the trauma.

He had even confided in her on one of his bad days, that he still needed assistance to dress because he was so afraid that he might get tangled in his clothes, fall over, and end up back in the infirmary again on the horse pills. Not that Teyla knew what a horse was, but it did not sound good, and neither did the fact that he had not yet refused the helper nurse Carson sent without him even asking.

He had been prescribed some fairly heavy duty painkillers from the infirmary, but had approached Teyla to see if she could help him too. She could understand and was easily persuaded to assist in any way she could to speed his recovery and lessen his distress.

The meditation she was teaching him was for pain management and relaxation, but should also assist with the psychological impact he had suffered from nearly dying so horrifically, painfully, and essentially pointlessly too. He had been badly shaken by the whole incident and was now very depressed, but he was very gradually getting better under the support and guidance of the many friends he had around him.

He held up the clear jar and Teyla saw that there were some metal fragments in the bottom. He shook it and they tinkled around inside the glass unpleasantly. He flinched and looked disgusted and more than a little fearful.

Teyla frowned, "Are they...?"

"The bullets? Yes. It's hard to believe they were inside me, and even though they're so small, they caused so much damage."

Carson must have given them to him, either that or he had asked for them. She was unsure why they had been kept at all after the surgical removal of them from his body, but suspected it was another Earth custom she was unaware of.

She made a mental note to discretely mention the bullets to Carson, just to make sure that Rodney was supposed to have them and had not taken them when unauthorised to do so. She was worried that Rodney having such a grim reminder of how close to death he had come, might significantly slow down his recovery.

She took the jar from him and looked inside. He was right, they were small, and all traces of blood and tissue had been expertly cleaned away, just leaving tiny pieces of metal. She grimaced and leant over the side of the bed. She opened the lower drawer of the bedside cabinet, dropped the jar inside and closed it firmly as she said, "Do not think of them. You are healing, that is all that matters."

"I suppose," he mumbled as he moved his free hand up and picked at the cloth of the sling supporting his broken arm.

She could see that he was slipping away from her as he became more and more downcast, so she quickly spoke to change the subject and draw him out of the despair he was rapidly sinking into before her. She said, "Have I ever thanked you, Rodney? Because you saved my life many times."

His expression lifted and he looked at her with a lopsided smirk, "I count fifty eight times now. Not including how often you might have said it while I was asleep."

She tilted her head forwards in an invitation which he hastily accepted, perhaps too quickly as their foreheads collided sharply. Instead of leaving it at that though, he leant in closer until she could feel his breath upon her. He moved his uninjured arm around Teyla's back and held her as he said, "And you saved mine too back on the planet."

Teyla drew away in puzzlement as he elaborated, "Without you, I would've bled out or been asphyxiated or he would've finished the job."

She smiled at him and said, "You are most welcome. I am very glad that he did not."

He let go of her and looked sheepish.

She moved her hand forwards and placed it against his flank as she said, "I would like to think you would have done the same for me."

"Of course," he said without any hesitation.

She squeezed him gently and he sighed and closed his eyes. He still had many weeks to go before he was completely well again. Once his physical wounds were healed and the physiotherapy ‘torture,' as Rodney had called it with a twinkle in his eye, was over, then she hoped his psychological symptoms would also resolve.

Teyla leant back and let go of his side. She nodded at Rodney that they should begin and she made sure he closed his eyes before she did likewise. She took several deep breaths and said softly, "Relax and imagine a clear blue sky. Take calming breaths, in through the mouth and out through the nose..."

"Way ahead of you there," Rodney mumbled sleepily.

----------

The End!

Hope you liked it!
Tags: genre: general, genre: het, pairing: emmagan/mckay
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