Author: WriterJC PM
Team Sheppard returns from a search & rescue mission with one of their own fighting for his life. But at least the rescue was a success. Or was it? Follows on from 'The Guardian'Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Adventure - John S. & Rodney M. - Chapters: 7 - Words: 17,248 - Reviews: 45 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 29 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 03-05-11 - id: 6800185
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"He's breathing on his own – that's something, but he has some pretty significant internal injuries, and there is still a huge opportunity for infection. He's not out of the woods yet."
"What do you mean he's not out of the woods, yet?" Rodney stared at Jennifer, feeling almost hurt. This was John Sheppard. They'd done their part and gotten him to care. It was John's duty to pull through, to beat the odds, to live another day to worry them all over again.
Jennifer stared back at him, but her tone gentled. "I mean, Rodney, that Colonel Sheppard is a very sick man and he has a long recovery ahead of him." She turned and encompassed the rest of the team in her next statement.
"You're all welcome to go in and see him for a few minutes. He should be settled in by now. I very seriously doubt he'll wake up, but please remember, he needs his rest." With that, she turned and walked off, leaving them to look worriedly among themselves.
"John is a fighter. He will no doubt surprise us all with a quick recovery." Teyla's words were meant to encourage, Rodney knew. But if words or emotions were all that were needed, they would still have Elizabeth, and Grodin and Gall and so many others who were lost to them. And if wishes were horses, the east pier would be over run with thoroughbreds.
"Let's go see him." Ronon patted Rodney's arm, then started off toward the curtain.
Sheppard looked only marginally better than he'd looked when they had initially brought him to the infirmary. His skin was still pale and sickly. A nasal canula ran beneath his nostrils and around his ears. Rodney could barely bring himself to look, but did manage to glance downward at Sheppard's naked chest and to the obvious bandage and place along his side where a tube had been inserted. He absolutely refused to look any lower to where it connected to a bag. It was unnatural and if he saw anything more he might lose his lunch – that is if he'd had any to lose.
"He looks cold," was what he managed to say out loud. It was true he realized, and immediately wanted to pull the thin blankets up higher to cover the tubes and his bare chest and arms.
"Perhaps it is so the medical staff can more closely monitor his injuries," Teyla suggested in her usual logical manner. But Rodney could tell that she wasn't happy with what she saw either.
"How could it possibly be a good thing for a patient to be cold?" Rodney asked of no one in particular. "Aren't doctors the ones who started that whole being cold makes you sick rumor?"
Sheppard sighed then, and his face twitched. For a brief insane moment, Rodney thought Sheppard might be agreeing with him. Then his eyelids began to twitch and flutter.
"I think he's waking up," Rodney whispered, studying the other man's face closely. Though his movements were happening in slow motion, there were definite signs of wakefulness.
"No. He's just dreaming." Teyla obviously did not agree with Rodney's opinion of their friend's status. But he had seen the man waking up dozens and dozens of times. Of course he knew what to look for.
"Sheppard, you awake?" he asked of his sleeping friend.
"Rodney! If he is not awake, then you should not wake him. Jennifer said that he will need his rest." Teyla managed to scold him in a stage whisper. Rodney wondered why that made him feel like a recalcitrant child.
An abortive indrawn breath from Sheppard saved him having to answer his own mental question. The Colonel's face screwed up in a pain filled wince as he slowly released the breath he'd taken in. Obviously he was still in some pain, even with whatever Jennifer was pumping into his IV.
A soft sound that might have been a sigh and might have been a curse found its way past Sheppard's lips as he struggled to open his eyes. He made it look like his eyelids weighed a ton. Eventually, they were able to see slits of his irises as he focused on them.
"John, it is so good to see you awake," Teyla closed in on the bed and put a hand over the hand that didn't have something attached to it. Rodney was impressed that she managed to do it without messing with any of the other wires and tubes that were going places he didn't want to think about.
"It's good to be awake," Sheppard said in a breathy whisper. "Thanks for finding me. Thought I was a goner there for a minute." He sounded like he was running a marathon. Uphill. In slow motion. It made Rodney tired just hearing him.
He hated it, but maybe Jennifer was right about how sick John was.
"We would not have given up," Teyla said the words that Rodney and Ronon wouldn't say – mostly because they wouldn't have to because Teyla would say it for them. But that didn't make them any less true. They wouldn't have given up on him.
"Also, we had some help," she added, with a significant gravity in her voice.
Rodney rolled his eyes and stepped forward. It was time to end the mush. "Maybe next time you decide to get kidnapped by a giant bird you should consider giving us a heads up. You know, in the interest of preparedness and what not."
"I'll try to remember that," Sheppard managed. Rodney saw the small twinkle of amusement that lit in his friend's tired eyes. It brought a small smug smile to his face. This was more like it.
"You know, while you've been laying here being waited on, I've discovered some interesting things about the facility in the mountain." Rodney had wanted to talk to Sheppard about what he'd discovered almost from the moment he'd discovered it. And right now he was on a roll; and there was no time like the present. Besides who knew how long it would be before the man work up next time.
"It's a giant database," John said, stealing his thunder. "The birds went to different worlds to gather intel. They could download it to a person or the database as memories."
"Wait – how'd you know that?" Rodney stared at him, going from stunned to annoyed. Had Zelenka somehow sneaked in here ahead of him and leaked the news to Sheppard just to screw with him?
"I experienced it." John's voice softened and he blinked a little too slowly to be awake for much longer.
"Oh. Well, then, did you know that they have the ability to cloak?" Rodney felt challenged to come up with something that Sheppard didn't already know.
"Yes, Rodney," John breathed the response.
"How about why they can cloak?" Rodney asked, but didn't wait for the answer. There was no way Sheppard knew this one. "It's because it's in their genetic makeup. The Ancient's introduced the ability into their genome. There are other smaller mountains all over the planet. It looks as if the Ancients were experimenting with ways of cloaking entire planets!"
His words fell on deaf ears. Ronon and Teyla were glaring at him, and John's eyes were closed. Then suddenly, he opened them and focused on Rodney.
"Wow," he said belatedly, and put forth an obvious effort to focus on the three of them.
"Wow is right," Rodney said, feeling somewhat triumphant. There was more information where that had come from. "Did you also know that –
"We will leave you now," Teyla spoke softly to Sheppard, but her eyes pierced Rodney with silent censure.
"But, I'm not done!" Rodney defended himself. Didn't she know this was the kind of thing Sheppard liked when he was stuck in sickbay? It gave him something to think about, kept his mind busy. "This is valuable –"
"It can wait," Teyla was firm.
"Come on, McKay," Ronon's deep voice sounded.
"Fine." Rodney followed as they filed back out into the main infirmary.
"We should have told him," Ronon said solemnly.
"Told him what?" Rodney asked, even though he thought he knew what Ronon was getting at.
Ronon didn't respond, just shot him a look.
"It would be pointless to tell him," Rodney insisted. "He'd just lay here and worry about it and blame himself."
"If there is any blame to be had then we are all at fault. We all agreed; we all decided to go with the Colonel and to leave Doctors Kremer and Bowen to find their own way back to the gate. We were all worried about him."
"How's he going to feel when he finds out you went back unarmed, with no one but Woolsey and Lorne?" Ronon shot the question toward Teyla.
"I will not be unarmed," Teyla replied. "I simply will not be carrying a firearm. Besides, the Omari are a peaceful people. We will be able to come to an agreement."
Rodney shared a worried look with Ronon. He didn't have the confidence in the Omari that she had. Maybe they should have told Sheppard after all.
Ronon rotated his shoulder, carefully testing its strength as he sauntered into the infirmary. The lights were dimmed and there wasn't a lot going on. Most of the equipment stood unattended. Soft light did spill from the office at the far side of the infirmary. That was Keller's space.
He could hear frantic whispering, but didn't bother trying to figure out what they were saying. Instead, he turned and headed in the opposite direction to the curtained area where they had placed Sheppard's bed.
Having left the control room where Teyla had been busy getting ready to head back to Omari with Woolsey and Lorne, he felt the need to make contact with his team leader. Even if his team leader happened to do little more than lay there unconscious.
Teyla wouldn't be moved on leaving him behind; insisted that the Omari might see it as an act of aggression since he had been vocal about using force to get onto the mountain. He hadn't realized the scouts had been listening, and tried to convince her that he had just been kidding with Sheppard.
She had given him one of those looks, then told him that she would be fine. Sheppard would have fought harder against letting her go without more back up. Especially since she was still recovering from the jumper accident the day before. He had seen that she moved stiffly even though she wasn't obvious about it.
Ronon rotated his arm again, then frowned as he put it through the full range of motion. When he'd woken that morning, the sling that he'd gone to bed with was on the floor and his injured arm was wrapped around his pillow.
There was no pain whatsoever. It was as if it had never been injured. He grunted. Those pills that Marie had given him worked even better than the good stuff.
"You're here early," Keller spoke from behind him, interrupting his motion. "I've only just gotten here myself, and I was going in to check on the Colonel." She tilted her head in the direction of the curtained area while the night nurse stood silently behind her. "Arm bothering you?" she asked as the nurse moved past them both.
"No, it's fine," Ronon responded.
Keller turned and frowned curiously at him. Before she could speak, the nurse drew her attention. "Doctor Keller!"
The odd tone in the nurse's voice drew Ronon's attention, too and he slipped through the curtain ahead of Keller. The nurse stood on the other side of Sheppard's bed. She looked anxious, practically dancing in place with nerves.
He frowned, then looked down at Sheppard. Everything appeared to be in place – he took an extra moment of observation to be sure.
"He's looking a lot better," he said out loud, happy to notice the change. It was so much better than what she had said the day before.
Keller looked past him at the Colonel. "Yeah, Amy was …." She moved to the side of Sheppard's bed and frowned. "He really does, doesn't he?" She sounded confused.
"Is that a bad thing?" Ronon asked.
Keller was no longer paying him attention but was busily scanning the machines stationed around his bed. She said something to Amy, ordering her to go get something that registered on Ronon as medical gibberish. She was immediately the professional nurse with a purpose, gone was the nervousness. He watched her go then turned back to Keller who had moved on to pressing her stethoscope against the side of Sheppard's chest.
"Dr. Keller?" Ronon prompted an answer.
"Oh, what? Uh, not usually," she managed to answer his earlier question with obvious distraction.
Not usually? That didn't make any sense. Last night she'd said he wasn't doing so good. This morning he looked a lot better. He was breathing and the noises the machines were making sounded normal. But Keller looked like she didn't like what she was finding with her tests. The more things she checked, the more worried she looked.
"Is something wrong?" he demanded louder than he really needed to.
Keller looked sharply up at him, startled. "Nothing is wrong, and that definitely isn't right."
"What does that mean?" Ronon was confused, and it was beginning to make him angry. And why wasn't Sheppard waking up considering all of the activity that was going on around him?
"I don't know, yet."
"Why isn't he waking up?" Ronon asked.
Keller paused and looked up at him. "I don't know that yet, either."