Author: Merlin7 and M.N. Talbert (aka Kodiak Bear Country)
Genre: Adventure, humor, H/C
Season/Spoilers: Set in season one
Summary: Doctor McKay shares something with Major Sheppard: the flu!
Archive: Ask! Otherwise, and SGAHC
Disclaimer: We don't own them, we aren't paid for our fun, and our only hope is you enjoy reading the story as much as we enjoyed writing it!
AN: You know that saying PWP? Well, this is PWP for sheer whump. We are unabashed whumpers, and our first two co-authored fics played out for nothing more than the whumping.
By Merlin7 and M.N. Talbert
"I'm dying, aren't I?" Rodney glared at Beckett then he slumped against the thin pillow that propped him up in the infirmary bed. "You can tell me, Carson. I can take it."
Carson snorted. "Like hell you could." He shook his head. "You're not dying, Rodney. You've got the flu. Just get some rest and the nurse will bring you some juice. I have to go tell Dr. Weir the lovely news." He turned to go.
Rodney blinked at Carson in disbelief. "The flu? I have the flu? They have the flu in the Pegasus galaxy? Why would they have the flu? That's ridiculous. I can't have the flu."
"You can and you do." Carson turned back to face him. "You probably picked it up on your last mission. There are a lot of worlds out there, Rodney. Lots and lots of viruses and little germs just waiting to latch on to us. I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for someone to get sick. It's almost a relief. I was getting tired of patching people up from gun shots and explosions and beatings and stun blasts and the likes."
"Glad you're happy about it," Rodney groused. "I feel terrible. And it's cold in here. You know that right?" He plucked at the thin blanket draped over him. "I'll freeze with this thing. I need something thermal."
Carson rolled his eyes. "You have a temperature, Rodney. If you cover up too much it will make it worse. Just take a nap already. You'll feel much better if you do." With that parting shot of doctorly wisdom, Carson exited the room.
Rodney glared at his retreating back. "Must have gotten his bedside manner out of a cracker jack box," he muttered. Then he turned on his side, yanked the blanket to his chin, and closed his eyes. Surprisingly he fell asleep.
Elizabeth listened intently as Dr. Beckett gave her his report on Rodney, then explained his concerns. "So just like the flu on Earth, Rodney is contagious," she countered, when he was through.
"Oh...aye. Very much so. Which is why I need to examine anyone he's been in contact with for the past two days."
"That would pretty much be Major Sheppard, Ford and Teyla." Elizabeth leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest. "They were on M23-211 for three days. They got back, what...yesterday morning?" At Carson's nod she continued. "You said Rodney was tired when you gave him his post-mission check up and that you sent him to bed. And he didn't leave his room until he came to see you this morning."
Carson nodded again. "Sounds about right. So if you could send the major and his team to see me."
Elizabeth jumped up. "I just sent them off to the jumper bay. They were going to do some scouting over the mainland to see about finding an area where we could plant our own crops. Now that we were able to negotiate with the Telerans for seeds."
"Well you'd best call them back right now," Carson replied. "Any one of them could be contagious at the very least and they don't need to be spreading it around."
"Copy that," Elizabeth replied, even as she tapped her earpiece. "Major Sheppard, come in please. This is Weir."
A moment of silence then a familiar voice. "Sheppard here. What's up?"
Weir exchanged a look with Beckett before replying. "I'm canceling the mission, Major."
"Doctor's orders. I want you and your team in the infirmary ASAP."
Another moment of silence then, "Is everything okay?"
Weir was quick to reassure him. "Yes, Major. This is just a precautionary measure."
"Copy that," Sheppard replied. "We're on our way."
"Guess that's my cue," Carson interjected, as he headed for the door.
Elizabeth followed him. "So Rodney will be all right, right?"
Carson glanced over his shoulder at her and nodded. "He'll be fine. He'll be whiny and irritating for a few days till the worst of it passes. But he'll be fine." With that Carson bustled along, but under his breath he muttered, "I hope."Chapter Two
Sheppard strode into the infirmary, Teyla and Ford trailing behind. He was a little miffed at being ordered here without so much as a 'by your leave'. They hadn't made it but a few feet into the room when Beckett and his nurse waylaid them.
John could see a figure stretched out on a bed further down the room, and he narrowed his eyes. "Let me guess, that would be McKay," he said.
Beckett gave him a rueful look that confirmed his suspicions. Sheppard groaned. Teyla hadn't really caught on to what was going down, but Ford had. "What's it this time?" Ford asked, already wincing in anticipation of the verdict. "A plant, native food, what?"
Beckett gestured for the three to have a seat on an open bed. "The flu," he replied.
"They have the flu in the Pegasus galaxy?" Ford unwittingly parroted McKay's earlier comment.
Beckett sighed; this was not going to be fun. "Yes, Lieutenant, they have the flu in the Pegasus galaxy, and probably a good amount of other things." Sheppard was staring at the bed, and there was a belligerent look about him. "Major, you've actually got to sit on the bed, in order for me to do the exam."
Sheppard's forehead crinkled in a mixture of disgust and reluctance. "I'm not sick," he stated emphatically, and folded his arms across his chest.
"What is this, flu?" Teyla asked, curious, purposefully interrupting the scene that was about to start between the two men.
"It's a virus, Teyla," Beckett explained, folding his arms in a matching position, letting the major know through body language that he wasn't backing down. "It causes fever, aches, coughing -"
Teyla nodded, and for once the normal unflappable Athosian looked uncertain. "And we've been exposed?"
"Aye, lass, now if you would, Major?" And it was clear this time that Beckett wasn't requesting, he was telling.
Sheppard paused, and those watching thought he was going to refuse, when suddenly he unfolded his arms irritably, and climbed on the bed. "Fine, but make it quick, even if the mission is scrubbed, I've got work to do."
"Dead man sleeping," McKay snapped from his bed, startling everyone in the room. "I need to rest, not listen to you whine."
Sheppard rolled his eyes, and swatted Beckett's hands away, as the doctor tried to help him out of his jacket. They'd been fully outfitted, ready to leave for their mission, and he'd be happy to have it off. It was hot in here, but he didn't need to be treated like he was one of the sick or injured in this place. "If you were sleeping, you wouldn't be talking," he said in McKay's direction.
Rodney, for his part, looked like hell. He was staring at Sheppard blearily, his head barely peeking out of his blankets. His hair was spiked from sleep, and his face had taken on the pallor you associate with sick people, except for two bright spots of red, high on his cheekbones, that bled away into the whiteness of his face.
"I'd be sleeping, if you hadn't woken me up," McKay said testily.
"Major, have you had any symptoms?" Beckett asked, cutting off further deterioration between Sheppard and McKay.
John pulled his gaze off Rodney, giving him a last pithy look, and noticed that Carson was staring at him intently, like he suspected
"No," Sheppard said slowly, making it clear that he was onto Beckett. "I feel fine. How's Teyla and Ford, all clear?" He was detracting attention away from himself.
At Beckett's okay, the nurse nodded affirmative to Sheppard. "No symptoms, Doctor," she replied, pointedly addressing Carson.
John gave her a sickeningly sweet smile, and filed away the brunette nurse was one to watch out for. "See, we're good." He moved to hop off the table, stripped away the blood pressure cuff, when Beckett put a restraining hand against his chest.
"Not quite, Major." Beckett held the ear thermometer he'd used on Sheppard while they'd been talking, and turned it casually so John could read the display. One hundred. Crap.Chapter Three
Carson gave Sheppard a sympathetic look. "Sorry, Major. Guess Rodney contaminated you."
"I'm not sick," John insisted. And he would know if he was. He wasn't. He glared at Beckett. "I feel fine!"
"Temperatures don't lie, laddie." Beckett waved the thermometer in front of Sheppard.
John smacked it away from him. "It's broke," he insisted, and he told himself he did not sound like a petulant child.
Rodney seemed to feel otherwise. "Whine-ass," he groused, but he had pushed himself up into a semi-sitting position and he looked rueful. "Sorry you got sick."
"I'm not sick!" John was getting seriously pissed. He glared at Beckett. "I'm telling you that thing-," He waved a hand at the ear thermometer, "...is broken."
"Can you not test it to be sure?" Teyla interjected. As always she was trying to play peacekeeper.
Beckett smiled at her and nodded. "Aye…I can do that. If you don't mind me using you to test the major's theory?"
Teyla nodded her consent.
John tried not to smirk as he watched Beckett use the thermometer on Teyla. "Well?" he asked, unable to hide the impatience in his voice.
"It has to beep first," Beckett reminded him. Which it promptly did and the good doctor checked the reading. "Perfectly normal." He showed it to Sheppard. "See?"
"Try Ford?" John ordered, unwilling to give in. He would not go down without a fight. Not when he knew he wasn't sick. He never got the flu. Ever. Never had it as a kid. Never got it as an adult. So no way in hell was he going to have it now. Especially because of McKay.
Beckett sighed, popped off the cover, replaced it with a new one, then motioned Ford over. He repeated the procedure and a moment later was showing Sheppard the reading. "98.6 on the dot. Sorry, Major."
John could out stubborn a mule and he proved it now. "Try it on me again. It gave a false reading the first time."
"Okay...sit." Beckett pretty much forced Sheppard back onto the bed. He put on a new cover and pressed the end into the major's ear. A moment later he pulled it out, read it, then winced as he held it out. "Read it and weep, major."
"What the...no!" John shook his head. That's not right."
Beckett rolled his eyes. "100 point 3 now, major. It's official. You're sick." Beckett turned to his nurse. "Get the major some scrubs please."
The brunette nodded. "Yes, doctor." Then she scurried off, smiling.
"Sorry, sir," Ford stated, as he reached to clap his CO on the shoulder, only to think better of making contact.
"You and Teyla should leave now and stay away for the next two days," Carson told them. The major shouldn't be contagious after that." He watched Ford and Teyla wave their goodbyes and go, then he turned to Sheppard, who looked stunned. Beckett patted the bed next to Rodney's. Once you're changed you might as well settle into this bed. I'll put you on an IV and double dose you with antibiotics. They may help."
John backed away, shaking his head. "Forget it. I'm telling you I feel fine. A low grade fever proves nothing."
Beckett narrowed his gaze at Sheppard. "It proves that you're grounded, Major." Just then the nurse reappeared with a set of red scrubs. Beckett took them from her and held them out to Sheppard. "Get changed now."
"No." John now had the bed between him and Beckett and the doorway out was behind him. "You can ground me if you want, but I'm not staying here."
"You'll do as I say," Beckett warned.
John snorted. "Since when?" He did not like the look in Beckett's eye so he continued backing up. A few more steps and he would be free. "Look...I'll rest in my room. If I start feeling sick. Okay? Now...I have work to do."
Rodney had been watching the exchange with something akin to interest. He was even going to make a comment, but when he opened his mouth, bile filled his throat. "Gonna...sick..." he croaked out.
The nurse grabbed a basin and lunged. She got it under McKay's chin just as he heaved.
Beckett moved to Rodney's other side.
John winced at the horrible retching sounds that Rodney was making, even as he slipped through the doorway to freedom.Chapter Four
"Better, Rodney?" Carson enquired. The nurse was helping McKay ease back in bed, and wiping his mouth, offering McKay a small sip of water to rinse out his mouth.
McKay nodded weakly. "I feel awful," he said.
"I know you do." Speaking of feeling awful, Beckett realized he needed to get the major settled before he started going downhill. He turned, and saw the pair of scrubs resting on the bed, but Sheppard wasn't in them. In fact, Sheppard wasn't anywhere. "Lisa, get Doctor Weir on the radio," Carson bit out. When he got his hands on that man…
Elizabeth placed an angry hand on one hip, and pressed the earpiece against her ear, harder, as if what she was hearing would go away by the sheer act. "Are you telling me Major Sheppard left the infirmary against your orders?"
"Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying," Beckett could almost feel sympathy for Sheppard, but his careless act was putting the rest of the city at risk. "Elizabeth, we need to find him, and quarantine him immediately, or this virus will spread like wildfire, and we'll have an epidemic on our hands."
"I see," Elizabeth answered. The majority of those in the gateroom were not misled by her deceptively calm response. Her lips were pulled taut, and every move she made gave away the anger.
Beckett felt a small pang of remorse, wondering if he should've gone in search of the Major. He should've sat on the man, waited to go to Rodney till he'd managed to settle the issue of importance. Sheppard was a recalcitrant patient, but if he'd been told about the risk to the population of Atlantis, this wouldn't be an issue. "Take it easy on him," Beckett asked, "I don't think the Major's quite thinking straight."
"I'll keep that in mind, you'll have Major Sheppard back soon, Carson." And with that, Elizabeth broke the connection, and turned to Grodin. "I'll be back, if you need me, you know how to find me," and she tapped the comm. gear that had taken up near-permanent residence on her head.
"Yes, Ma'am," Grodin answered, and Peter was glad he wasn't the Major, because judging from her look, he was going to get it good.
The object of everyone's consternation was heading towards his quarters. His plan was to change into some gym gear, and get some exercise. If his day was a bust, he might as well get some frustration out on something. Maybe he'd find Teyla…
John willed his door open, and was surprised to find someone sitting on his bed, legs crossed, and regarding him with a cool stare. "I'm disappointed in you, Major. Your quarters was the first place I thought to look."
"Doctor Weir," Sheppard acknowledged her evenly, "I was just going to change, but if you wanted to stay "
She glared harder, okay, so maybe not the best thing to say given the circumstances. "I'm not sick!" Sheppard grouched, slinging his jacket into the chair, and was it hot in here, or what?
"You put the entire city at risk by your juvenile stunt," Elizabeth uncrossed her legs, and stood up. There wasn't much of a command presence when you were looking up at the person you sought to intimidate. "You will march back to that infirmary, and if I ever hear of you purposefully ignoring an order from the Chief Medical Officer again, you'll be cleaning the toilets for a week."
"The toilets clean themselves," he responded automatically, and realized it probably wasn't the best thing to say, when the glare turned to barely contained anger. "Sorry, I probably shouldn't have said that."
Weir scowled, "You're right."
John was feeling really hot now. He cleared his throat, and was surprised that Weir was having this much of an influence on him. He absently wiped a hand across his brow, startled by the moisture.
His movements didn't go unnoticed. Elizabeth's scowl softened to concern. "Are you alright?"
Oh sure, I'm fine, by the way, you're looking sexy today, Sheppard cringed at the thought. That'd go over about as well as a lemon in McKay's iced tea. Had to be Weir having an effect on him, because he was burning up.
He must have faded for a minute because, he heard Weir calling on the radio, and was that Beckett she was talking to? "I'm not sick, damn it, would everyone just leave me alone," Sheppard shouted, and made to turn for the door, but his knees buckled, and he started to go down.
Elizabeth caught him, easing him to the floor, "Major, when your better, we'll settle this, but for now, try to not fight." She put a hand against his skin and felt the heat. "Your burning up!" she exclaimed.
"Only for you," he mumbled drunkenly.
Beckett and the brunette nurse came running into the room. Carson took in the scene, and hurriedly knelt beside Elizabeth, and touched the major's face, "He's a lot worse; Major, ye shouldn't have moved a muscle out of that infirmary," he scolded, and motioned for the gurney.
Sheppard tried to focus on Beckett, but things were getting a little blurry around the edges, "I'm not sick," he argued.
"Aye, and I'm the Queen Mother, herself," Beckett said wearily. He helped Sheppard to his feet, and with the nurse, Elizabeth, and himself, they got him settled on the gurney. Sheppard wouldn't be happy to know he was rolled through Atlantis, but the Major wasn't going to be making it anywhere on his own two feet for a while.
"You do realize, you've been exposed?"
Weir had been staring at Sheppard, alarmed at his rapidly declining condition. "What?"
"You'll need to join them in the infirmary, we'll keep you as far away as possible, but I'll need to keep you there to make sure you didn't catch it." Beckett gestured for the nurse to start pushing Sheppard, and he got in position to help steer the bloody awkward bed.
If Sheppard had thought Weir was angry before, now she was working her jaw, trying to not go off on all of them. John wanted to apologize, really he did, but at just that moment, his stomach spasmed, and he started grabbing for something, anything. "Doc," he begged, trying to get his need across.
Instantly there, Beckett rolled Sheppard, just in time to keep him from getting it all over himself, but it went everywhere else, onto the side of the bed, and the floor, including Weir's shoes. John laid back, weakly, and waved at the mess, "Sorry bout that," he murmured, before closing his eyes against another wave of nausea.
Elizabeth had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to be a very long two days.Chapter Five
"How is he?" Rodney asked, as he stared at Sheppard's still form. The major had been brought into the infirmary just a few hours ago and Beckett had curtained the area while he and his team had worked over Sheppard. Rodney had dozed off and on but now he was awake and staring. Sheppard hadn't twitched. And he was hooked up to IV's and a heart monitor and had a cooling blanket draped over him. Rodney didn't even have an IV in, so he was feeling a bit guilty.
Beckett sighed and ran a hand over his face. "So far so good," he replied, his own eyes on Sheppard's form. "If I can keep his fever down he'll be fine."
Rodney nodded, instantly regretting the motion. It made his head ache and his stomach coiled with nausea. "Um...I see Elizabeth is quarantined. Bet she's pissed."
"A wee bit," Beckett allowed. "But I think she realizes now that the major was sick enough that he wasn't thinking clearly."
"Why is that?" Rodney countered, and he was sincerely curious. "I mean. He seemed okay when he first came in here. Then...boom. His fever just went sky high and all. It didn't hit me that fast. Are you sure he has the same thing?"
Beckett shook his head. "No...I'm not entirely sure, which is why I'm having some tests run as we speak."
Rodney patted the sore spot on his arm where one of the nurses had taken a blood sample. "I wonder if it's gene related."
"Could be. Could be anything." Beckett hid a yawn behind one hand. "Rest, Rodney. You need it." With that he left to check on Weir.
"Sorry, major," Rodney whispered, as he curled up on his side. But it was impossible to get comfortable. So he just watched Sheppard breathing, until his eyes drifted closed.
John's head felt heavy. And his eyes were glued shut. Which panicked him a bit. He tried to lift a hand to his face but something caught his wrist, shoving it down. He struggled against it and that set off shockwaves of pain that cramped through each and every muscle. His chest tightened, and he felt as if he couldn't breathe. He heard voices that seemed to echo inside his head, clanging loudly, but he couldn't understand the words. Then something was pressed over his face and he was sure he would suffocate. Only suddenly he found himself sucking in a lungful of air and releasing it was a relief that made him feel giddy. He inhaled again and the panic eased. John felt himself drifting off into a warm hazy darkness.
Elizabeth was sitting on the side of her bed. So far she showed no symptoms and if she stayed clear she would be able to return to her duties tonight. It had been a rough two days. Major Sheppard's fever had spiked to one hundred and four twice. And twice he had suffered convulsions. And if that wasn't bad enough, Rodney couldn't seem to hold anything down, which made it tough to keep his blood sugars level. The IV they gave him did seem to help, but Weir knew that Rodney was suffering with guilt on top of feeling poorly. Not a good combination.
"Ready for another check?" Beckett asked, as he appeared before Weir, thermometer in hand.
"Go for it," Elizabeth told him, holding still as he stuck it in her ear.
Beckett waited for the beep, checked the reading and nodded approvingly. "Given this and the blood tests I'd say you're free to go."
Elizabeth was pleased. "Good. So was Rodney right? Is what's happening with the major related to his gene?"
"I'm thinking it's likely," Beckett allowed. "I'm wondering if this might be connected to the plague somewhat."
"How is John doing?"
Beckett sighed. "Better. We've got his temperature down to one hundred and two. So far it's holding."
Elizabeth frowned. "But that's still high."
"I know." Beckett looked over to Sheppard's bed and started in surprise when he saw the major stirring. "Look who's waking up." Beckett hustled over and laid a hand on his patient's face. "Major? Can you hear me? Open your eyes for me, laddie."
A soft moan then green-hazel eyes blinked open.
Beckett was smiling. "Good...good," he muttered, reaching for the ever present thermometer. He took the reading and nodded. "A bit lower than before."
"C-cold." John was shivering. His teeth were chattering even.
"I know, laddie. But we've got to get your temp down so you're going to have to deal." Beckett turned to Weir. "This is a good sign." He was about to say more but he heard a familiar sound from Rodney's bed and he ran over with a basin. Just in time.
Elizabeth made a face. "Is the major going to go through that?" So far he had only puked that one time. Elizabeth had been forced to throw out her shoes.
Beckett set aside the basin, then reached for a damp towel to wipe Rodney's face. "Probably," he allowed. "But I think it's a good thing. Rodney feels like crap, but he's getting rid of the toxins in his body. He should be past this by tomorrow."
"Thank god..." Rodney moaned, hoarsely. Then he drew the blankets to his chin before looking over at Sheppard. The major was staring back at him. "Glad you're awake." He received a glare before the major's eyes drifted closed. Rodney shivered, and not because he was cold. "He's pissed at me," he whispered.
"Do you blame him?" Beckett replied, but he patted Rodney's shoulder in sympathy before scurrying away with the basin.
Elizabeth grabbed a chair and sat down between the two beds. "Rest, Rodney," she told him. Then she settled in to keep vigil over the two most important men in Atlantis.Chapter Six
"It's not my fault," McKay snapped.
Sheppard wasn't hearing it. "Then whose fault is it? You were patient zero, McKay."
"If it's anybody's fault, it's Elizabeth's."
Sheppard stared balefully at McKay, and stared was being optimistic. He was lying flat on his back, and had been moved to a bed opposite Rodney, a move Beckett had made to keep the area of illness contained in his infirmary. He only turned his head to look at McKay, because it took too much effort to lift it off the bed. "How do you figure?"
Rodney wasn't joking, it was her fault. "She's the one that sent us to M23-211."
Sheppard had to hand it to McKay, he had a point. If they hadn't gated to that planet, McKay wouldn't have gotten sick, and if McKay hadn't gotten sick, Sheppard wouldn't be sick. "You're right," he said, amazed.
Later, he'd realized that the fever had clouded his judgment, but right then, McKay's assertion made perfect sense.
"It's not fair," McKay continued, "When it's all her fault, and we're the ones paying the price."
"Why isn't she in here?" Sheppard asked. He didn't have much memory of the time right after he arrived.
"Despite you puking on her, well done, by the way," McKay snickered, "She managed to not catch it."
Sheppard smiled grimly at the ceiling, an idea taking shape. "That can be changed."
McKay propped himself on an elbow, mouth working like a fish out of water, "Why, Major, that's positively evil of you. I didn't know you had it in you."
Sheppard figured McKay didn't know a lot of things about him. He fought off another wave of queasiness, and swallowed the threatening bile that was creeping up his throat. He couldn't hold back the groan, and he rolled to his side, searching for the basin.
That same brunette nurse that'd been there when he first came in (and escaped), rushed over, and helped him up, holding him while he heaved. Beckett arrived soon after. He surveyed the Major with a critical eye, "So it's begun, now, eh? I'll give you a shot of Phenegran, Major, it should help with the nausea."
Rodney was watching with sympathy. He'd managed to go two hours without an episode, but he still felt the effects. His stomach flipped unhappily, and McKay wasn't sure it was from the flu, or sympathy pains for the Major.
Sheppard took the cool rag from Beckett, and wiped his mouth, letting his hand drop to his side, the energy from the throwing up drained him, and he felt Carson take the cloth from his hand.
Beckett smoothed Sheppard's hair, away from his eyes, the sweat from the fever causing it to stick and clump heavy on his forehead. "Rest, lad, you'll feel better soon." Carson injected the drug the nurse had brought to him, and left, giving McKay a warning look that reminded him to stay in bed.
McKay didn't listen. He crept out, swayed on his feet, and slid the rest of the way to Sheppard's bed. "When you wake up, we go get her, deal?"
John looked at McKay through lidded eyes, "Deal," he slurred, before losing his battle at staying awake.
McKay handed Sheppard his IV pole. John took it, and looked at McKay, "What am I supposed to do with this?"
Rodney paused, "Good point, do you want to rip it out, or should I do the honors?"
"I'll do it, just keep an eye out, we don't need that nurse snitching on us."
Sheppard gripped the needle, and yanked it out in one smooth move, pushing against the blood welling out. McKay was shifting impatiently on his feet, "Are you sure this is a good idea?" Rodney asked, as he cast nervous looks towards the front of the infirmary.
"It's a terrible idea," Sheppard responded. "Let's go."
The two forms slunk out the infirmary, leaving behind tossed tubing, partially used bags of saline glucose solution, and mussed beds.Chapter Seven
Elizabeth was tired. She had spent the past two days playing catch up from the two days she had spent in the infirmary. In fact, she had been so busy that she never got a chance to check in on Sheppard and McKay. She'd had to settle for updates, via the radio, from Beckett. She heard a familiar crackle in her ear and tapped the piece. "Weir."
"We've got a problem," Came Beckett's voice.
"What happened?" Elizabeth's first thought was that Sheppard had had a relapse.
Beckett heaved a sigh. "They're gone."
Elizabeth frowned then remembered he couldn't see it. "What do you mean...they're gone?" She knew exactly whom he was talking about, but she found it hard to believe they were gone. Rodney was pretty much over the worst of it but still weak, and Sheppard, according to Beckett, wouldn't be on his feet any time soon.
"The major and Rodney are no longer in the infirmary," Beckett stated. "Hence...they're gone."
"How long?" Elizabeth asked, even as she pinched the bridge of her nose. So much for thoughts of a long shower and a few hours sleep.
A moment of silence then Beckett's reply came crackling through. "Can't have been more than ten minutes, tops."
Elizabeth heaved a sigh. "Where the hell would they go?"
"I haven't a clue," Beckett admitted. "But I'll tell you this much. We need to get them back."
"They're still infectious," Elizabeth stated.
Beckett made an impatient sound. "No...not really. My main concern is the major. He's in no condition to be wandering around. He could easily relapse and that would be a bad thing. A very bad thing. And Rodney's blood sugar could drop without warning, since he's still having trouble keeping anything solid down. I need them back now."
Elizabeth understood. But she was confused about one thing. "How in the hell did Sheppard even make it out of there?" Both men were weak but Beckett had told her Sheppard wouldn't even be able to lift his head for a few days.
"Sheer force of will is my guess," Beckett replied. "So...will you be sending out the troops after them?"
"I'm on it," Elizabeth promised. Then she tapped off. But only so she could contact Bates. She explained the situation, ordered him to put together six, two-man teams, and spread out. Then she headed out herself. Sheppard and McKay were going to be the death of her yet.
"I don't feel...so good." John whispered, as he tried not to slump over. But he was shaking from the effort to sit propped against the wall.
"Here." Rodney had found a basin and he handed it over, watching as Sheppard hugged it to him. Rodney had a second basin for himself. "This really was a bad idea."
John almost nodded in agreement, but thought better of it. If he moved even a little, he was going to hurl. And this time he was sure to puke up some vital organs. "Very bad idea," he whispered softly. Not that he was even sure what the idea was that Rodney was talking about. Everything was kind of fuzzy right now. His thoughts...his vision. And he realized he was cold. Very very cold.
Rodney sighed. "We should go back. Carson is going to be so pissed." Not that they had gotten far. To Rodney's amazement, Sheppard had managed to walk out of the infirmary under his own steam. They had made it to a transporter, but by the time it stopped they hadn't gone two steps before they heard someone approaching. So Rodney had hustled them both into a nearby storage closet. Not that he had known it was a storage closet at the time. He'd just headed for the closet door. That had been over twenty minutes ago and now neither one of them had the energy to move. "You okay?" Rodney asked, as he watched Sheppard slump over onto his side. He didn't get a reply. So Rodney crawled over and when he pressed his hand to Sheppard's face, he was astounded by the heat that seared his palm. "Oh shit..." Rodney felt a panic attack flaring. He was also starting to feel a bit loopy and he realized it was his blood sugar. But he couldn't pass out now. He had to save Sheppard. Only he hadn't thought to bring a radio.
So Rodney crawled to the door, he managed to swipe his hand over the panel and when it whooshed open he practically fell into the hallway. To his surprise, and relief, Teyla suddenly appeared before him. "Major...sick...help," Rodney whispered, before darkness claimed him.Chapter Eight
"What the bloody hell were you thinking?" Beckett roared. He was standing next to Rodney, adjusting the drip of glucose solution into McKay's IV, and was so angry that his face was turning a fascinating shade of red.
"That's the point, we weren't, get it?" McKay snapped, a good deal of embarrassment and regret causing his sharp reply. "Honestly, you can't hold two fever-deluded men liable for their stupidity, if anything, it's your fault for letting us escape."
As soon as McKay said it, he realized he shouldn't have. Beckett spluttered, "My fault?" He yanked Rodney's blanket up harder than necessary, making McKay shrink back into the mattress, sheepishly. Carson looked like he was trying to formulate more of a response, but couldn't quite find the words to suffice for the situation. Finally, he pointed a very stern finger at McKay. "You stay in that bed, or so help me Rodney, I'll find the biggest catheter, and use it!"
Okay, that wasn't fair, but McKay kept his mouth shut, because while he may be incredibly obnoxious and talk too much, he wasn't stupid.
The tension was interrupted by Sheppard, pleading with someone, "Come on, you know it'd be fun."
Beckett turned towards Sheppard. "Major?"
Sheppard was tossing restlessly in bed, eyes closed, beads of perspiration standing out on his forehead. And he was talking. "Jimmy, come on…it's supposed to be haunted…"
"He's hallucinating," McKay said, awed. He'd known Sheppard was hot, and very sick, but it still kind of took him by surprise to see him like this.
"You two had no business pulling a stunt like that," Carson growled, and he was almost talking to himself, because he had his back to McKay, and was wiping down Sheppard's brow, all tenderly, meanwhile berating their stupidity, "you'll both be here for longer now, and don't be surprised if it doesn't get worse before it gets better."
Rodney blinked. "Are you talking to me?" he finally got brave enough to ask.
Beckett tossed the rag next to the monitoring machine, and rounded on McKay, "I'm talking to both of ye, damn stubborn fools, were you trying to kill yourselves?"
The intensity of Beckett's reaction caused McKay to wilt even further. Boy, they'd done it this time, and the worst of it was, the idiot who had the idea wasn't the one getting chewed out, oh no, he was. He'd gone along with it, but it'd been Sheppard's idea!
It was on the tip of his tongue, when he snapped his mouth shut. It had been John's idea, but friends looked out for each other, and he might as well take the heat for Sheppard. From the looks of it, John was dealing with enough heat anyway. This being a friend thing sucked. He sighed, and closed his eyes. Maybe if he slept, it'd take his mind of the constant queasiness that had returned with a vengeance, and give Beckett a guilt trip for being so grumpy.
"How are they doing?" Weir was watching the sleeping forms from a good distance across the room. McKay was still, but she could that Sheppard was jerky, and restless, in his fevered sleep.
Beckett couldn't hide the worry. "Not good. Whatever their intentions were for leaving, it's caused a setback. The Major's fever is dangerously high, and McKay's is climbing. We're doing damage control now," he jerked his hands helplessly, "It's all we can do."
Elizabeth pursed her lips together, wondering why everything was always so difficult. When she'd taken this job, she had no idea that not only would she come to care for some coworkers more than she should, as the leader of the expedition, but also, that she'd face obstacles and problems, at every turn.
The flu. The common, everyday flu, had waylaid two of her best people, and who, under normal circumstances fortunately showed better judgment then they were currently exhibiting. A fact she'd chew them out for later.
"Where's Teyla?" She had heard that Teyla had found them, ridiculously close to the infirmary, and had gotten help when McKay passed out on her, and she had seen the slumped body of the Major behind him.
"Showering," Beckett said, gesturing for a private area to the rear. "I don't think they are contagious at this point, but, better to be safe. I have no idea how an Athosian would react to this virus."
She nodded. "Keep me posted, I've got to check in with Zelenka about some device he found." And she left, with one last look at the two bodies, saying a fervent prayer that they'd recover soon, without anymore adventures!Chapter Nine
John felt like crap. Actually, he felt like crap that had been crapped on. Everything ached. Including his hair. It hurt just to breathe. The one time he opened his eyes he felt like hot pokers were stabbing through them straight into his brain. And the worst of it? He had a catheter. A fucking catheter. God he hated those things.
The voice was familiar yet oddly timid sounding. John swallowed against the dryness in his throat and whispered, "McKay?"
Rodney exhaled in relief and patted the major on the shoulder. But drew back his hand when Sheppard winced. "Um..so...how do you feel?"
"Thirsty." John peeled one eye open, carefully.
"You can have an ice chip." Rodney grabbed a nearby cup.
John peeled the other eye open. "We have ice?"
Rodney frowned at him. "Obviously."
"Oh." John didn't remember that. "Since...when?"
"Since we got here." Rodney shook the cup then stood up slowly, rising from the chair like an old man. He pressed the lever to make the head of the bed rise up, then he carefully held the cup of ice chips to Sheppard's lips. "Careful," Rodney cautioned, as he shook one into the major's mouth.
John sucked on it and wondered if Ambrosia could taste half so good. Once it was gone he asked, "How long...was I...out of it?" His voice was still hoarse sounding, but it didn't hurt to talk now. However, the effort to do so drained him. He felt like an old rag that had been wrung out so many times it was now shredded and limp.
Rodney put the cup down and returned to the chance, sighing in relief as he settled in. "Four days."
"What?" That shocked John to the point his voice squeaked up an octave.
"You kinda...relapsed." Rodney winced as he explained. He had relapsed also, but had made a fast turnaround. He'd been stronger to begin with. Now he was pretty much just worn out and sore. But at least he was able to eat and Beckett was threatening to kick him out in another day or two. Rodney knew the major wouldn't be so lucky. If Sheppard got out in a week, it would be amazing.
John closed his eyes again. "Where's Beckett?"
As if on cue a soft brogue replied, "Right here, laddie. Good to see you awake." Carson moved to the free side of Sheppard's bed and started taking his vitals. "How do you feel?"
"I'll bet." Beckett grabbed the thermometer and took a reading. "Still one hundred. But that's to be expected."
John heard him but things were getting hazy again. Sight and sound. He wanted to ask about getting the catheter out and about taking a shower. But without warning, everything faded to black.
"I hate you," John groused, over the roar of the shower spray.
"And?" Rodney prompted, from where he sat outside the stall. Beckett had finally okayed Sheppard for a shower, but only if someone stayed with him. Rodney had, graciously, volunteered. Now he was wondering why.
John leaned against the wall as he let the water rinse away the lather he had smothered his body in. He was so damn tired and so damn weak. And it was all Rodney's fault for getting sick in the first place. "And it's not fair that you're out of here and I'm not."
Rodney snorted. "I'm stuck in my quarters, what's so great about that."
"No you're not. You're here, aren't you?" John sighed as he pointed out the obvious.
"Okay...I can visit you and stay in my quarters. I'm not allowed to work." Which was beginning to drive Rodney nuts. And was the reason he had come to visit Sheppard in the first place. Everyone else was busy and couldn't be bothered to entertain Rodney. So that left Sheppard. Not that he was all that entertaining, considering the fact he kept dozing off while Rodney was talking to him. And the fact that he was being silent for so long was beginning to worry Rodney. He jumped up, albeit slowly, and made his way to the stall. "Major?"
Rodney cursed and tried not to panic. "MAJOR!" he shouted.
"What?" John's voice was slurred. He could hear it. He really didn't feel so good.
"You...are you okay?" Rodney was still feeling panicky.
John thought off the water and stepped out of the stall. Only then realizing he was naked in front of Rodney. Oddly, he didn't care. And it didn't bother him in the least when Rodney grabbed a towel and started drying him off. In fact, he just about dozed off during the process, coming somewhat awake when he realized Rodney was dressing him as well. "Shit..." John whispered, as he tried to help with getting his arm through the sleeve of the scrub top. It was rather surprising to realize he already had the pants on. "How did you do that?" he asked.
Rodney was breathing hard from the exertion of getting the rather floppy limbed major dressed. "Do...what?"
"This?" John gestured to himself. "Dressed me. You did dress me...right?" He realized he was feeling rather loopy and maybe he had dressed himself after all.
"This can't be good," Rodney muttered to himself. He patted Sheppard on the shoulder. "Stay put. I'm going to go get Carson." With that he was gone.
John rolled his eyes. Of course he wasn't going to stay put. He was tired and he actually wanted to go back to bed. So he got up and nearly toppled over. But somehow he made it out the door and started shuffling towards the bed.
Rodney had grabbed Carson out of his office and they were heading for the bathroom when Rodney spotted Sheppard weaving towards them. "Major!" he called out, sharply. And he was about to surge forward when he felt Carson shoulder past him.
"Hey..." John croaked out. He waved, squinting at the blurry figures in front of him. And that's when the floor shifted beneath his feet, making John tilt. Stupid floor. Atlantis must be sinking again. Which probably should have bothered him but he was too tired to give a damn. So he just let himself fall, preparing to meet the hard floor.
But Carson was there to catch him.
Rodney was impressed by how fast Beckett could move. And by how strong he was. In a lift that would have made Rhett Butler proud, Beckett swept Sheppard into his arms and carried him back to his bed. Rodney giggled. The major was going to have a fit when he found out about that one. And Rodney couldn't wait to tell him.And now, the conclusion of Sick Leave…
"He carried me?" Sheppard asked incredulously.
Rodney nodded gleefully, enjoying every minute of Sheppard's consternation. "Like a baby."
Damn, who would've thought the Doc had it in him? "Huh, that's embarrassing."
McKay suffered a momentary spike of guilt for picking on Sheppard. "Don't be ridiculous, you were going to fall on your face. Probably would've gotten a concussion."
"McKay, I didn't know you cared," John drawled, but the effect was lost by a harsh cough at the end of his sentence.
Rodney held out some water. "I don't, Bates is a prick and I wouldn't trust my life with Stackhouse, so I figured I'd better make sure you stay alive."
"What about Ford?" Another painful cough.
"Ford's just a baby. Well-intentioned baby, but he doesn't even have to shave."
"And you do?"
That earned John a dirty look. Hell, he probably had it coming. He leaned back, getting comfortable. Today should be his last day in the infirmary. He'd finally gained enough strength where he could stay awake most of the time, but he was weak, and he knew it. It'd be more time before he was placed on duty. He'd never had a virus kick his ass so thoroughly.
"I see you're feeling better, Major." Beckett walked into the infirmary, arriving for his regular duty day. Carson had finally managed to catch up with the lost sleep from McKay and Sheppard's worst days sick.
Sheppard grinned, "Aye," he affected for the Doc's sake, "That I am."
Beckett rolled his eyes, "You'll be leaving me today," and under his breath he muttered a thank you God. "But, you are to stay in your quarters for twenty-four hours, and if I catch a toe out before then, you'll be back here whether you need it or not!"
"Straight to the threats, Doc?" John winced. He hadn't even done anything this morning to incense Beckett's ire. In sotto voice to McKay, he said, "Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed."
"Someone," Beckett said pointedly, "Has caused me to not see my bed for almost a week straight. And that someone, had better do what he's told." And, getting the last word, Carson headed to his office, stopping only long enough to get the folder of the night's notes, and tell her to begin Sheppard's discharge paperwork.
Sheppard watched the Doc stride away, and turned to McKay, with lost boy innocence painted on his face. "I don't think he appreciates the way you acted in here, McKay."
Rodney had been snatching some of Sheppard's juice off his breakfast tray, and sputtered, spewing droplets of juice on John. "Me?" he blustered. "I don't think so, flyboy. He's pissed at you. Speaking of which, I'm out of here, before he reconsiders my duty status, or finds a new vaccination that I supposedly need."
Sheppard took the napkin and started wiping off the mess. "Thanks, McKay," he said sarcastically.
Rodney smiled smugly. "No problem, take care, Major."
And McKay, true to his word, high-tailed out. Beckett leaned his head out the office, watching McKay leave, and turned back, as if checking that Sheppard was still where he was supposed to be. John waved cheekily. Beckett frowned, and pulled his head back in his door. Grumpy little man, Sheppard thought.
At least today, finally, it was over. He still thought it was the height of unfairness that not only had they been the only two to catch this thing, but Weir was the one to blame, and hadn't even so much as sniffled, and, on top of that, he'd heard through the rumor mill that when he was cleared for duty, she was saving a dressing down with his name on it. His and McKay's little escapade wasn't going to get shoved under the rug.
Just then, he heard movement at the entrance to the infirmary, and glanced up surprised, thinking McKay had come back. But, it wasn't Rodney, instead it was Weir, and she had a tissue, and bleary eyes. She opened her mouth, and stared, holding like that, before letting loose an ear-splitting sneeze.THE END