Chapter 8:

A/N: If any of my medical stuff is accurate, it is purely by accident.
A/N2: This is the way I had it planned, so there you go. I still think I'm missing out on some of the potential whump, but I gave it the ol' college try. Last Chapter!
Beta: J.A.B.
Spoilers: Oh, heck, it could be for any of Season 1 or Season 2.


The Wraith.

John was not feeling so good as fire seemed to run in his veins like molten lead. He was worried about his people but didn't know if he had the strength left to deal with anything more. He was so tired and felt like he'd been beaten with a baseball bat.

"Colonel Sheppard!" The voice cut into his brain, making his headache even worse.

He jumped in reaction to the pain as a hand clamped down on one of his strained shoulders.

Sheppard looked up into the alien eyes of a grinning Wraith and started to struggle as it leered at him. He gasped when the grinning face suddenly morphed into Gentry's slack and bloody one.

Blood was everywhere—covering the face, covering his own hands as he tried to push the figure away . . .


The hand on his shoulder tightened as John felt himself almost tip out of a . . . chair?


The face changed again and settled into the concerned features of Major Lorne. "Sir? Are you okay?"

"What?" John blinked hard and grabbed sluggishly as his P-90 started to slide off his lap.

"Sir, the gate's been activated . . . and someone's calling you. It's not Weir and I don't think it's from Atlantis." Lorne kept his hand on Sheppard's shoulder long enough to help his CO struggle upright, then stepped back to give him his space.

Sheppard coughed to clear his throat and then touched his radio. "This is Colonel Sheppard."

There was not an immediate answer and John turned to look at the rest of the personnel still in the Jumper. Most of them were uneasily looking at the floor.

McKay, on the other hand, had a worried and painful grimace on his reddened face. Beckett also had a worried look on his face behind the window of his hood on the blue containment suit he still wore.

The both of them knew who was calling and they knew that John would not be happy.

"Who?" asked the Colonel as he shifted again in the seat, trying to regain his mental balance after the vivid nightmare and his sudden return to reality.

"Colonel—" started Carson and then he subsided, his face going from outrage to grief to pity. "Please, they need help."

John had his answer and they were right; he didn't like it a bit. "Oh, hell no," he rasped. "No."

Carson opened his mouth to object, but Sheppard turned his burning eyes from the doctor to Major Lorne. "Get us to the gate. Now."

"Sir, we really should stay—"

John sat up straight and wiped a hand over his moist face, and then he checked his P-90. "Who the hell took . . . my ammo?" he asked grumpily.

Lorne cleared his throat. "Uh, I'll give it back, sir."

"Damn right," muttered Sheppard as he grabbed the clips the Major held out after fumbling in his vest. "Call the recon teams and inform them . . . to sit tight while we go to the gate." At the answering silence, the Colonel looked up in irritation as he slapped one of the clips into the P-90. "Now, Major."

"Yes, sir."

The short trip back to the gate in the Jumper was tense for everyone.


John was determined to meet this situation head on, as he staggered like a drunk to the back hatch of the Jumper. He grumbled in frustration as Beckett and Lorne pushed past him to block the way to the exit.

"Colonel, you're in no condition to be traipsing around out there," said Beckett as he listed to the side, guarding his own hurt shoulder and head.

"You've got a lot of room . . . to talk, Doc. You need to sit down."

There was a wheeze to John's voice that the doctor didn't like. "Colonel—"

John turned his hard gaze from Carson to Lorne. "Major, I like you. Really. But if you don't get out of my way, I'll make sure you're doing nothing . . . but babysitting scientists on the lower levels of Atlantis . . . for the rest of your tour."

"Carson," a resigned McKay said from his reclining position on one of the Jumper benches. "He's going one way or another. Just get out of his way and let him play the hero. I'm sure he'll faint any minute now."

Sheppard furrowed his brow at Rodney's comment but didn't look at McKay just in case he was that close to fainting.

If the gray licking at the sides of his vision were to be believed, he was that close to hitting the ground.

The doctor sighed and then stepped reluctantly out of the Colonel's way. "Just . . . be careful, Colonel. You're more run down than you know."

John just clattered down the hatch and out onto the ground, which was covered in blue-green grass and pink flowers the size of dimes.

Teyla and Ronon were already standing in front of the active gate, their weapons raised. That pleased the Colonel to no end and he also raised his P-90 after making sure it was securely clipped to his vest.

Just in case he did faint. Sheppard didn't want to lose another P-90 on this trip.

John touched his radio again. "This is Colonel Sheppard."

"Colonel Sheppard! I demand that you honor our treaty by immediately returning with medical supplies and doctors."

John narrowed his eyes and tried to ignore the new heat radiating from the skin of his face and neck. "Director. Just how did you track us down?"

"I had a suspicion that you and your people would leave us in our time of need. I had the Portal watched and your address memorized by one of the townspeople."

"Would that be one of the same townspeople . . . that tried to kill us?" asked John, his anger rising along with his headache.

"We were just trying to get what the treaty promised us. Medical treatment and supplies. I demand that you provide it now."

Flabbergasted, Sheppard allowed his P-90 to drop and swing from its clip. "You demand?" He absently wiped away sweat as it stung his eyes. "You demand? Your people rushed us . . . overran my team, and killed one of Dr. Beckett's medical team. Someone who was just there to help with the injured. Forgive me if I say hell no . . . we're not upholding the treaty."

"I demand—"

John shifted and wavered in place for a moment. "You know where you can . . . shove your demand?"

"Dr. Weir promised—"

"Yeah, yeah, I'll be sure to pass your demands on to Dr. Weir the next time . . . I speak to her. Now, don't call us, we'll call you."

With that, Sheppard ripped the radio from his ear and turned to Beckett and Lorne. "Major, anyone comes through that gate that's not from Atlantis . . . shoot them. Doc, get that look off your face. You're not going . . . back there."

"Colonel, think of the women and—"

"It was a woman who tried to stab me, remember?" Sheppard's hard gaze pinned the doctor to the spot. "No one is going back there, got it?"

"Yes, sir!" responded Lorne. He wanted the conversation over and his CO in the Jumper before the man dropped. It wasn't good to have the ranking military officer faint on your watch.

Beckett only nodded, his face troubled.

Sheppard looked around absently, surprised that a voice was missing from the conversation. "Where's Rodney?"

Carson allowed a small smile. "He decided to get some sleep before his body shuts down completely. You should do the same, Colonel. You're looking a bit pale."

"I'm . . . fine, Doc."

"Colonel," warned Teyla as she saw a shape tumble through the wavering puddle of the gate.

Ronon almost fired until he recognized the blue color of a contamination suit. His impassive face showed a surprising fury as the figure bounced down the gate steps. He turned to look at Sheppard, waiting for an order, but got a shock when his team leader listed to the side.

John only had a moment to realize that it was Gentry's body that lay on the ground, before his headache turned into a fuzzy fog. He could feel himself falling, but didn't feel any pain as a strong hand grabbed the back of his vest.

Ronon lifted him into his arms and ran for the Puddle Jumper, Teyla and Beckett right behind him, leaving Lorne to deal with Gentry's body.


Things were hazy for a time, but he did know he was hot, wet and uncomfortable. Voices he did and didn't recognize would talk to him and he would ask about his team, but he couldn't stay lucid long enough to hear their answer.

And when he wasn't hazy, he was throwing up. Even after all his stomach contents were gone, his body was still trying to turn his guts inside out. Each wrench of his stomach made the torn skin on his face and his bruised abdomen throb in agony.

It was a long time before he was aware of another person close by, and he turned his head to see Rodney in a bed next to him. The scientist was curled up in a ball, agony on his burned face as he tried to hold back his own sickness with will alone.

"Rodney," croaked Sheppard with his acid burned vocal cords. He looked down to see that his black sweats were gone, replaced with rust colored scrubs and there was an IV pinching his skin. Other more irritating tubes were in places that the Colonel didn't want to think at the moment.

Rodney peeled open a glazed eye to look at his friend. "You're back."

"I've . . . been gone?"

Rodney coughed and grimaced, the movement allowing John to see that McKay was also in the hated scrubs. "You've been everywhere but here."

Before Sheppard could ask what he meant, Dr. Beckett bustled up—without the containment suit—and wearing a sling on his right arm.

"Ah, Colonel, we've been waiting for you to wake up." The doctor picked up his chart and made a left-handed notation. "How do you feel?"

John slowly shook his head trying to feel out his headache, but it was gone. "Disoriented. Dry," he rasped.

Beckett put down the chart while Sheppard looked at the canvas ceiling of a large field tent. "You've been a very sick man, Colonel. You and Rodney."

"Not contagious? Teyla and Ronon?"

Carson looked down at John and smiled. "No, you two weren't contagious after the first three days. You both had some complications of hypothermia, and infections from your wounds." The doctor canted his head. "Teyla and Ronon don't seem the worse for having contact with you two. You, however, have been out for almost five days now, Colonel. We were beginning to worry."

John frowned at the length of time. "Hell, now I'm beginning . . . to worry."

Carson chuckled. "No need, the worst seems to be over. You'll both be weak for a while and will still need to heal, but otherwise you'll both be fine given time."

"Except for that scar on your face," muttered Rodney one bed over.

John tried to smile. "Hey, the chicks dig that kind of thing."

Rodney ignored the reply and turned to Beckett. "He's awake now, Carson. Can we go home now?" whined McKay, his eyes still bright with the remnants of his fever.

"Yes, Rodney. We can go home now."


The trip back to Atlantis was uneventful.

Elizabeth met them in the Jumper Bay and gave them updates on what was happening in the city. Mainly just as an excuse to keep close and get a good look at the two sick men.

Rodney spent the rest of the time to the infirmary bitching about how his unsupervised flying lab monkeys had messed up his work while he was gone.

For once, John wasn't going to sweat it. His people knew their jobs and he trusted Elizabeth enough as a leader to make sure everything was running smoothly in the absence of three of her senior advisors.

As they were getting settled, and the privacy screens moved into place, Elizabeth put her hands on her hips and intently stared at John.


"Carson told me about your little talk with the Director on P2M-649. I contacted him and he was not a happy man."



"Look, I know we need allies, but I'm not going to deal with someone who organized a mob and betrayed us." His voice lowered in case Carson was listening. "They killed Gentry."

Elizabeth sighed and softened her stance. "I know, but they were under extreme stress from the culling."

John just gave her a stubborn look.

"Okay, fine. I'll have Major Lorne continue the talks with them. You won't have to."

"Good," replied Sheppard. It was hard not to have a sarcastic and snotty edge to the word.

Elizabeth suddenly wondered as she looked at John's frowning face if Teyla ever felt like a mother trying to keep up with unruly little boys.

Most likely.


It was three long weeks of visits from their teammates and friends before McKay and Sheppard were allowed out of the infirmary unsupervised. They still were not at 100 percent, but they were close enough to go back on light duty.

Rodney was going straight for the mess for a second lunch when Sheppard lightly grabbed him by the collar and steered him toward his science labs.

"Uh, Carson said no labs today." McKay tried to keep his hands still, mainly from habit, but his fingers still twitched as he looked longingly over his shoulder at the hall that led to the food.

John put a friendly arm on McKay's left shoulder. "You won't be doing anything that the Doc will object to."

McKay frowned as Sheppard smiled, the new creases in the skin causing the new scar on the Colonel's face to shine in the light of the city.

"Hey, you still have that roll of quarters I gave you?"


"The U.S. quarters I gave you—do you still have them?" Sheppard's voice was light and needling, his smile still wide even as Rodney stared at him as if he'd lost his marbles.

"No, no, I think they were in the vest I left back on P2M-649." McKay automatically twisted toward the gateroom to gesture, but the arm on his left shoulder kept him from stopping. "Why?"

They turned the corner to face a small alcove close to the doorway of McKay's main lab. Inside loomed a large, rectangular object covered in a NFL flat sheet decorated with little footballs and team logos.

Rodney snorted in amusement, knowing who's sheet it was given the kid-like nature of the man beside him.

"Surprise," said John with a flourish as he dragged McKay closer to the . . . thing.

At the same time, Rodney was trying to crawl over John to get away from whatever it was. "You know I don't like surprises."

With one hand on Rodney, Sheppard reached out and flipped the sheet to the floor.

Rodney was left with his mouth hanging open in awe.

A candy machine.

Filled with—he stepped closer to check—yes, nothing but chocolate and chocolate-coated things. Not a cheese cracker or pretzel in sight.

"What . . . how . . . when?"

John laughed and Rodney realized it was the first one he'd heard from the Colonel since the mob attack on P2M-649.

"I promised you." Sheppard stepped closer to the machine and pulled out a small bag from his pocket. He tossed it over his shoulder to McKay. "Came in on the Daedalus last week. Do you know what I had to go through to keep your scientists from finding out about this? And what they'll do to me when they find out? Just a whiff of chocolate is like blood in the water around here."

"Colonel . . . this is . . . this is great." McKay hefted the small bag and pulled open the string. There were bunches of blue metal tokens inside.

John put his hands behind his back and bounced. "They're 'Rodney Tokens.' I had the machine rigged so it only works for them. Just watch your back, though. Once word gets around—"

"This is great," muttered Rodney as he pressed his nose to the glass. "As long as the chocolate doesn't start talking to me . . . uh, never mind. Thank you."

John opened his mouth to ask what Rodney meant, but then just nodded and turned on his heel, humming lightly to himself.

"Colonel, wait!"

John turned so he was walking backwards, his eyebrow raised. "Yeah?"

"Can you . . . can you meet me later in your office? In about an hour?"

Sheppard looked puzzled and shrugged his shoulders. "Sure, I'll be there."


"Are you sure?" asked Rodney for the fourth time as Major Lorne handed over the bundle.

"McKay, if I was any surer I'd use the damn thing myself."

"Okay, fine." McKay huffed out a breath like he was getting ready to fight Wraith. "Are you sure you're sure?"


"Okay, okay."


While Sheppard waited for McKay to show up at the office, he was kicked back in his chair with his feet on the desk and ignoring the over due paperwork.

It was good to be back in the small and dark room, especially since a few times on the last mission he was pretty damn sure he wasn't going to make it back.

It was quiet and sometimes he liked quiet.

Until McKay walked in the door and suddenly the room seemed to fill with sound.

"Hey, there you are. I was beginning to think you'd decided to stay the night with your new candy machine."

"Ha, very funny." McKay looked in embarrassment at the chocolate bar in his left hand with the torn open wrapper. "I was just . . . uh, getting something for you."

John sat up as a small bundle was practically thrown at him. He caught it before it could hit him in the chest. "Oh, Rodney, you didn't have to get me anything because I got you the machine."

Rodney shifted uncomfortably. "I did this before I knew about the machine."

Sheppard looked down and then up at Rodney. "Oh."

"Well, open it."

"Oh!" John put the bundle on the desk and carefully unwrapped the object in the soft cloth.

To reveal a brand new 9 mil.

"You got me a gun?" John asked in an amused tone, the raised eyebrow back.

Rodney pulled up a chair and sat down eagerly, taking a bite of his candy and talking with his mouth full. "Not just any gun. I had Major Lorne and the Marines calibrate or adjust or whatever it is you military types do to guns to make it just like the one you lost in the mud."

Sheppard picked the gun up and made sure it was unloaded before he hefted it. "Wynona?"

"The Major said he knew how you liked it, that you'd discussed it before. And some of the Marines have been on the shooting range with you."

"Wow," whispered Sheppard and he turned his chair away from Rodney to face the wall as he did another check.

It was perfect. A little shinier, a little newer, but perfect.

"I don't know what to say." For a moment, John bit his lip and then he carefully laid the gun back in its soft cloth. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," beamed Rodney for a second and then his nerves got the best of him. "So, uh, I'm going to the mess now. Want to come?"

Sheppard locked up his new Wynona in the bottom drawer of his desk and nodded. "Sure, let's go."

They were half way there when the alarms went off and the radios in their ears piped up.

"Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay, Teyla and Ronon to the gateroom."

Rodney sighed as he shoved the rest of the chocolate in his mouth and put the wrapper in his pocket.

Sheppard shook his head as they both turned from the mess to report to Dr. Weir.

The End!

Whew! I finally finished. Hope y'all enjoyed!