Written as a birthday present for Therienne, and originally posted to sga_flashfic on Livejournal. Many thanks to Merry and shalott for betaing.

Written and posted April 2005


Bailey's 7

by Arduinna


Rodney limped back to the puddlejumper as fast as he could, bent forward to keep leverage on his right hand, clamped on his inner thigh so tight he knew he was giving himself bruises.

Just his luck, of course -- the first time in... well, not that it mattered how long it had been, the point was, he hadn't had a chance recently to pick up interesting finger bruises on his thighs, and instead of dropping modest hints about how he'd gotten them, he'd be forced to actually tell people.

People like the major. Who'd probably never had to give himself bruises on his own thigh for any reason, much less something like this.

The wetness surrounding his hand started dripping down his leg.

He tried to speed up, even knowing that the faster he moved, the faster his blood flowed, and the more of it leaked out of him. If he could just make it back to the puddlejumper before he passed out, he'd be fine. Major Sheppard would know what to do.

He had to know what to do.

The radio crackled in his ear, shockingly loud as it replaced the sound of his own ragged breathing. He snatched at the mic with his left hand. "Major!"

"McKay? Where the hell are you? You were supposed to be back fifteen minutes ago. You know how antsy Weir's been lately about not keeping to schedule."

His breath caught on a sob at the familiar voice. Safe. He was safe. He took a deep, shaky breath and thumbed the button. "I was attacked, I'm wounded, repeat, I am wounded."

"What? How? Where are you? What's your situation?"

"It wasn't Wraith," Rodney said, suddenly much calmer. Although possibly that was a result of blood loss. He glanced down at the ground, wondering how much it would hurt to drop straight down. "It was an animal, a wild animal. It bit me in the leg." Tree. A tree would be a better idea, something to lean against. He angled toward the edge of the path and a big fir-looking thing.

"How bad?"

He started to ease himself down to the ground, catching his breath hard as the motion stretched the wound in new ways and blood poured out, slick and hot against his fingers. "Bad enough," he gritted out, straightening up again as much as he could and tightening his grip even more, pushing as hard as he dared into the muscle. "I can't be more than a kilometer from the puddlejumper, on the same path I was on when I left. I think it would be a bad idea to walk on this any more than I have to." He let his head thud back against the tree-trunk as he released the radio button, breathing deeply.

"Okay, stay put, we'll be there as fast as we can."

"Please hurry," he whispered to the branches above his head.


God bless military training, he thought a few minutes later, as the steady pound of booted footsteps drew nearer.

Sheppard and Ford rounded the bend about a hundred meters away, speeding up from their ground-eating jog into a sprint as they caught sight of him.

"Okay, McKay, we're -- holy shit!"

Rodney frowned as Sheppard blanched. "What?"

"You said an animal bit you!"

"It did. Hence the blood." Rodney shifted his gaze to Ford, who was looking a little green around the gills. "Okay, you two are officially freaking me out now. I'm dying, right? Of course I am. That thing hit me in the artery, and I'm going to bleed out any second. God."



"You're not dying. I'm pretty sure you're not, anyway." Sheppard glanced at Ford, who stared back then nodded jerkily in agreement. Sheppard nodded back, satisfied, and turned back to Rodney. "If it had hit your artery, you'd already be dead. But it still looks pretty bad. You're right, you shouldn't be walking on that."

Rodney shut his eyes, trying to keep the relief off his face, knowing he'd failed when Sheppard's hand brushed his shoulder and squeezed once, lightly. But Sheppard didn't say anything about it, so it was okay. He opened his eyes again.

"Lieutenant, go get us some branches, I'll see what I can do to get this patched up for the trip."

"Yes, sir." Ford pulled a small hatchet out of the supplies they'd brought and moved into the woods, confident and easy.


"Yeah, we've got a tarp here, we'll make a litter and carry you out." Sheppard unhooked his canteen and opened it.

"Oh. That's very good thinking, major."

Sheppard's lips quirked. "Thank you. Here, drink some of this, you need to get some fluids into you."

Rodney grimaced, ignoring the canteen for a minute. "No, I didn't mean -- I mean, thank you. Very much. For the rescue." When the canteen touched his lips again he drank, then drank some more, suddenly desperately thirsty, making a small sound of protest when Sheppard removed it and put it away.

Sheppard squeezed his shoulder again. "You're welcome. And you can have some more of that in a few minutes, I just don't want to overdo it, okay?"

Rodney nodded reluctantly.

"Okay." Sheppard reached for his radio. "Teyla, this is Sheppard."

"Major, how is Doctor McKay?"

"He's gonna be fine, but that bite is a bad one. We're gonna have to make a litter so we can carry him out. Sit tight, okay? And watch out for anything with teeth."

"Understood. Be careful."

Sheppard grinned. "Always. We shouldn't be more than half an hour or so, we're not too far away. I'll call in if it's going to be more than that. Sheppard out." Sheppard looked consideringly at Rodney. "Listen, I've got some stuff with me that might help with your leg, but it's going to be a lot easier if you're lying down. Think you can make it?"

"I don't know," Rodney admitted. "I tried, earlier, but -- it really hurt, and it was bleeding so much..."

"It's okay. It's okay. You did great, getting this far."

Rodney nodded jerkily, eyes on the ground at Sheppard's feet, sure he was being humored and pathetically grateful for it.

This time, Sheppard took him by both shoulders, the warmth of his hands burning through Rodney's shirt. "Listen, the problem was probably you trying to do all the work yourself, put some torque on it instead of keeping it still. What about you keep pressure on that wound, and trust me to get you down on the ground, okay? You gotta relax, you gotta trust me, I won't let you fall."

He sucked in a deep breath and met Sheppard's eyes squarely. "Okay. Tell me what you need me to do."

Sheppard tightened his grip in silent approval, eyes warm and steady on Rodney's. "It's gonna be a piece of cake. I'm gonna move, okay? Just a little bit, to get behind you."

"Okay," Rodney agreed, as part of his mind noted that he must be visibly going into shock for Sheppard to be behaving like this, spelling out every step in small, clear words, and maintaining physical contact. Of course, the better proof of shock was that he was happy with the small, clear words. Not to mention the contact. Right. Shock it was. Good to know.

He glanced around, panicked to find himself alone. "Major!"

"Easy," Sheppard murmumed soothingly from behind him, his hands stroking down Rodney's arms and then back up, proof he was there. "I'm right here, remember? And you gotta relax for me now, let me do the work here."

"Right, yes, of course. Relaxing." He shut his eyes and pretended very hard to be asleep.



"You're even tenser now."

"This is as relaxed as I get. Take it or leave it." He shivered convulsively.

"Dammit," Sheppard muttered. He backed away for a second, letting go of Rodney completely as he made rustling noises, then shifted even closer, easing himself between Rodney and the tree, arms coming up to wrap around Rodney's chest. He felt like a furnace at Rodney's back, and the heat did what the suggestion couldn't. "That's it," Sheppard said, "that's great, just keep letting those muscles go -- just make sure you don't let go of your thigh, okay?"

"Tell you the truth, I'm not sure I could let go if I wanted to," Rodney admitted.

"Well, for now, that's good. Okay, here we go, nice and easy -- don't you worry about anything but keeping pressure on that wound, I've got everything else under control. I want you to put all your weight on me and on your good leg -- nothing on your wounded leg, understand? If you can pick it up a little, that's even better, but just make sure you're not resting any weight on it."

Rodney nodded, forcing himself not to tense up as he was rotated slightly until he was safely away from the tree.

"See? Not so bad. Now, we're going down and back, but it's completely under control, okay? You won't fall, I promise."


"I'm gonna let go with one hand, but I won't let go of you."

Rodney bit back the panicked "no!" that tried to get out. Sheppard knew what he was doing, this was clearly the best way to handle it. You have to trust the experts in their own fields. He took a deep breath, forcing himself to focus on the heat still at his back instead of the cold arc across his chest where an arm had been a moment ago.

Sheppard started bringing them both down and back, taking most of Rodney's weight on his own chest. It was faster than Rodney had expected, and it hurt like hell, but not like the first time. Thank god.

"Rodney? How're you doing? You okay?"

"Are we done?" he gasped.

"Almost. I gotta move so you can go flat, okay?"

"Okay. No! No, wait, not okay, not okay!"


"I can't keep enough pressure on if I'm flat. The angle's wrong."

"Shit. Okay, we're gonna have to risk it for a second, 'cause we can't stay like this. I'll move as fast as I can, and I'll put the pressure on until Ford gets back with the branches. Ready? On three. One. Two. THREE." Sheppard twisted and rolled, managing to ease Rodney down to the ground without a bump before scrambling down to his hip and digging a hand into Rodney's injured thigh.


"Sorry, sorry, but I gotta keep pressure on this."

"No, I know, it's okay, I appreciate it, just... ow."

"I know. You're doing great. Here." Sheppard leaned precariously and grabbed for something on the ground with his free hand, coming up with his jacket and covering Rodney with it. "This should help with the cold."


The quiet settled in for a minute, punctuated with occasional soft whacking sounds from the forest.

"Can I ask --"

Rodney winced slightly.

"We didn't hear any shots, so -- what happened? Why didn't you shoot whatever it was?"

"Major, do you see where your hand is?"

Sheppard glanced down, flushed a little, and glanced back up at Rodney's face. "Well. Yeah. But..."

"But nothing. You know what my aim is like -- decent, but not exactly medal-winning. There was no way in hell I was pointing a gun there and shooting it. I'd rather have been gnawed to death."

"Okay, I guess I can see that."

"Oh, thank you so very much."

Sheppard ignored that. "So how did you get it off you?"

Rodney sighed. "I hit it with my scanner. A lot."

Sheppard glanced around.

"I have no idea where the scanner is, okay? The... creature let go, eventually, and as soon as it did, I started bleeding. I grabbed my leg and started back for the puddlejumper." He glared as fiercely as he could, under the circumstances.

"Okay," Sheppard said mildly. "That was a smart move, it's important to get pressure on a wound as soon as possible."


"So -- when Ford gets back, want me to see if I can find the scanner? You had data on it that you needed, didn't you?"

Rodney stared, caught square between the sudden longing for the scanner and the fear that Sheppard would be attacked -- or, worse, would see what had attacked Rodney but not be attacked himself. This was humiliating enough as it was.


He swallowed. "Yes, it had data I want. Badly, actually. But you don't need to go. I bashed that thing pretty good, but it might not have been alone."

"Yeah, but you weren't expecting it, and I'll be ready. What did this thing look like, anyway?"

Rodney closed his eyes. He needed that data. Now that he knew there was a chance to retrieve it... he needed that data. "A rabbit."

There was a pause. "Excuse me?"

He opened his eyes, but couldn't quite meet Sheppard's gaze. He focused on the strong chin and mouth instead. "A rabbit, okay? A bunny. A small, white, fluffy creature with large, floppy ears. A little fuzzy animal. Which just happens to have big, sharp teeth."

Sheppard's lips never even twitched. "That explains the shape of these incisions. Good jumpers, I take it?"

Tension was draining out of him so fast he wasn't sure why he was even still conscious. "The one that got me definitely was a good jumper, yes. And I don't think it was aiming for my thigh."

Sheppard hunched inward on himself with a horrified grimace, his free hand stroking Rodney's hip once in silent sympathy for a moment even as he tightened his hold over the wound.

Rodney spared a moment to rail inwardly against the injustice of the universe -- he finally had someone else -- a very good-looking, interesting someone else who wasn't even mocking him over being bitten by a freaking bunny rabbit -- giving him interesting finger-bruises and stroking sensitive bits of him, and none of it counted for shit. He couldn't even appreciate it properly, never mind take advantage of it.

He glanced up to meet Sheppard's gaze, dread growing in him as awareness filled the dark eyes, then caught his breath when Sheppard's fingers stroked again, deliberately widening the sweep of his fingers to cover as much territory as he could this time.

Rodney sucked in a breath, heat blazing across his hip, his right hand rising of its own volition to cup Sheppard's solid thigh.

Sheppard's eyes went even darker and he leaned forward, lips parting.

Pain exploded in Rodney's thigh as Sheppard put too much weight on it. "FUCK!" Both hands went to his thigh, trying to push the pain back in.

Sheppard jerked back, swearing. "Sorry, god, sorry -- "

"No, no, it's okay, just ow, fuck." Rodney panted, fury at his own situation and embarrassment at having had to stop Sheppard driving any other emotion out.

"Hey, hey. It's okay, it's my fault, I shouldn't have done that."

"Yes, well, if you hadn't noticed, I wanted you to."

A grin ghosted across Sheppard's lips. "I noticed. It's just... incredibly bad timing. Raincheck?"

"Raincheck. Yes. That would be very good."

"Okay. Good." Sheppard took a deep breath and shook his head briefly, getting back to business. "So. The scanner, right? Describe the area you were in so I know where to look."

"Right. Um. There were trees..."


"Well, I was sorta busy at the time!" The familiar pattern was relaxing, helping him focus on what needed to be done. "No, wait, I remember, there was a stump, looked like it'd been hit by lightning or something. It was leaning over at about a fifty-five-degree angle, balanced on a rock."

"Fifty-five degrees, huh?"

"Approximately, yes."

Sheppard smiled. "Okay. That's a good landmark. Listen, though, I'm only going to look for a couple of minutes, so don't get your hopes up. We need to get you back as soon as possible."

Rodney nodded. "Yes, of course, absolutely."

Sheppard raised his head, reacting to something Rodney hadn't heard, then patted Rodney's shoulder. "Ford's on his way back, he's got what we need."

Rodney ignored the pang of disappointment. "Good."

Ford sized up the situation in a glance when he got back, dropping his branches and reaching for the medical kit. "Problem, sir?" he asked as he crouched down next to Sheppard.

"Nah, we just miscalculated the logistics a bit. Thanks." Working together, the two of them had a pressure bandage on in no time. "There, Rodney, that should hold you for a bit."

Rodney tried not to notice how red Sheppard's hands were as his blood dried on them. "You, uh -- you may want to wash your hands."

Sheppard just nodded, unconcerned, and Rodney was strangely comforted by that. There was nothing strange about Sheppard's hands being covered in his blood, clearly. Everything was okay.

Sheppard and Ford moved away, talking quietly, obviously sorting out their next moves. Rodney let himself drift a little, staring up at the sky and feeling a bit floaty. He could hear Ford bustling around nearby, with no hesitation in his movements.

Shots in the distance jolted him out of his dreamy haze, and he sat up as far as he could before the pain hit him again. He wound up propped up on his hands, feeling his back muscles protesting the unnatural angle, staring down the path to where the killer rabbits lurked.

"I'm sure he's fine, sir," Ford said reassuringly, then ruined the effect by shooting a worried look of his own down the path and checking the clip in his weapon again.

Before Rodney could work up a good head of panicked worry, though, Sheppard hove into view, jogging steadily down the path. He pulled up when he got nearer, checking out the litter first and approving it before turning to Rodney. He held up the scanner triumphantly.

"Oh, thank god," Rodney said, collapsing back to the ground. "And thank you, very much."

"No problem. It was exactly where you said, by the blasted stump. I think I figured out why you got attacked, too -- looked like there was a nest of those things. I had to shoot a couple of them."

"Yeah, we heard. A nest, huh?"

"Or something, yeah."

"So what were they, anyway?" Ford asked, tightening up the lashings on the litter one last time.

Rodney looked up at Sheppard, who looked soberly back.

"Wild animals, lieutenant. With big, sharp teeth. We're gonna want to stay away from this place in the future, I think."

Ford nodded, settling the litter a bare inch away from Rodney's body and moving to Rodney's feet. "Gotcha. Ready?"

Sheppard moved around to Rodney's head, crouching down to settle his hands under Rodney's shoulders.

Rodney tilted his head back when Ford mirrored the action, crouching to get a good grip on Rodney's ankles. "Thank you," he breathed.

Sheppard ducked his head down further, almost touching foreheads with him as he resettled his grip. "Thank me later." A wicked grin teased around the edges of his mouth for a moment before he raised his head. Bracing himself, he glanced down along Rodney's body to Ford. "Ready? On three: One. Two. THREE."

With the briefest possible jerk, Rodney was transferred to the litter, and was on his way back home, with a promise solidly at his back.

~ fin ~

Feedback of any sort, from one line to detailed crit, is always welcome, at arduinna at trickster dot org.


** Bailey's 7 is from a filksong. Lyrics here.

As always, feedback of any sort is more than welcome.



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