Challenge: 010 "Reversed"
Pairing: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay
Rating: PG for the story, but there's some violence
Length: 6154 words
Summary: AU. "Well," McKay says as he gets to his feet. "They're definitely bones -"
Author's Note: Fic beta'd by julius12, who even though she doesn't watch the show, was there when I needed someone :)
"Well," McKay says as he gets to his feet. "They're definitely bones -"
John rolls his eyes. "Yeah, McKay, I think I got that from the nearly complete skeleton lying in front of us in the snow. It's too cold to stand around listening to your ego or your brain's even bigger ego. The point now, quickly."
"I know it's too cold, Sheppard. I was going to say that judging from the pelvis it's male, I'd say 30 to 35. The only bones missing are the skull and the ribs." McKay huffs, sending John an annoyed glare. "But by all means, please, how was your vacation to LA? We never got a chance to talk about those three weeks since you were barely back a day before you kidnapped me. I was shocked when you returned without brain damage since you probably spent all your time there doing idiotic things with high risks. Not that I would be able to detect brain damage in you anyway, since - well, you're no me and therefore you don't even register on my radar at all."
"Aw, Rodney, I'm on your radar?" John asks, grinning as he stuffs his hands deeper into his pockets. "And I don't really think you can call it kidnapping when Sam ordered you along with me."
"I'm here against my own will and you have a gun, which I don't. I’m pretty sure that to someone it will sound like kidnapping." McKay answers, "Now make yourself useful and hand me my bag." John does, standing for a moment to watch as McKay starts handling the bones.
"Shout when you're done, McKay. I've got to talk to the woman who found them." The weather is bitingly cold and John had expected to have the chance to change clothes before going up the ski slope to look at the bones, but McKay had been insistent - and, John thinks bitterly, clothed for it. A lot of planning ahead, for a kidnapped person.
Normally, John thinks, the bones would just get sent to McKay and along with his people at Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale, they would have figured out who the bones belonged to, if there was foul play afoot - and then, maybe, John would get sent out. But this time, there'd been a request for McKay specifically and John, as the only one who actually liked being around Doctor Rodney McKay - infuriating forensic anthropologist genius - had been sent along to protect and to investigate. They'd just finished at the morgue in town when the call of another body having been found had sent them straight past the hotel and up the slope.
"Miss Emmagen?" John asks, approaching the small, tanned woman standing by the local officers near the ski lifts. "I'm Constable John Sheppard, RCMP. I was informed that you found the bones?"
"Please, call me Teyla. And yes, I often take a first run of the course to test the conditions in the mornings. The sun was shining off the watch and it caught my attention. Once I saw the remains, I skied back down the slope to alert the police."
"Right, thank you. Just, hold on for a moment, okay?" John asks Teyla, and turns back towards where he can see McKay's back. "McKay! Do you have a watch?"
"What kind of question is that? Do you think I tell time from the position of the sun? Yes, I have a watch. If you want the time, I suggest you get your own."
"With the bones, McKay! Does the victim have a watch?" John flashes Teyla his best 'you-know-how-these-crazy-geniuses-are' smile, and watches as McKay shifts to look at the bones on the ground and the ones he's already packed away, snapping at one of the local technicians.
"No watch, Sheppard. Fran here says he didn't notice one either when he came up with the first cops. Is it important?"
"Could be, McKay. Keep looking!"
"Which," McKay snaps to Fran as John turns back to Teyla, "means that you're to dig through the snow. I need to finish packing these bones. Now, dig!"
"You're sure there was a watch?" John asks Teyla, who is frowning with distaste at McKay - not that unusual. "Oh, don't mind Dr. McKay. He got raised by bears in the wilderness of the Yukon, but he's the best at what he does - you wouldn't want anyone else working with the remains."
"I see," Teyla says and sounds like she doesn't see at all. "But I am certain there was a watch. I would not lie, Constable. It was a silver Rolex with a black watch face."
"Rolex, huh? Have you noticed anyone lately who'd have the money to own a watch like that? Someone gone missing lately?"
"None come to mind who could own a watch such as that. But there have been several disappearances from the village; at least six have gone missing." Teyla answers thoughtfully. "But there was one man, over a year ago, who was not afraid to tell us of his wealth or his intelligence. He left; I regret to say, with a deep sense of anger towards our hotel and was threatening to sue for a misunderstanding involving our head of security. But that was over a year ago and we have had no one call to look for him."
"What was the incident about?"
"Someone had been stealing quite large amounts of money from our accounts. We were snowed in and had no way to communicate with the police. The staff had suspicions about this man - he was always with a laptop, and was not kind or helpful in our investigation, suggesting that perhaps the blame for the robberies lay with us for not having proper safety measures. Our head of security decided to lay extra pressure on him, and as a result he felt hunted and wronged, threatening to sue, despite our apologies once the right man was found." Teyla shook her head sadly. "I merely assumed he had decided we were not worth his time, or understood that the situation was one that required we could not wait for the police any longer."
"And what did 'extra pressure' entail?" John asks, thinking if it’s anything like he thinks it might be then the guy could have accidentally died.
"It did not entail anything, Constable Sheppard. He fainted before anything could be asked or done."
"Alright. Names of the head of security and this guest?"
"Our head of security is Ronon Dex, but I would be willing to stake my hotel on the knowledge that he did not kill that man. I cannot remember the full name of the guest, though his last name was Kavanagh."
"Kavanagh? Peter Kavanagh?" McKay asks, walking up behind John. "Someone finally killed him?"
"I believe, Dr. McKay, we will not know that until your work is done." Teyla says, and if John's not wrong, with a hint of coldness. "If you have any further questions, perhaps they can be asked inside where it is warm. You look cold, Constable Sheppard."
John smiles at her. "By the time we're done here, you won't want either of us to leave. I'll find you later if I have any further questions, thank you."
She nods politely, a doubtful smile on her face as she turns and walks towards the skis propped against the small shack.
"Oh yes, of course you'll find her, Sheppard." McKay says, sounding slightly disgusted. "Is there a single place you travel where you don’t hit on the women?"
"How about we save your adorable bitching until we don't have a lot else to do, huh, McKay?" John asks irritably, and McKay makes a grudgingly agreeable noise. "Great. Now, you know this Kavanagh guy?"
"I worked with him. Briefly. I've always wondered why his parents didn’t drown him at birth. A question more eluding than your hair's existence." McKay shrugs. "I've always been surprised I didn't fake an explosion in the lab where he was accidentally killed, too."
"That's slightly disturbing, McKay." But then again, John thinks as he lets the hair comment drop, who better to successfully kill someone and make it look like an accident than McKay. "So Kavanagh. Not well-liked, smart, and rich."
"Yes, no and yes." McKay answers, waving a gloved hand in the air. "Hardly smart. Idiot. Had a doctorate, yes, but even now when I've not been keeping myself as updated as I would have liked with the progress in astrophysics, I could do his job in my sleep."
"No watch found, sir!" The technician - Fran, John remembers McKay calling her - says as she comes jogging up to them. "I searched the snow within a 2 meter area like Dr. McKay said, and there's no watch."
"Huh," McKay says and nods for the kid to leave. "You think she was lying about the watch?"
John glances at where Emmagen's skiing back down the slope and shakes his head. "No. There was a watch, McKay."
"Yes, yes, the local hottie says so. That worked so well for us with Chaya, didn't it?" McKay rolls his eyes, hefting his work equipment higher and starting to stomp off. "When you feel like listening to the evidence, feel free to call me."
"Ah, Constable, good." Radek says as a substitution for 'hello' when John answers the phone the next day. "Please, hand the phone over to McKay."
"Err," John answers, glancing at the room currently lacking McKay. In fact, every room John's been in since they came back from the ski slope has been devoid of McKay. It's sort of hard to believe the man could barely hide in Montreal when they first started working together. "Sure. I'll go find him. Just hold on a minute." He lowers the phone and grins at Teyla. "You wouldn't happen to know where McKay is, would you?"
"I believe he is with Ronon in the restaurant," Teyla answers and smiles slightly at the surprise on his face.
"Ronon? Really?" John asks, having interviewed Ronon the day before as the man went through apparently routine workouts with some of the security guards. He can't really see Ronon and McKay doing anything together. "Okay, well, thank you. Radek, I'm walking towards McKay now."
"I do not see why you go along as protection for McKay when you do not stay near him." Radek says tiredly from the other line.
"Yeah, well, it was easier when he didn't know how to hide. The remains get there okay?"
"Yes, arrived early this morning. Once again Rodney has terrorized the unsuspecting mailmen into delivering packages quickly." Radek chuckles slightly as John enters the hotel's restaurant, where McKay and Ronon are eating and talking - or more correctly, McKay is doing the talking and Ronon is grunting in the right places.
"McKay, Radek wants to talk to you. What happened to your phone?"
"Oh," McKay says, looking slightly guilty. "The battery died out. Radek, what have you found? Yes, of course I have the laptop, hold on. You,” McKay tells Ronon. "Move your food. This is high quality equipment." Ronon, to John's surprise, does as McKay orders, leaning back a little in the chair and holding the plate in one hand to give more room for McKay’s laptop. "Sheppard, he's not a suspect, right?"
Ronon lifts an eyebrow. "You telling me you'd be sitting here if I was?"
"I might," McKay says defensively as John drops into one of the empty chairs. "You're surprisingly easy to talk to since you don't do anything but eat and grunt."
"Okay," Ronon says, smirking and gets to his feet. "I need to get back to work."
"I kind of thought that if you were going to be in the same place as Ronon, you'd look a bit more scared." John confesses once he's gone, and McKay frowns at him for a moment.
"Well, me too," He admits, and hits the speaker on John's phone. "Okay, Radek, got a signal."
"Good, am sending files now." Radek says over the sound of keys being hit in the background. "So, what has Constable Sheppard done this time?"
McKay shoots John a suspicious look, lips curling downwards. "Who says he's done anything?"
"Not in so many words, but according to Constable Sheppard, you are hiding." McKay's look of suspicion turns into one of betrayal and John mouths a 'well, you were' in reply.
"He did nothing." McKay stresses, fingers stabbing fiercely on the laptop keys. "Nothing's happened! We're fine, everything's fine. What am I looking - oh. Oh, that's strange."
"Yes, it is the same with all the bones." Radek agrees as Rodney opens up image after image. John leans over to squint at the screen, but they seem like - well, like bones to him. "Most noticeably on the humerus and femur."
And now John can see it too, the small indentations on the bones. "What is that?"
"It looks like knife marks." McKay says, puzzled. "But there's no reason for it to look like this. Unless...Radek, on any of the bones you didn't send pictures of, are the marks dragging?"
"It is not easy to tell, but yes, it is a possibility."
"What are you thinking, McKay?" John asks, hoping the man will prove the small voice in his head that's suspecting cannibalism wrong.
"I'm thinking that right now all the signs point to the flesh having been scraped off with a knife." There's the sound of surprised Czech cursing at the other end, and then Carson's Scottish brogue going, "Are you sure, Rodney?"
"If I was sure, I wouldn't be making you stay up until the tests are done. You need to determine the type of weapon used. Radek, before you and Cadman decide who gets what bone the first go around, prepare the female skull so that Lorne can give the victim a face, figure out if the male is Kavanagh, and Carson, break out the uppers. You're going to have everything double-checked and I will know if you leave."
"McKay," Cadman's voice drifts over the phone, slight whine in her voice. "You can't expect us to stay in here until the case is over. We have lives and we can't all be stuck at a top ski resort that also has hot tubs fitted for elephants with Constable Sheppard."
"Speakerphone, Cadman." John says, grinning even though there's only McKay to scowl at him.
"Oh, I know." Cadman replies. "If it was just McKay listening in, I'd elaborate."
"I can fire you, y'know," McKay snaps, and Radek's muttering something in the background to Cadman about not poking the still-Chaya-angry McKay. "Apparently you don't understand the concept of phones. We can hear you. Get back to work before I fire all of you." McKay snaps the phone and laptop shut, grabbing both and disappearing out of the restaurant.
"Huh," John says and pushes past the couple going into the restaurant to follow.
The thing with Chaya was that it was a fuck up. A huge one, on everyone's part, but mostly John's. They'd been dating for a month, maybe - they'd run into each other at the coffee shop before that and sat down together, but that was coincidence that John didn't count. But it was after that first month that McKay had called in the middle of a date, and John had left Chaya in McKay's office at the Laboratoire while he went to listen to what the squints had to say.
After that it seemed sort of natural to just sit her in McKay's office whenever McKay called during their dates. McKay scowled and pointed out every now and again that Montreal did actually have taxis and subways, but left it at that.
And then, after three months of leaving Chaya in McKay's office more times than John thought was statistically possible, the Laboratoire was robbed.
"What did they take?" John asks, staring at the open room currently filled with cops and a pissed off forensic anthropologist.
"What does it look like they took, Sheppard? Bones! They took every last bone and artifact in the collection!" McKay shouts, waving his arms around. "We were so close to figuring everything out."
"Figuring what out, McKay?"
"This collection was the Ancient collection. We've been gathering it for years. It's - we suspect it to be maybe the most advanced human society to have existed on Earth, and it existed more than ten millennia ago." McKay stares miserably at the empty room. "We were so close."
"Wait, something like that, shouldn't it be everywhere by now?" John asks. "Really advanced human civilization - sounds like it should be on the news or the history books. How'd a civilization like that die anyway?"
"Yes, yes. That was to come after we could prove everything. That carbon testing had proved everything to be about the same age, to get the technology working properly, to cover everything so that some idiot couldn’t ask a lucky question that we wouldn't be able to answer." McKay sighs and rubs a hand over his face. "And we don't know how they died. They just did. Some seemed to have injuries from weapons, others died of something else. Carson's - was working on it."
"So," John says, because 'so this could've pretty much cemented all of you in the history books, huh' lacked tact. "Who knew about it?"
"Radek, Carson, Sam, Daniel, Cadman, myself." McKay says immediately. "We didn't - we didn't think there was anyone we could trust it with completely so we kept it to ourselves. I had everyone store the original files in my office - it's the safest place in the Laboratoire. Anyone not authorized to be there will be spotted before they can reach it, let alone look around, and I don't leave anyone I don't trust alone in there except for --"
"What?" John asks as Rodney trails off, the expression conveying realization, disbelief and anger all at once. "Except for - no, Rodney, don't go there."
"Why shouldn't I go there? It makes sense!" McKay shouts, pushing past him out of the room. "She's been in there at least once a week for three months without anyone watching her. She could have stumbled upon the information or snooped for it or looked for it! She had access to my computer - one of them anyway - and the files!"
"Chaya didn't steal your advanced ancient civilization! And if you were so worried about someone stumbling onto it just by being in your office, you should have locked it up in a safe."
"Well I wasn't expecting your girlfriend stealing them, did I?" McKay asks and the only reason John doesn't punch him is because he's walking too fast to properly stop.
"Where are you going, McKay?"
"To the storage locker - I saved some of the more useless stuff there until we needed it." McKay stops suddenly without warning just before the doors leading out of the Laboratoire and John crashes into him, stumbling into the glass doors. "Oh my god, what if she knows where it is? What if she's there? What if she already stole it?"
"McKay! Chaya hasn't stolen anything." John snaps and McKay's mouth slants an unhappy line downward. "She isn't a thief."
"Fine," McKay snaps back, shoving John sharply away and walking out of the Laboratoire. "Unnamed robber, how's that?"
"Better." John shouts after him, regaining his footing and heading for his own car. He follows McKay through the traffic, so focused on keeping his eyes on McKay's car that he doesn't notice they're there until McKay's leaped out of his still moving car, keys dropping to the ground as he runs towards where a small pillar of smoke is rising. John kills the engine and scrambles out after him.
It turns out Chaya is a thief. She's standing beside a pile of bones and devices, barely visible in the fire. "I'm sorry, John," Chaya calls, not moving away from the rapidly growing out of control fire. "I had to - they were getting too close. My family, they've been telling the stories since the Ancients vanished - if the scientists uncovered the secret of the Ancients, we'd all vanish too. It was too dangerous, so I had to, John. To keep everyone safe!"
"That doesn't even make sense!" Rodney shouts, walking closer until Chaya steps forward with a gun in her hand. John goes immediately for his sidearm, the one he isn't wearing. "You're delusional. All you're doing now is destroying history and priceless objects. You're denying us the chance to learn from the most advanced civilization to have existed!"
"I won't risk the stories of their downfall happening again, Doctor McKay. I'm sorry for ruining your study of the Ancients, even if it had to be done." Chaya says, and the gun trembles. "I'd never hurt you. John, please, John, believe me when I say that."
"I believe you." John says, doesn't see what else there is to say to the woman holding a gun pointed at his friend. "Just put the gun down."
"I can't," Chaya says and fires.
"You know," John says, slipping into the elevator with McKay. "I think Radek was right - how am I supposed to be protecting you if you keep running away?"
"By letting me stay in my lab." McKay answers. "I offered you Radek."
"Radek isn't you," John points out and bumps his shoulder against McKay's. "Tell me why we're so angry."
"Like you don't know." McKay says just as the elevator grinds to a halt. McKay turns his head away from John, and after a few moments of silence, almost whispered, he goes: "You left."
"What do you mean when? When do you think?" McKay asks, turning to stare at him. "When I was shot!"
"It was -- complicated, McKay."
"Oh yes, real complicated, Sheppard. Your partner, your friend gets shot after watching the destruction of what could make his career - all thanks to your girlfriend. Hmmm, should you stay or should you go?" McKay rolls his eyes, pressing the emergency button.
"I'm sorry, Rodney. I freaked."
"You freaked? What was there for you to freak about? You never freak!" McKay stops for a moment and then smirks slightly. "Well, except for bugs."
"Well then I guess you're a fucking bug, Rodney, because I freaked!" John shouts and they stare at each other for a moment, before McKay starts laughing.
"I'm a bug? God Sheppard, you freak."
"You got shot." John says quietly, staring at the wall of the elevator behind McKay's head. "You got shot, Rodney. And I couldn't shoot back."
"You wanted to -" McKay starts and stares. "Wait. Just...You date an attractive woman for, what, four or was it five months? Anyway, she turns out to be on the crazy side, steals items of priceless anthropological and scientific value, and shoots the guy you've been working with for two years - who, I might remind you in case you thought I didn't notice, you wanted to punch in the face earlier - and your first reaction is to shoot back?"
John doesn't answer, feels the same kind of panic that had made him flee to L.A. hit again, because yes, that's exactly what happened. Chaya had shot McKay, and the only thing that had gone through his mind was the fact that if McKay died, he wouldn't stop until he'd found her.
McKay's mouth is opening and closing, eyes wide. "Well, um," He manages at last. He clears his throat and his hands twitch like they want to reach out across the small space of the elevator for John.
The doors to the elevators get forced open, Ronon's big frame suddenly filling the opening as he holds the doors open. "Need a hand, McKay?"
"Yes, thank you, what took you so long?" McKay demands, and John's smile is forced as he watches Ronon haul McKay out of the elevator until McKay, muttering about dislocated shoulders, turns and holds out his hand for John to take.
The phone call comes in the morning. It wakes him up, an hour before he agreed to meet McKay for breakfast. "Hello Constable John Sheppard," the voice says and John freezes in the act of reaching for his watch. "It really is unfortunate that Doctor McKay was available to respond to the request of his presence here - it would have had much less risk if he had stayed in Montreal."
"Who are you? What do you mean?"
"You can call me Todd and consider me a friend. I know who is killing the ones who go missing, and to keep these mountains safe from them, I am prepared to tell you who they are and where you can find them."
"As much as I love the helpful phone calls from strangers about the identity of serial killers in the cases I'm working on, I still have to ask, why?"
"An interest to keep the place safe, Constable Sheppard." Todd sounds amused when he answers, "And to make sure Doctor McKay doesn't die. They know he's here and that he will find them. Their plan is to find him first."
John tells himself that punching the wall won't help. "They won't get close enough."
Todd makes an amused sound. "Their work is very neat, Constable. The bones I led Miss Emmagen to were perfect examples of that. If they decide it is time, they will get their hands on Doctor McKay and I have no doubt that you will blow up the entire Pegasus mountains in order to get back at them. Sounds strangely familiar, doesn't it?"
"Who the fuck are you?"
"A friend. I'm sorry, this is supposed to be a call of alliance but habits are hard to shake. The Replicators are the ones behind the bodies - and there are many more than you suspect. Their views are...extreme." Todd pauses and then sighs, or at least that's what it sounds like to John. "I trust you will get your men, Mountie."
After Todd's told him where the Replicators are and hung up, John punches the wall.
It helps, a little.
"You know, I think Teyla likes me."
"You did give her the last slice of chocolate cake, McKay," John points out, and thinks that by their third day, Teyla really should be at least thawing to McKay. "Nothing melts a woman's heart faster than the combination of cake and chocolate. Except, maybe, the addition of ice cream."
"It was chocolate orange cake, of course I'd give it to someone else." McKay says, scowling at his phone. "I mean, she had to have tasted the orange and put two and two together. She owns this hotel! She should know her menu, and the hotel guest's deadly allergies!"
"Still," John says, "You gave her cake. Even when I was hinting towards maybe wanting cake, and Ronon looked like he was considering knocking you unconscious --"
"And you gave it to Teyla. It was a very touching moment, McKay."
"It wasn't like I was going to give cake away to someone who could give me a reaction later," McKay says absently, scowling even more fiercely at his phone. "Radek says my theory about the victims seems to be correct. Carson's running last tests now."
"So tomorrow we might have enough evidence to track down the Replicators?" John asks, the Replicators, according to Ronon, being a gang that had left Atlantis a few years back that would probably be both stupid enough and have extreme enough views to kill people like this.
"Seems that way. Nothing says Sunday like hunting down a gang of vicious killers in the mountains," McKay glances at John, lips curling up slightly. "Do I get a gun?"
"Ask me again tomorrow." John says, glancing away. He should give McKay a gun, that way he'd be able to shoot instead of get shot. "Wait, why would you get a reaction just by me eating that cake?"
"Oh look," McKay says, key already inserted into the lock on the door. "My room. Night John."
Morning did bring the results they were waiting for. "Cadman," McKay says over breakfast, "called at four to give me the soil results from the female victim! At four!"
"You did order them to call whenever they had anything," John points out, pushing his toast around the plate. "And the sooner they gave you those last results, the sooner they could go home."
"Soil results!" McKay stresses, waving a jam covered knife under John's nose. "Soil can wait until after coffee."
"Well, you gotta give her points for guts. So, what did the results say?"
"Cadman says that if we find an area with soil, to sample it and send it to the Laboratoire and she'll match it."
"Not like there's a lot of soil areas around here, it can't take that long." John says and gives up on the toast.
"Just for that, I'm going to have you do all the sampling. Of everything."
"I'm not letting you go with me."
McKay gapes at him. "I'm sorry, what?"
"I'll go track down the Replicators on my own. You stay here with Teyla and Ronon."
"You're not really serious, Sheppard. You dragged me up on this mountain to help you with the case, even when I was working on getting Radek up here instead, and I am cold, separated from actually doing the work - and didn't you listen when Teyla and Ronon talked about the Replicators? They're a gang and even with your frankly astonishing luck, you're just an American-born Mountie, not - not Superman."
"I'm coming back to that Superman comment later, but you're still not coming with me."
"Because Teyla says Kavanagh's skin showed up in town last night. They made a suit of it, McKay, like they've been pretending to be him or make a new him. I'm sending you to the morgue, and then you're coming back here. I'll get the Replicators myself." John pushes his chair away from the table and gets to his feet.
"You really don't get the point of us not fighting," McKay shouts after him as he walks out. "I can bribe Teyla and Ronon to follow you, since Teyla actually likes me now!"
John doesn't actually believe McKay will be able to convince Teyla and Ronon to follow him, but when he reaches his car, they're both standing right next to it. "You're not coming."
"Yes," Ronon says, stepping forward, and John notices the gun strapped to his thigh. "We are."
"No," John repeats, throwing the equipment he's bringing into the backseat of the car. "You're not."
"John," Teyla places one hand gently on his arm, using the other to turn his face towards her. "We do not truly know each other, but that does not mean we are willing to let you get lost in these mountains hunting the Replicators alone. We are coming with you, and with the Ancestors blessings, we will not die."
"Ancestors? Oh wow, you really need to talk to Rodney. You'll make his day." John says with the naïve hope that they'll go now.
"Perhaps, but it can wait." Teyla says, touching her forehead to John's. "You must face the truth that we are not prepared to let you leave without us. The misery of Athos will end tonight."
John's eyes dart to Ronon, who's leaning against the car and looking at them with an amused, determined expression. "Fine. Let's go."
The problem, John soon realizes, is that they won't be able to have the element of surprise. The Replicators, Ronon says, live where a car will be heard and definitely seen. So they parked the car, John radioed in the position for the RCMP and they walked for an hour through the snow until the tents are visible.
The problem is that even without the car, they stick out against the white snow and so when the gunfire starts, they aren't really that surprised and run for the closest form of cover they can find.
"Maybe I didn't think this through," John admits, because the Replicators are coming out of the woodwork. He hadn't expected a number this large - and he's guessing Teyla and Ronon didn't either because then he's pretty sure they'd have insisted on waiting for the RCMP.
Hindsight is always 20/20, John thinks, firing into the large mass of Replicators..
Their numbers are diminishing, and John's amazed because they won't stop coming. It doesn't matter how many fall, they keep filling in the spaces that are open. Ronon's been hit in the shoulder, is bleeding badly and John wants to scream. There's a small lull in the firefight for a moment, enough for John to look at the Replicators, really look and notice the beheaded heads in the snow, the flesh some of them are wearing.
"Disgusting, isn't it," John whirls around, gun drawn on a pale man in a black leather jacket who is smiling at him with teeth. "Calm, Constable. I am here to help - the more desirable reinforcements are due to arrive at any moment but you looked like you could use my help."
"Todd." John says and has to force the gun's muzzle to point away. "How long have you been here?"
"Not long. I've been observing as I walked to your aid. You three have been holding out for a long time."
"John?" Teyla calls and John turns to where Ronon has a second gun pointed at Todd, face grimacing against the pain.
"Aim it at the Replicators, Ronon. He's here to help." John shouts back and glares at Todd. "I don't like this."
"Who is asking you to, Constable Sheppard?" Todd asks, and starts to fire at the Replicators.
Todd turns out to be right as fifteen minutes later Pegasus Mountain's RCMP are firing at the Replicators along with them from behind the cars, the only cover that can provide safety for them - except for one car that doesn't swerve and stop.
Everything seems to stop as they all follow the car, silence from the gunfire as the side door of the car opens and McKay gets pushed out, rolling away from the car and immediately sitting up to stare after the car - not even moving for cover.
The car hits the Replicators, and then McKay's shouting 'get down! get down!' seconds before the car blows up. John waits until he's sure the parts have stopped raining down before he runs towards McKay.
"Rodney! Rodney, what happened? Who was that?"
McKay looks at him as John kneels in the snow beside him, eyes wide with shock and a bloody cut over his temple, "It - it was Fran. They killed her sister. We were looking at Kavanagh's body, and Lorne called with the identity of the female victim." McKay stares at the carnage. "They killed her sister. I tried to tell her she didn't have to, that I could - I could set something up, but she still did it."
"Rodney," John says, framing McKay's face with his hands and pressing their lips together.
"Doctor McKay, John, I'm so relieved you are okay." Teyla says, dropping to the ground beside them and wrapping her arms around them as they broke apart. Ronon joins the hug, hiss of pain barely audible, until the Athosian paramedics are dragging Ronon, Teyla and Rodney away to check them over.
"So all ends well, Constable Sheppard," Todd says and John barely hesitates, fist drawing back and hitting Todd squarely in the face.
Todd disappears somewhere between the Replicator camp and Athos, not that John's all that surprised when Teyla informs him no one's seen Todd since John punched him. John spends a week getting chewed out by the RCMP officers, another black spot for endangering civilians and not informing the RCMP of the plan.
The relief comes in the shape of lunch back in Montreal.
"It's going to take forever for the bones to be located," Rodney says, dropping into the seat next to him at the small cafe and stealing fries off his plate. "And can you believe that whole town knows who the Ancestors are?"
"I heard you tell the Laboratoire," John says, pushing the coffee cup away from McKay's hand. "Frequent visits being planned, huh?"
"Yeah. I mean, we're never going to get anywhere near the information we had before, but this is...we might get to change history after all." Rodney beams happily, snags John's coffee and jostles his knee against John's.
John watches him, the happy smile half-hidden behind John's coffee mug and doesn't resist the urge to reach out and take Rodney's hand in his. "Yeah, I guess you will."