Almost Home, Part Two
by Jennamajig

SUMMARY: Radiation has a few consequences. Tag for Intruder. Part Two added

SEASON/SPOILERS: Season Two. Spoilers for Seige III and Intruder.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had no plan to add to this fic. In fact, I considered it a stand-alone. But a few people asked and the muse felt inspired. So here it is. More Sheppard whumping abounds.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.

Intelligence reports.

A whole lot of words that did not offer him a shred of evidence about the whereabouts of Lieutenant Ford.

Teyla had told him this, but John hoped there was something – anything – that might be any sort of a clue. Something she missed, something someone else missed. But Teyla was thorough; Ford was still a mystery.

He shifted his eyes from the computer screen and yawned. He was wiped out. Beckett had let him walk off the Daedalus, yes, but not before telling him to get some rest and report to the infirmary for blood tests that evening. The Scot had said the last results looked better, but that he'd be feeling run down for the next week or so.

Run down was an understatement to the exhaustion he felt as he leaned back in his chair. Just the walk off the Daedalus and to his quarters made him fell like he'd run a marathon. He wondered if McKay had a similar problem and almost hoped he did. Rodney's symptoms had been far less severe and he'd been rid of the nausea after the first twelve hours. Instead, he'd begun inspecting every inch of his skin for burns and called Beckett over every two minutes to examine a new patch he thought looked red.

"Can it, McKay," John had muttered from his own bed, where he was curled up hopping to curb his stomach's need to try and escape his body. "You're fine. "

"Fine? Colonel, I'm starting to peel here. Carson, tell him this is not a good thing," Rodney had shot back.

Beckett had simply sighed. "It's normal, Rodney. You have some slight sunburn. You just need lotion, that's all."

Thankfully, lotion had satisfied McKay for a while, Sheppard's vomiting stopped, and Atlantis finally came into view.

Home sweet home.

John shook his head to clear it, then yawned yet again. He stared at his bed. It was only across the room, still it seemed like it might as well be miles away. His eyes were drooping.

I'll just rest right here, he thought and lowered his head down onto his desk.

"Colonel? "

John eyes snapped open and he bolted up. "Huh?" The remnants of sleep still filled his brain, making it hard to focus on the person who obviously made their way unannounced into his room. He shook his head, but it didn't help. If anything, it made him dizzy. He felt himself lilting a bit to the right.

"Easy now." Hands were on his shoulder, pushing him back upright. He turned and squinted.

"Beckett? "

"Aye. You were supposed to come see me this evening. When you didn't show, I decided to come to you." The physician had genuine concern in his eyes.

"Sorry," John told him, wiping his face. "I fell asleep. "

"I see that." Beckett held up a basket and the first thing Sheppard saw sticking out of it was a needle. " I just need to draw some blood and then you can go back to sleep. In your bed, preferably. "

"I can do that, " he agreed, still sluggish and not liking it at all. He felt Beckett take his hand and a needle eventually puncture a vein in the crook of his arm, but seemed a bit removed from it. Like he was drugged, almost. He saw Carson remove the last vial and the needle before placing a cotton ball over the site and bending John's arm up.

"All right, then. All done. I'll just see you to your bed, Colonel, and be on my way." He offered John a hand up.

Sheppard brushed it off. "I can see myself to my own bed perfectly fine." Okay, he was still sleepy, but the bed was only a few feet away. Not big deal. He stood up.

And crumpled down. He saw Carson's eyes go wide and the doctor reach out –

Then black.

He woke up flat on his back blinking up a ceiling. Surprisingly, it wasn't the infirmary's. He heard someone talking and turned slightly to see Beckett having a conversation on his radio.

" Doc?" John winced at how rusty his voice sounded. And he tasted something metallic. He reached up to his lip and touched it gently. When he drew his fingers back, he saw red.

Great. He started to push himself up.

"Not so fast, Colonel." Beckett's hands were pushing him back down.

"I'm fine," he insisted. "Just a little dizzy."

"You fainted," Beckett informed. "You've been out nearly five minutes. I've radioed for a litter and we'll need to run some more tests."

"More tests? You said the last ones were fine. And I did not faint. McKay faints. I just pass out gracefully. "

Carson just gave him a look and John thought the doctor might even be trying to hold back a smile. " I said the last tests were all right considering." He took a moment to inspect John's lip. "Still bleeding, I see. "

"Yeah, " John muttered. "That mean anything? "

"Maybe." Beckett was vague and when more medical personal arrived, John didn't get anything more from the man.

More ceiling. This time the all too familiar Atlantis infirmary view.

John was propped up on a bed contemplating his situation and anything else that filtered through his brain. It was deja vu all over again, bringing him back to the clam before the storm aboard the Daedalus. He didn't relish puking again, nor did he enjoy reliving his own feelings of failure when it came to Ford.

Beckett hadn't stuck an IV in him yet, thankfully, although he did make John change into a pair of scrubs and strapped one of those automatic blood pressure things to John's arm. Someone came and took more blood.

In addition, he was still dizzy, his lip was still bleeding, and he'd discovered he was now cold as well. He didn't think any of those things were good.

Finally Carson made an appearance at his bedside and John tried reading his face. He didn't look happy, that was for sure.

"You're having a hemolytic crisis. You blood count keeps dropping since we got you here and your blood cell count is rather low. "

John blinked. " Um, English, doc."

Carson gave him a small smile. "Sorry, son. You're anemic. "

"Okay," John said slowly. "Is that why I passed out? "

"Aye. And why you're cold and your lip hasn't stopped bleeding. Your platelet count's affected, too, and that causes your blood not to clot correctly. "

"That doesn't sound good. Is this because of the radiation?" He knew he and McKay had a close call, but he figured the worst was over and Beckett had appeared to confirm that fact.

"Most likely. "

"Okay. So what happens? I thought you said the worst was over. "

"I did," Beckett replied. "It's possible that it has just taken some time for the radiation's effect to show up in your blood work. We'll do a transfusion to see if we can't correct the problem. "

"A blood transfusion? That should fix it? "

"Hopefully." Beckett sounded far too unsure for his liking. "You'll need to stay in the infirmary for a bit so we can test your blood to make sure it remedies the radiation's effects. "

"What if it doesn't?"

"It should. " Beckett patted his shoulder. "You're alive, Colonel. This is just a minor setback. We'll just run the transfusion though and take another look. Don't think about it. "

Don't think about it? Great advice, John thought as he watched the doctor walk away. How could he not think about it?

Easy. Think about other things. Atlantis, home, the fact that he managed to smuggle a couple of six packs aboard the Daedulas.


No, he didn't want to go there.


He wasn't giving up. Aiden was still out there, though he was now a little different from the man that had served on Sheppard's team for the past year. The twenty-five year old couldn't name a thing to save his life, but could always tell a good story around the fire on a planet that was too cold and gloomy for anyone's tastes. Even McKay quit complaining and listened.

Ford trusted him. Ford was still just a kid. Yet, he'd been though the gate far more times than Sheppard had; he'd been stationed at Stargate Command prior to Antarctica. Ford could take charge when needed and had that sense of wonderment and fearlessness that being in your twenties brought. The feeling that you could conquer the world if you wanted, too.

That feeling still existed, but Ford had a much different purpose in which to apply it.

Ford had trusted him.

/ "You know, Aiden mentioned you in that tape message he sent. He said you were a good man; that he trusted you with his life. You tell me, Colonel - was that trust misplaced?" /


John blinked. A nurse was at his bedside, IV paraphernalia in hand.

"I need to get an IV started for the transfusion."

Right, blood transfusion. Radiation. Almost dying, yet again. Hell, he could still die since this radiation sickness was sticking around more than he'd like it to.

Ford did trust him.

But would he still think that the next time John managed to track him down? Ford thought everyone was afraid of him. John couldn't say they weren't. Beckett was petrified and Sheppard didn't really blame him.

But Ford was still in there. No matter what anyone told him.

He grimaced when the nurses drove the IV needle home. Someone else showed up with a bag of blood. She smiled and hooked it up.

"I'm just going to stay a few minutes and make sure you'd don't have a reaction."

"A reaction?" What exactly did she mean by that?

"It rarely happens," another voice responded and Sheppard looked up to see Beckett, his hands shoved inside his lab coat pockets. "I'll sit with him, Rachel. Why don't you try and track down Dr. McKay for me? He should have been by an hour ago. "

The nurse nodded and walked off.

"McKay's late? Think he's having the same problem?" McKay got the same dose of radiation and John found he didn't really like being alone in his misery, even if Rodney complained the entire time.

Beckett should his head. "Probably not. His blood work was looking much better than yours. Rodney just hates needles. I gather he's hoping I've forgotten." He gave John's IV a look before settling down in the chair positioned next to the bed. "How are you feeling, Colonel? "

John sighed. "Not so great, apparently. "

Carson smiled. "It'll get better soon. And at least you didn't fall on your face in the control room. "

John nodded. " Yeah ..."

"Are you all right?" There was a different type of concern in Beckett's voice this time.

"You just asked that question, doc. And surprisingly, I gave you an honest answer. "

"I wasn't talking about physically," Beckett said. "I heard you visited Lieutenant Ford's cousin while we were back on Earth. "

"Who told you that? "

"Elizabeth. " He paused a moment. "And Rodney. They were concerned. "

"Concerned?" John was touched, yet confused. "Concerned about what? "

"It isn't your fault, Colonel. That enzyme ..." Carson trailed off. "I had hoped he'd stay in the infirmary. "

John shook his head. "If it isn't my fault, it sure as hell isn't yours, Carson." The use of Beckett's first name didn't go unnoticed. John didn't use it often, despite the fact that Beckett had told him he could.

"Aye, I know," Beckett agreed. "I suppose it's human nature to feel guilty for actions that you have no control over. "

Sheppard swallowed. He did feel guilty. Felt he betrayed Ford, chased him with a gun and shot at him, betrayed him.

Made Ford believe he didn't trust him anymore, even.

That's what bothered him most of all.

"I suppose it is, " John muttered.

"Did you think you'll ever find him? "

"I have too," John replied without a thought. It was never a question of if in his eyes, it was a question of when, a question of how. How to repair broken trusts. How to help his friend. "Do you think you can help him?"

Beckett was quiet a moment. "I can try," he said, softly. "Medicine can only do so much. The longer he's on the enzyme ...well, it's not something I have an endless supply of in the back room. "

No, he supposed Beckett didn't. And if Ford couldn't be weaned off the stuff well, John didn't like thinking about it. He opened his mouth to reply when Rachel came back, dragging a displeased Rodney McKay with her.

"Found him, " she said to Carson with a smirk.

"Dragged me is more like it," Rodney muttered. "She has nails!"

"You were due to see me over an hour ago," Beckett said, not commenting on his nurse's methods. John had to give her credit – she had gotten McKay here after all.

"But I'm fine, " McKay insisted. "It's the Major— "

"Colonel," John corrected. It was the one thing he was proud of and Rodney better get used to it.

"Fine, the Colonel's the one that's fainting. "

"Passing out, " John insisted.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Carson tells me faint is the proper voodoo term, so if it's in my chart, it's in yours, too." He looked back at Beckett. "You keep saying I'm fine, despite the fact that I'm peeling. I'm finally listening to you. "

Beckett gave him a small smile. "Nice try, Rodney. I'll still need to take some blood. "

"More?" Rodney complained. "I'll have none left."

"You'll have plenty." Carson pushed himself out of the chair. "Keep the Colonel company. I'll go get what I need."

"Vampire, " McKay muttered under his breath as the doctor walked away.

"I heard that!" Carson called over his shoulder.

"Of course." McKay sat down in the chair Beckett had vacated. "So, you okay?"

"You're asking about my well-being, Rodney?"

Rodney looked insulted a moment. "I care."

"I'm okay. At least, Beckett thinks I will be. Hopefully. "

"Like I said. Voodoo," Rodney replied. They lapsed into silence a moment before Sheppard spoke.

"So... Beckett says you and Elizabeth told him I went to visit Ford's family. "

An expression that John couldn't discern crossed Rodney's face. "Oh, he did?"

Sheppard nodded. "Yep."



"For what?"

John didn't answer and Beckett reappeared with the materials needed to draw Rodney's blood.

Two days later, John had a clean bill of health. He was still tired and Beckett had told him it could be another week before he was completely released back to duty, but John could deal with that. He looked forward to it.

He was home. Atlantis was home. He had friends that he cared about and that cared about him.

And he had work to do. Trust to regain.

He still wasn't giving up.

After all, Ford remembered that John liked turkey sandwiches. And he needed someone around that knew such a fact.