A/N: Thank you for your patience - and now the conclusion of "Under Glass"
CHAPTER 11: WAFFLES
Ronon breathed for McKay. The Canadian's heart still beat. Sheppard clung to Rodney's wrist, feeling the rapid pulse, letting out a groan of distress when the beat finally faded.
He moved into position and started compressions as Ronon backed off. "Come on!" he shouted. "Come on! Rodney. Don't do this!"
Counting to fifteen, Sheppard kept up the work as he berated, "You're pissing me off, Rodney! You got plenty of air now! Don't you DARE do this now that I got you out of that place! And I just found a room of mystery," he shouted, as he moved out of the way as Ronon leaned back in to breathe. He felt for a pulse – nothing! Don't… don't… don't! Dammit! Please don't!
"You won't be able to stand yourself if you don't have a chance to get down there and check it out!"
Ronon sat back again, silent. He saved his breath for Rodney, his face tight. John saw something akin to fear in the otherwise fearless man's expression. Sheppard started compressions again.
"Come on! Start breathing! You can do this, Rodney," John baited. "You've pulled off bigger miracles than this. This is small potatoes." Don't you even fucking think about it! "This is stupid, Rodney. This is so goddamn stupid for you to do this right now."
He moved back and Ronon moved in, breathing because Rodney wouldn't. "We got too much left to do! This whole damn galaxy left to explore. Come on, already!"
Then, miraculously, a gasp – just as Ronon sat back, Rodney took a breath on his own, and another.
The two remained in place, ready to resume the procedure, as Sheppard reached for Rodney's wrist again – there! He released a sigh of relief to find a pulse again. They were frozen, some small voice telling them that if they remained perfectly still, the moment wouldn't end, and Rodney would keep breathing – he did. Another breath – and another. The pulse continued, stronger now.
Sheppard looked up to Ronon who held his fearful expression. They were still a good distance from the Gate – a long way to go. And, Rodney was in big – big trouble. So, for that moment, they were still, letting Rodney breathe while they caught their own breaths.
It was only a crashing sound that drew them out of their stillness. Not now! Not now! Goddamn Wraith! John jumped to his feet, while Ronon drew his weapon where he sat – and they aimed into the forest – toward the approaching ruckus. Sheppard glanced up to the strange little building. Could hide in there, he theorized. He was about to dive down to haul Rodney toward it when a voice rang out.
"Colonel Sheppard! Ronon!" Teyla, the sound of her voice was never lovelier.
"We're here!" Sheppard shouted, letting his weapon drop to his side. Thank God, oh thank God. "We need Beckett! Now!"
"I'm comin' as fast as I can!" a voice called from further behind.
And then, Teyla was there, with Major Lorne running and panting beside her. She smiled, proud that she had brought help, then paused, looking at McKay as Ronon crouched over him. Her smile dropped, seeing how much worse he looked.
"Dr. McKay?" she asked the simple question to Ronon, who could only give her a halfhearted shrug in response.
"Colonel Sheppard," Lorne greeted. "We tried to radio you, but received no response."
Sheppard glanced to Teyla, seeing that she still wore one of their remaining radios. He sighed, touching his ear. The radio was gone -- probably lost somewhere on the bank. "Yeah," Sheppard responded. "Got a bad habit of losing them."
"We would have come by jumper," Lorne went on. "But there was one heck of a pile-up on your side of the Gate. Couldn't risk it." He dipped his head adding, "We have a team working on it right now. Should be able to punch a jumper through any minute."
Ronon kept his attention on Rodney, watching him carefully as if the force of his gaze might keep the Canadian breathing.
Then Beckett burst through the woods, with two more marines at his side. "Here you are!" he called, looking happy as a clam, but his eyes instantly fastened on McKay and he pleased expression fell. He dropped to his knees beside the man.
"Stopped breathing. Heart stopped for a bit," Ronon stated tersely, as if these were everyday matters, but his expression belied his easy tone.
"Oh Lord," Beckett uttered. "Julian," he called to one of the marines, and started issuing orders to the young medic.
Sheppard wanted to get in beside Beckett and Ronon, but the medic, Pvt. Deroche, weaseled his way in, opening the large emergency kit, and drawing out supplies as Beckett called for them. Instead Sheppard was left to stand beside Lorne and Teyla, while Sgt. Wilmington stood guard with them.
And Sheppard began to explain what he knew as Beckett went to work.
He felt disconnected and strange, almost as if he was floating. Strange… so strange. He was quiet, listening, trying to get his bearings. Nearby, someone spoke in a low tone, too soft to be easily picked up. Sheppard? He concentrated, trying to understand, but the voice faded leaving him with the impression that it had never been there in the first place.
Wishful thinking. If wishes were horses…
He had to do something – he knew that. What was it? Slowly, he tried to move one hand, but it seemed captured, held in place. Closed in… that was it. He was trapped – trapped in that horrible alcove. Oh God. He couldn't to this! He'd always been afraid of small places – ever since he was a kid… ever since…
What was happening? Was he still in the alcove? It felt as if he'd been trapped for hours! Trapped for days! Help, he cried out with his mind. Get me out! Help! I can't breathe!
Near him, something started beeping frenetically, and he gasped in panic. Air! He was running out of oxygen! His chest hurt and he refused to draw another breath of the tainted atmosphere. He flailed out his arms, freeing them from the bonds of gravity. He had to get out! One hand got caught up in something. His legs were trapped. He fought. Escape – must get out! Don't draw another breath! It'll kill you!
The beeping increased in intensity, and he battled all the harder.
Something clasped onto one arm, trying to untangle it. His other arm was grabbed as well, and he was being forced backward, immobilized. Oh, God, the Wraith had come – and John was dead – and Teyla was dead and Ronon was certainly dead – for surely they would all be gone if the Wraith had gotten this far.
He fought them, as nobly as he could. He wouldn't go without a battle, but he felt so weak and strange – as if his limbs were not his own.
"Rodney," he heard someone call. "Rodney! Listen to me, lad. Oh, Lord, he's not breathing. Rodney, take a breath, you stupid git!" Someone grabbed his face.
They were pressing down on him and he'd be forced to suck in air, knowing that it was nearly gone, that it was killing him. Not wanting to, he breathed in, gasping.
"Oh, thank the Lord."
Still, he'd fight with every last ounce of strength he had left. He tried to jerk one arm loose.
"McKay, knock it off! You give me a fat lip and you'll pay for it. Come on, buddy, it's me!
A bass voice commented, "Don't fight him."
"Fight? Damn it, I'm just trying to keep him from hurting himself. McKay!"
A soft voice added, "Rodney, you are safe. You are safe, Rodney."
"Yeah, McKay, you're safe until you pull out that IV line and then you'll be in trouble with the doc. Either you calm down or Beckett's gonna pump you full of drugs and knock you out, and I think you've been out of it for long enough."
"Ach, I'm not about to do that now. He'll calm, given a minute."
He couldn't move. His arms had been captured -- he was being forced back. "No…" he tried to yell forcefully, but it came out only as a pathetic whimper. "Please… no… I gotta… help…" He couldn't let them win, not while the others were in danger.
"You're back in Atlantis! We're home! McKay, listen! Do you hear me? We're all safe, McKay."
He stilled, and listened. Safe? Everyone?
"See, I told you so," a lilting brogue sounded in his ear.
Panting, he finally opened his eyes, to stare up at Sheppard and Beckett, who were both far too close for comfort. There faces seemed inches from his. He swallowed and gazed back at them, perplexed.
"Welcome back, McKay," Sheppard said, sitting back almost instantly.
"He—hey," McKay whispered in a soft greeting.
Beckett still fussed near him, spouting off all sorts of mumbo jumbo. Ignoring his commentary, Rodney turned his head, taking in Teyla and Ronon, who stood near the foot of the bed, looking anxious and concerned. He blinked at them. Teyla smiled, Ronon nodded.
"You're…" he tried to speak two words together, but his mouth felt pasty. "…Okay?" he completed.
Teyla and Ronon exchanged glances, but Sheppard seemed to understand. "They're fine, McKay," he spoke the words distinctly, making sure he made eye contact with the man. "They made it back okay."
"We are fine, Dr. McKay," Teyla assured. "We have only a few scrapes."
"We all made it back," Ronon added, his voice stern, as he figured that's what it took to get through an addled mind.
"Good… good," McKay stated, his voice a rough whisper. He arched his gaze across the room again. It looked so big. He smiled – perhaps a bit peculiarly – as he took in the open space.
So much air… all the oxygen a man could want.
"How're you feelin'?" Sheppard asked.
McKay said nothing at first, just enjoying all the room around him. Finally – finally. He kinda liked the infirmary at that moment. Lots of space… lots of space. Then he tried to sit up, and felt his muscles protest. He cringed, trying to ball himself up, only to be halted by Beckett and Sheppard.
"It'll pass," Beckett told him.
"Rodney?" Sheppard repeated.
"Crap," he finally answered, his voice like gravel. "I feel like crap."
"It's to be expected," Beckett told him, sitting back when he figured Rodney wouldn't keep trying to curl up and torture his already malingered muscles.
"Throat… dry," McKay said with a wince.
Beckett grasped a cup from somewhere nearby, brought it over the bed. "This should help," he stated and slid a chip of ice into his patient's mouth.
It felt like heaven. Rodney let it melt on his tongue and enjoyed its coolness. When he opened his eyes again, he found that everyone was watching him. "What?" he asked distractedly.
Beckett started talking, telling him about his condition and how he was improving. "We almost lost you, lad," Carson said softly. He looked distraught as he explained, "I don't think the electricity was meant to kill you."
"That's what you say," McKay groaned, putting a hand to his forehead.
"Aye," Carson responded. "It was set mostly as a detriment, but combined with the hypoxia it's a miracle you made it." Beckett ran a nervous hand through his hair. "And then you went and stopped breathing, and then your heart stopped."
"What? When?" McKay shot back.
"Back on that planet when only Ronon and Sheppard were with you," Beckett explained.
Grimacing, McKay pressed lightly on his chest. "That'd explain the soreness." A strange look came over McKay and he looked to his rescuers. "You didn't have to…" his voice trailed off as he touched his mouth tentatively. "You know…"
Ronon smiled broadly at him, look pretty damn proud of himself. "I did it," he said simply.
McKay went a little pale, and made a strange gargled sound in the back of his throat that only made Ronon look more pleased.
Desperate to change the subject, Rodney turned to Sheppard. "But, the crystal thing…it worked?"
"Pulling out that crystal to shut down the control console?" Sheppard responded, his voice hard. "If you call nearly killing you a good result, then yeah, it worked. The doors opened."
McKay nodded. "Good… good." He paused again, as if building up the strength to ask, "And you were okay?"
"Me?" Sheppard asked, surprised.
"Nothing happened to you?"
"No," Sheppard exclaimed. "Jeez, Rodney. I was perfectly fine. God, nothing happened to me."
His lazy gaze took in Ronon and Teyla. They both looked a little battered.
"As told you," Teyla stated. "Only a few scrapes and bruises."
"We took out four darts and fourteen Wraith soldiers," Ronon said with a grin. "And a probe."
For that, he received an astonished look, that made Ronon smile all the wider. "Well, it was mostly me and Teyla. Sheppard only took down one Wraith – and it was just a drone – and Teyla had to help."
"Hey," Sheppard put in, he gave Ronon a glare.
"Some people are just luckier than others," Teyla added with a smile, which put a glower on Ronon's face.
"What about the ones I beamed out of there?" Sheppard pointed out.
To that, Ronon didn't look impressed. "That was more McKay than you," he declared. "McKay figured it out and you just pressed buttons."
"What?" Rodney's voice went up an octave. "You used the transporters? Because, because I told you they weren't safe. You didn't try to transport me with that thing." And he felt around, trying to ensure that all his visible parts were in place.
"Not you," Ronon assured. "Transported a mess of Wraith over to the planet with the methane atmosphere," Ronon told him.
"A mess?" McKay echoed. "Can you be any more accurate than that?"
"Mess?" Sheppard thought about the word a moment. "Seems about right from what the Daedalus found when they got there to investigate. I didn't think lips are supposed to end up where they did."
Letting McKay puzzle over that for a second, Sheppard continued with, "Oh, and you were right about the doors. Stood up to the full blast of those Wraith stunners." He waved a hand. "No problem."
"Oh?" McKay responded, looking perplexed. "Why would you know that?"
"They took a couple good hits," Sheppard said nonchalantly. "It's all cool."
"Good to know," McKay replied, still not sure of what was going on. "Wish I'd been there."
Sheppard submerged any thought of telling Rodney that he'd been right there in the thick of it – it'd be better to keep some things quiet.
McKay went on, as he settled further into the bed. He yawned. "Be good to have that door material that around."
"You should be careful what you wish for," Sheppard stated.
Frowning, McKay narrowed eyes at him. "And, what's that supposed to mean?"
It was Teyla who replied for him. "Colonel Sheppard was able to discover the location where the material was created."
"What?" McKay asked peevishly. "You were out exploring while I was… like this?"
"Let's say we stumbled on the facility," Sheppard told him. "Seems they were mining the surrounding planets for what they needed, and whipping up the stuff in an underground chamber on the main planet. We had a team down there. Pretty cool. But they couldn't make heads or tails of some of it. We might be able to make use of the stuff – and the transporter technology -- pretty cool. Just need someone with, you know, the right brain to get working on it."
"Really?" McKay asked, sounding like a kid who was told he could have a puppy.
"Seems there's a ZPM down there," Sheppard continued.
"A ZPM? I… I could go," McKay concluded, trying to sit up again. He winced at the strain on his muscles. "I would be the guy to check it out."
"You are not getting up to investigate it any time soon," Carson told him. "You will be stayin' put until I give you leave."
"But a ZPM!" Strength seemed to increase as McKay considered the possibilities of that.
Sheppard and Ronon were grinning at this change, so it was Teyla who had to delivery the blow. "It was mostly depleted, Dr. McKay."
"Oh," and the energy he'd found seemed to leach out as Rodney sunk into his pillow.
"There should be enough to run the place for a while," Sheppard countered. "At least to see if we can use it."
"In any case, it can wait," Beckett decided. "Rodney needs his rest. When I release him, then you can go play in your underground caves."
"Honestly, Carson," McKay said quietly, pressing one hand to his forehead. "I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon." He furrowed his brow, the headache still there. "But, you know…" he trailed off as he looked toward Sheppard for help.
"We'll go when your ready," Sheppard assured.
"As long as there are no Wraith around," McKay added.
"We'll keep an eye out for them," Sheppard assured. "Might even rig another of Ronon's Vegomatics. That'll help keep them out."
"What?" McKay asked, his eyes bleary and unfocused.
Sheppard stood slowly. He gave his friend a pat on the shoulder. "Go to sleep, McKay."
"Yeah, well," Rodney said with a yawn. "Might be a good idea."
"When you wake up, maybe we'll have some waffles," Sheppard added cheerfully.
"Waffles?" McKay repeated softly as he closed his eyes. "Don't have a waffle iron."
"I hear a couple of your guys are working on rigging one up," John said with a smile. "They should be serving them up tomorrow with the regular Tuesday hash browns."
McKay opened one eye and peered at him, as if gauging if he was being joshed. Finally, he yawned and stated, "Yeah, that would be nice." And his voice seemed to drift. "I like waffles." And his breathing evened out.
"Just behave yourself," Sheppard went on. "Don't give Beckett any trouble and we'll see what we can do."
"Aye," Beckett responded, sounding weary already, but as he leaned over McKay. After a moment, he declared. "He's asleep already. He'll need plenty of it for the next few days. Went through a lot." With a sorry expression, he muttered, "I doubt his claustrophobia is going to be any better after what happened."
"He was really very brave," Sheppard admitted softly. "He could have totally freaked out, but…" A disconsolate look crossed him as he realized how horrible it must have been to run out of air in a contraption like that – not even considering if one was afraid of such a thing to begin with. Damn… yeah, no doubt McKay's going to have some troubles with small places after this. I wonder if I'll even be able to get him into a puddlejumper anytime soon.
McKay loved flying.
"He'll be okay," Beckett told Sheppard. "As I've heard said before, he's very stubborn and can overcome almost anythin' given the right incentive."
"He'll be fine," Ronon decided. "Won't let anything like that stop him from checking out that new stuff."
Teyla nodded reassuringly, telling Sheppard, "When he wants something, he is quite capable of overcoming obstacles to get what he wants."
Sheppard smiled, proud of his people.
Beckett regarded the three visitors. "I doubt he'll wake again tonight. You might as well get some rest." And, with a knowing smile, he turned and made his through the infirmary and away from the bed that had been strategically placed in the middle of the room.
"Yeah," Sheppard muttered. He stood quietly by the bedside for several moments, expecting that Ronon and Teyla would have moved on – but wasn't surprised when they stayed with him.
"You did the right thing," Teyla assured quietly. "He would have suffocated if you didn't remove the crystal."
"Yeah," John responded. "That's what I keep telling myself."
Ronon nodded resolutely, and stated, "He will be fine. He is strong."
Sheppard nodded and turned to the others. "Why don't you two go get something to eat. I'm gonna stick around a while."
Teyla nodded. "I will return later to relieve you," she told him. "I do not want him to be alone."
Ronon added, "Guess that means, I'll be third shift." He shrugged and added, "Will work out good."
Teyla smiled at the Satedan, and turned toward Sheppard, "He has a 'date'."
Ronon reddened a bit at this comment. "Nancy wants to have breakfast with me," he muttered. When he saw Sheppard's eyes widen at that comment, he added with a growl, "What's wrong with that."
"That new lieutenant from the Daedalus?" Sheppard asked.
Teyla nodded a confirmation and turned to Ronon. "She stated that she'd like share breakfast with you?" she asked, her voice light and teasing.
With a shrug, the Satedan commented, "Said she'd like a lot of things." And Teyla took his arm and turned him toward the door. Together they walked away, with Teyla laughing as Ronon went on to describe exactly what Nancy liked.
Sheppard smiled at his teammates as they made their way out. When he was alone, Sheppard settled into the available chair, glad to see that Beckett had left a pillow and a blanket on the next bed – in case anyone wanted to stretch out and relax a bit more as they waited. "Beckett's a good man," Sheppard murmured.
With a relaxed expression, Sheppard settled into his seat. Almost tentatively, he reached out a hand to rest it on his friend's shoulder – glad that he could touch him. For a moment, he just watched Rodney breathe, then settled in to wait for him to wake up again. There'd be waffles for breakfast and that should be enough to get anyone up in the morning – that and Nancy.
Chuckling, Sheppard gave Rodney a pat and relaxed and waited for morning.
THE END - Honest, I have no idea where all this Breakfast food stuff came from.
Thank you so much for all your comments. I appreciate them more than you know.