Casualties of War (Version 2 - Zelenka's POV)
"Radek, you can shut down the jumper now," came the tinny voice in my ear as I slowly became conscious of my surroundings. "Radek?"
To be perfectly honest, I had not the tiniest urge to answer at the moment. Instead I preferred to lie there; much too occupied with the explosions of pain that may have once been my nose. I tentatively checked to see if it was still there and sure enough, my hand came back bloodied. Lieutenant Ford had turned into a real son of a bitch. Struggling to rise, I grabbed the side of the jumper to pull myself to my knees. Rodney was shouting my name from somewhere nearby, causing me to grin a tiny bit at his obvious breathlessness. Kneeling there, enjoying the mental image of the fun Major Sheppard would have whipping him back into shape was pleasant, but did nothing for my current situation. I managed to pull myself to my feet with a groan.
"Are you okay?"
Of all the stupid…And he claims to be the smartest man on Atlantis? I said a few things I shouldn't. It felt so good I said a few more. Obscenities began pouring out my mouth as I gave vent to the frustration and stress from the past several days. Finally I began to run out of words and came full circle, "I think that son of a bitch broke my nose!"
"What?" McKay asked me.
What? He wants me to repeat it all? I could swear I saw the corner of his mouth go up in amusement and glared at him.
"Come on, we'll go see Carson," he told me. He guided me out of the jumper bay and towards the infirmary.
"The cloak worked, yes?" I asked. We were still here but you never know. Some gargantuan space aardvark could have shown up and snorted the Wraith ships up its nose for all I knew. Nothing in the Pegasus Galaxy surprised me any more.
"Yes, obviously, or I would have never had the opportunity to hear your impressive vocabulary."
Did he just give me a compliment? Okay, maybe there were still a few surprises left. "It is nothing."
"No really, I'm impressed."
Now I'm not so sure. Maybe he's making fun of me. No, he seems genuinely impressed. What the hell? "I can teach you." I volunteered as we entered the chaotic infirmary.
"Radek, what happened to you?" asked Beckett, taking my arm and guiding me to an exam table.
"Ford happened to me," I replied. "He happened to you too, no?" I asked, indicating the purple bruises that were peeking through his collar.
Beckett self-consciously zipped the shirt up a little higher, concealing the injury. "Occupational hazard," he said, encouraging me to lean back and prodding gently at my nose.
"Sorry," he said. "I don't think it's broken." Digging through a nearby plastic storage container, he pulled out a gauze pad and handed it to me. "Keep some pressure on it and I'll come back to check on you in a bit."
The infirmary had become more and more crowded as non-essential medical personnel and the less seriously wounded began returning from the Dadelous, so I waved him away.
"You too, Rodney. I do not need a babysitter." I just wanted to be left alone in my misery so I added sarcastically, "Though I am touched you were concerned for my well-being."
He stopped but I knew what he was going to say. I hadn't been working with him this long without getting some idea of what made Rodney McKay tick, besides powerbars, coffee, and at least one hissy fit per day. I pulled the gauze away, tentatively checking for fresh blood. "It is as I told Dr. Weir - in war there are casualties." It was true. "And always too many."
"Is it worth it?" He waved his hands to encompass Atlantis. I think he was asking himself more than me though. "It is worth losing Peter and Ford and …"
Sarcastic, rude, arrogant McKay I could handle. Morose, depressed McKay I could not, so I cut him off. "Rodney, despite what you think, it is not possible for you to control everything. This is not your doing. If you had not come to Atlantis, they would still be here." That sounded wrong. " No, if you had not come to Atlantis probably none of us would still be here." There, that was what I meant.
Rodney gave a jerk of his head, acknowledging my compliment, but since he did not bask as he normally would, I knew it had fallen on deaf ears.
"Hey," said Sheppard as he came to stand beside my bed. "How ya doing?"
I must not being doing too well if the look on his face was any indication but Rodney, being his usual impatient self, answered before I could reply.
"Beckett says it's not broken."
"Well, that's good news," said Sheppard cheerfully. He didn't fool me though.
"He was lucky," said McKay.
"What do you mean by that?" Sheppard asked tightly.
"I mean, Major," said McKay, turning to give Sheppard his full attention, "That he's lucky Ford didn't do a lot worse."
"Ford wouldn't," said Sheppard
"You didn't see him choking the life out of Beckett up against Weir's office wall!" McKay insisted.
Sheppard shook his head at him. "That was instinctive reaction, before he understood what was happening to him."
"He didn't take the jumper Radek was working on."
"So?" Sheppard asked.
I could see him growing annoyed at Sheppard's refusal to admit the truth, and to be honest, I was just a bit annoyed myself. My nose throbbed miserably, I had blood all over my face and these two wanted to argue right on top of me? I wanted at least one word in edgewise. "So, why punch me?" I asked. Sheppard seemed surprised by my interruption and confused by the comment, so I clarified, "I am no Arnold Schwarzenegger to stop him from taking a jumper if he wanted one."
"Or for that matter, why didn't he just sneak in and take one?" McKay asked.
"It wouldn't have been that easy," said Sheppard.
"He led you on a merry chase, didn't he?" McKay snapped. Sheppard gave him an angry look but didn't reply. "Face it Major, he's gone Terminator on us."
"Don't say that," demanded Sheppard angrily.
Even I knew Sheppard wasn't ready to hear this right now but Rodney kept at him. "He is deadly dangerous. It's true, and you know it!"
"McKay, I swear if you say one more word, Zelenka won't be the only one with a busted nose." He was clenching his hand into a fist and for a moment I wondered if I was going to get company.
"What's going on here?" Beckett asked, attracted by their rising voices. He watched as Sheppard and Rodney continued to face off, staring angrily at each other. "Well, Major?" he prompted.
"Nothing," replied Sheppard before turning on heel and stalking out of the infirmary.
Beckett looked at Rodney but the scientist crossed his arms and clamped his lips shut, his face showing a combination of anger, guilt and sorrow before he, too, turned and left.
"What was that all about," Beckett asked quietly, as he checked my nose, prodding the tender part carefully. I winced. It was still quite painful.
"Casualties of war," I replied, but now I wasn't sure if I was talking about Ford or McKay and Sheppard's friendship.