Word Count: ~1300 words
Summary: Three months later, everyone's hope was dwindling.
Thanks: Many thanks to the wonderful florahart for beta'ing.
Notes: Written for latentfunction, who wanted the following: AU, John and Ronon present, and Atlantis being cut off from Earth.
After three months passed, it became painfully obvious to everyone in Atlantis that neither the Daedalus nor Odyssey was going to make it back to the city. Only a handful still held out hope, and that number dwindled with every passing day. Supplies grew low, tempers became short, and everyone who had been in the original expedition couldn't help but think back to that first year. Cut off, with no way to contact Earth, they had all believed it could never be worse.
They had been wrong.
"The Ori are here."
Rodney McKay sighed, rubbing his eyes as he stared at his computer screen. Three months later, those words still haunted his dreams. He could still hear the slight tremor in Samantha Carter's voice as she hurriedly explained what was happening back on Earth, talking about Priors and diseases and bombings and riots and death. World leaders killed in seconds, entire cities decimated in a day, and millions dead with the number growing by the hour.
A handful of refugees had made it through the 'gate, but they were quickly running out of safe worlds. Every time a group went through, the Ori found them within days. She told them that a few hundred survivors had made it to the Daedalus and Odyssey, and they were trying to outrun the Ori ships and make their way to Pegasus. Then Sam had gone quiet for a moment, and everyone in the Atlantis 'gate room had heard the sound of distant explosions.
"No matter what, you have to survive."
The radio had gone dead a few seconds later, and the wormhole collapsed almost immediately after.
Elizabeth had immediately tried contacting Earth again, but the wormhole wouldn't connect. Three months, four days, eight hours, and twenty-six seconds later, she was still trying. Like everyone else, though, even she was losing hope. At the beginning, she had made the attempt every hour on the hour, but now she only tried once a day, every day. Rodney didn't doubt that, before long, she would realize that she was doing nothing but wasting the ZPM's power and give up completely.
"I thought Elizabeth ordered you to get some sleep."
Rodney's hand jerked a bit, but he was proud that there were no other outward signs that he had been startled. He quickly minimized the file he had been looking at as he glanced up at the doorway. Sheppard was standing there, a hint of . . . something in his eyes, even though his face was expressionless.
"It was only a suggestion," Rodney replied.
John didn't even try to hide his snort. "It didn't sound like much of a suggestion to me."
When Rodney didn't reply, John shook his head and started to say something. He seemed to think better of it at the last moment, though, as he let out a tired sigh. "Do you think this is easy for any of us, McKay?" he asked. "The last thing we need right now is you working yourself into a coma."
Rodney just raised an eyebrow, carefully keeping his own face expressionless.
Sheppard shot him an exasperated look. "Fine," he said, "but don't say I didn't warn you." Without saying another word, he turned and silently walked out the door.
As soon as the colonel was out of sight, Rodney glanced down at his watch and silently began counting down. "Ten, nine, eight. . . ."
Right on cue, Ronon came in and dropped down in a nearby chair without commenting. He quickly ran his gaze over Rodney, not even trying to be subtle.
"Let me guess," Rodney said, leaning back in his own chair with a sigh, "you're here to drag me to my quarters, under Sheppard's orders."
Ronon smirked. "Nope."
Rodney blinked at that before narrowing his eyes. "Elizabeth's?"
"Not this time."
"Carson?" Rodney pressed.
Ronon just shook his head.
Rodney stared suspiciously at him. "Then why are you here?"
With a grin that would make most of the scientists, and probably about half of the Marines, go running in terror, Ronon settled back in his chair. "No reason."
"Why don't I believe that?" Rodney muttered under his breath. Shooting one last distrustful look at Ronon, he glanced down at his computer for just a second.
When he looked back up, Ronon was gone.
Rodney started, his eyes quickly scanning the room. There was no sign of the other man, and Ronon wasn't exactly the "fade into the background" type. Admittedly, he was usually pretty good at slipping away without anyone noticing, but it seemed pointless for him to come in and then leave without actually doing anything.
He swung his gaze toward the door, a surprised look on his face. He hadn't even noticed Teyla until she had spoken, and he couldn't help but wonder just when she had gotten there. At least it explained the mysteriously disappearing Ronon, though.
"Ronon was just making sure that I didn't disappear before Sheppard sent you in here, wasn't he?" Rodney asked, suddenly feeling the exhaustion that he hadn't even realized was there.
Teyla smiled at him, but she didn't reply as she slowly walked over to where he was sitting. She gently placed her hands on his shoulders, carefully massaging his neck as she leaned in to see his computer screen. "We are all worried about you."
Rodney snorted. "That would be a 'yes,' then."
She didn't comment, but he couldn't help but notice that her grip on his shoulders tightened just a bit. "You should rest," she said softly. "I know you have not been getting much sleep lately."
He spun around, forcing her to quickly move her hands from where they were resting. "What makes you think that?"
"Did you truly think I had not noticed?" Teyla asked, raising an eyebrow. "Remember, Rodney, I am a light sleeper."
Rodney took a few deep breaths, carefully avoiding meeting her gaze. "I've had work to do," he finally replied. "Important work."
Teyla reached out and tilted his head up so that he had to meet her eyes. "I'm sure you have," she said quietly.
Before he had a chance to react, she reached out and clicked on the minimized file that he'd had open. The image he'd been looking at immediately filled the screen: Jeannie smiling broadly at the camera, her husband's arm around her shoulder, as she held a laughing Madison in her arms.
Rodney couldn't help but notice that Teyla didn't even look remotely surprised. "I was just starting to get to know her again," he said quietly.
Teyla just nodded, gently squeezing his shoulder. "I know."
He stared at the computer screen for another second before finally sighing. "You know, I think Elizabeth might have had the right idea when she ordered me to get some rest."
"I thought it was a suggestion," Teyla said, her voice teasing as she helped him get unsteadily to his feet.
He managed a weak smile, even though he felt utterly exhausted now that he was standing up.
Teyla leaned up just enough to give him a brief kiss, her lips lingering for a moment before she pulled away. "My quarters are the closest," she pointed out gently. "Will you be able to make it there, or shall I get Ronon to carry you?"
She laughed at the look he shot her, tightening her grip on his arm as they slowly made their way out of the lab. Behind them, his laptop glowed brightly in the dim room, the three smiling faces on its screen not wavering in the least bit.