First, an introduction from the authors…
Like so many good things in life, Planet of the Dinosaurs was one great big accident. One night, somewhat bored, the writers sometimes known separately as Davechicken and Shadow Side, and collectively as Penumbris, decided to RP with their main SGA muses – McKay and Kolya, respectively. Seeing as Shadow Side had started the previous RP, it was Davechicken’s turn.
We assure you… it was never meant to turn out like this. But 60,000 words (and counting!) and 7.5 months later, we realise our muses may have a problem.
So here is the first part of the World’s Most Unexpected RP. For the most part – i.e. aside from the occasional bit of plot-poking and some grammatical tidying-up – it remains as we wrote it – 100% spontaneous. This, as you will see, explains a lot. At first, we wrote it in IRC. Now we write it in Gmail. For one night only, we wrote it in AIM, but AIM is restrictive and curbs our dear muses’ ability to talk each other to death.
The first part of this story is rated PG-13 - maybe R, but we've listed it as NC-17, because Part Two is well underway...
And because we are happy happy geek people, we’ll begin as we did, back on March 16th, when things suddenly got interesting…
Session Start: Wed Mar 16 23:42:27 2005
[23:49] McKay: [where are we?]
[23:49] Kolya: [*confused*]
[23:49] McKay: [the muses, where are they]
[23:50] McKay: [sceneset]
[23:50] Kolya: [i... don't know. do you have any requests?]
[23:50] McKay: [uhm....]
[23:52] Kolya: [*braindead*]
[23:58] * McKay is sitting slumped against the wall…
McKay is sitting slumped against the wall, his knees drawn up into his chest, his forehead all but touching them. He still aches and tingles intermittently, and he wriggles his extremities occasionally, but mostly all he does is moan quietly in pain. Or, quietly for him.
Kolya comes to a moment later, reflexes kicking in at once, partly in reaction to the strange after-effects of the stunner that still rush through his body. He pushes himself into a sitting position, blinking in the dimness, until he focuses on... "Doctor McKay?"
McKay looks up from his curled position, extreme dislike and unhappiness immediately apparent on his rather expressive face. "Congratulations, Commander, you have successfully mastered the art of applying names to faces," he says, then drops his head again.
Kolya gives him a coldly unamused look, though still hinted with more than a little confusion. "Where exactly are we?" Not yet trying to stand, he resigns himself to looking around, in an attempt to work things out.
"What does it look like? Disney World?" Rodney sighs, eyes closed still - not even dignifying him with looking up. In here, Kolya is no threat at all. "Limbo. A Wraith hive ship. Or a very close approximation to one."
...Which is not somewhere Kolya has been before. His usually impassive expression becomes just that - impassive, confusion fading now he knows where he is. "Why us?" He's not sure whether McKay will answer - but the question needs to be asked. In the meantime, a quick check reveals him to be, predictably, without any of his usual weapons. Typical.
McKay shrugs. "Generations of philosophers with nothing better to do than make statements into algebra and debate the real meaning of the verb ‘to be’ haven't answered that, so why should I be able to? Now can we get to the part where we sit and contemplate our impending doom in silence, as I feel a little too tired to rant properly and I was saving my lungs for the screaming-as-I-died thing."
Kolya sighs, dearly wishing for a knife and a nice dark room right about now. "You know what I mean, Doctor. And I would suggest you calm down, or you will be screaming long before the Wraith return."
Rodney glares. "I'll panic and scream as much as I want to. It might make me feel better. Although how anything can make you feel better when you know you're going to die is beyond me." He's looked up now, to address him, but is still curled up - possibly in pain, possibly in fear. "I assume they attacked us and we were stunned. Where the others are, I have no idea. I don't know if they are still alive. I woke a few minutes before you and that's all I know."
Something flickers in Kolya's eyes, though it's hard to tell what. "You would be better off remaining calm and helping me to find a way out of here."
"There is none. Not unless you magically have a small army up your sleeve. Or a sonic screwdriver, for that matter. But even if I managed to get us out of this cage, we have no weapons and we're likely in deep space. We're doomed. Not to mention I wouldn't trust you as far as I could throw you."
"Nor would I trust you, Doctor," Kolya throws back, fighting the urge to give plenty of examples from past experience to back this up. "But if we want to live, both of us are going to have to attempt some semblance of co-operation. And trying to escape is better than waiting to die."
"Don't you think they've already thought of how we could escape? We have to wait for Colonel Sheppard. He will know to find us here. Or, find me anyway."
"Oh, yes, of course. The noble Colonel Sheppard.” The commander doesn’t sound entirely surprised to learn that the once-major has been promoted. “Bursting in to rescue his fellow terrorist without thought for how this will worsen the situation with the Wraith." The words are level, but there's more than a little agitation behind them. "For all you know, Sheppard is dead. Or worse. You have no one to rely on but yourself... and me." Which is not something he expected to be saying any time... ever.
McKay glowers, nostrils flaring. "His friend and team mate, thank you very much. Well, when he comes to save me, I will tell him you refuse to be saved on the grounds of conscientious objection and we'll leave you to die happily. Colonel Sheppard is not dead. He is coming to get me."
"Maybe he is. But he could just as easily be lying dead somewhere, shot or drained by our mutual enemies. And then what will you do? Die here because you're too proud to work with me?" His glare darkens at this point, possibilities beginning to come to mind.
McKay rolls his eyes as he looks over at Kolya. "What would you do if I managed to get us out of here? Fight them with your death glare and garrotte them with your bootlace?"
Kolya gives him a deeply scathing look. "I am trained in hand-to-hand combat, you know." His tone isn't boastful - but it is definitely self-assured.
"Wraith," Rodney says. Waits. Says again, with more emphasis. "Wr-aittthhh."
The look blends to a glare. "Congratulations, Doctor, you have managed to identify our enemies." He wonders at once, hearing his own words, if McKay's sarcastic tone is contagious. Hopefully not, even if evidence suggests otherwise. "Now, do you want to sit here and wait to die, or do you want a chance to survive?"
McKay looks at him. Thinking. Hard. For a very long time.
Kolya eventually sighs. "Doctor. This is not a complicated question. And unless you want to die slowly, in exquisite agony, as the life is sucked from you, then I suggest you pull yourself together."
"And if they find me trying to escape it will be even slower and more painful. Plus I don't want to be seen dead with you, and you can't get out of here without me, so you can stop with the insinuations."
"Doctor, I think you will find that unless you start thinking straight, you will be seen dead with me. 'Dead' being the key word, here." He's starting to get a little irritated, wondering how best to play this.
"What have you got on you?"
Not exactly the response he was expecting, but most likely a good thing. Calmly, Kolya checks his pockets - of which the khaki appears to have several. "Without my weapons..." He withdraws two small objects - a Genii rank pin of some kind, and what appears to be a single bullet.
McKay unfolds, all single-minded intent, and tries to take them out of Kolya's hands without so much as an if-you-please. "I may be able to use these..."
Kolya doesn't argue - after all, if he wants to get out of here, he needs McKay's help. "You have a plan, Doctor?" he prompts.
"Maybe. If you're quiet and let me work," he says, going over to examine the door.
Standing, Kolya obliges for now, though he makes sure to keep lurking in the near background, watching carefully.
McKay turns back. "Fire?" he asks, fingers running over the back of what he assumes must be the lock, or something similar. With the gunpowder and... it would be a long shot...
Resisting the urge to pace, Kolya continues to let McKay work, not interrupting the man's train of thought, until the question arises. "I doubt we have any way to light one," he remarks.
Great. Not even two sticks. Well... "We're going to have to use this in percussion... I can blow the panel with this,” he says, waving with the bullet, “and then start to work on the other side..."
"Then get started," says Kolya, flatly. "We have no way to know when the Wraith will return."
McKay glares at him. "Do you know how to manipulate this technology? No? Then I suggest you stop telling me my job and start holding this still," he says, starting to prise open the bullet.
Resisting the growing urge to let himself lose his cool, Kolya stalks over to help McKay - saying nothing, but not bothering to keep his expression guarded.
Rodney couldn't care less what people look like, as he is capable of being completely insensitive to others' feelings and rarely hides his own dislike of anyone. "Higher," he says grumpily, squinting and jamming the pin in the casing as hard as he can - as he can dare, anyway, not wanting to blow his fingers off. Finally he gets it open, then leans through the door to pour the fine powder into a crack in the lock. "Boot," he says next.
Kolya gives him a careful - and still somewhat hostile - look. "What exactly is your plan?" he half-asks, half-demands. Because old habits die hard.
McKay is holding his hand out for the boot. He rolls his eyes. "Getting us out of here. Now unless you know a better way.... I suggest you stop questioning me and start doing as I say."
Kolya never truly stops questioning anyone, but he is too interested in not dying to argue properly. He gives McKay one last unamused look, and then offers him the boot, watching to see where this is all going.
McKay leans through the door again, covering his face with one hand, palm to his face (John had, actually, drilled some things into him) and smacked at the join, over and over with the boot until.... *frrrrrkt*.
The commander smiles. Things are looking up. He lays a hand on McKay's shoulder, in genuine - though still mildly intimidating - congratulation. "Good work, Doctor," he remarks.
McKay stiffens almost immediately, the touch making him shudder and stand perfectly still. He manages to mechanically hand him the boot. "...I'm not done yet," he says. "The panel’s open. I still need to override the controls. Give me back the pin." And get the fuck away.
Kolya retrieves his somewhat necessary footwear, before handing McKay the pin - knowing instinctively that he's got the Doctor on edge again. Which makes him feel better.
McKay shudders dramatically. "And please. Don't touch me again. Do you touch everyone you hate?" he asks, jamming the pin into the mechanism and hissing when it electrocutes him, fingers immediately in his mouth.
Kolya gives the boot time to stop smouldering before he puts it back on. "I was merely being... supportive," he says, though it's clear Kolya is not exactly the most supportive Genii ever. He smirks a little as Rodney is electrocuted, silently wishing for his nice dark rooms again.
Rodney glares over his fingers. "Mmmftophmht," he says, which clearly is McKay for, well stop it. He turns back, fiddles some more. And... there… and... one of the doors opens part way. "Well, quickly now," he says, hand out of mouth now.
Kolya follows at once, switching straight into full military mode without a second thought. "Do you know where we need to get to?" he asks, staring into the dimness beyond the cell, watching for movement.
"I don't know which holding cell we are in, or even how to get out anyway. If we're in orbit we're doomed... unless you can fly a drone ship?" Rodney’s mind rushes over the possibilities, a thousand and one terrible plans at once.
"Not technically, but no doubt we could work it out," Kolya replies, fairly positively.
McKay snorts. "And you're going to karate-chop any Wraith that comes our way, right?" he asks, heading towards a corridor where he can attempt to fix their relative position onboard the ship.
"Naturally." Kolya sounds quite confident about this - though he has never actually faced a Wraith before. This is not a problem in his eyes. This is merely a challenge.
"Fine. You can die first and I will live smug in that knowledge for all of several minutes." He looks around, rubbing a hand over his face. "That way to escape routes. That way to hangar bay. I think. Take your pick.”
"Do we have any other option besides taking a ship?" Kolya asks.
Rodney frowns, running through the schematics in his head. "If we are on the ground... yes. If not..." No ring devices. No Stargate. No transporters he knew of. No... oh. Beams. "Unless we are close to the surface, possibly. I could beam us."
"Is that a viable alternative? If it is... then lead the way. If not... the hangar. Quickly." In all honesty, Kolya doesn't mind how they get off the ship, so long as they do.
"I can't tell you for certain until I know where we are. If we make our way to..." Eyes closed, running along corridors behind his eyes, "the room down there," he says, nodding to their left, "I can work out whereabouts on the ship we are. And also where in the galaxy too."
Kolya nods. "All right. Let's go." And he sets off, staying close - trying to maintain a balance between keeping an eye on Rodney, and being in with a chance of preventing him from being killed should any of the Wraith turn up.
McKay knows some fieldcraft, it's true, but little for being on an enemy base, and not near a convenient bush or tree. And he forgets, from time to time, what he's supposed to be doing to keep unobtrusive. "What was that?"
Kolya hears the... whatever it is, reacting at once. Instinctively, he moves closer to the wall, pushing McKay against it without a second thought, watching the darkened corridor ahead.
Rodney doesn't like being pushed and his hands come up immediately, eyes wide with sudden panic he tries to bite down. A hiss of worry and annoyance comes out before he can help it, and then he's looking worriedly over to where Kolya is.
Kolya throws him a sudden glare, before turning to look back ahead of them. "Relax, Doctor, or you'll get us both killed," he says, voice virtually a whisper. Then he falls instantly silent as, blending from the darkness, a single, pale figure emerges - all white hair and threatening eyes - a Wraith, bearing a long-barrelled stunner.
McKay starts to shake a little, pressing back into the wall as though he thought it could give. He looks helplessly at Kolya, all but begging him to save him. He has nothing. No guns. No anything... Just.. Kolya. And that is possibly the single most distressing thing he's encountered so far.
Kolya actually smirks at the distressed look in Rodney's eyes, but only for a moment. Then he turns, at the same instant in which the Wraith spots both of them. Stunner raised, it charges - as, reacting quickly, Kolya moves towards this new foe. A stun-bolt rushes right past him, barely missing, before he makes a sudden, upward swipe, catching the barrel of the stunner.
McKay tries hard not to cover his head with his hands and curl into a foetal ball. His arms stop halfway up, and he suddenly yells, "DUCK!" as another Wraith appears, aiming at Kolya.
The commander dives low, using the momentum to wrench the stunner out of the Wraith's hands as he does so. Then, with a quick roll, he has the weapon aimed back up at its former owner. Some people might have chosen the moment to pun, or vow bloody death on all Wraith. Kolya, however, merely fires, stun-bolt hitting the Wraith squarely.
McKay yelps as the second Wraith's shot misses Kolya and hits him in the foot, nearly knocking him off them in the process. He staggers, hands out to support himself, yelling in shock and distress.
Back on his feet, Kolya barely has time to register what's going on before the barrel of the second Wraith's stunner smashes into his shoulder. He gasps in pain, but doesn't halt, bringing his own appropriated stunner up a moment later. His first shot misses - mostly because of the distracting pain in his arm - but the second manages to catch the Wraith in the head.
McKay is hopping on one foot, whimpering in pain and not at all happy that Kolya's armed. He looks at the second stunner- which is the other side of Kolya, and chews his bottom lip.
Partly out of caution, partly out of vindictiveness, Kolya proceeds to shoot both of the fallen Wraith again, before turning his gaze - and, somewhat unfortunately, the weapon - in Rodney's direction. "Are you all right, Doctor?" he asks.
McKay shudders, shaking his head. "Perfectly fine, if you consider being immobile in one leg ‘all right.’"
"No. I would consider that to be problematic."
"Oh wonderful," he says, nodding at the leg he isn't putting any weight on. "Then Houston, we have a problem."
"How long do the effects of this weapon last?" Kolya asks, much happier now that he's armed again. "Because if I end up having to carry you..."
McKay looks positively sick at the thought. "A few hours," he admits, gingerly leaning some, then none, then some of his weight on the leg to test it. "Not carrying me will work just fine."
Kolya gives him an unimpressed glance. "You'd prefer to stay here and hope no more of the Wraith turn up?"
"I can use the wall if you don't run," Rodney snipes back.
Kolya continues to look unimpressed. "You will slow us down," he points out.
"Carrying me will slow you down too, you moron."
"Fine. Then start walking," Kolya says, more than a little hostility in his tone, before he sets off. Ever-vindictive, he doesn't exactly stay helpfully slow - but he doesn't run ahead, either.
McKay hobbles after, leaning heavily into the wall. It's clear he can't keep up with a normal pace at all. "Hey, if you leave me behind you'll never get out of here."
Kolya is well aware of that. He's on the brink of moving to half-carry McKay whether the doctor likes it or not. In the meantime, he doesn't turn at Rodney's words, merely throwing a response over his shoulder. "And if you insist on hopping everywhere, it will take us hours to get anywhere useful."
"So I should let you stand close enough to stab a knife through my ribs? I still have some sense of self-preservation, thank you."
"As you are well-aware, Doctor, I am without my knife at the moment," Kolya points out. "And you know, too, that if we don't work together, it will be extremely difficult to get off this ship alive."
"I still don't want you near me," Rodney says, with evident dislike. Worse than dislike. Disgust.
Kolya shakes his head. "You Atlanteans are so sickeningly proud," he remarks, cold.
"You Genii are so bloody-mindedly stupid," Rodney counters, hissing as he lands a little more painfully than he expected.
Kolya ignores him, smirking a little as he hears Rodney's new hiss of pain, and not bothering to slow down. He's still careful though, watching the route ahead, trying to stay ready for anything.
"He'll shoot you as soon as see you, you know," Rodney says, even though it's not true.
At this, Kolya glances over his shoulder. "You mean the colonel?" he asks, sharply. "I'd like to think he'd be grateful that I helped you get out of here." Which is true, although what he'd really like to think is that fate might give him a chance to repay Sheppard for a great deal of injustice.
McKay trips a little, scowling and cursing under his breath. "He'll think this is your fault."
"Then he will, once again, be mistaken," Kolya throws back, really cold now.
"Oh like if you hadn't been a bunch of backstabbing bastards we wouldn't be here in the first pla... AH, that hurts..." he says, stopping to try to get rid of the cramp.
"We are not having this argument again, Doctor," comes the clipped reply. "And if you really think you can keep going in this condition... you're more arrogant than I thought."
Rodney closes his eyes against the pain, holding onto the wall until some blood returns to his brain. "...Fine. Go on without me. See how far you get."
"I don't think so," Kolya sighs, exasperated. "You need me, I need you. Neither of us is going to get out of here alone. I don't know the technology, and your combat skills leave a lot to be desired. So I suggest you re-think your priorities and let me help you."
McKay looks distinctly unhappy, the fear showing through. He can still remember... letting the plan out of the bag, over something so small as a cut. Still remember them all trapped in the underground vault, at the end of his gun, John thinking for his life. He wants to live. He does. He's just not sure he wants to if... Kolya helps. "....Fine."
Without a word, Kolya turns and goes over to McKay, his expression blank, save for a flicker of victory lurking in his eyes. Keeping the stunner useable in one hand, balanced against his hip, he takes Rodney's arm around his shoulder, supporting him.
McKay closes his eyes, concentrating on his breathing. It's... a defeat and he knows it. A surrender, of a kind - something simple, but so much more significant than it should be. "Bear left," he says, hobbling as he tries to find a suitable pace.
Kolya continues walking, attentive to how McKay moves and making a genuine - if slightly self-serving - effort to help him keep going.
"Stop. There's likely to be Wraith moving through here. You should check," he says, nodding to the door ahead.
Kolya nods back, and leaves McKay supported by a nearby wall, hefting the stunner as he moves ahead to scout the area.
"Get down a bit," Rodney hisses quietly, "It's safer."
Kolya does so, stalking silently forwards, staring around in search of... Wraith. He spots one, moving towards them, armed and patrolling its ship, not yet aware it is being watched. Kolya moves in, edging to a point where he can get a clear shot...
McKay is shuddering again, eyes closed and counting under his breath. If he was only mobile, and armed... instead he's forced to wait. To watch Kolya. It's... a new and unusual form of torture.
The Wraith, meanwhile, is completely oblivious. There's no alarm sounded, no reason to worry as it patrols its way along a relatively remote part of the ship.
Smirking at the ease of this, Kolya waits for the Wraith to draw closer, hidden carefully within the shadows, stunner up. He's practically basking in the power of the moment, eyes glittering as he finally fires, catching the Wraith still unaware.
There's a surprised hiss before the slump, and Rodney hobbles over furiously, determined to get a weapon himself.
Whilst Kolya doesn't want Rodney armed, he knows that they need to have as much defensive potential as possible, so he doesn't actually prevent the doctor from taking the fallen stunner. He does, however, say, "Watch where you point that thing, Doctor. Don't let your feelings cloud your judgement."
"I've never taken a weapon to you," Rodney points out, using it as a temporary walking stick. "We need to look out that..." nods, "window there."
"And I would advise you not to break the habit," Kolya replies, unashamedly. Nevertheless, he offers Rodney a hand, to help him over to the window.
McKay takes it, feeling a little less uncomfortable now he's armed. A little more confident. He peers through the window, chewing on his lip. "In low orbit. I think the beam could work from here, if I can make it reverse..."
"Excellent. Where to now?" The question has purpose, yes, but the commander is also using it to cover the shock of looking out of that window. Kolya has never actually been in space before, never looked down and seen a whole world circle below. It's certainly... thought-provoking.
"There's two control rooms on a ship this size, from what I could tell. Both of them likely to be heavily guarded. We can't just take them by force," Rodney says. Stares at Kolya. He looks perhaps a little longer than he should. "Do you know it?" he asks, nodding to the planet.
"I can't tell," Kolya admits, still watching the planet. "I've never seen a world from this perspective." The moment passes eventually, and he turns back to McKay, expression businesslike again. "What do you suggest we do, then?" he asks, thinking carefully.
"I don't know it either," Rodney admits, then looks to the stars. "But I might be able to work out where we are when we land." When. Not if. When. "We need a plan, of course. Preferably one with minimal limb- and blood-loss."
"What we need," Kolya says, flatly, "is bait." And, with a particularly effective smirk, he turns to stare meaningfully at Rodney.
"No," Rodney snaps, immediately.
"Do you want to get out of this alive?" The question returns once again, ever-serious.
"And me being bait will mean I live... how?"
"Because I'll be shooting anything that goes for you," Kolya replies, levelly.
"And this makes me feel better because...?"
"...I'm a very good shot."
McKay just stares at him. He seems to be fighting the urge to say something, his lips almost moving then... something settles in his eyes. It's the same look he got when he stepped into the light from the shaft, facing Kolya and agreeing to come along. It's Rodney's really brave face. His jaw is almost but not quite firm. "Try to not let them shoot me in the head, or I'll never get the controls working."
Kolya nods. "The intention is not to let them shoot you at all," he says, offering McKay a hand to help him move again.
"And how likely is that?" he grouses, trying not to lean on Kolya now, as a matter of pride. "You do realise this probably won't work, don't you?"
"This has to work, McKay. Doubt won't help matters. Now... which way?"
Rodney nods. "There. Three corridors down. Five doors in."
So off they go again, moving along the passageways of the Wraith ship, Kolya staying constantly alert for any random patrollers.
It doesn't take all that long to get there, and Rodney automatically starts giving the field gesture for Kolya to stop and listen.
Immediately, Kolya stops, pausing against the wall, keeping the stunner ready in case any more of the Wraith show up.
McKay listens, frowning intensely. He's not hiding his displeasure one bit. He closes his eyes and counts to three. Twice. On the third time round, he loses it halfway through and opens the door to charge inside.
If he had more time, Kolya would be enjoying this. But there's more at stake, so he resigns himself to a quiet smirk as he waits for their 'distraction' to work.
Fortunately, there's only two Wraith, who look rather surprised to see a Human scientist storming in and struggling to duck and roll and crawl and everything he's been taught behind minimal cover, all at once, whilst screaming something that sounds somewhat akin to ‘AAAAAAHH!’
The smirk gets broader. Kolya gives the Wraith several rather long seconds to react, before he bursts through the door, opening fire at once.
McKay is screaming something very abusive from the direction of a panel that he's cowering behind, hands over his head and head between his knees. If he had any common sense he'd be quiet and not call attention to himself - but he's just been acting as bait, so he doesn't think he has any common sense left.
BLAMBLAMBLAM and one of the Wraith goes down, juddering as a volley of stun bolts crash into him. By the time Kolya spins to aim at the second, however, it has moved to take cover, and the commander is forced to take shelter of his own as a series of stun bolts come rocketing past.
McKay squeaks and demands to know why Kolya hasn't finished yet, because doesn't he know they are all telepathic and oh god they are so doomed. He looks around for the other Wraith's weapon, eyeing up the situation and wondering if he dare make a dash for it. It seems the Sheppard thing to do...
Ignoring McKay's series of distress noises, Kolya leaps back up, firing several fresh volleys before returning to cover, working out the best way to get closer to that damned Wraith...
"Cover me!" Rodney yells, and tries to barrel roll across the floor and pick up the weapon while not being knocked out or shot at. For a scientist who's spent his life behind a desk, he doesn't do all that badly.
Kolya leaps up immediately, providing covering fire as Rodney goes for the gun. It's at that point that he spots the movement somewhat dangerously close to the doctor. "McKay!" he shouts, at once, "on your right!"
McKay turns the weapon in that direction at once, firing furiously with his eyes jammed shut, glued to the spot.
It's really quite a delicious shot. The Wraith makes its move a second too late, and instead of whatever it was planning, it instead gets a faceful of stunner energy, going down with a heavy THUD. Own weapon still held at the ready, in case more turn up, Kolya looks over at McKay, wondering if he's planning on opening his eyes any time soon.
Rodney stands, shaking a little, until he realises he's not, actually, dead. Or stunned. But dead would be worse. Except maybe not because at least he wouldn't know, but if he was stunned maybe they'd just feed on him right then and there while he's helpless and can do nothing but think and watch and oh GOD but he almost died AGAIN and he opens his eyes, shaking ever so slightly, hand flexing on the weapon unconsciously.
Kolya continues to watch him, breathing slowly returning to normal now that the fight appears to be over. Relaxing a little, he says, "Calm down, Doctor. You're not dead yet."
"No, but that doesn't mean my life expectancy is all that stellar," Rodney says, shuddering and drawing the weapon in close, almost protectively.
"We will get out of this," Kolya replies, calmly. "Now... I believe there was a reason we came bursting in here?" He walks over to Rodney as he speaks, offering a hand to help him.
McKay nods. "Yes, of course," he says, holding onto Kolya roughly before indicating the direction he wishes to be helped to. "I think we're..." he trails off, staring at screens and pressing buttons, the tip of his tongue sticking out in concentration.
Kolya watches, waiting, hoping that this plan is going to work. He glances around every now and then, aware that more Wraith could likely show up soon.
McKay holds up a hand to shut Kolya up, even though he isn't saying anything. It's just second nature now to do this when he's struggling with something complicated, and then he's... "Oh. Wonderful. We're so totally screwed. If I recall correctly - and I usually do - we're in orbit above Jurassic Park."
The tone of Rodney's voice is clear. Alas, the problem itself seems to have dropped into McKay-ese, which never helps. Kolya resists the urge to snap at him and merely says, "and that means what, exactly?"
"Dinosaurs. Big..." He's looked up now, gesturing to indicate something taller than him... "Oh for... Really big reptiles with a taste for small, crunchy mammals. You get it now? We're going to be eaten one way or another..."
Admittedly, this does not sound good, but Kolya is not going to be stopped now. "We'll have to take our chances down there," he says, firmly. "We need to acquire one of those darts and get off this ship, and we need to do it soon."
"Because that's the easiest plan we've had so far..." Rodney says, but gestures for Kolya to come over and help him anyway. "Have you ever seen a Tyrannosaurus Rex anyway? King of the lizards?"
"No," Kolya answers, flatly, as he helps Rodney start to move again.
"Not good. Really, really not good. They can flip over cars and open toilets and bite you in half - even if that movie wasn't especially realistic anyway, the science in it was a total bunk..." Talking keeps his mind off the impending doom somewhat.
Kolya lets him talk, not bothering to ask for any kind of clarifications, waiting until the verbal onslaught pauses before speaking again. "Which is the quickest way?"
McKay nods. "Straight down there. It should avoid the most frequented areas too."
"Good." Kolya sets off, supporting McKay as they go, other hand still keeping the stunner close.
It doesn't take all that long - a few moments pressed against the bulkheads as they listen and wait for the Wraith to pass by in neighbouring corridors, braced for them heading this way - but eventually they are there, and Rodney's sore from hopping and grousing about it.
Kolya has been quiet for a while, but on arriving at the hangar bay, and letting go of McKay so he can check the area, there is a definite sense of irritation. "Must you be so very negative?" he throws across.
"Only when faced with certain doom. It's a bad habit of mine, I know," he says, shaking his leg out. "Really must stop getting into it."
"This does not qualify as certain doom," replies Kolya, levelly. "We are almost out of here."
"Yes, sure, when you steal a DART. Who do you think you are, General O'Neill or Rambo?"
"'We,' Doctor," Kolya corrects, with more than a slight smirk. "When we steal a dart."
"Right. Well, you kill all the Wraith and I'll just hotwire it. Don't worry, I did this all the time in my delinquent youth."
"I have complete faith in your ability to get one of these ships working before they kill us both," Kolya states, very flatly. "Now... if we move carefully, I believe we can reach that dart without being spotted."
McKay pulls a face. "Just so long as you know that any dying is completely your fault," he says, but nods at him to continue.
The dart in question is nicely shielded by a couple of others, lying on the edge of the huge bay. Slowly, Kolya begins to move out towards it, supporting McKay as he goes, using the various other ships to provide cover from any Wraith who may be watching.
McKay bites his tongue hard to keep from making a noise as they move - he's getting rather stiff all down one side with all the awkward movement, and he’s going to get cramps or possibly a permanent limp and hunchback if this keeps up and then who will want him, because it won't be like an impressive war wound, oh no, it will be Old Cripple McKay and... why are they stealing a dart again? He has no idea even how to get into it once they're there.
Eventually, they reach the ship in question, and Kolya takes a good look at it. Up close, these darts suddenly look so very... small. But a plan is a plan. He gestures in its direction, obviously expecting McKay to start working on the vessel at once.
McKay mutters something under his breath about sonic screwdrivers and then turns to glare. "Give me a hand up then." He places his stunner down, unable to hold onto it and work at the same time in such a cramped space.
Kolya helps Rodney climb up, but he glares right back, simply because anything else would be either backing down or counterproductive.
McKay clings to the side of the machine, trying to... ah there's the hydraulics equivalent, but to override them without ruining them so they die from exposure to vacuum, yes that's important and... so is not falling face first into the cockpit with your legs in the air when it finally opens. Oh well.
Straight-faced, Kolya waits for McKay, keeping a close watch on the surrounding area in the meantime, stunner held up again. Unlike the good doctor, he has no intention of putting his down.
McKay finally squirms enough to get inside, and starts staring at the commands. "Get in," he hisses lowly, "as soon as I get this running I'm going."
Kolya scrambles up after him, finding the cockpit to be quite remarkably small. "I am assuming you can work out how to fly this?" he asks.
"It'd be easier if Colonel Sheppard was here, but as I'm the most intelligent person in this galaxy, if I can't work it out, you're really screwed." He leans over, ignoring personal space entirely, far too driven by self preservation to care about anything else right now.
Kolya just about manages to let the comment about Sheppard slide, if only because causing any kind of scene here and now would be dangerously foolish. It's just as he's about to ask how much longer this is likely to take that Kolya spots the movement nearby. Raising the stunner - which he's still holding onto, half-outside the open cockpit - he says, quietly, "McKay... we have company."
"I know, I know I... don't talk to me and deal with it," he says, slamming on buttons and... they start moving forwards, at a little faster than a walking pace, the canopy still open and no main engine thrust yet. He curses and presses more buttons, causing all manner of noises and... the hatch door to start opening...
By this point, Kolya is half-leaning out of the cockpit, opening fire on a trio of Wraith who have just spotted the scene unfolding in the dart. Their own weapons raised, they begin to advance, firing back. "Speed would be somewhat important here!" Kolya shouts, ducking into the cockpit again in order to take cover.
"I'm TRYING, can you not see me trying? No, I thought I'd stop off at a drive-by first and get us some in-flight SNACKS!" Rodney yells, pressing buttons more desperately. A shot glances off the hatch, making a horrible noise just as it starts to lower, and a deep, low rumble that may very well be engines starts below them. "I... yes! I have it!"
Kolya manages to get inside just in time, making sure to drag the stunner in with him - even though it takes up rather a lot of the limited space - seconds before spotting several more Wraith come running into the hangar. "Good work, Doctor," he says. And then it dawns on him - yes, this is a spaceship and yes, they're about to be in space. Well. This is a day for... new experiences.
"You can say that when we successfully crash on the planet with the even bigger people-eating monsters," Rodney says, trying to steer. By now other Wraith are jumping into the other darts, and Rodney panics, hitting weapons buttons and blowing something up - along with a few Wraith, but no ships - as they are suddenly out of the hive ship and hurtling towards the planet.
"Oh god, oh god, this is such an unbelievably bad idea," Rodney says, attempting an abortive barrel-roll which would turn even the illustrious Sheppard's stomach.
There are a lot of things about this that Kolya doesn't care for - notably, the part where there is nothing whatsoever that he can do. And then there is the sudden lurch in his stomach, both at the movement, and at the sight of the planet, racing closer. He says no more, letting Rodney concentrate, for once.
"This is the part where I'm in a spaceship and the most experienced pilot and..." there's really no words, really, because he's flying a Wraith ship and he wasn't even that good with an Atlantean one after practice under the 'best' supervision around (though he secretly though John really wasn't one to teach as he'd never HAD to learn and...) they're firing and they’re hit and they're going down nose first and he fights the controls, pulling them up desperately while sparks fly from the console.
Kolya lays an unrestrictive hand on Rodney's shoulder - somewhat different from the other hand-shoulder gesture he's used in the past. "Stay calm, Doctor. You can do this." His tone is oddly supportive, all things considered.
McKay is staring unblinkingly out through the viewscreen by now, so harassed he wouldn't notice if Kolya was attempting to braid his hair, even if it were long enough. "Stop saying that! Just wait ‘till we... this doesn't have... I HAVE IT," he says, all of a sudden, yanking on the controls and sending them straight towards a very sturdy-looking tree. "Hold on," he says, "I don't know how to make this work for two," he adds – then suddenly there's an odd feeling of vertigo, something like Gate travel, and they rematerialise chest-deep in water, just in time to see the dart crash spectacularly.
A lot of this was unexpected. That was way beyond unexpected. For a moment, Kolya doesn't speak, and then finally he asks, quite blankly, "What did you do?"
"Crashed the ship so they think we died in the blast and transported us here with the same beam they use to abduct people," Rodney says proudly, looking down at the water. "Hmm. Interesting. The water must have been displaced immediately before we materialised." He starts wading out of the small pool, heading for the bank. "Hopefully they won't have detected it."
Kolya follows him, looking around now that the initial shock has faded a little. "And now?" he says. "I hope you know the location of this planet's Stargate - and that said location is workably close." Because otherwise...
McKay stops, closing his eyes a moment and trying to orient himself with the map from the ship. "I can't tell you distances," he says, pointing nevertheless. "But it's that way."
Kolya nods. "All right. We should start moving at once. If this planet is home to hostile animals, as you say, we should also attempt to remain in cover as much as possible." Hefting the stunner - which he’s oh-so-glad was beamed down along with them - he starts to move off.
"...Spielberg suggests not moving, if we see one, though I don't know how accurate that is..." Rodney says, leaning against a tree and waving a hand. "Need to eat."
Kolya gives him a rather unimpressed look. "Doctor. We have been walking for mere moments. And we are also somewhat without supplies."
McKay is fiddling in his pockets, swiping a hand over his brow. "I don't know HOW long we were unconscious but I know I haven't eaten in hours and unless you want my blood sugar to fall so drastically I lose speech and motor capabilities, I suggest we find me something to eat..."
"And how exactly are we to do that?" Kolya throws back. "We have no proper weaponry, and from what you say, this planet is not home to anyone who might helpfully offer us supplies. Beyond taking a risk if we locate any forms of wild fruit... you are going to have to cope for now."
McKay shoves a hand down the front of his own jacket, groping and groping and - aha - holding up a power bar with a smirk. "Emergency rations. Now unless you want to see what stress and shock does to a man?" he asks, opening it up.
Kolya smirks. "Under different circumstances, perhaps... but for now, even I would prefer to concentrate on reaching the Stargate." He refrains from mentioning how well he knows the effects that stress and shock both have on the doctor... for the time being, at least.
McKay starts eating and doesn't wait ‘till he's finished before talking again. "I can't think if it drops too low," he says, tongue swiping out to catch crumbs just seconds before he takes another bite. "Have to keep an eye on myself... do you think there are allergens here?" It's possible he's in denial and trying to stall, too.
Kolya goes oddly blank as Rodney starts eating - certainly a lot blanker than he is normally capable of. Yes. He can do denial too. "Allergens?" he repeats, finally. "We're on an alien planet, which you believe to be home to hostile animal life, and you're worrying about allergens?"
"If I sneeze I might give us away," Rodney snaps. "Or go blind. And there's nothing worse than going BLIND on a planet with an insane murderer and a T-Rex. Or maybe there is but I don't want to think about it, thank you very much." He brushes his hands off, drops the wrapper. "Is that the only weapon we've got?"
Kolya gives him a particularly cold look at the 'insane murderer' remark, hefting the stunner more than a little threateningly in response to both the remark and the question. "Yes," comes the nevertheless level-ish reply.
McKay stares at it. Then at Kolya. "You're going to have to put it down, you know."
"And why would I give up the one weapon we have?" Kolya throws back. "Besides, Doctor, if I wanted to attack you, I wouldn't need this. At least we have something that can be used against any hostiles we encounter here."
"Now see," Rodney says, waving a finger. "This? This is not how you get people to co-operate with you. Threats are not actually polite - I don't know if they failed to teach you that in Genii school after all the lying. I don't like you having it."
"That was not a threat... merely an observation," Kolya replies, coolly. "And believe me, when we encounter one of these 'dinosaurs' that you mentioned, you will be very, very grateful that one of us is armed."
"So why not me?"
"Because you are still partly incapacitated," Kolya states, without missing a beat. "And as we have already seen, my tactical abilities are superior to yours."
"Which is all the more reason to give me the stunner, because you can be all gung-ho and ninja it to death."
Kolya throws McKay his best 'I am so above this' glare, and merely says, "I don't think so, Doctor."
"I’m injured, and you are clearly," Rodney stresses the opinion with as much scorn as he can muster, "the 'superior' fighter here. And the only one armed. I'd say that gives you a significant advantage over me. And I just saved you from certain supper."
"As I recall, you would still be hopping along the corridors of that ship, if it weren't for me - and that is assuming one of the Wraith hadn't managed to find you. Now, I suggest you focus on getting us to the Stargate." He still keeps his tone level, but not overly so - knowing, as McKay surely does, the problems that will arise when they reach said Gate.
"And you would never have found a ship let alone known how to FLY one - or to beam down, so you'd be dead more than once if it wasn't for me." McKay glowers at him, unconvinced, from under his lashes. "What if it's longer than a day's walk?"
"My point is that both of us needs the other to get out of this alive." Kolya sounds slightly annoyed now - never a good sign. "Then we will have to find shelter," he replies, calmly.
"I knew that. I just wanted to make sure you knew that too," he says, hands rubbing together uselessly. "Well?"
"Lead the way," Kolya says, gesturing with the barrel of the stunner.
"That way," Rodney says, refusing to walk ahead of an armed man.
Kolya sets off, managing to walk as level with McKay as he can, watching the undergrowth cautiously.
They walk. And walk. And… "This reminds me of the camp they sent me on," Rodney remarks, before long, incapable of keeping silent. "And there was this boy called Emett, though I don't know what his first name was - don't think I ever did."
Kolya doesn't reply, knowing full-well how much Rodney is likely to talk, and, for the moment, deciding to let him.
"He was like you, in a way, except he had an alarming thing for kayak paddles. I hated camp. They sent me every year - but it was better than..." he stops, looking around. He didn't mean to say that. "I don't have a GDO," he says, suddenly, fear settling in.
Kolya was in the middle of musing about why McKay has suddenly started talking about his childhood, but is dragged from these thoughts as the doctor suddenly stops. Kolya pauses nearby, watching him. "Oh?" he says, in his best offhand tone, well aware of what the doctor means. "That will make things... somewhat challenging for you."
McKay looks unhappy. "Clearly. Why have we stopped? We shouldn't stop. I don't want to be eaten," he says, starting off again.
It was Rodney who set off first - so Kolya now follows him, fairly close behind. "Don't worry, Doctor," he says. "I won't let anything on this planet eat you." And he means it...
"And this is where I have to ask myself the very worrying question about whether or not the Genii have taken to ritual cannibalism - and I really wouldn't be good to eat, I'm not especially healthy, not that I ever have been, so I'd taste disgusting."
What a very odd comment... "No. The Genii do not practice cannibalism of any kind." Which is something he never expected to have to say.
"It was just the way you said it," Rodney explains, really starting to babble now and... shake his sore leg out with a very deep frown, "It's that certain doom thing again. Expecting everything. And I can't remember when I last had a proper meal..."
Kolya merely smirks. "Certain doom?" he repeats. "Come now. We just escaped from a Wraith hive ship. Have a little faith."
"And just as soon as you say something like that you DOOM us! Are you insane? You don't go around making claims like that until you are back home and you're sure the ceiling isn’t going to accidentally fall on your head! What next, are you going to decide we split up or investigate dark and ominous caves? Because if so, count me out!"
"Believe me, Doctor, I have no intention of splitting up. Or investigating anything other than sources of potential survival necessities, should the need arise."
McKay smiles nervously. "Well at least neither of us is a blond virgin, because otherwise the consequences wouldn't bear thinking about." Oh god, he really did just say that.
Kolya gives him what is possibly the most surprised stare imaginable, staring and staring and... yes. Just staring. There are no words. Not this time.
"Of course, we still might find one." Really, McKay. Shut UP.
Still, Kolya says nothing. He's used to meaningful, and meaningless, silence. This time though... there are no words; at least, none that won't have McKay trying to run for cover.
"Ford would have said if they were dragons though," Rodney concludes, looking straight ahead and walking and - jumping back and yelling when something fast and brown darts out in front of him.
A diversion. Very helpful. Because otherwise, Kolya was going to have to say something, and it is doubtful that Rodney would have liked it. He spots the movement a second before Rodney yells, and immediately points the stunner at the whatever-it-is that has suddenly appeared.
McKay has picked up some training and immediately drops and rolls to get out of range, cursing a blue streak at how that hurts, and looking up to see if Kolya hit the... whatever it is.
As Rodney starts moving, Kolya starts firing, trying to aim and identify the source of the threat at the same time. The creature is fast, no doubt about it, and has already doubled back in their direction before one of the stun bolts catches it. Shuddering, said creature stumbles and falls - but how effective the weapon will be, duration-wise, is a very good question indeed.
"What WAS that thing?" Rodney asks, struggling to his feet and standing just behind Kolya to peer.
The 'thing' in question is lying on the floor, panting, two sharp-toed feet more or less in the air. Kolya keeps the stunner trained on it, alert. "You tell me," he says. "You know more about this world than I do."
"I didn't come, I was busy trying to find something useful to do on the planet, not scout. My genius was needed elsewhere. And apparently the colonel thought that an ecological study could wait until after the certain doom and he only categorized the LARGER locals."
"Then this would appear to be one of the smaller locals," Kolya replies, relaxing a little now that it looks like the creature is actually unconscious.
"Did you kill it?" McKay asks, now peering over Kolya's shoulder.
"No. It appears to be stunned, however." He's rather amused by the way Rodney is hiding behind him. The whole thing has an oddly ironic sense to it.
"Right. Well. We know it works on the smaller ones at least," Rodney says, rubbing his sweaty hands over his legs to try to dry them. "We... we should get moving."
Kolya nods and starts to move off, keeping the weapon trained on the creature the whole time, in case it wakes up.
McKay wants to say something, but doesn't. But he wants to. He does. It's clear in the tone of breath he draws, the way he's restless. But he won't. Because Kolya isn't talking, and he's doing all the talking and...
Kolya can sense... something in McKay's behaviour. He's good at this kind of interpretation, even if Rodney is a difficult one to read. Eventually, he says, "Don't be so agitated, Doctor. Everything is going well."
"Of course," Rodney says, his contempt clear in his voice. Really well. "Some hitherto unknown usage of the word I've clearly never been made aware of."
"We are alive, and en-route to a way off this world," Kolya replies. "I would say that was a good thing, considering the situations we've been through."
"Will you stop being so optimistic? It's ruining my mood, thank you very much. Why do you keep trying to convince me anyway?"
"I am merely intrigued as to why you are so very negative." And, of course, verbally poking him in order to see how he reacts. Because he has to do something to pass the time.
"I tend to find that if I assume the worst then I can't be disappointed. And I tend to be right, anyway."
Kolya says no more - letting that silence descend again. It's quite a remarkable weapon, if you know what to do with it.
"I do know what you're doing, you do realise, don't you? Because I'm not stupid. Not at all."
"And what am I doing?" Kolya asks, blankly.
"Just... don't. Really. Kate and I were only discussing this the other day."
Again with the silence. Kolya doesn't say a word, waiting again to see how McKay will respond.
"It’s not going to work, you know," he says, pointedly not looking at him. "Because I... AH!" There's a flash of brown again.... faster.
Kolya instantly pushes Rodney out of the way, raising the stunner and opening fire. The creature comes dashing towards them, all feet and claws and very sharp teeth, leaping and... BLAM.
McKay yelps in protest and watches, having absolutely no clue what to do, so he keeps on yelling desperately and scrabbling for rocks to throw.
It is quite alarming how very difficult these... THINGS are to hit. The first three stun-bolts miss, as the creature skirts right past Kolya's leg - but as the whatever-it-is comes back in, making a nasty hissing noise, the fourth shot finally connects. There is a fresh THUMP as the creature hits the floor, in a swirl of leaves and dust, but then nothing else.
McKay stares. "We... they're going to keep coming and making a noise, aren't they?" he asks, sounding somewhat shaky.
"Possibly," Kolya replies, off-hand, stunner still trained on the fallen creature - half-wondering if it's the same one from before.
"...Do you not think we should... do something?"
"Beyond attempting to move slowly and covertly through the undergrowth... what can we do? Our best chance is to make it to the Gate."
McKay stares at it. "...We could... tie it up?"
Kolya gives him an unimpressed look - though with a rather odd edge to it. "Or we could kill it, and thereby work out if we are in fact being stalked by just one small alien creature."
McKay looks at it. "I... don't want to kill it. But if we tie it up it's as good as dead, isn't it?" Thinking aloud.
"If we tie it up, yes," Kolya replies, voice completely level. "Hence why killing it would be preferable anyway."
"Couldn't we just... lose it?"
"And risk it following us again?"
McKay frowns, looking distressed. "There could be all sorts of reasons not to kill it. We might be hunted down by a pack or something. And... I don't want to."
Kolya almost rolls his eyes. "Doctor. If you want to get off this planet alive, I suggest you work on your priorities."
"Look... don't, okay?"
Kolya actually points the stunner at him. "We are not having this discussion."
McKay looks bloody furious now, all sense of personal safety momentarily out the window. "You have NO right to decide what goes on here - you have no jurisdiction over me, and even if you did I wouldn't listen to you because you are an unqualified ASS. Just because you have a weapon and can't contemplate anyone ELSE being RIGHT. So you carried me out. You wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me and I'm not going a step further if you think you can just wave that in my face and I'll tuck my tail between my legs and do whatever you say."
Silent, Kolya advances on him slowly, until the barrel of the stunner brushes against McKay's stomach. "I will ask you one more time... do you want to get out of this alive, or not?"
"Of course I do," the doctor says, his expression... complicated. Two fingers on the barrel, pushing it down and to the side a little. "If you shoot me, you might need me later - and then what will you do? Because if you shoot me and I miraculously don't end up eaten by some DINOSAUR I won't HELP YOU will I?"
"You will help me," Kolya replies, in that particularly alarming tone of voice he saves for occasions like this. "Now, I suggest you trust in my judgement before this thing wakes up and tries to eat you again."
Rodney glares, jaw clenching. It's small. It's... too small to eat them and it's the principle of the... "Immobilise it. Just so long that it's got a fighting chance. Don't kill it. Please." Eyes closed, and he breathes to centre himself, then turns his back and walks on a little.
Kolya sighs, turning back to the fallen creature. He pauses, and then hits it with the barrel of the stunner - though not with enough force to kill it. Then, shaking his head, he follows McKay, now hoping that they are near the Gate - but suspecting otherwise.
McKay carries on in silence for a bit, before his - admittedly weak - sense of duty makes him stiffly, formally say, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Kolya allows him - just - tone guarded.
"Don't suppose you ever had a kitten did you?"
"No. I did not," Kolya replies.
"I didn't think so. I could tell."
"...Why do you ask?" He's starting to surprise himself with the almost conversational air that seems to be appearing now.
"You would have liked my cat." Rodney appears to think things over. "She might even have liked you. It was just the way that... thing clawed reminded me of what Radek said his dog was like when he'd left him alone to go on holiday for a fortnight and how he'd be if he ever got back home. And then I thought that it wasn't that much different from a dog really, if you think about it, and that I'm beginning to increasingly think that's how the Ancients see us anyway. But I thought you were more of a cat person than a dog one."
Kolya blinks at him, momentarily lost for words. Finally, he says, "I have spent my life living in an underground bunker. We do not keep animals below the surface." It seems about the only thing he can say, short of asking McKay if he's inhaled some sort of alien-planet-drug.
"No, I know. But it would have been good for you. Having something warm and alive. Something that cares and you can stroke. Some people think it's only because they want food but... I don't know, sometimes I think I communicated more with my cat than my co-workers. Maybe you could have a rat..."
At this, Kolya gives him another very odd look, and doesn't say anything. Maybe the constant talking helps. If it does, so be it...
"I wonder if they think of putting us down, sometimes. Out of our misery. Or wiping us out like pests. I know it's cliché but… cliché gets that way for a reason."
Kolya looks sideways at him. "Do you always talk this much?" He doesn't sound irritated so much as... well, something else.
"Yes. I find it helps me to... concentrate. And not to fly into a panic, so much. I usually say whatever is on my mind, and I'm sorry but I can't stop just because it's distracting, even if I wanted to."
Smirking a little, Kolya claps him on the shoulder. "Doctor, you sound almost... concerned." And there goes the understatement of the century award... He's doing it deliberately, of course. After all... what else is there to do?
McKay jumps, a sudden flare of panic rising. He doesn't even think of hiding it. "And there's a reason why I shouldn't be concerned when I'm not sure if I'm better sitting on a rock waiting for the local populace to gnaw my leg off or walk around with the psychopath? Can we please stop thinking about that at least until we get to the Gate? I've had enough to worry about today already."
Kolya smirks more, voice light as he speaks. "You really are quite negative at times," he remarks.
"Oh, and what should I be doing instead? Counting my blessings? Because right about now I don't think I have that many."
"You are alive, and have so far not been mauled by one of this planet's inhabitants." The commander pauses, delivering the next line with a knowingly evil edge. "What do you have left to be worried about?"
"Oh, let me see, the man who tried to kill my friends and... take my home and my only means of saving us all from the Wraith? Or is that a blessing too and I'm just being negative?"
"You could be with someone a lot worse. At least I'm not harbouring a desire to shoot you on sight."
"Oh no, you'll wait until you've used me for all I'm good for before you do THAT. And that's so very reassuring. I think not."
"I have no intention of killing you, Doctor," Kolya states.
"That doesn't mean you won't shoot me."
And Kolya gives him one very alarming smile, saying nothing more.
Rodney stands stock still.
Kolya pauses too, waiting for him, the picture of offhand calmness - well, mostly.
"I'm not coming. I'll take my chances with the indigenous life forms, thank you very much."
"Don't be a fool, Doctor. We both know that I need you to find the Gate, and you need me to get you there alive."
"You just did as much as say you're going to shoot me. I'm sure I could find my way without you. There's trees. I could hide in those if anything came sniffing at me."
"I never said anything of the kind," Kolya replies, lightly. "Now stop worrying and start walking."
"No! You're going to shoot me. And god knows what else. Find your way without me."
"I am not going to shoot you. Nor am I just going to leave you here."
"Well, I don't see what other option you have," he says, a little pale.
"It would be best if I didn't need one," Kolya states, tone more or less level.
"I'm not coming. And if you fire that anyway, the noise will draw attention to you. So you should just carry on without me like nothing's happened and we'll both likely die but at least you won't get to see it."
"Let me put this another way," Kolya says, more firmly. "I am not leaving you behind."
"I'm sure we can find you a tree too... any preference? Deciduous or evergreen?"
"Start walking," Kolya repeats, stressing both words.
McKay folds his arms across his chest, nostrils flaring. Then he realises he's showing Kolya his arms and... crap, that's not a nice memory.
Kolya resorts to the glare again, noting that something new has just flickered in Rodney's eyes, and wondering if it is something he can use.
McKay tries to stay calm. "Look. It’s best for us both if you leave. As nice as it was while it lasted..."
"No," Kolya replies, resolute. "I need you to find the Gate."
"Oh no. You're coming with me. We're not splitting up until we get there."
"What part of 'No, you homicidal maniac,' do you fail to understand?"
"The part where you think this is a choice-based situation."
"See? This is your problem. One of them." He's gesturing with his hands now, looking around from time to time for... something. "You haven't got a squad of men here. You can't make me do anything."
"I don't need any kind of backup here, Doctor." And oh, now his voice is getting dangerous. "You have no choice. Both of us still needs the other, and both of us are going to have to live with that."
McKay's voice is shaking a little, but he's still trying his best to be brave, to stand up for himself. There's a hint of desperation in his tone. "I can't trust you. I don't like you and I don't feel safe with you. Explain to me how I am possibly supposed to handle this any other way."
"I know this isn't easy, but I recommend you live with it." Kolya still sounds fairly level, but this is from rather more effort than he would like, and the aggression in his tone is getting harder to suppress.
"You don't need me. Really. I'm terrible at navigation - though better than the colonel - and you'd probably find it faster on your own. So why don't you just..."
Oh. Not good. Kolya on the edge is bad enough. But mentioning Sheppard, even in passing? Much worse. His resolve snaps in a very brief instant, and at once, he reverts to acting on instinct, slamming Rodney into the nearest tree without a second thought.
McKay yelps, hands grabbing at Kolya's arm as he squirms, eyes wide. "See? See!"
"Listen to me," Kolya hisses at him. "You are making this unnecessarily difficult. I am not out to hurt you. I am merely trying to get back home. So I suggest you do not give me reason to change my priorities."
McKay looks as though he's on the brink of a panic attack, his breathing fast and erratic, his hands shaking a little. There's a moment or two more when the fight is all but visible in his eyes, then he nods.
At first, Kolya doesn't move, prolonging the moment to emphasise his point. Finally, however, he lets go of Rodney, taking a step back. "Now," he says, calmer again but still firm, "let's go."
McKay nods again, straightening his clothing obsessively and waiting to follow.
Kolya stands firm, waiting for McKay to go first, looking particularly immoveable.
Rodney just looks at him, trying not to say anything... really... really... trying... not going to...
Glaring back, Kolya gestures a little with the barrel of the stunner that he's still holding.
McKay blushes, fingers rubbing into his palms, then sets off.
And Kolya follows him, quiet, starting to wonder what will happen if it turns out that the Gate is more than a day's walk away...
McKay is surprisingly silent throughout, at least until he starts stumbling as he walks, through tiredom and dehydration and hunger. "We need to stop," he says, simply. Because it's true.
"All right," Kolya agrees. He's not going to argue with that. Though he himself could keep going for longer, it would be extremely foolish to drag Rodney along until he passed out. Really.
McKay just sits where he was standing and lies back.
Kolya settles nearby, against a tree, watching the doctor carefully.
"We need water," Rodney says, still trying not to talk too much. "We do, don't we?"
"Yes, we do," Kolya agrees. "Rest here for a moment, and then we will go in search of a stream. There is likely to be one nearby."
McKay nods, and lies back again. Quiet, calm - at least superficially so.
Kolya continues to stare at him, though not so oppressively as before, giving the doctor genuine rest-time.
"Tell me when we have to move, I could lie here... not forever but you get the point..." Rodney says, waving a hand vaguely.
After a few minutes, Kolya gets up again, glancing around as he does. "All right, Doctor, let's go in search of a stream. You can rest more once we find one."
McKay nods, then gets up slowly - grunting and using the tree for support. "I think I have things to check any water we find," he says.
"Good," Kolya replies, approvingly, before continuing to glance all around. Finally, he picks a direction to head in - deeper into the undergrowth, towards what looks like a small rocky outcrop, mostly covered by the forest.
"Why are you going this way?" Rodney asks, actually curious even if he still sounds disdainful.
"It seemed as good a direction as any," comes the offhand reply. "And I wanted to investigate those rocks."
"Not some secret hunter's skills then?"
"No," is all Kolya says, still walking onwards.
"And you couldn't have lied about something like this to make me feel better?"
"Are you asking me to start lying to you?"
"I was merely pointing out that if you do lie, things like that are good to lie about, but only if you can do it convincingly and you'd have to be good to fool me and you won't manage it now, will you?"
"How do you know I haven't been doing it the whole time?"
"...What part? Because I already KNOW what I think you mean."
"And what do I mean, Doctor?"
"You mean to use me for my brilliant brains, or for bargaining, or to annoy Colonel Sheppard. Or all of the above."
"What an interesting idea..." Kolya remarks, in a very off-hand tone.
"Oh please. I'm the smartest person of all the collective brilliance Earth had to offer. Dignify me with the truth at least."
"The truth? I want to get off this planet. You can help me do that. Hence why I need you." It's the truth... but, of course, it is not the whole truth. He knows that Rodney is well aware of this... but it would be so very boring to just say so.
McKay shakes his head in resignation. "Water. Before I pass out from dehydration and it all becomes immaterial."
Kolya nods and keeps moving, drawing closer to the rocky section up ahead, gaze scanning the area.
"...You know, you really aren't very good at this."
Refusing to be baited, Kolya ignores him, pace not slowing.
"Look, I know I'm rather unique but you could at least attempt to find some common ground between us. I know you've never heard of Stockholm but you must be aware of the concept..."
Kolya looks over at him. "Stockholm?" he repeats. "No, I am not familiar with the term. Though I am sure you will be more than willing to explain it."
"It's fairly simple. It all has to do with not ISOLATING and intimidating people but getting them to have the same goals as you. Motivation? Ever heard of that?"
It’s a shame Rodney didn’t give him a more honest definition, because the commander would have known what he was talking about straight away.
"Of course," Kolya replies, nevertheless. "As far as I am aware, you and I do have the same goals - namely, to get off this planet alive. If that is not enough motivation for you, I suggest you tell me what is."
"...You didn't think that it might help if I'm not half-wishing you would get eaten anyway? People tend to put that little bit more effort in if they... look, why am I giving you advice? It's not like I'm the expert at this, either."
"What do you expect me to do, Doctor?" Kolya asks him, somewhat suddenly. "Turn around and start casually inquiring about your childhood, or what you were doing last week? You would only mistrust me further."
"Only because you say everything like it's the end of the world - even more than I do! How am I supposed to stop worrying if you storm around with a face like thunder and radiate... whatever it is you radiate?! You're unsettling me and it isn't helpful at all and you should... you should try to be charming and not look as though you'd like to see me dead as soon as I stop being useful. It's... You're doing this all wrong."
Kolya stops at once, staring at him. "You're the one who's convinced that we're going to die! And as for the rest... whatever I do, you will assume I have underhand motivations."
"That's because you do! But sometimes it's nice to entertain the possibility you don't, for sanity's sake. And you aren't making it very easy for me."
"You think this is easy for me?" Kolya retorts, instantly. "Every five minutes, you refer to me as some form of homicidal maniac! Do you think that inspires me with warm feelings?"
"I don't recall lifting any knife or gun to YOU in the past - forever! You came and took Elizabeth and me hostage and threatened to kill my friends! You can see how this would have left a bad impression on me!"
"I was doing my job," Kolya states, stressing the words as if he's said this far too often. "As you were doing yours, I might add, when you repeatedly lied to me and kept on stalling so that the illustrious Colonel Sheppard had time to murder most of my men! What kind of impression do you think that left on me, Doctor?!" He's yelling now, something he rarely resorts to... and thus, not a good sign.
"He would have died! The whole city was going to be one giant superconductor! He, Teyla, Ford and Carson would all have been killed! And I wasn't lying to you, not at first. I was telling the truth. You shot our people on sight, as soon as you came through. You lied to him. You said you'd killed Elizabeth. You wanted everything... we'd never get home and... this is so stupid I can't believe it. This is why I can't talk to people! Morons! The lot of you!"
"I did what I had to do. You did what you had to do. Neither of us is going to agree with the other on the matter, so I suggest we drop it." This is more or less his last-ditch attempt at defusing the situation... because he's on the brink of really losing it.
McKay looks as though he's... almost crying. Not quite, but it's close. He chews briefly on his bottom lip, clearly fighting himself, swallowing back the first retort on his lips, closing his eyes. "It's just all so silly," he says, in a carefully quiet little voice that he rarely uses, because he rarely... sees this. "I don't know whether to laugh at you or cry," he admits, then shakes his head.
And at this, Kolya is quite literally lost for words. Part of him wants to keep yelling, because there are things in his mind that need to be said, but part of him knows it's time to shut up - and somehow, that part wins. Silent, he looks back at McKay; amazed, as always, at how very emotional the man can be.
McKay swallows before he chokes. "We should move on. I still don't want to be eaten and I'm feeling a little... light-headed now."
Still quiet, Kolya nods, setting off again, hoping that they are going to find water soon. Thoughtful, he wonders, not at all idly, what would have happened if the... discussion had continued.
"How long were we unconscious, do you know?"
"I have no idea," Kolya replies. "I doubt there's any way to know, at this point."
"...Can't you tell by... being hungry?"
"I suppose so, but I wasn't really thinking about it."
"I'm just worried I'll run out of food."
"If the Gate isn't close, it's a possibility. Just how much further do you-" And then he cuts himself off, as the route through the undergrowth opens out a little, revealing a stream, just off to the right. Kolya allows himself a slightly smug smile at that.
McKay mumbles, "Few hours before I..." Oh, but there's water. Water he gladly goes to kneel by and holds his hands in, feeling it swish between his fingers.
"Of course, there's always a risk that this water is not ideal for drinking," Kolya remarks, almost thinking aloud as he watches McKay swirl his hands through the stream.
McKay pauses, then kneels back, shaking them off. "Right. I don't suppose you have a cup or anything like that on you, do you?”
"No." Life is annoying like that. And now it looks like a choice between dehydration or catching some alien disease.
McKay fumbles with rather in-depth pocketage, his tongue sticking out as he... aha. Pulls out a small strip of tablets. "We need to have something to keep it in while it sterilises."
"I have nothing," replies Kolya. "This scenario was not considered during planning before I left my homeworld."
McKay grits his teeth. "They took anything that would work from me. And unless you can see something vaguely suitable... at least, more suitable than a boot..."
Kolya gives him an almost amused look. "Do all your plans involve footwear, Doctor?" he says, with the slightest smile.
And Kolya now merely half-smirks at him, saying no more.
"What?" Scowl. "Look, some of us are trying to save us here. Could you be less with the cryptic and more with the action man?"
"Doctor. When I left my planet, I was equipped with an impressive multitude of weapons, but no kind of survival equipment. So if you have a plan, I suggest you carry it out."
"You have bigger feet. And the weapon. It should be your boot... in fact, why am I even bothering? I'm a scientist, not a Boy Scout."
Kolya rolls his eyes resignedly, sits down on a nearby log, and is shortly offering one of his boots to McKay. Again.
McKay nods a thanks, then shakes his head. "I can't believe I'm doing this. Really. Aren't we supposed to precipitate it or something..?" then, shrugging, he dunks it. And swirls it. And swirls it some more, and tips it up and... oh maybe he should have taken the laces out but it's too late now. So he laces it up well, fills it one last time, and drops a tablet in. And stares at it. "You realise it takes several hours?"
And Kolya gives him a glare that would most likely cause spontaneous combustion under the wrong conditions. "We should wait," he says, sounding more than a little unimpressed. "Otherwise the dehydration will get even worse."
McKay nods. "Do you want to do another one? I have... six tablets." He ignores the anger entirely.
"That would be wise," Kolya answers, stressing his words again.
McKay waits for him to take his other boot off.
Kolya does not move, and the glare comes right back - with a vengeance.
McKay snaps his fingers. "Boot."
"I believe one each would be fair, Doctor," Kolya says, in his best 'give-us-the-C4-and-no-one-gets-badly-hurt' voice.
"What? Look..." All but growling, Rodney yanks both of his off. "I was going to do them all." He glares, clicks his fingers some more. "Do stop stalling."
Oh, not a good thing to say at all. No, no, no. Kolya hands over the other boot after a moment, but looks very much like he's about ready to dunk Rodney head-first into the stream.
McKay acts as though he's oblivious, though it's possible he isn't. He fills the other three boots as methodically, then sits them in a little row in the shade of one of the trees. "There."
Kolya continues to glare at Rodney, saying nothing, and starting, again, to wish very much that he had his knife with him.
McKay settles down with a loud complain to rest against a tree again, head tilted back, eyes almost shutting. "It's horrible weather." Far too sunny.
"Yes. Much too bright," Kolya says. Talking about the weather... never a good thing. "But at least it is not...-" Whatever he was about to say gets cut off as there is a flurry of brown, and something small and hissing suddenly pounces in Rodney's general direction.
McKay's hands go to the floor on either side of him, and he's suddenly absolutely still. Whatever it is is sitting on his outstretched legs, sharp, clawed hands near his face... sniffing, its tail swishing menacingly from side to side.
Kolya watches it... and watches it... and watches it... and ok, yes, he's deliberately stalling, most likely out of some kind of malice. But after a moment, he's got the stunner pointed at the creature and, once he's sure of the aim, he fires, catching the target in the back.
McKay YOWLS as the creature instinctively digs its claws into his legs, its front ones scraping at his chest. Rodney tries to shove it off, clearly in a lot of pain, but the beast is fairly heavy and he doesn't seem entirely with it. "Kolya! Kolya! Oh my GOD I'm going to DIE! Help!"
Instinct kicks in at break-neck speed. Kolya leaps to his feet without even thinking, raising the stunner as he charges right at the creature, thwacking it with as much force as he can. The blow connects with the side of its head - eliciting a particularly sickening CRUNCH noise.
McKay isn't moving much, the sudden pain enough to send him into shock. He just... stares... not moving at all, apart from the shake in his hands and the shuddering, too-fast breaths he's taking.
Kolya points the stunner at the fallen creature, shoots it again with a considerably cold look in his eyes, and then turns back to McKay. Oh no, no... this is not good at all. Kneeling right in front of him, Kolya tugs some loose material from one of his pockets, trying to apply pressure to the wounds on Rodney's legs. "Doctor?" he says. "Doctor! Try to focus!"
McKay is very pale, all the blood having rushed away from his face. To his legs, it seems, where it's clear from the shredded fabric and the seeping, spreading mess that he's more than a little scratched. His chest is also bleeding, but nowhere near as badly as his legs. He's hardly blinking, but just about manages to focus on Kolya, frowning in confusion. The pain hasn't kicked in yet.
"Doctor!" Kolya repeats. "Stay with me! Focus!" The commander looks fairly calm... but there's a lot of genuine concern behind his eyes.
"I... What?" he asks, fingers fluttering a little madly before he looks down and sees the mess he's in. "Oh... oh. That's really not good," he says, weakly. "I think it bit me."
"You're going to be fine," Kolya tells him automatically. "It's not as bad as it looks." Well. Rodney said earlier that he wanted to be lied to...
"I... Where is it?" he asks, suddenly panicking and turning to look, only to hiss in pain and lie back on the tree again, woozily. "Oh god. Oh god they'll smell me a mile off and eat me for sure..." Then he looks up, suddenly looking possibly the most scared he's ever seemed. Stood in front of a gun scared. "Don't leave me. Please don't leave me. Shoot me but don't let them eat me. Oh crap...." He stares down again, looking ready to pass out.
"Doctor!" Kolya says again. "I am not going to leave you, and I am not going to let them eat you." There's a very defensive edge to his tone now, as he tries to keep Rodney conscious.
"It hurts. Should it be hurting? I mean, this much?" He tries to vaguely pat his pockets down. "Did I mention that I'm not good with pain? Although you already know how pathetic I am at the si..." Eyes pressed tight closed, as he tries to ride a wave of nausea that's only made easy by not having eaten in so long.
"Relax. Try to keep breathing steadily." Kolya keeps talking, aiming to give Rodney something to focus on, all the while thinking how very bad this is turning out.
McKay jams his eyes shut, as the pain starts to kick in, the endorphins wearing out. There's tears in the corner of his eyes, and he flinches. "You have your stomach eaten out by a dinosaur and see how steadily... AH! DAMN! ... you breathe!"
Kolya knows he needs to do something about the wounds, and quickly - and finds himself wishing once more, but for a very different reason, that he still had his knife. That's when his eye catches something on the side of McKay's lower leg - something the Wraith most likely missed, due to it being hidden by the doctor's now-removed boot. It's a short combat knife - and Kolya goes for it at once.
McKay is watching him intently - one moment, at least, the next staring off into the distance - but sudden movements grab his attention and he makes a quiet noise of panic, trying to move his leg and scrabble out of reach, though swaying like a drunk in a high wind as soon as he does. "Oh no, no no no... that would be bad. Really bad..."
"I told you before, I am not going to hurt you," Kolya insists. "But I need to treat the wounds on your legs, and to do that, I need to cut through the fabric."
"No! Why do you need to do that?! Are you a doctor? Not that I TRUST doctors! No... really, really bad idea..." and then he wavers off, woozily, before trying to reach for the knife without leaning. "My pants.... have sentimental value."
Staring at him at these words, Kolya reaches for the knife again, managing to get hold of it this time - and instantly feeling a lot better. "McKay," he says, firmly, but keeping his tone more or less non-hostile, "keep still and try to be calm."
"You're waving a KNIFE around and planning to take off my CLOTHES and I am already BLEEDING!" The last of which is a very undignified squeak. Few thoughts are as bad as these kinds, and the pain is only making it worse. "Oh god, oh god, I'm too smart to die," he says, closing his eyes.
"You are not going to die," Kolya says again. "Not if you let me help you." Without waiting for any actual agreement from Rodney, Kolya moves closer, starting to cut at the doctor's clothing, a little way above the wound.
McKay is holding very, very still, apart from the fine trembling. His eyes stay shut, though they flutter, and his breathing is erratic. But he's still. The still of an animal in the headlights, but still. And... quiet.
The quietness is a good thing. Fairly calm, Kolya works on cutting aside the fabric to uncover the two unpleasant-looking wounds on Rodney's legs. Not good. They're going to need bathing before he attempts to bandage them - and so, after a moment, he moves to retrieve one of the bootfuls of water.
McKay opens his eyes when he hears Kolya moving, swallows, then looks down. Oh so very not good. In the highest degree. In a post-graduate way, maybe. Even that thought fails to cheer him.
Close again, Kolya now looks at Rodney. "This may hurt," he says - not something he generally bothers to tell people - before starting to pour part of the water over the gashes.
McKay jumps and hisses in a breath through his teeth - but that's the only sound he makes, fingers tensing in the grass beneath him.
Kolya uses the rest of that particular bootful of water, and a piece of currently non-bloody fabric, to clean the wounds as best he can. "Now, do you have any kind of medical equipment in that impressively well-stocked jacket of yours?" he asks.
"I... do I what?"
"I need to bandage your legs," Kolya says. "Do you have anything I can use?"
Kolya starts searching... and searching... and well, these Atlanteans do seem to like having places to put things and... ah. He finally finds a pair of fairly thick dressings, and starts applying them to the wounds, tying them firmly in place.
McKay hisses in pain again. But doesn't complain. He's feeling rather cowed.
"Hey, stay with me, Doctor," Kolya repeats. "You need to stay focussed, or you'll pass out."
"Not... faint though."
"...They're the same thing."
"No. Pass out is... medical... manly... Fainting is.... weak. Cowardly."
"I suggest you do not do either," says Kolya, levelly, finishing work on the bandages.
"Passing out is... what the Colonel Sheppards do. Except, he'd never have been wounded - or he would have been saving me and he'd still be running around now and never mind the pain..."
Kolya looks distinctly irritated at the recurrence of Sheppard's name, but doesn't mention it. "I've done all I can for now," he says. "Move your arms, so I can look at your chest." And yes, he realises that that probably wasn't the best way to put it.
"...I'll start bleeding again if I move," Rodney says, in what he must think of as a 'reasonable' tone.
"You won't stop if something isn't done."
McKay looks hurt, but reluctantly does as he's told.
And it's time for more water, as Kolya works on dealing with the gashes across Rodney's chest, once he has cut through his shirt. Thankfully, the gashes aren't as bad as his leg wounds - if they were, he might easily have ended up dead. Then Kolya starts joining various pieces of surviving material together, using the resulting strip to bind Rodney's chest.
"...I don't see why you're bothering. I can't walk, and no one knows we're here."
"Because, contrary to popular opinion, I do not just leave people to die," Kolya replies - and there's a lot more behind that statement than may seem obvious at first. "We are both going to get out of this, even if I have to carry you all the way to the gate myself."
McKay stares. "Why?" It's blunt, brutal and to the point. As he often is.
"Why do you care?" Kolya throws back. He can do blunt and brutal too. And deflection. He's also good at that.
"It's my life. I like to know... why. I'm..." he looks away, now, embarrassed. "I'm... sometimes I can't understand people very well, it might surprise you to know. I just... wanted to know."
At this point, Kolya could say that he's keeping Rodney alive in order to take him back to the Genii homeworld and use him to make plenty of bombs. Yet somehow... that seems, well, the wrong thing to say - not to mention the very watered-down version. But he's not especially good at these kinds of conversations. "You don't deserve to die here, like this," is what he says. The other words... can stay unspoken.
"You probably won't make it with me. For whatever your reasons. I'm a liability, a dead man talking. You're..." You remind me of the colonel? Somehow, for once, he senses it's the wrong thing to say. He shrugs. "On your head be it."
"I am not leaving you behind," Kolya says, firmly, in his don't-argue-with-me voice. That said, he looks up, staring at the sky through the forest canopy. "It appears to be getting darker," he remarks. Which is not good either.
"Oh great. That's just... peachy."
"We are going to have to find somewhere secure for the night," Kolya goes on, thinking aloud.
"...Right. Because we passed that motel about five hundred yards back..."
Kolya almost rolls his eyes at this, not commenting. "I doubt we can just stay here," he says. "More of these creatures will likely turn up. No... we need to be... off the ground..." And now, he's looking at one of the multi-branched trees nearby...
"Do you want to sit here and wait for more of those things to turn up and eat you?"
"I neglected to bring my orienteering gear and helicopter. Did you?"
"I think we can manage this without any of those. But it may not be easy..." Kolya’s voice trails off a little as he starts looking up at the particular tree that's caught his eye, the plan forming.
"No. I can't climb trees anyway. I was the kid who was too busy building reactors and EM pulse generators to bump his knees over and over. There's no way you can get me up one NOW."
Kolya raises an eyebrow at him. "And I spent my life living underground where there areno trees," he says, levelly. "Now stop arguing, unless you actually want to get eaten alive by one of those things." Getting up, he walks over to the tree, inspecting the branches, testing the strength of those he can reach.
"Underground, your own bedroom, a lab, what's the difference anyway?" Rodney asks, fingers strumming rather rapidly now. "I don't see how I could get up there anyway.”
"Simple," Kolya says, knowing full-well that it isn't. "I'm going to pick you up and help you get hold of one of the large, higher branches. And then... as you won't be able to pull yourself up, I'll climb up the other side of the tree and drag you up there myself." Simple? Not likely...
McKay just stares. "You are joking, right?"
Kolya stares right back. "Do you want to be eaten by a dinosaur?" he asks, very bluntly.
"I can manage. And we appear to have no other choice."
"Oh my god, did you get hit on the head? You mean it, don't you?"
"Yes. I mean it."
McKay stares some more, at a loss for words.
Rodney at a loss for words. Does that count as a first? "Right," Kolya says, not mentioning anything else. He walks back over to where the doctor is lying, leaning down to help him up - and knowing, at once, that this is really not going to be easy...
McKay hisses his breath in at the movement, clinging on suddenly as he realises he's not going to stand under his own power, and that if he fell now it would really - really - hurt. "How do you even know you can climb a tree?"
Kolya shrugs. "Climbing is climbing." He's careful as he helps Rodney move, stopping once they are both beneath the tree in question. "Now," he says, "I'm going to pick you up, and I need you to get a good hold on that branch."
"...Which branch?" McKay asks, trying not to wince and hiss too much. Or he thinks he's trying not to, but may in fact be doing it on purpose anyway....
Kolya points again. "That one." He moves around, trying to work out the best way to lift Rodney without causing further damage.
McKay blushes a little, chewing on his lip and nodding overly solemnly. "Right. Right. That one. Hold onto it while you... no, not thinking. So not thinking."
And Kolya picks him up. There's a moment whilst he works on the best way to balance, before he starts lifting Rodney as high as he can, trying to ignore the harsh pressure against his shoulders.
McKay makes a little grunting noise of discomfort, and scrabbles with his arms, trying to ignore the pain in his chest. He so badly wants to move his feet, but he can't. "Higher," he says, a little muffled and panicked.
Kolya obliges, shifting position so as to get Rodney as close to the branch as possible - which is not easy considering how very edgy the man appears to be.
McKay makes an even more strangled-sounding noise and gets some kind of hold on it, but he's already slipping a fair bit. "I don't think... this is going to work so well..."
Kolya looks up at him, still holding on for now. "Just don't let go," he says. "Ready?"
“Do I look ready?" he asks, snappily, but breathlessly, fighting gravity. Gravity appears to be winning, somewhat, though he's not beaten yet.
"Yes," Kolya answers, flatly, slowly letting go of him. Then, without hesitating, he moves around to the other side of the tree, starting to clamber up it at once.
McKay scratches with a foot at the bark, trying for leverage, but soon gives up on that idea when the pain hits. So. He... hangs. Knuckles white with effort, face red, dangling from the branch and feeling like an ass.
Kolya climbs as fast as he can, despite the tree's constant efforts to deter him. Up and up, fingers gripping at every branch, until he's finally right above Rodney, trying to get a firm foothold so as to pull him up. There's only one way to do it. He reaches down, grasping both of McKay's wrists, moving to haul him closer.
McKay yells loudly again, but tries not to wriggle, to kick and struggle. "Careful! CAREFUL! Oh god my hands, that HURTS!"
Stopping to argue the point would only make matters worse, so Kolya doesn't bother, continuing to pull McKay up into the tree. Eventually, and just managing to avoid sending them both crashing back to the floor, he succeeds, shifting Rodney into a fairly secure position against the trunk.
McKay's eyes are closed and he's breathing hard, not wanting to open them just yet and look. One arm's curled protectively around himself, the other out to the side for balance.
Kolya pauses for a moment, also breathing deeply, aching from the effort. "That went well," he remarks, almost off-hand.
McKay laughs hollowly. "As well as shoving a dead man up a tree can go."
“You are not a dead man," Kolya replies, like he means it. "Now... I should bring our water supplies up here." Shifting position, he lowers himself onto the branch beneath them, starting to descend.
"I should have been dead a long time ago so I suppose I should feel grateful anyway.”
Kolya hears this, but doesn't answer, as he is already dropping to the ground, trying to work out how to move two and a half bootfuls of water up a rather large tree. Which is not a problem he has faced before.
McKay sighs at the lack of response, then leans over to see what's holding him, struck by a sudden panic. "Kolya!"
Kolya looks up at once. "What?"
"You're..." Not leaving? "Is everything all right?"
"Everything is fine," Kolya tells him, wedging the boots onto one of the lower branches. So. This might take a while...
"...You cold loop them over your neck? By the laces? So they hang one on each side?" Rodney offers, trying to distract from his own momentary panic.
“I doubt that would work," Kolya replies, now climbing up onto the lower branch and moving the collection of boots to the one above - constantly aware of how very, very strange this is turning out to be.
"Your funeral," Rodney says, and sits back, now that he's sure Kolya isn't leaving him up here. "Easier if we had a pulley system of course."
"Of course," Kolya says, sounding a little irritated. "Did you bring one?"
McKay snorts condescendingly. "Right. Along with my sonic screwdriver, my ipod and a small gas heater. What do you think?"
Now on the branch below, Kolya glares up at him. "I think you should stop being so incredibly hostile and start being glad that you're alive."
"I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm like this all the time. Admittedly you've only seen me in life or death situations, and you've been the cause of them, but believe me, I'm not Mister Laughs-and-Sunshine."
"And why is that?" Kolya inquires - sounding almost genuinely interested as opposed to cold and hostile.
"Because life isn't laughs and sunshine. Or hadn't you noticed that either?" And if he sounds a little bitter... well.
"I had noticed," comes the reply. And though he could elaborate, he doesn't, choosing instead to concentrate on wedging the boots into place against the tree trunk. That done, he scrambles into place on the branch nearest McKay, staring up at the fast-darkening sky.
“Funny. Nobody else seems to."
"They rarely do," Kolya says. "They see the world just as they want it, rather than how it is."
“Don't you think they'd say the same about us?" Rodney asks, leaning his head back. "Sometimes I wonder if we're any of us right."
“Oh, they do," Kolya agrees, looking over at him. "But that doesn't make us wrong."
"I'm smarter than them anyway," Rodney says weakly, a tired little laugh. Then he looks forwards, an intent expression. Rifles through his pockets carefully and retrieves something. "Catch."
Kolya raises his hand just in time, fingers closing around... what exactly is it? On closer inspection, 'it' turns out to be another one of those bars that Rodney was eating earlier. Atlantean or not, food is still food, and Kolya is quick to start eating it.
"I thought... we'd be gone by now. And I'd need it more than you because I'd go into shock, but I'm a dead man anyway and I'd rather you didn't eat me when I do die."
"You're not going to die," Kolya tells him again, before adding a remarkably genuine, "and... thank you."
McKay shrugs. "It isn't my favourite flavour anyway - I like the cherry ones best, but we ran out of those last month."
Crumpling the now-empty wrapper, Kolya says, "when will this water of ours be safe to drink?"
"...Hour or so after we first put the tablets in."
Kolya nods. "We need to work out what we're going to do once the sun rises again," he continues, thinking aloud. "Just how much further do you think the Gate is?"
"I... don't know."
"Then guess. Just a rough estimate."
"No, really I don't. I have no idea how big this planet is."
Kolya goes completely silent. Eventually, he says, "So how, exactly, can you be sure we're even going in the right direction?" And that is not a good question to have to ask, especially at a time like this.
"I'm not. I'm assuming that my orientation was correct when we left the hive ship and that we transported in roughly the same area. But we were a little bit too busy to stop and ask for directions at the time."
"Are you telling me that we are, in effect, lost on an alien world?" Kolya asks, voice taking on that low, dangerous edge again.
McKay looks supremely unhappy. "Not 'lost'. Just... misplaced."
"And how, exactly, do you plan to deal with this little problem?"
"Walk until we reached the Gate. Why, did you have a better idea?"
"What I meant was: is there any way of knowing that we're not, in fact, walking in the opposite direction to our only way off this world?"
“What with, your boots?"
"Doctor, please, you're avoiding the question again," Kolya states. "If we don't get you to a suitable infirmary fairly soon... matters will get even worse."
"No really, what with? The high-tech equipment I can pull from my ass? I'm sorry. I'm not Superman. Don't you think if I knew a way I'd be using it?"
"Not necessarily. You can be remarkably evasive at times."
"Look, this is my life we're talking about. I'm not about to let you drag me up a TREE if I know how to get home," he says, voice rising a little too much. "I'm not lying to you. I have no reason to lie to you. I can't solve this and I have no ideas and... I'm useless, okay? There. I said it."
"...You're not useless," Kolya insists, in his rarely used meaningful-voice. "Trust me. We wouldn't be here if you were."
"Look, right here and now I am. Thanks for the ego-stroking but it really isn't the time or the location. I should never have agreed to come out here in the first place."
"But you did, and now we have to...-" Kolya pauses in mid-sentence, quite suddenly, now looking down at the ground, eyes searching.
“We have to what?"
Instead of answering, Kolya holds up a hand, not moving his gaze from the ground below. "There's something moving down there," he says, finally, very quiet.
"What?" Rodney stage-whispers.
Before Kolya can answer, further movement on the ground makes the situation quite clear. It's another dinosaur, and judging by the sudden scuffling noise, it has just spotted the fallen creature responsible for Rodney's injuries.
McKay looks alarmed, and gestures at Kolya to... something.
"Just stay quiet," Kolya whispers - though his grip tightens on the stunner again. "It will likely be too distracted to pose any kind of threat."
McKay nods, but has the worried-to-death look again. He closes his eyes to count in primes.
Down below, there are... what might count as happy happy eating noises - if you're a dinosaur. Kolya continues to stay very still, not wanting to have to find out the hard way if these creatures can climb trees...
McKay covers his mouth with his hand, looking very, very sick at the... crunching.
Kolya wonders idly why McKay doesn't look happier at the thought of his attacker getting some form of comeuppance...
Rodney looks increasingly ill, dry-gagging behind his hand, only because there's nothing much to lose keeping him from retching. But the shaking is enough to make the pain worse, and his breath catches as a result, making the nausea worse.
"Relax, Doctor," Kolya whispers. "It will be gone soon." Well... he hopes so, at least.
McKay nods, furiously, behind his hand and holds onto the tree to keep himself from... passing out of it.
Eventually, the creature below decides to wander off - though, by the time it does, it is almost too dark to tell. Up in the branches, it is growing colder, though, thankfully, there is almost no breeze. Kolya continues to stare down until he's fairly confident that the dinosaur has moved on, before letting his head rock back, feeling somewhat tired.
McKay's eyes are drifting closer and closer and... his head snaps back each time, trying to stay awake. He shuffles uncomfortably, trying to keep his legs raised.
"Sleep, Doctor," Kolya says to him. "We're going to be up here for a while."
"Don't... want to..." headshake, "fall..."
Kolya considers this for a moment. "You only have two options," he says. "Either we both shift position so I can hold onto you, or... I could tie you to the tree." And it takes a lot to be able to deliver that line so very levelly.
McKay blinks at him. "...Tie me... what are you... ins... what?" He doesn't sound all that lucid at all, a combination of pain, exhaustion, dehydration and low blood sugar finally kicking in.
"Tie you to the tree, yes," Kolya repeats. He's been carrying various bits of fabric from the clothes-cutting incident, and hopes that they might be enough to do something with.
"...What?" Rodney asks again, head falling and lifting, and falling and... not lifting quite so fast. "Uhno? Why?"
"So you can sleep without falling." And if Rodney doesn't get his head around this soon, Kolya fully intends to go ahead and do it anyway.
"Don'tneedsleep. Can go... days."
"Doctor, you are about to pass out," Kolya insists, now starting to tear up pieces of fabric and knot them together.
McKay snorts, but it loses its effect somewhat from his being... listing heavily to one side. "Didn't sleep more... few hours for... years."
"Which is irrelevant, as you are clearly moments away from dropping right out of this tree."
Kolya sighs, and gives up on trying to get through to McKay. He looks between the handful of knotted fabric, and the branches, trying to work out the best way to do this.
"Why are you here?" Rodney asks, blinking rapidly. "Where's Colonel Sheppard? Where's Colonel Carter? Aren't you evil?"
Just barely resisting the urge to say that Sheppard was eaten by a dinosaur, Kolya gives Rodney an odd look. "Yes," he says. "Undeniably so." Then, moving carefully, he shifts around, starting to tie Rodney to the tree - another thing he did not expect to be doing any time EVER.
McKay watches in mild, disconnected confusion, his lucidity clearly waning. "Is he going to rescue me then? Or is Sam? I used to like the evil people best," Rodney says, his eyes unfocusing, his voice just that bit higher pitched and getting fainter.
"There's no one else here, Doctor," Kolya says, quietly, as he works. "Just you, me, and a Stargate of unknown location." What a wonderful mix...
McKay shakes his head sadly, pityingly. "No difference. The hero always finds her. No matter the odds. Always some silly mistake... or no story." His head drifts to rest on one shoulder and he shivers. "Except in the story people don't die and they did..."
Tying the last knot, Kolya moves back to his own branch, settling against the trunk. "This isn't a story, McKay. This is real."
McKay smiles shakily, his eyes closing. "Tell me one instead, then."
"I never was any good at stories," Kolya remarks, staring into the distance through the leaves above. "I much prefer reality."
McKay is breathing shallowly, slowly drifting off and listing to one side rather heavily. It's a show of how exhausted he is that he hasn't moved much in the past few minutes, even while Kolya tied him up. "I don't," he says, pausing for so long that it sounds like he's asleep. "...reality isn't that good."
"No, it isn't," Kolya agrees. "But it's all we've got." He's drifting into the realm of meaningful conversation here... a sure sign that tiredness just set in with a vengeance.
McKay makes some little noise. It might be acknowledgement; it might just be that he's fallen asleep. It's rather hard to tell.
Kolya falls quiet too, feeling the day's highly unexpected exertion hit him all at once. Confident that he's suitably positioned so as not to drop out of the tree, he stops trying to stay awake at last.
McKay sleeps fitfully for a while, his eyes moving rapidly in his sleep... images of his piano teacher trying to eat him in the toilet and Kolya flashing brightly coloured chunky yellow and green torches in his eyes making him stir restlessly. And John scratching his legs, over and over, until he's begging them both to stop, to send the quack, the Scottish quack to wave his magic voodoo wand and stick pins in things because he doesn't want to be here, he wants to be home, with his cat, where no one ever calls and there's only Mensa meetings and no life-sucking monsters except on TV....
Kolya sleeps better, due to the lack of serious wounding, though his dreams are strange too. Before long, he's walking the dark corridors of the Genii bunker, but every time he gets to a door, he spots a dinosaur running in the other direction, and has to go and chase it. When he finally catches the dinosaur, it turns out to be a rather oddly-coloured cat, which promptly runs off again, leaving him back in the corridors with no clue as to why.
McKay whimpers in his sleep, but doesn't have the energy to thrash. He's already half-awake again, in the odd place where dreams start layering over reality. The tree is tall and on fire and he's burning and they're going to roast him alive and eat him and no one thinks to come save him because they don't really care. Words tumble senselessly out of him as he struggles weakly to get loose, whimpering in fear.
Kolya jumps awake, suddenly aware that McKay is making a lot of unexpected noise. Acting on instinct, mind still blurry from the dinosaur-chasing dream, he clambers across to the other branch, trying to shake Rodney back to some form of consciousness. "Hey! Doctor, calm down, you're all right." Which, alas, is hardly true, but still...
McKay wakes jerkily, eyes suddenly wide with fear. "Oh god I'm not the person you want, let me go," Rodney says immediately, trying to get his upper body free. "Oh god no, no..."
"McKay!" Kolya says, more loudly, needing to snap him out of it. "Listen to me!"
McKay stops struggling again, having exhausted himself. His name seems to get his attention, though, and his focus snaps back to Kolya, questioningly.
"You were dreaming," the commander extrapolates. "Try to stay calm, unless you want to attract more of those things to our location."
McKay doesn't say anything, just looks at him, breathing fast.
Kolya keeps a hand on the doctor's shoulder, trying to give him some grounding in reality. "Doctor... can you hear me?" he tries, still unsure as to whether McKay is actually conscious.
McKay would be amused if he realised how cliché he was. "...'ere am I?"
Kolya sighs, knowing how truly bizarre the answer to this question actually is. "Up a tree on the Planet of the Dinosaurs," he states, tone completely level.
"Oh," Rodney says, weakly. "Wake me when it's normal then."
"I doubt that will happen any time soon," Kolya replies. "Go back to sleep."
McKay slumps. "...painkillers?"
"Not unless you're carrying any."
"Sleep," Kolya repeats. "Before you...-" And then he falls instantly silent, as, nearby, there is a sudden, heavy THUD.
McKay gasps. "What was that?" he asks in a forced whisper.
There is a further THUD, and Kolya seizes the stunner. "I don't know," he whispers back, "but I think... it's getting closer." Off to the right... distant branches are starting to move.
"...Not.... good." Red-rimmed eyes suddenly focussing with fear. "Kolya. If it's a Tyrann- if it's big, you need to stay still. Don't move. Not unless it's going to eat you. And some of them might spit poison. And some of them might climb or club or gore you." This is Rodney trying to be helpful, in case something happens.
Kolya shifts very close to him, doing his best to keep them both covered with the stunner, before staying very still, as Rodney said. By now it's clear that something bloody big is walking towards them, through the trees, occasionally emitting a low, rumbling sound.
Rodney's scared, and it's on the tip of his tongue, but he wouldn't even tell John so he sure as hell isn't telling someone who might use it against him for more than teasing. He shudders a bit, but tenses painfully in an effort to keep still. He hates being tied, being defenceless and unable to run, but he doesn't want Kolya to move now and give them away, so he has no choice, really. "Look. If we die... I'm sorry I wasn't flying better," he whispers. "I'm an astrophysicist. I'm supposed to be behind a desk. And... you're less of a bastard sometimes and you really should consider getting a weasel, maybe, they like it underground..."
Kolya is less convinced that they're about to die, but nevertheless, he actually says, "Doctor, you were instrumental in getting us this far... and that is quite something." Though he's not entirely sure if the 'less of a bastard' comment is a good one.
McKay nods a little. "Right," he says, sounding very earnest and serious. But all this still silence really isn't him. Not that he knows what else to say right now. Other than, "I think I'm going to faint."
“That would not be helpful," Kolya remarks, levelling the stunner in the direction of the approaching... something. The branches a little distance away from them start to move - and suddenly, a very, very large head appears out of the gloom.
Kolya notes the doctor passing out, but is somewhat distracted by the huge... whatever it is, which is now staring at him. It's big, with a bump along its head, large eyes, and an almost bemused expression. After a moment, it starts chomping at the leaves on the nearby tree, seeming really rather calm. Nevertheless, Kolya does not stop watching it, stunner still held ready.
McKay is still away with the pterosaurs.
The Very Big Dinosaur is still chewing away happily, so Kolya takes a moment to try tapping McKay on the side of the head. "Doctor? Doctor? Wake up," he says, still quiet.
McKay doesn't move for a moment, then bumps his head into Kolya's hand. "...theory of unif... huh?"
"Doctor," Kolya says, again, "you passed out." He's talking to Rodney, but doesn't take his eyes off the nearby creature, still wondering if it might be plotting something.
"...powernap," he says, groggily. "Did it bring penicillin?"
"No. It did not."
McKay drops his head forwards onto Kolya, beyond caring if it pisses him off. "Then I don't like it."
Kolya ignores the sudden contact for the moment, still rather too focused on whether or not they're about to be eaten. "It hasn't bitten you in half, yet," he observes. "Things could be worse."
"...Might be quicker if it did."
"Or it might take a very, very long time." Far from biting either of them in half, however, the Very Big Dinosaur seems more interested in the local assortment of leaves.
"...I'd like to think you'd shoot me first," he says. "But I'm not sure." A sigh, but not too deep. "How long was I out?"
"Only a few moments, though I have no idea how long either of us was asleep for."
McKay nods. "Normal nights. Standard rotation." Remembered from somewhere. "I guess there isn't any food either."
"No. Not unless you like leaves as much as..." -he gestures carefully at the dinosaur- "...*it* does."
McKay shakes his head, even though it's in Kolya's back. He doesn't shake it much. "No. I'm... going to go into hypoglycaemic shock, if I haven't already. I might... say things I don't mean."
Kolya has to force himself not to take advantage of this, because getting off the planet alive is more important than interrogating a half-delirious Rodney whilst up a tree. No, really, it is. "When the sun rises... I will try to find something we can eat," he says, wondering exactly how he's going to do that.
"Right. Because McDino's is just up that... grove."
Kolya glares at him. "I am trying to be helpful, here, Doctor," he says.
"Sorry," he says, without sounding acerbic - but then again not especially apologetic either. "Impending doom and all that."
Kolya is about to reply, when the Very Big Dinosaur decides to amble closer. In a moment, it is staring more or less straight at them - though, thankfully, not trying to eat the tree out from under their feet.
McKay is suddenly very still and not breathing. "Tell me it was just eating trees and not monkeys in the trees."
"As far as I know... it was just eating the leaves," Kolya replies - very, very quietly.
McKay shudders in a deep breath slowly, then relaxes. "Probably not a predator. Not that I'm a biologist."
Kolya nods, but doesn't say anything else, as the Very Big Dinosaur nibbles at the leaves on the adjacent branch, making the whole tree rock a little.
"Okay... but I'm starting to freak out a bit."
"Somehow... I doubt shooting it will do any good. Just... stay calm, and hopefully, it will tire of us and move on..."
"That's isn't all. I think I'm going a bit blind."
Kolya actually turns to look at him. "That... is not good." He's not sure what else to say.
"It's happened before," he says. "But... no, okay, things are fuzzy. I knew I should have asked for more pie."
The Very Big Dinosaur now starts to amble off, rattling branches as it goes, making that low, rumbling sound again. Once it is far enough away, Kolya looks back at Rodney. "You should go to sleep again," he says. "The problem is most likely exhaustion."
"So I can die without knowing it instead?"
Kolya glares at him. "Doctor. Go back to sleep. You are in bad enough shape as it is."
"I can't sleep on command. I suffer from insomnia. I have an over-active mind. It never stops."
Kolya disentangles himself from Rodney and climbs back onto his own branch, saying nothing else.
McKay sits back. "Are you going to untie me any time soon?"
"That depends on whether you're going to start passing out again."
Kolya gives him The Look. "You don't sound very convinced."
"How can I possibly go to sleep knowing I'm tied to a tree with you in it?"
"You did before." He doesn't sound hurt. Nope. Not at all...
"I was in a state of complete exhaustion and blood loss and you probably shouldn't have let me anyway."
"What was I supposed to do? You were delirious, and I wasn't exactly on form either."
"I'm not the quack... but aren't you supposed to keep me from concussi- no, shock? Wait..."
"I am supposed to keep you alive," Kolya replies, like he means it. "And I am making all of this up as I go along. Genii survival training does not cover dinosaurs."
"Neither does advanced wormhole physics," Rodney says. "Look. I'm... not comfortable like this. And I think my legs dropped off."
Kolya shakes his head. "All right... but if you fall, don't try to blame me." Carefully, he clambers back over to Rodney, pulling out the small combat knife, and using it to slice through the strips of fabric - gathering them up in case they are needed again.
"If I fall, I'll likely die anyway," Rodney says, watching him carefully with that knife, before moving to carefully get some feeling back in his limbs and rubbing at them. He still looks pale and weak and isn't moving very fast, but he's somewhat more lucid for the moment, though the adrenaline high is leaving him with a touch of the shakes. "What do they teach you then?"
"Not as much as they should," Kolya replies, settling back onto his own branch. "Considering the low number of long missions we run, survival training is not ranked particularly highly. Mostly it's just basic field survival... and how to deal with the aftermath of Wraith attacks."
"What?" Rodney asks. Partially because all (real) knowledge is good. Partially because he's still trying to be in denial about the Genii and knives and him. Partially because it's something to listen to to distract him and keep him awake.
"Evasion tactics, field medicine, finding alternative food sources... I am sure you were taught many of the same things," says Kolya, offhand. "Though most of that training assumed a greater array of equipment than we have."
McKay snorts. "I'm still technically the head scientist. Until... before we came here, I would never have dreamed of going into- 'the field', is that what they say? I was... a desk guy. A lab guy."
Kolya gives him an odd little look. "Why did you change your mind?"
"I.... I don't know," he says, sounding a little more off-guard than usual. "This is what I'd always watched and read as a kid but... back on earth it was... it was the Samantha Carters, not the Rodney McKays. Here it... felt different. More... open. That and I couldn't let the airforce and the technicians have all the fun," he says with a smile - attempting a joke without really being mean, for once.
"I see," Kolya replies, with a slow nod. "So... you felt the need to be something more than you were? To take risks because you believed them to be worth it?"
McKay looks at him curiously - and he's far too open most of the time. "I'd spent my life... theorising. Here I could go out and... do things. See things. And... yes, I suppose I did think the risks were worth it. It's sad to say that even with you and the Wraith and the small children all trying to kill or maim me, this is... the happiest I've been here. Apart from the lack of coffee." He looks out into the distance. "...and cats."
"Maybe those things add to it all, rather than detract from it," Kolya muses, in what sounds like an offhand, thoughtful voice. "Maybe you needed life to be more... interesting."
"...The certain doom and life-sucking aliens and knowing..." he turns to face him, looking very earnest. "Another me died."
"What do you mean?" Kolya asks, somewhat surprised and more than a little confused.
"There was... look, it's a long story and we're not entirely sure but there was a time travelling device. And the other Elizabeth... she was all that was left. Atlantis sank. I... died. I'd only just arrived, and I died."
"Something was clearly done to alter that." Deep down, Kolya wonders what life would have been like from his own point of view in that... other time.
"Yeah," Rodney says, his voice... a little odd. "She changed things. Stopped it sinking." His attention fixes resolutely on Kolya now, though. "But... I know. I'd only been in the galaxy a few hours and I... chose it. I didn't let them come back for me, and risk... everything."
And Kolya gives him a very, very slight smile. "Are you surprised by that?"
McKay refuses to answer that, but rubs at the outside of one of his legs.
Kolya smiles a little again, reading into this, wondering exactly what answer McKay might have given.
"Would you. Die. For them?"
"That depends entirely on who 'they' are, and what benefits my death would bring."
"The Genii. I... never mind."
Kolya gives him that odd look again. "If the circumstances were right... then yes. I would."
McKay nods, looking down again, avoidant.
"Would you?" Kolya asks. "Not in that time, but in this one?"
"I already have done once, and nearly done twi- many times. So I think we know."
"You haven't," the commander points out, levelly. "He did. From what I understand of time... it's not the same thing."
"No, but... I walked into the energy field! It could have eaten me! I faced down the Wraith! Of... course I would. If I had to."
"You sound somewhat hesitant about that." Right now it's hard to tell if Kolya is still in meaningful-conversation mode, or has gone back to verbal-poking.
McKay sighs soul-deep, fingers toying with the edge of his shirt. "It's... different if you're already in pain. If it's quick and immediate it's... easier. But... I can't remember being in this much pain in my life, not physically. And... why am I even telling you this?"
Kolya looks over at him again. "Perhaps you just needed to say it."
“Shoot me," Rodney says suddenly. "In the legs. Please. I won't feel them then."
Even coming from Rodney McKay, this is something of a surprising request... though, in a way, it makes an odd kind of sense. Kolya's hand closes around the stunner as he says, "All right... if you're sure."
“Just... I'll probably fall out if you shoot me without, you know." Rapid, expansive hand gestures and he gives up, looking thoroughly miserable. "Yes." It hurts.
Kolya gestures to the branch just above Rodney. "Hold on to that," he says. "It should be enough to brace yourself with." Then, carefully, he shifts position, aiming the stunner.
McKay's bottom lip shakes and he looks almost as though he's going to change his mind - but then he reaches up, feeling horribly exposed, and holds on until his knuckles are white and the tension is visible all along him. Eyes closed, he starts babbling. "Now I'm doing this because I trust there's nothing you could do while I'm stunned that you couldn't already and you said you don't want to kill me but that didn't include not hurting me but as you've already hurt me, even if it was the dinosaur I still think it should be your fault too..."
Kolya gives him The Look again, but doesn't start arguing - for the time being, at least. He pauses for a second, and then fires the stunner, filling the air with a sudden burst of light.
McKay makes a choked, strangled sound of shock, convulsing for a minute and visibly only staying upright because he's holding on, his closed eyes wet. He concentrates on his breathing, but still won't let go of that branch, slowly trying to get over the shock. "...Thank you," he says, politely, possibly some vestigial sense of Canadianity showing through.
Kolya lowers the stunner again and nods to him, before settling back on his own branch. He's oddly quiet now, resting the weapon across his knees, staring at the still-dark sky again - like he wants to say something, but is refusing to.
"Look. You and I... we both know what's going to happen if we don't get eaten. But... can I ask for one thing? Or, two, I suppose."
"What is it?" Kolya inquires, looking at him again, but neither asking about - nor denying - what Rodney is really saying.
"Just... tell them I'm dead," the doctor says suddenly, deadly serious. "Because if you don't, they'll come looking for me, and they'll fight you to the bitter end and either way, my people are going to die. Your people are going to die. And they shouldn't. Not because of me. The colonel..." he has to stop, to force his head up again, to try to keep the emotion out of his voice. He fails. "If they think I'm gone that won't happen. As much as I'd love to be rescued I couldn't live with thinking people died for me, okay? And... all the people there added together are probably smarter than me on my own, even if I am a great asset, they'll cope without me..."
Kolya is really quite surprised by this, even if it makes more sense once he considers it. Rodney's I'm-doomed nobility has shown through before, more than once - but even so, it still feels unexpected. Anything he says in response to this is going to come across as hostile - but why is he suddenly concerned about that? It never presented a problem before. "They have no reason to believe that either of us is still alive," he reasons. "Your people will merely assume that you died on the Wraith hive ship."
“They... they will..." Rodney shakes his head. "You didn't know that was what happened? Why the Wraith woke up? Because some of our people were captured... Colonel Sheppard wouldn't leave them behind. That's why. That's what started the whole thing off."
"Are you saying that Sheppard will have gone to the Wraith ship, looking for you?" Kolya asks, quickly, distaste hinting his voice.
"Possibly. If he could," Rodney says, weakly and pathetically. "Please. He'd... he'd do it for you. If the situation were different."
Kolya nods. "All right," he agrees, still unsure as to why he doesn't think all of this qualifies as a very good thing.
"...If I help you, do you promise you'll leave them alone?"
"Yes," Kolya tells him, although, in all honesty, it isn't a promise he can make - and neither is he sure if it's a promise he wants to make. But he says it nonetheless, knowing that it is what Rodney needs to hear.
McKay nods mutely, lowering his arms and wrapping them around himself. "I just keep waiting to wake up in my apartment, you know. And find this was all a horrible dream."
"It never quite works like that," Kolya remarks. "Life has a tendency to... keep on going, regardless of how much we wish it could all turn out not to be real." And somewhere, behind the words, there's a definite sense of personal experience lurking there.
"I know," he says. "It just shouldn't have happened to me." A sigh. "Is the water at all drinkable, or did that screw up too?"
Kolya retrieves one of the boots from where it is still lodged, taking care not to knock the others. "It should be," he says, offering the boot to Rodney.
McKay is making a face of displeasure knowing that a foot's been in here but... what else can he do? Holding his nose with one hand, he takes a sip - and it's clear from his expression that it isn't at all pleasant. At least he doesn't choke or spew, though.
Kolya decides to risk drinking too, and, like McKay, doesn't appear all that happy about the taste. But right now, it's water, and it's drinkable... and hell, did that last conversation actually involve Rodney willingly surrendering? This is turning into a very strange experience...
"We should drink your boots first. Because... I'm clearly not going anywhere," Rodney says, looking into the bottom of the boot.
Kolya nods. "You do realise that now you will have to let me carry you?" he asks.
"Well, I was considering rolling to the gate..."
Which Kolya takes as a grudging 'yes.' "You really ought to get some more sleep whilst it's still dark," he adds. "Especially as we have no idea how much longer it will take us to find the gate..."
McKay nods, trying to move a bit, but his legs are numb and dead to the world, so it's an abortive attempt. "Right. Because sleeping up a tree is what I do best in the world. I know, I know, shut up," he says, waving a hand defensively. "Just... tense, is all."
Arguing with Rodney McKay at goodness-knows-what-time in the morning, up a tree on an alien world... probably not the easiest activity he could have chosen. Kolya falls silent again, wondering if Rodney will take the hint. Unlikely. But still.
McKay is quiet for a while, breathing loudly in the dark. He tries to keep quiet. Really he does. But eventually he whispers, loudly. "...So... Kolya?"
Kolya sighs. "Yes, Doctor?"
"I wondered if you were asleep."
"Not quite." He sounds... mildly irritated, though not particularly surprised.
Again, Kolya goes silent, trying to avoid provoking conversation.
McKay waits for a while. "I can't sleep. Clearly."
"Look, I..." He gives in, gritting his teeth. "Never mind."
Kolya sighs again, looking over at him. "Say it. Say whatever it is or you'll be trying to say it all night."
McKay tries to ignore that for a while, but the need to speak overcomes any kind of control he has. "That's just it. I don't know what I want to say, just that I want to say it."
“You must have some idea," Kolya states, wondering if there's any way he can prompt Rodney to say... whatever it is.
"Not really. Sometimes I just... talk."
"I had noticed."
McKay scowls. "Why don't you ever talk, then?"
Kolya scowls right back at him. "Do you really want to listen to me talking, Doctor?" he asks. "Given our history, it is hardly likely to help matters."
“...How could you possibly make it worse? You hate me. You hate my friends. You want half of them dead and the rest alive only for what you can get from them. Unless there's something more I don't know, I don't see how you could do any harm." He shrugs. "And, I want to know. Believe it or not, I don't actually think the entire universe revolves around me. Not all the time, anyway."
"I care about my people," Kolya throws back at once. "What I did - what I do - was all in the name of protecting the Genii... and following orders. And that means something to me, without needing justification. Why do you think I feel like this? Your people waltzed into my galaxy like you owned it, set in motion events that may very well get us all killed, and, in certaincases, are responsible for far too many Genii deaths. Maybe that would mean nothing to you... but it means something to me."
"We did NOT act like we owned it. We came to look for something to save our people from the aliens who stole the Ancient technology in our own galaxy and used it to enslave all of Humanity. All of Humanity. Just like the Wraith here... except they have glowing eyes and are technically snakes, but that's not the point. We came looking for allies. We didn't know about the Wraith. We were trying to protect our people and the Athosians too. Are you telling me if you'd been in the same situation, you wouldn't have tried to save your people if they got captured and you didn't know who by? Because I think you're operating on double standards. We're sorry about that, all right? Do you think WE like having the Wraith trying to kill us any more than you do?"
Rodney scowls. "We never killed anyone of your people until they came to take Atlantis from us and kill us. Sora's father died because he was captured - for killing one of the prisoners, if I recall, too. And if that's what your people think... that someone's... expendable... then you can't really care for them all that much anyway."
Kolya lets him talk, wondering if this is what Rodney wanted to say. When the tirade dies down, he says, "We didn't think Tyrus was expendable. If your team hadn't left him to die just because he wasn't one of your own people, this whole conflict might never have happened. But no.”
“And as for what happened with the Wraith... I like to think that, were I to encounter such a situation, that I would not blindly run in to save them, regardless of the consequences. Rescuing your allies is perfectly understandable. But no matter how much you care for them, they are not worth an entire galaxy. As for what happened on Atlantis... there is defensive killing, and there is overkill. Colonel Sheppard murdered fifty-five men in a matter of seconds - one of them being the son of a very close friend of mine. And if that wouldn't make you feel strongly, if placed in the same situation... then you are either lying wildly, or very, very heartless. Doctor." So yes, he just rose to the bait, and yes, he just went off into tirade-mode too, but maybe a lot of this needed to be said. Again, in some cases.
"So save Tyrus at all costs, but not anyone else - like we did. You can't have it both ways, Kolya. We did all we could. I will not let you talk about Teyla like that. She is one of the most remarkable people I know. She's kind, right down to the core. She's been ostracised because she wants to save her people - she'll do anything for someone else. And as for Colonel Sheppard... you were trying to kill him. You already killed two of his men, and had Elizabeth and me - and how did he know what had happened to everyone else? But would it have been better if fifty-five of our people fought fifty-five of yours and killed them that way? You would have done exactly the same. That's... that's war, commander, and you should know it.”
The doctor closes his eyes, centring himself. "I'm sorry your friend died. And - up until recently - no, I wouldn't know what you felt. But now I do, and I wish I didn't. I'm sorry he's dead, but I'm not sorry Elizabeth is still alive and so is Colonel Sheppard. And I just wish we'd never come to trade with you so no one had died at all." Sigh. "And you still haven't answered what I asked in the first place. I didn't mean, why don't you talk to me? I meant, why don't you talk? You... don't seem the type."
Kolya looks like he has a great deal to say in response to Rodney's second tirade, but he reduces it down to, "My point is that your people started this... and all we could do is react. We found ourselves facing a new, technologically-superior enemy - and did what we felt was necessary in those circumstances. And as for your question... I do talk. When there is something to be said."
"We screwed up. Fine. We admit to that, but your people have been hostile and uncooperative and downright... horrible since then. And if I can be adult enough to admit to being wrong, so can you, that's all." Eyes closed, and he tries to take a hold of himself. "Don't you ever... talk for the sake of it? For company?"
Kolya glares at him. "If there is something to be said," he repeats.
“Look. I agreed to come with you, if I don't die from... everything. The least you could do is keep me company. I'm not asking you to like me. Not many people do anyway. It's just I'm in rather a lot of pain and I'm not very happy and I could really do with the distraction right now."
"...Then you should go back to sleep," Kolya half-hisses at him. "What could we possibly talk about? Our lives are so utterly different - and we aren't exactly likely to share favourite pastimes."
“I can't! I can't sleep at the best of times, and up a tree whilst in inordinate amounts of pain and with you isn't really optimal! And I don't know! I keep trying to find things. People who are different are supposed to find it stimulating, but I'm not the one to ask, because before I came here the person I had the most meaningful relationship with was my CAT, so you could help me out a bit."
Kolya resists the urge to burst out that yes, he could talk about meaningful relationships, except that the only thing he could really say was how he'd had to tell Athos that Idos was dead, and that is something he doesn't want to be reminded of, now or ever. So instead, he continues to glare at Rodney. "If you want conversation, make it. Unless you want me to tell you about interrogation tactics..."
"Fine. Do you ever play good cop?"
Though the term is not a Genii one, Kolya has a pretty good idea what McKay means by this. "Yes," he says. "Though not often." And damn, he hadn't expected that previous remark to do anything but kill all conversation for quite some time!
"But you prefer to be the bad cop. Makes sense, I suppose. It's supposed to be more fun acting the villain and I always thought they were cooler. Do you know why you prefer what you do?"
Well, of course he does. But is he going to say so? "Because it works," he answers. "I know how to do it and I get results."
“And you don't like challenging yourself then?"
"Of course I do," Kolya throws back. "But not when important information is at stake. Interrogation is not an arena for personal challenge. It is an art." And hell, yes, he did just say that. Clearly the lack of sleep is starting to affect him.
"I guess it is. I was never good at any art, didn't have the heart for it, so I couldn't tell."
"It is. You have to understand what actions will produce the results you want - to know how and why people react as they do."
"And do you know that about yourself?"
"Of course." And no, there is no way he's going to go down that road.
"Are you sure?" Rodney says, with a faint little smile. "I don't think you really can."
"That is because you and I have had... different training. Besides, with practice - you learn to know."
"How do you know you aren't lying to yourself?"
"Because reading people is an essential element during interrogation. And outside of it."
Kolya doesn't say anything else, but smirks slightly. Idly, he takes out the small combat knife, running the edge of a finger down the blade, as if thinking. Or, possibly, as if trying to wind Rodney up.
"You know what, that isn't even funny, and you've read me all wrong," Rodney says, looking off to the side as if looking for another dinosaur. He does tense a little, but he's really not all that worried. Not more than he already was, anyway.
"Have I, Doctor?" Kolya says, casually. "Are you sure about that?"
"Go on then. Tell me what you know," Rodney says, arms folded over his chest - just not tightly enough to hurt.
"I know that you're trying to keep talking to prevent yourself from thinking about this situation," Kolya begins, tone level. "You are perfectly aware of where you will end up once we find the Gate, so you ask yourself if you could really give up your life for your own people, because you might just be in that situation. And I know, beneath all your denial, that you are well aware that I could get a great deal out of you if I tried."
McKay closes his eyes, shakes his head. "I've already told you I'll come. But you're still wrong. That isn't the only reason I'm talking."
"You're trying to form a connection," Kolya adds, looking across at him. "It happens in situations like this."
"And why would I talk at all times if that was it? You're not the only person who I've gifted with my conversation."
"No. But right now... who else do you have?"
"I could talk to the dinosaurs."
"But they would not talk back... which seems to make all the difference."
"They'd insult me less."
Kolya shrugs. "Then go right ahead, Doctor."
"Why don't you want to?" Rodney says, his insecurity showing now. "If you know that people do this in these situations, why are you alienating me?"
Kolya decides there's nothing else left but to be blunt. "Doctor, when we get back to my homeworld, you and I are going to have a long time for conversation, I promise you. But right now, I would much prefer a chance to sleep - otherwise, we will never even make it to my homeworld." That might not be the only answer to Rodney's question... though it is a valid one nonetheless.
"And in the meantime I'll go insane from not having slept and having nothing to occupy myself with and I'll be no use to anyone," he says, but there's no heat in it. "Fine. Sleep. Just don't expect me to be co-operative or even polite if you won't."
Kolya goes quiet, trying to clear his mind enough to allow sleep to set in again. It isn't easy, though, considering what they've been talking about.
McKay sits sullenly, trying to ignore the dull throb in his legs and failing. But he's quiet. Sad, resigned, but quiet.
Eventually, Kolya actually manages to get back to sleep, drifting this time into a dreamless void, calm and silent.
McKay doesn't say anything even when the sun comes up, his arms still around himself - he's been cold and shivering all night - his lip chewed raw in frustration. He steadfastly refuses to look at Kolya.
Light filtering in through the branches finally drags the commander back to consciousness. He blinks, a great deal of yesterday's events suddenly coming straight to mind, as these things tend to do in the first moments after waking. When the mental onslaught stops, he looks over at Rodney, oddly glad to find that the man is still here and still alive.
McKay ignores him steadfastly, trying not to even let his breathing change to show he's noticed Kolya's awake.
"Doctor? How are you feeling?" Kolya knows this is unlikely to generate a particularly friendly response, but it needs to be asked.
McKay snaps his head round and glares.
Kolya doesn't care. Provoking a response was enough. Flatly, he says, "We will need to get moving soon."
"Right. Because I can really move. You know, I feel like running a marathon."
"Do you want to be left in this tree?" Kolya snaps, more than a little coldly.
"Quite frankly, no I don't, but the prospect of moving when just breathing is intense pain, just to be treated like a dog by you until we possibly reach your planet where I'll be treated like even more of a dog but just a performing one and where no one cares about my feelings let alone my civil liberties is hardly more appealing."
"I am trying to protect you and get you off this planet alive," Kolya throws back. "But you are not exactly helping!"
"Oh. How? I have no weapon and I have no LEGS left because a DINOSAUR ATE THEM I haven't SLEPT and you left me on my own awake for several hours. Forgive me for being unable to pull a miracle out of my ass THIS time."
"I am not asking you for a miracle! I am not asking you to do anything beyond co-operating enough to make it vaguely possible for me to get you off this planet ALIVE!"
"Well you didn't want to co-operate enough with ME to keep me from going INSANE WITH PAIN SHOCK WORRY AND BEING STUCK ON AN ALIEN PLANET WITH A MAN WHO LIKES TO CUT YOU UP NOW DID YOU?"
Kolya works on putting his mostly-dry boots back on as he says, somewhat exasperatedly, "I can't save your LIFE if I'm PASSING OUT FROM EXHAUSTION!"
“Maybe it would be better if we both just did. No. Kill me. Really. I don't want to die of starvation and I've always hated the thought, but I'd still rather die than have to spend one more minute with YOU."
Kolya gives him a worryingly flat glare, then calmly starts climbing out of the tree, the stunner slung over his shoulder, all the while not saying a word.
McKay waits until he's almost down. "Fine. Fine. Don't even let me die like a man. I see. You BASTARD. I would NEVER have done this to you. You utter BASTARD. You... you are worse than my FATHER!" he spits, the sudden venom in his tone disturbingly more emotive than even he's been before.
Kolya, of course, has absolutely no intention of leaving Rodney behind, but is feeling vindictive enough to make it look like he intends to. In fact, all he wants to do is check that the ground below is clear, and that there's no sign of anything sharp-toothed and hungry lurking nearby. He moves far enough from the tree to be out of sight, pausing for a few moments to let the effect settle in. The fact of the matter is... he knows the good doctor too well.
McKay stays for a while. And a while longer. And a while longer... and then he's moving, squirming to lie on his stomach with an OOF, contemplating trying to lower himself to the floor without dying.
Eventually, Kolya walks back to the foot of the tree, and calmly looks up at Rodney. "Say what you like, Doctor, you owe me your life even more than I owe you mine. Now, are you going to be more co-operative, or shall I leave you up there?"
McKay is slung over a branch. "If you mean, 'silent', then no, I'm not going to be. Are you going to be more of a reasonable Human being?"
"No, I mean not spending all your time explaining how very much you hate me." Without answering the second question, he starts climbing the tree again, halting once he is back on the edge of his own branch.
McKay stays sprawled, because moving was difficult and painful and he doesn't want to move back any time soon. "If you didn't spend most of your time trying to MAKE me hate you I might not."
"I am not trying to make you hate me. If I was, believe me, matters would be much worse."
"You aren't doing anything to stop it. Why? In case you discover we're Human after all, and not the monsters you want us to be - or want you to be? Is that what all this is about?"
"I already know that you're Human 'after all,' Doctor. I never believed otherwise. And we are not having this argument again."
"Fine. Push me out of the tree then, because I am not being around someone who treats me like I'm not worth the time of day again, even if that's how you view Humanity, and not just me this time. Because I'm tired of it."
At this, something in Kolya snaps. One foot braced on either branch, and one hand on the branch above, he seizes the front of Rodney's jacket - managing to avoid the wound beneath - and pushes him back far enough so as to hold him half-over the edge of the branch. A very understandable sense of deja-vu hits Kolya at this, as he glares right at Rodney, looking particularly annoyed.
McKay's first reaction is to struggle, to try to get back safe, but then he gets hold of himself. Maybe it's the pain. Maybe it's the lack of sleep. Maybe it's months of stress finally taking its toll. He goes still, but the panic seems to have passed. "I'd rather be dead than be you, do you know that? Because even though you say you cared for people like your friend, you aren't actually living. You're just hate and pain and that's no way to be. Believe me, I tried it. I don't want to look at it any more. I've seen enough. I'm not going anywhere, so you can either do... something, or you can act like a PERSON or I'll fling myself out the tree anyway and if I survive that I'll crawl on my belly rather than be here."
"Listen to me very carefully, Doctor," Kolya says, in a low, quiet hiss. "I am not leaving you behind, and I am not going to kill you. I am going to get you off this planet, regardless of how very, VERY difficult you make it - because both of us know that, whatever you say, you do not want to die. And I don't care if you hate me, or deny my Humanity, or refuse to speak to me, because I am all you have and you are all I have. Even if that means nothing to you in your enlightened state, it means something to me."
"Deny your Humanity?" Rodney asks in a strangled, slightly cracked laughing tone. "When I've spent all this time trying to save your life too and TALK to you? When I've been trying to see past whatever it is that makes you... so... insane, so we can communicate and... I told you about my CAT!" he says, which makes perfect sense in his head. "You are INSANE."
"You have spent most of our time together telling me that I am a homicidal maniac who is out to hurt you!" Kolya half-yells back, his own voice wavering a lot now as his emotional core starts to break through. "Why would I want to communicate with someone who sees me as nothing but that? No. I didn't want a connection..." - which is partially a lie- "...and I've been trying to avoid making one ever since we got here!" - which is entirely a lie.
"But you ARE!" Rodney says, because it's patently true, to him. "You... you are. And..." his eyes go wide, wondering if this is some sort of trick and reverse psychology or... something or... double-guessing making his head hurt now. "What am I supposed to think? You..." his voice goes quiet, "You were going to kill Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard and... I know what happened. I don't block all my bad memories out. I don't... I don't understand you, all right? Or maybe I do and I don't like the fact I do. But it's kind of hard to see you as a person if you do nothing but ignore me and shout at me or use me. I don't care how immature it is. I just want... to be noticed."
Kolya is grounded in reality just enough to notice that Rodney is wavering. Not moving, but holding the aggressive tone back this time, he says, "Did it ever occur to you, Doctor, that I did notice you? That you were always the one I wanted alive?"
"I know more," Rodney says. "I'm the genius. The one who fixes things. The one who has to solve everything five minutes before it goes wrong and stop ten things falling apart at once. I was way ahead of where everyone else is now when I was in tenth grade. Of course you'd prefer me alive." Which is when the fight leaves him again and he slumps. "Talk to me, is all I asked. But no one really does."
"I explained before as to why I wasn't talking to you," Kolya replies, just about levelly. "And you instantly proved me right by re-starting the same old argument. I don't want to hear it again." Without another word, he hauls McKay back onto the branch, and climbs back onto his own, rocking against the trunk with a very strange expression in his eyes.
Rodney drops his head backwards, his hands falling on either side of him - not even strong enough to keep them up now. "Well, when you convince me that you wouldn't rather see all my friends dead and me writhing in pain, then I'll stop. And if we were just talking about something other than how much we dislike one another, the subject wouldn't even come up. But seeing as you'd rather I went slowly nuts from pain, starvation and exhaustion than take my mind off it, we'll never know for certain."
"No. We won't," Kolya snaps. He says no more than that, staring at the sky again, trying to re-gain his focus - which is not easy, considering how incredibly difficult it can be to spend this long in close proximity to Rodney McKay without losing it completely.
"So that's it." Rodney ducks his head. "Please shoot me in the head, then. I'll at least get some peace."
"No," comes the flat reply. "Now, either focus on helping to get us off this planet alive, or shut up and let me think."
McKay starts reciting pi to several.... dozen decimal places in his head, lips moving, trying to calm- "This isn't my field of expertise, Commander."
Kolya sighs. "We need to get moving again. How much pain are you in and am I going to be able to carry you?" This is as much him thinking out loud as it is some form of communication - and Kolya thinking out loud is rarely a good sign.
“...On a scale of little to lots? More. And there's no way I'm moving without you shooting me again."
"If I shoot you, it will make moving you even more difficult," Kolya points out.
McKay gives him his most put-out look. "If you don't, then there will be some manly overcome-by-pain-ness and it will be even harder."
"If I do, you will be even less able to move," Kolya repeats, emphasising the words in his don't-argue-with-me voice.
McKay looks at him frankly. "I don't think I've ever been in this much pain in my life," he says, with that earnest tone of voice of his, the one he uses when he's just stating fact. No hint of deceit to him. It pains him to admit it without snark. "I've been trying to tell you. I'm... not sure I can."
Kolya's voice becomes just a little less hostile as he replies, "You have to. If we don't get you off this planet soon... you'll die."
McKay shakes his head just ever so slightly. "I'm... I'm not good with pain, as you already know," he smiles weakly, self-consciously. "It's... you have no idea how much it hurts."
"I know - but if you stay here, you will die," Kolya repeats, somewhat unable to grasp why Rodney doesn't quite get this.
McKay's eyes shutter slowly shut, his lips pressed in a thin line. Then he nods, once. "...Okay." Possibly the shortest response he's given anyone since arriving in the galaxy.
"All right," Kolya says, quietly. "Now, we need to get you out of this tree, and then set off in the direction we were heading yesterday. And you're going to have to let me carry you."
“Which is, of course, the easiest thing in the world," Rodney replies, droll.
"Easier than getting you up here." And now Kolya's moving again, checking the branches below, trying to work out the best way to do this. "I'll lower you onto the branch below," he says, still thinking, "then climb down to the ground. If you then swing over the side, I'll be able to help you to the floor."
"Swing to the..." but he shakes his head, giving in. "Right. Whatever you say."
Kolya gives him The Look again. "Now, if you were normally this co-operative, matters would be much simpler," he remarks, offhand - but quite deliberately - as he moves to get hold of Rodney, to start lowering him.
McKay snorts. "In my experience, I know best, and co-operating merely means being polite to morons." He hisses and closes his eyes, fingers digging in, as a wave of nausea sweeps through him - but doesn't complain aloud.
And Kolya looks like he'd be doing something extremely unpleasant if he had the time. Instead, he limits his response to an exceptionally nasty glare, and slowly lowers Rodney to the branch below. He knows, however much he really wants to, that deliberately hurting Rodney right now would be unwise, so he forces himself not to. Just.
McKay gasps and struggles to grab something in a panic as he slips to one side. "...Ow! Anyway. You'll just have to remember that's why I don't. Because it's usually true."
Still, Kolya says nothing, managing to get Rodney into a safe enough position on the lower branch. Then he pauses for a moment, trying to centre himself, before starting to climb to the ground. When finally he's standing on the short, scrubby grass again, Kolya looks all around, checking that there are no dinosaurs nearby, before he looks up at Rodney again.
McKay just looks down, not saying anything, trying to read for a hint of... anything, really. What to do. What to say. What not to say. What the hell is in Kolya's head. He shuffles, just a bit.
Kolya takes one last deep breath, then says, "All right, now try to swing over the side of the branch, so I can get hold of you again."
McKay looks about ready to protest, but then the crease between his brows comes back, and he gingerly does as he's asked. "It goes without saying to mind my chest but I'll say it anyway, in case you... forget."
"I won't forget," Kolya replies - and he does mean it, honestly. "Now... just a little further..." Arms reaching up, he eventually manages to get a hold on Rodney, trying to position his feet so as not to lose balance.
McKay hisses again and tries to let go slowly, but it's damned hard and he's tired.
Kolya just about manages not to fall, but he doesn't sound amused as he fights to keep hold of Rodney, having to step backwards to avoid slamming them both into the tree.
McKay grunts in discomfort. "Hnh...." he starts, but cuts his complaint short.
On firmer footing now, Kolya slowly lowers McKay to the ground, using the tree to support him, glad for the moment to have got through that particular operation without major injury.
Rodney leans, panting for a minute or two. "Just give me a.... moment to... catch my breath," he asks. Chews his bottom lip. Grudgingly. "....Thanks."
Kolya nods in response - and then, noticing that he's standing really rather close, he makes himself back off, stunner out again, checking the area once more. Because he needs to be doing something.
McKay just... stands. "So."
Kolya looks across at him. "We need to get moving," he says, in his so-not-distracted, businesslike tone.
"Right." Sounding unconvinced - and clearly biting back the barb.
"I am going to have to carry you," Kolya goes on, as he walks back over, well aware that this is not going to be fun.
McKay gives him his best wounded look. "...You realise this gets weirder and weirder, right?"
Kolya considers giving him a long answer, but already knows that the most appropriate is a simple “Yes.” He turns, half-kneeling so that Rodney can get onto his back. Yes. 'Weird,' though not a Genii term, seems extremely accurate in this situation.
McKay just laughs, unable to stop himself. "I'm sorry it's just...." Oh, ow, that hurts, though, and he cradles his ribs. "Sorry. Sorry. It's just so... funny."
Laughter. Well. It's better than constant talking. Kolya doesn't say anything, though, preferring to concentrate in getting a good hold on McKay - such that he can still hold on to the stunner. It's more complex than one might think, but essential. No matter what happens... he is staying armed.
McKay makes Kolya back up a bit, so he can use the tree and lands with a... thud and almost strangles him trying not to fall off. "Lean forwards! Lean forwards!"
It's a shame Kolya isn't familiar with the term 'back seat driver,' as it would be far too appropriate in this instance. Instead, he says, "Doctor, either stop trying to strangle me, or I will leave you here," in an irritated tone, though he does lean more, nonetheless.
McKay starts trying to loosen up his stranglehold. "I was falling off! Do you have ANY idea how much THAT would have hurt?"
"Do you want to find out?" Kolya throws back, nastily, trying to regain control of his breathing.
"Only if you feel like being asphyxiated by an annoyed scientist."
"Don't tempt me." Finally deciding he's more or less comfortable and not likely to drop McKay accidentally, Kolya now sets off, following the route they took yesterday and returning to the main pathway through the forest that hopefully - HOPEFULLY - leads to the gate.
McKay hisses and clings harder, pressing low because he feels so unbalanced being above the centre of gravity like this. He never did it much as a kid. "Believe me, I'm trying not to."
“Good." And there's a lot of emphasis on that one word. As he walks, Kolya allows himself to feel glad about one thing... they are moving again. They might actually find the gate and get off this hellish world. All of that qualifies as 'good,' too.
McKay stays in silence for a while. Eventually he can't. "What do you do? When not doing your job, I mean. It just occurred to me that I have no idea."
Kolya sighs, wishing that McKay wasn't so obsessed with idle conversation. "I enjoy duelling," he says - which, to him, is as much a pastime as it is a career aspect. "I have several regular sparring-partners." And though there are other things he could say, he doesn't. Most of his non-job time is generally referred to as 'sleep.'
"Does it relax you?"
“Immensely." Which is true. There's nothing like a good duel to make life feel better.
"I suppose it makes sense. Gym just used to make me feel... awkward. So. I never did much after that."
"Why not?" And, of course, Kolya can't help but sound interrogative whenever he asks anything, so the question doesn't exactly come across as conversational.
"I was a geek, not a jock. I spent most of my time with a book or a computer, not a ball. I was... good. Not wonderful, but not great. And the... the other guys didn't really want me there. So I wasn't there, if I could possibly get out of it. You know."
"You isolated yourself," Kolya extrapolates, though he doesn't make it sound like a criticism.
"...I didn't need to do too much of it. Children are... remarkably good at social organisation. I was... out of most of the organisation. I had some... well, I wouldn't say friends... but. Yes. In a nutshell. I suppose."
"It's actually the best way to operate. If you give your allegiance to a large number of people, it is generally a sign of being overly-trusting."
"No one would accuse me of that," Rodney says, somewhat bitterly. "But in my defence no one gave me any reason to trust them with anything."
"Sometimes... it is easier that way." There is no bitterness in Kolya's voice as he speaks - though, as usual, it's hard to tell if he's speaking from experience, or just making a remark.
"Lonelier, though." McKay shifts a bit, uncomfortable. Though, less so with the statement than he should. He often doesn't... process them the same way everyone else does.
"Perhaps... but better than being betrayed."
"I wouldn't know," Rodney says, dryly. "It's never happened." Because there's never been anyone close enough to.
"Never?" Kolya repeats, knowing exactly how to use the word.
McKay shrugs. "I suppose you could count my family, but they never... they never let me down because I had no higher expectations of them. So. No. Just predicted failures and sometimes, occasionally, a lack thereof."
"What about since you came here? To this galaxy?"
Chaya. The thought comes immediately, without Rodney even fully knowing why. He's a little hollow. "No. No one."
Ah... what is that, lingering behind his words? Kolya can detect... something, though of course he doesn't know what, exactly. "No one at all? That seems almost... unnatural."
McKay shrugs. "I'm not a people person," is all he says.
Kolya smirks a little, even though Rodney can't see. "I had noticed," he says, lightly. At the same time, he wonders what the doctor isn't telling him, but decides not to push the matter.
"What else do you like doing?" Rodney asks, changing the subject.
"My job keeps me busy," Kolya replies - and it's possible he's deflecting the question. "But I like doing it, so there is never a problem."
"Do you read?" he asks, after a while. "I guess you don't have television, but you must have books, right?"
"I read a little. Mostly, books on military history. And certain aspects of psychology." No prizes for guessing which.
"I've read some of those," Rodney admits. "A lot of them contradict one another."
"Yes. One should usually attempt to reach one's own conclusions."
"My conclusion is you are hiding. Although why you are hiding when you're the one with all the cards... There's something you don't like, isn't there?" Rodney asks. "Which is normal because Kate says there's always something people don't like."
"I am hiding nothing, Doctor," Kolya replies flatly, not elaborating. He keeps his eyes on the route ahead, though if he wasn't carrying Rodney, he'd be giving him one of those stares right about now.
“Everyone hides something." Which is a fact of life. "Even if it's just from themselves.”
"Then what are you hiding?" Flipping the question seems a little obvious right now, but Kolya is not going to have the Meaningful Conversation, especially whilst carrying a senior Atlantean across a planet populated by dinosaurs.
"I don't know, if I'm hiding it from myself, do I?" Rodney says, simply. "But I know more about me than I think you think I do."
"Really? Well, in that case...-" There is a sudden shriek off to the right, and Kolya stops in mid-sentence... seconds before a small, brown blur comes whirring past them.
McKay almost chokes Kolya in panic.
"Do you want to get us both killed?" Kolya manages to hiss, fighting to breathe, as he moves briskly to set Rodney down by a tree. The brown blur has stopped moving now - and the dinosaur in question is eyeing them from some feet away, clicking its claws.
"Shoot it!" Rodney hisses, clinging to the tree desperately, but starting to slide down.
Kolya raises the stunner almost at once, firing a bolt in the direction of the dinosaur... but the creature moves in time, and the energy merely crashes into the tree behind. As the dinosaur starts to charge, making that nasty screeching noise again, Kolya fires once more - and this time, the target can't move out of the way fast enough. It stumbles and falls, skidding across the ground and coming to a halt right beside Rodney.
McKay's feet go from beneath him all at once, then, and he's leaning back against the tree, chest rising and falling heavily as he does. His eyes are closed and he's only just keeping back the pitiful sound he wants to make.
Kolya doesn't hesitate to shoot the dinosaur again, before turning to look at Rodney. And then - instead of staring down at him, he kneels at the doctor's side, waiting for him to open his eyes. It's odd... but for a split-second, he'd almost wondered if he was going to miss, and then... Noticing the self-doubt at once, he kicks it back before it can surface.
"Kolya?" Rodney asks, not wanting to open his eyes until he knows it's safe.
"Yes, Doctor?" Kolya replies, quietly. The stunner still in one hand, he searches for the knife with the other - knowing that he's going to have to kill the dinosaur in order to stop it waking up and coming after them.
"Is it... dead now?" he asks, prising his eyes open.
"Not quite." Realising that Rodney isn't going to want to watch this, Kolya moves over to the fallen dinosaur, dragging it just out of sight, behind the nearest bush. And then... then he knows what to do, even if dinosaur anatomy is not a specialty. Furthermore... letting him stab things, even like this? Not wise.
McKay shudders and swallows, convulsively, trying not to think about it or listen to the noises. Somehow, that makes it worse. He's very quiet all of a sudden.
The kill over, Kolya sits on the ground between Rodney and the body, cleaning the knife on some of the grass, saying nothing. It doesn't take an expert to read Rodney's behaviour now, and for once, he's not going to aggravate matters. Well. Not right now.
"More will come," Rodney says, eventually, calmly.
"I know," Kolya replies. "We need to keep moving."
McKay nods mutely and starts trying - painfully - to move himself.
Slipping the knife away, Kolya goes to help him, turning so that the doctor can climb onto his back again.
McKay moves gingerly, but doesn't complain this time. In fact, he's not saying much of anything again. Things are… dying. And trying to kill them. And Kolya's... no, he just really wants to stop thinking now.
As soon as McKay is in place, Kolya sets off again, wanting to put some distance between them and the dinosaur's body - which will no doubt attract other dinosaurs all too soon.
"How many people have you...?"
"I don't keep count."
"I'm a soldier, McKay. Sometimes, it is my job." And why, exactly is he trying to rationalise this now?
"I know. It's just... It worries me how easy it is. To... not care. Or. Not feel. Or something. I... think I should more than I do."
"That happens, to begin with. You need to learn not to feel. Not to connect. In the beginning, that doesn't always make sense. In time, however..."
"Gaul died. And all I could think about was... helping Colonel Sheppard." He chews on his bottom lip, thoughtfully. "I never really liked Gaul but I didn't hate him and he shot himself. So I could run off and play hero." A pause. A long one. "Sometimes I wonder if I'd feel the same if he died. Or Elizabeth."
"You wouldn't. It's never the same when it's someone you actually had a connection with." And oh dear, now he's really into Meaningful Conversation Territory.
"I'm not so sure. I don't really… do connections. Much."
"Maybe not often... but you do. I know that. I've seen it."
"Maybe," Rodney says, quietly. "It's... Silly, huh?"
"To connect with some, and not others? No. It makes perfect sense."
“To do it at all, really."
"I... just never have, before."
"Perhaps this galaxy has changed you more than you realise."
McKay stays silent for a while. "What would you be doing, if there were no Wraith. Did you ever... think about it?"
"No," Kolya replies. "The threat of the Wraith is all I have known. It defines the way my people exist."
"You've never wondered, what if?"
"I... have wondered, on occasion," Kolya admits, eventually. "I imagine my people would be more powerful than they are now."
McKay snorts. "Probably you'd be running an empire."
"We did once. We could again." The commander sounds ever-so-sure of this.
"So that's all you want from life. Power? You wouldn't have any other aspirations?"
"It is not just about power. It is about security... about protecting what matters."
"What if you were safe and secure? And you had free time? Because, back where I come from, there's nuclear war threats - and aliens who like to turn people into slaves or hosts - and we still have time to invent the most insane pastimes ever."
"If the situation ever arose... I would have to think about it." The concept is genuinely alien to Kolya, and one he hasn't really given much time to. Spending hours dreaming of how things might be doesn't help in getting them that way.
"Funny. I was always thinking about what I'd rather things were like. I guess we're just... different."
“Yes, Doctor. We are."
“...We need to eat."
"Indeed we do. Unfortunately, I can only think of one possibility."
"...I have two powerbars left," Rodney offers. "...We could eat one."
"It's a temporary solution," Kolya remarks. "But it will work for now." He glances around, choosing a place to stop and let McKay down, noting how good it is to be able to breathe properly again.
McKay hisses and complains a little, but without heat. Just - Rodney is alive and breathing complaining. "I'd rather not have fried dinosaur, if it's all the same. If for no other reason than one tried to eat ME."
"You say that now - but when it's the only food source left, you will be begging me to kill one for you." And if not, he'd do it anyway.
"Well, we'll cross that bridge when we've burned all the others, shall we?"
Kolya gives him that 'oh, another Earth-expression' look and remarks, "Unless we find the Gate soon, the situation is likely to arise rapidly."
"Oh look who is being cheery now."
"Realistic, McKay. I am being realistic." And thinking out loud again, too.
"And when I do that, people yell at me."
"Doctor, what you call 'realism,' everyone else calls 'pessimism.'"
"That's just because they don't like admitting it's as bad as it is."
"No, it's because pessimism is not helpful." Having finished checking the area for dinosaurs, Kolya finally sits down - obviously tired, but constantly alert.
"It is. You don't get disappointed." Rodney waits a while, then tosses him one of the power bars. "Eat that. It might cheer you up."
Kolya catches the bar, nodding his thanks. He's eager to eat something, but is almost curious as to what fried dinosaur actually tastes like. Well. He's likely to find out sooner or later.
McKay eats his, with none of the usual relish he shows. It's the last of his food and... frankly, the idea of eating Puff the Magic Dinosaur is not that appealing. Nor is the thought of the catching, killing and cooking. He conscientiously puts the wrapper back in his pocket when he's finished, chewing on his lip in worry.
Kolya sits in silence for a while, glad of the opportunity. He looks like he might be deep in thought, but in all honesty, it's likely to just be exhaustion. Eventually, he sighs, looking over at McKay again. "Are you ready to move on?" he asks.
"No. Are you?"
"Yes." Which is only partly true. Part of him wants a lot more sleep than he managed to get last night.
"Then I suppose we should."
Kolya stands again, moving so that he can pick Rodney up once more, tensing at the strain this is placing on his back.
McKay does his best to be obliging, but he's finding it rather hard. He keeps the grunting to as much of a minimum as he can, though. Struggling to get something like comfortable.
And Kolya sets off once more, starting to hope that, any minute, they'll find the gate. In the meantime, he's just waiting for McKay's next attempt at conversation...
McKay, however, has lost the will to snark - which is never a good sign. He doesn't even complain aloud when Kolya jostles him too hard due to terrain, simply tightening his hold briefly, and hissing under his breath. He counts the steps in his mind, attempting to... do something with the numbers, to estimate distances, times, speeds. Anything.
Surprised by the silence, Kolya eventually stops waiting and settles into his own thought patterns, wondering what the reaction will be if he ever does manage to get home. The situation is gladly one he'd face any time, right now. Even to get back and find himself already written off as dead would be preferable to having to spend another night up a tree on the Planet of the Dinosaurs. Besides, McKay needs a medic soon... and Kolya doesn't want to see him die.
McKay drops his head forwards a bit, trying to alleviate some of the pain. He's getting... well. Everywhere that isn't going numb is going stiff or staying painful. But they have nothing. Just the stunner, which Kolya won't use on him again. Complaining won't get him anywhere. No sympathy. No help. No nothing. No pain relief. No... anything, but pain, and hunger, and tiredom. If his cheeks are wet, well. Who would blame him?
Eventually, the silence starts to hit Kolya as unnatural. Rodney being quiet for a few minutes - for effect - is normal. But prolonged silence? Not so good. "Doctor?" he prompts.
"Mmm?" The response is listless, minimal. He has no real desire to communicate at all.
"I was just checking that you were still conscious." It's hard for Kolya to sound like he actually cares... but he does.
"Yes." Which is all he needs to say.
By now, Kolya can tell that all is very much Not Good. "We should stop again," he says. "Whatever your feelings on fried dinosaur... it's time we tried it."
McKay nods weakly. "Fine. I'm sure I've had worse."
Oddly careful now, Kolya halts by one of the trees in the next clearing they reach, slowly putting McKay down again. Then, raising the stunner, he settles at the doctor's side. "I'm not leaving you here," he explains. "So we'll just have to wait for one of those things to jump us again."
McKay snorts. "...Bad plan."
Kolya glances sideways at him. "Think of a better one," he says, though there's no malice in his voice now.
Rodney seems to be focussing, struggling to think. His head's uncomfortably muggy, his reactions slowed. He's conscious enough to realise that. "...Bait," he says, then laughs shortly. "Hide. I'm a... sitting target. Carrion, more or less. You get the drop."
Kolya is about to respond when he finds himself double-taking. Was he just about to..? Yes. He was. And he still is. "No," he states. "I am not moving. If something jumps you, I need to be here in order to guarantee killing it."
“What if it catches you by surprise? We're both dead then." But Rodney looks suddenly... grateful. He smiles, weakly, but it soon turns into that smirk he normally wears. "Both doomed then."
Never mind dinosaurs, it's the smile that catches Kolya by surprise - and he almost seems to return it. "Not yet," he replies, confident.
"I'd settle odds with you but I wouldn't get anything other than a moment of smug satisfaction if I won." He pulls his legs slowly up into his chest, conscious that it will reduce the swelling, and fighting the very real pain with that in mind. "I may have to... pass out on you in a minute. No offence meant."
"Keep talking, Doctor. You need to stay conscious, painful though that may be."
"You were telling me to sleep before," Rodney says, blinking lethargically. "If I talk they might not come...."
"You should have slept before. Right now, you need to stay conscious. And your talking has not stopped them in the past. In fact... it seems to attract them."
McKay laughs, then grabs at his stomach, because it hurts. "Oh... please don't... hurts if I laugh, bastard."
And now, Kolya does smile at him. "Keeps you awake, though," he remarks, lightly.
"I'll remember that when you want to sleep, you know."
"I don't doubt it."
McKay shuffles again, lost for something to say.
At his side, Kolya is still flicking his gaze around the clearing, waiting for any sign of movement. Typical. Try to avoid the damn things, and they jump you constantly. Go looking for one, and suddenly, they're all otherwise occupied. How very -... Sudden rustling interrupts his train of thought as, in the bushes on the other side of the clearing, something moves.
McKay has sensed it too, and is suddenly stock-still, his eyes flickering to Kolya's as he tries to communicate... something. The rustle again - but is that one on the other side too? And... a third? Rodney puts his hand on Kolya's elbow, nodding where he thinks he heard something, looking worried but... as though he expects something. Saving, possibly.
Oh... not good. Kolya can hear the additional movement, and he knows at once that this might be trickier than he anticipated. He glances at Rodney, acknowledging the meaning behind the contact, and then there's a moment when he's clearly trying to work out how best to proceed. Quite suddenly, he fires at the nearest source of movement. There's a yelp, and then the things start charging.
McKay is in absolutely no fit state to be doing anything, but he still has a boot filled with water. A boot filled with water, on laces. A boot which he then proceeds to twirl, using the laces, as close to them both as he can manage in the hopes of doing SOMETHING to deflect the... dinosaurs. The water splashes a little. Rodney yells. A lot.
In the middle of trying to fire at the growing swarm of Little Bastards, Kolya manages a shout of "McKay! Stop that!" - though, somehow, he's rather amused by the recurrence of the Rodney McKay Battle Cry. At the moment, however, he has to concentrate on shooting - and the dinosaurs appear to be getting better at dodging. Two go down... but no, another one comes at them from the left, then there's a BLAM and he's focusing off to the right...
McKay has a bit of trouble stopping the boot, on account of momentum and Newton's laws, specifically those referring to moving forces and the continuation of such. And so, as any good physicist will, he lets go. And the boot, no longer bound by centripetal forces, flies. In a straight line. Right at the dinosaur. "Sorry!" he yells, as it catches Kolya on the hand.
It's hard to aim when people are flinging things at you. Seconds away from getting a very nice shot at one of the dinosaurs, Kolya gets hit with the boot, and the stunner bolt smashes into a tree instead. "Damn it, Doctor, are you trying to get us killed?!" he exclaims, moving to re-take aim. But no... that one is too close. Seeing no other option, Kolya leaps to his feet, and smacks the barrel of the stunner into the nearest dinosaur as it charges, sending the creature flying.
"N-No!" Rodney says, hand going back to the tree as the sudden movement and panic make his nausea worse. He feels helpless, and hates it, watching Kolya move around. His fault, that. Putting him off. Getting under the feet. He cringes, looking thoroughly dejected.
By this point, the adrenaline has really hit, and Kolya needs to be doing more than just pointing and shooting, so the last few dinosaurs get thoroughly smashed into trees before he stuns them. Then, silence finally returning, he stops, breathing deeply and staring around. At least eight of the damn things appear to be lying in various states of unconsciousness, sprawled on the ground. Satisfied that there aren't any more, Kolya turns back to Rodney. "Doctor. Are you all right?"
McKay nods, but he isn't. He's shaking a little from shock but trying to hide it by tensing, not really able to look at anyone or anything. "I... sorry. I was trying to help. Sorry."
"I understand," Kolya says quietly, with a slow nod. He glances back at the clearing-full of dinosaurs, determination crossing his face. "You may wish to close your eyes again," he says, pulling out the knife with more than a little flourish. "We can't have any of these things following us, and we certainly won't be eating all of them."
McKay looks green and nods, jamming his eyes tight shut in the determined 'I am not going to see ANYTHING' way.
And Kolya - with more than a little grim satisfaction - moves from dinosaur to dinosaur, killing them. Then he drags the bodies, a couple at a time, out of the clearing. All except one.
Rodney breathes louder and faster than he technically needs to, but closing his eyes around other people has never been one of his favourite things. And when those people are Kolya, less so. "Look, I don't want to hear this. But don't go away either," he adds, panicky. "Can you... talk? About something."
"You really are overly fond of conversation," Kolya remarks, though his tone is a little lighter now - dinosaur-bashing is clearly therapeutic. Doing his best to keep Rodney from having to watch, he starts gutting the dead dinosaur - which is an experience in itself. There appears to be suitable meat, however. "What do you want me to talk about?"
"I can't help it, when I get nervous I talk. I talk and I say anything and everything, because I have to keep my mouth busy and if there's anything to eat, I eat that because it makes me feel better and I say less. Just. Anything. What do you normally talk about? When not talking about tactics and how much you hate us and the Wraith and want C4, I mean..."
At this, Kolya almost rolls his eyes. Almost. "You see my people in such one-dimensional terms, don't you?"
"No. But if I said, 'What do you talk about?', you'd avoid the issue. And see what I mean about saying everything? I just do. It comes into my head and then it goes out, because I have to say it or it all builds up."
"I do not 'avoid the issue,'" Kolya states. "I merely question the reason for your interest." He's still cutting away at the dinosaur, starting to remove... well. They look a bit like very red chicken breasts, but clearly are not.
"...What? Why would I... look. I'm a scientist. Scientist. That means I deal with things that make more sense than people.” At which point he forgets he's slightly freaked out by gutted dinosaur, in anger, and drops his hand. And fails to notice. "I don't care about blackmailing you or working out whether your pet died in your arms or if your mother wanted a girl and put you in dresses. I'm. Just. Talking!"
"Fine," Kolya throws back, suddenly losing it, "you want me to talk? What is there to say?! I have spent my entire life believing that protecting my people is the most important reason for living - that we deserve so much more than the current state of things. Our lives are built around the way we live - around the principles needed to survive. And finally, finally, I was given the chance to really make a difference, yet saw my efforts hounded from the word 'go.' Cowan pushed us into an attack before we were ready. Your people -" - by whom he naturally means John Sheppard - "made the situation an organisational nightmare, and despite not getting my entire team killed, I have to take the fall for the whole matter. Do you think that makes me especially eager to open up to you?!" And yes, it's possible he's over-reacting, but damn it, he needs to right now.
"And this is my fault HOW exactly? How many people did I kill? How many people did I send on a mission? Was I negotiating? Was I pulling triggers? I WAS JUST TRYING TO SAVE THE ONLY CHANCE WE HAVE TO DEFEAT THE WRAITH." Rodney glares. In full flow, he speaks fast, but nothing like his excited technical speak. This is Rodney yelling. Then the awkward flustering kicks in.
"I don't see why… why I should be a convenient place for you to... make yourself better by hating. It's stupid and I'm tired of it. I wasn't asking for your life's story, I was just asking you to be CIVIL and talk to me like I'm a normal Human BEING which NO ONE, no matter WHAT GALAXY I am in seems able to do!" At which, Rodney stops. Red in the face, and surprised.
Kolya, seconds from launching into another tirade, suddenly pauses. In between the repeated outbursts they've been suffering ever since dropping onto this hellish world, he's been trying to pin down exactly why he has been feeling and acting the way he does. And his last outburst, coupled with what Rodney just said, seems to have finally cleared something up.
“I'll tell you what the problem is," Kolya says, facing Rodney again, his tone now much quieter again. "The problem is this: every time I interact with you... I can only think of Sheppard, of what he did to my men - and to me. You... you of all people, I expected to have a problem with that. But you don't." Of course, this isn't the whole truth, but it's closer than other things he might have said.
Rodney looks confused. "You wouldn't have left us alone any other way," he says, still frowning, completely confused now. "You threatened Elizabeth. You threatened me. You killed two of his men. What else was he supposed to do?"
McKay frowns, trying to think about the dead Genii. But he doesn't know them. Doesn't see them as people. He tries to see them as the people under his command who have died, but it's more personal, single tragedies that strike home. Gaul. "He... It was quick. They never would have known about it, you know. They wouldn't suffer. I'm not saying I approve of killing in any way, but I always thought.... not suffering would be the best way to go." Quiet, subdued, now. Thinking of Gaul, of others. Thinking of... the alternatives to quick death, and knives. There's a quick, almost imperceptible shudder. "I am not John Sheppard."
Knowing he's not making himself clear enough, Kolya turns back to what's left of the dinosaur. "Sheppard did what he believed was right. I did what I believed was right. But you will never see why I did what I did. You will never really understand what motivated me to make those choices. That is why I am reluctant to talk to you." Almost as an aside, he adds, "and be glad that you are not John Sheppard - because if you were, one of us would most likely be dead by now."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Rodney remarks, almost off-hand. Fingers rub distractedly at the bridge of his nose, fighting the onset of cold. "So your plan in life is just to ignore people who don't see the world your way. Great plan. That's worked really well for societies in the past. I wish you well with it." Which, for Rodney, is high social criticism. "Cut the dinosaur. You can prove how superior you are to it."
"My plan in life is not to ignore people who don't see the world my way... but I am nevertheless wary of opening up to them." Kolya pauses, cutting at the dinosaur with alarmingly good control, despite his mood. And then, seemingly as an afterthought, he says, "I should have left Sheppard in that hole and just taken you home with me."
"I don't see how everyone thinks conversation is some great act of warfare. Which is probably why I never socialised much at college, unless there was alcohol, food or chess involved." Rodney lets his head drop back. "The Stay and Gloat get you, did it? Or would you have rather have tortured him by not knowing where I was and me by... no, actually, I don't want to know. I think I've had enough of that for one lifetime. All of them, actually, just in case I am reincarnated. Which I won't be."
"You know what I would have liked?" Kolya asks, glancing over his shoulder again. "I would have liked nothing more than to prove to you that Sheppard isn't the shining hero you think he is."
"I know he's not perfect," Rodney says, his voice giving a bit. "He does stupid things. But John Sheppard is a good man. He's a damn good leader. He cares for his team and he cares for other people and he might not get everything right but he tries." And then Rodney puffs out his chest. "And he's my friend." Because John.... John knows him. And he knows John, even if no one else really does. Not that Rodney knows everything, but he knows parts that others don't. And it's... nice. To know things. To like things about someone.
"Then maybe he and I are more alike than I thought." And now, Kolya really doesn't want to talk - not just because the very idea is rather alarming, but also because he's becoming more aware of how much he isn't thinking straight. On account of the stress. Yes. That.
"Colonel Sheppard wouldn't torture someone," Rodney says, in a blurt. Because... that idea is worrying. Really, really worrying. "So that's just... no. No. Oh god, that's so wrong. And you so wouldn't like... well maybe you'd like action films but the idea of you as a geek is just... okay, stop that now."
All of a sudden, Kolya leans much closer to Rodney, the bloodstained knife still in one hand, and says, "Alarming, isn't it, when the lines start to blur? When you realise that life isn't as black and white as you thought?"
Rodney's eyes go wide and dark, his face pale. There's no movement, suddenly, but his breathing and his eyes, blinking only when they need to. "Yes. But that doesn't change what happened. Colonel Sheppard would not have hurt me, if the positions were reversed." Eyes closed, rackety breath. "War makes things complicated. I'm not a soldier. But I couldn't do what you did. Not ever."
"And that, Doctor," Kolya says, low and soft and right in his ear, "is precisely my point. You don't truly understand me... but more than that, you don't truly understand Sheppard, either. Or maybe you just see more similarities between us than you'd care to admit." And hell, let the man get the point soon, because all these self-comparisons to Sheppard are not making things any easier.
"I don't think I want to understand you," Rodney says, fingers clenching and releasing into his palm. "I may be less than socially adept, but I've... never really wanted to cause anyone pain. And you're not going to convince me the Colonel does either." His voice shakes a little as he talks, and he looks ready to be sick. Memories of families and... children and colleagues. All wanting him to hurt. It does. "I was just trying to be polite. And considering what... considering everything, I think that was fairly big of me. But I'll leave you to your sad little existence. Please. Continue." He jams his eyes shut and looks down, biting at his bottom lip hard.
Fighting the urge to drop back into tirade-mode - or to give in and emphasise his point with the knife still clutched in his hand - Kolya backs off slowly. Without saying any more, he returns to what he was doing, namely building a fire in order to attempt to cook the dinosaur.
Rodney, tired, simply keels over and lies down on his side. With an oof. Curling up, with his back to Kolya. As if facing him would help him survive if the Genii got worse anyway. "And even if you are John," he says, without moving, "that means you hate yourself. Which I think's the worst thing of all."
Once more, Kolya almost yells at him - and once more, he doesn't. For the briefest moment, so many responses are hovering on the tip of his tongue, all of them finally caving before the one he never expected to give. "Yes. It is."
Rodney still doesn't move. Though he's not entirely got the self-control necessary for making the points he wants most of the time, and his lack of patience often gets the better of him - over matters of pride, he's unrelenting That and he really doesn't want the Genii to see how he's been affected - all this shouting, yelling, meaning... In a moment, Kolya and Sheppard collapsed, and Rodney was looking at his friend with a knife. His friend with a knife. Would John Sheppard ever...
"Welcome to Humanity, Commander. Maybe you should try stopping, or at least stopping it getting in your way. You have even more issues than I do. My psychiatrist back home would have a field day with you."
Kolya, on the other hand, can feel himself fast losing it - and he too is having more trouble with the conversation than he wants to let on. But, far more practiced in the art of giving nothing away, he certainly doesn't look as unsettled as he feels.
And his reply is delivered with a rather hostile glower, to assist in hiding everything else. "How interesting. Believe me, Doctor... given the chance, I could have quite a field day with your psychiatrist, too."
In between all this, it's back to Basic Fieldcraft, or How To Make Fire. Which he's doing with notable aggression.
Rodney laughs, but it's a hollow, self-deprecating kind of laugh. The kind of laugh someone who isn't ever sure if anyone is ever agreeing with them, humouring them, or laughing behind their back. Including their doctor.
"She would love you," he says, carrying on in a tone that's balanced and normal - if you ignore the strain that sounds almost like breaking. Faintness, in parts, thinness. "All anger and aggression and symbolic weaponry. You're a textbook case."
A long, dragged breath that sounds painful and... almost, but not quite, like it's covering the tremors of a dry sob. "In fact, I should probably have been in therapy myself for the rest of my life before we even got here."
Flames spark into life at last, and now Kolya is moving on to the next step: ‘Cooking Your *Insert Animal Here.*’ He's still talking to Rodney without looking at him, although this is clearly not out of simple disregard. His movements, though seemingly normal, are almost avoidant at times.
Because deep down, he knows he's trekking further and further into very uncharted territory - and not the kind involving dinosaurs.
"In my experience," he remarks, "most people who seem like textbook cases rarely turn out to be."
"There's no such thing," Rodney admits, with a shaky move, trying to find a position his legs don't hurt in. "Not with people. Too much erroneous data. Too many variables. Too much... Humanity. It's why I gave up biological sciences. That and every book I read told me I had something else that was shortening my life-span, and it's short enough without worrying about all the things shortening it, unless they are really fatal, like lemons."
Rodney really can talk about nothing whatsoever and everything at once for a long period of time. A really, really long period. He turns over carefully, half his face dusty from lying in the dirt, though he doesn't even care. Instead, he watches. Not quite turned to see.
"It is the variation in Humanity that has always appealed to me. It keeps things... interesting."
Hearing the movement behind him, Kolya instinctively looks over his shoulder, turning back when he realises it's just Rodney again. And suddenly, he's very, very aware of being watched, despite knowing he doesn't need to be.
"Difficult. Difficult is what it makes it. Impossible to predict and understand and quantify and order and explain. No real science at all."
An understatement and a half, coming from Rodney. "Diversity allows some people to stand out more than others. So I shouldn't complain."
It strikes the commander, suddenly, that their conversations are so incredibly odd. One moment, there's deeply open hostility, and the next, they're back to what seems like a casual discussion on the Human condition. Of course, it isn't really anything of the sort, at least not to Kolya. To him, it's the only workable way to duel with Rodney - a verbal battle, as opposed to the physical ones that he prefers. Sometimes, adapting to an opponent's style is the best way to face them.
Now wondering if part-roasted dinosaur is supposed to look like that, Kolya replies, "What you call difficult, I call a welcome challenge."
"And most other people call 'problematic'." Or worse. Generally ignorant and idiotic, if he's the one talking. Arrogant and unsympathetic if others are talking likewise about him.
Still looking mortally offended, which he does most of the time anyway, Rodney blinks slowly at Kolya, before looking speculatively at the dinosaur.
"Is it still pink? Was it even pink to begin with? I don't want food poisoning."
"It was red to begin with," Kolya remarks, quite matter-of-factly. "Now... it is less so. But then, the preparation of dinosaur meat is not something I'm familiar with."
Food poisoning. Now that would just be the final nail in the coffin. And if the commander can keep Rodney McKay alive and up a tree all night, stop small, vicious dinosaurs from eating them, and butcher one such dinosaur with a very inadequate knife, then, damn it, he is not going to let matters get any worse.
"Is it going white now? Or brown? It shouldn't be pink when it's done. That's very important. Not that I'm saying you can't cook, just you might be better at processing raw food than I am. I'm highly sensitive to things in my food."
Rodney always thinks about the important things in life. And from his words, you might imagine he's completely blocked out all the previous conversation. He might have. He might not. It's often very hard to tell. He does, however, still look red in the face.
Attempting to stay textbook-impassive once again - which is not easy, given the circumstances, Kolya glances over his shoulder. "It is... taking its time," he says. "And trust me, Doctor, if I can stop this thing killing you whilst alive, I certainly won't let it kill you whilst dead."
He's well-aware of how distressed Rodney currently looks, though is avoiding commenting - if only because he is dwelling on it rather more than seems necessary.
"Well. I just thought I should say. Because I don't know what you normally do when you're eating, but you probably do have to cook and eat stuff. It's just I know certain people wouldn't check before they put something in their mouth, and you wonder how they survived this long..."
"I will be careful," the commander assures him, again - although Kolya is rarely one to actually sound re-assuring.
Rodney nods in acquiescence, then settles. And says nothing. For a few moments at least, though it's likely it won't last for too long.
Considering the alternatives, several moments of silence are extremely welcome. They pass briskly, though, punctuated only by the hissing of the dinosaur as it cooks. When not working on the field cuisine, Kolya is constantly looking around, as if expecting to be attacked again by more of the Little Bastards.
This time, though, the immediate area seems to remain free of said creatures, and it isn't long before Kolya is turning again. "I believe this is now edible," he says. Although the exact truth in this statement remains to be seen.
Rodney pulls a face. "Really." He does not sound in the least bit convinced. Nor is he hurrying over. Saying that, when he's starving, is saying something.
The commander gives him a rather odd expression. "You need to eat, Doctor. Otherwise you'll be passing out even more often."
Or dying, of course. And we can't have that.
"You first." Said reasonably enough, considering. "I need to know whether I want to eat it instead of die before I try it."
This coming from the man who, only the day before, refused to start walking until he'd eaten. It says a lot about stress levels, really, and Kolya might have found it more interesting, were he not preoccupied with other things.
With almost no hesitation, Kolya picks up one of the now-cooked pieces of dinosaur - which are, at last, a more edible colour - and takes a bite.
"Interesting? Interesting? Interesting does not mean good. Interesting can mean the sound something makes before it explodes. How interesting? What does it taste like?"
No matter where you are in the great tapestry of the universe, some things never change.
Rodney... stares. His voice is deadpan. "Really."
Any minute now, a pyramid is going to land nearby and...
Rodney shrugs, leans over, and attempts to free some meat without burning his fingers too badly.
Turns out these Little Bastards are good for one thing... dinner. Now more secure in the knowledge that starvation is unlikely, Kolya is content to sit and eat - though he's back to watching Rodney again.
For the time being, he doesn't speak - although he knows this state of affairs is not going to last.
"Bit like chicken," Rodney says, between mouthfuls, licking fingers, blowing fingers - attempting not to be burnt, or to eat so fast he makes himself sick. "But... more... lean. Hmm..."
And of course, eating makes him thirsty. He looks about for their watered boots.
Realising what Rodney must be looking for, Kolya picks up the last of the bootfuls of water and passes it to him.
"I told you... interesting."
Rodney makes some form of grunt whilst drinking, which could be anything from a snort, to a thanks, to a... who knows. He's very careful with the water, if a little greedy.
"Interesting is just one step short of 'special'." But still, he eats - and hands the boot back.
Nodding in thanks, Kolya nevertheless has a sudden, very odd flicker in his eye - though it quickly disappears.
"Yes. It is."
Having eaten enough for now - mainly because his stomach hurts from everything, and for once he really can't - Rodney leans back again, hissing loudly in pain. Not one to suffer in silence.
"We should take some with us, shouldn't we? Don't know how long it is until we reach the gate."
The commander shakes his head. "I already have you to carry, Doctor. If we need more to eat... I will have to go hunting again."
By which he means - 'I need an open excuse to kill things every once in a while.' Predictable, really.
"Not... any of it?" McKay clearly looks surprised. Sheppard would have... no. Not thinking about that.
"There is not as much as you would expect, given the size of these... creatures. And unless you plan on keeping it in your pockets, the whole matter would just be too much trouble."
Plus, we're going to get off this planet soon. Either that, or... No. Bad thoughts.
"That is the kind of things these pockets are for," Rodney said, as though speaking to a small, unintelligent child. "And I'd rather not go into hypoglycaemic shock waiting for the next lot of velociraptors to come visit us."
For this, Rodney gets the Unimpressed Expression. "Fine. But don't blame me when you attract every still-living dinosaur for miles around."
Kolya knows he ought to be protesting more, but in all honesty, another excuse to fight something would be really rather helpful right now.
"Well, do you know which of this planet's many plants are edible? By me, even, as I'm highly allergic to things and liable to go into shock? Which means either by not eating or by eating the wrong thing you could end up with a dead weight, and that won't be too easy..."
Showing rather a great deal of restraint, Kolya merely sighs. "Do as you wish, then. Either way, we should start moving again."
Always in motion, the Genii is. Rodney sighs, wrapping some of the remains of the dinosaur up in leaves and sliding them into his pockets. He's betting that the animals here have never smelt cooked food and wouldn't know civilisation if it bulldozed over their den.
Kicking dirt over the remnants of the fire, Kolya scrambles to his feet, hand already on the stunner once more. And then... it's back to How To Carry Your Scientist.
What fun this is turning out to be. But he doesn't look all that affected, taking care as he tries to load Rodney onto his back again without injuring the man still further.
Your Scientist now comes with handy Scrabbling Feet action, Muffled Protest sounds, authentic weight and Grappling Hands. He is trying to be helpful, but it isn’t really that easy, considering the state he's in.
"....Watch... will you just... that way!"
He also has never heard of 'stealth'.
Kolya would be rolling his eyes right now, if he wasn't so preoccupied with Rodney's attempts to summon every dinosaur for miles around.
"You are not... making this any easier!" he hisses, trying to be firm and quiet at the same time. Which is not easy.
"Well it's not very easy to jump up on someone when you've had half your legs bitten off!" Rodney hisses - loudly. Still struggling. A yelp means he doesn't feel safe. "Lean forwards more, I'm going to land on my ass here. You know there's a reason I never did this as a kid. A very good reason."
"You did it before - now, stop being quite so... argh!"
Think calm thoughts, think calm thoughts, think calm thoughts...
Rodney removes his foot, contrite, and tries to sit in a more... thoughtful position. And one where he doesn't feel like he's about to fall off the Genii any minute.
"Well you must have been standing different before."
That's somewhat better. Somewhat.
"Evidently," Kolya remarks, shortly.
And then he sets off, raising another silent plea that they find the Gate soon.
It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. It's difficult balancing and keeping limbs in places they should be. It doesn't help that Rodney's a tall man, and broad with it. And that Kolya really isn't. There's more of Rodney to a very small amount of Kolya, or so it feels.
It's also... boring. But Rodney has no clue what on earth he can say that won't start another screaming match - and he did not like the last one.
Happy to let the silence endure, Kolya says nothing, instead allowing himself to concentrate on other things - like not dropping Rodney, and keeping a close eye on the undergrowth in case any more of those wretched creatures appear.
But that's not the only reason he isn't talking - though it is the only reason he'll admit to. In the meantime... no need to aggravate matters further.
Rodney shifts uncomfortably, as parts of him go numb from not moving. He attempts to itch his shoulder using the side of his face. To look at the botany. To...
"Can we have a rest yet?"
"Doctor, we have hardly got going. And we will never find the Gate if you insist on stopping every ten minutes!"
Furthermore... we talk when we stop.
"It's hurting. You aren't being very careful." And I'm bored.
"I am doing my best."
He is. Really. Right, now, doing anything else would be unwise.
Rodney stops asking to be let down. Instead, "I hope you're keeping an eye on the sun, so we find a place long before it's too dark."
Another night on this forsaken planet. Now there's a thought Kolya really could have done without.
"I am," he says, nevertheless. "Unfortunately, we will have to find a suitable tree again."
Rodney doesn't think he could cope with that again, but he doesn't say so. For once, he holds his tongue. Nods. "Right."
Kolya is about to say something - something vague and offhand and probably very silence-inducing - but then, matters take a slightly unexpected turn. The, for want of a better word, 'path' that they've been following suddenly opens out, into a large, rounded clearing. Flickering sunlight casts hazy shadows on the ground, giving the place a strange and almost ironic beauty.
And all of it pales in comparison before what lies in that clearing - a great grey ring, with steps leading to it, those eternally alien symbols carved all over.
The Stargate - real, magnificent, and more welcome than anything else has ever seemed before.
Rodney makes a startled little noise, one entirely unmanly and unbecoming, and one he'd deny being responsible for if at all questioned. But it's there, the little squeak of relief.
Which, of course, is soon followed by a little shudder of terror. Rodney really isn't in any fit state to forcibly, or tricksily convince hardened Genii commanders into letting him go.
"...no trees then..."
Oh yes, relief. Relief, and triumph, at having actually made it here. Kolya carefully lets Rodney down, needing to go over to the dialling device, to re-assure himself that all is well, that they really are about to get out of here.
But then, he's looking at Rodney once more, and the full ramifications of the situation hit home. The man who, for all intents and purposes, has been his ally for the last day, just turned into his prisoner. And he knows that shouldn't affect him... yet it does.
Did he really carry the doctor all this way for the good of the Genii? Is that really all there is to it?
Right now... those are harder questions to answer than one might expect.
Rodney most pointedly does not look anywhere near Kolya or the gate. If he were Colonel Sheppard, he would have... never been in this mess in the first place. Probably never been captured, and if he had, seduced his way out. But no, this is Rodney McKay, incompetent scientist. With the Genii. Again.
Under pretence of looking out for Bigger Dinosaurs (as there always is one) he looks around.
"Everything working all right?" he asks, voice oddly pitched.
The commander steps up to the dialling controls, running his hand lightly over the arc of buttons, as if daring them not to be real. But they are, oh, they are. He did it... they did it. They survived.
"Yes," he answers, hand lingering over the first symbol - the first one needed to dial home.
And yes, he's actually hesitating. He wants to turn, wants to look Rodney in the eye and attempt to justify why he's doing this. He never needed to offer justification before - but now, part of him wants to, and yet, part of him can't.
"You don't need to," Rodney says, quietly, slowly. Then the words come out in a rush, tumbling out before he thinks better of himself. "No one will know. I'll... I'll send you the plans you need for your refinement. Elizabeth won't know about it. You could take all the credit for it. I'll give you them now, if you want. If you let me go. I want to go back home."
Then he snorts messily. John Sheppard would never beg like that. John Sheppard would never break like he does. John Sheppard would never cave and give away information, no matter what the price. But this is Rodney, and this is Rodney's life, and Rodney rather likes his life, terrifying and isolating as it is at times. He... wants it.
Kolya has to slam up about ten mental walls at that, if only to stop himself doing something really, really stupid. He's blaming it all on the planet, and the stress, and…
Well. If he can't convince himself, better work extra hard to convince others.
"I have to," he says, and there's a very odd edge to his voice that people rarely get to hear. "Besides... you can't get home. Not from here. And you need medical attention as a matter of some urgency."
And I have to do my job. I have to.
"There are places I can go. People who will help me. We haven't spent all our time making enemies, even if Colonel Sheppard's diplomatic skills are even worse than mine." Even to Rodney's own ears he sounds pathetic.
"Doctor... you know I have no choice."
Kolya can hear the hesitation in his own voice now, and part of him is full of self-hatred at that. What he needs is some good down-time and a decent sparring match... and not to lose perspective.
"Neither did Colonel Sheppard," Rodney says with a sort of finality. And no one will even know he's still alive. No one will come looking, because to all extents and purposes he's dead.
He'll never see his cat again. Somehow, that's possibly the worst part of it all.
Though Kolya will never admit it, that statement hits him hard. Really. He takes a deep breath, turning back to the dialling device, hoping this will be enough to hide any betrayal of his feelings in his eyes.
His hand drifts back to the first symbol - and this time, he presses it. Ching, ching, ching... and the gate is dialling, chevrons lighting one by one. Then there's an almighty ka-WOOOOSH, as the wormhole establishes, filling the air with a fresh set of dappled blue shadows.
It would be an odd moment, perhaps hinted with an almost poetic quality - except, of course, for the fact that, before Kolya can get another word in, there's a hideous screeching from the undergrowth nearby, and one more of the Little Bastards comes charging.
Life just isn't fair.
Rodney immediately yelps and flings himself awkwardly to the ground. He's unarmed. He's hurt. He's tired, he's cranky and he's sick and tired of dinosaurs. He decides he's never, ever watching Jurassic Park again - even if he does get chance.
With a yell of warning and panic, he curls up and covers his head in a vain attempt at at least not seeing the carnage.
The commander mutters what might be a Genii obscenity, hefting the Wraith stunner that he's still carrying. This is just... making matters worse. The universe clearly has it in for him.
He aims, moving with the target, and fires with a great deal of aggression. Being rather pre-occupied with Rodney, the dinosaur is unable to move in time, and it takes a stun-bolt squarely to the back, screeching and tumbling and slumping, finally hitting the floor a few metres from McKay.
And then? Kolya shoots it, twice more, a lot of pent-up conflict behind his actions. Pausing for only a second, he moves over to the fallen thing, giving it a sharp crack about the head with the stunner barrel, for good measure.
Rodney squeaks, now shaking almost continuously from shock. The smacking noise, the wet-sounding crack... the metal smell of blood...
He wants to go home. He wishes he'd never come to the Pegasus galaxy. Wishes he'd not been singled out to work on the Stargate program. Wishes he'd never been the smart one. Wishes he could just be like every other moron he despises and envies.
If he could move, he would. But he's currently curled up in a ball, crying blankly. He has no control over anything any more, and it shows.
Kolya stands over the fallen dinosaur, still breathing fast, trying to get his mind to work properly. All of his previous actions were solely on instinct - and those which require thought seem harder to summon right now
He's getting that sense again - just like back on Atlantis - that, no matter how close to victory he is, everything is about to come crashing down. It hurts, and not just because of the memory itself.
Plus, the sight of Rodney breaking down like that is more painful than he'd dare admit - and for a man who's spent the last twenty-four hours killing Wraith and dinosaurs, that's saying something.
Rodney, meanwhile, is insensible to the outside world right now, and currently trying to make himself as small and unobtrusive as possible - and considering most of his life is spent acting otherwise... well.
He has no intention of moving. None.
For a moment, neither of them move, an odd silence descending that seems so unlike all the other silences that have punctuated their various conversations. Kolya is clearly thinking - although, as ever, it's hard to be sure exactly what.
Finally, stunner slung over his back again, he goes over to where Rodney is curled in a shaking heap, hesitating at least once before he kneels at the doctor's side, a hand on his shoulder - nothing like the way he usually makes that particular gesture.
He's not used to this, not at all. Normally, people break down in front of him because he made them, and that's a good thing in those circumstances. This... oh, this is something different.
Were he to realise exactly what was happening, Rodney would probably break down even more. As it is, he doesn't even make the connection between the hand on his shoulder and anything that's gone before. He's too busy trying to not-exist, to block things out, to ignore all that has happened before, dizzy and faint from lack of food, sleep and blood.
Over and over and over. Sheppard would not have done this. No. Nor Teyla. Nor Ford. Nor Elizabeth, even. He's too ashamed to move, hating showing how weak he is, hating knowing that if Kolya were to ask him now, he'd probably tell him almost anything.
The Stargate makes its familiar noise in the background, but somehow that just makes things so much worse.
The saddest thing, in some ways, is that Kolya is well aware of how easy it would be to get information out of Rodney right now - and he isn't trying. And that is much the same as a bibliophile walking into a library, muttering 'oh look, books,' and walking straight out again.
Slowly, he tries to roll McKay to the side, in an attempt to make eye-contact with him - because he knows how grounding that can be.
"Doctor?" he says, rather quietly.
Rodney is not going to look anywhere near him. No. It's embarrassing enough being in this state, with Kolya seeing him like this. Admitting it by seeing... seeing whatever he'd see if he looked just makes it worse. If he can pretend Kolya can't see him, but not seeing Kolya, then somehow... it's marginally less soul-destroyingly awful.
Rodney makes a non-committal noise and tries to roll against being pushed. Or, at worst, roll too far. Sideways is the new black.
"Doctor," the commander repeats, voice still quiet and level. "We are getting off this planet. I didn't bring you this far to let you die on the very last step."
He keeps his hand on Rodney's shoulder, but doesn't try to make him move just yet. If nothing else, carrying him in this condition would be tricky indeed.
That is, of course, not the only reason, despite being a valid one nevertheless.
"No," Rodney says, although he isn't quite sure what he's refusing or denying, just that there's a negative in there. Somewhere. Vaguely he thinks that although he wishes the ground would swallow him up, death by dino is not exactly painless. He shudders.
"...You can. You have to. We need to get off this world before another one of those creatures comes wandering past. And I am not leaving you here."
It's hard to know exactly what is going on in Kolya's head at the moment, but it certainly isn't normal. That much is evident by now.
Rodney's crying silently, the wet kind of tears you cry when you really don't want someone to hear, and when you really can't make much of anything. He curls up some more, around Kolya, automatically seeking... anything. People. Comfort. Hell, perhaps it's just hiding.
"I can't move because my legs hurt," he says, although it sounds more like a petulant child's moan than a grown man. "It... it hurts."
And Kolya... well. There's a lurch in his stomach that definitely isn't due to hunger. He considers standing up, moving away, even saying something... but he doesn't. Instead, he draws Rodney a little closer, trying to hold on to him without...
...without what? He's a Genii, and McKay is an Atlantean. This should be simple, productive, and as violent as necessary. But it isn't. Of course it isn't. It hasn't been since they dropped onto this accursed world. And maybe... maybe he needs to accept that.
"I know," he says. "I know."
Rodney needs sympathy more than perhaps most people realise. It's why he looks for it so much, even if he hasn't worked out that it's the worst way to get it. The scientist wriggles just a little, every position agony, trying to get more comfort like it's the first and last time he'll ever get it. It isn't, but he can't actually remember the last time he did more than pat someone. The thought is... distressing.
I want to go home, he says inside his head. Please, just let me go home. Instead, he sniffs. "Please stun me, to make it stop."
Slowly, he starts to move, to get up - and then he hesitates. And watching Acastus Kolya really hesitate like that is fairly alarming without even taking context into account. Watching him hesitate twice would probably cause a large number of his subordinates to run for cover.
This is a different situation altogether, and he finally knows it. Quite suddenly, he rolls Rodney briskly but very, very carefully onto his back, leaning down to plant a quick, desperate kiss on his lips.
And then? He moves fast. He moves fast because he's not sure he can stop to look the man in the eyes right now. On his feet in seconds, Kolya has the stunner drawn, levelled to fire.
Rodney blinks. And then blinks some more. And moves his lips in a very adequate impression of a fish. A very, very dumb fish, making no sound whatsoever.
Of all the things he's ever expected, that probably rates as the least. Oh, apart from that time with the cauliflower cheese.
And Kolya? Shoots him. Doesn't stop, doesn't hesitate any more, doesn't say a word. The blast strikes home, knocking Rodney back into temporary artificial oblivion, filling the air with a single electric roar before silence returns.
For a very long moment, Kolya stands there, stunner at his side, staring and staring. He's not entirely sure he believes what just happened, and running through it repeatedly in his mind doesn't seem to help.
No. No. Block everything, get out of here, and worry about thinking later. His instincts kick in, and he goes back to Rodney, slinging the stunner over his own back again to leave his hands free. Then he picks up the unconscious scientist, as carefully as he can, carrying him in both arms.
Finally, finally, finally, he approaches the Gate, which still ripples with that ethereal blue light, the wormhole to his homeworld remaining open. He climbs up the steps, and, in one oddly blissful second, walks forward into the event horizon, leaving the Planet of the Dinosaurs behind at last.
And then, he's stepping out onto a world wreathed in night; a cool, grassy, landscape on the border of a forest, the sky overhead dotted with glittering stars.
Considering how long the gate was open for, Kolya knows there will be people nearby, coming to investigate, and isn't afraid to attract their attention.
"Medic!" he shouts. "Medic!"
Moments later, troops start appearing in all directions, their impressive array of weaponry pointing at the unexpected arrivals - battle-readiness blending to utter surprise as they finally see who has just stumbled out of the gate:
Commander Acastus Kolya, looking thoroughly exhausted, and covered in mud, blood, bits of tree, and a series of small but nasty-looking gashes - with what looks very much like a Wraith stunner slung over his back, and what clearly is an unconscious, badly-wounded Atlantean in his arms.
They stare. They stare a lot. As they do, Kolya suppresses the urge to yell at them, and walks slowly out onto the grass beneath the gate steps. Carefully, he drops to his knees, lays Rodney on the ground, and then promptly passes out right beside him.
And just before he does, he mutters the only thing that really seems right in the situation.
"I'm going to want points for this."
Summary: Captured by Wraith, McKay and Kolya are forced to work together in order to escape. What they don't realise is that spending twenty-four hours on the Planet of the Dinosaurs might end up having something of an effect on them...