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NEW McShep story: Round 3 - PG

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  • mysticmcknight
    Title: Round Three Author: MYSTIC Email: Mysticmcknight@hotmail.com Rating: PG Pairings: McKay/Sheppard Category: Au, Action/Adventure. Season/Episode: Four
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2011
      Title: Round Three

      Author: MYSTIC

      Email: Mysticmcknight@...

      Rating: PG

      Pairings: McKay/Sheppard

      Category: Au, Action/Adventure.

      Season/Episode: Four

      Spoilers: none

      Status: Draft Complete

      Archive: Area 52, Wraithbait

      Word Count: 5727 approx.

      Summary: A scene of Rodney boxing I had in my head and it kind of expanded from there.

      The room was crowded; bodies crammed next to each other, the smell of sweat permeated the area as strong as their voices, cheering and jeering in various concessions. There even appeared to be smoke filtering across the large lights that cascaded the area, their focus on the center platform, where a ring stood on a raised foundation so all could see the event that was occurring between the two men within. Just to the side of the large ring, one section of seats was raised even higher, more prominent and fewer so not to be closed in upon one another. Two almost appeared to be throne like in their silhouette of smoke and shadow. Next to one of them there was a cage almost as large as the chair, but unlike its companions, it was easy to see the figure inside, hands clutching the bars.

      Down in the ring below, the two men were boxed in by cable like rope, marking the boundaries of the area, where the two men were allowed to travel and no further. The larger of the two men, dark skinned, thick muscles moving underneath, prowled the area easily, his arms raised, his hands covered in thick cloth that protected them; which he used to pummel his opponent. He stepped back after his strike in response to the sound of a gong, signaling the end of this confrontation. He stalked back to his corner with confidence and spit a bit of blood into a bucket before taking a seat on a stool that was provided for him to rest, not able to leave the ring. His dark eyes were gleaming with undisguised satisfaction to his opponent, seeing victory in his reach.

      The strong built paled skinned man, the opponent stumbled to the corner and to the stool provided; sweat falling off his bare chest in sheets. "Whose demented ideal was this again?" Rodney panted in exhausted, his face and section of his body already blooming in purple patches. "Besides that Neanderthal killing me, I'm losing valuable brain cells, I don't think I could recite pi beyond five right now," Rodney said then gulped the water Ronon provided for him.

      "You're doing good," Ronon said, letting McKay take the water bottle to drink his fill. He took the towel off his shoulder and swiped down McKay's chest and face, more gentle then one would imagine around the bruises. "Hold still," he said, needing once more to attend to Rodney's cut eye that once more was bleeding.

      "Hold still, I don't think I can move another muscle," Rodney whined, having given up on the sugar water Ronon had supplied for him. "I don't think I can go back out there."

      "Sheppard's counting on you," Ronon said as he stemmed the bleeding again. "Don't let him hit your face anymore," he instructed.

      Rodney started flailing his hands, knocking Ronon's away. "You think letting him use me as his punching bag is part of my strategy? I told you I couldn't fight, but no, you and your big mouth got us…no ME into this mess."

      "It's only three rounds McKay, you have one to go and they'll release Sheppard," Ronon said, seeing Teyla approach. He handed a towel to McKay as he got ready to meet her. "Rest, you have another minute," Ronon said and dropped from the ring to the floor and turned to meet Teyla out of McKay's hearing

      "John wants us to stop and frankly I must agree. Rodney is not able to take much more," Teyla said with great concern.

      "McKay's tougher than he looks," Ronon said.

      "Ronon, though I agree with you, Rodney is no warrior. He is a man of thought; surely you have come to understand that. Also, John has ordered us to stop, and we can make the gate fairly quickly in time to mount a rescue…" Teyla said.

      "No, we only have one more round and McKay can do it," Ronon said with determination.

      "Ronon," Teyla chided. "Look at him, he can barely move, how is he going to go out into the ring and remain standing during another brutal assault. He may complain often about how important his brain is, but it is also true. If he doesn't already have a concussion it will only be a matter of time. Also, again, he is a scientist, not a warrior."

      "You're wrong," Ronon said. "He's both when needed." Ronon added.

      "Ronon, John…"

      "Is sacrificing himself again," Ronon said. "We both know what is in store for him," Ronon said and turned to move back to the ring.

      "Ronon, Rodney…" Teyla started.

      "Isn't done yet," Ronon said and then reach up and pulled himself back to the corner where Rodney was hunched over his face buried in the towel, his elbows resting on his knees…he looked defeated.

      "Come on," Ronon said as he manhandled McKay to his feet and removed the stool.

      "Oh, just kill me now," Rodney whined. "What have I ever done to you to deserve this?"

      "You made me believe in you," Ronon said gruffly.

      "What?" Rodney asked, shocked by the answer.

      "Listen, I'm not supposed to tell you this, but you need to know," Ronon said, moving closer so only Rodney would hear anything he said, even though it was almost impossible to hear anything over the shouts from the crowd.

      Whatever Ronon was whispering into Rodney's ear, froze his movements at first, then slowly his exhausted face transformed into shock then anger. His body straightened up, the fatigue falling away like sweat. "I'll kill them," Rodney snarled ready to move forward, when Ronon grabbed him back and said something more. The fury in Rodney gradually shifted from wild to contained, as Rodney's bruised jaw clenched as his strong back muscles did the same.

      Suddenly the sound of a gong filled the air once more, signaling the beginning of the next and final round of this match. Rodney didn't hesitate; his blue fevered eyes were locked like lasers on his target. He moved forward with determination and focus toward his goal. As he got close, his opponent grinned with a smug smile, but Rodney didn't flinch, he snarled and with coiled fury released a punch that landed across the other man's cheek, causing the man to automatically spit blood and possibly more from his mouth. There wasn't even a moment between the right cross and Rodney following up with a left hook to the man's chin, knocking his head backwards with a snap.

      "Filthy scum," Rodney snarled as he launched another right punch into the man's gut, forcing him forward, which he followed once more with a left to the man's other cheek, forcing him in that direction, stumbling to one knee. Where others might retreat to rethink their strategy, Rodney wasn't thinking as he followed the man and with a Right hook to the face, forced his opponent's face to move upward, his body falling backwards toward the matt on the floor. Rodney simply followed, dropping to his knees to straddle the fallen man, and began to wail on his face and chest in flurry punches, his voice shouting his rage with each one. "How dare you touch him!" Rodney slammed another punch downward. "You're not worthy enough to share the air he breaths, you scum!"

      From ringside, Teyla jumped to the side on the outside of the ring, where Ronon was grinning ear-to-ear with feral pride. "Rodney!" she shouted, but it was clear the man in the ring was not listening, caught up in some rage that was quite shocking to see much less ever expected. Across from them two people, another male, one female climbed into the ring. Teyla moved to enter, but Ronon held her back. "Ronon!"

      "We don't cheat," Ronon said, then nodded toward Rodney who had noticed the intrusion into the ring. Ronon's dark smile grew wider as he saw McKay charge his new opponents with a single minded focus the man usually only ever used for danger of another kind. But he knew the man better than the others, knew his heart and passion and how to direct it. He stood with great satisfaction seeing McKay unknowingly use all the training the three of his teammates have taught him over the years and demolish his enemy…the ones he informed McKay had violated Sheppard. Thankfully it was a lie…mostly one, but McKay didn't know that, in fact he needed to believe, for that was the match to ignite the fire he saw now. The two men loved each other and Ronon had seen the fierce protection McKay had toward Sheppard and vise-a-versa. From the corner of his eye he saw Sheppard shaking the bars of his cage, his own furry to protect his mate overwhelming, but this was McKay's fight, always had been. All Ronon did was make sure the man found the needed motivation to finish what was started…and win.

      Rodney was seeing red, lots of it, as the man and woman had their own blood covering their faces. At some point Rodney realized the rules of the fight had changed, and he grabbed the bitch who Ronon said laughed over his lover's hurt and violated body and with strength he never realized he had or even considered having at this moment, lifted her above his head like a rag doll and tossed her at the man who also touched his John. The force knocked him to the ground, and Rodney leaped on them much like the first man he reined his justice upon and proceeded to do so again.

      The combination of the two opponents managed to push him off and he landed to the side, his left eye bleeding profusely once more, but Rodney paid no attention to it. They were going to pay for what they did, was the only thought that ran through his mind. He spat blood to the matt and snarled at them, the woman rolling off the man, who was trying to get to his feet. Rodney pushed himself up first and stormed forward, kicking the woman in the gut so hard; blood and sweat could be seen flying off her body as he sailed out of the ring and crumpled on the ground and then nothing.

      Rodney's attack on the woman gave the man a moment to recover and get to his feet. He rushed toward Rodney, just ducking the swing Rodney made, that if it had connected, would have broken his nose, tackling Rodney backwards into the pole holding the cabled ropes together. He then started to rabbit punch McKay in the side and stomach, driving blood and spit from his mouth from the force.


      Through the shouts and cries of hundreds, John's voice reached Rodney's ears as did the pain and anguish with in it. Ronon's words, of how these people had touched his lover, humiliated him and the plans they had for him if Rodney failed filled his mind, the pain his body was fading into the background as determination to not fail prevailed. He couldn't fail, he couldn't let these monsters touch his love…he had to stop them or die trying. Getting his arms free was no easy task, but he did and brought them together and down like a hammer upon this low-life…Wraith Food, as Teyla would say, with all his might. It was enough to loosen the man's hold and Rodney reacted, brining his knee upward, connecting with the guy's face, and then shoved him backwards. He waited a heartbeat for the man to stumble back enough so Rodney could shift and wind up and fired off his punch straight into the maggot's face. No sound could be heard, but Rodney could feel the crunching of bone under his knuckles as well as the warmth of blood flowing over his fist, but this didn't slow him down as he once more saw in his mind this creature hurting his John and let the last of his fury loose, not even tracking anything else around him.




      The last word slowed Rodney from his struggle to reach his target, as something…no someone was preventing him. But the last voice was familiar…important. He eased his effort and once more heard the voice that meant the world, no, universe to him. "John?" he said, blinking as there was something in his eyes, making it hard to see.

      "I'm here," John said, helping Ronon and Teyla pull Rodney back and away from the man who may well be dead at the damage seen upon his face.

      "John?" Rodney asked again, sounding and feeling very confused. "Aren't you supposed to be in a cage?"

      John laughed, though not all of the sound was humorous. "You did it, buddy," John said, reaching out to get the towel over Ronon's shoulder, glad to see Teyla was going for the first aid kit in their packs, having been returned along with John's freedom.

      "Did what?" Rodney asked.

      "Rodney, buddy, are you tracking?" John asked.

      "Concussion," Ronon said, shifting so he was on his knees and could provide better support for McKay.

      "I ordered you to stop," John snarled, as he gently wiped the blood from Rodney's eyes and face. The man he loved was a bloody mess. "You should have gone for the gate," he said between clenched teeth.

      "Too long," Ronon said.

      "He could have been killed," John snapped.

      "John?" Rodney asked, turning toward his lover then started to smile, but winched in pain from his split lip.

      "Fuck, he's missing a tooth," John cursed, glaring death at Ronon.

      "You know what they were going to do if we left," Ronon said.

      "I'm sorry, John," Rodney said. "I should have…stopped them…I'm sorry," Rodney said again, tears started to fall down his blood stained face. "Should have…protected you…better."

      "I'm fine, Rodney," John said sincerely. Sure he was cold kneeling there in the ring in only his underwear, but thankfully he wore boxers instead of briefs the day this nightmare of a mission started.

      "Here," Teyla said as he knelt down and handed John the first aid kit. She then placed over him the robe provided to McKay prior to the fight.

      "They had no right…" McKay was saying, lost in his thoughts and anguish.

      "What did you say to him," Teyla demanded, for she had seen the transformation and the anger then like everyone else shocked by the fury and strength that had been displayed moments ago.

      "McKay," Ronon said, giving a light shake to get his attention. "I lied."

      "Lied, lied about what?" John asked, as he and Teyla proceeded to care for Rodney, his blood soaked bandaged hand wrapped around John's ankle seeking comfort in his precense. Seeing the guilt in Ronon's eyes stirred more anger in him. "Ronon?" John said, the demand clear in his voice.

      "I told him that they hurt you…sexually," Ronon said.

      "Ronon!" Teyla scolded with anger and shock.

      "Worked," Ronon said. "He needed to win…he did."

      The darkness in John's eyes promised retribution. "We'll discuss this later," he said coolly, but for now he had to focus on Rodney. He took a steady breath to calm himself. "Hey, Rodney…Mer," he said softly, using the name only he and Jeanie could get away with. It was like a switch that allowed him a direct line to the real McKay inside, and that was where he needed to go to convince his lover he was alright. "I'm fine, they never touched me, Ronon lied."

      "They wanted you," Rodney said, some focus returning.

      "But they never touched me. I mean, sure they shoved me around a bit, but once the deal was made, they never touched me," John said softly. "I'm fine, I promise. Nothing a good meal and some rest with my favorite scientist couldn't fix," he smiled lovingly, glad that he didn't have to hide around his team. "Ronon lied."

      "Ronon…lied?" Rodney said as the very concept was unknown to him. "Why?"

      "Needed you angry," Ronon said.

      "What?" Rodney said, and then gasped in pain.

      "Easy, buddy. We'll discuss this later. Let's just get you fixed up and home, okay?"

      "Yeah…home," Rodney said, his strength obviously failing him, the adrenaline wearing off. "Tell Radek to mind the minions," he mumbled then passed out.

      "Rodney!" John said, fear lacing his voice.

      "He is unconscious," Teyla said. "We need to get him back to the city. First you must get dressed they have returned all our packs, including our weapons, though there are many guards.

      "I'll kill them for this," John snarled.

      "No, John. It would not help Rodney, he needs medical attention," Teyla said, once more the voice of reason.

      "McKay's tough," Ronon said, respect and pride still in his eyes.

      "You shouldn't have let this happen," John said as he did as Teyla ordered and grabbed his spare change of cloths from his pack, his original having been cut off by some pervy prince/princess…governors, some assholes who couldn't take no for an answer.

      "Told you, too much time," Ronon said, remaining firm on his decision.

      "John, perhaps Ronon was right," Teyla said, as she and Ronon worked to get McKay wrapped up in the silver emergency blankets.

      "If what we saw was Rodney's anger at Ronon's lie, what do you think he would have done if it had been the truth and access to all of the cities resources? I find myself shocked by his strength and determination, much less what I witness here today. I can only imagine to what lengths he would have gone to otherwise…perhaps Ronon was right to limit it to only those involved."

      John stood still, only his pants covering him now, as realization filled him. He knew what he would have done, and seeing Rodney's fury could see the truth in Teyla's words. He nodded, but that wouldn't stop him from having a few choice words and perhaps not holding back in his sparring with Ronon once they got back. "We'll need a stretcher." John said as it was going to be a long walk to the gate, having hitched a ride to this strange city whose main sport was boxing of all things. Once he got his shirt on and some slip on shoes they all carried due to loosing clothes and boots too many times prior, he stormed to the lead guard that was overseeing the removal of the filth that had originally captured him. "We need a stretcher," he demanded. "It's a long walk to the gate and he's hurt."

      The guard, whose name John never caught nodded. "You're friend was a long shot, he made many wealthy this evening."

      John clenched his fists, for they had been betting on this event, though he wasn't so surprised. He also felt a bit of guilt as he didn't think Rodney would last the 3 rounds agreed upon with a professional fighter, but Ronon did and had sealed the deal before Teyla or McKay could stop him. He knew the Tweedls as he referred to them thought they were clever choosing McKay to be the one to fight for his freedom, again he felt guilty thinking they were. But Rodney had always surprised him and others, always underestimating him until push came to shove, here was just another example. "Whatever," he said. "Stretcher."

      The guard nodded, "A wagon and supplies for your travel is also being arranged," the man said then turned and shouted his request before turning back to John. "It will be here forthwith."

      "Good," John said then moved back to his team. "How is he?"

      "He has not stirred. I am concerned, but his breathing is easy, his heart calming," Teyla said.

      "They're getting a stretcher and said there is a wagon and supplies going to be provided. You said we have our weapons…all of them?"

      "Yes, but they said they would not return the ammunition until we were outside the city gates," Teyla said, placing ice packs against the many bruises on McKay's face and chest.

      John nodded and moved to the four packs and began shifting items down to three bags, then securing the empty one to his pack. "This too heavy for you?" John asked Teyla, knowing he wasn't going to complain of the weight of his own and knew Ronon wouldn't even if it were. He was tempted to make the man carry it all, but it was wiser to evenly distribute things so he and Ronon could also carry Rodney to the wagon, allowing Teyla to watch their six.

      Soon the stretcher was there and Ronon and he got Rodney loaded, worried that Rodney didn't make a sound as they did so. They then followed the head guard who John had spoken to earlier out of the arena where indeed a wagon and four horse-like beasts were hitched up, waiting. They got Rodney settled in the back, Ronon then jumped out and checked the creatures.

      "Here," the guard said as he handed over a small crate to John.

      "What is it?" John asked, looking at it like it was filled with bugs.

      "It is a recording of the match," the guard said. Also a machine to watch it as I wasn't sure if you had the technology to do so."

      "Thank you," Teyla said, taking the small crate from the guard.

      "Yeah," John said, this city a strange mix of what Rodney called Brass-period and dashes of Ancient technology. He wondered how the Wraith hadn't culled this planet, but at seeing how ruthless their rulers could be he wondered if they were like those on that one planet that made a `bargain' with the Wraith…he wouldn't be surprised.

      The journey to the city gate wasn't long, and as promised they were given their ammunition back. John made not bones about getting his P-90 reloaded as did Teyla. Ronon got his gun back and shot a tree as if making sure it still worked, but John knew it was a warning. They surprised them once, it wasn't happening again. As they continued away from the city, John wished he hadn't agreed to spend a few days here and check ins so far apart. He didn't think Carter was as intuitive as Elizabeth would probably have been. Not that her instincts were bad, just not the same. Of course, if his sense of time was right, they'd be halfway there by the time the gate dialed in. Then he could request a `Jumper and Keller. "Just hang in there, buddy," John said softly, caressing Rodney head, now pillowed on his lap. John's other hand holding some of the cold packs, for his lover's face were a mass of color, none of it good.

      Time passed and soon John's radio buzzed with Carter's voice. "Sheppard here," John responded. "I need you to send a `Jumper with Keller. McKay's hurt. We're making our way to the gate via wagon, but not too fast. Teyla and I agree there is definitely a head injury involved and we don't want to make it worse by all the bouncing around." There was silence and John knew Lorne would have overheard and was probably gathering a team and Carter was signaling Keller to the `Jumper bay.

      "They'll be on their way in a couple of minutes and should arrive shortly. What happened?" Carter asked, though a practiced solider like himself, he could also hear the concern in her voice. Deep down he was glad Rodney stopped his `front' of obsessing over Carter for it would have caused issues if John killed their CO over jealousy. But Rodney was his now and he was secure in that knowledge…mostly. "It's a long story, but lets just say he went three rounds with Mohammed Ali's uglier cousin," John said, for in truth, had the man been that good Rodney would have never lasted the first round. "He's unconscious. He was a bit disoriented, then his focus cleared up then he was incoherent before he passed out. He's barely stirred in the last forty or so minutes we've been traveling."

      "Oh dear. Lorne has just exited the gate, they should be there shortly. What about the rest of you?" Carter asked.

      "We're fine," John said. Then a thought occurred to him as he looked down into his lover's battered and bruised face. "Oh, just for the record, McKay won." He smiled softly with pride. If it were not for the injuries to his lover, Sheppard would have found his lover's actions totally hot, but with each bruise, each cut, John felt torn open as well. But Rodney had kicked ass and he wanted everyone to know it, his geek deserved the respect he should get instead of the typical snorts he knew would be the reaction to hearing McKay had been in a fight.

      "What?" Carter asked, sounding as if she didn't hear right.

      "I said, McKay won, you really should see the other guys," John said, pride filling his voice.

      "Others? As in more than one?" Carter asked.

      "Started off as one on one, but seemed a couple of others didn't like it that McKay flatted the bastard." John informed her.

      Ronon tapped his own radio. "McKay kicked ass."

      "His performance was…amazing, however it resulted in him being injured further," Teyla added. "I also suspect he has some broken ribs."

      "Keller here," her voice entering the conversation that was happening. "Teyla, can you give me some vitals and a more in-depth description of the nature of his injuries?"

      John was silent as was Carter as Teyla began to explain about the multiple punches to the Rodney's face and side and the mass bruising he now showed.

      Once the `Jumper was there, Carter said she'd be waiting and let the gate close. John and Ronon got McKay off the wagon and into the `Jumper before the Marines inside had time to fully disembark. Once getting him secured to the bench, everyone boarded, John nodded to Lorne to get them airborne, and then stood silent like the rest watching Keller do her thing. He noticed that Teyla had the crate that contained the recording of the fight. John was torn between keeping it and destroying any reminders of what his lover had to go through.

      Minutes felt like hours but soon they were through the gate and Rodney in the infirmary where he belonged, his team once more sitting outside waiting. The room now including several science members, military and Carter herself, and John could hear more was in the hall as word spread. Finally Keller came out looking tired but she was smiling.

      "He's going to be fine. He does have a concussion and he did wake up a little while ago. He was able to tell me his name and knew where his was. Though he is a bit confused over events that transpired, but I think that's normal under the circumstances. He's going to be here for a few days under observation for the head injury. He's also going to be on blood thinner for there are too much mass bruising I'm worried about a blood clots forming, but again, it's precautionary. He does have two fractured ribs, not full breaks thankfully, and a few fractures in his right cheek bone. Oh, and he's missing a tooth, but thankfully we found that bone generator last month and it can stimulate tooth re-growth, which is really amazing. The implications of how this will help not only with broken bones, but the dental industry…"

      "Doc," John said, interrupting her tangent.

      "Oh, sorry, yes. With several treatments, they'll be healed in a few days as well. Right now he's resting. You can go in one at a time but just for a minute, he needs his sleep. He's been through a lot," Keller said.

      "Thanks, Doc," John said as he moved passed her, along with his team to check on Rodney. He let Teyla and Ronon visit first, and then he moved in and took a seat. It was going to take his full contingent to remove him from here until Rodney woke up and he saw for himself his lover was going to be alright. He looked down to take one of Rodney's hands and saw the ice packs and the spectacular bruising on them as well. "Told you, bone on bone never worked out well," he said softly, caressing the back of his lover's wrist. Hearing someone coming he pulled his hand away and just leaned on the metal railing.

      Carter entered and laid eyes on Rodney, shaking her head slowly. "I saw the tape," she said softly.

      John looked up at her wondering how she could have done that already. His expression probably made it clear what he was thinking as she responded. "Teyla filled me in and I had Radek set it up in another room while we waited. I needed to know if there was anything else that may have happened or Keller needed to know…it was less than ten minutes, John." Her use of his first name indicated just how rattled it had her. "What was Ronon thinking?"

      "I don't know, but I'm sure he'll tell you," John said wiping his face, feeling the exhaustion of worry and his own body ached from hours in that cage. "Said it was too long to the gate to mount a rescue."

      "I've never seen…I mean I've never imagined he could…" Carter sounded lost for words. "Did any of them die?"

      "Don't know, don't care," John said tightly.

      "He might," Carter said softly, nodding toward Rodney.

      John sighed heavily. "Yes, he might."

      "What did Ronon say to him?" Carter asked.

      John pursed his lips, not wanting to answer that question, but didn't want to outright lie to his commanding officer. "Things to get him angry…very angry." Was all he was going to say.

      Carter was a pretty good commander most times, times like now as she didn't push. She turned to leave then stopped at the curtain before looking back over her shoulder. "He reminded me of Daniel, when it was just him standing between the Colonel and getting badly hurt or worse," she said. "If…if it's for the same reason…" she stopped

      John looked up, not sure what she was implying and not sure if he wanted to know. "If?" he finally said, for she wasn't stupid.

      She just looked between John and Rodney then got a soft understanding smile on her face, though her eyes were serious. "Then…you'd be a very lucky man," she said. Then she left.

      "That I am," John said softly while he watched his lover sleep.


      <i>Two weeks later</i>

      Rodney was heading down the hall, having finally got most of the back up work in the labs up to his satisfaction, having missed over a week from healing in the infirmary, though his face and body still sported evidence in the wide display of colors. Thank fuly the serious bruises were almost healed and the minor ones gone. Though the aches always reminded him he was still furious with Ronon, more over the lies he told him then having been suckered into the fight in the first place. But as a peace offering the man had invited him to lunch in one of the side rooms, stating he'd have a special treat for him…well not in so many words. But Rodney was looking forward to whatever it was, as Ronon promised he'd like it.

      The noise coming from the room Ronon said to meet him in filtered out into the hall, cheers, whistles and hollering. "What the?" he said to himself as he approached. The door opened as he neared it, two Marines existed, the noise from the room overwhelming, he had to yell to be heard. "What the hell is going on in there?" he demanded.

      The two Marines grinned at him and then saluted. "Just the fight," one said, before they both hurried off.

      "The fight?" Rodney said quietly to their backs. "Oh no, no, no, no, no," he said and dashed inside the room and sure enough, on one of the large screens they found, was the recording of his fight. The room was filled with people, munching popcorn and other snacks. It took a moment for Rodney to realize they were not jeering him or mocking him as he feared but cheering him on. "What?" he said.

      "Hey," Ronon said, moving up to him and dragged him to a seat near a large table. "Saved you some," he said, indicating a large bucket of popcorn, a huge hamburger and 2 hotdogs plus other candied snacks. There were even two cans of his favorite soft drink.

      "What is going on here?" he demanded, still shocked.

      "Enjoying the fight," Ronon smirked. "Just started it again," Ronon said.

      "Again, how many times…" Rodney asked.

      "Few dozen," Ronon said. "It's a good fight," he grinned.

      "Ah…thanks," Rodney said, deciding he didn't want to see it again, but it did do him good to know no one in the room at least was making fun of him. He decided he'd take his food offering and go eat someplace else, or he'd lose his appetite, for he'd seen the recording and it wasn't a pleasant memory for him.

      He'd just made it out of the room when another Marine exited with one of his scientists, who spotted him. "Sir, remind me to never and I mean never piss you off," the man said with a big grin but with a lot of respect in his eyes. Like the others he saluted McKay and headed out.

      "Way to go," the scientist said, giving him the thumbs up before heading in the same direction as the Marine.

      "Huh," Rodney said, for it made some sense now the reactions he'd been getting. He took his tray to the nearest balcony that had been set up with table and chairs. He sat down and started to eat, his mind drifting. By the time he was done, he sat back and lifted his feet to rest on the side of the table edge, a small satisfied smirk on his face. He always felt like the weak link in the team when it came to physical confrontations, but now…now he knew when it counted he could be there for them…for John.

      "Knew you could do it," Ronon said, surprising him a bit.

      Rodney looked over his shoulder at him, seeing the truth in his eyes. "I didn't," he said truthfully.

      "Now you do," Ronon replied.

      "Yes…now I do."

      THE END
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