Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate Atlantis or any of it's characters. This is just for fun.
Author's Note: This is a continuation of The Hive episode and you-know-who gets whumped (can't help it). It picks up in the infirmary as the episode ends.
I Can't Get You Out of My Mind – Chapter One
"Well, you know Ford. I wouldn't be surprised if we run into him again," said Sheppard. Teyla, Ronon, and McKay silently agreed, thinking about the almost supernatural way the altered soldier kept turning up after they thought him dead.
Sheppard looked back and forth from Teyla to Ronon. "So, you guys starting to feel more like yourselves?"
Teyla nodded. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. It was...very uncomfortable when the enzyme first wore off, but we are much better now."
Sheppard looked around back to Ronon. "How about you, Chewy?"
Ronon scowled a bit at the nickname. "I'm okay, Sheppard."
Sheppard walked across the room to stand beside McKay. As he turned his back to the wall, the slight headache he'd had for a while suddenly ignited into what felt like hot fire racing through his temples. He gasped from the sudden onslaught of the intense pain and room began to tilt wildly to one side. He put one hand up to his head and tried to get the other on the wall for support, but he missed. He felt himself falling and heard people calling his name, but all was lost in darkness before he hit the floor.
His first awareness was the headache thumping in his temples to the beat of his heart. It felt like a rope was stretched between the sides of his head and someone was gradually twisting the rope, causing it to pull tighter and tighter. He instinctively put his hand to his head even before he got his eyes open.
"Colonel? Can you open your eyes for me?" Beckett's voice prodded him the remainder of the way to consciousness.
"Trying," he whispered. And he was trying. His eyelids just didn't want to cooperate. He worked at it for several seconds (which seemed like several minutes to him) before he finally got them open. His eyes finally focused on the concerned faces of Beckett, and just behind him, McKay.
McKay looked relieved to see him wake up, but then adopted a silly grin. "Ha! Colonel Sheppard fainted. Colonel Sheppard fainted!" he said in a sing-song voice.
Sheppard snorted. "Didn't faint . . . passssed out." He was a little disturbed to find his speech somewhat slurred, almost as if he'd been drinking. Beckett didn't look too pleased either.
"Be quiet, Rodney. Colonel, how do you feel?"
Sheppard looked briefly around the room. He could see Teyla and Ronon, still dressed in white scrubs and sitting on their beds. He looked down to see he was still in his uniform. That was a good sign. Elizabeth and Colonel Caldwell stood at the foot of his bed, Elizabeth looking concerned and Caldwell just looking annoyed.
"I'm fine. How long was I out?" He was glad to find his speech improving.
Beckett frowned. "Almost fifteen minutes. What do you remember?"
Sheppard rubbed his head again, until he saw Beckett eyeing him, and then he stopped. "We were talking. I walked over to the wall there and then . . . my headache kind of flared up and I got dizzy and . . . then I woke up here."
Beckett crossed his arms and looked upset. "Your headache? And what headache would that be, since you didn't mention having one in your post mission check?"
Oops! "Uh, well, . . . you know, just a little headache. It's wasn't very bad and you needed to be checking on Ronon and Teyla. Look, I'm fine . . . maybe just a little tired."
"Perhaps this has something to do with the interrogation by the wraith queen," suggested Teyla.
Sheppard slid Teyla an annoyed glance as Beckett jumped on her statement.
"You were interrogated by the wraith queen? What happened?" asked Beckett, the concern in his voice notching upward. Sheppard noticed that Caldwell perked up, losing his appearance of total boredom.
"Interrogated by a wraith queen? Why didn't you mention that before now, Colonel?" Caldwell's voice didn't sound quite as concerned. No, it was more of an accusatory nature.
Sheppard couldn't help it - he rolled his eyes. "I didn't tell them anything," he said, his voice sounding as if he was talking to a child. "Anyway . . . she got sidetracked the first time and killed the second time. It didn't last long on either occasion."
Beckett gasped. "You were interrogated twice? Colonel, I need to know what she did to you."
Sheppard laid his head back against the pillow. "It's hard to describe."
"Try," said Beckett.
"O-kay. She seemed to have some kind of power over me . . . dropped me to my knees without even touching me. It was as if she was in control of my actions, not me. It felt like . . . it felt like she actually somehow reached her hand into my head and . . . " He shuddered involuntarily at the memory of the recent pain and feeling of helplessness.
"Colonel, how long have you had the headache?" When Beckett saw the way Sheppard glanced back up at him, he knew the answer. "You'll be my guest tonight, Colonel. We'll be running some tests tomorrow. I'll get you some scrubs and you can get changed."
"Aw, doc . . . I'm fine. Maybe I could –"
"Colonel, I'm not asking. I'll get those scrubs." Beckett said it with a finality that let Sheppard know he was there for the night. "You can keep Ronon and Teyla company."
Sheppard looked at Weir and Caldwell. Weir gave him a sympathetic look that silently told him to be a good boy and do as he was told. Caldwell just looked smug. This was not turning out to be one of his better days.
Sheppard sat on the bed in his own set of white scrubs, his knees drawn up to his chest and his chin resting on his knees. He was watching Beckett go through test results across the infirmary. Teyla and Ronon had been dismissed over an hour ago and yet, here he sat, the last one to be let go. Adding insult to injury was his remembrance of the fact that he was the only one who didn't get the wraith enzyme. The word unfair didn't seem to even begin to cover the situation.
"Okay, Colonel." Beckett's voice brought him back to the current world.
Sheppard looked up at Beckett. "Well?" he asked, expecting that Beckett had found a reason to keep him overnight again.
"Well, your test results are all negative. Maybe you were just tired. I'm releasing you to your quarters, but I want you to get plenty of rest. I'm leaving you off the duty roster for the next two days. Check back with me then and if everything is still clear and you've gotten some rest, I'll put you back on duty."
"So. . . I can go?" he asked tentatively.
Beckett grinned at the little boy look on Sheppard's face. "Yes, you can go. I'll have the nurse bring your clothes out to you."
"Yes," Sheppard whispered. Things were beginning to look up.
Sheppard was really glad to crawl into his own bed that night. It wasn't that it was that much more comfortable, but it was his bed in his quarters and it was a lot more private. But it wasn't a restful night. He tossed and turned with all sorts of weird dreams about the wraith. Sometimes he was fighting the wraith and sometimes he was the wraith. Sometimes he was being fed upon and sometimes he was trapped in a cocoon aboard a hive ship, struggling to get free.
He awoke early in the morning, drenched in sweat and shivering with . . . fear? Struggling out of bed and into the bathroom, his head throbbed, making him dizzy. He splashed water on his face, swaying as he held onto the sink for support until his stomach began to rebel against the way the room was spinning. Soon he was leaning over the toilet, heaving up his last meal. By the time he finished, his energy was depleted and he curled up on the floor. His face felt hot and flushed and the coolness of the floor felt good and seemed to soothe his headache. He wasn't sure how long he stayed there, dozing in and out as he tried to get enough energy to get up and back into the bed.
"Sheppard? Are you in there?"
He startled at the sudden loud shouting and knocking on the door. He was cold and stiff and it took a minute to remember why he was laying on the bathroom floor. He wanted to shout at the person making such a loud commotion outside his door, but he didn't think that was such a bright idea in light of his headache. He struggled to his feet, leaning heavily against the wall.
"Colonel, what are you doing in there? Oh my gosh . . . you don't have a woman in there do you, because that would just be - " He made it to the door controls and the door swooshed open. "wrong," finished Rodney McKay.
"Do you have to shout?" asked Sheppard quietly. He turned around and walked slowly back into the room, McKay right behind him.
"I wouldn't need to shout if you would answer your door. What are you up to, anyway?" He watched Sheppard as he slowly turned around and sat on the bed. "You okay? Because you don't look okay. Maybe you should go see Beckett."
Sheppard raked his hand through his already unruly hair. "I'm fine, McKay . . . just didn't sleep well. Weird dreams. Did you want something other than annoying me?"
"I was on my way to breakfast and thought I'd see if you want to join me. Then, if you weren't doing anything, I was going to show you some new stuff in the lab."
Sheppard sat there silently for a moment and then looked up at McKay. "I'm not really very hungry this morning, McKay and I'm getting a late start. How about if I skip breakfast so I can get a shower and just meet you in the lab later?" The thought of smelling food, much less eating it, turned Sheppard's stomach right now and he didn't relish the thought of sharing that little tidbit with McKay or Beckett or anyone else with tendencies toward hovering.
McKay didn't look happy, but he finally agreed. Sheppard ushered him to the door and had him all the way across the threshold, when he turned back around. "Are you sure you're all right?"
Sheppard smiled reassuringly. "I'm fine, Rodney. I'll see you in an hour or so . . . unless you need more time to eat than that."
"Hardly. I don't eat that much!" McKay seemed more relaxed, the insulting implication having somewhat convinced him that Sheppard was indeed all right. "I'll see you in an hour."
"Rodney, how are you holding up?" Sheppard glanced across the lab table at McKay.
McKay hesitated a second and then went back to typing on his computer. "I'm fine."
Sheppard absently fingered the device in his hands. "I never really thanked you for risking your life and going through what happened with the enzyme to save us. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate it."
McKay shrugged his shoulders. "No problem. You didn't need me anyway."
"That's not exactly true. We definitely needed backup. Besides, you got yourself out in one piece, which saved us having to back track and try to find you. You were pretty aggressive out there."
"Yes, I suppose I was," McKay said smugly.
Sheppard laid the device on the table and looked straight at McKay. "What I need to know is how are you now? I heard it pretty rough for a while. Are you really okay?"
McKay paused again and then put his hands on the table beside the laptop. He finally looked up and made eye contact with Sheppard. He knew there was no way he could ever explain what had happened to him, how he'd felt, to anyone. Even now, he hadn't figured out how he felt about what had happened. He was just trying to get on with his life and hope everything fell into place. He sighed, considering how to answer Sheppard's question. "I don't know, Colonel. I'm still working on that. Let me get back to you."
Sheppard nodded. "If you need to talk . . . if you just need someone to keep you company, you know where to find me."
McKay smiled. "I know. Thanks." McKay's shoulders seemed to relax a bit as he stood and walked over to a shelf. He picked up a device that looked a little like a cordless phone with buttons at one end and a small screen at the other. He handed it to Sheppard and began to explain what he and Zelenka thought it might be used for.
Sheppard stared at the glowing artifact in his hand. He could hear McKay prattling on about the device, but he had ceased to pay attention to what the man said. He found it hard to concentrate on anything but the pounding in his head. He'd never been subject to migraines, but he thought surely this one was getting close. It had intensified to the point he felt dizzy and nauseous again.
"Colonel! Are you even listening to me?"
Sheppard grimaced. "Don't shout, Rodney," he whispered.
After a few minutes of silence, Sheppard glanced at McKay to find the scientist studying him like a specimen. "What?"
McKay sighed. "You look like crap. I still think you need to see Beckett."
"I don't need to see Beckett," he argued. "But I can't do this any more." He laid the artifact back on the table and got up to leave. He was almost to the door when the dizziness overcame him and he felt himself falling once again.
"Carson, I think he's waking up," yelled McKay.
"Shhh," whispered Sheppard as he tried to drag himself back to consciousness. "Headache, 'member?"
"Rodney, what are you yelling about? This is an infirmary, not a bloody stadium."
"Guys, please," pleaded Sheppard softly. He still hadn't managed to open his eyes.
"Oh, Colonel Sheppard's awake. Why didn't you say so? Colonel, can you open your eyes for me?"
"Working on it," he said softly. Sheppard finally managed to open his eyes a slit, blinking heavily against the light that burned his eyes. "Light," he whispered, letting his lids close.
"Okay, Colonel, we've dimmed the lights," Beckett said a few seconds later.
This time Sheppard got his eyes open enough to see the Beckett and McKay hovering over him, worry on their faces. "D'I pass out again?"
"Aye, ya did. In Rodney's lab this time, almost an hour ago. Rodney said you still have a headache. How do you feel other than that?"
"Okay." Sheppard was more awake now and tried to lift his head off the pillow.
Beckett put his hand on his patient's chest. "Stay put. I'm afraid you'll be staying for a bit. You can't blame this on being tired again, Colonel. Something's amiss and I mean to find it."
Sheppard decided if he was honest with himself, he hurt too bad to get up anyway. "As long as I'm staying, can I get something for the headache?"
"Aye, I can manage that."
Beckett moved out of Sheppard's line of sight. He fervently hoped the doctor was getting some pain medication, preferably something strong.
"What exactly did she do to you?"
Sheppard looked up at Rodney. "Who?"
McKay rolled his eyes. "The wraith queen, who do you think? What is it with you and women in this galaxy?"
"Must be my charming good looks."
McKay snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure that's it." He paused briefly, noting the pained expression on Sheppard's face. "Really, what did she do to you?"
Sheppard sighed. "I told you what happened. There's nothing more to it."
"She must have done something to you." McKay saw Beckett returning with Sheppard's pain medicine. "Okay, I'm going down to the lab and see if I can figure this out. I'll catch you later."
They watched as McKay rushed out the door.
"Where's he goin' in such a hurry?" asked Beckett as he swabbed Sheppard's arm.
"He thinks the wraith queen did something during the interrogation and he's off to figure it out."
Beckett finished injecting the contents of the syringe into Sheppard's arm. "Well, the timing would seem to indicate that she may indeed be responsible for what is happening to you. The problem seems to be figuring out what she did."
"You guys will figure something out," said Sheppard as he leaned his head back into the pillow and waited for the drugs to take effect. "You stopped me from turning into a bug. This should be easy next to that."
Beckett sighed deeply. "I hope you're right."
McKay entered the infirmary to find Sheppard's bed disheveled, but empty. He looked around the large room, but didn't see Sheppard anywhere. "Where is he?" he muttered.
"Right here, McKay," came Sheppard's muffled voice. There was a loud clanking noise, followed by a few angrily mumbled words. Sheppard crawled out from under the bed and pulled himself to a standing position beside it, rubbing the top of his head.
McKay's eyes widened. "What are you doing in the floor? Were you under the bed?"
"No I wasn't under the bed . . . well, not all of me. I was looking for my shoes."
"Yes, my shoes. I can't find any of my clothes. I've searched in all the drawers and shelves of that cabinet over there."
"Why do you need your clothes? Has Carson released you?"
"Not yet, but I've had more tests run on me in the last twenty-four hours than I even knew existed." Sheppard looked over his shoulder, then leaned back towards McKay. "And a few I think Beckett may have made up. Anyway, I've had enough. Beckett's off analyzing results or something, so I'm getting out of here while I can. That is, if I can find my clothes."
"And did you ever think that maybe this is the reason you can't find your clothes? Besides, Beckett will hunt you down and drag your skinny butt back down here. You might as well just hop back up in that bed til he's done with you."
"I have this theory. I'm really fine, so he's not going to find anything wrong with me, so he'll just keep me here forever while he looks for something. That means I better get out now."
McKay shook his head. "You're starting to ramble, Colonel."
"Yeah, well, whatever. Maybe I could just slip down to my quarters and get some clothes."
McKay snorted. "Yes, because no one will notice you're wearing scrubs."
Sheppard took a step toward the door. "Well, it's worth a . . . oh, shoot."
McKay barely caught him as he stumbled and pitched forward toward the floor, unconscious again.
The return to consciousness was much slower this time. Voices and sounds filtered in and out for a while before he began to make sense of them. The relentless pounding in his head made him afraid to move or open his eyes for a long time, so he just lay there, listening to the sounds of the infirmary. He must have drifted back off to sleep because suddenly someone touched him on the arm, catching him off guard. He flinched, jerking his head and sending out new waves of pain and causing him to groan involuntarily.
"Colonel? Are you awake?"
He recognized Beckett's voice, but he simply couldn't make himself open his eyes or respond. The pain seemed to have him paralyzed, but then he felt someone take his hand.
"Colonel, if you can hear me, squeeze my hand."
Thank goodness Beckett was a quick study. Sheppard concentrated on squeezing the doctor's hand, but several seconds later, he still wasn't sure if he'd succeeded.
"Okay, good. Now, if you're in pain, squeeze my hand again."
Once again, he put all his concentration on conveying a message to the doctor. He was rewarded a few seconds later.
"Okay, Colonel. Just hang on a minute and I'll get you something."
Sheppard was barely aware of the needle prick in his shoulder a few minutes later, but he was very grateful for the gradual decline in the pain level as the drugs took effect and he drifted off to sleep.
Elizabeth stuck her head in Beckett's office. "How's your patient?"
Beckett looked up from the charts on his desk. "Elizabeth, I was just about to call you. Please have a seat; we need to talk."
Elizabeth frowned as she took a seat across from Dr. Beckett. "What is it Carson? Has John regained consciousness yet?"
"He came to for a few minutes a bit ago. He was in a great deal of pain, so I gave him something and he went to sleep. Elizabeth, he didn't seem to be able to open his eyes or speak. I had him squeeze my hand in order to communicate. I still don't know what's happenin' to him, but I think it may be more serious than I originally thought."
"Carson . . . " Elizabeth stopped, her mouth open slightly, the question she couldn't ask hanging in the air.
"I haven't seen anythin' in his tests to indicate brain damage, so I think the effects were only temporary. His blood work's clean as well. The only abnormality I've found is that his EEG is off. I may want to pursue that a bit more. I'd like to have it runnin' the next time he passes out. It might tell us what's going on in that head of his."
Elizabeth nodded. "Sounds like a good idea. Where's Rodney?"
"He went back to his lab to research the Ancient data base. He said he had an idea and he wanted to check it out."
"I hope he comes up with something."
"Aye. I do too, for Colonel Sheppard's sake."
The next time Sheppard woke, it was a much smoother transition. His headache had been reduced to a dull throb and he had control of his body again. The relief was slightly dizzying. He was not, however, particularly thrilled with the IV line or the leads attached to his head. He shifted his gaze to the side and found Rodney asleep in the chair beside the bed, his head leaned back and his mouth open. He was snoring softly and a drop of spittle slowly tracked down his chin. Sheppard grinned, debating whether to wake the scientist or not.
Sheppard shifted at the sound of someone coming and looked over to see Beckett. Sheppard put his finger to his lips and then pointed to Rodney. Beckett grinned and nodded.
"How do you feel, Colonel?" Beckett whispered.
"Not bad, actually. Headache's better. Have you guys figured out what's going on yet?"
"Well, sort of. We think we know what's happening, we just haven't figured out what to do about it yet."
Sheppard watched Beckett expectantly. "Doc, are you going to tell me?"
Beckett pulled up another chair and sat down on the side of the bed opposite Rodney. "I'm not sure how much you know about the nervous system, but nerve transmissions are basically electrical in nature. We think when the wraith queen interrogated you, she controlled you by interrupting those electrical signals and somehow taking them over. She was sending the signals to your muscles instead of you, which would explain how she made you kneel. We also think that may be how they make you see things that aren't there sometimes, by interrupting the nerve signals and implanting their own."
Sheppard frowned. "How could she do that?"
Beckett shook his head. "I have no idea how, lad. But we think the reason you are experiencing these residual effects is because she was killed when she was in your mind, controlling you. The sudden interruption sort of . . . short-circuited your electrical system, for lack of a better description. The reason I have you connected to the EEG is to hopefully get a reading on your electrical patterns when you pass out next in order to confirm that is what's happening."
"You mean faint." Both men looked over to see Rodney shifting upright in the chair and rubbing his face with his hands.
Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Beckett's the doc, and he says 'pass out'. Soldiers don't faint."
McKay snorted. "You wish."
Sheppard gave a slow, subtle grin. "At least I don't drool."
McKay wiped his chin and tilted his head back. "I wasn't drooling. I just had a slight overproduction of saliva."
Sheppard continued to stare at him. "We call that drool, McKay."
"Okay, okay. I drool and you faint. We make quite the threatening team. Did Carson explain what we think is going on?"
"Yeah, but I still don't see how that's possible. And if that is what's happening, . . . " Sheppard paused. "Can you fix it?"
Beckett and McKay exchanged looks that made Sheppard very uneasy. "I'll take that as a no."
"We just don't know yet," said Beckett.
"I was actually on the way to the lab. I think I saw something in the Ancient data base last night, but I didn't realize it was related to what's happening to you until just a little while ago. I was going to stop by and see you and then look it up. Guess I dozed off for a few minutes." McKay rubbed his eyes again, drawing Sheppard's attention to the dark circles underneath.
"When was the last time you slept, McKay?"
"I don't know, a day or two ago. I'm fine. I don't sleep much anyway. I'd better get going. Carson and I were discussing the fact that your fainting spells are becoming more frequent and longer lasting, so I think we need to get a rush on this." McKay got up and turned to leave.
"Passed out, McKay, not fainted," Sheppard called after him.
Elizabeth glanced into Carson's office as she entered the infirmary. Finding it empty, she made her way over to Sheppard's bed to find him meticulously tearing a piece of paper into tiny squares. He had a small pile on the rolling tray table currently positioned over his lap and seemed to be lost in concentration. She stood at the foot of the bed watching him for several seconds.
"What exactly are you doing?"
"Trying not to die of boredom," he said, never diverting from his task.
Elizabeth smiled. "So . . . does that have a purpose other than alleviating boredom?"
"Not much. I did estimate how many pieces I could get to see how close I could come. I was counting, but I think I'm lost now."
"That's okay. I can count when I'm done. At least it'll give me something else to do."
"How do you feel?"
Sheppard stopped tearing the paper and looked up at her, his index finger absently moving the small squares of paper around on the table. "Not bad. Headache's starting to come back a little."
Elizabeth frowned. "Have you told Carson?"
Sheppard ran his hand through his hair. "Not yet. It really just started kicking up a few minutes ago. I haven't seen him since then."
"Maybe I should go get him."
"No, Elizabeth, I can just . . . "
She had started to turn around to look for Carson, but Sheppard's sudden pause drew her attention back to him. "John?"
"Shi . . . " Sheppard grunted softly as his head lolled back and his eyes began to close.
"Carson!" Elizabeth yelled as she quickly moved to the side of the bed. "John? Can you hear me? Stay with me John, Carson's on the way." She moved the tray table aside as she continued to talk to him and began stroking his arm.
Beckett arrived with two nurses a few seconds later, just in time to see Sheppard go into a seizure. They quickly nudged Elizabeth out of the way as they worked to keep Sheppard from pulling off the EEG leads or hurting himself. It only lasted a few seconds, but it shook Elizabeth to the core. She was just beginning to realize how serious the situation had become.