Word Count: 1600
Pairing: Basically gen; brief mention of canonical Rodney/Jennifer and Ronon/Jennifer
Spoilers: Missing scene for "Enemy at the Gate".
Summary: A little Ronon & Rodney wrap-up for the events on the hiveship. Written for cliche_bingo square "Episode Tags & Missing Scenes".
They stumble through the gate, from living hiveship corridors into an echoing vault of gray rock and concrete. For a brief, dizzying moment Rodney thinks they've accidentally gated to the SGC, before remembering that the current Milky Way Alpha Site is inside a mountain, too. He's never seen it before.
Chaos descends on them in the form of the Alpha Site's small garrison, augmented now by additional troops as well as returning gate teams who've been unable to gate back to Earth. For a few minutes they're all caught up in a whirlwind of stumbling explanations: people talking over the top of each other, the situation on Earth and the situation offworld all blurring together, with the added confusion that Sheppard's team have been in different galaxies and haven't had a chance to get their own story straight, either. At some point, the base commander -- Rodney never did catch the man's name -- drags Sheppard and Lorne off somewhere for a debriefing.
Rodney finds himself suddenly bereft of his team and surrounded by anxious civilians, the scientists from various gate teams who've been unable to get a straight answer out of the military, demanding information from him. Most of them apparently have no idea who he is, which wouldn't be quite so annoying if they didn't all seem to be idiots with no useful information to give him, either. Then Rodney and the idiots are ordered out of the gate chamber so that someone can establish a wormhole to somewhere, and Rodney ends up shuffled to a corner of the Alpha Site's cramped control room as strangers keep pushing him out of their duty stations.
He hasn't had this useless, spare-wheel feeling since ... well, since the last few times he was at the SGC, actually. He can't even bring himself to badger them to tell him what's going on, because right now he knows more about the situation on Earth than any of them, and no one can give him the information he really wants -- if Atlantis is okay, if Earth is okay, if Jennifer is okay.
He catches glimpses of Teyla and Ronon out in the corridor, the only familiar people anywhere. After some effort, Rodney manages to struggle through the crowd to find that Ronon's sitting on the floor, his back against the wall, forcing people to step over his legs. The light isn't that great even out in the corridor -- flashing red emergency lights, just to add to the air of general confusion and panic -- but there is enough for Rodney to see that Ronon's chest is still a bloody mess, and his eyes are closed. Teyla has stripped off her jacket, pressing it against the wounds on his chest and back.
"Is he all right? He doesn't look all right. Why haven't they sent a doctor down? Doesn't this place have anyone who knows any medicine?" Rodney's voice rises steadily with growing indignation, prompting several people passing by to glare at him. God, he hates the SGC. He and his team just came back from saving the world, and they're being ignored, and it's really started to piss him off.
Teyla looks up at him. "Rodney," she says, "please hold this, I have to find --" and she trails off without telling him what she has to find (Sheppard? a doctor? a bathroom? what?). But he's never been able to say no to Teyla, which is how he finds himself kneeling awkwardly and holding a soggy jacket against Ronon's torso.
Ronon cracks an eye open. "I'm not bleeding to death, McKay." His low voice sounds damaged and harsh, like he's been swallowing broken glass.
"Yes, well, why don't we let the doctors decide that, shall we?" Rodney's elbow is cramping up and people keep kicking his leg (on accident ... probably), so he shuffles around, trying to get into a semi-comfortable position where no one will trip on him. Ronon keeps wincing and pulling away, the big sissy.
"McKay, seriously. I don't need that. Stop moving around." And now Ronon appears to be struggling to get up, to which Rodney responds by pressing harder, because hello, formerly dead and now merely badly injured man, walking around? Very bad idea! The renewed effort makes him develop a muscle cramp in his arm. He flinches violently. So does Ronon, with a louder and more emphatic, "Quit it, Rodney!"
"Okay, fine, hold it yourself," Rodney snaps back, and as "thank you for saving my life" gestures go, this one really isn't working out very well.
Ronon glares at him and raises a hand to take over holding the jacket in place. Part of it flops down over his arm. "Don't you have something to do, McKay? Sciencey stuff?"
"What, getting us off the hiveship isn't enough for you?" Rodney demands, wiping his hands on his pants. At this point he's filthy enough that a little blood more or less isn't going to make much difference, but he doesn't want to go smearing it all over everything. Trying to get blood out of keyboards is hell.
Ronon gives him a final, tired glare, and closes his eyes again.
"So," Rodney says after a moment. He still can't get comfortable on the floor. "I, uh, that thing, what you did, on the ship, it -- "
"Rodney," Ronon says with his eyes still closed. "I feel like shit; get to the point."
And now his train of thought, already leaving the station without him, is completely derailed. "Stop interrupting me! What I'm trying to say is that you wouldn't have been stabbed if not for me." Okay, that's not quite what he was going for.
"True," Ronon remarks after a moment.
Guilt coils in his stomach. "What? You're supposed to say something like, 'Oh, it was nothing, Rodney, anytime'."
"I just got stabbed and fed on," Ronon says, from behind the blank wall of his closed eyelids. "Don't exactly feel like dancing around your feelings, McKay."
Suddenly, all at once, Rodney's own exhaustion catches up with him; the guilt and anger drains out of him, and he's so tired he can't really feel much of anything anymore. "You don't really like me very much, do you?"
Ronon cracks an eye open again, and looks at him for a minute. Rodney finds Ronon even more difficult to read than he does most people, but in this case, he can recognize weariness and pain and exasperation. Finally Ronon says, "No, not really."
Well, in fairness, it's kind of mutual, which makes Ronon saving his life (again) all the more awkward. "Okay," Rodney says, a little more quietly.
"Still, you're part of my squad," Ronon says, and his eyes flicker shut. "Team. Whatever. I wouldn't have picked you, but since Sheppard did, protecting you is my job."
"Well, that's ... remarkably honest." And somehow it makes him feel better. He sags against the wall, pooling in exhaustion. Still, something keeps prodding at him, inside, a little bit like he imagines the point of a Wraith knife might feel under the ribs. Ronon saved his life, and he thinks it's mostly all right between them, as all right as it ever is, but there's still something he needs to say. "Hey. Are you awake? Er, are you even alive?"
Ronon doesn't answer, but his eyelid twitches, which Rodney takes as an affirmative to at least one of his questions. Forging gamely onward, and half-hoping that Ronon really is asleep, he makes himself say, "So, I've been meaning to tell you, about Jennifer, that it wasn't -- it had nothing to do with you, you know?"
Ronon's eyes come open. He looks at Rodney for a moment, and Rodney can't read this look at all. Finally Ronon gives a short little laugh that might have been a cough, and closes his eyes once again, hiding whatever might be in them. "I noticed."
"No, no, it's not -- I mean, I just wanted to you to know that I didn't steal her, if that's what you're thinking. It wasn't meant to be a competition. I mean, it never was. It was her decision, and I didn't -- I waited until -- I mean --" He's talking fast now, babbling really, because he'll never be able to bring himself to say any of this again.
"McKay, you want to have this conversation now?"
"I don't want to have this conversation at all!" Rodney hears his own voice crack in the way he knows (and hates) that it does when he's upset.
"Good," Ronon says. "That's two of us." After a moment, and still without opening his eyes, he adds, "Don't hold a grudge about it, if that's what you want to know. Actually, there's somebody else now."
"Oh. Oh? Okay," Rodney says, and shuts up, because so far he's botched a thank you and an apology; he thinks he'd better quit talking before he digs his hole deeper. But after a moment, he feels compelled to add, "That's good, then."
Ronon makes a tired little grunt in response.
Rodney fights down the automatic urge to complain, to argue, to trip a passerby and ask what's taking so long. Instead he leans on the wall, and in spite of everything, he's almost fallen asleep when Teyla comes to tell them that the wormhole to Earth has been established. Between the two of them, they get Ronon on his feet. It doesn't feel like they're going home, but, Rodney thinks, they're going somewhere that has beds, and for now, that's enough.