TITLE: What is Needed Most part 16
DISCLAIMER: see part one
A/N: Thank you Thank you Thank you :
to those who've left wonderfully encouraging reviews
to NT and Tipper-without these two this story would still not be finished
Hope you've enjoyed the whole blessed thing :)
John dreamed of running through tunnels. Dark, earthen tunnels that pressed in on him as they twisted and curved like a giant maze. He couldn't find the way out. Just when he thought he was to the end—another turn would send him down another dark passage. Then, abruptly, it all ended. He was watching Carson, placing the paddles on Rodney's chest, shouting "Clear!" The jolt changed the scene again and John screamed. The defibrillator paddles now became a single wraith hand sucking the life out of Rodney's writhing body.
Sheppard came out of the dream with a harsh shout, reaching for his sidearmand coming up with a handful of blanket instead. He breathed heavily, trying to shake off the dream's effects. His heart raced and he felt like the sweat was pouring off of him.
"Did ya sleep well then, Major?" Beckett stood beside his bed, making notes on a chart. Despite his amused smile, there was concern in his eyes.
John snorted as he sat up and reached to scratch his head…only to whack himself with his forgotten cast.
"Oh," Carson winced in sympathy as Sheppard hissed and flopped back on the pillows again, his eyes scrunched tightly closed.
After a moment, John sat up. "How long?"
Beckett glanced at his watch. "You've slept about 12 hours now."
John's eyes widened. "Twelve?"
"You needed the rest. You were about to drop."
"How's Rodney?" Sheppard asked, ignoring Carson's comment.
Carson nodded to the next bed.
Sheppard raised his eyebrows, shocked to find McKay staring blearily up at him. "You're awake."
McKay licked his split lip gingerly. "Yeah, well…you snore," he complained in a weak whisper. His complexion reminded John of the paste he used to secretly eat in kindergarten. Rodney breathed slowly but smoothly and, despite his drug-glazed blue eyes, Sheppard noted the tight grimace and creased brow as McKay tried to manage his pain.
"I don't snore," Sheppard denied, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. "I breathe deeply."
McKay snorted, stopping short and then moaned, "Oh, don't do that."
"Sorry. Sorry." John smiled as he met Rodney's eyes. "My bad."
"Yeah, yeah. It's all your fault."
John looked down, Rodney's words cutting at him.
McKay cleared his throat. "Water?" he requested softly.
"I got it," Beckett offered, already heading off to get it.
"John," Rodney's voice was raspy and Sheppard slid off his bed, moving closer to McKay so he could hear him better.
"Yeah, what do you need?"
McKay shook his head slightly. "Was joking," he tried to explain but he was tiring quickly.
"I know." Sheppard put on a casual grin.
McKay studied him carefully, despite his obvious struggle to stay awake. "Liar," he accused, his eyes finally drifting closed.
John chuckled, both chagrined and relieved to hear McKay's normal biting tone. Some how it reassured him—Rodney really was going to be okay.
"Are you certain about this, Major?" Teyla asked for the third time as she swung her fighting sticks around her.
The late afternoon sun bathed the gym in burnt orange as Sheppard circled the Athosian, defensively.
"As long as you don't tell Dr. Beckett," Sheppard answered, swinging forward with his weapon. He could only hold one, the cast on his injured hand prevented him from gripping the second.
Teyla blocked his blow and followed with an offensive strike that caused John to stumble but not go down.
"You're holding back," he stated, shaking the sweat from his brow. "I told you not to do that."
"Yes," Teyla admitted honestly. "You did."
He came at her again, but she blocked and parried, spinning quickly and smacking his upper thigh before backing off.
"Then why are you?" he asked through clenched teeth, hopping a step on one leg.
"Because." She attacked, whipping the sticks at him with a grace and accuracy he knew he'd never attain no matter how long he practiced. He blocked everything he could but, one-handed, it wasn't enough. Stick cracked against stick and, with a painful blow, Teyla had stripped his weapon from his hand. It flew up, catching him in the brow before flipping over his head and clattering against the far wall.
They stood there in tense silence, John breathing heavily and rubbing his forehead with his good hand before Teyla finally spoke again. "Because, Major. I believe you are merely here to punish yourself and I choose not to assist you in doing so."
Sheppard lowered his hand and stared at her, surprised at the concern he saw in her eyes. "What?"
"You believe," she pointed with one weapon, "that you are to blame for what happened to Dr. McKay."
"Who told you that?"
Teyla smiled wryly and shook her head. "No one. I see it." She stepped closer. "You carry it like a heavy burden meant only for you."
John turned away, stalking to the window, staring at the stained glass without seeing it.
She moved beside him and sat on the bench, looking up at him. "What happened is not your fault," she said simply.
He scoffed. "How exactly do you figure that?" he demanded angrily, looking down at her, trying not to focus on the compassion he saw in her eyes. "If I had killed Kolya when I had the change, none of this would have happened at all. THAT makes it my fault," he whispered fiercely.
"No, Major." Teyla stood slowly and placed her hand on his shoulder. "That makes it his fault. The blame lies with Kolya, no one else."
John shook his head, his anger receding as grief overwhelmed him. "Tell that to Rodney," he said thickly.
Teyla squeezed his shoulder gently. "It is not Dr. McKay who needs most to hear the truth."
He stood there, letting her words wash over him as she moved away. Was she right? He didn't know if he could let go of all the blame. He still felt it, so deeply…but maybe, possibly, he could let go of the anger he'd directed so intensely at himself. "Teyla." He looked up as she reached the gym's doorway.
"You are welcome." She smiled. "Next time however, when you are fully healed," her eyes drifted to his cast and then back to his face with a glint of mischief. "I will not hold back."
"I can't believe it."
"Will you stop already?"
"Well, really. You're supposed to be a highly trained military officer and you can't even smuggle a laptop in here? It was a simple mission," Rodney ranted, his hands gesturing at the room. "Not exactly high security," he pointed out.
John rolled his eyes and slumped lower in the chair beside McKay's bed. "Have you tried to sneak something past Carson?" he defended himself. "The man's a freaking bloodhound."
It's been two full days since he'd woken in the Med Lab to find McKay conscious and starting to improve. Under Beckett's watchful and strict, very strict eye, Rodney was consistently gaining strength. The problem was, however, that McKay was bored out of his mind.
Rodney pulled atthe loose threads of his blanket, already having managed to unravel a large section of it, only to braid the threads back together. Sheppard had kidded him about finding knitting needles somewhere on the base. "You tried to hide it under your shirt. Under your shirt. What kind of stupid plan was that?"
"I'm handicapped here." John waved his cast at McKay. "Give me a break."
"Looks like you already had one," McKay sneered his pun as John groaned loudly.
"I walked right into that, didn't I?"
"Oh yes, very much so." McKay grinned. "Serves you right for failing your mission."
"Hey, I did the best I could." John raised both hands in surrender. "I tried."
McKay nodded, his face suddenly growing serious. His fingers stilled on the blanket and he leaned back deeper into the pillows.
"You okay?" John asked, noticing the change.
"Fine, I'm fine. Just tired. I get tired so easily. Frustrating really," Rodney rambled.
"That's why Carson won't let you have the computer," John pointed out, seriously.
McKay nodded and sighed heavily. "I know."
"What'd you want it for anyway?" Sheppard questioned, sticking a finger under the edge of his cast and wiggling it in an effort to reach an itch.
"I just wanted toget some notes down about the device Kolya had." He tripped slightly over Kolya's name. "Damn shame, leaving that behind. It was intriguing really. I'd have liked to have a chance to see if it really worked."
"Yeah well, it was you or it." John shrugged. "I'm sure it worked fine."
Rodney looked at him. "Why do you say that?"
"You were fixing it, weren't you?" John grinned teasingly.
"Ah yes, my knowledge of ancient technology and all." McKay gestured absently. "The all important brain behind the machines."
Sheppard caught the slight edge to Rodney's voice and sat up straighter in his chair. "Rodney."
"Hmm?" McKay's thoughts were obviously elsewhere.
"You are important."
"Oh, of course I am." Rodney nodded. "Why else would Kolya kidnap me and drag me underground to fix an ancient organ?" he asked bitterly.
"McKay." John leaned forward. "You don't actually think that I tracked you across two worlds, pissed off the Genii—again—and hauled you out of that damn hole in the ground while under fire just because of your brains, do you?" He waited, watching Rodney open and close his mouth unable to find an answer, before he continued. "I didn't come after you just because you understand ancient technology, or because you're the smartest man in the Pegasus galaxy," his voice rose as he went on. "And certainly not because we both passed the God damned Mensa test. You're a part of my team, McKay, and more importantly, you're my friend."
John made sure Rodney was still looking at him before he went on. "I might need a scientist and I might need your skills on my team, but what I need most, Rodney, is you. A friend I know I can depend on. Someone who'll back me up in the face of near certain death and someone who'll annoy the hell out of me when he thinks I'm making a mistake, and then kick my ass for not listening to him. I need someone who trusts me as much as I trust him. That's you, McKay…you." He stopped, letting his words sink in.
There was silence for a few minutes as he watched Rodney process it all. "What if I let you down?" McKay finally asked, hesitantly.
John leaned back in the chair, settling in, and grinned. "Well, then I get to kick your ass and make sure it doesn't happen again."
McKay laughed shortly, his features finally relaxing again. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Shoot." John sneered evilly, paying back McKay's earlier pun.
"Ha ha. How'd you really hurt your hand?"
John shrugged. "I punched a wall."
"Now that was just brilliant," Rodney pointed out sarcastically, closing his eyes and trying to suppress a yawn.
"Yeah, see, you've already got the whole 'annoy the hell out of me' concept down. No need to practice."
"Oh, but practice makes perfect. Soon I'll even be good enough to kick your ass, too."
"Go to sleep McKay, you need the rest."
When Beckett returned to the room later to check on Rodney, he found both men sleeping soundly and snoring a duet that would wake the dead.