Title: Disorientation
Author: kodiak bear
Rating: T (for language)
Summary: Written for the Sheppard H/C challenge #2, prompt: Sensory Loss. Sheppard loses his hearing temporarily in an accident off world.
AN: This is going to be a short fic, humor, the boys, a break from my long works and the darkness of late! Since it's more of a play, I'm going to post the bits as I finish them. Linzi's scanned half of this for me, but the second half has only been seen by my poor eyes so all remaining mistakes will be hunted down and extinguished as they are found! Attractive formatting is available at my livejournal!

Disorientation

"On behalf of my people, I profusely apologize. This was a grave, unfortunate, mistake – an accident of the most extreme --"

Rodney bit his tongue and wondered acidly if these people suffered from some mental condition that caused the overuse of obfuscating adjectives. "Fine, it was a mistake, give us Colonel Sheppard and all's forgiven." He tried really hard to keep his thoughts from spilling out.

Venomous, rude thoughts about how stupid these people were for playing with technology far beyond their abilities, stupid for pretending it had been theirs in the first place, and possibly, the stupidest, was that Rodney had let Sheppard get separated from the rest of his team in the first place, leaving him vulnerable for gargantuan complications of the sort they seemed to run into with startlingly regularity.

Mandau, leader of the Lauf, appeared aghast at McKay's insistence. "But, Doctor, surely you understand – his condition, it is not safe to move him."

"I sincerely doubt your medical capabilities come anywhere close to rivaling --"

Teyla smoothly interrupted. "What Doctor McKay is trying to say is that our doctors can take good care of Colonel Sheppard. If you will allow us to dial our world, we can arrange for him to be transported?"

She offered the suggestion in the diplomatic 'you have a choice…for now' manner that grated on Rodney's nerves. What was the point of tact when they were going to take Sheppard from the Laufian hospital, regardless of what their doctors claimed was safe or not safe. It was better for all of them if everyone understood the status quo. Sheppard belonged to Rodney, and Co., not the Laufians. Ergo, he wasn't their responsibility, and leaving him in the care of the same people that had almost accidentally blown him up with a live fire demonstration was not logical or even a blip on McKay's radar.

Mandau hesitated, looking uncertainly from McKay to Teyla, before falling on Ronon. The official's eyes widened and his hands moved rapidly in calming motions. "I…yes, of course – if you feel it is for the best, but before we release him, there are papers you must sign releasing us from all liability."

That was the last straw. What, was Lauf not only full of technological pretenders, but lawyers, too?

"For the record, CYA is apparently an intergalactic phenomena," he bitched, moving to the DHD.

Fortunately Carson was all ready packed and ready to go, something Rodney was going to ask him about later – the whole assumption about them needing medical help on or after every mission was wearing on his patience. Despite rumor, their team was not jinxed, cursed or otherwise in disfavor with the Gods, Ancestors or Buddha.

There had been a trip last week alone where they'd left, scouted and returned without so much as a paper cut. McKay steadfastly refused to do the stats on actual injuries because la la la, ignorance can be blissful.

Sheppard had the gall to look pitiful, lying unconscious in the Laufian bed. They'd removed his clothes and left him naked under the sheets, something for which McKay was going to take extreme pleasure in bringing up later, when he was conscious and coherent enough to understand he was being poked at. There was a large bandage that covered half his head, and really, was that necessary? He'd gotten a scrape, Mandau had said, not half his head mutilated

Shoving his personal "I can't believe you're making me touch another naked man" issues to the side, Rodney grudgingly helped Carson get Sheppard into scrubs for the return trip (and why did Carson pack scrubs for off world medical trips?), then John was strapped to the gurney.

It was at that point that McKay allowed the Laufians to have limited access to Sheppard again. Ronon could lift a lot, but he was one man, and there was no way Rodney's muscles, sufficient as they were, could help carry Sheppard to the 'gate, and Carson's muscles were a step above inadequate. Pushing hypodermics and pills didn't seem to be the magic work-out routine for Mister Universe. They needed a fourth, or just one really strong Laufian.

Apparently Laufian's weren't all that strong, and they ended up getting a fourth body, and together, they each got a corner and heaved Sheppard's gurney into the air. Rodney wondered how one skinny man could possibly weigh so much.

Mandau fawned, "Again, this was a most unfortunate oversight for which we are profusely sorrowful, and do believe in our most sincere --"

"Yes, yes, you're sorry." Rodney threw an irritated look to Carson. "We could update our thesauruses from these people."

Ronon hefted Sheppard's gurney higher, readjusting his grip and grunted, "McKay's been worried."

"Aye, he does tend to get cranky when he's upset, doesn't he?"

"I am not cranky!"

Ronon and Carson shared knowing looks that really did make Rodney cranky.

They carried the gurney out the double glass doors into the sweltering heat and glare of Lauf's mid-day double suns. Thankfully one was in a distant enough elliptical orbit that the incidental heat was weak. Lauf was a hot planet, though, with winter being the equivalent of a Canadian summer.

Teyla was waiting for them at the DHD and dialed Atlantis without preamble. Rodney made a mental note to let her know he appreciated someone being responsible, seeing how Carson hadn't thought ahead to bring enough men to muscle the colonel back to Atlantis, including a Jumper…was he the only one capable of planning ahead? The Laufian equivalent of a medical technician was still eying Sheppard as if he wanted to drag him back to that hospital.

Rodney purposefully nudged him away and took full responsibility for Sheppard's bottom half. "Thank you, but we'll take it from here."

The only reason he'd neglected to remind Carson about bringing the ship was because his very understandable concern over Sheppard's head injury causing permanent brain damage if they didn't get him back to Atlantis, ASAP – he would've thought the ASAP would've been enough of a clue for some people.

In the time it would've taken to return for the Jumper, they all ready had Sheppard at the 'gate, still unconscious and looking vulnerable in a way that made Rodney feel small.

The trip through was as uneventful as ever.

A quick, "He's going to be okay!" shouted up at Elizabeth via Carson as they hefted Sheppard onto the waiting wheeled gurney, and they were off to the infirmary.

"Rodney, my office!"

His hands left the hold they had on the metal rail and he looked at the stairs, irritated, then at the all ready disappearing gurney, worried. Damn. Teyla touched his arm gently.

"We will be with the colonel, Rodney. Go."

He needed a clone. Two of him. No, seriously, it would solve so many problems, like wanting to be in one place and needing to be in another, and even a spare, just in case, because in all fairness to rumor, they did get into trouble more often than not on missions.

Sighing, and turning his feet to the stairs, Rodney shoved wishes away and let Teyla and Ronon worry for him.

Elizabeth was sitting, and gestured for Rodney to take the seat opposite. He was tired, but he was also worried, and when Rodney worried, pacing was good. It helped burn off his nervous energy.

"What happened out there?"

Huh. Same thing that always happened, Pinky…grimacing, he shoved the sarcasm down. "Lauf wants to fight back, and it would seem the previous occupants of their city left behind some interesting, if not incredibly dangerous, weapons."

Her forehead furrowed, eyebrows pinched. "I thought the Laufians were a fairly advanced society?"

So did they all. It was how the Laufians had presented themselves to Sheppard and McKay when they'd first gated to PX9-992. The city was big, advanced, and mostly empty, something none of them had failed to understand the implications of.

"Apparently they are nomads, and found the city empty, just waiting for them to become the galaxies biggest squatters. The technology is way beyond their comprehension. The weapon they were trying to demonstrate to Sheppard fired backwards, exploding the building directly behind them." Rodney shuddered mentally at the memory of the sound, the shaking under his feet, the fear when he couldn't raise Sheppard on the radio.

She leaned back in her chair, frowning.

"That is…"

"Maddening."

"I was going more for upsetting, but either one will do." She grinned at him crookedly. "Go to him, I know you're worried. But Rodney, I'm sure he's fine. Carson is very good at what he does."

Worried enough, Rodney let the opportunity to disparage Carson's abilities fall to the side. With a final word of caution for sending other teams back and watching any other technological demonstrations, Rodney left, his one destination fixed firmly in his mind.

OoO

What the fuck was that?

The guy had aimed the big gun, said "Fire in the hole!" and then Sheppard was flying through the air.

Now he was staring up at McKay's worried face.

That was some gun.

"I want one of those," he said, trying to push up from the bed. Aside from a monster headache, he felt fine, so no reason for him to stay down.

McKay flinched back. His mouth moved, but Sheppard couldn't hear anything. In fact, with growing alarm, he realized, he couldn't hear anything. Not the monitors hooked to his chest, not Rodney, not a single sound. It was like his head was immersed in a vacuum.

"McKay?"

Rodney's mouth moved more, and if Sheppard could read lips, he would've sworn it was something like "You can't hear me? Carson!"

So it wasn't too much of a surprise when Beckett came up from behind him, although, the touch on his shoulder made him jump, because he couldn't hear footsteps or lab coats, or words. The things you generally had to clue you into someone's presence when they were out of eyesight.

Doc made soothing motions with his hands, pointed to his ears and mouthed, "Hear. Me."

Duh. "I can't hear a thing." Hadn't he all ready said that? Oh, wait, no, he hadn't. "Sorry, Doc," he offered in apology for the disgruntled tone.

Rodney and Carson both winced.

"What?"

Frowning, Beckett picked up a nearby clipboard, pulled the sheet free of the metal clasp, flipped it and wrote on the back. Then, he handed it to Sheppard.

You're experiencing temporary hearing loss from acoustic damage, and you're yelling. Quietly, tell me if you're having any other symptoms other than hearing loss?

Dizzy. He was definitely a little dizzy, but looking at Rodney's face, Sheppard figured maybe he would tell Doc that later, if it continued. Probably from his hearing being messed up.

"Headache," he said.

They winced again.

"I'm trying!"

Rodney was mouthing something at Beckett, and Doc got a very dirty look on his face, and pointedly pushed McKay into a chair, before turning back to Sheppard. He took back the paper, wrote another note, and handed it to John.

That's to be expected. You were very lucky, Colonel. A concussion and hearing loss is preferable to being skewered by an explosive force. Keep that in mind the next time you stand idly by for a live fire demonstration. Rodney's offered to keep an eye on you if you want to be released. Seeing how I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, I'm offering you a choice. Stay here for observation, or go with Rodney. Pick your poison.

P.S. Your hearing should improve within the next 24 hours.

Sheppard leaned over his bed and looked at Rodney, sitting hopefully in his chair, then back at Beckett, with his lab coat, stethoscope and penlight.

So, Rodney then.

And it was a damn impressive gun.

Doc gave him a shot to take the edge off his headache, gave Rodney a list of instructions that seemed ridiculously long for something as simple as a concussion, then handed Sheppard some more packets of pills for later. He left without saying anything to John, but he had words for Rodney, judging from the sour look on McKay's face.

John stood, wavered, and steadied himself using the bed frame. Definitely dizzy.

"Don't even think it," he warned McKay. "I was blasted by concussive force – dizziness is normal, trust me."

McKay started talking but when John stared and pointed at his ears, Rodney's mouth thinned, he snapped his fingers three times in a row (why did he do that with every light bulb moment, anyway), then he ran off.

By the time Sheppard had his clothes on, Rodney was back, bearing his tablet PC. With a smug grin, he handed it to Sheppard.

Much better than scribbling everything, isn't it? Now, stop yelling, seriously, because you're going to make ME deaf. Do you have any idea how lucky you are? At all – cause that was incredibly stupid. Next time save us all the worry and paint a bulls eye on your stomach.

Sheppard's eye twitched. "Nice to know you care, Rodney."

The tablet was snatched from his hand and McKay typed furiously, then returned it to John.

I could've left you back in that excuse for a hospital.

"Next time don't do me any favors," John muttered, as he moved towards the door, shoving the tablet into Rodney's stomach.

His exit would've been better if he hadn't staggered into the wall.

OoO

Sheppard was a stubborn ass.

Why had he volunteered to babysit one concussed, dizzy and deaf Colonel? Seriously, what the hell shorted out in his neuro functions that would cause him to do something so incredibly selfless?

So, maybe it had a little to do with how scared he'd been when he'd seen Sheppard in that hospital bed on Lauf. And maybe a little to do with how vulnerable he looked lying in bed here on Atlantis while Rodney waited for him to wake up…and then the flash of fear when Sheppard had realized he couldn't hear.

Still…Sheppard was a big boy, he could care for himself. Carson was capable, and even though he knew how much Sheppard hated staying in the infirmary after the retrovirus incident, Rodney had things to do, experiments and work. Actual, city-important, work.

Yet, here he was, tablet PC slung under one arm, the other steadying the dizzy man who insisted it was perfectly normal to almost walk into the wall, and had paled to sickening white when he'd thought Rodney was going to find Carson and tattle on him.

Sheppard would've felt a lot better if he knew that Carson had all ready warned Rodney that some dizziness was normal and to be expected.

If he hadn't made the crack about favors, Rodney was positive he would've told Sheppard.

Rodney helped Sheppard to his quarters, pushed him onto the bed, and lifted his tablet to type:

You should probably rest now. I'll go get our lunch. Can you eat without throwing up? Carson said you might get queasy on me.

Sheppard took the tablet, scanned it with eyes that weren't quite staying focused, and handed it back, looking a little green.

"Maybe some soup and toast," he boomed.

Oh, God. By the time Sheppard got his hearing back, McKay was going to be deaf.

Right. Well, if you need me, call. You won't be able to hear, but trust me, I will hear you. And probably need to have my cochlea's replaced. Now, sleep, I'll be back in ten.

Rodney flashed the tablet in front of Sheppard, let him read, then grabbed Sheppard's arm that was bracing him up, and guided him down to the bed. Drowsy eyes met his, and Sheppard actually talked at a level half below stunning. "I'm not tired."

"Of course you aren't."

Sheppard's eyes narrowed at what he couldn't hear but Rodney waved it off and made the stupid sleeping gesture with clasped hands against the side of his head and mouthed, "SLEEP."

It wasn't till the colonel's eyes closed that Rodney realized, he still had his boots on.

OoO

TBC