Area 52 HKH

Turbulence 1

Turbulence Part 1

by dith

URL: http://area52hkh.net/asd/dith/turbulen.php
Summary: In Pegasus B, a dark and damaged Jack, and Daniel, McKay's on-again off-again lover, join the Atlantis mission. In this episode, Sheppard is kidnapped and things go pear-shaped.
Info: One of the Pegasus B AU stories from LiveJournal.

Rating: NC-17
Pairings: Jack/Daniel, Sheppard/McKay, Daniel/McKay, Daniel/Sheppard

Warnings: Character death (OC)
Summary: Pegasus B. When (AU) John Sheppard is kidnapped, everyone in Atlantis fights a war to get him back.
Notes: Might need to google Pegasus B for this AU.

Turbulence

John soared.

The wings were an extension of him. He could feel every vibration, every bump in the air as if it were solid instead of invisible.

Adjusting the pitch, he climbed.

He liked it when the ground dropped away, when the blue sky seemed endless, like space, but smaller, and it was all his.

He leaned back into Rodney's chest, Rodney's arms.

"Having fun?" Rodney murmured into his ear, and wrapped his arms around John's ribs.

"The best," John sighed. And smiled.

It must have been the smile that got them.

When they hit him again, he felt a rib crack.

He didn't even bother to open his eyes. He didn't need to look at them, and he had nothing to say to them. Besides, he was far away.

Soaring.

***

Turbulence part 2
Elizabeth stayed standing. Every line of her body was tense. She didn't pace; she was locked in position.

"We consider your abduction of Major Sheppard a hostile act against Atlantis," she said out loud. Grodin had patched her through. The radio contact reached out through the open Stargate to a world.

A world with John Sheppard on it.

A big world. People were so small.

She had a table written on a piece of paper in front of her. Her staff had helped her to write it. They sat around the table now. Grodin, Bates, O'Neill, McKay, Ford, and Teyla their honored ally.

Allies were good.

The paper had two columns: Our advantages - Their advantages.

The second column said Armed forces; Local knowledge; Ruthlessness; Resources.

The first column said Scientific knowledge; Teyla's knowledge; Superior weaponry; Major Sheppard.

"The Genii must know by now that Major Sheppard will not give you any information about the location of or access to this base," Elizabeth said. Her voice was clear, firm, bell-like. "What do you accomplish by making yourselves our enemy?"

"Major Sheppard has given us information. He will give us more. And you will trade for him."

"Trade what?"

"All your C4, half of your medical supplies, and one of your flying craft."

"That doesn't really seem likely to you, does it?"

"Sheppard's value is for you to determine. At least, his value above and beyond the information he's already given us."

Elizabeth's teeth hurt her. She had never had to negotiate with opposition that had never heard of the Geneva conventions, diplomatic protocols, or mercy.

She flicked her eyes around the room.

They were watching her. That was part of the reason she stayed still, locked in position. Grodin was watching her, and Teyla. And O'Neill, while his fingers drew stars on the tabletop. And Rodney...

She couldn't look at Rodney.

Only Bates wrote notes. Furiously, frowning at them, as if he were somewhere else entirely.

Back home, democratic nations usually refused to trade for hostages.

Democratic nations had armies. And options.

The Atlantis contingent of people was so very small.

And John had left... was leaving... such a very big hole.

"We can give you half of our C4. And one of our flying craft."

"Huh." The voice on the other end would have been deep and rich, but somehow managed to be curiously flat. "That's the price of one of your officers, is it?"

"That's what I'm willing to give you in return for his safe return."

"We'll consider it."

They cut off.

She looked at Grodin.

He nodded. The Stargate shut off.

Elizabeth stood there. Looking at the floor. Arms folded in front of her.

When she looked up, her eyes were flat too.

"Rodney. Teyla. Peter. Would you excuse us, please."

It wasn't a request.

"You can't just --" Rodney was blinking so fast she knew he was trying to keep from crying, and she didn't have time for him to get as angry as she knew he would have to be to keep from crying.

"Rodney. Please."

She could have forced the point but Teyla helped her, rising gracefully and bowing her head as she always did. Grodin looked confused but left; Teyla took Rodney's arm and led him toward the door.

"No. You can't make any decisions without me. I have to--"

"Just a few minutes, Rodney. Please."

It was a measure of Rodney's shock that Teyla managed to get him out the door. It shut.

Elizabeth looked at the soldiers.

"Colonel?"

"I said it before. Sheppard's a military officer. Might be considered a legitimate target, by some stretch of the imagination. But without prior action - it's tatamount to a declaration of war."

"And your recommendation remains the same?"

"It does."

She looked at him, narrow-eyed. She did not want to have to trust him in this way. Not because she didn't trust him. She just didn't want to have to. "I'm inclined to take it," she told him. "Half an hour. I need your plan, needed resources, manpower, estimated casualties for both sides. We'll decide then."

"Yes ma'am." O'Neill didn't waste any time. He pushed back from the table, gathered Ford up with a "Lieutenant" as he strode out of the room.

"Sir. What was your recommendation?" Ford asked under his breath as they left.

"I say we blow them the fuck up," O'Neill answered.

***

Turbulence part 3
John coughed as he spit out a tooth.

"Kolya," he said in his thoughtful tone, "when I first met Cowan I thought, this guy's way too tense. But when I first met you, I thought, this guy's trouble."

John rested his head by letting it hang back on his neck, but he had to keep spitting out the blood that otherwise would run down the back of his throat.

"Now I don't think you're trouble."

"How do we dial the Atlantis gate?"

John's eyes slid sideways but he didn't take them off Kolya. He wanted the warning if Kolya moved again. "Now I think you're evil."

"They're not coming for you."

"Good."

"They didn't even offer to trade."

"Smart."

"So we told them you were dead."

"That would be in character for you."

Kolya studied John's face. "Thirsty?"

"Yes, actually. I'd like a Sprite. Or Seven-Up. Any of the clear sodas. No cola."

John figured as long as Kolya was watching his face so closely it was safe to wiggle his fingers. The one didn't wiggle - the broken one; it was swollen up to the hand. The cracked ribs only hurt when he breathed in, so he tried to give up that part of the breathing thing. The taste of blood was wearing on him.

"It's an unpleasant way to die, thirst."

"That's what I hear."

Kolya watched him.

"Look, you and I both know that you need me in decent shape. If you're going to kill me, go right ahead. But then you lose your bargaining chip. Not to mention the most talkative date you've probably had all year."

Kolya's jaw reached out; he scraped his lower teeth against his upper lip. "I don't like them talkative."

John just shrugged. He had no more blood-flavored witty comebacks.

---

Elizabeth sat with the folder in her hands. There wasn't much paper inside.

She was watching herself, from some far corner of the room, where really she was crouching with her arms over her head.

"Don't you think you've overestimated your chances?" she heard her voice say, cool, brittle.

"No ma'am. This plan has the advantage that all plans have that are batshit nuts. They will not expect it."

"You're the only special ops trained soldier in the bunch."

"I factored that in, ma'am."

"I'm suspicious of the theory that the best defense is a good offense."

"I thought we didn't have time for suspicion."

Elizabeth looked at his silver hair, wondered how long he'd had it.

She looked back in the folder.

There were numbers representing possible dead bodies in the folder. A timeline. Weapon inventory.

The her in the corner tried to float away, fly away, but she couldn't get much higher than the tallest tower of Atlantis, couldn't see much past the reflection of the sun, so bright it hurt, bouncing from the towers to the water to the sky.

That her cried out in a voice that should have travelled galaxies but couldn't even be heard. Help me, help me, help.

She cut her finger on the paper.

It would weigh on her, pressing her down, for the rest of her life.

"Do it. Get Rodney in here."

---

"Rodney, you don't have to volunteer for the mission to --"

"Of course I'm going."

Elizabeth inclined her head. O'Neill knew who he wanted, he would pick from volunteers. But he'd already told her that Rodney, Teyla, and the lieutenant got to go if they volunteered.

They'd lost John. They deserved to help get him back.

She didn't know if it was a military thing or a Jack O'Neill thing. She didn't have time to ask. There was no time.

"Rodney," she said gently, then had no idea what to say.

The Colonel picked it up immediately. "McKay, how much explosive material do the Genii have on hand?"

"Not much, why do you think they want our --"

"I mean, the stuff they were using. The stuff that wouldn't make their uranium go from subcritical to supercritical."

McKay's eyes widened. "Their fissile material? The uranium? They must have had quite a bit of it, but the area was so saturated with radiation I don't know for sure where --"

"No no. Not the uranium. Whatever they were planning to use to get the uranium supercritical. The propellant."

"They had tons of that stuff. Not very efficient. No more so than TNT."

"You sure you want to go on this mission?"

"Want is a peculiar word to use in this instance."

"If you go, can you set that stuff off?"

"Where? How?"

"Everywhere." Jack mimed a big boom with his hands. "Blow it to hell. Can you do that?"

Rodney's jaw set. "Absolutely I can do that."

"Walk with me, okay? I'll explain what we need to do as we go." Jack paused, looked back at Elizabeth. "We're gonna need a lot of power bars."

Elizabeth watched them leave. "Good luck, gentlemen," she said. "Be careful."

Jack looked back over his shoulder at her. "We will, ma'am. You did the hard part."

And they left Elizabeth standing there knowing it was true.

---

All of Atlantis stood assembled in the gateroom.

"I'm sure rumors fly faster than radio waves," Jack said, "so maybe you know. But I'll say it anyway. We're going to get Major Sheppard back. I want volunteers -"

Everyone stepped forward.

What a hell of a thing, Jack thought, realizing for the first time that he was in the right place at the right time.

"Thanks," he told them, clearing his throat. "I'm sure the Major would say so too. A small team, with me, will insert into the Genii underground. A larger force needs to provide cover in the form of what looks like a mounted attack. Timing will be critical. Our primary mission is the return of the Major. Our secondary mission is to remove as much of the Genii weapons capability as possible.

Dr. Weir has approved my recommendations for the strike team. She would also like the volunteers for the attack diversion force to be made up primarily of military, but in the event that we are short, no scientists --"

The entire Atlantis military attachment, all twenty-seven of them, stepped forward again.

"Okay, people, I get the point," Jack said softly. "I was going to say, no scientists or emergency support personnel will be assigned. But I guess I don't need to. Go gear up. Full strike gear. Kevlar, as many clips as you can carry, and anything you can lay hands on that will go boom. Lieutenant Ford is in charge of supervising ordnance assignments.

The rest of you, clear out of the gateroom but stay close."

Movement was fast, purposeful. Teyla left at a trot with Ford, off to the armory.

McKay was still standing there, looking down. He didn't look up, didn't meet Jack's eyes.

Next to him stood Daniel.

Jack didn't even blink. "No scientists, Daniel. And the strike team's already been picked."

McKay was still studying the floor. Daniel stood with his arms folded across his chest. They were within arm's reach of each other, McKay and Daniel. Daniel said, "I should go."

Jack could feel the hollow ache in his elbows suddenly. "Him too?" he said under his breath.

Daniel didn't move or blink, didn't show he'd even heard what Jack said.

Jack also pretended he hadn't said it. "You're not going. Welcome to the military world. McKay."

"We can't take enough timers, and there's no time to make them. We'll have to steal them."

Jack realized that, rather than being catatonic, McKay had actually been thinking furiously.

"Good point, Doctor. Got ideas on where we can steal them from?"

"Yes."

"I'll be interested in hearing them. We're mustering in ten minutes."

Rodney ran.

Daniel still stood there.

"No time, Daniel. No time."

Chewing on helpless fury, Daniel spun, strode out of the now nearly empty gateroom.

"Daniel!"

Jack caught up with him outside the door, moving at a dog-trot.

He didn't even slow, hit Daniel with a full-body shove, twisting him in a tight hold, pushing him into the wall and rubbing his cheek along Daniel's before giving him a rushed, hungry, open-mouthed kiss.

"Welcome to my world," Jack rasped as he let Daniel go, pulled away already from the arms Daniel had already wrapped him in, memorizing his eyes, already half-running to the armory himself.

---

"They're going to take it better if they hear it from you," Jack said under his breath, and Weir nodded as she climbed a few steps. She considered her position above them.

Fuck that. They could see her. Hear her.

She walked back down to them. Stood with them.

"You heard the Colonel. Major Sheppard's return is our goal. As long as he is alive, our goal is to get him back through this gate."

She felt the group groan silently. They knew what was coming.

"If Major Sheppard is already dead," she went on relentlessly, "the return of his body will NOT be our primary objective. The Major is not a religious man, and his instructions to me in the case of his death..." She let out a breath. "Well, they're none of your business, come to think of it, and if I tell you, he'll find out and he'll be angry."

No laughter, but a smattering of breathy half-chuckles. They relaxed.

"In that event, our secondary goal becomes our primary goal. Our secondary goal is the drastic reduction of the Genii offensive weapons' capabilities. The Colonel will outline his plan. From this moment on the operation is in his hands and I know you have the confidence in him that I have."

"Okay, people," said Jack, and the very ordinaryness of his tone seemed to soothe everyone.

---

The teams were loading up. It had been an hour and twenty minutes since the phone call.

Dr. Weir was about to call again.

Down in the gateroom preparations were final.

O'Neill was talking to Bates.

"We've left you more than half the C4 and a hell of a lot of detonators. We're leaving you all the surprises. You've got plenty of hand weapons. Your job is to hold this Gate." His dark eyes met the dark level eyes across from him. "You hear me, Sergeant? You hold this fucking Gate. Whatever it takes."

"Yes sir."

Home guard was an unglamorous position but that's why Jack was happy to leave it to Bates. The guy was unimaginative and paranoid and not a glory hound. He was perfect rear guard material.

Jack went on, "There's a strong possibility that this is their plan - to divert enough of our resources into a rescue attempt that they can launch an attack against Atlantis."

Bates just nodded. Of course he'd thought of that.

"You're everyone's last chance at getting home."

"I grasp it, sir."

"Good. Keep grasping it."

Shuffling, lifting, strapping, pulling.

O'Neill's voice. "Light it up!"

He walked toward the gate first. Looked out over the heads. Good people. It was going to go right.

He paused, let out a deep breath, let his awareness of the timetable flow away from him. There was a moment, only one, where he had to stop, relax, and realize if there was anything he'd overlooked.

Pause.

Pause.

Nope. Good to go.

The leaders jostled their backpacks, eager to get through the gate to the staging area.

Jack looked around. Over the heads.

Yep, there he was. Leaning in the shadows. Arms crossed in front of his chest.

Jack took another ten seconds of his life to look.

Ten seconds was a long time and some people turned around to see what the hell was holding the Colonel up. Others, smarter people, did not.

Jack didn't care.

Then he smiled. Saluted.

He saw Daniel nod.

Shouldering his own pack, Jack swung his weapon around and marched toward the Gate, heading out to what could be, as all old soldiers knew every time they marched again, his last campaign.

***

Turbulence part 4
"Jones."

She trotted over to the Colonel, shoving her P90 to her back as she came.

"How's your team?"

"Colonel, we can barely move. Everyone's got literally about thirty kilos of explosives and other crap draped all over them." She pushed off her helmet, ran her hand through her hair, which she'd already sweated through. It wasn't quite dawn on the staging planet and the breeze was cool.

"It's a self-correcting problem. Everyone on your team will lose three or four kilos sprinting into position. But coming back? They'll feel light as a feather."

Teresa Jones didn't look happy, and Jack wondered if supermodel-esque officers ever worried about their wrinkles. "Sir, how will we ever replace all this ordnance?"

"We'll beg, borrow, steal or make it. If there's one time when you can't afford to look like you're under-supplied, it's when you're under-supplied."

She nodded, still looking unhappy.

"Ford!" Jack grabbed the lieutenant as soon as he came in range. "You've met McKay?" With his other hand he grabbed McKay's backpack. "McKay, Ford here knows everything you need to know about causing explosives to blow the way you want them to and do the right kind of damage. Ford, McKay here knows all about the composition of the stuff the Genii have been stockpiling. You two have fifteen minutes to swap brains. Teyla." He let go of the two men, turned to the woman. "Everything you know about the Genii village."

She looked around. "I could draw it for you..."

"In the dirt. Over there. Also, anything about the underground facility. Markham."

"Sir."

"You know your goal, right? All three jumpers cloak before you go through that gate, lay down fire from the minute you spot a human being on the other side."

Jack had been ticking this over and ticking this over since the moment he'd thought of a strike. Stargates were bottlenecks. Hold a Stargate, and you hold all access to that world that isn't spaceships. And they didn't have any spaceships. Not really. Not for this.

Were the Genii paranoid enough to be guarding the Stargate? It was a given; they would. But how much of a guard? If they thought Atlantis was coming, they could mine the thing with anything short of a nuclear weapon. They could have ranks of troops with howitzers aimed at the thing. Jack was HOPING they would have two guards with guns. But he wasn't counting on it. He figured the actuality would be somewhere in between. How much in between?

Atlantis had to make every trick in its arsenal count.

The jumpers, cloaked and ready to fire, would lead. They would go through, clear the path, then go straight up to geosynchronous orbit. Jack didn't think the Genii had anything that could reach them there - and it would drive them crazy trying to find them.

Meanwhile Jones' force would go through and scatter and form up at an appropriate position --

"There."

He was looking at Teyla's map. Jones and Markham were looking too.

"The hill makes a natural base for snipers - so don't go up it; they'd expect it. When you form up, you'll form up here and here." He pointed. "But you won't do that for a while after you go through."

"How much of a while is a while, sir?"

"I want them to think we're a much bigger force than we are, and I want them to think we're settling in for a dawn fight. We're going to get there in the dead of night, around 2 a.m. You'll have plenty of time. So circle around. Pass the same spot twice. Do not get close enough to be targets."

Jones' lips were getting thinner and thinner. Jack headed her off at the pass.

"This is not a suicide mission, airman. I don't want to see one dead body when you come back through this gate. You have Kevlar, helmets, and night-vision goggles. These aren't Wraith. These are soldiers with weapons the equivalent of 1930's American weapons."

Jones chewed her lip. "Sir, a medieval sword can kill you just as dead." Jack opened his mouth, but she interrupted him. "But I follow you. Divert. Distract. Do not engage."

"Not till 4 a.m."

"4 a.m.?"

"Murders and burglaries," Markham said grimly.

Teyla's brow creased. "Murders and burglaries?"

Jack nodded. "That's right. Most are committed between 4 and 6 a.m. That's when people's defenses are at their lowest. They can be surprised. The late folks have gone to bed and the early risers aren't up yet. Make 'em fight, and both of them are confused at that time of day. We're going to need that time to attach detonators to everything we can lay our hands on, and locate the Major. I'm sorry, but I have to give us as much time as possible; we have no internal intel and can't count on getting any." He nodded at Jones. "At 4:10 a.m., your people will be in position. Snipers, grenade launchers, the works. You launch your attack. Hopefully the Genii will rise to the bait."

"Meaning, hopefully most of the Genii fighting force will engage us," Jones muttered. "Sorry, sir. I don't want to sound negative. But our job sucks."

"Yes, it does. But they're not going to know how many of you there are; and you're going to lay down explosives like they were going out of style. You have to keep them busy - and not take casualties - only for maybe half an hour to an hour. As soon as you look like you're in trouble, you call for the jumpers. They reinforce you - and load you up. Detonate the last of your explosives remotely, keep them jumping around while you scoot, then you're out - again, straight up to geosynchronous orbit.

Except you. Markham, you stay close enough to the ground to reach us -- Teyla, where is the underground hatch the Major and McKay found?" She tapped it. Jack went on, "That's our hoped-for rendezvous. If we can't make that, I'll keep you informed as to where to pick us up. We're your last load. So save room for five."

They all looked at each other. Jack repeated it. "Five. We'll be signalling you for pickup before 5 a.m. If you don't hear from us by then, don't come anywhere near the village. 'Cause it's gonna go boom."

"Five before five. Yes sir." Markham nodded.

Jack waved at Teyla. "Tell us what you've got here."

While her voice explained the things she'd drawn and what she remembered of them, half Jack's brain took meticulous note. The other half was still running over the plan. He didn't like it. It was too complicated, and too hopeful. Simple and pessimistic, that was how he liked his assaults.

But his options were not huge.

And, as he'd explained to Weir, their choice was zero. If the Genii got away with this, the folks from Atlantis would be known as the pussies of the Pegasus galaxy.

Out on missions, Atlantis personnel would be targets.

And back home, Atlantis would be a sitting duck.

Because when those people came looking for a little Ancient treasure to carry away with them, Atlantis simply did not have the weaponry or the manpower to fight them off.

Their one and only chance was to make the Genii and anyone in contact with them think that Atlantis was the biggest, baddest, meanest thing in it, and that it was worth their lives to fuck with Atlantis.

And Jack didn't like being forced into decisions like this, either.

The rays of the morning sun sliced over the hilltops. Jack looked up at them. Dawn.

By the time they came back here, it would be almost midday here.

They could lick their wounds in the sun.

---

"Carson, why don't you move those -- What do you call those?"

Carson looked up at Elizabeth, his eyes deeply sad.

"Dr. Weir, I am an expert in DNA and gene therapy. Also a fine internist when the need arises. I am not a trauma surgeon."

"I know, Carson."

He said what they were all afraid of. "What am I going to do with a dozen or more life-threatening wounds if they all come back through the Gate at the same time?"

"You'll do your best, Carson." Elizabeth laid a warm hand on his shoulder. "Why don't you move those --" she pointed to the emergency cradles "-- into the gateroom. And get the rest of the support personnel together and give them a booster course in first aid. They've all had training, but they're hardly certified emergency medical technicians. You might need the hands, and they'll be glad to have something to do."

"Aye, that's an idea." And Carson waved over a couple of the nurses, attention already moving forward, planning forward.

---

This was the tricky part.

Jack had McKay behind him, Teyla, and Ford bringing up the rear. McKay and Ford sounded like moose in the woods to him. Teyla was actually pretty good. He could barely hear her.

He made a mental note for when they got back. See if she wanted some stealth ops training.

They found the entrance Teyla had marked for them. Pointing, Jack arranged them; opened the hatch. Let himself in first.

This was the second bottleneck. If the Genii happened to have this door heavily guarded - a goal easily achieved by having them all heavily guarded - this was over and out. If Jack had the manpower, and he were holding hostages, he'd have this door barricaded or heavily guarded.

Even lightly guarded would screw them up, because then the Genii would know they were in the base when the guards didn't check in.

Jack was HATING his own plan.

But there were no guards.

He was the luckiest man he'd ever met, he thought when he shone his penlight around.

Well. Not the luckiest. If there were no guards here, that probably meant they'd been pulled off to go and meet the attack force on the opposite side of town -- as he'd hoped they would. That meant that they did know about Jones' crew and were planning to meet it -- as he wanted them to.

Just not yet, Jack thought to himself.

This was where they split up. Ford saluted; Teyla made the OK sign Jack had just taught her. He grinned at her.

She'd objected when he'd mentioned to Ford that Teyla would go with Ford, and McKay with Jack - "One civilian per officer."

"I am not a civilian," Teyla had said, bristling.

He'd looked at her. "No ma'am. I guess you're not. But how are you with one of these?" He showed the P90.

Regretfully, she backed down a little. "I am not as accurate as I would like to be. I require much more practice."

"So you be Ford's native guide, and help him set his charges. And McKay'll do the same for me. Okay?"

"Okay."

Okay, he'd showed her with the fingers, making a circle, the crest of three fingers pointing up. Okay.

He gathered McKay up with his eyes and they went in a different direction.

---

"I do not understand why all these explosives are unguarded," Teyla less-than-whispered to Ford as the lieutenant rigged fuses that ran from keg to keg.

The Genii stored this stuff in small barrels, almost like pots. Sticks would have been easier to handle. But when the little barrels went off, they should make quite a noise.

Ford shrugged. "They don't know we're in here. They think we're out there. That's the whole point of Jones' attack force."

"This is not the sort of thing my people would do. If there is fighting to be done, we fight. We do not engage in... complicated tactics."

"What's your point?" Ford's fingers deftly twisted. Stripped wire here to here...

"I believe we have overlooked the value of complication."

Ford looked up. Teyla had that half-crooked grin, the one that was somehow almost exactly not like McKay's. The light from Ford's small maglite lit her from below, giving her face odd shadows and her skin a silver glow.

"Well, most of the time, complicated's just... complicated. It takes someone like the Colonel to turn it into an art form." Ford tucked the fuse where it wouldn't be seen. He didn't want anyone wandering by to notice and undo his hard work.

---

"The medical team should be doing the real triage. But you should all keep your eyes out for someone who looks chancy. If the pulse is thready and fast, if the pupils are fixed and wide open, you've got to get our attention as quick as you can."

Carson pulled out a tourniquet, showed it to the rows of intent, silent translators, physicists, and engineers.

"What you don't want to see in a wound is spurting. The human body holds five or six liters of blood - that's one hell of a lot. If it starts getting spilled around, it looks like a lot very quickly. But think how spilling a pint of beer can soak down your trousers. Looks a mess, doesn't it, but it's not that much liquid. So don't panic about blood, at least not just because it looks nasty. Worry about anything spurting or squirting. Put direct pressure on everything, but if you can see the ebb and flow of the liquid based on the heartbeat, you'll need a tourniquet."

Daniel was sitting in the front row, wearing a frown of intense concentration. "What if there's an awful lot of blood, but you can't see the wound to see if it's spurting?"

"Cut the clothes off and look for it. You can do this as well as medical staff." Carson cleared his throat. "There's a point beyond which the body can't sustain circulation. If a person's lost that much blood, there won't be spurting because there won't be enough blood left in their system to maintain circulation. Depending on when that happens and what's going on at that time, the triage team may start a drip to try to get fluids into them... or it may already be too late."

Carson looked around at people who worked with books, and wrenches, and computers - solid, understandable objects. Not like the human body at all. They would never understand the difference between blood and spark plugs.

"Whatever happens, it's not your responsibility to pretend to be a doctor," Carson reminded them. "Just do what you can."

Frowning at the instruments, Daniel didn't point out that he *was* a doctor. Just not the useful kind.

---

"Did you find him?" was McKay's first question as Jack squeezed back into their hidey-hole - technically, a janitor's closet.

"I know where they've got him," Jack said, also keeping his voice down below a whisper.

He'd seen guards, and heard enough to know that they were guarding a prisoner, and if there was more than one prisoner that they had on hand that they were referring to as a "sarcastic bastard," that would just be too fantastic a coincidence.

"So he's alive."

"I have to presume so, McKay, otherwise they really wouldn't have to guard him very hard, would they?"

"And he's all right?"

"McKay. I don't know."

Rodney's eyes looked pale in the reflected glow shed on him by the tiny penlight. Very large, and pale.

Jack had found him easier to deal with while wiring detonators.

"Hey," Jack said by way of changing the topic, "those timers were exactly where you said they'd be."

"I know," said McKay. "I was there."

"Right."

More silence.

McKay's voice. "I'd prefer it if you stopped staring at me, all right?"

"I'm not staring. I thought it'd be more pleasant for everyone if we had a little light and didn't have to sit here in the dark, and if there's light, hey, you're all there is to look at, okay?"

"I know what you're thinking."

"I doubt that, oh, so very much."

"You're wondering what Daniel ever saw in me."

The silence was long this time, and dangerous.

McKay shrugged off the silence as if it were no more capable of stopping him than cobwebs. "You wouldn't be the first to wonder."

"Didn't anyone ever tell you that silence is golden, McKay?"

"If we're going to talk, we only have one subject in common."

"Silence. Golden."

"You might as well admit it. I know what you're wondering. You're wondering if it's you that's his type, or if it's me." McKay closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. "I've seen a lot of guys wondering it. Let me put your mind at ease. It's you."

Silence. Then,

"You had a long history with him, for someone who wasn't his type."

Jack's voice, reluctant, even hesitant, faded in the tiny room.

McKay nodded without opening his eyes. "I wasn't the type, though. I was the one who came between the type."

"And the type was what?"

"Oh, the guy who went straight, the guy who fired him and dumped him for a younger guy, the guy who had him arrested." McKay's face worked. "The gorgeous, fucked-up type." His eyes opened and he looked straight at Jack. "You know, the type."

Against his will, Jack said, "And in between..."

"And in between there was always me. Not the type. So I don't know why. Not that you were intending to ask me. But I'm familiar with the drill. Of being left." For the type, Rodney didn't say.

"That's a lot of leaving." And returning, Jack didn't say.

"Eight years."

Jack cocked his head. "I thought you guys met in the eighties."

"Oh, so you have discussed ancient history, huh?" Rodney rocked his head against the wall, looked at the door rather than at Jack. "Yes, well. After eight years of being inbetween, I decided to call a halt."

"Oh? And how did you do that?"

"I left him back first."

While Jack was trying to parse this sentence, Rodney said, "Is he happy?"

Jack was startled. "I, uh. I guess you'd have to ask him."

"You might not believe me, but I hope to God he is. I didn't recommend him on this mission for me; I thought it would be good for him. I wasn't expecting... I just want..."

Rodney was peering at the door now as if he could see through it. Through the walls. To a cell.

He went on, "I just want a chance to be someone's type. Not someone's inbetween. I think I have it. Maybe. If the fucking Genii don't take it away."

Jack checked his watch. "Not much longer to wait."

"And you don't have to worry about what Daniel feels for John, either. Not that John being with me would distract Daniel at all. It's just that, John is also not the type."

Jack reached out and flicked the light off, plunging them both into darkness.

Rodney got the message about silence.

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