"Dying here," Rodney declared. "Bleeding to death, right here in the corridor."
John Sheppard shook his head and continued towing the astrophysicist by his elbow. "Maybe I should've called ahead so Beckett could set up for a transfusion."
"You think so? I do have a particularly rare blood type…" Rodney peered at the bloodstained bandage wrapped around his left hand.
"Relax, McKay. Couple of stitches, you're out of there." Sheppard reached the door to the infirmary and stopped, cocking his head. Rodney nearly ran into him and opened his mouth to protest, but the colonel shushed him with a motion of his hand. Raised voices sounded within the infirmary. Two curious heads peeked around the door.
"Absolutely not." Carson Beckett was taking notes on a clipboard, barely paying attention to the uniformed figure behind him.
"Doctor, whether you like it or not, these are the new security protocols." The Marine dogging Beckett's steps was chiseled, blond and easily a head taller than the doctor. Beckett appeared decidedly unimpressed. "This is your opportunity to have input before I make my final recommendations to Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard."
Rodney pulled his head back and whispered, "New security officer?"
"Sergeant Vickers," Sheppard whispered back. "Makes Bates look like a teddy bear. I guess I should go and rein him in."
"No no. Let Carson handle him."
"I don't know…"
Rodney smirked. "Just watch." They leaned around the doorframe again.
"Make any recommendations you like," the Scot said mildly, his eyes still on his clipboard. "I won't do it."
"Doctor," Vickers started again, but Beckett cut him off.
"I am not going to agree to restrain every patient who isn't on your approved list."
"Considering how often patients run amuck in here, it's a sound precaution. It would only apply to off-world visitors and the Athosians – not Atlantis residents or Daedelus personnel."
"This isn't a bloody prison infirmary, Sergeant. Restraining people at random isn't good medical practice. In fact, it's bloody Draconian. The decision to use restraints will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis, and it will continue to be made by me. What else?"
Carson dropped his clipboard into a bin and selected another one. Vickers sputtered impotently. Rodney turned to Sheppard and beamed.
The sergeant drew himself up and tried again. "I'm going to –"
"Don't lurk in the doorway, Rodney, come in," Carson interrupted. McKay entered the room, Sheppard close behind, and held out his hand like a child with an owie. Beckett tsked at the sight of the injury and patted a nearby bed. "Up you go, let's have a look."
"Doctor," Vickers said, his voice growing louder and more demanding.
"What is it, Sergeant?" Beckett asked with a sigh, his tone clearly saying, are you still here?
"I'm going to require a key to the drug cabinet. For safekeeping."
Carson finished unwrapping Rodney's hand, turning it carefully to examine the injury. "Sorry, no. Request denied."
Vickers' voice became icy. "That wasn't a request, Doctor."
"Whatever it was, it's denied. What else?" Carson retrieved a suture pack and dropped it on a rolling tray near the bed, then moved to the sink to wash his hands.
The sergeant abruptly ran out of patience. "Doctor Beckett, you need to start taking this seriously! Security has been incredibly lax around here, and a lot of people have been injured because of it – you included. These regulations are put in place for a reason and you will follow them to the letter, or I'll see that you're removed from your post!"
Sheppard frowned and opened his mouth, but Rodney, still wearing that amused smirk, shook his head.
Beckett turned around, his dripping arms held in front of him, and regarded Vickers through narrowed eyes.
"Oh boy," Sheppard breathed.
"You know," Beckett said, reaching for a towel, "you're absolutely right."
Vickers was clearly not expecting that and gave the doctor a distrustful glare.
"No, you're right. Regulations are there for a reason, and I have to follow them like everyone else. You've convinced me, Sergeant. I'm turning over a new leaf."
"That's…good," Vickers ventured.
"And there's no time like the present to start," Beckett continued, moving until he was standing toe-to-toe with the Marine and looking straight up at that chiseled jaw. "Sergeant Vickers, you're relieved of duty pending completion of your intake physical."
Sheppard's mouth turned up at one corner. Rodney stuffed a knuckle between his teeth to smother a laugh.
The sergeant stood with his mouth open, gaping like a hooked trout. "You can't do that!"
"Oh, aye, I can. In fact, regulations demand it."
"But I just had a physical before I left the SGC!"
"I know, and that's why I've been letting incoming military personnel go on active duty right away, in direct violation of standing operating procedure. I must apologize to you, Sergeant," Beckett said, his eyes large and soft with sincerity. "I feel as though I put your health at risk for expediency's sake. From now on, I'll follow the regulations to the letter, I promise."
Vickers looked mollified. "All right," he conceded. "So, should I just pick a bed?"
Carson looked blank. "For what?"
"Oh, goodness, no. I'm much too busy at the moment, couldn't possibly do it today. Not to worry, though, I should be able to get around to it within a few weeks."
"Weeks?" Vickers shouted. "Can't somebody else do it?"
"Oh, aye. I believe Doctor Biro has time in her schedule."
McKay and Sheppard both winced. Vickers shot them questioning glance, and Rodney shook his head in warning. Beckett caught the action.
"Now Rodney, Doctor Biro is a fine diagnostician. She just isn't used to working on patients who actually feel pain. That shouldn't matter to a tough Marine like Sergeant Vickers, should it?
Said Marine stood speechless, having just been run over by the Glasgow Express. Carson broke his innocent façade for a moment, giving him a hard look before walking to Rodney's side. "Your choice, Sergeant," he called over his shoulder. "Doctor Biro now, or me in a few weeks. See the nurse on your way out, she'll make you an appointment. All right, Rodney, let's see to that cut, shall we?" Carson picked up a sterile glove and worked it over his hand.
Vickers seemed to be having trouble getting his feet to move, clearly still wondering when he'd lost control of the situation. He'd barely turned around when Carson called him back.
"Oh, and Sergeant? The regulations do leave me some discretion. Expect your physical to be very, very thorough." Carson gave the surgical glove a loud snap. Vickers paled and fled the infirmary.
Sheppard and McKay fell into helpless snickers. Carson shook his head and said, "Really, Colonel, if he can't stand up against a wee Scottish doctor, what chance does he stand against the Wraith?"
"No kidding," Rodney laughed. "What a wimp! Imagine being scared of a…a…what's that?"
Carson held the syringe aloft, tapping it gently with his finger. "Just a local anesthetic, you'll just feel a bit of a pinch."
It was Sheppard's turn to laugh as the smirk fell away from McKay's face. "What's the matter, Rodney? Afraid of a wee Scottish doctor?"
"Colonel," Carson said without looking up from his work, "I'm thinking you're due for a physical, as well."
Sheppard was halfway to the door before the doctor even finished speaking. "Uh, I gotta go. Bye!"
Discretion was, after all, the better part of valor.