Breaking Walls

Wizard McKay

Five hours of blessedly undisturbed work later, McKay was quickly running out of options. There was absolutely no way he was getting into the room with the pulse generator or to the Zed P M. Equally impenetrable were the safeguards preventing him drawing enough power away from the room to generate an effective counter pulse. Not only could he not get the Star-Gate working, boosting communications did not appear to be an option either.

It couldn't possibly be any worse. Rodney had not doubt that Sheppard would assume he hadn't tried hard enough. The flyboy didn't know the meaning of the word impossible. And did Sheppard really have to give him that look every single time he delegated work to specialized science team? Even if Rodney did decide to make it known what he could do, he was just one person. He could only be in one place at a time and it was up to him to decide where he should be.

Physics was his chosen specialty. Archaeology was dull. Linguistics was too easy and ultimately useless. Medicine? Even the thought of having to cut into someone made Rodney want to pass out or vomit, even if it was to help them. There was a big difference between intellect and capability. But limits didn't seem to be something Sheppard could understand either.

Realized he'd been letting his mind wander, Rodney berated himself and turned his attention back to the task at hand. His first responsibility was to establish contact with Atlantis. Even if he couldn't get the gate working, at least they could consult with Carson. Then he could try again to get the gate working.

Unfortunately, at this rate by the time he figured out how to do that, if it were even possible, the Daedalus would probably have reached them. A week and a half with these kids while waiting for the Daedalus to get here would be hell. The danger of being infected by whatever nasty experiment had escaped from this facility and put the village to sleep wasn't anything to yawn at either.

"Rodney?" An impossibly tired sounding voice came from the entrance to the Ancient Facility.

He sighed and turned his full attention to the interruption. It wasn't as though there were anything else he could accomplish here anyway. "What? Teyla!?"

Teyla was leaning sleepily against a far wall, Neira and Miller Boy appeared to be helping to keep her up. The sickness must be affecting her, but then why wasn't she with Ronon and Sheppard!? McKay rushed over and waved the two children back. "Teyla, c'mon. I'll get you some coffee."

"It won't help. We have already tried. Colonel Sheppard succumbed some time ago, as did Ronon. I was the last to begin showing symptoms. I have come to warn you to hurry. Many of the older children have also fallen asleep. I have been unable to wake them." Her head lolled, but with effort she kept her eyes open.

Rodney looked at her in horror, "Some time ago?! Well, why didn't you come and get me sooner?!"

"Ronon suggested as much, but you said yourself, Rodney, you are not a medical doctor. When we could not wake Col. Sheppard, I thought your skills would be best used here." With effort, she pushed herself away from the wall and forced herself to remain standing. "How are you feeling?"

"You know me, tired but I still have a few days of work left in me before I crash." Rodney looped an arm awkwardly around Teyla, to support her, and guided her back towards the door. He was kicking himself internally for making Ronon and Teyla believe there was no way he could have helped them out there.

"Where are you taking me? You must deactivate the energy pulse." Teyla tried to turn back to the facility.

"I can't," Rodney confessed, trying not to sound too panicked. He had definitely not expected the other to get sick this quickly. "I tried everything. So I might as well take a look at the problem in the village. Failing that, maybe I can get far enough down the mountain to get a message to Atlantis."

Her eyes popped open at that. Rodney couldn't face those strange beasts alone, "You mustn't."

"Last resort. Believe me. Now would you stop struggling before we slip on the ice?" Rodney meeped when she suddenly became heavier, causing him to slide sideways.

The two children he had shooed caught him and pushed him upright.

"She's asleep now." The little boy informed.

"No, really? I hadn't deduced that myself. Thank you." Rodney's snark seemed lost on the boy as he positively beamed at the mock praise.

The girl scowled competitively at the boy, "Your friends fell asleep much more faster than the other adults. They grew sleepier for weeks before they stopped waking up."

"Hmph," Rodney grunted as he shifted Teyla's weight. To his surprise the two children each took one of her legs. "Now that's helpful."

The children looked at each other in confusion then looked back at McKay, and the girl asked, "Do you mean the carrying or my information."

"Both of course!" Rodney snipped then focussed on keeping his footing as he carried Teyla backwards down the small icy hill and back to the village.

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Neira watched the strange man who had come with Teyla. He was moving between the beds of those who had come with him. First he'd made certain Teyla was warm and comfortable. Then he'd gone to the one with the messy hair. And last to the really big one that had been giving piggy back rides before he fell. That one had hit his head on the ice too. The man checked under the bandages and refastened them.

He'd asked her lots of questions the whole time. Like who was the first person affected, who they came into contact with, anything they touches. She'd answered dutifully. After-all, with Father and Brayne unable to wake up, leadership of the village fell to her.

Teyla and those with her had seemed sure that this man would be able to turn off the Ancestral Magic that was affecting the Ring. So maybe he could help stop the curse too. Neira had decided that the best thing she could do for the village was be helpful for this man.

She had seen the Ancestral artefacts come to life at his touch. And even though he was an adult like the others he seemed completely unaffected by the curse. To do all that, he must be a powerful magician. But he wasn't an Ancestor. He didn't act at all the way she'd expect an Ancestor to behave. All of the children had discussed it at length and had a pretty good idea of what he might be. That was another good reason to believe he could help. But would he? He seemed willing.

The man looked at something he wore on his wrist as he held the messy-haired one's wrist.

"What are you doing?" She asked when he reached a bed with a villager.

He looked at the bed for a moment before gently picking up a bony wrist. The villager had been among the first to fall. "I'm checking their heart rates."

He took a black stick out of his pocket and held open one of the eyes of the villager. Neira watched in amazement as light beamed out of the stick and into the villager's eye. "What's that?!"

"Ugh. It's a flashlight!" he snapped. "In terms you can understand, it's like a candle only without the fire and you can aim it better. Ok?" Whatever he saw in the eyes of the villager, he looked unhappy about it.

The strange man stood and looked over the rest of the hall. Many of the villagers looked as thin and worn as the one he had just examined.

Neira watched his shoulders sagged sadly, "Why are you sad?"

"Because I should have been down here first," he answered. But Neira thought he was talking more to himself than to her.

"Can you help them?" She asked when he seemed to be finished poking and examining all the people, shining his light down their throats and in their eyes.

His expression was grim and at first he didn't answer. "I don't have the right equipment. You people are living in the stone-age here."

The strange man went to the nearest window and looked out with a hopeless expression. He'd told Teyla that if he couldn't fix everything here he'd go down the mountain to contact their people. That must be what he was considering now. If he did that, Neira was certain he would be killed. "You mustn't go down the mountain. Our village is very skilled at crafting. If you tell us what you need maybe we can help you build it?"

"I find that highly unlikely." He turned dismissively from her gentle tug on his sleeve, "Modern medical equipment is highly advanced and very delicate and…"

He trailed off and stared out the window. His expression changed so that his eyes seemed to light up in thought. Neira had to stand on her tip-toes to peek out and see what had his attention. "And what?"

"And are actually not that complicated at all; at least not at their most basic functions. The digital information storage and processing, and laser enhancement is useful but…" He still had that strange far away look, then suddenly he snapped his fingers and slapped his fist into his palm so fast that it his hands blurred.

Neira hoped the strange man was alright. He might be their only hope, "I don't understand."

"No of course you don't. Come with me." He was out the door in a flash, barely waiting for her to follow.

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It took less than an hour for Neira to organize all of the supplies on the strange man's list. She was quite proud of that. All the children were pitching in. The man had said to hurry so they tried extra hard. She poked her head into the glass-blowers lodge, and was a bit surprised to see the glass-blowers son standing in the corner pouting.

"You let Toran get the wagon wheel for you," the glass-blowers son wined. "You let Ryn gather the rope. You even let Mikya find the wool and prepare the leather. Why can't I blow the glass? I know how! My father is the glass blower."

"I already told you!" The strange man snapped as he carefully drew the glass from the fire and shaped it using the glass-blowers tools. "You have to be at least as tall as this pole to play with burning hot liquid glass."

He stuck the hot glass on the end of the pole and blew carefully, dumped it into the water bucket and re-fired, "All those degrees and I've been reduced to this."

Only when he cut the finished work from the pole and set it to cool did he notice Neira standing at the door. She couldn't help but bob up and down as she told him how quickly they'd gotten everything. She waited expectantly… and frowned when he said nothing.

"Aren't you going to say I did a good job?" She asked when he began to gather the things he'd made.

"Don't you already know you did a good job?" The strange man replied without even looking at her.

Neira nodded with certainty, "Of course…but!"

"But nothing. If you already know then you don't need anybody to say it. Do you?" He glanced up at her momentarily.

"Um…." Neira thought about it a moment, and then decided he was right. She nodded at him.

Then he was out the door in a flash, after a quick command that both she and the glass-blowers son not touch anything.

"Neira!" The boy wined, "Are you sure he can turn us into toads if we don't do what he says. I didn't see him use any magic at all."

Neira narrowed her eyes at the boy, "You know your father doesn't let you anywhere near the fires. You're just mad because the Morinin already knew that and wouldn't let you blow the glass either."

The boy gasped, "You don't really think he read my mind?! This is horrible. I just know he's going to boil and eat us."

"Don't be stupid!" Neira scolded. "If he was going to do that he would have done it by now. But that doesn't mean he won't turn you into a toad if you go too near the fire. Just because he's not here doesn't mean he can't see you."

The boy backed farther away from the fire and then bolted out the door.

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It was late, but the stranger was showing no signs of slowing down. Mikya stifled a big yawn and played with on of her springy red curls. One of the boys would be here to take over for her soon. She couldn't remember which one.

Neira had decided that at least one person should stay with this guest at all times to make sure he has whatever he needs. She guessed it made sense, if he really was what all the other children said he was. Mikya wasn't really sure if being the Elders daughter entitled Neira to be in charge, but the others seemed to be going along with it so…

She yawned again and decided it would be better if she walked around to help her stay awake. The large storage hut next to the mill was now filled with so many strange wonders. The tables along the warmest side of the room held lots of glass dishes with the substance that the strange man had made from powdered wheat. He'd called it 'substitute agar', and refused to explain further. Each one also held a cotton swab.

On another table, glass tubes were carefully balanced, holding the potions he'd made from the blood of the ill. It sent shivers down her spine just thinking about it. The wagon wheel had been made into a spinning the device that could make one liquid turn into two or three different liquids to be separated. She couldn't remember what he'd called it.

"Aha! There you are. You're a fast little guy. That is a pretty damn short gestation period." The strange man was hunched over the apparatus of glass and leather tubing, and talking to it.

"Why are you talking to it?" Mikya whispered so as not to disturb him. He had made her promise to be quiet.

He jumped and almost dropped own of the lenses he was holding under the apparatus. "Would you please not sneak up on me like that?! And why are you whispering?"

"You told me to be quiet." Mikya frowned up at him. If he were as powerful as Neira said he was, surely he would have remembered that.

He glowered at her and then turned back to the thing. "Talking sometimes helps me to think. I've determined that the infection is definitely bacteriological. Only the bacteria is definitely not natural. Of course I already suspected it had been bio-engineered but these guys have been restructured to produce a pretty potent drug. And why am I telling this to Pebbles Flintstone?"

"Because talking helps you to think," Mikya reminded him helpfully.

"Yes… thank you," he frowned at her. "What's interesting is that it took so much longer to reproduce in you people than it did in us. I mean, Sheppard I can understand, he's not from this galaxy. But, neither am I, and I'm not effected at all. And I find it unlikely that you'd have a natural resistance to something that's been biologically engineered."

"You don't expect me to answer you any more than that thing, do you?" Mikya pointed at the glass lensed thing he'd been using.

"No, I don't!" He narrowed his eyes at her again, annoyed at the interruption.

"Good, because you make no sense at all." She narrowed her eyes right back at him. Mikya wasn't afraid of him. Everybody had decided he was harmless anyway, even if their suspicions were right. In fact, she decided that she'd be the one to just ask him. "Are you a Morinin?"

"Am I a what?" He looked genuinely confused.

Mikya supposed he might not be called that anymore. The stories were very old after-all. "A Morinin. They're warlocks with powerful magic and they fought against the Ancestors to drive them away. They're evil, and they're scary, and they eat children."

"No, I'm not a whatever that is! I'm a scientist. What made you ask that?" He actually turned from the dishes he'd been examining and looked at her this time.

"Well…It's not just me. Everybody's saying it." She began to count out the reasons on her fingers, "You're really smart."

He sighed, "And smart means warlock? I told you I'm a scientist."

"And you can make the ancestors magic work." She held up another damning finger.

"It's not magic. It's very advanced science. Look, see…" He motioned for her to look into the device he was using but she continued.

"And you brew potions." Another finger went up.

"Oh for crying out loud." He covered his face with his hands.

"And you're grumpy. Warlocks are all grumpy." Finger number four was held up now.

"I don't believe this!" He looked up as though addressing the Ancestors.

Finally she held up finger number five, "And you like the Elna stone. Everyone knows that Warlocks like sweet things. That's why they eat children."

She moved onto her next hand, "And you haven't been affected by the curse like all the other adults. And you don't even seem very tired at all. Everyone knows that Morinin don't need to sleep."

He took a deep calming breath before addressing her again. "Isn't it past your bed time? You have bed-times on this planet, don't you?"

Mikya reached up and patted him on the shoulder, "It's ok if you are. We think you're different from the Morinin in the stories. You're with Teyla, and you're using your magic to help us, so you must be a good warlock."

He stood and glared down at her angrily, and she backed up a few steps despite her earlier proclamation that she wasn't afraid, "Listen to me you backward little gnome. There's no such thing as magic and I am not a Morin…"

He trailed off and a thoughtful look flashed in his eyes. He wasn't looking

at her anymore. "Morinin… That could be ancient. Nin is a common suffix. Indicating person-hood. Mori….. M'ori…. M' being a somewhat less common prefix… leaving Ori… oh dear."

Mikya felt her flash of nervousness at his anger evaporate into confusion, "You're doing it again."

He looked at her as though just remembering she was there, "Where did you learn these stories? There must be some hard records of it somewhere."

"The stories are painted on the walls of a cave nearby, but the bridges are gone." It seemed odd that he was suddenly so interested in them.

"Alright, that's fine." He waved that idea away with a hand, "There's no time for that. I'll take your word for it. These Morinin, are they the ones that built the temple?"

Mikya nodded. If he was Morinin, shouldn't he know this?

"And the sweet things they liked, was it the Elna stone, besides the children I mean?" He held up one of the sweets.

Mikya nodded. It was actually only the Elna stones that were in the drawings, but everybody knew that Morinin ate naughty children too.

With a sudden snap of his fingers and a slap of his fist into his palm he grabbed one of the strange glass tubes he'd made and set it in a holder over a flame. Soon water was boiling in the tube, and he dropped in one of the stones. It dissolved quickly.

Mikya was watching all of this with great interest when the boy replacing her came in, hair ruffled and face still pillow creased. She recognized him as one who had been visiting from a neighbouring village when the curse began.

The boy's eyes popped open when he saw the room, and the strange man bustling about in it. "What's he doing?"

"I think he's making another potion," Mikya whispered so that the man couldn't hear.

The Morinin, for that's what Mikya had decided he was, strolled past them with the heated vial and held it out the door in the cold night air. One hand stirred it vigorously with a long metal stick. After a few moments he held the back of his hand against the vial, to test the temperature, and brought it back inside.

He carefully poured a small drop out of the vial and into the glass dish under the apparatus. The two children didn't understand what he was doing, but they held their breaths along with him while he looked into the thing. The Morinin smiled.

"What do you see?" Mikya whispered.

"That this is no average honey. The antimicrobial properties go well beyond simple osmotic effect and high P.H. It also contains a powerful narrow spectrum bactericidal and bacteriostatic. Probably an intentional genetic modification, but there's no way to be sure without way better equipment than anything I can build here. There are limits. Your parents don't consume nearly as much of this stuff as you. Hence, they are fast asleep while you're still climbing up the walls. Did Teyla and Ronon have any?" He looked at them only when he asked the final question.

It took a moment for Mikya to realize he was talking to them, she'd been so dazed by all the other strange things he'd been saying. "Teyla had one, and some Elna tea. The big man had just one and nothing else with Elna in it. The other didn't want anything with Elna in it."

"Which is why Sheppard went down first, then Ronon, and finally Teyla." He looked back into his device as he continued, "I need you and the others to gather all of the Elna stones and everything else that's made from this Elna stuff and bring it here while I work on calculating the dosage."

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The first thing Sheppard became aware of was a thick heavy fog, and the certainty that he needed to be awake. The certainty brought panic as he struggled through the fog. His limbs felt heavy and his mouth tasted like he'd been frenched by a wraith. Then he could hear children talking, "They're waking up!"

His eyes opened too sluggishly. It took a few blinks for him to focus on the room. It was a long hall. On either side of him, Teyla and Ronon lay on beds looking as groggy as he. Something had caught both their attention though, so he followed their gaze to two young children walking down the rows of beds. They were practicing snapping their fingers and slapping their fists into their hands.

"Where am I?" Sheppard was seriously beginning to doubt he was actually awake.

"You're obviously not fully awake if you're asking stupid questions like that. Here. You're supposed to drink this now." A young, and snarky, voice was followed by a tray set on a table beside his bed. A blue eyed boy scowled at Sheppard, "You better drink it all."

The little girl Sheppard recognized as Neira then went bounding over to Teyla's bed. "Teyla! You're awake! Father is waking up soon too. He's already begun to stir."

Teyla sipped the hot liquid that had been left by her bed to find her voice, "Neira? What has happened?"

Neira smiled brightly, "The warlock you brought found a way to counter the curse using the Elna. I have organized the others to distribute the medicine, and the signal fires were lit to spread news of the cure to the other villages, and there are baskets on ropes that are bringing supplies so we have enough food now."

Teyla smiled encouragingly at the youngest daughter of the Village Elder, "Very good Neira. You have done your father proud."

"I know," the girl shrugged dismissively.

All three team members watched as the girl who at that age should have been craving the praise, dismissed it off hand. It was a positively McKay thing to do. Sheppard realized with horror that they'd all turned into mini-McKay's! By the alarmed look on Teyla's face, and the grim look on Ronon's, they'd observed the same. A brief scan of the room revealed that they were surrounded. Throughout the room, children were carrying trays, and helping those who were ill the longest to eat. Little bits of Rodney's mannerisms seemed to be popping out of each of them. It was scary.

"Uh, Neira? Where's the warlock now?" Sheppard asked once he'd pinched himself just to make certain he was really awake.

"He fell asleep in the lab. I didn't want to wake him." Neira lowered her voice to a whisper as though she could wake him from here. "While you've been laying on your back relaxing for two days he's been doing all the work. He said you do that a lot."

"Lab?" Teyla repeated.

Neira shrugged, "That's what he called it. I'll show you where it is, but you have to promise not to wake him yet." She lifted her head haughtily when she gave the order.

"Ok…" Sheppard agreed simply. He was unsure what else to say to the young mini-McKay. It didn't seem right to snark back the way he would with Rodney.

And, even if Rodney had come up with the cure, what would these kids' parents think? He could picture it now, 'Thank you for curing us, now please never come back.' This was by far going to be the strangest way McKay had ever managed to turn a village against them.

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The sun was bright on the snow and ice. Sheppard shielded his eyes and zipped up his coat. The mountain air was refreshing, and the blast of cold air chased away the last of the sleepy cobwebs in Sheppard's head. Beside him, Teyla and even Ronon huddled deeper into their coats. A glance at the sun told him it was mid-afternoon.

If they'd been out of action for two days, then the Daedalus would already be on its way. Still, with any luck Sheppard hoped that McKay could get the gate working long before they got to Atlantis.

Sheppard turned towards the Temple, fully expecting the lab to be one of the rooms in the Ancient research facility. McKay must have found the Ancients research about this illness there.

But Neira took hold of his sleeve with an exasperated sigh and tugged in the opposite direction. "It's this way. Come on. I don't have all day. Do you think it's easy running a whole town by myself? I'm nine winters old and have no time to play! So chop chop!"

Sheppard nodded numbly at the child, and she let go of his sleeve and marched off.

"This is scary," Ronon observed and followed.

The girl guided them towards the farthest end of the village, where a large mill sat at the side of an enormous crevice. At the far side of the crevice was the second village, and up a great cliff above the edge of the third and final village could barely be seen. It was an impressive view.

Children whom they'd seen playing when they arrived were marching industriously in and out of the mill, carrying small crates between them.

A small sigh reminded Sheppard that he was supposed to be following, not standing and staring at the children.

"They're sending more medicine to the other villages. The Elna wasn't strong enough on its own at first so he made it stronger. It's really disgusting. But once it's in your system you can just have normal Elna. Now, be really quiet. He had a terrible headache after helping us get the rope across where the bridge used to be." Neira pushed open the door to a long lodge that was attached to the mill.

'Uh-oh,' rang through Sheppard's head, but the alarm bell was forgotten when he saw what was in the room.

Teyla's eyes nearly popped out of her head when the surveyed the room. Glass vials, narrow and wide, filled with various coloured liquid decorated the tables. Empty Petri dishes were soaking in a barrel of strong smelling alcohol. And over the alcohol, a strong medicinal smell hung in the air.

What caught Sheppard's eye was the horizontal wagon wheel that was roped to some gears and had vials tied around the edge. He gripped what appeared to be a handle and pushed. The wheel spun to life at the slightest nudge, lifting the vials. It was a centrifuge.

Teyla lifted a microscope off of a table and carried it over to Sheppard, "I have not known the people of this planet to have technology like this!"

"Maybe McKay built it," Ronon suggested. He too was examining something in the corner.

Teyla moved back to the vials of coloured liquid, "Can Rodney have done all this?"

"Why not?" Ronon shrugged, "He made that sun-screen he uses every-time we go to a planet with a little sun. That's chemistry. He knows Wraith technology. That's biology." When Sheppard stared at him strangely he added, "I'm from an industrialized planet."

"Right," Sheppard found it easy to forget that for some reason. Ronon just didn't seem like the sort he'd expect to find in Starbucks or strolling down Main Street. Well… maybe in New York.

A quiet groan came from the corner beside the table Teyla was examining and the three team-mates went to find Rodney just waking up. A blanket had been tucked around him and a stuffed doll rested against his side, probably the work of the children.

"Rodney?" Sheppard knelt in front of him, remembering the alarm bells news of the headache had set off. "How's your head?"

"Better… not great, but better…Sheppard?" Rodney's eyes snapped open and he looked blearily up at his team mates. "You're awake!" He scrambled for his watch. "Three hours!"

"Slow down!" Sheppard caught McKay when he stood too quickly, "Finish waking up before you try walking. And then maybe you could get us caught up?"

Rodney pushed away from the close contact and leaned against the wall, "Right." He blinked and rubbed his eyes, "The sickness that spread through the villages and affected you was a bacteria. It was designed specifically to put the victim to sleep indefinitely. It's a biological weapon. And before you ask something stupid like why the Ancients would make something like that, can we all think of one group of life sucking aliens we'd like to go back to sleep for a really long time?" He picked up speed as he was talking and seemed to wake up properly, by the calculating look on his face as he surveyed the room. "Anyway, the reason I wasn't affected is because of the candies I was eating. Mother always said honey was good for fighting colds. It's got some sort of anti-bacterial properties. So I figured, why not try it? Right?"

John rolled his eyes, and Ronon levelled a disbelieving look at Rodney. Teyla narrowed her eyes suspiciously and looked again at the thing Sheppard had called a centrifuge.

"We're, uh, lucky it was such a simple solution this time and we didn't need Carson after all. Eh?" Rodney smiled that way that always made him lose at team poker night, and didn't seem to be aware he was holding his breath.

Having genius come so easily to him seemed to sometimes make it difficult for McKay to judge what should and shouldn't seem complicated to other people. Usually he over-estimated his team's intelligence, which could be frustrating. And sometimes he underestimated it, like now, which was a little insulting.

"Right," Sheppard swallowed his annoyance, they could break it to Rodney that they weren't buying any of it later. "Any luck getting the gate working or contacting Atlantis?"

Rodney released the breath he'd been holding and bounced on his heels, clearly convinced that they'd bought it. "Not yet but I expect that once the bacteria is all dead the shield will drop, I hope."

"Good. Then we should probably go help the kids distribute the medicine." Sheppard turned and headed toward the door, and Ronon followed. Teyla didn't look happy about dropping it, but reluctantly turned to follow.

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Disappointment was the last thing Rodney had expected to feel when his team believed him. Could they really be that dumb?

Teyla looked at him a moment longer before turning to follow Sheppard. Teyla had waited until she could barely stay awake before she came to get him.

He wasn't even sure why he'd lied to them. What reason could he possibly have not to trust them? "Wait."

Sheppard and Ronon paused at the door. Teyla turned to face him with laboured patience, her jaw set, "What is it, Rodney?"

He looked away from the angry look she gave and studied a spot on the floor. He should have known she knew. She could be surprisingly intelligent. "I'm sorry, Teyla." He blurted it without really thinking about what he was saying, "I shouldn't have let you think that I couldn't help. You are a smart and trustworthy and good person and I treated you like you weren't. It's not that I don't trust you. Ok, it is that I don't trust you. But it's not that I don't want to trust you and it's not because I think you're untrustworthy because I don't. And my secrets aren't worth your lives, or anyone's. It's just difficult and complicated and I have no idea what I'm saying right now this is totally unplanned."

When Teyla and the others didn't say anything Rodney looked up. They were scrutinizing him. Well, this was awkward. He replayed his words in his head in case he'd said something terribly insulting. He sometimes did that with women.

But before he could finish Teyla walked back over to him with a challenging look. Rodney flinched, prepared to be slapped. "Perhaps you should begin by explaining to us what you have been running from. What are you frightened of?"

Telling them was easier than he'd expected.

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