|Acts of Negligence
Author: KikyCat PM
The events of the siege have taken a heavy toll on everyone in Atlantis. Just then an accident happens... COMPLETERated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Rodney M. & Carson B. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 40,471 - Reviews: 112 - Favs: 48 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 07-28-06 - Published: 07-18-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3052152
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
- Chapter 2 -
The ride towards the infirmary passed off as quickly and efficiently as ever. Even though Rodney was still feeling like his goldfish had, back in primary school, after his experiment with a bottle of liquid soap, he couldn't help but notice that the corridors had been cleared of bodies and even mostly of the inevitable dark stains. An almost eerie calmness had settled over the city that belied the constant smell of fear and blood and the sounds of frantic shouts that had filled these halls mere hours ago.
Rodney, once again concentrating on aiming anywhere else but the people surrounding him, and John, one comforting hand on McKay's shoulder, concentrating on dodging in time, were therefore quite unprepared for the sight that presented itself once the large double door opened to allow them into the infirmary.
The place was a mess.
Content for the moment about neither throwing up any vital organs or imminent death, Rodney rolled over onto his back and gave the scene to his left and right a wide-eyed stare.
Like a hive. He almost snorted out loud at his own disturbing thought. But the analogy was still fitting. Maybe not with a Hive ship, but this was what he imagined an actual bee-hive would look like, or an ant-hill for that matter. One that had just been attacked by an ant-eater, with the workers frantically trying to minimize damage and casualties; and failing.
The infirmary was positively packed with people. Both the ones still standing and trying to help, and many more lying on beds, gurneys, mattresses or even on the floor with only a couple of blankets to lie on. Most of them held bloody bandages to their heads, arms or legs; others were just lying deathly still. What had Radek said? 30 dead? 40? Rodney couldn't remember, but it seemed a high enough number already. For some reason he had forgotten to ask how many more had been injured. Well, now he knew.
Looking up at the major, the scientist could see his own shock reflected in Sheppard's eyes as he took in the sight. The major had moved his hand from Rodney's shoulder and now had a tight grip on one side of the gurney as the two medics, who had helped them in the corridor, steered them persistently forward through the crowd of people towards the far end of the room.
"I'm sorry, Dr McKay. As you can see, there're no beds free at the moment, so you'll have to stay on the gurney for the time being. One of the doctors will be with you shortly." A cry from the other side of the room had the medic turn his head and he nodded in that general direction. The large Australian started moving away, but stopped next to Sheppard.
"Dr McKay seems stable for the moment, Major, and we're a little short-staffed right now, so would you mind staying with him until a doctor is available?"
"Sure, no problem." Before the medic had a chance to leave, John grabbed his arm. "How many?"
The man cast a weary look onto the floor, before he braced himself and met Sheppard's eyes "We lost another three in the last two hours, I'm afraid. Total death toll is 47 now. Six are still in critical condition."
John nodded in grim approval and let him disappear within the crowd.
"47?" Rodney whispered, just when one of the, so far constant, beeps turned into an ominous loud wail. It never again returned to the steady beeps even though a raspy accented voice repeatedly declared "Clear" followed by the unmistakable sounds of a defibrillator hitting human skin; until even the wailing turned to silence, and all movement seemed to cease for a second.
"48." John corrected, closing his eyes.
"48." Rodney repeated, curling into a ball. "48."
The curtain around the bed of No. 48 opened partially and released a haggard looking Carson Beckett, who was fiercely rubbing his eyes and face with one hand, trying to rub away more than just fatigue that seemed to engulf him like a heavy, dark cloud.
"Carson?" the major asked softly, but the Doctor still reacted as if being slapped. He had obviously assumed himself to be unwatched. Not likely in here, Rodney mused.
"Major? Rodney! What happened to you?"
"Passed out cold in the corridor than started puking his guts out ever since."
Rodney tried to glare at Sheppard for this less than compassionate description, but he was so cold all of a sudden that burying himself deeper into the thin blanket was more important than to waste precious energy on the major and he closed his eyes.
A warm hand on his back interrupted his doze.
"Rodney? Tell me what's wrong."
"Oh, yeah, I heard of that condition. Pretty nasty. But I believe the cure is to Open-Mouth-While-Speaking."
This time Rodney couldn't resist peeking over the top end of the blanket to give Sheppard a disgusted look, but was satisfied that Carson was also giving the man a glare that spoke volumes, before focussing back on McKay.
"You're still feeling nauseous? Any pain?" Carson inquired, leaning back on Rodney's secured gurney, never removing his hand from the other man's back.
"Maybe a bit of both. But there isn't anything left to bring up anyway." He really tried not to sound like a sulking three year old.
"Alright. I'll give you something for it in a minute. Have you slept at all since this mess ended? Did you eat?"
"No time to sleep. Need to supervise power-output. I ate, ah ... four cups of coffee?"
The warmth of Carson's hand was instantly gone. "You still haven't slept? And four cups of coffee and no food? No wonder you ended up in here!"
John suddenly slapped Rodney lightly over the back of his head.
"Hey! What was that for?" McKay protested.
"Well, the Doc clearly wanted to do it, but couldn't. Hippocratic oath and such, so I thought I'd do it for him."
"Thank you, Major." Carson's voice clearly wasn't grateful. "Rodney, I gave you the stimulants because it was the only way. But your body isn't designed for such an abuse. You need proper fluids, food and – predominantly – sleep. Lots of it."
Rodney had felt it coming before Carson had even started his little lecture and was now slapping his hand urgently against the Doctor's thigh. Out of nowhere a plastic object appeared next to his head. Just in time.
"Major, that's a food tray. Was there anything wrong with the basin next to it?"
"Sorry, Doc. Just grabbed the first thing I saw..."
A couple of minutes later, when the mostly dry-heaves had more or less stopped, Carson took the tray and handed it to a passing nurse with an apologetic smile.
"Normally, I'd like to keep you here under observation, Rodney, to rehydrate you and make sure you behave yourself, but we don't have the capacity right now and need to focus on the more severe cases."
On any other day, McKay would have felt slightly insulted not to be considered important enough to warrant constant care, but the hectic movements all around him combined with Carson's worn-out face made the truth behind the Doctor's words more than abundantly clear.
"Major, get yourself cleaned up. Rodney, I'm going to give you some fluids and an anti-emetic intravenously. The major can pick you up in an hour and then I don't want to see either of you until at least 9 a.m. tomorrow."
"I don't have time, Carson. I've got some diagnostics running that I can't leave alone for so long."
"You'll have to. If they're really so important get someone from your staff to do it."
"He sent them to bed."
"And Zelenka is nowhere to be found." Rodney supplied.
"I sent him to his quarters after his run-in with the Lieutenant."
"Run-in?" Rodney had no idea what Beckett was talking about.
"Ford knocked him out when he went for the Jumper", John explained, never meeting his eyes.
"Oh." Rodney didn't miss when Carson unconsciously zipped his collar all the way up, even though Ford's sudden attack on the doctor hadn't left any visible marks.
"Enough of that", Beckett broke the uncomfortable silence quickly, busily checking Rodney over and setting up the IV a nurse handed him, "you're going to bed. That is non-negotiable."
Rodney knew when he had lost a fight, or maybe he was too tired to put up much of one. "Okay, but someone needs to check the equipment at least once every couple of hours."
"Do you have to have a PhD in Physics to do that?"
"No. Not really. At least 40 of Atlantis' population should be able to determine whether the programme is still running or a message is blinking 'Error' in bright red."
"That's it? I can do it."
"No way, Major. You're going to bed as much as he is – or rather", Carson raised an eyebrow after he acknowledged John's state of clothing for the first time, "back to it. If you just need people to check that, then I'll find someone to do it for you."
"Well, it's a bit more complex than that." At Carson's unimpressed facial expression he added, sulking slightly, "and if it's not working, you HAVE to wake me up!"
Rodney didn't know whether or not Carson promised him to do that by staying silent, but he'd probably have to take his chances. The major disappeared, hopefully towards the nearest shower and some clothes, and, while the Doctor was still working around him, Rodney explained in detail what had to be done.
- Chapter 3 -
"Over here, Maria."
The faint clacking of footsteps echoing from the door seemed halting at first as if unsure where to go, but quickly became louder and more pronounced when the nurse finally located Atlantis' CMO sitting underneath his desk, wedged between the foot of his chair and a little grey cabinet. Bending forward slightly and resting her hand on her knees, she gave him an inquiring look.
"I just needed a bit of peace and quiet to go over Sergeant Maguire's charts again." Carson gave her a sheepish grin, hiding his disappointment at being found only minutes after finally finding a spot away from the chaos that was the infirmary. "How's he holding up?"
"That's what I came to tell you. His BP has improved and his temperature has been stable for the last two hours. Dr Biro reckons he is stable enough to join the others when we open the gate to Earth."
A couple of hours ago, a marginally rested looking Elizabeth Weir had come to the infirmary, to inform Carson that they would be ready to open the gate as soon as he gave the go-ahead.
McKay had obviously spent the first couple of hours after the last Wraith in the city had been eliminated calculating the amount of power they had left. It was enough for shields or cloak, but wormholes to Earth seemed to require so much energy that they would still have to restrict the number of trips back home through the Stargate if they wanted to make the most out of the ZPM.
But too many were injured so badly; they would need, if not long, then longer term care, which Atlantis' staff and resources just weren't able to provide. So it was decided to open the gate this once, for the moment, and transfer all the new data together with most of the wounded as well as all those who were beyond help, back to Earth.
Elizabeth was now only waiting for him, and he was waiting for all the still critical patients to stabilise enough so that they could risk putting them through the stress of gate-travel. It seemed, now was the time.
Snapping out from his train of thoughts, Carson realised, Maria was still waiting for a response. "Finally some good news. Are the others prepared for transport?"
"We're almost done. The Daedalus promised to send some people down to help us. Sir, if you don't mind me asking, but is that comfortable?"
"Not really, no. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I'm kind of stuck. Care to give me a hand?"
Smiling, Maria held out her hand and helped her boss squeeze out of his hiding place.
Tiredly falling into his chair, Carson straightened his back and rubbed the back of his neck. "Ooch. Remind me never to do that again."
"Don't worry, I will", she promised, rolling the 'r' a little more than usual. They were all tired. "Here are the files you need to sign."
"Thank you", he nodded, and watched the woman leave his office. Soon it would be over. Finally.
Carson opened the first folder of the small stack, but the letters and numbers might as well have been Chinese. For a couple of seconds the clean, stain-free white of the paper captured his gaze and he felt himself being almost hypnotised by the bright colour; the letters blurring away into nothingness.
The last... how many? Yes, about 80 hours now were without a doubt the most horrific experience in his entire professional as well as personal experience. During his years as an intern in Glasgow, he'd had his fair share of car and bus accidents and even a plane crash, where there were always a lot of casualties involved.
But this... this was different on so many levels.
Back then they had been able to split the patients between half a dozen hospitals and 30-odd doctors. Today four doctors had had to deal with well over 60 people, many of them critically injured, and that was not even counting the ones who had been transferred directly to the morgue. All of it while they had to fear a sudden Wraith-assault on the infirmary.
Closing his eyes in an attempt to block out the gory pictures that kept popping up in his head, Carson couldn't help but feel utterly relieved that this nightmare would soon be over. At this moment that was the only thing that counted, the only thing that kept him going. At this point just the thought of getting away from this place for a few hours seemed like heaven. As beautiful and just as distant. Or just not having to see blood everywhere he looked all the time, even though it would probably follow him into his dreams for months to come.
Sleep. Yes sleep.
But all this would have to wait for a few more hours.
Uncapping a pen with slightly shaky fingers, the Doctor took a deep breath and started reading.
Following an hour and two very loud arguments between a pair of engineers about whether or not to wake up Dr McKay, the gate to Earth was finally opened, and all severely injured patients together with 49 body bags were sent through.
Carson supervised the transfer while keeping close to the conscious patients, offering words of encouragement and even sharing a joke with Airman Rowland, who would probably lose his leg if the SGC couldn't perform a small miracle.
Another fifteen minutes later, after the gate had shut down with a snap, he tried to go back to the infirmary.
After three unsuccessful attempts - the last of which had resulted in Dr Walters advising one of the new marines to drag him to his quarters by his trouser legs - Carson finally grumbled in defeat, but left.
Rodney seemed to have followed his orders – with the persuasion of a mild sedative – had gone to bed and hadn't been seen since. He should probably follow his own advice now and get some sleep.
O-oh. The experiment. Carson had forgotten about that. Well, maybe not entirely, but he hadn't had the heart to burden someone from his overworked staff with something like this as well, and he himself just hadn't been able to leave.
Sighing deeply, the doctor turned around and headed for the labs.
He almost expected to find his friend bent over some piece of Ancient technology, oblivious to the rest of the world as usual, but was pleased to find the entire corridor completely deserted. Carson couldn't even hear the distinct clicking of a keyboard when he passed Rodney's quarters, situated just around the corner from the lab.
Satisfied that, for once, his orders were being followed, he entered the still brightly-lit lab.
A soft, warm bed sounded better with every passing minute, so Carson hurried to the big desktop computer in the middle of the room, eager to get this over and done with.
McKay had quite obviously prepared the place before he went to bed. Yellow post-it notes and big white 'Do not touch' signs covered the entire bench. The doctor ignored them and went straight to the big screen in front of him, just as Rodney had told him to. No warnings flashed in bright red and the programme seemed to be doing what it was meant to do. Not that Carson really cared.
Truth be told, he probably wouldn't have woken Rodney up, even if there had been a problem. The physicist had, after some urging, finally admitted that nothing would go 'kabloom', it would just be a 'pain in the ass' to run the programme again. Well, Rodney, of course, had used bigger words, but that was the gist of it as far as Carson was concerned.
His head was itchy. In fact his entire body felt itchy, dirty and still a bit shaky with the remnants of what must have been overdose-like amounts of adrenalin floating through his system. Leaning one elbow on top of the back of a chair next to him, Carson ran his hand over his head, pulled the little microphone from behind his left ear and rubbed the sore spot, where the tiny device had practically been glued for the last couple of days.
One of the yellow stickers that was stuck right to the frame of the LCD screen caught his eye. "YOU. Check laptop on the left..." Carson stopped reading and looked around him in bewilderment. Laptop on the left? There was no laptop on the left. There were two one bench over, but that was it.
"Damn it, Rodney, I'm not in the mood for this." Ignoring at least three different 'Do not touch'-signs, the Doctor checked the surface covered with books, stacks of paper, gadgets and virtually miles of cable.
"Okay, if I don't find that thing in ten seconds, I'm out of...here we go." Pushing some memos out of the way he finally spotted the closed computer buried under several thick, hardcover copies of 'Physics', 'Advanced Quantum Mechanics' and a third tome that had Carson shake his head in mystification, just what Rodney would want with that. Not finding an empty spot on the bench, he threw the books carelessly onto a pile of blue folders.
He couldn't remember hearing the shot, but he definitely felt it impacting.