Part 2

Carson continued to be busy the remainder of the evening attending to the rest of the overexposed offworld team while maintaining his watchful vigil over the newest member of Atlantis and his oldest most familiar patient. With Ronon sleeping comfortably for the rest of the night due to the magic of modern medicine, the physician studied the strange figure as he peeled off the dressing on the man's back before replacing it with fresh gauze. Checking pulse rate and temperature and finding them normal, he nodded in satisfaction before turning to Rodney.

He blew out a tired sigh and shook his head in wonder. How this man stumbled into so much trouble and yet saved all their backsides time and again boggled the Scot's mind. Studying the scientist's pale complexion, Carson was pleased to note the return of natural color. And when he laid his hand on Rodney's forehead and then exposed arm, he was encouraged to feel the radiating heat from earlier no longer present. "Well, you skirted another disaster," he whispered to his silent patient. "If you'd remained in that bloody suit any longer, you could have given yourself a nasty case of heat stroke."

"But he didn't, did he?"

Carson jumped at the quiet question being asked from the doorway. "Colonel, you're worse than a cat."

"Sorry, doc. I just thought I'd stop by and see how they were doing before I turned in for the night."

Taking in the tired form standing at the foot of McKay's bed, Carson smiled reassuringly. "He'll be fine in the morning. Most likely be driving my staff insane with his demands before breakfast."

Sheppard smiled at that thought. Scratching the back of his neck, he gaze shifted over to Dex. "What about him?"

"He should be up and about in the morning also. It's amazing really, but he appears to have a high pain tolerance. Most individuals would be incapacitated after experiencing such a surgical procedure, especially without local anesthesia, but he was up and about so soon afterwards."

"Probably something he learned to deal with if he was to survive being a runner."

"Aye. One more nasty thing to learn about the wraith."

Sheppard let out a jaw popping yawn and stretched his hands above his head. "Been a long day, doc. I think I'm gonna turn in." When Beckett didn't answer, he gave the Scot a nudge to the shoulder, "You too?"

"In a little while, Colonel. I want to keep an eye on these two a little longer."

"I thought you said they were fine."

"Aye, but it's been a traumatic day for both." Turning back to Rodney, he removed one of the remaining ice packs from the sleeping man's armpit, before draping the sheet over his shoulder. Giving his friend a pat, he was surprised to hear a small moan escape and a slight wince appear on the scientist's face.

Sheppard didn't miss it either and stepped closer to the bed. "Is he hurting from the heat exhaustion/dehydration thing?"

Carson frowned and shook his head 'no' distractedly. Pressing his hands carefully over Rodney's shoulder, he felt a slight increase in warmth in the muscles. The cold packs from earlier must have decreased any swelling to the inflamed tissue, but upon further examination and gentle manipulation of the shoulder socket, he realized he'd somehow missed Rodney having a possible sprain.

"Did he say anything about being injured?" Carson asked Sheppard.

"No. He was hanging upside down in a tree when I saw him."

"What was he doing that for?"

Sheppard shrugged. "I was chasing after Ford and came across him caught up in a trap."

"Did you cut him down?"

"Uh, no."

"You left him hanging upside down in that bloody suit?"

Sheppard took a step back, trying to avoid the Scotsman's rapidly increasing ire.

"How'd he get down?"

"I cut the rope," Ronon said quietly from the bed behind them.

Both men spun around in surprise to find the runner watching them through sleep filled eyes.

Carson's mouth was gaping open as he stared at one and then the other. "Who caught him when he fell?"

Sheppard shot a quick questioning glance to Dex. "I wasn't there."

Ronon's eyes slid shut, the sedative still working in his system. "He fell to the ground."

"Oh bloody, hell," the Scot cursed. "Did he fall on his head or his back?"

The runner remained silent and the other two thought he might have drifted back to sleep before his eye opened back up and he glanced at the figure on the bed opposite his. "He sort of rolled, hitting his shoulder and back."

Carson tapped his earpiece, "I need an x-ray technician to the infirmary, stat." Shoving his way past Sheppard, he walked to the other side of Rodney's bed and pulled back the sheet, removing the final ice pack from the scientist's other arm pit. Running his hands carefully down Rodney's arms and legs, he was startled to discover another slight area of swelling around his right ankle. Shooting Sheppard a withering gaze, he raised one accusatory brow, "Let me guess, this was the foot he was hanging by?"

The colonel knew he was in trouble and merely nodded, saved from further explanation when a semi alert tech scurried into the room.

"I want Dr. McKay to receive the full treatment; head, neck, back, arms, and legs. Let me know the minute you are finished."

"Yes, doctor," she said, stepping between the men and pulling the curtain shut around Rodney's bed.

"Colonel, perhaps now would be a good time for you to leave," Beckett's tone leaving no room for argument.

Sheppard took a step back towards the doorway, a haunted look filling his eyes. "I didn't know he was hurt. I was trying to help Ford and…."

"You bloody left him hanging in a tree!" Carson hissed.

"I heard shots and him yelling. I figured by all the noise he was making, he was just acting normal."

"My god man, if it were Teyla hanging upside down, or myself, would you have left us there also?"

"No."

"That's right! But since it was noisy complaining McKay, you left him hanging from a bloody tree." Carson could feel his anger ready to explode. Tired from an extremely long day of his own and now having new worries, he couldn't allow himself the luxury of giving Sheppard the verbal lashing he deserved. "I have work to do, Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard. If you need to, you may return in the morning after breakfast." With that, he disappeared behind the curtain to assist the technician.

Sheppard stood rooted in his spot, his hand wearily tracing the stubble across his face. Letting out a deep breath, he swallowed and glanced to Dex before turning to leave. The runner was watching him once more but there was no accusation in his expression.

"I, too, thought he was without injury," he said quietly, his eyes traveling back to the curtained off area.

"Yeah, well…"

"Androcles is very protective of his lions," Ronon added before his eyes slid shut once more, his own body no longer able to hold sleep at bay.

"You have no idea." Walking quietly from the room, Sheppard headed to his own quarters, knowing the rest of the night held little or no sleep for him.

oOo

The following morning arrived too soon for the weary physician. Stretching from his uncomfortable position on the chair next to Rodney's bed, he rolled his head to one side and then the other to crack the stiffness free from tired muscles of his own. With his head tipped sideways, ready to give it a good snap, he discovered a pair of blue eyes intently watching him.

"Rodney?" The eyes blinked but he scientist remained quiet. Pulling himself to his feet, Carson stood beside the bed, his hands touching Rodney's forehead, reaffirming the cool temp. With stethoscope in hand, he listened to his friend's chest and nodded in satisfaction. "What are you waiting for?" he quipped, giving McKay a small poke in the arm.

"Bus," Rodney finally mumbled.

Carson felt a smile spread across his own face. "Nay son, not a bus. That silly suit of yours just overheated your system. How do you feel?"

The scientist opened his mouth to speak but stopped, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. Tiredly his eyes rolled towards the Scot in a silent plea.

Carson reached over and picked up a cup of water at the bedside. Dropping a straw into the liquid, he held it while McKay took a small sip. "Easy," he chuckled, watching the water quickly disappear. "There's more where that came from." The cup empty and Rodney's thirst temporarily sated, he set it back on the table before pulling his stool closer. "Let's try this again. How do you feel?"

Rodney took a deep breath, only to let it out slowly. "Like a pile of Sheppard's week old laundry still on the floor." Glancing around, he raised a questioning brow. "Speaking of which, where is he? Last thing I remember is him yelling at me to get on the jumper."

"I sent him back to his room to rest."

Rodney didn't miss the tense undercurrent to Carson's statement. "What happened? Is he okay?"

"He's bloody fine. It's you who you should be worried about. Because of that bloody suit, you nearly gave yourself heat stroke and you did succeed in dehydrating yourself."

"Oh. But Sheppard's okay? What about Ford? And that guy with the hair?"

"Ronon Dex. He's in the bed next to yours eating his breakfast."

"He came back with us?" Rodney scowled as he remembered the strange man from the planet. "He cut me down."

"I know, he told me."

"Oh." Rodney reached a shaky hand back towards the cup but stopped at the sudden twinge in his shoulder. Grimacing slightly, he tucked it back at his side.

"I've got it." Carson poured another and patiently held it until Rodney was finished. When the scientist leaned back and closed his eyes, the physician tapped him on the chest, "How do you feel?"

"Tired. Headache. Hungry, but not hungry. Sore, like I fell out of a tree. Tired like I was dragged through half the jungles of South America in one day." He grew quiet a moment. "We didn't get Ford back, did we?"

"Nay."

"Is that why he isn't here?"

"Who?"

"The major, colonel, whatever this week's rank is."

"I told you, I sent him to rest."

Rodney's head rolled sideways on his pillow, giving him access to scrutinize the Scot. "You look like hell."

"Thank you very much. Just who do you think has been sittin' up with you all night?" A noise from behind the curtain cut off any further retort. "It sounds like your breakfast has arrived." Standing stiffly, Carson pulled back the curtain, giving Rodney his first real look at the man in the bed next to his own.

"What happened to you?" he asked the stranger from the planet.

Ronon studied the man staring at him. "Thorn in my back. Dr. Beckett removed it for me."

"Oh." Rodney looked back to Carson when he returned with a tray, setting it on the bed table. "That wouldn't happen to be a Columbian Delight half caf latte, would it?"

Beckett smiled, "Even better." Lifting off the lid with an embellished flourish, he revealed a tray off scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and soda crackers."

"No coffee?" Receiving an irritated snarl, Rodney shrugged and picked up a cracker. He chewed slowly, letting it sink to his empty stomach while watching Carson carefully help Ronon sit up. There was a large bandage on the strangers back and Rodney surmised that was where the said thorn had been. Intent on seeing what the other man got for breakfast, he missed seeing Sheppard enter quietly and jumped when the dark haired man tapped his foot.

"Hey, you're looking better," the colonel quipped. "How you feeling?"

Rodney picked up another cracker before having second thoughts and putting it back on the tray. "Not hungry." Leaning back into his pillow, he glared at Sheppard, "You didn't happen to bring any coffee, did you?"

Sheppard shook his head 'no'. Giving a sideways nod towards the Scot, he grimaced, "I don't think today would be a good day to try for his bad side."

Rodney shifted further down on his bed and pointed to his blanket. "I noticed his bedside manner is off. What'd you do?"

Sheppard pulled the blanket up. "What makes you think I did anything?"

Holding up five fingers, Rodney started ticking off events. "You were sent back to your quarters and you actually stayed, he isn't talking to you, you aren't talking to him, you didn't bring me a donut, and you look like hell…just like him." Yawning, he blinked several times, "What did you fight about?"

"We didn't fight."

"Right." Scratching his chest, Rodney closed his eyes and yawned again. A tap on his knee attempted to disturb him. "Go away. Can't you see I'm sleeping?"

"You can sleep after you eat your breakfast." The Scottish brogue was unmistakable.

Cracking his eyes back open in irritation, he noticed Carson now at his bedside and Sheppard down by his feet. Scowling between the two, he raised a snarky brow. "What are you fighting about?"

Carson's expression remained neutral, "Who said anything about fighting?"

"I'm sorry I didn't cut you down from the tree," Sheppard said from his position safely out of the Scot's reach.

Rodney scowled, clearly he was missing something. Racking his brain, he tried to remember the events from the day before. "You were chasing after Ford. Did you catch him?"

"No. He, uh, jumped into a wraith sweeper beam."

Rodney blinked in surprise. "I knew he wasn't rowing with both oars in the water, but why did he do that?"

Sheppard shrugged, his gaze on the floor.

"I don't understand." Beckett and Sheppard both looked to the confused scientist. "What does this have to do with you, or me for that matter?"

"I didn't know you were hurt. I should have cut you down."

"I wasn't hurt. Sure, Ford shoved me into that tree, but that was nothing."

Cason scowled, "What'd he shove you into a tree for?"

"We were hiding from whatever he thought was chasing us."

"Doc, how did the x-rays turn out last night?" the colonel finally dared to ask.

"X-rays? What else happened to me? I do have a headache… What? Is it a skull fracture from Conan there dropping me on my head?" Rodney began to panic.

Beckett rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. "The films are all perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with you except the after effects of dehydration and a slight sprain to your shoulder and ankle. Tylenol and rest is all you need."

"Oh." Tugging his blanket over his shoulder, the scientist blinked owlishly at the three men watching him. "What?"

"Don't even think about going back to sleep. You need to eat first," Carson scolded but knew it was too late. McKay's eyes had slid shut and his breathing evened out in a sleeping rhythm.

Wearily stepping towards the infirmary door, Sheppard stopped, "Doc, wanna get some breakfast?"

"Aye. I'm bloody starving." Straightening Rodney's blanket and putting the cover back on the breakfast tray, Carson turned to check on Ronon. "You'll be alright for a bit? If you have any troubles, push this button," he said, showing him the call switch before giving the stranger a friendly pat on the knee.

Dex nodded.

"Good. Sgt Stackhouse will be keeping you company while we're gone." Taking off his lab coat, Carson tossed it over a chair and followed Sheppard out the door.

"Did you hear McKay call him Conan?" the colonel asked before the door closed. The sound of both men laughing faded behind the panels.

Ronon sighed and picked up his fork, shoveling in his first ever mouthful of pancakes and syrup. Choking down the sticky fluffy substance, his gaze shifted towards the guard at the door and then the sleeping scientist, before returning to the empty spot where the two men had been standing earlier. There was something about these people from Earth that appeared trustworthy. Later on he must find out more about this 'Conan'.

The End!