Wooohooo – this thing has turned out to be massive! It took on a life of its own! This fic was written as a special request for McKayRocks who wanted a McKay whumpage story involving hypoglycaemia. Of course, being me, I couldn't resist throwing in some good old Shep whumpage too!

Tried out a new structure style with this one – hope you like it!

Please do read and review and let me know what you think.


Hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose is a condition in which the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood, drops below a certain point (about 2.5mmol/l). The condition manifests itself by a number of symptoms that usually disappear 10 to 15 minutes after eating sugar.

People differ slightly in the exact level of blood glucose at which they begin to feel symptoms of low blood sugar.

Hypoglycaemia can cause some or all of the following symptoms:

Hunger

Rodney was starving. I mean, literally starving. He couldn't remember the last time he ate. Hours ago? Days? Weeks? Time had lost all meaning here, trapped in the dark. It felt like they'd been trapped in this dusty, crumbling excuse for a hallway forever.

A low moan interrupted his thoughts of food and he scrambled to turn on the flashlight. "Sheppard?"

The Colonel's eyes were open, his gaze vaguely unfocused as he blinked owlishly in the glare of the flashlight. Rodney waved a hesitant hand in front of Sheppard's face and was rewarded with a frown as the Colonel's eyes slowly focused on him.

"McKay?"

Comprehension dawned on Sheppard's dirt-smeared face. He coughed painfully. "We still here?"

"Uh-huh. Still here, Colonel."

"Great." Sheppard's voice was dry and dusty. "How long?"

Rodney turned his watch towards the light and grimaced. "It's been about two hours or so since Ronon and Teyla set out for the gate," he reported morosely.

Sheppard coughed again, the flashlight casting deep shadows across his face as it twisted in pain. Rodney scrabbled for the bottle of water he'd fished out of their packs and unscrewed the lid. Sheppard tried to lift himself up as McKay held the bottle to his mouth but Rodney pushed him back with a firm hand on his shoulder. "Try not to move, Colonel," he admonished. As he carefully held Sheppard's head up enough to let him sip at the water a cold, icy lump congealed in Rodney's stomach at just how little effort it had taken to hold the Colonel down.

Sheppard's eyes were already closing as Rodney lowered his head back to the cushion he'd made from his own BDU jacket, the Colonel's attention wandering as he drifted. McKay sat back against the wall with a sigh and flicked the flashlight off again to conserve the battery.

"McKay?" Sheppard's voice floated eerily in the darkness.

"What?" he grumbled impatiently, already feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable, trapped here in the dark.

"What's that noise?" Sheppard's voice was sleepy now.

Rodney didn't answer and when the silence continued he assumed Sheppard had lost consciousness again.

He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes, willing time to pass more quickly.

He was startled when Sheppard spoke again. Even through the wooziness there was a hint of his usual teasing tone in the man's voice, "Rodney? Is that your stomach rumbling?"

"No," he snapped irritably. "Go back to sleep."

God, he was hungry.

Paleness

"McKay?"

"What?"

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." Rodney's voice was testy as he rummaged through the backpack in a hopeless search for a powerbar he might have missed. "I'm not the one we need to be worrying about. Now will you stop bugging me?"

"You look kinda pale.." Sheppard's voice was soft, sleepy.

Rodney dumped the pack down with a sigh. This was pointless. He was really starting to regret snacking on all the powerbars on the way from the stargate to this godforsaken dump. Maybe if he'd taken the time to have breakfast..

"We're in a dark, dust-filled passageway with only a pocket flashlight or the lights on our P90s as a light source, Colonel," he explained patronisingly. "Anybody would look a little pale under these conditions!"

He cast a surreptitious glance over at the Colonel, noting the pallor of his skin under a coating of dust and dirt. "You're not exactly looking the picture of health yourself," he muttered quietly.

Sheppard's weak chuckle quickly turned into a wheezing cough and McKay crawled over to him, letting him sip slowly from the water bottle once the paroxysms had passed.

"Besides," he reminded him smugly, "I'm naturally very fair."

Sheppard's breathing had eased and his eyes had slipped closed again.

"Yes." Rodney's voice seemed unnaturally loud in the dusty silence. "Very, very fair."

Trembling

"Nggggggghhh.." Sheppard's teeth were gritted fiercely, perspiration springing up on his brow as a groan escaped him.

"Dammit, Rodney…."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" McKay's voice was high-pitched, his words tripping over each other in their haste.

Sheppard breathed out slowly, carefully.

"Just… be careful, okay?" his voice was tight, heavy with effort.

"I really don't think this is a good idea... we should wait for Teyla and Ronon.." Rodney sat back on his heels, clasping his hands together in his lap.

"It's a 4 hour hike back to the gate McKay, in heavy forest. They're not even gonna get back to Atlantis for another hour or more and then they have to assemble a team and then they have to hike back up here…"

"I am aware of that, Colonel.." McKay bristled.

"Well good." The Colonel's voice may have been weak but his resolve was not. "Because we're looking at at least another 5 hours stuck here and that's not counting the time it takes them to dig us out…"

His voice caught on a hacking cough and Rodney grimaced as Sheppard wheezed painfully. He lay still for a moment once the coughing eased, trying to regain his breath.

"Try again, McKay. How does it look?" The Colonel's words were dusty and dry.

Rodney took a deep breath and shone the flashlight over John's right leg. The light seemed to flicker and weave and Rodney clenched his hand around the flashlight, swallowing hard. Dust motes danced in the beam of light as he moved it down over the torn BDUs to where Sheppard's leg disappeared under a mound of twisted debris.

He bit his lip as he reached out a hand.

"McKay?"

"I know, I know!" No matter how he concentrated, he couldn't make his hand stop trembling. He felt Sheppard tense as he laid his jittery hand just below the knee and slowly, carefully, tried to feel his way along the limb, his hand squeezing through a gap in the rubble. The flashlight wobbled and wavered. He could feel fabric and skin under his fingertips, rough stone against the back of his hand. He touched something wet and couldn't help jerking his hand away.

"Ahhh.." Sheppard hissed sharply.

"Sorry, sorry!" He could feel the tremors running through his hand as he felt carefully around the area. He touched something sharp, something wet, and it moved slightly as his fingers twitched.

"Aarrghhh!" the sound that ripped from Sheppard was close to a scream and Rodney hurriedly withdrew his hand from the rubble, moving to hover anxiously as the Colonel fought for control, his breaths shallow and labored.

"It's no good." Rodney's chest felt heavy with despair. "The leg's well and truly stuck in there. I think it's impaled on something."

Sheppard's voice was tight as he concentrated on breathing through the pain. "I noticed…"

Rodney looked down at his hands miserably. His fingertips were stained red. His hands shook as he moved quickly to wipe them on his pants.

Perspiration

Four hours.

They'd be at the gate now. Maybe.

Rodney sat in the dark listening to the slow, shallow wheeze of Sheppard's breathing. The Colonel was out again, which was probably a good thing, Rodney decided.

He felt hot. Was it getting hot in here? He suddenly began to wonder about the oxygen supply, nervously eyeing the pile of debris that blocked the corridor. Could enough air get through there? He could feel the sweat beading on his forehead.

No. Stoppit. Panicking will get you nowhere. There's plenty of air, Rodney. Plenty of air.

Too damn hot in here. Hot and stuffy and dark. He wiped his sleeve across his forehead and checked his watch again.

Four hours and 5 minutes. They'd be at the gate by now. Surely...

A feeling of weakness

"McKay?"

There was a tremor to Sheppard's voice that struck a cold fear into Rodney's heart.

"Colonel? You okay?" It was a stupid question but Rodney couldn't help the fearful words from tumbling from his lips.

"Mmmmm not... not great" The fact that the Colonel was admitting to feeling anything less than "fine" scared Rodney more than the dark, more than the thought of suffocation, more than the fact that he himself felt suddenly shaky and weak. It took more effort than he thought possible to push himself up from where he sat and crawl across to Sheppard.

Sheppard squinted in the sudden glare of the flashlight. "How long?.."

It took a ridiculous amount of energy to turn his wrist enough that he could see his watch. "5 hours," he sighed.

He shifted wearily until he could lean against the nearby wall; his limbs felt heavy and hard to move. He turned his head to find Sheppard's eyes on him.

"You okay, Rodney?"

A slightly hysterical laugh escaped him before he could clamp down on it. The Colonel was asking if he was okay.

"Rodney.." John's voice would have sounded a lot more commanding if he hadn't been gritting his teeth, his body held tensely.

Rodney summoned energy reserves he didn't know he had and leaned over, his fingers pressing against Sheppard's neck as he tried to count the man's racing pulse. "Shut up," he muttered, preoccupied with his task.

"Don't tell me to.."

"Shut up, Colonel!" He was more worried than relieved when Sheppard actually did as he was told. "How are your ribs feeling?" he asked quietly. The Colonel's breathing was careful and shallow, giving McKay a good indication of the answer. He groaned softly as he slowly shifted himself closer to Sheppard; his very muscles felt weak, trembling. It took him an age to dredge up the energy to raise a hand to the Colonel's chest and he couldn't help but fumble as he tried, as gently as he could, to probe the tender ribs. Sheppard grunted as something grated under McKay's hand.

Rodney grimaced. "Definitely broken."

Sheppard's voice was breathless, hoarse, "Yeah, I'd say so.."

"This is what happens when you shove other people out of the way of cave-ins" McKay lectured. He was trying for stern but his voice came out as weak as he felt.

Nausea

John was startled out of a light doze, his ribs immediately protesting as he gasped in a breath. He gritted his teeth against the flare of pain and wondered what had awoken him.

A noise came from the darkness somewhere behind his head. He grimaced. That sounded like...

"Rodney?"

McKay's voice sounded muffled. "What?"

"You okay over there?"

John could hear McKay breathing; fast, shallow breaths as though fighting for control. "I'm fine. Stop asking me that."

Sheppard twisted his head round, trying to see what was going on, but the darkness was impenetrable and the motion made his head spin and his ribs pull agonisingly. He fell back with a groan. "You don't sound fine.." he muttered dizzily.

There was a scrabbling sound and John was suddenly blinded as the flashlight lit up the ceiling above him. When he blinked away the afterimage from his retinas Rodney was kneeling beside him looking decidedly... queasy. "You need to stop moving around so much," McKay mumbled as he fumbled the plastic cap from the last bottle of water.

Sheppard could feel McKay's arms trembling and shivering as he held his head up to let him sip from the bottle. The effort left John exhausted and he was breathing heavily, fighting against the instinct to take a deep, oxygen-giving breath, as Rodney laid his head back gently onto the folded jacket, Sheppard taking advantage of the moment to really look at McKay.

"You look awful."

"Thank you very much." A hint of McKay's usual sarcasm showed through in his snappish response.

A belated thought occurred to John as he took in the pallor of Rodney's skin, the damp sheen of sweat on his forehead. "When did you last have anything to eat?"

McKay shook his head, wiping his sleeve across his damp forehead. "I'm fine."

Sheppard would have grinned, except nothing about this situation was funny.

"That's not what I asked you, McKay.."

Rodney kept his gaze averted. "I'm not the one half-buried in rubble with broken ribs and a probable concussion," he sniped miserably.

As attempts to change the subject go, it was a pretty good one as John's probable concussion chose that moment to express itself in the form of a growing headache. He squeezed his eyes shut with a groan.

"Sheppard?"

John turned his head away from the brightness of the flashlight, the light stabbing through his closed eyelids, turning his vision red and increasing the pounding in his head. After a moment the light bobbed and moved away, finally clicking out and leaving John in blessed darkness.

He had no idea how long he drifted in and out, pain throbbing in his temples, but at some point, somewhere in the background, he was vaguely aware of the sound of retching.

Rapid heartbeat

Rodney wished with all his heart that they'd never come to this stupid, godforsaken planet. Wished that he hadn't insisted on them checking out the faint energy reading he was picking up ahead. Wished Sheppard hadn't gone along with his suggestion to explore the crumbling ruins they'd found. Wished the ceiling hadn't collapsed on them, wished Sheppard hadn't been caught in the rain of debris, wished he'd eaten breakfast, wished they'd packed more than just powerbars to snack on, wished Teyla and Ronan would arrive with the cavalry, wished he didn't feel so goddamn awful, wished for anything other than to be here!

He slumped miserably against the rough, stone wall, gasping for breath as his stomach roiled and his pulse raced. He felt horrendous. Felt panicked and sweaty and nauseous. His heart was hammering in his chest, so loud he felt the sound must echo up and down the corridor. He squinted at the glowing readout on his watch. Six hours. Six awful, slow hours of darkness and panic. Teyla and Ronon had to be on their way back now. Had to be. They'd bring a team with them and they'd clear the debris and get him out. Get him and Sheppard out. They'd be here soon. Soon.

Rodney sat in the dark feeling his heart fluttering – so fast, far too fast.

Agitation

This was ridiculous. Where were they dammit? How could it possibly take this long to get help, to get here? Why couldn't they find some way to fly a jumper here or something? It was ridiculous making them wait this long! Six hours. Six hours!

The Colonel was getting worse and Rodney could feel panic starting to overtake him. He sat beside Sheppard, watching him twitch weakly in a restless doze, and tried to stop his hands from shaking. Not just trembling now but shaking and jerking. He'd laid the flashlight down on the floor when he couldn't stop the beam from twisting and dancing. His heart raced and he felt restless and scared. Oh god he was scared.

"Nggh.." Sheppard awoke suddenly, jerking awake as if from a restless dream. The sharp motion jarred his trapped leg and the colour drained from his face as he cried out helplessly.

Anxiety pushed adrenalin through Rodney's system and he was vaguely aware that he was stuttering, the words flooding out of him in an ungainly rush as he hovered over Sheppard.

"Are.. are you okay? I mean, I know you're not okay but is it hurting? Is it your ribs? The leg? Is there anything I can do? What can I do? Just tell me what you need me to do.."

"Ohhhh man..." Sheppard moaned. His face was white as a sheet under the coating of dirt and grime, sweat springing up on his forehead as he shivered, his muscles tensing spasmodically. "Hurts like hell..."

"Lie still. You gotta lie still. They'll be here soon. They'll get us out. Not long now..." The words didn't sound reassuring even to himself.

Sheppard swallowed convulsively. "How long?" he whispered.

Difficulty concentrating

McKay had to hold his wrist with his other hand in order to focus on his watch face. He didn't think Sheppard noticed.

"Uh, six hours. They've been gone just over six hours.."

The Colonel let out a sigh and some of the tension seemed to flow out of him.

"Sheppard? You ok?"

Sheppard's murmured reply was too low to hear. He coughed weakly and cleared his throat. "Pain's not so bad now."

"Good. That's good." Rodney did his best to reassure, trying to push down the panic that threatened to overwhelm him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath or two, trying to calm the pounding of his heart.

When he opened his eyes Sheppard was staring at him, a serious expression on his face.

"You okay, Rodney?"

McKay squeezed his hands together tightly. He wondered if Sheppard had seen the tremors and twitches. "I'm fine," he said dismissively.

"Good."The Colonel's eyes were half closed now, lethargy heavy in his voice. "Because I need you to stay calm, McKay. We're gonna get out of here, okay?.."

"I know, I know." Rodney couldn't help the tremor that shook his voice.

Sheppard was drifting again now. "How much longer?"

Rodney stared at his watch. "They've been gone over six hours," he mumbled.

He was starting to feel woozy himself; it was an effort to concentrate. "Fours hours to get to the gate.. maybe half an hour to get a team together? That makes... that makes.."

"Four and a half hours.." Sheppard's voice was sleepy.

"Right. Right. Four and a half hours. It's another four hours to get back here on foot... that makes um... where was I? Right, right, four hours to get here so that's um.. maybe 8 and a half hours total from the time they left.."

"Two and a half hours." Nearly a whisper now.

"What?"

"Two and half hours till they reach us.."

"Yes. Yes. Eight and a half hours total, they've been gone for.. um.."

"Six"

"Yes. Eight and a half hours, been gone for six so they'll be here in erm.. in two and a half hours."

Rodney nodded to himself. Two and a half hours.

Irritability

John felt like he'd been lying here in the dark for days. He ached all over. His head swam, his leg burned and his ribs spread fingers of sharp pain out across his chest with every breath. Time had ceased to have any meaning, all that mattered was hanging on until Teyla and Ronon got back. He was acutely aware that his condition was slowly worsening... and then there was McKay.

McKay was also getting worse.

Sheppard could only assume Rodney's symptoms were related to hypoglycaemia. John couldn't remember when he had last seen Rodney eat something. Concentrating too hard made his head pound. That morning maybe? McKay had munched on powerbars as they'd trekked through the forest, hunting down Rodney's favourite prey – a power signature. Since then? He wasn't sure – he was aware he'd been drifting in and out a lot recently – but he didn't think he'd seen Rodney eat since then.

Thinking back on it, Rodney had been up most of the night before the mission, working hard on a project in his lab, and John had had to practically drag him out of that lab to gear up in time for the mission. Sheppard let out a sigh as he realised that Rodney had probably skipped breakfast.

He didn't know enough about these things. How long could someone with hypoglycaemia go without food before things got serious?

Even without concussion and broken ribs, John was effectively immobile, his leg pinned by the debris from the corridor which had crumbled around them. The collapse had come without warning as they had carefully explored the long-abandoned structure, John barely having time to push Rodney forward, out of the way of the worst of the damage. Teyla and Ronan, bringing up the rear, had been cut off from them by the fall of rock and twisted metal. That had been over seven hours ago now.. and it was maybe another hour or two before that since Rodney had finished off his last powerbar.

In his current condition there was nothing at all that John could do to help if Rodney's symptoms worsened.

"McKay?" John's voice echoed in the darkened corridor.

"What?"

"You okay?"

"I'm fine! Will you stop asking me that?"

Fatigue

Rodney was exhausted. His limbs felt limp and shivery. Any movement was an effort. The batteries on the flashlight had finally given up and died, the light flickering and jumping increasingly until it eventually shut off. Rodney was too tired to reach for his P90 and flick on the flashlight on the gun.

He sat on the floor near Sheppard, leaning quietly against the cold wall and listening to his friend breathe. The Colonel was increasingly disoriented now, drifting in and out of consciousness, and his breathing was labored, the air wheezing from his lungs in short, shallow breaths.

The last time Rodney had looked at his watch it had been seven hours since Ronon and Teyla had set off to get help. Seven hours. They had at least another hour before help would reach them. He was so tired. It would be so easy to slip into sleep, here in the soft darkness, just close his eyes... let the darkness take him... no! He jerked himself awake, blinking his eyes furiously against the fatigue. He couldn't sleep. Sheppard needed him. He had to stay awake for Sheppard.

Blurred vision

Colonel Sheppard was awake again. His eyes looked glassy now and his voice was low and raw. Rodney was starting to wonder how much blood Sheppard had lost from whatever injury was hidden under the rubble.

"How long, Rodney?" The Colonel's throat sounded scratchy and dry and his words tailed off into a hacking cough, his face a grimace of pain as his frame shuddered, his broken ribs protesting the jerky movements. The last of the water was gone.

With a superhuman effort McKay lifted his arm and peered at the luminous readout on his watch. To his consternation the softly glowing figures blurred and swam in front of his eyes. He squinted, trying to focus.

"Rodney?"

"Um. Seven and a half hours. They'll be here soon.."

Confusion

What? Dark. Who turned out the lights? Urgh. God he felt awful. Sick and cold and clammy and awful. Where were... Oh. Where were who? Someone... someone was supposed to be coming. Coming to get them.

Them?

"Rodney?" the voice was so quiet he almost didn't hear it.

"Sheppard?" He reached out his hands, fumbling before him in the darkness, finding cloth and flesh and the pockets of a tac vest..

Sheppard's cry was weak, wracked with pain. Rodney panicked.

"Sheppard? Colonel?" Why was it so dark?

"Nnnggghh. Move your hand, Rodney!"

"What? Sorry.. sorry!"

Sheppard's breathing was loud in the darkness, harsh panting that seemed to hurt him with every intake of air.

Rodney found he was trembling all over. "It's so dark..." he whispered.

The Colonel's voice came floating out of the darkness, tight and shaking and far away, "Hang on, Rodney... they'll be here soon.."

Slurred speech

Noise. Was that a noise? John struggled to stay afloat, holding on to consciousness with a steadily weakening grip. Definitely a noise. Echoing, far away. Clattering of rock and... voices?

"Colonel Sheppard? Dr McKay?"

Teyla. Adrenalin gave him strength.

"Teyla!" His voice was ridiculously weak. Had she even heard him? "Rodney!"

"Whaa..?"

"Rodney, they're here.."

The noises grew louder. "Colonel Sheppard? If you can hear me, we're coming to get you! We have a team clearing the way..."

Teyla. Thank goodness.

"Shpprrrd?" Rodney sounded sleepy, punch-drunk. "We goan homm?"

Dust caught in John's throat and he coughed helplessly, tendrils of fire wrapping around his chest. It was hard to breathe. The bout of coughing left him weak and shivering.. his chest felt scratchy and raw.

"Yes, Rodney," he whispered. "We're going home"

Temporary loss of consciousness

"Rodney! Stay with me, Rodney!"

John wanted to shout but he didn't have the strength. There was a weight against his legs where Rodney had slumped slightly, his body sliding along the wall.

"Rodney!" The effort left him breathless.

"Huh? What?"

The air rasped audibly in and out of John's lungs. If he'd had the breath to spare he would have sighed in relief.

"Don't go anywhere just yet, McKay.." he coughed.

Time was running out – for both of them.

The noise of excavation was close now. He could hear the grunts and curses of people moving heavy beams and chunks of rock. Voices called to each other in the corridor. Voices called to McKay, called out Sheppard's name. He had no breath to reply.

Suddenly, light pierced the darkness, burning his retinas, leaving him blinded and dizzy. When he could open his eyes, he found beams of light moving across the ceiling; flashlight beams shining through a hole in the mound of debris. Dust motes danced in the light. It was beautiful.

He looked for McKay and found him propped against the wall, his skin pale and waxy.

"Rodney?"

McKay's eyes fluttered closed.

"Rodney!"

Sheppard's breath caught in his throat.

"Rodney!"

The eyelids twitched. McKay's voice was an unintelligible mumble.

"Teylaaa!"

Convulsions

The hole in the rubble grew slowly. John lost track of time, drifting helplessly. McKay was in and out, mumbling occasionally.

"Colonel Sheppard?" Teyla's voice was close now. No more than a few feet.

Rodney was slumped to one side, the slow transfer of his weight beginning to put uncomfortable pressure on John's legs.

Something shifted and John hissed as the movement jarred his trapped leg. John opened his eyes in time to see a shudder pass through Rodney's frame. With no more warning than that, McKay's body began to twitch helplessly, his muscles spasming uncontrollably. The air was stolen from Sheppard's lungs in a wordless shriek as every jerk and twitch pushed his legs sideways, pulling and pushing at the trapped limb. Pain flared and burned, white lights exploding behind his eyelids, his breath stuttering in his chest.

Then all he knew was darkness.

Coma

The first thing John became aware of was a slow, steady beeping. Physical awareness followed slowly and he lay still, taking a cautious inventory. Everything seemed to be where it should and, strangely, nothing hurt. His head felt vaguely woolly, his limbs numb. He decided to risk opening his eyes.

Pale green ceiling above. Atlantis. The infirmary. That explained the numbness. Beckett and his wonderful drugs. He rolled his head carefully to the side and found Ronon and Teyla slumped in the uncomfortable infirmary chairs, fast asleep. They looked like they'd been there a while.

Recall flooded back.

"McKay!", his throat was dry and his voice nothing but a hoarse rasp. He tried to sit up and immediately regretted it. Beckett's drugs weren't good enough to muffle the flare of pain in his chest as broken ribs grated and crunched. He fell back to the bed with a gasp, found out that just hurt all the more, and gritted his teeth as he tried his hardest not to breathe at all. Nausea roiled through him and he was barely aware of hands on his shoulders holding him still, concerned voices babbling in the background.

Firm hands held a mask to his face and the dizzying spots receded from his vision as he found he could breathe a little easier.

"That's it, lad." Carson's lilting brogue. "Nice and calm now..."

Keeping his breathing shallow seemed to help, Carson giving gentle encouragement as his racing heart rate slowed .

When he opened his eyes, Dr Beckett was leaning over him, one hand holding the oxygen mask loosely to his face. Ronon and Teyla hovered nearby, the Satedan warrior looming over the doctor's shoulder. Carson's face crinkled in a genuine smile.

"Nice to have you back with us, Colonel. I think ye can do without this now..." The mask was gone and Sheppard licked his lips carefully.

Carson nodded. "Would ye like an ice chip perhaps?" He was fishing one out of a cup as he spoke and slipped it gently between John's parched lips. It was heaven. Cool, icy water sliding down his aching throat.

He swallowed.

"Where's Rodney?" His voice was still scratchy but at least it worked.

Carson's expression was understanding. "He's here, Colonel. Don't you fret."

He motioned to Sheppard's left and John rolled his head carefully. McKay lay in the next bed along, hooked up to an IV and a heart monitor. The monitor beeped rhythmically.

Carson spoke quietly, "He's in a coma."

Sheppard froze, his eyes locked on his McKay's still, silent form. "Coma?"

Beckett laid a reassuring hand on John's arm. "He's going to be fine, son."

"I've started him on an IV glucose drip to counteract the hypoglycaemia. He'll be with us for a couple of days yet but he'll recover just fine."

John's eyes sought reassurance in Carson's face. "You're sure?"

"I'm sure, lad. He'll be back to hisself in no time at all."

Sheppard sighed in relief, the tension draining out of him. Over Carson's shoulder he could see Teyla and Ronon grinning at him.

"Hey, guys.."

Beckett was quick to interrupt the happy reunion. "You, on the other hand..." he chided, beginning to fuss with John's IV.

"Me?"

Carson sighed long-sufferingly. "Well, let's see now.. concussion, four broken ribs, a fractured tibia and seventeen stitches in your right leg. Dehydration, exhaustion. You are going to be keeping me company for quite some time.."

John let Beckett's lecture wash over him, the Scottish doctor's admonishments to try and take better care of himself on these off-world missions a comforting background noise as his eyelids grew heavy once more.

"Are you listening to me, Colonel?"

"Uh-huh.." John's response was barely a mumble.

"Hmm. Well then. I suppose we'll let you sleep for now... Teyla, Ronon..."

A sudden thought pushed John back to wakefulness, "Doc?"

Beckett turned in the midst of ushering John's team mates away from the bed. "Yes, Colonel?"

"Remind me to ask you about hypoglycaemia sometime..."

The last thing John heard as his eyes slid closed was Carson's bemused, "Okay, son.."


Fin.