AN: And we're finished! Thanks for being patient with the slow updates (really sorry for that)!
"Teyla!" exclaimed Sheppard. He jumped out of bed, forgetting the only thing covering him was a sheet. "How'd you find us?"
McKay was as relieved as Sheppard, but he hadn't forgotten the sheet, and he'd noticed the girl standing behind Teyla. "Major," he hissed.
Sheppard halted, eyeing the girl suspiciously. "Who's your friend?"
"This is Livy," answered Teyla, pulling her into the room. "She helped me escape, and lead me to a cure for the poison keeping you here." She fixed both men with a sage look, aware of their distrust. "I promised her sanctuary."
"I do not know. Livy only knew the whereabouts of you and Doctor McKay," replied Teyla. "I'm sorry, Major."
Sheppard fixed a hard stare on the girl, and felt a momentary pang of remorse when she flinched and looked away. She couldn't be more than sixteen. He'd have to deal with that complication later; after all, they'd already given the Athosian's sanctuary, and with them living on the mainland, the girl would have a good place to go. Better than this screwed up place.
"Were you seen?" he asked, stepping around them both, and looking around the door, relieved to see the hall was clear.
Teyla shook her head. "No, we waited outside until this Mistress Karna left."
"Marsa had additional medicine for," Livy cast a furtive look their way, "your friends. She should be gone long enough."
"Additional medicine?" asked a startled McKay.
"For both of us?" Sheppard shared an alarmed look with Rodney. They'd had enough medicine. Like the saying goes, with side effects like these, who needed the cure?
"Both," replied Teyla, and the edges of her mouth quirked.
"We should go," said Livy, shooting a nervous glance at the door. "We must get a head start, for once she sees they are missing, she will send out a search party. Though she threatens to not rescue escapees, she would do so."
"Where are your clothes?" Teyla scanned the room searching.
"Gone," McKay snapped. "Or did you think we're wearing this for the fashion statement?"
Teyla's forehead crinkled. She didn't understand the fashion statement reference, but she did understand McKay's scathing tone. Coldly, she said, "Very well, you will have to make do."
"We can't hike back to the gate like this!"
Teyla turned her back to McKay and started out the door. "I thought you wanted to make a – fashion statement."
Sheppard raised an amused eyebrow at McKay, and followed the women. He heard Rodney grumbling, but knew the scientist was walking behind him. It was going to be a long uncomfortable hike.
And it was. By the time they approached the outskirts of the town, and nothing but trees and grass stood between them, and Atlantis, Sheppard could care less about his dignity, and even less about civility.
He was overheated, sweaty, chafing in places that chafing wasn't a good thing, and if McKay whined one more time about his headache, Sheppard was going to give him a lump to blame the headache on.
"Now what?" snapped McKay, panting heavily.
Sheppard took pleasure in the fact that both of them were run ragged, and it wasn't just him. He'd be embarrassed if McKay was in better shape than he was, regardless of what they'd been through.
"Weir will have sent a rescue team. We hide till they show," advised Sheppard, stumbling over the hem of his sheet.
Sheppard should've known nothing is ever that simple. They did manage to make it to the gate, and they even managed to remain hidden, but when the wormhole engaged, and the rescue team stepped out of the event horizon, a loud clamor arose behind where Sheppard and the others were hiding.
McKay yelped, and turned as fast as humanly possible, but it wasn't in time to escape the dart. Sheppard watched McKay slide down like the man was a boneless fish, and his eyes caught Teyla's.
They'd been followed. He turned to the girl, knowing he shouldn't have trusted so easily, but she was gone. Sheppard did a mental head slap. Of course she was. Why hang around; she'd done her job. Damn it!
"I am sorry, Major." Teyla was trying to pull McKay under cover, and Sheppard heard the peppering of gunfire as the rescue team fought off the would-be captors. They'd obviously thought the ambush through. A chance to catch even more bodies had been too much to pass up.
"Not your fault," said Sheppard stonily. He felt a hiss blow past his head, and figured he'd just managed to avoid another dart. "We've got to get out of here. If we can reach the rescue team, they'll dial out." He did not want to stay here a minute longer than he had to, and going back to Karna's wasn't how he thought this night was going to end.
Looking behind, he could see at least three figures silhouetted in the growing light. There wasn't any way short of making a mad run for it. No trees or rocks, nothing for cover, between them and the gate.
"Grab his other arm," whispered Sheppard. "On three, we run - one, two, three!"
Hauling McKay roughly across the ground, Sheppard apologized mentally for the bruises Rodney would have, and cringed when they tripped and fell, practically on top of the scientist. Good thing McKay was oblivious to the trip, thought Sheppard wearily.
"Major Sheppard!" Sergeant Bates was firing over their head.
"Dial the gate!" shouted the major, giving another hard yank as McKay's legs caught against a dip in the ground. "Go, go!"
Another member of the rescue team quickly jogged to the DHD, and entered the address. The gate, while never known for speed, seemed to take forever to engage, and splash out their escape.
Bates stepped back towards the gate, and holding fire, gestured for the other members to move. They had finally reached the rescuers, and gratefully, Sheppard released McKay into their waiting hands. Teyla and two of the remaining three expedition members pulled McKay into the wormhole, making it safely through, and leaving only him and Bates.
Sheppard didn't need to be told twice. As the cold chill of the wormhole enveloped him, he felt a small sting on his shoulder, and knew he'd been hit. That was the last thing his mind registered, as the momentum carried him forward, and already unconscious, he slumped to the gateroom floor, unaware of the shocked stares on the command deck.
Sheppard groaned. He felt like hell. The last thing he remembered was going through the gate. Opening his eyes, he wasn't surprised to see the familiar surroundings of the infirmary.
Normally, he wasn't too hot to stay here. It was noisy, and being pestered every hour or so by various medical personnel grew irritating, especially when there was nothing wrong with you, but today – he wasn't going to want to leave for a while.
Wasn't there some miracle medicine that Beckett should've given him to make him feel better? Sheppard wondered if he begged? His stomach felt like it'd been used as a trampoline for giants.
"You're awake," spoke the very man he'd been thinking about.
Sheppard rolled his head to the side, and saw Beckett standing in his white coat, stethoscope dangled around his neck. "I don't feel so good," he admitted. "Did they find Ford?"
Carson didn't appear overly alarmed by his confession, but he did look sympathetic. "Aye, I don't suppose you do," he lifted a vial, holding it for Sheppard to see. "This was the antidote to that nasty bit of poison you, Rodney and the Lieutenant were subjected to, and Ford was found before you three. He was pretty bad off, though, until Teyla gave me the medicine she pinched off that person."
"The cure is worse than the poison." A shaky voice spoke up out of Sheppard's eyesight.
Rodney sounded as bad as he felt. Sheppard craned his head, focusing on a grimacing McKay a couple of beds over. "Hi, McKay," he waved. "Nice planet." Sheppard made an okay with his fingers. "Great idea," and dropped back against the pillow, muttering again, "great idea."
"It's not my fault!"
Sheppard was too miserable to argue, so he settled for throwing his pillow. He missed, and now he didn't have anything to lay on.
"Childish behavior," crowed McKay, "gets you nowhere."
"Does he feel as bad as I do?" Sheppard asked Beckett, ignoring McKay. "Because I really hope he feels this bad."
Carson patted Sheppard's shoulder, "Of course he does." Beckett grabbed a pillow from the other bed, and helped Sheppard get resettled. He really felt like crap.
"Isn't that against your oath?" snapped McKay. "I'm sick, you've got to be nice to me."
Beckett smiled. "I'm always nice, Rodney. Get some sleep," he turned away towards his office and flipped the lights off. "You'll feel better tomorrow."
Sheppard almost wished Beckett had stayed. Talking seemed to take his mind off how miserable he was. Looking around the room some more, he noticed Ford was indeed snoring softly in a bed near McKay's. Despite the double cross from that girl, she'd given Teyla the medicine that saved them all, and for that he supposed things worked out for the best.
Eventually, Sheppard fell back asleep. He did feel better the next day, and judging by the increase in volume and content from McKay, Rodney was also recovering. Ford was taking longer, but Beckett had explained it as a result of being untreated for over a day. It had taken a toll on the young man's body, but he would bounce back.
The reason he and McKay had felt so bad, was a result of being dosed twice with the poison, and the cumulative effects of the cure. All things being equal, though, they'd probably get released this afternoon.
The door swished open, and his two favorite women walked in the room. Normally, he would've been more than happy to see them, but a little birdie had whispered in his ears about the gossip running amuck through the city about their escapade on Sex Slave Planet, and Sheppard was pretty sure patient zero for the source of the information was coming from Bates, and when he got out of here –
"You look better," smiled Elizabeth warmly.
"I feel better," he answered honestly.
"In fact," added McKay, "We were thinking we could be released now."
Sheppard cringed. Timing, McKay, it was all about timing – he hadn't allowed for time to let Weir see them acting and talking normal. But McKay was nine-tenths impulse, one-tenth control, and the nurses' whispering and giggling was even sending the normal hypochondriac McKay into uneasy looks Sheppard's way, and they'd decided maybe retreating to lick their wounds in private might be in their best interests. Sheppard was pretty sure one of the nurses had a camera, and he'd caught a glimpse of those sheets they'd worn during the Great Escape, as it was being called. They'd taken to dozing with one eye open.
Weir had a knowing twinkle in her eye. "I think we'll let Carson be the judge of that."
"Be the judge of what?" asked Beckett, coming out of his office upon hearing the conversing voices.
"How soon our illustrious adventurer's can be released," explained Weir.
Was that a gleam in Beckett's eye as well? Sheppard groaned. Exactly how much information had gotten out?
"Oh, I think this afternoon," he said. "On light duty. Elizabeth -" Carson waved her his way, "I have to talk to you about something."
Sheppard eyed them distrustfully, and couldn't help but shoot a dirty look at everyone. If that something was them, he was going to snap, and wouldn't be responsible for what happened next.
After they stepped out of the room, Teyla came closer to his bed. "I am sorry, Major. I should not have trusted the child."
Sheppard lifted his hand slightly from the bed and waved slightly. "You did what you had to. She tricked all of us. But, she did lead you to the medicine, and judging from how bad off Ford still is, he needed it a lot more than me and McKay."
"You would not have needed more, if we had not been ambushed at the gate," she argued, not ready to let herself off the hook for being duped so easily.
"And we never would have been ambushed if you hadn't trusted her," agreed Sheppard. He saw the surprise from Teyla at his seeming agreement of her wrongdoing, but he pressed on and finished, "We wouldn't have been ambushed, because we would've been prisoner's still, because if you hadn't trusted her, you never would've been allowed to escape, either."
"For once, I agree with Sheppard," voiced McKay. "We've got you to thank for getting us out of there."
Uncharacteristic as it was for McKay to say thanks to anyone, Teyla was touched. A thankful smile spread across her face, and she closed in on McKay's bed, leaning in to give him an Athosian gesture of affection, and friendship, the same gesture she'd done with Sheppard not long after they'd been rescued from the Hive ship.
Despite the embarrassed flush, Sheppard could see McKay was pleased. Teyla inclined her head his way, and left. McKay stretched out in bed, twining his fingers together behind his head, and looking very self-satisfied.
"I dragged your sorry ass to the gate," pointed out Sheppard.
"But I got the Athosian hug," retorted McKay.
Disgruntled, Sheppard rolled away, and covered his head with a pillow. Why'd McKay get the hug, and all he got was an apology? Sometimes being in charge sucked. He liked hugs, even those weird ones that Teyla's people did.
Beckett was true to his word, and what he and Elizabeth had schmoozed about in private, Sheppard didn't know, but they got the release later that afternoon. Sheppard had dozed, and when he woke, McKay was already gone, and Ford was sitting up reading a magazine.
After getting dressed, Sheppard headed to the lieutenant's bed. "Nice to see you awake."
"Thanks, Sir. Glad you and Doctor McKay made it out of there. Teyla said you had a rough time."
Teyla said? Sheppard groaned. He almost asked what Teyla said, but maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss. Before he could think of something else to say, Beckett was waving him over holding his discharge papers.
Sheppard signed, and Beckett thrust a white paper bag in his hand as he turned to leave. "What's this?"
Carson was grinning. "Just a little something for those wee nasty side-effects Rodney told me you were suffering from before."
Sheppard narrowed his eyes, but before he could say he didn't need anything, Beckett had already hustled away. Opening the bag, Sheppard shook out a small bottle of pills, and rotated to read the label - Sildenafil Citrate, and in parentheses, the brand name Viagra.Son of a bitch –