This is a beautiful world. Ronon thought so before it swallowed the jumper and half his squad -- team, whatever -- and he still thinks so. He hasn't mentioned it to the team, doesn't see any reason to, but this would have been the Ceremony of Lights back on Sateda. Not sure which day -- maybe the fourth day, Siwal, the day for letting go of foolish pride. Or is it Shawarda, the third day, for speaking of the dead? At some point he lost track of the correspondence between the Satedan calendar and the one the Lanteans use. He hopes it's not Shawarda; that would be a bad sign.
His thoughts are drifting, and that's bad. Ronon shakes himself all over -- it hurts like hell, but the pain keeps him awake, lets him know he's alive. And he goes back to digging.
Sheppard is white-faced and silent, with pain and worry in equal measure, Ronon guesses. The life signs detector says they're still alive, though. If you can believe it. He doesn't trust it, not really. They can't raise Teyla and McKay on the radios, and any way you look at it, that isn't good.
Maybe this is Dihansi, the sixth day, the day of miracles. But Ronon hasn't believed in miracles in a long time.
The jumper is at the bottom of the valley, shattered under tons of snow and rock. He can see bits of it poking out, but it's so far down that it'd take hours to walk down there, maybe even days in their current condition. The Stargate is closer; he can see it, actually, on a ridge above them.
Sheppard staggers and falls into the side of the hole they've been digging. For a moment he just rests there, his eyes closed and his face creased with pain. The blood down the side of his pale face stands out starkly.
"Maybe one of us should --"
"No." Sheppard straightens, goes back to digging.
If either of them went for the Stargate, it'd have to be Sheppard anyway. Ronon likes to think he could make it, but probably not, not with his leg the way it is. And Sheppard believes that the time it'd take for either of them to make it up to the 'gate is time that McKay and Teyla don't have. There's a lot of snow to dig through.
They both got banged up pretty bad in the avalanche, and they just got caught in the edge of it. Ronon's had broken limbs before, but he's never broken the long bone of the thigh, and hopes he never does again. It's gonna take forever to heal, he thinks grimly, and goes on scooping snow; he's sitting down, using a stubby branch as a shovel.
Sheppard's probably got a concussion at the very least. He keeps stopping to breathe hard, and sometimes he leans against the side of the shallow-but-deepening trough that they've scooped out of the snow, like he thinks Ronon doesn't notice. That's the other reason he can't go for help; neither one of them's said it, but Ronon knows that Sheppard's barely keeping it together as it is. The odds of him making it up to the Stargate without passing out or losing his way are pretty slim -- from here it might look like a straight shot up to the 'gate, but Ronon remembers the rough country they flew over, and he knows there are a couple of ridges between here and there. If they went, they'd have to go together, leaving Teyla and McKay buried in the snow.
When Ronon uncovers something that isn't snow, something dark and yielding, he's so dazed with weariness and pain that it takes him a moment to notice. Then he says, "Sheppard," and starts scrabbling with both hands, uncovering what turns out to be a leg in those loose uniform pants that the Atlantis people wear. Either Teyla or McKay, but it's not moving, so Ronon pinches it hard and gets a sharp flinch. He grins. If that was Teyla, she'll make sure he pays for that later, but it's worth it.
Maybe it's the day of miracles after all.
Sheppard's followed the line of the leg and now he's kneeling where their heads would be, if they're really together like the life-signs machine seems to show. His gloved hands uncover a spill of ice-rimed copper hair -- and then he's infinitely gentle, scooping away the snow from temples and faces and half-closed eyes.
They're twined together, like they both tried to shield the other one when the snow and ice came down. Their faces are close together, breathing each other's breath. Ronon can see what they did, and he admires their quick thinking, especially considering the little time that they had -- clinging together, forehead to forehead, trying to keep from losing each other in the snow and maintaining a space between them to preserve a little bit of air.
It was, indeed, Teyla's leg that he pinched. He wonders if he can convince her that Sheppard did it. Neither Teyla nor McKay really seems to be tracking, though. He and Sheppard peel them apart. There are no sounds but little gasps from both of the avalanche victims when bruises or broken bones are jarred. Teyla's hair is matted with blood; Rodney's eyes are vacant. Neither of them are shivering, and that's bad.
"Hey," Sheppard says, patting Teyla's face.
She squints at him, smiles a little, then her brows draw together. "Rodney ...?" Her voice is a whisper.
"He's right here. Nice job, guys."
Since Sheppard's got Teyla, Ronon's got McKay. He thinks Sheppard's probably got the better end of the deal, but McKay's not nattering, at least. Instead he's quiet and kind of pliable -- and cold.
Ronon glances up and meets Sheppard's eyes; he sees that they're having the same thought. "Wood?" Ronon says.
Sheppard glances around at the hole they're in. "Stay here?"
"Out of the wind," Ronon says, and Sheppard nods and lets Teyla's head down gently. He pulls himself stiffly to his feet and sways a bit before clambering, with obvious difficulty, up the sloping ramp of snow leading out of their impromptu little snow-cave. Ronon stares after him, wasting a few seconds of worry before he reminds himself that there's not a damn thing he can do with his leg like it is. Sheppard's just going to have to get to the trees and back by himself.
"What -- we're not staying here?" McKay's propped up on his elbows; he looks weak as hell and his words are slurred, but his eyes are focusing again, so that's good. "Wh- what if there's another avalanche?"
"Snow already came down. This is probably the safest place to be right now."
If he needed to make a winter camp, he'd dig a hole in the snow anyway, so it's convenient that they already have one. By the time Sheppard gets back with an armload of wood, Ronon's already got a little fire going, using his broken-branch "shovel" to keep it off the snow, and some paper from McKay's pocket for tinder.
"I'll get more," Sheppard says, but he looks a lot worse, and falls back when he tries to climb out of the hole.
McKay pushes himself far enough upright to grab the trailing edge of Sheppard's coat. "Stop that and sit down b-before you bury us -- again. Once is enough."
"I will go," Teyla says, attempting to sit up.
Sometimes Ronon wonders about the sanity of his teammates. "We've got enough wood for now. Let's warm up first, anyhow."
Thanks to Sheppard's insistence on proper mission preparedness, they're all carrying those little foil blankets that are warmer than they look, as well as a few other things -- water, dried food, that kind of stuff. Which is good, since the jumper and all their gear is under half the snow in the mountains right now. None of them can move very fast, but working together, they get the blankets arranged into a makeshift tent and heat-trap, with one underneath and the others above. Ronon makes sure there's an opening for the smoke to escape; the last thing they need is to get asphyxiated while they wait for rescue.
In the heat of the fire, it's comfortable enough to take off their coats and make a sort of bed. Sheppard flicks on a flashlight, and they pair off -- this time it's Ronon with Teyla and Sheppard with McKay -- and do what little first aid they can manage without proper supplies.
They're all banged up from head to foot. Ronon's broken leg is probably the worst, but Teyla is woozy from a head injury and seems to have some ribs that are cracked at the very least. In the dim light, with Teyla nearly in his lap, Ronon can't tell what's going on with the other two, so he's not sure how bad they're hurt. However, McKay can't be hurt too bad if he's complaining that much, though the complaints are interspersed with a few pathetic whimpers that sound pretty genuine. Sheppard doesn't say much, except for a sudden curse and "Watch it, McKay!" which results in McKay falling sideways into Teyla and Sheppard nearly falling into the fire.
There's a moment of silence; then Sheppard makes an odd sound. It takes Ronon a moment to recognize it as laughter, since Sheppard's so breathless -- with pain, presumably -- that nothing emerges at first but a squeaky little noise.
"So I'm not good at first aid," McKay retorts. He sounds genuinely offended, but Teyla pats his arm, even though she's giggling too.
Once they're as bandaged as they can get, Teyla takes one of the coats -- Ronon's pretty sure it's actually Sheppard's, but doesn't say anything -- and goes for more wood. By the time she gets back, the remaining coats are arranged to make a sort of cozy little nest. With the fire, it's actually getting comfortably warm in the makeshift tent, even though they're still all damp and hurting. The only painkillers they have are a few little packets of Tylenol in McKay's vest. He shares them out readily -- Ronon isn't sure why he's still surprised by that -- but it's barely enough to blunt the sharp edge of the pain.
Canteens are passed around, along with some of the dried food bars the Lanteans import from their homeworld. Teyla has a chocolate bar that she'd meant to give Torren and forgotten about; they split it between them, since there's plenty more chocolate back on Atlantis. McKay and Sheppard start some kind of guessing game having to do with movies, and Teyla joins in after a while. Ronon's seen enough Earth movies by this point that he could probably participate, but his leg's hurting again and he's kind of drowsy. Not the bad kind, just the comfortable and peaceable kind.
"You okay there, big guy?" Sheppard asks, nudging Ronon's arm. Ronon blinks at his team leader. Sheppard's face looks even worse now that he's tried to scrub away the blood with a handful of snow -- not to mention that some wicked bruises are starting to darken, leaving him with two blossoming black eyes. Neither of the other two look any better, and Ronon has a feeling that he isn't looking like a playhouse model himself.
But they're alive. All of them. Since he's still not sure which day this is, he figures that it must indeed be Dihansi, day of miracles. And since the winter dusk is starting to gather outside their little campsite, then tomorrow will be the first day of the new year, the day of hope and beginnings.
"Yeah," he tells them. "I'm good."