By Enola Jones

Rodney McKay was not a stupid man. He learned quickly, and he learned well. There were some things that were now ingrained into him especially since he had developed his powers.

People are going to hate you even more now.

The horrible time with the crazy mutant-hater had taught him that. But most of Atlantis protected the mutants in their midst and Rodney was sure that a lot of it had to do with the fact that the military head was a mutant as well and the 2IC was practically family, having been raised with superheroes.

Rodney was damned lucky Lorne hadn't been raised by super-villains!

Hide your powers on away missions.

Really, seriously, how many planets could he be mistaken for being a witch on? Too many to count, apparently. So now, he hid what he could do. John's ability could be blamed on natural forces wind or something brushing against... but no natural force could grow crystal in three seconds flat.

Even though it was only hardened air.

Stick together. If you have to split up, stay in radio contact.

It had been a trap. Kolya had captured Rodney and was currently ranting to the man tied to a chair about how he was going to use Rodney's intellect to help him oust Cowan.

Rodney just rolled his eyes.

And Kolya backhanded him. In the past, that had broken Rodney the threat of pain, of torture had gotten him babbling everything the rogue Genii had wanted to know.

But now, all that happened was the eyes that turned to meet Kolya's were a furious shade of cobalt. Hard eyes. Eyes full of rage.

Unsettled by the emotion there, Kolya ordered his men to 'have fun'. For the next ten minutes, blows rained upon Rodney's face and body. One of those eyes was sealed shut by blows. The mouth dripped blood from one corner down to his chin. His uniform was torn by the violence and his arms and stomach area took terrible punishing.

"Enough!" Kolya said. The men parted and he crouched down in front of the tied man. He smiled a terrible, crooked smile. "Well, Doctor? Now will you tell me what I want to know?"

You don't have to break. Your friends believe you're strong. You can be strong.

Rodney met his eyes. After a moment's silence, he said softly:


Kolya reeled back, completely startled. Who was this man? This can't be McKay McKay would have broken long before this!

He turned to his men. "Bring the Athosian. Perhaps seeing you torture her will--"

Your friends are your family.

"Leave her alone."

Kolya turned back to Rodney. "Then you will tell me what I need to know."

"Sheppard and Dex--"

"Have no idea where you are. Talk, Doctor!"


"Bring her now!"


You're the fix-it man. Fix it.

The men scrambled to comply with Kolya's orders. Kolya backhanded Rodney again, for good measure.

Then he found himself taking a step backward when the blue eye focused back onto him. He heard two words hissed out through clenched teeth that he never expected to hear from Rodney McKay.

"Big. Mistake."

Suddenly Rodney's hands flipped around the chair, broken ropes flying, their ends coated with crystal.

Kolya blinked, drawing his gun.

Rodney's hand flashed forward, and the gun and both Kolya's hands were suddenly encased in crystal. Rodney untied his feet, his eye never leaving Kolya. He stood up swayed drunkenly and walked over to the table behind Kolya.

Never taking his eyes off of the stunned Genii, he put his radio in his ear. "McKay to Sheppard."

"Rodney? Thank G-d, where are you? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." And he was shocked at how easily the lie slipped out. "We're in what looks to be a hut, and I can smell salt water nearby."

"The sea," he heard Ronon rumble. "We're close by."

"I'll get Teyla. And John? It's Kolya."

"Are you sure?"

"Considering I'm looking right at him, I'm as sure as I can be!"

"We'll be right there!"

"I'll be here." He closed the channel. "Now. You tell your men to bring Teyla in."

"And if I refuse?"

Rodney crossed the room and put a hand on Kolya's neck letting it pulse. "Then I will give you a crystal necklace and garrote you with it."

Kolya studied his face. And what he saw there was absolute truth. McKay meant every word. But still-- "I think you're bluffing."

A flash of light under his chin, and he felt the harsh scrape of rock on his skin. He felt it tighten.

Grunts and groans from down the hall and the door burst open. "Rodney what are you doing?" Teyla's welcome voice.

"Are you injured?" he asked her.

"I am not," she said and as she came into his field of vision, he could see it was true. "You, however--"

"Will make it till we get home," he interrupted her.

Kolya smirked at him. "She's here. She's unharmed. So release me."

"I don't think so." And Kolya gasped as it tightened again.

Gunfire, then the rest of his team appeared. "Rodney?" John squawked.

"He'll just keep coming," Rodney half-sobbed. Exhaustion and pain was replacing the rage. "He'll just keep coming and coming until he kills one of you!"

John walked over and touched Rodney's pulsing wrist. "This isn't you. Let him go."

After a long pause, the wrist lowered. John hissed. "You've cut him deep into the skin."

"I know."

"You can't remove it he'll bleed to death."

Kolya's eyes widened.

"He will?" Rodney asked.

"He will," Ronon confirmed. "You've cut the big vein."

He nodded and turned to John. "Can we go home?"

"Sure, buddy. Let's go home." And Rodney leaned against him as they left the bunker, leaving Kolya with crystal mittens and a crystal necklace that was the only thing holding in his lifeblood.

He wondered why the Satedan and Sheppard smiled so coldly over their shoulders as they left.

We don't leave our people behind.

And we sure as hell don't let those who torture our people go unscathed.

Precisely 57 minutes and 35 seconds later, the crystal mittens dissolved.

Precisely 96 seconds after that, so did the crystal necklace.


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