Lost in the Woods - 4/6
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Category: Romance, Humor, Mystery
Summary: One day they get literally lost.
Warning: Slash, M/M, Spoiler for Season 1
Disclaimer: No one of Stargate: Atlantis belongs to me.
Least of all Major John Sheppard. Damn.
Feedback: Yes, please. Every word opens a new gate.
Released: September 2007
Word Count: 2.944
A distant sound awoke him ...scrape...scrape... Only slowly was he able to shake off his weariness. His muscles felt hard and stiff and his mouth as dry as sandpaper. "...someone´s fire could need a little more wood..." he mumbled hoarsely. ...scrape...scrape... His senses became alarmed. Something was happening. Something was wrong. This sound.... He groaned. Something was very wrong. For the first time in days his body felt not horny but strangely ticklish. What is this? This sensation of... it feels like... John scratched his naked belly but the itching didn´t stop. The sound grew louder ...Scrape...SCRAPE... The sensation moved over his body. It felt familiar, he realized, horrified. It felt like feet. A legion of tiny feet. "Huh?" He tore his eyes open and saw a million of nasty bugs crawling all over him. He screamed in sheer terror. They were everywhere. His skin was black because of THEM. They were eating him alive. Still screaming, he jumped up and started beating at them. "RODNEY! GET THEM OFF ME! GET THEM FUCKING OFF!"
Rodney startled from his sleep. He had never expected to hear a man like Sheppard screaming like a little girl. What am I supposed to do when the hero is losing his mind? "What is it now? I can´t do it anymore. I need to rest." He saw the officer was running around in circles, beating himself.
"Get them off! Get them off! Rodney!"
"What? I can´t see anything. Stay still, goddamnit!" Jumping around, Rodney joined his dance of horror.
"Rodney, please," John whined. "I need them off me."
"Are you going mad? There is nothing on you! Nothing!" Rodney tackled him to the ground.
John was still screaming.
With all the strength he could manage, Rodney held him in place. "Listen to me John, there is nothing on you... only me."
"But... but... the bugs...."
"There are no bugs. Not one tiny little spider." Rodney laid his head on John´s chest. "Would I be so comfortable if there were any bugs?"
John groaned in agony but relaxed slightly. "But... I... saw them."
"I believe you. They are your tree devils I think. Your fears are haunting you. Understand?"
"So it´s only my imagination." John became calm. Gently he pushed Rodney off.
"It´s the forest, John. Just the forest. It gets to you."
"How do you know?"
"I just figured it out. I did a lot of thinking. I´m a genius, remember?"
"I see." John walked to his sleeping place and started to put his clothes on. For the first time in days he felt uncomfortable being naked. He felt vulnerable. "We need to get out of here."
"Agreed." Rodney took his jacket to cover himself up. He intended to go back to sleep.
"I meant now!"
"Ah." Rodney smiled. "A few bugs and suddenly the fun is over."
"It wasn´t a few bugs... it was a whole army of them... I..." John´s cheeks reddened. "Don´t you think we´ve stayed here long enough?"
"Certainly, Major. But I can´t tell you how difficult this is gonna be for me if you lose it." One tree caught his eye. Nasty-looking wood, pitch black and faceless but for the greenish eyes. Rodney shuddered. Is this really only in my imagination like Sheppard´s bugs? How can I be sure? The grass was glimmering creepily without a moon shining.
"I´m not losing it," John denied stubbornly. "I´ve just made up my mind."
"So suddenly?" Rodney gloated. It was good to know he wasn´t the only one half-mad with fear after all.
"Yes," John growled.
Slowly, Rodney put his jacket on and reached for his bag. "I think I figured out how we may have a chance to get out of here too."
Finished dressing, John packed the few things he had left. "Do tell."
Rodney gathered fruit and mushrooms for their journey. "Have you noticed the one bright star up there?" He pointed at it because he couldn´t determine a direction in these woods. "It´s the only one that is in the same place every night."
"We can use it for direction to keep a straight line."
"I´m able to do that without the help of any stars," John snapped, displeased.
"I know," Rodney soothed him, "but not in here. Nothing is the same in this place. It´s worth a try, don´t you think?"
"I´m surprised you still had the strength to watch the sky at night and do a lot of thinking too," John noted, puzzled. " I remember you whining you were utterly finished."
"Well, yes, sometimes I woke up because I was hungry." He tried not to mind John´s meaningful grin.
"Still?" John mocked.
"It´s not my fault. This place..."
"Right. Time to get out of here." John walked to the creek and filled their bottles with water. Rodney packed as much food as he could carry. Ready, they looked around one last time. Rodney heard the trees whispering.
John saw an army of bugs marching through the grass on the other side of the creek. A shiver ran down his spine. Any plan was better than staying here. "Show us the way," he encouraged his friend.
"Don´t you think it would be better to wait for the morning?" The soulless cries started to fill the night and he winced in horror.
"No." The bugs were coming right at him. Sweat was dripping off his forehead. "It´s no use. This circle is no longer a sanctuary. We are in danger of getting run down in the next couple of hours."
"You mean our imagination is in danger, right?" A big ugly tree waved his branch at him. Come here. It´s not gonna hurt.
"Whatever! Does it matter?" The bugs grew bigger. They started to look like the one that nearly killed him that day. Wrong. I was dead. I came back to life. I was lucky.
"No." The tree started moving closer. It waved all its branches at him now. Rodney forced himself to look away at the star, their only hope. He started walking out of the circle right back into the thick jungle. Oh God! Don´t let us die.
Surprised that Rodney was taking the lead, John stayed put for a moment, musing ...SCRAPE...SCRAPE... In a hurry, he followed up and dared not look back.
For two hours they fought their way through the greenish thickness while keeping an eye on the steady star. Sometimes it was difficult. One time they lost sight of its light for a minute and almost panicked, but they found it again. Sweating, they didn´t talk much, saving their breath for their destination only: OUT! Suddenly the trees gave way to something else. Something new: a cornfield. Certainly not one they knew from earth. The plants were twice as high as usually and were crimson. The field made a steady tone, like electricity. It sounded like something was coming to get them. It was frightening. But the star led them directly through it.
"I don´t want to go in there," Rodney emphasized, worried.
"Be calm. This is only a field."
"Don´t you hear that?"
"The field is whispering to us."
"Don´t say that." John frowned. "It´s just... the wind."
"It´s not. I haven´t heard any wind since we got here."
"Didn´t you read Children of the Corn by Stephen King?"
"That´s just a story, Rodney. This is reality."
"Are you kidding?"
"You know what I mean."
"Don´t make me go in there."
Rodney obeyed at once. He must be really frightened, John thought and pulled him into his arms. "I know how you feel. I feel the same way. But we have no choice. The star points in this direction. It was your idea, remember?"...scrape...scrape... John grabbed him tighter. I can´t go back. They are waiting for me. Don´t you hear them?
Greenish lights floated inside the cornfield waiting for him to join them. Nasty eyes. The tree devils. Death. Rodney put his face against John´s neck. "I know."
Ready to fight anything that got in their way they marched on. It was deathly hot between the rows, hot and sticky despite the night hour. Rodney tried not to look left or right but he couldn´t ignore the sunflowers with the black blossoms or the steady sound of deep whispers growing louder and heavier. "We have to get out of here!" Rodney started panting. The air was as thick as if they were inside of a silo. Suffocating. Rodney coughed. "Do...you...hear...me?"
"Yes!" John shouted. His skin was itching like hell. He scratched and scratched but it didn´t stop. His skin was moving. They were inside of him. They were eating at him. "Leave me alone," he cried in pain.
Rodney began to run. He was breathing harshly. His vision became blurry but he kept an eye on the star above that insisted: That´s the way. Follow me. The screaming started, a sound much worse than the screams Rodney had heard every night before. In pain, he covered his ears and ran faster. He stumbled and hit the ground. John, who had been right behind him, fell on him.
A growl came from the field. A munch. The field was ready to feast.
John stumbled back to his feet. "Get up!" He grabbed his gun and pulled the trigger, not minding at who or what he was shooting. Nothing happened. The gun didn´t work. Shit! Why didn´t he try it before? The corn grew above them, hovering, ready to consume its prey. "GO!" he flew into Rodney´s face. "Run as fast as you can. I´ll watch your back."
"Why you and not me?"
"Because I´m the fucking military officer, McKay! That´s an order!"
Seeing nothing but big green eyes anymore, Rodney obeyed. Blindly he dove through the mass of corn. Forward. Forward. Just look at the star. The star. That´s all that matters. Nothing else. Not even Sheppard. Suddenly the field was gone. He was on a path surrounded by the familiar crooked trees and bushes. He kept running but bumped into a tree and fell flat on his back. "FUCK!" For a moment he lay still, exhausted. It didn´t last long. The tree was grinning down at him. Come to me. Rodney moaned. "No. Not anymore. Make it stop." Then he heard John scream in mortal agony. "I´m coming," Rodney murmured. How could I leave him alone? Ignoring eyes and sounds, he pushed back through the maze of hellish corn. John´s screams sounded weaker, like he was losing his strength, like he was giving in, accepting death. NO! Desperately, Rodney fought his way back to him and almost jerked away when he finally arrived.
Some...thing...oily and flashing covered John´s body. He was consumed by it. He had stopped fighting.
Is this real? Can this be real? Why isn´t John the only one to see this? It´s his fear after all, isn´t it? Rodney closed his eyes and pushed his hand beyond the wriggling skin and grabbed John by the arm, pulling fiercely. "Get up! Now! Move or I´ll kick your butt from here to earth, Major!"
John groaned under the blackness. The corn rustled happily.
"Don´t give me that shit! Are you a soldier or a coward! Come on!!" Rodney pulled harder. The oily pus flowed up his arm. "Get off me!" Rodney cried, disgusted, and fought harder. "Come on, John!" A second later he held a trembling man in his arms. "Good! Let´s go!" He dragged John with him. This time the corn was even thicker but Rodney was never more determined. His strength astonished him. He just whipped away every ear trying to stop their flight, and soon they were back on the path. Not looking at the grinning trees, Rodney led John further and further in line with the leading light of the star. Rodney didn´t notice if it was seconds, minutes or hours they kept fleeing from whatever lived in these woods, but suddenly all of it was gone. The trees, the bushes, nature. A blinding light hit them instead.
"We´re out!" Rodney yelled.
The blinking star had vanished. The shine of the rising sun warmed their faces. The biggest star of all had led them back to a world they understood. Still, Rodney dragged John further along, too scared to stop.
"Rodney... stop..." John breathed harshly.
"Right." Finally still, they turned around and observed the beautiful line of the straight trees and bushes from a safe distance. Rodney couldn´t believe this was the same place that had held them prisoner for days. The neat, green circle had the most innocent look. "Nonsense," he snorted. A forest cannot look innocent. Trees are trees. A sudden breeze made him shiver. An unknown bird sang his morning song. Whatever. I don´t want to know. Sheppard clung to him like a wet rag.
"Let´s go home," John said simply.
"Already back to ordering me around I see," Rodney quipped.
"Barely." He let go of Rodney´s arm and turned away from the forest. He couldn´t bear to look at it anymore. Squinting at the horizon, he noticed two people coming towards them, although they were far away. "Look!"
"It seems we´re not alone anymore," Rodney said flatly.
"Hey!!" John hollered and shot his gun. It worked just fine. "We´re here!!!"
The two people started to run. "Major! McKay!" It was Teyla and Aiden. A minute later, they stood in front of them, grinning.
"Did you get lost?" Sheppard joked dryly.
"Sir! What happened to you?" Ford blurted. "You look..."
"Let´s not get into this now," Sheppard stalled.
"I´m so glad we found you, Major," Teyla spilled in unfamiliar hastiness. "The Frenas told me this particular forest is a very dangerous place." She paused for a moment. "I´m sorry but I didn´t know until yesterday..."
Sheppard looked at Rodney, showing a spectacular - I was right - smile. "I told you."
"Fine. Satisfied, Major?" Rodney mocked, thoughtless, and bit his tongue. Stupid, stupid phrase. Think, idiot.
Sheppard beamed at him. "Frequently, Rodney."
Feeling a blush creeping up his neck, Rodney looked quickly away. "Give me something to eat, Ford."
"You´re lucky Atlantis provided us with fresh supplies." Aiden searched his pockets and brought out two chocolate bars. "What´s in your bag there?"
"Findings." Rodney unwrapped one chocolate bar and stuffed it into his mouth.
"Dr. McKay´s blood sugar must be pretty low," Ford said, compassionate.
"Not that much," John quipped wryly. "We found some sweets in the forest, didn´t we, Rodney?"
Rodney coughed and almost choked on his bar.
Quickly, Ford patted his back. "What happened to your face and neck?"
"I bumped into a lot of nature," Rodney snarled.
"That´s one way to put it," John continued to make fun of him.
Teyla ignored their well-known bickering. "You´re lucky. We were told whoever enters those woods quickly becomes disoriented and can get lost forever. Only a few people have found their way out again."
"Really?" Sheppard answered lightly. "I never felt disoriented but rather distracted. Don´t you agree, Rodney?"
Teyla wondered why Dr. McKay winced. Didn´t he like his chocolate bar? "I hope last night wasn´t too uncomfortable?"
"Not that I remember," Sheppard quipped further. "We slept pretty tight followed by a hard awakening. But I got a good grip on that. Rodney on the other hand was his whining self..."
"Stop it! Right now!" Rodney glared at him. "Maybe you find this funny but for me this was the weirdest trip of my life and I don´t want to talk about it anymore."
Teyla and Aiden were stunned by his outburst.
"Well, it was a very physical experience," Sheppard explained to them. "We don´t need to tell you the details."
"Mmpf," Rodney agreed, his mouth full of sweets.
"By the way, what did you mean by last night?" Sheppard wondered. "We were in there for at least five nights."
"What are you talking about, Major? You have been missing for about twelve hours," Ford said slowly. "We just agreed to inform Atlantis to send us more men to look for you."
"Twelve hours?" John repeated dully and then shrugged it off. "Well, it´s possible. Everything in there was different. It´s good to be back to normal again." He scratched his head. "Let´s go home. Rodney is in urgent need of a shower."
Rodney stiffened. "True. I have a lot of dirt to wash off." He headed for the gate.
Sheppard winked at Ford and Teyla and trudged after him. "Hey, McKay. I was just teasing you. Can I have just one chocolate bar?"
Rodney turned around and waved with the desired piece. "Come and take one if you have the heart." The same moment he began to run. Well, it looked vaguely like running.
Sheppard laughed cheerfully and pursued him. "I´m still pretty fast."
Teyla and Aiden stood frozen on their position.
"Major Sheppard is running without a relevant reason," Teyla said in awe.
"Dr. McKay is considering sharing his chocolate," Aiden replied, amazed as well.
"This is truly weird, don´t you think?"
"Yeah. I expected them to be pissed. But they´re behaving rather strangely."
"Right. And they haven´t told us anything. What do you think happened in those woods?"
"I don´t have a clue but it could be anything. The people here told us it´s jinxed," revealed Aiden, bemused. "I never thought it could be..."
"Shush!" Teyla hushed him at once. "Don´t say that. It´s just a myth."
They followed the two running men. Seconds later they heard an awful scream.
"What the...?" Teyla and Aiden exclaimed at the same time and saw McKay collapse as if he was struck by lightening. The major instantly did the same.