Part 21

"Colonel Sheppard? Colonel Sheppard, can you hear me? Please respond."

The dark haired man blinked. Or at least he thought he did, he wasn't really sure. All he did know was that someone was yelling in his ear and he was in a world of hurt that started at his toes and moved up. Rolling his head to the side, feeling the coolness of the floor press against his cheek, he tried to focus on the white object in front of his face.

"Colonel," another voice called out and this one didn't buzz in his ear.

"Colonel, look at me," the second voice ordered and he rolled his head to glance in the opposite direction, only to see more white. But this white moved. Blinking, he focused unwilling eyes on the object and discovered it to be Schwartz.

"You back with me now?" the physician asked as he watched the officer carefully.

"Yeah," he said with a grunt, "… I think."

Skeptical, Schwartz lifted the towel he'd grabbed to replace the gauze on Lorne and checked the bleeding. Satisfied with what he saw, he moved quickly to Beckett and removed the makeshift packing. Blood seeped slowly from the shoulder wound and with no response to stimuli combined with finding a weak pulse, he swore under his breath. Carefully rolling the Scot on his side to check for an exit wound, he discovered that there wasn't one.

"Colonel Sheppard, please respond," the tiny voice continued to page urgently over the earpiece.

When the colonel remained silent, the doctor used his free hand to pat the soldier on the cheek. "Stay with me, John, I need your help."


The answer was sluggish and Schwartz was positive Sheppard was about to go out on him. Determined to keep the injured man awake, he lightly tapped the squawking earpiece, "Good, then answer that. Tell them we need all emergency medical personnel in the infirmary stat." A quick glance about, he realized he needed more than just medical assistance. "Ask for a security detail, as well."

That got Sheppard's attention. Trying to push himself up on an elbow, he saw Pope laying less than a yard away, a syringe still sticking out of his chest. A bit farther on, his wavering gaze located the body of the bloody wraith. Not sure if either were still alive, he returned Zelenka's call. "Z?"

"Colonel Sheppard, thank goodness. What is your status? Major Edison…"

Sheppard cut him off. "Need all emergency medical personnel. Send everyone. And security… need security." Whatever the scientist said in reply got lost in a spike of pain that burned back up his bad leg when he felt Schwartz remove his boot. "Argh!" he cried out, his head falling back to hit the floor with a dull thud. He sucked in great gulps of air, attempting to ride out the nauseating throb that ripped through his body.

"Colonel, breathe through it," the physician instructed while cutting the pant leg free to expose the damaged limb. When the usually quiet man whistled softly for a second time, Sheppard had a feeling he was seriously screwed.

"How bad?" he gritted out when the physician cautiously touched his knee.

"Not as bad as it could be, x-rays will tell me more. But it's going take some work and down time on your part if you want to still be team leader." Spinning around on his heels, he leaned back over Carson and checked the bleeding again. Not happy with what he found, he glanced back over to where Marie was slumped against the wall. "How are you doing?" She gave him a weak smile and rolled her eyes. "Good, then get up because I need your help."

It took her several tries before she gathered her feet under her, but once she was up, he sent her after much-needed meds and supplies. She was back a moment later, her arms laden as she dropped to her knees beside him. Clearly feeling better, she ripped open the small package holding the IV set up, and handed it to the physician. "Where do you want me to start?"

Schwartz nodded over his shoulder before focusing on the needle he slipped into the crook of Carson's arm. "Dex needs to be evaluated," he said while squeezing the contents of the IV through the line, trying to replace some of the lost volume.

She grabbed a blood pressure cuff and a handful of gauze and stepped hesitantly over Pope, casting him a sideways glance, before kneeling next to the battered Runner.

He watched her a moment before his focus returned to Carson. Not having enough hands to perform everything that needed to be done, Schwartz nudged Sheppard's shoulder with the toe of his shoe, "Colonel, think you can sit up?" The answering nod of the head appeared slightly unsure, but the doctor didn't have the liberty to pass on using the man's assistance. Tucking the clear bag of fluids under his chin, he grasped with both hands and slowly pulled Sheppard to a sitting position. When it looked as though the colonel was actually going to stay upright, he handed him the bag. "Hold this up in the air until I can get a pole." He received another silent nod and got the distinct feeling that he'd better hurry.

Once on his feet, he glanced in Marie's direction to get an update on Ronon's condition. She had just removed the bp cuff and looked confused, before running her hand down the front of the still man's chest, then tearing open the fabric. Emitting a sharp audible gasp, she looked to Schwartz as they both recognized the unmistakable faint outline of a handprint over the area of his heart. Dried blood and deep bruising distorted the skin, but as she gently swiped alcohol pads over the area, they discovered that there had been no penetration by the wraith to Ronon's chest cavity.


Sheppard's hesitant call from behind forced the physician to put on his best game face before facing the colonel. "He's going to be okay."

Pain-filled green eyes looked past him to watch Marie a moment longer. Judging for himself that he was being told the truth, he gave a slight nod. He then swallowed, his lids beginning to droop, then snapped them back open when he motioned to Carson. "What about…?"

"I won't lie to you. He needs surgery so I can get the bullet out and assess the damage." Schwartz didn't continue. The sound of several individuals running in their direction from out in the hallway drew the full attention of those who were conscious. Help had arrived.

Moments later, Edison's team and Teyla appeared. They stormed the room with weapons ready, only to find the floor littered with dead and wounded, blood splattered everywhere, and Sheppard staring at them with his jaw hanging open before collapsing backwards like a ragdoll.

"Where's my help?" Schwartz demanded, his hand on the colonel's wrist.

Teyla, at Sheppard's side instantly, dropped to her knees. "They are out in the corridor. Once the wraith has been removed, they may enter."

"Well, then hurry the hell up!" An anguished moan from JT had him on the move again, discovering that the scientist had busted his cast open when he'd been bowled over by Sheppard. Deciding that the man wasn't critical, the physician moved quickly to check on his original patient.

Rodney was well past due for his next dose of medication and Schwartz stepped around the privacy curtain, uncertain as to what state he might find the scientist. Half-open and unfocused, McKay's glazed blue eyes stared straight ahead and he didn't blink or give any indication of awareness when the physician called his name and waved his hand before the scientist's face.

Spinning around on his heels, Schwartz stripped back the privacy curtain. "Where the hell is the rest of my staff?" he yelled, causing several to jump in surprise. Seeing that the soldiers were still hovering uncertainly around the wraith, he'd finally had enough and wanted the infirmary back. "Get that damn thing out of here now!" he ordered.

Major Edison snapped commands and several of his personnel jumped, had the limp alien on a gurney within a matter of seconds, and shoved it from of the room. Countless medical doctors, techs, and nurses then appeared as if flood gates had been opened, spilling bodies dressed in various colors of scrubs that spread rapidly around the injured.

"Marie," Beckett's second called out once he was satisfied that the hellish mess was getting under some sort of control, "Naxolene now!"

The nurse moved swiftly to the pharmacy and was back immediately at his side. "How is he?" she asked, watching as he loaded a syringe and then emptied the contents into Rodney's IV port.

"He's starting to come around, but not enough so as to fight the vent." Standing at the bedside, he rested a hand on the scientist's arm, "Go back to sleep, doctor."

The silent man's lids slowly slipped shut.

"Dr. Schwartz?" someone called from behind and he spun to find Biro leaning between Sheppard and Beckett. "Carson needs to go in now. Are you scrubbing in or do I let Claybrooke take him?"

The orthopedist in question was leaning over the colonel, examining the badly damaged leg. From the look on his face, Schwartz knew the surgeon was ready to get to work.

"Mike?" Claybrooke glanced up, one brow raised in question. "You got him?" Receiving an affirmative nod, Schwartz gestured to Carson, "I'll take his shoulder."

"Stephen, I've got Dex," Biro added. "He's looks worse than something my dog would have dragged home, but I'm pretty sure I can handle him."

"Good." The second in command of the infirmary blew out a deep breath, his eyes drawn to several techs and soldiers on the far side of the room placing a body carefully on a gurney before covering it with a clean sheet. Recognizing the young lieutenant from earlier, he shook his head sadly before his eyes moved to a second cluster gathered around Pope's body. The big man's remains garnered no sympathy and he was dumped on another gurney and then shoved from the room.

"Doctor?" Marie said quietly, her hand falling softly on the physician's arm to get his attention. "They are getting ready to move Carson. Go clean up and change. They'll have him set up for you by the time you're ready."

He suddenly felt bone tired; the adrenalin rush evaporated leaving his knees trembling. Staring down at his blood spattered hands and clothing, he realized just how badly he must appear to the others and nodded silently. With hours of work left, he needed to get his head on straight and get to business. Shoulders stiff, he straightened and set his mind back on the task at hand as he strode from the room towards the closest shower.


Teyla walked silently between the occupied beds, stopping to place her hand upon each sleeping man's arm and offer a silent Athosian prayer for strength before moving on to the next. For some strange reason, she felt oddly alone as she did this.

Dr. Weir had stopped by on several occasions during the early morning hours to check on the progress of the various surgeons and to see if another of her team had been returned to the infirmary to recover. Finding little that she could actually do other than get in the way, she would pass Teyla and offer up a small hint of an encouraging smile before she had to leave once more.

"Teyla?" Marie called softly from beside Carson's bed. "Could you come here please?" Watching the young woman walk back across the room, the nurse patted the stool she had been using. "I was wondering if you would sit and talk to him."

Confused by the request, the young woman sat hesitantly as Marie briefly checked the monitors and then made notations on his chart. "Dr. Beckett is sleeping. Is there a problem?"

"No, no, no. I need to find Dr. Schwartz and let him know Carson is coming out of sedation."

"Should he not continue to sleep?"

The older woman smiled and patted the doctor's foot. "He'll need a lot of rest over the next few days, but right now we need to wake him up and make sure he can still move his fingers." Before Teyla had the opportunity to ask her another question, she left.

Teyla tugged the stool closer and cautiously placed her hand over his undamaged hand, careful of the IV now attached behind his knuckles. "Dr. Beckett," she said softly, "it is time for you to wake." A slight grimace twitched at the corner of his mouth and she allowed a smile to blossom across her face. "That is it, wake up."

One of the fingers beneath her hand moved slightly and she tightened her grasp. "The others are all here," she encouraged. "Colonel Sheppard's leg is in some sort of device that I have never seen before. It hangs in the air from wires. Why is that? And Major Lorne, he does not have the skull fracture that was feared." Another finger moved and she smiled as she continued.

"Ronon has three broken ribs, a broken wrist, a dislocated shoulder, and I believe Dr. Biro told me he was fortunate to not have sustained any internal injuries. The wraith did touch his chest, but not long enough to feed. Until he awakes fully, they will not be able to ascertain how much damage it might have inflicted upon him."

This time several fingers moved and she reached out to smooth the stray hairs sticking up above his brow. "The man named Pope died shortly after Major Edison's team entered the infirmary, as did the wraith not long after it was taken to the holding cell. Dr. Taylor sustained more damage to his broken arm and is now in confinement."

"R'ney?" Carson whispered with more air than sound.

She stroked her hand down the side of his face, urging him to open his eyes and look at her. "He is sleeping. Dr. Schwartz had the ventilator removed and he is breathing on his own." Careful of his damaged shoulder and propped arm strapped in a supportive sling, she slipped her fingers beneath the cold ones resting on his chest. "Carson?"

His throat bobbed slightly as he attempted to swallow. Using sheer will power and the dregs of rapidly waning energy, he cracked one eye revealing the slightest hint of blue. "S'kay."

"Yes, as I told you, they are all going to be fine. As are you." Watching his eye close, she gave his fingers a slight grasp. "Carson, can you feel my hand?" Not receiving an answer and since Schwartz had yet to appear, she leaned closer. "Carson, you cannot sleep yet. I need you to squeeze my fingers." It seemed to take forever before she felt the hint of movement, his index finger slid briefly along hers and then stopped. "Very good. You can rest now. We will all be here when you awake."


Sheppard was the first to officially wake a couple of day later. Finding Teyla at his side, he raised a questioning brow. When she smiled warmly back at him, spoon and cup of ice at the ready, he knew the others must be okay.

"How long?" he croaked before sucking the cold sliver of heaven down his parched throat.

"How long, what?" she answered.

"Till we can all get out of here?"

Her abrupt laughter turned a few of the medical staff's heads. "You have just woken after sleeping for two whole days, and you want to know when you can leave?"

Shrugging, he rolled his head to the side and glanced to Ronon on his left, and then to Lorne on his right. "Where's the docs?"

After giving him a rundown on all the wounded individuals' conditions, she pointed past his feet and he struggled to his elbows, frowning at the contraption holding his leg up, and then seeing past to catch his first glimpse of Beckett and McKay. Spying only the usual hardware beeping away around both men, he was pleased to see everything 'normal'. "When they gonna wake up?"

"Colonel, none of you are in any condition to go anywhere. What is your hurry?"

He scratched his arm and then settled back against his pillow. Stifling a rebellious yawn, he looked at her and raised the familiar brow, "I'm bored and my big toe itches."

Teyla stared at him in disbelief before reaching behind his bed to pick up and item that he couldn't see. "Then I have something for you," she teased before holding up her hand and revealing two yellow tennis balls.

A devilish smile caused his cheeks to rise and his eyes to twinkle. "Give me those." Seconds later he was rolling them between his fingers like a pro. "So you say nothing is wrong with McKay? He's just sleeping, right?"

"Colonel Sheppard…"

Her call unheeded, the little ball pegged the scientist squarely in the chest.


The steady thump of the rubber ball pounding on the surface of the landing deck, the squeak of gym shoes turning quickly, and bursts of laughter, name calling, and suggestions of questionable heritage filled the air.

"Come on, McKay, even my grandmother could have made that shot. Just put the damn ball through the hoop."

Rodney stopped to lean forward and press his hands to his knees, sweat dripping down his face as he attempted to catch his breath.

"Rodney?" Carson was at his side, plucking out the water bottle he had tucked inside his sling.

With a single-handed wave in the air, McKay snatched the bottle and proceeded to dump its contents over his head. "I'm fine, I'm fine. Just a little winded." Straightening up, he could feel the eyes of the others on his back before he turned around.

"Perhaps you should sit down."

That earned the Scot a scowl of contempt. "Perhaps the geriatric league should shut up," the scientist snapped instead.

"Oh yeah," Sheppard quipped from his spot on the bench, his braced leg sticking out in front of him, "I'm not the one getting beaten by a girl five to nothing."

That caused the scientist's eyebrows to his hairline. "Do you have a death wish? Do you want to go back to Earth in a body bag with that moron Pope?"

Sheppard glanced around McKay to see Teyla standing with the basketball clutched against her stomach, a few loose strands of sweaty hair worked free from her ponytail sticking to the side of her head… and she wasn't smiling. Mouth open, ready to save himself, he closed it when his earpiece chirped.

"Colonel Sheppard," one of the control techs paged, "Dr. Weir said to inform you the Daedalus is 15 minutes out and that you are to quote 'Put your toys away before Dad gets home.' unquote."

Saved by the bell, he grinned up at McKay, "Caldwell's 15 out. Time to clean up."

Lorne and Ronon unlocked the wheels on the portable base of one post while Teyla and Rodney took care of the other. Within minutes, all signs of the basketball court were safely tucked out of sight to the back of the storage bay. And by the time the big ship rumbled loudly in to settle on Atlantis, the team had gathered outside of the far doors to watch in awe.


The Daedalus's commander was the first off the ship and he headed straight to the waiting team. His eyes hidden behind his dark sunglasses, he stopped in front of Sheppard, "Colonel, heard you had a little excitement after we left."

Shifting on his crutches, the dark haired man stared back at his reflection in the shiny glasses and shrugged, "Nothing we couldn't handle."

That earned the ragtag group an appraising raised brow but nothing was said as their attention had shifted to watch the prisoner dressed in an orange jumpsuit being led across the landing deck by an armed security team. "We were able to trace him and his partner to a rogue offshoot of the NID, but as you'd expect, by the time the group was located, they were long gone. NID claims they had no knowledge of what was planned."

"Oh, pu-leeze." Rodney had had enough." And you believe that? How long did the States try and keep the gate a secret? You have more secret agencies than anyone I know."

"Actually, Doctor, the SGC was able to confirm Dr. Taylor's background, and you might be surprised to find out he's one of yours."

"What do you mean one of mine?"

"He's Canadian, as was, it turns out, Dr. Marks. And as for the NID off shoot… we traced it to a location outside of Quebec. Seems the States aren't the only ones who like to keep secrets." Arms folded, Caldwell stepped into Rodney's personal space, "Anything you'd care to add?"

Sheppard had a feeling things were about to get ugly and decided to put a halt to the discussion before it went any further. Moving forward on his crutches, he 'accidentally' clipped the commander in the shin as he passed. "Bring us anything good this time? Didn't happen to get the request for a few cases of Oreos, did you?"

"As a matter of fact, Colonel, there is one special delivery for you." Caldwell gave Rodney one final glare before turning around. "Sergeant," he called to a man standing off to the side supervising the unloading, "bring the 'weapons cache' General O'Neill sent for Colonel Sheppard."

"Weapons cache? I didn't request any weapons?"

A minute later the soldier descended the cargo ramp with a black golf bag slung over his shoulder. Setting it on the ground in front of the puzzled officer, he grinned. "Have fun, sir."

Sheppard ran his hand over the top of the clubs, admiring the dark woods, and then reading the hand written tag labeled 'weapons', before looking up and finding Caldwell gazing back…. unamused. "I didn't request these."

"I know. But apparently the general found out about your little - stash - on the last trip and thought you might enjoy these also. He personally told me to let you know that the chipping wedge is bent because of a stubborn tree root. About that time Dr. Jackson choked on the food he was eating and I didn't get to hear the rest of the story."

Carson reached over and plucked free the driver, admiring the shiny club. "Callaway's. The General has good taste." He gave it a longing swing with his good arm, "It's been far too long since I've played a round."

"Now there's something I never would have imagined, a Scottish medical doctor playing golf," Rodney said dryly, earning an irritated scowl from the physician. "Some scientists actually don't have time to go out and play."

"Aye, and some scientists become recluse nasty buggers who spend all their time blowing themselves up on a daily basis, instead of taking a much needed break."

Sheppard grabbed the swinging club before any damage could be inflicted and dropped it back in the bag. "We'll put these away until later." Realizing he didn't have a free hand to hoist the bag, he looked to Caldwell, who in turn snapped, "I don't have time for this," and stalked away in disgust. That left the healing teammates, and Rodney. "McKay?"

"Oh, you have got to be kidding me. I'm not a caddy," he started to rant but the others had turned to follow Caldwell, leaving him with the bag. "I'm the smartest man on Atlantis, saved the city countless times, and here I am demoted to caddy." Slinging the bag over his shoulder, he huffed, glared at the big ship, and then yelled, "Well, at least wait for me!" before lumbering off to catch up to his friends.

The End

A/N: I'm done. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read this and to send feedback. Every note was thoroughly enjoyed and did help inspire when I was ready to throw in the towel. Many thanks to Gaffer for her patience and help! I owe you big on this one.

Oh, and thanks to Derry for the med info and to Dr. Dredd for letting me borrow your Dr. Schwartz. Did I miss anyone else?

Until the next adventure, take care! Jen