Author Note –Thanks for all the wonderful feed back. I was staring to wonder if anyone was reading. ;-)

Thanks to B7KerrAvon for the ideas of what was going on and Tipper for keeping me inspired to keep at it! Dru, thanks for all the great feedback!! You're nuts dear, but thank you!

Chapter 6 – Don't be a Fraid, Friends Keep us from Fraying

"Carson, would you stop fussing?" Rodney snapped, struggling to keep the light robe he was wearing over the thin scrubs shut and keep himself balanced against the bed. His legs still felt pretty wobbly and it wasn't helping matters his right arm was bound up in a sling.

"Rodney, for the love of—" The Scottish physician sighed in exasperation. "You're gonna break you fool neck."

Rodney closed his eyes in frustration as a wave of dizziness swept over him. "I'm going stir crazy in here. No one will let me have my laptop and you're the one that said I need to get up and walk."

"With help," Carson pointed out sharply.

"Fine," he said, grumpily, shifting to sit on the bed and glare at him. "You're here. Help."

"He giving you a hard time, Doc?" Sheppard walked in behind Carson. He smiled at Rodney. "The living dead walks," he teased a bit.

Rodney gave him sour look. He was tired. He ached. He had about as much energy as one of the deplete ZedPMs and the way everyone was fussing over him was totally disconcerting and all of it had him on edge. All this over the stupid cut on his arm.

He looked back up and Carson was still glaring daggers at him. That probably had more to do with the histrionic fit that he had on one of the nurses earlier. He really did need to apologize to her, but he was more than capably to give himself a bath, thank you very much.

He sighed and dropped his eyes again to stare at the floor.

Sheppard cleared his throat. "Doctor Beckett, if it would be alright, I need to have a little talk with Doctor McKay."

Rodney looked up again, frowning at the formal tone the Major was using. The look on the man's face made him stiffen a bit.

Great, just...great. Now what?

Carson gave the Major a confused look and then his eyebrows raised. "Yes, of course. I'll be in my office if anyone needs me."

Rodney stared at both of them on confusion as Carson quickly darted away. Sheppard came over and faced him, arms crossed tightly across his chest. Rodney continued to stare at him, waiting for him to speak.

Sheppard look down at him, studying him. Rodney shifted uncomfortably, pulling the thin robe shut again.

Finally, Sheppard spoke. "First off, let me say it's good to see you back on your feet. You had us pretty worried there for while." Then his tone hardened. "And if you ever, repeat, ever do anything that stupid again, I will personally haul your butt down here and have Beckett keep you chained to one of these beds until we find a ZPM to send you back to earth."

Rodney blinked in confusion. "What?"

The Major sighed and pulled a chair over and sat down in it. "McKay, you nearly died," he said in exasperation.

Rodney sighed and sat back a little more on the bed. Carson had told him as much. The infection from his arm had gotten into his blood and kind of run amuck from there. They had some trouble pinpointing the correct antibiotic needed and he had gotten pretty sick over the whole thing.

Sheppard watched a bit longer and then said. "Why?"

"Why what?" Rodney shot back before he could stop himself. He sighed and closed his eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm out of sorts right now."

"What is with that?" Sheppard shot back. "You've been ripping everyone head off since you woke up. You'd think you'd be a little grateful people cared about you."

Rodney winced. "I know. I'm sorry. I just—" he looked away and cross the nearly empty infirmary. "It makes me nervous when everyone's being nice to me. I mean, yes, I was sick, but—" he shook his head, not really able to put in to words what was going in his head. "I'm sure you had better things to do than watch me sleep."

"We didn't want you to be alone," Shepard told him.

"I barely knew you were here," he told him. He looked at him, his eyes narrowing. "Were you here the whole time?"

"One of us, Ford, Teyla and I took turns, others too. Zelenka stopped in a couple times and so did Weir."

"How long?"

"You were out of it for about three days."

Rodney took a moment to digest this. He shook his head. "Why?"

Sheppard's dark eyes bore into his. "You're our friend. You're sick," he said as if that was explanation enough.

Fatigue settled into a throbbing pain behind his eyes and he scrubbed his good hand across his mouth.

"Rodney, let it go," Sheppard said abruptly and McKay's eyes snapped back open.


"It's over. Atlantis is safe. The Genii are gone. What happened, happened. We go from here."

"I screwed up," he said softly.

"Learn from it. Move on."

He sighed, staring at the floor. The Ancients had the most fascinating architecture.

"Beckett is making you an appointment with Dr. Heightmeyer."

Rodney's head snapped up and he glared at the other man. "The shrink? Why?"

"You weren't sleeping. You ignored that infection in your arm. You've been ripping peoples heads off left and right. You connect the dots," Sheppard told him. "You want to stay on the team you see her."

He sighed and rolled his eyes. "Please, Major, I've been to shrinks all my life." His eyes narrowed. "They do that to you when you're in the "gifted" programs. I need left alone to think."

"You've been left alone and you nearly died," Sheppard said shot back. "This time we go by the book. You see Heightmeyer or you're off the team, period."

"Look, Major--"

Sheppard's eye flashed. "No, you look, McKay. You were tortured. You're not handling it alone." His tone softened. "You don't have to. You've got friends whether you want them or not. People who actually care about you. You're pretty good at keep people at arm length. Well, these people won't let you do that. You need help and you need to let them help you."

Rodney stared him. Ever instinct in him told him to yell at the man and kick him out of the room, but he knew he was right. He didn't know how to deal with this. He had never had many friends. Acquaintances, coworkers, yes, but not real friends. He sighed tiredly and let his shoulders slump in defeat. "I don't know how," he admitted.

Sheppard sat back and sighed. "For starters, stop pushing everyone away." He glanced back over his shoulder at a pretty nurse restocking a cabinets along the far wall. "You could start by apologizing to the nurse you screamed at this morning."

Rodney shot him a withering look. "I didn't scream—" he caught himself and let out a deep breath. "I was kind of rough on her."

Sheppard nodded. "You were and on Beckett and about everyone. Zelenka said you threw a pretty impressive temper tantrum before I chased you out of the labs. The other scientist are willing to cut you a break due to the fact that you were sick at the time and over-caffeinated and sleep deprived, but you're starting to push the envelop of the breaks people are willing to cut you."

He nodded. "Yeah."

"See Heightmeyer," Sheppard said, sitting in the chair. He gave him a critical look. "You look beat. Why don't you get some sleep," he told him.

Rodney felt wrung out and it was getting frustrating. He couldn't do anything. He couldn't work because Beckett wasn't let him. He knew why, but it didn't stop him from being irritated by it.

"McKay," Sheppard said, snapping him back to the here and now.

He nodded and shifted awkwardly to lie back. Sheppard got up and helped him get back onto the bed and untangle himself from the IV line he was still tethered to. He sighed deeply and draped his good arm over his eyes.

Sheppard patted his shoulder. "See you later."

Rodney shifted his arm and looked at him. "Thank you," and then he added. "I'll see her."

The Major nodded. "Good."

He paused. "I'll apologize to the nurse too," he said, his eyes starting to droop shut.

Sheppard smiled. "Good man."

Rodney sighed. He had this funny feeling he couldn't quite identify. Something kind of warm and...fuzzy inside. It wasn't unpleasant feeling, just an unusual one. He struggled to identify just what it was. He heard Sheppard leave and then him talking to Beckett indistinctly. The feeling was comfortable and....

Trust. It was trust. One feeling he hadn't let himself feel for a very long time. He had never truly ever been able to trust his parents and had given up on ever finding anyone he could trust. People just didn't work that way, maybe these people did.

He sighed and shifted to make himself more comfortable. He'd wait and see.