Disclaimers at the beginning
Ronon was practically growling by the time he reached the surface. Despite his need to go find Willow it made sense for him to be the last to go up. The harness system the Atlanteans had rigged could only reach so far and the others, apart from Teyla, had needed a boost up to the closest ledge.
He ran down the slope, pausing briefly at the sight of the destruction caused by the landslide. Approaching the jumper he called out to Sheppard.
“Why aren’t you digging?” He snarled.
“She’s too deep. We’ve located an odd pocket in the debris that could be them. We can’t be sure as Willow’s shield probably would block the scan anyway.” Sheppard winced at the look on the Satedan’s face. “We’ll get her out. McKay has something up his sleeve.”
John put out an arm to prevent Ronon from grabbing Rodney. “Just let him work.”
“When was the last time you spoke to her?” Sheppard could hear the frustration in his voice that he couldn’t contact her himself.
“About 10 minutes ago. Shields seem to take a lot out of her and I don’t want to drain her further by talking constantly.”
Ronon growled before striding away to the edge of the slide. Sheppard headed over to the Chief Scientist.
“McKay, how’s it going?”
“A lot better if people didn’t keep bugging me.” Rodney shot him a look.
“Better me asking you than Ronon.” McKay glanced over to where the big man was pacing.
“I’m close. But I can’t be sure this will even work. It was just an idea Radek and I have been bouncing about. I,” Seeing the concern in his face, John held up his hand.
“We know, just do your best.” McKay nodded then turned back to what he was doing.
Teyla and Beckett came over at a jog.
“What I wouldn’t give for an Asguard transporter right now. You guys aright?”
“We’re fine Colonel.” Beckett glanced over to Ronon, checking he was out of earshot. “How are things progressing I’m growing concerned over Willow’s condition.”
“How so Doc?”
“She seems to be having more trouble focusing in order to speak to me and not always making a lot of sense. She’s also expressed concerns over Piotr. From her description he appears to be catatonic, this kind of experience is obviously traumatic however the sooner we get them out the better.”
“Rodney’s doing his best.” John glanced over at the scientist.
“I understand I just wanted to keep you informed.” Carson grasped the other man’s shoulder.
“Thanks Carson, I know.” Sheppard looked toward the Satedan. “Willow’s going to be under house arrest after this.”
~That’s not fair. It wasn’t my fault.~
“Hey Willow. Ronon’s pretty freaked, you’ll be lucky to make it to the bathroom alone.”
John smiled, then frowned as he felt a flare of panic.
“Willow? Willow! Carson, can you hear her?”
“Hang on just let me concentrate.”
Their outcry caused Ronon to come running.
“What!” Teyla grabbed his arm. “The Colonel was talking to her when something happened. Be calm, they’re trying to re-establish their connection.”
“Don’t panic lass. Just keep calm, breathe Willow, that’s it just breathe.”
John pulled the others away from where Carson was trying to calm the redhead.
“She thought Piotr wasn’t breathing.” John leant up against the jumper. “Carson’s worried about her head injury. We can’t be sure whether there’s really a problem with the boy or not.”
“We need to get her out now.” Ronon looked ready to tear the hillside apart on his own.
“I’d love to, I really would big guy but what can we do? They’re buried under meters of unstable earth.”
“I think I’ve got it!” At McKay’s exclamation they all hurried over.
Stood before him, connected to a data tablet was the odd black box that had delayed their take off.
“What is it?” Ronon looked ready to throttle the scientist.
“Think of it as a magical transponder. When we were monitoring Willow’s magic we discovered there are certain energy signatures that are more, sympathetic, with however she does what she does. I haven’t quite figured it out yet but I think with a few more,”
“Sorry, right. Radek and I have postulated that Willow should be able to lock on to this frequency and use it as a beacon.”
“So she won’t be transporting herself blind. She sends herself to the specific location.” Sheppard nodded in understanding.
“But you haven’t tested it.” Beckett sounded cautious.
“No, but does anyone have a better idea?” McKay glared at the doctor.
“No. I’m just a mite concerned. She’s already under terrific strain, with a head injury as well and we’re asking her to try something completely untested.”
“She can do it.” The look of utter faith on Ronon’s face was humbling.
“Well, go ahead and tell her.” Rodney looked exasperated at the pair.
“Tell her what McKay, lock onto frequency 107 and beam yourself there?”
“It’s not 107, oh I see. If she’s never felt it before how’s she going to know what to lock onto? Well you need to tell her,” He glanced up as he felt someone loom over him.
“You could talk to her.” Ronon face brooked no argument.
“I can’t. I mean I don’t want her in my, it’s not that I don’t want to help her but,” He backed away as the Satedan edged closer threateningly.
“Ronon, enough.” Sheppard put a hand on his chest despite its ineffectiveness. “McKay, just try and explain it to me. We can work this out.” John moved round next to Rodney to study the readouts.
After the third nervous glance to the glowering Satedan, John snapped. “McKay, forget about him and concentrate on making me understand this.”
“He’s right. The best way to do this would be for me to explain to her directly. I just,”
“It’s alright Rodney. Willow understands how you feel about it. This will work if you just focus.”
“No. I need to.” He took a deep breath. “Tell her to try again.”
Sheppard hesitated before nodding his agreement.
~John? Is everyone OK?~
~We’re fine. I need you to talk to Rodney.~
~No! Messing with people’s head is wrong. I promised, no more.~
~This is different. I promise you Rodney said it was OK.~
~I mustn’t~ Her voice sound scared and small.
~Willow, you have to. Piotr needs you to do this.~
John held his breath in the silence.
~Alright, if you’re sure it’s OK. Is he ready?~
“OK McKay, you’re up.” John’s hopes fell where he saw the look of terror on his face but as ever when things got critical McKay pulled himself together. Taking a steadying breath he nodded.
~Hi~ The touch was feather light and for a moment Rodney wondered if he’d imagined it.
~Thank you for helping us. What do you need me to do?~
“Do you need me to say it or can you just suck it out?” He ignored Sheppard as he rolled his eyes and mouthed ‘nice’.
~Um, your mind’s pretty ordered you could just think it and I’ll try and pick it up.~
“OK.” Rodney mentally ran through the experiments and their results, culminating in the transponder’s function.
~I understand Rodney.~
“Do you think it will work?”
~You built it. I believe in you.~
Rodney sucked in a breath at the level of trust she put in him.
“Let’s do it.” He switched the transponder on and waited. He could feel the others agitation but just focused on the unit’s output.
The witch’s sudden appearance still made him jump despite being the one who helped orchestrate it. He watched as Ronon rushed to her side, handing the boy over to Teyla.
“Nice work, McKay.” Sheppard slapped his shoulder, watching as the medics checked them over. “How they doing, Doc?”
“She’s obviously exhausted and concussed. I’d like to get them back to Atlantis as soon as possible for scans but I’m pretty sure they’ll both be fine.”
There were smiles all round as they loaded the jumpers back up. Not even Beckett’s patented glare could pry Willow out of Ronon’s arms. The sight of little Piotr desperately clutching the now unconscious woman’s hand was heartbreaking but not even the lure of chocolate could entice him away.
The boys stood proudly at the display of baked goods before them. Willow and Piotr had been the main contributors, but everyone had a hand in the end, for Atlantis’s first-annual-(maybe)-thank-you bake off. The trip to Atlantis had been their treat, Fen’s squeals had almost made Sheppard regret the offer but the joy on their faces made up for it.
Willow slapped away John’s hand, glaring at him sternly.
“Rodney gets first pick.”
“But there’ll be none left for anyone else.” He whined. John’s mocking of Rodney dried up at Willow’s pointed glance at his hair.
“Fine.” He moved to stand over with Ronon. “Remind me to ease back on drawing Willow out of her shell.” Ronon grunted not taking his eyes of Willow.
“You know, if you keep this up she’s going to turn you into a rat or something.” John commented watching the proceedings as McKay decided what he wanted. He wasn’t surprised at the lack of response but at least he’d tried. Finally Rodney had completed his selection and a beaming Willow waved him over.
“See that wasn’t so bad, besides,” She reached down beneath the table. “I’d already saved you these.”
Sheppard bit back a snort as he was presented with a trio of Wolverine gingerbread cookies. Revenge was going to be so sweet.