John faced off against Teyla, each staring the other down, bantos rods raised in guard position.
Teyla was unreadable, her face neutral and impassive. Sheppard knew from past experience if he left it too long he'd pay for it. He needed to try and take the initiative, or he'd never gain any momentum over the Athosian.
Striking out, he unleashed a blazing series of blows, none of which hit their mark. Teyla was as calm and cool as ever, blocking with ease. John pressed forward, and Teyla circled away, maintaining the distance needed to block but never giving ground.
Frustrated, Sheppard tried for some fancy moves, twisting and throwing his body weight behind his strikes for extra momentum, and for the briefest second, he thought he might have the upper hand.
In a bizarrely simple move, Teyla caught Sheppard's rods with her own, and as Sheppard locked eyes with her, he knew he was beat.
Rushing forward in a flurry of strikes, Teyla had John back-pedalling desperately, pushing him across the room until-
Reeling away from the blow across his forehead, Sheppard heard Ronon's guffaws fill the room, as Teyla lowered her rods and reached out in concern, panting lightly.
Straightening up, panting heavier than Teyla, Sheppard touched a hand to his right temple, his fingers coming away slick with blood.
"I am sorry, Colonel," Teyla said, while Ronon handed John a towel.
Dabbing at the cut, Sheppard shrugged indifferently, "Nah, don't worry about it Teyla."
Shaking her head, Teyla gave him a look. "This would not have happened if-"
"I kept up with my practice, I know," Sheppard finished for her. He pulled the towel away to check it, and found a bit more blood than he'd like.
"Come on, infirmary," Ronon said, gesturing with his head at the door.
"Yeah, fine," the Colonel sighed, as he and Teyla fell in behind the tall Satedan.
By the time they reached the infirmary, the bleeding had slowed considerably, but Carson still wanted to clean it up and put in a couple of stitches, lecturing the three of them on the values of non-violent hobbies as he deftly sewed Sheppard's skin back together.
"Really, I see at least one of you daft buggers for sparring-related injuries every week. You'd think there are enough people and creatures out there trying to hurt you without you all beating each other up every opportunity you get," the Scottish physician muttered, smoothing a gauze bandage over the cut.
"But we're practicing to beat up the guys that do want to hurt us," Sheppard whined.
"If you could not do their job for them, I might actually accept that excuse," Beckett sighed. "So, any dizziness, nausea, feeling faint?"
"No," Sheppard said, "we done?"
"Aye, you can be about your business, but if you experience any symptoms other than the headache I'm sure you'll have, you come straight back here Colonel," the doctor answered as he disposed of the medical packagings. "And I want you back in a week's time so I can check that's healing properly."
"Not a problem," Sheppard said happily as he jumped off the bed, striding out the infirmary with a spring in his step, Ronon and Teyla following.
"I'm gonna swing by McKay's lab, meet you in the mess?" Sheppard asked as he began the deviation.
"Of course, Colonel," Teyla said, as she and Ronon continued on the more direct route to the mess hall.
Sheppard's feet beat the familiar path through the city corridors to Rodney's lab, which was currently quiet, serene. Rodney must be the only one there, Sheppard thought, as he strode through the open door without ceremony.
"Whatcha doing?" He asked in a sing-song tone.
McKay looked up from his laptop, a scowl on his face, "Shouldn't the military leader of the expedition at least try to sound less like a kid?"
"Shouldn't the lead scientist on a scientific expedition do a little more, oh, I don't know, leading?" Sheppard sniped back with casual ease.
"Maybe if the team I'd been given to work with hadn't got their doctorates out of a cereal box," McKay said with a frustrated air that was just a little too dramatic, "but alas, here I am, putting out their fires once again."
"Should I be worried?" Sheppard asked, a slight frown creasing his forehead.
"Metaphorical fires," McKay sighed with exasperation. "A couple of new guys accidentally completely messed up the coding in one of Atlantis's secondary systems, so now I have to trace the effected lines and find a back-up to restore the original commands."
Sheppard looked up from one of the many screens Rodney had the aforementioned code scrolling over. "So, like a factory settings restore?"
"It's a little more complicated than that."
"Because I have to find the default before I can restore it."
"I always have to find the disk."
"Really?" McKay said with that 'wow-I-really-am-leagues-smarter-than-you' look he often got. "Because there's a factory restore function on most PCs these days that you can just choose a date from and restore to whatever your OS was running at that time."
"I thought we'd already covered that I didn't get on well with computers that don't have anything to do with flying," Sheppard reminded him.
"True. Anyway, what did you want, I'm kinda busy here."
Sheppard picked up an ancient doo-hickey off Rodney's desk, "Well, obviously to disrupt and annoy you, and-" he cut over McKay's indignant spluttering, "-to see if you wanted to join Ronon, Teyla, and I for lunch."
"Oh," Rodney fell silent for a moment, "well, yes, I can see how that would be a good idea. I always do my best work on a full stomach you know."
"Sure Rodney," Sheppard said.
When they got to the mess hall, Ronon and Teyla had already begun eating. Grabbing a tray of food each, they joined their team members, and Ronon began regaling Rodney with the story of how Teyla kicked the Colonel's butt yet again, much to Sheppard's chagrin.
After lunch, Rodney headed back to his lab, while Teyla and Ronon returned to the gym, but while they invited Sheppard to come watch, he opted out, citing a mound of paper work demanding his attention, but in reality, he was beginning to feel that headache Carson had predicted, and retreated to the solace of his room, where he downed a Tylenol, flicked on some tunes, and relaxed back onto his bed.
As relaxing as it was to just lie there, his brain soon started running off, listing every possible task he should be attending to right now, from taking inventory in the armoury to checking up on the injured members of AR-7, but with the way his head was throbbing, the last thing he wanted to be doing was running around chasing errands.
Deciding to get some practice in, he fetched his guitar from the corner of his room, and dug out some sheet music he was trying to learn. It was while flicking his eyes from the notes on the pages to the frets on the guitar he first noticed it. In the upper left corner of his right eye, there was a black spot, like the drapes of a curtain pulled back from a window.
Figuring there must be a bit of bruising or something similar, he decided it would go away on its own, and continued strumming, unconcerned.
Sheppard barely noticed the black spot in his peripheral vision as the week progressed. It only really showed up if he was looking down, and even then, only when the lighting was bright. His eye continued to feel tender and sore for a few days, but that cleared up about the same time as the headaches did, and so he thought nothing of it.
That was, until he went in for his promised check-up with Doctor Beckett.
Carson had a reputation for his thoroughness, though most called it 'mother-henning', and he more than lived up to it as he made Sheppard follow his finger with his eyes after ascertaining there was no sign of infection in the cut itself.
Sheppard thought he was doing fine, until Beckett frowned after the Colonel announced he'd lost track of the doctor's finger.
"Okay, Colonel, I don't think we've done this before, but instead of following my finger, I want you to focus straight ahead, and tell me when you see my finger enter your peripheral vision," Beckett announced.
"Sure," Sheppard said, as he focused on one spot on the patterned wall across from him.
Every time the physician's finger slid into view, Sheppard simply announced 'now'. He was sure everything was fine, until Beckett frowned again, before repeating the process, but testing each eye individually. When the doctor slid his finger from the left, first on the left eye, then the right, even Sheppard noticed the delay between the two.
Pulling out his penlight, Beckett flashed it in each eye as he asked, "Colonel, have you noticed any odd spots in your vision lately?"
"Apart from the ones you just put in my eyes?" Sheppard asked irritably as he rubbed at them.
"Aye, apart from those," Beckett said.
"No… Well… Yeah, sort of."
"What, exactly, have you seen?" Beckett asked in a tone that had Sheppard worried instantly.
"It's kind of like a curtain drawn back," Sheppard explained.
"And when did you first notice this?" Carson asked in that same tone.
"The afternoon Teyla hit me in the head," Sheppard answered, anxiety quietly mounting within him.
"That sounds about right," Carson said under his breath. "Why didn't you come see me? I thought I said-"
"I didn't think it was anything, I thought it was just bruised or something," Sheppard said as Carson hit his head softly against the wall. "And it's not like black spots are a symptom of a concussion, which is what we talked about."
"You are my life's crucible," Beckett said in exasperated tones. "You don't ever muck about with vision impairments like that! 'Just bruised or something.' You daft idiot!"
"Wait a minute," Sheppard said, a rock settling in his stomach at the doctor's words. "Vision impairment?!"
"Aye, likely a slight retinal tear or detachment, caused by trauma to the eye," Beckett said in a very serious tone that worsened Sheppard's anxiety.
"Shit. No. No, no, no, no, no," the Colonel muttered, running his hands through his hair.
"Take it easy there lad," Carson soothed, "There doesn't seem to be too much of your vision effected, which would lead me to believe the damage is minor, and should be able to be fixed easily, just a quick kip under laser surgery and-"
"Carson, no," Sheppard said, standing up and holding his hands up.
"Son, if you don't get this fixed soon, your whole retina could detach rendering you completely blind in that eye! It's bad enough you've left it a week, waiting any longer would be reckless and foolish, plain as that."
"Doc, you don't understand," Sheppard pleaded, "You're not allowed to fly so much as a military kite if you wear reading glasses, if the brass back on earth find out-"
"They'll certainly find out if you lose all vision in your eye, lad." Carson rested a comforting hand on Sheppard's arm. "The surgery is simple, takes about ten minutes, no need for anaesthetic, and is very effective. There should be no long-term effects on your vision, and no reason for the pencil-pushers back home to kick you out of Atlantis."
Sheppard calmed down a little bit, "Can you make that a promise?"
"As you know, medicine is never an exact science, and I'll need to get a better look before I can be sure of how much damage there is, but I'm confident you'll pull through with twenty-twenty vision," Beckett said.
Unable to work past the lump in his throat, Sheppard nodded his assent instead.
"There's a good lad," Carson smiled reassuringly. "Right, I need to page Doctor Hamada and have the OCT fired up. Have a seat and I'll be right back."
Sheppard sat awkwardly, swinging his legs a little, like a kid in time out, as he thought about all the career-ending ways this could go wrong. Beckett returned in short order, holding what looked like single-use saline eye drops, which he dispensed on a rolling table along with a box of tissues. Doctor Hamada rocked up in the next few minutes, and quickly introduced herself.
Though Sheppard had seen the pretty doctor around the infirmary and the city, he'd never had need to be introduced to the ophthalmologist before. Doctor Mizue Hamada had fawn skin, dark hair pulled into a neat bun, and kind, dark eyes. She had been brought into the expedition after the first year, once Carson's staff quickly learned they knew nothing about updating the prescription glasses needed by a surprising number of the expedition members, the majority of whom seemed to have unfailingly bad luck with their glasses that kept getting either broken or misplaced.
"Colonel, I understand you have a suspected retinal trauma, dated back one week?" She asked with a faint Japanese accent.
"That's what Beckett seems to think," Sheppard replied, trying for his usual casual charm.
"Alright. Could you fix your gaze straight ahead and let me know when this pen," she held out a pen from her pocket, "enters your peripheral?"
"Beckett already did that," the Colonel said with a loose gesture to the Scottish doctor who was leaning against the bed behind Doctor Hamada.
"No offence to my Chief Medical Officer, but he's not an ophthalmologist," Hamada said while Beckett shrugged.
"Alright, whatever," Sheppard muttered, before repeating the test.
"A definite delay between right and left in the left peripheral," Hamada said, thinking out loud. "Okay, did you get- thank you, Doctor Beckett," the ophthalmologist said, searching for and finding the eye drops.
"Now, these are going to sting when they first go in, but they're going to make your pupils dilate, so I can get a good look in your eye."
Sheppard nodded, then leaned his head back, allowing Hamada to hold back his eyelids and drip the solution in both eyes. "That'll kick in soon," she said as Sheppard blinked against the sting, "the drops usually last about three hours, and you'll be light sensitive until they wear off. For now, we'll head into the examination room we've set up, where the lights'll be dimmer."
Carson handed Sheppard some tissues, which he used to dab at the excess solution running down his face, before following Hamada into the smaller room branching off from the main area of the infirmary. Sheppard could swear he could feel the drops kicking in, making his eyes feel rubbery, and the room brighter.
"Sit here," Hamada said, pulling a wheeling chair in front of a funky-looking machine sitting on a table.
Sheppard did as commanded, blinking at the light from the screen on the side of the machine.
"This beauty here is an Optical Coherence Tomography, or OCT. Think of it like a MRI that's been tailor-made for eyes," the Doctor said as she rolled Sheppard's chair right up close, then directed him to rest his chin on a cushioned ledge, and he found himself facing a dark window with a red light in the middle and a green cross glowing over it.
"Just watch that green cross and keep your head still," Hamada said, sitting at the screen and pressing buttons, presumably taking scans.
"The cross in going to start moving, follow it with your eyes," Hamada ordered, to which Sheppard hummed in reply.
"Okay," Doctor Hamada said, "we're done with the scan."
"How's it looking?" Carson asked from the corner of the room.
"You were right, Doctor Beckett," Hamada said, with a nod to the physician standing in the corner, "Though it's more of a slight tuft of a detachment than anything. This can easily be addressed with laser surgery, and the sooner the better."
"Why's that?" Sheppard asked.
"Okay, so your eye is filled with fluid, between the pupil and retina," Mizue Hamada explained, "well, I say 'your eye', but everyone's are, that's normal, but in cases of retinal detachment or tears, this fluid can be let in behind the retina, and eventually push it fully off the back of the eye, at which point you lose all vision."
"Which would be extremely bad," Sheppard finished for her.
"Precisely," Hamada said, walking out of the room, returning within the same minute. "Fortunately," she said as she returned holding the other set of eye drops Carson had fetched earlier, "We can take care of it right now."
Carson left the room, with an "I'll start prepping the operating room," as he whipped around the door.
"The procedure is quick and simple, I give you these eye drops to numb your eyes, you lie down under my super cool laser, I flash some lights at you, and you get the next few days off duty, just as a precaution. At the end of those days, we do another scan to make sure I got it all, and we go back to being casual acquaintances," Hamada said even as she administered the drops.
"Sounds great," Sheppard smirked, as he tried to refrain from rubbing at his eyes that now felt rubbery and numb at the same time.
"Alright, we'll head around to the theatre, oh, and you might want these," the ophthalmologist handed the Colonel a pair of shades, which he donned gratefully as they stepped out into the too-bright infirmary's main room.
"Oh my god, what's wrong with your eyes? What have you done this time?" The familiar, worried tones of Doctor Rodney McKay cut across the quiet murmur of the infirmary.
"It's nothing, what are you doing down here?" Sheppard asked in return.
"I came to check on you, you said the check-up wouldn't take long and it's been like half an hour you were supposed to meet me for lunch ten minutes ago!" the agitated physicist huffed.
"A slight retinal detachment, nothing to worry about Doctor McKay," Hamada explained kindly, "we're just headed over for some quick surgery now."
Sheppard, sighed, slowly closing his eyes to the sight of Rodney's petrified face. "Well that's done it," he muttered under his breath, as McKay burst into full-panic mode.
"But that means he can't see properly! Oh my god, you're going to be blind aren't you? Isn't that like where one eye loses sight and the other goes blind too because of the strain? Wait no, how could that work if eyepatches are a thing?"
"Rodney!" Sheppard cut over the stream of babbling, opening his eyes again to see Rodney frozen mid-pacing. "It's a tiny impediment in my peripheral, and Doctor Hamada here says I should make a full recovery in no time, so please, just take a deep breath- that's it- and wait to see how it goes before jumping to every possible worst-case scenario."
Rodney straightened, pursing his lips self-consciously, "I've never been good at waiting."
"I'd never have guessed," Sheppard said, as Beckett leaned out of the operating room, calling out that they were ready for him, and Sheppard, giving a brief nod to Rodney, allowed Doctor Hamada to steer him in.
Taking a deep breath, Sheppard lay down on a piece of apparatus not unlike a dentist's chair, as Hamada took the helm at the laser's controls.
The laser had felt weird, like a light pressure at the very back of his eye, but it was nothing compared to what it looked like, this brilliant spot of intense green staring into his eye.
Though he was not allowed to look directly at the laser, Sheppard still had funky light imprints in his eyes for the next half hour, rendering a pulsing purple haze over his shaded vision. He was released to his quarters almost immediately after the surgery, which in itself took less than ten minutes, and he sat on his bed with the blinds and curtains drawn, lights off, with a tray of food next to him, and his team listening as he explained what had happened.
Teyla seemed just as exasperated as Carson had, and Rodney, having gotten over his initial shock and worry, was complaining about Sheppard's blow-it-off attitude, and questioning the sanity of any living being that can notice something odd in their vision and just assume it'll resolve itself. Ronon, however, seemed the most freaked by it, and Sheppard thought he knew why. In fact, he was pretty sure he was feeling the same way. He was still trying to wrap his head around how such a teeny injury almost robbed him of flying. Sheppard knew Ronon possessed the same attitude towards illness and injury as he did, possibly even to a worse degree. But they'd both work through it, in their own time. After all; shit happens, it's just, sometimes that shit likes to remind you that unless you die as one, you can't be a soldier forever.
They spent the remainder of the afternoon playing a couple of board games Rodney had rustled up, including the unanimous team favourite, the Game of Thrones board game, which, being a combination of military and political strategy, turned them all into conniving, backstabbing egotists, each with their own unique strategy to win the Iron Throne. Sheppard was at a slight disadvantage in that he couldn't always see what order he'd put down, but he liked to think the house of Tyrell put up a good fight.
The next few days were spent similarly, as AR-1 was on stand down while Sheppard recovered, during which time he wasn't allowed to do any heavy lifting, as, according to Doctor Hamada, that can cause retinal detachment, especially after a trauma, and every now and then, funny little dancing swirls obscured Sheppard's view in his right eye, which was apparently normal.
When Sheppard returned to the infirmary for the follow-up, he was about as nervous as he'd ever been reporting to the Docs, but his fears were misplaced, as Hamada happily announced no sign of further damage in either eye. After being placed back on full-duty, he and Ronon headed to the gym to celebrate.
Forty minutes after putting Sheppard back on active duty, Doctor Beckett was peacefully ensconced within his office, going over the medical requisition forms to be sent along with the next data burst to earth, sipping at a hot cup of coffee, when he heard two familiar voices enter the infirmary.
With a certain amount of trepidation, he walked out to find none other than Colonel Sheppard and Ronon, the Colonel nursing a bruised, swelling wrist and Ronon a blood-soaked towel pressed against his collar bone.
"You have got to be kidding me."
AN: Well, I've been wanting to write this one for ages, based off an 'incident' last year involving my young neighbour and a foam nerf dart. I noticed a dark spot in my eye, and mentioned it casually to my GP a few weeks later, who started banging her head on her desk. Oops. A cautionary tale to you folks- if something's not right with your vision, get it checked ASAP or you'll have to drive into the city at peak traffic to get laser eye surgery and your doctor will never trust you again.
And yes, I did take the liberty of bringing in an accredited eye doctor and assumed they'd have the set up to deal with this. I mean, it's not like the creators are doing anything with our beloved Atlantis Expedition so. Of course, while I tried to keep everything as accurate as possible, I haven't actually finished high school, and there's only so much you can check online (especially if you're terrible at using google). If there are any mistakes that you notice, I'd be happy to fix them.
Thank you for reading, it has been a pleasure.