Part Four – Dream a Little Dream of Me

Dimly he heard a beeping sound. It could be his alarm clock, he thought hazily, but it didn't sound quite right. His alarm clock tended to get louder and louder until it got turned off, but this was a slow, steady beep. Which meant he didn't need to wake up yet, and he squirmed more comfortably down into the bed.

"That is truly unfair," a familiar sarcastic voice complained. "Why do I have to wake up every two hours and yet he gets to sleep through the whole thing?" Sheppard couldn't help himself; he grinned and opened his eyes to see McKay indignantly ranting at some poor nurse. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and noticed Sheppard's eyes were open.

"Dr. Beckett," she called over her shoulder. "Major Sheppard is awake." McKay turned to look at him and Sheppard stared at the huge fat lip he now sported. McKay scowled back.

"Your own pretty boy image is in severe danger, though you do have that angsty hero look working pretty hard," McKay snarked back, but Sheppard could hear the relief in his voice.

"The hair is ok though, right?" and Sheppard would have laughed out loud at the disgusted snort from McKay, except that would have meant he passed out from the pain. Beckett was already there in his line of sight in seconds with the laser light he used to check for pupil dilation. He smiled, pleased with Sheppard's reactions.

"Quite a little scare ye gave us there, Major," he said as he continued checking Sheppard over. McKay had scooted off the bed and into a wheelchair he rolled up next to Sheppard.

"Nice black eye," he commented, tilting his head to get just the right angle.

"Yeah, well I really like the collagen treatment on your lips there, they're so pouty and plump. So, uh, what happened?" Sheppard asked, trying to sound casual and just sounding croaky instead. Beckett hastily offered a cup of ice chips and then turned to add something to the IV trailing down a pole into Sheppard's arm.

McKay looked both relieved and a little desperate at the question. "You, uh, you don't remember either huh?"

"Tha's too bad," Beckett said, an expression crossing his face that Sheppard couldn't exactly define. "We were hoping perhaps ye could shed some light on exactly how the two of ye managed to sustain a serious concussion and skull fracture, sprained ankle, pneumothorax and multiple contusions and abrasions, and what appears, strangely enough, to be some kind of carpet burn, all without ever leaving Atlantis!" As the litany of injuries had grown, Beckett's voice had grown strident and the brogue thicker. McKay scowled at him.

"Nice bedside manner there, Carson."

The physician's weary, stubbled face flushed, and he turned on his heel, muttering in what John thought could be Gaelic. McKay watched until he disappeared into his office and then leaned in.

"We've got to get our story straight," he hissed, looking back over his shoulder nervously for Beckett's return. Sheppard blinked at him blearily. His head wasn't hurting so much since Beckett had added the magic juice to his IV, but he felt tired, so very, very tired still.

"Major!"

His eyes flew open and the blood roared in his ears.

"Well I'm sorry, Rodney, but I haven't GOT a story to get straight, since I have no idea what happened!"

"Let me give you the Cliff notes version, I'm sure you're familiar with those, or were they too challenging?" said McKay nastily. He was always snottiest when he was nervous and this level of sardonicism didn't bode well for whatever they'd been doing when they got hurt, Sheppard reflected, starting to feel a little nervous himself. "You blackmailed me into jacking your juvenile form of meatball sport into an Ancient device. You and I got trapped inside and got the crap beat out of us. Any of this ringing a bell?"

Unfortunately, it was. A great big honkin' huge bell, kind of like the one inside his head. Sheppard put a hand over his eyes.

"So what does Carson know?"

McKay grimaced. "I've held him off so far, but I'm not sure how much longer he's going to buy the "it's all a blur" line."

"We're gonna have to tell him." The expected protest didn't come and he dropped his hand from over his eyes. McKay sat slumped in the wheelchair looking glum.

"I know," he said, looking dispirited and tired. Sheppard took a deep breath, McKay started wringing his hands, and then they called Beckett back and McKay began to explain.

"The major found a room last week with exercycles in them, well, they're not really exercycles, they just look like them, but anyway, it was pretty obvious that they weren't Ancient hamster wheels so we figured they might be something like a hologram or shared virtual reality."

"Exercycles?" Beckett repeated after McKay.

"They just looked like exercycles, Carson, they're really a virtual reality port."

"Virtual reality port exercycles?" Beckett echoed, sounding faintly bewildered.

"Just forget about the damn exercycles, Carson!" McKay finally exploded. "We jacked the major's football game into the virtual reality but then we got stuck inside. There must be some kind of safety mechanism that I unintentionally deactivated. Of course, anytime you're trying to jump between our technology and the Ancients there's no telling how well the interface is going to work…" His words were cut off by Beckett.

"D'ya mean to tell me," he said slowly, eyes going back and forth between them, that the two of ye, deliberately hooked yourselves into some Ancient device ye knew nothing aboot and ye niver even told anyone where ye were?" Sheppard reflected idly that if Beckett kept rolling his rs like that his tongue would get tied up in a knot. Then his attention was snapped back as a furious, red-faced Beckett continued. "There're jist too bluidy few of us left," he said, pinning both of them with furious blue eyes. "Gaul, Abrams, Miller, Demais, and for the two of ye ta risk your lives for some damfool bloody American game! Ye couldn't pick somethin' safe like, like… picking daisies or something!"

"I'm more of a daffodil man myself…" Sheppard's smartass remark fell flat before the expression on Beckett's face.

"It was stupid and careless," he fumed, "and we coulda lost ye both." He glared at each of them and then stomped off. They sat in stunned silence for a moment.

"Wow," said McKay after a moment in a subdued voice. "I don't think I've ever seen Carson quite that angry. Do you think he's going to tell Weir?"

Sheppard raised an eyebrow. "Gee Spanky, you think Mom'll ground us?"

McKay sighed. "Yeah, me too." After a few moments, Beckett came back.

"Now gentlemen," he said in a determinedly cheerful tone, "since ye're both going to be with us for a while, I suggest ye get familiar wi'some of the responsibilities ye'll be assuming in your future days off," and he plunked down a bedpan on the table next to Sheppard and handed one to McKay, who looked at it in horror.

"Carson, I really don't think this is necessary…" and McKay's voice trailed off uncertainly under the laserbeam glare of bright blue Scottish eyes and the accent when he spoke again had thickened back up like pudding with a skin on top.

"Unless ye want me ta inform Elizabeth of exactly how bluidy foolish tha two of ye have been, I strongly encourage ye to comply with whatever I ask of ye." McKay swallowed, looked down at the bedpan, and nodded.

"Good," said Beckett with satisfaction. He turned to the two nurses who were standing at the entrance. "And now fer yer bedbaths." He grinned maliciously down into both of their dismayed faces, and strode nonchalantly out of the infirmary.

"Now if that doesn't teach them a lesson, I don't know what will," he said to Ford and Teyla, who were waiting anxiously outside the infirmary door.

"You are certain they are all right?" asked Teyla, her eyes intent on Beckett. At the sound of the violent protests coming from behind him, Beckett pulled the door closed and smiling said, "Not yet, but they will be."