AN: this was just a short fun whump fic written for McKayRocks, who is such a lovely multi-whump fan who chats up us Shep whumper's. Thanks Linzi for your lightning fast beta, all remaining mistakes are sadly mine!
The story where Rodney runs afoul of citrus and Sheppard gets bit by a bug…again
by kodiak bear
Sheppard was never going to take Rodney off world again without Ronon. And Teyla. And maybe Lorne, Cadman and he couldn't forget Beckett, either. Definitely not without Beckett.
"How you doing there, buddy?"
The weight on his shoulders moved ineffectively, wheezed, then collapsed back into the boneless puddle of Rodney.
Well…it wasn't exactly reassuring, but at least he was still conscious. One EpiPen was clearly not going to do the trick here, but Beckett had taught him that the less of those he used, the better for Rodney's odds of survival because of the complications with the heart.
It was supposed to be a simple party. 'Nice to be partners, we enjoyed the fresh food, see you next month' kind of thing. When the dishes had been brought out, they started eating. Why wouldn't they? It was meat, that's all it was…who ever heard of injecting citrus into meat on a backwater world in the Pegasus galaxy? That they would run into a planet with Emerils had been farthest from their minds, and now Rodney was dying on his shoulder because of it.
Did he bring the Jumper? 'Course not, because that would've meant getting help fast enough to actually save McKay's brain from oxygen death.
Shit shit shit shit…running through a jungle, carrying a wheezing, dying McKay, this was going right up there with John Sheppard's ten worst missions ever. Right next to the one where Ford got the drop on them and addicted his entire team to the enzyme. This definitely sucked.
He didn't stop running, or staggering, because with McKay's weight and the thick foliage tripping him, it wasn't much of a jog, even. And it was definitely hell on his knees.
This time not even a shiver from the man's body.
He stopped, shrugged Rodney off his shoulder to the ground, and stretched him out, placing his hand on McKay's chest. Heart beat…pulse, yes, it was there, thank God…breathing…damn it.
Brushing his hands off, Sheppard straightened and began digging through his vest pockets. EpiPen, he knew he had one more in there somewhere. There! Crap, cap off, arm out, just jam it in, Rodney had said. With a wince of sympathy, Sheppard muttered, "Better you than me," and shoved it into the skin.
Not waiting to see what would happen, John tilted McKay's neck, opening his airway as best as he could. He'd sent one of the natives ahead to the gate with his radio and told them to dial and call for help. If he had to kneel in this rotting mulch and breathe for two till the sun came down, he wasn't going to give up.
He'd left his pack at the village, no mask. "You better not have herpes, McKay."
Two breaths, then he pulled back and counted, checked for a pulse. Erratic, but still there. Two more breaths. Sheppard waited, and was rewarded with a spluttering gasp, cough then, "Oh damn it!"
Rolling McKay to his side, Sheppard held him as he threw up. "That's gotta help, right? Get the allergens out."
Realistically, he knew it didn't work like that, but think positive, John.
"Oh, God. I'm dying, aren't I?"
McKay was blinking up at him, face twisted in a pained grimace.
"Not if I have anything to do with it," Sheppard vowed. "Come on, hopefully the cavalry will be meeting us en route but I don't think we should wait."
Grabbing Rodney's vest, Sheppard grunted, "You don't have to. Enjoy the ride, McKay." With another stagger, he got Rodney draped over his shoulder again, almost running them both into one of the trees in the process.
He pushed off with one hand, feeling a sting on his palm when he did it. Damn bugs.
"You okay up there?" he asked.
"I'm…" wheeze "hanging…upside" wheeze "down. This is…" wheeze "far from…okay."
Talking was good. Bitching was even better. "Hang on," he warned Rodney as he started with his clumsy running.
A shower. He was going to need the longest, hottest shower, and maybe some ice packs for his back, Motrin…definitely Motrin. Carrying another adult was never easy, not even if it was Teyla on his shoulder, and Sheppard wasn't under any delusions about his strength. If he made it to the 'gate at this rate, it was going to be a miracle; once you combined the heat, and growth that kept tripping him, Sheppard was running out of juice fast.
He made it another ten meters before a check on McKay yielded another no response.
The process of dropping, injecting, breathing, then more vomiting made him sweat even harder. That was three EpiPens and the limit; not only on what they carried, but what Beckett drew the line at what was allowable. Rodney's pulse was racing, and Sheppard didn't even attempt at getting a rate.
This time, McKay didn't swim into consciousness to bitch.
A small amount of the allergen and Rodney's body probably would've responded to the EpiPens, but they'd both dug into the dish without reason to worry, and by the time Rodney showed the first symptom, they'd eaten a couple of mouthfuls.
"This is getting a little worrying, McKay!"
Giving up on getting a response, Sheppard settled for hearing the shallow wheezing breaths, and slung Rodney again. This time, it almost brought him to his knees. Another stagger forward, backward, then he found a balance and started towards the 'gate.
The trees were too thick for him to see through, still, which meant he was at least fifty meters away.
"One foot in front of the other, John." Talking to himself was probably a bad sign, but seeing how McKay wasn't exactly conscious, who'd tell on him?
He did put a foot out, then another, and another, and soon lost himself in the rhythm, repeating the mantra of, "You're gonna be fine, Rodney. Just keep breathing."
The stumble, when it came, took him completely by surprise. They both almost went down, but another fast step wide kept Sheppard up, and Rodney on his shoulder.
He was sweating, the perspiration literally rolling off his face. His lungs burned, legs and arms heavy. Another stumble, and he could just barely make out flecks of blue ahead, breaking through the trees. Son of a bitch, just a little farther. He forced his feet to keep moving.
McKay wasn't breathing, again. The thought ramped through him like a hot buttered knife.
Sheppard dropped McKay to the ground, rolled him, and searched for a pulse.
"Damn it, Rodney, knock it off!"
In a haze of worry and something else, Sheppard yanked McKay's vest off, and started doing compressions. That blue he'd seen had better be Beckett, or this was going to end very badly. McKay needed the medical support he couldn't give. Intubation, defibrillator because he'd sent Rodney's heart into hysterics with all the epinephrine.
He could dimly hear the sounds of legs beating through brush, but right now Sheppard had something more important to deal with. Breathing for Rodney. Two, long, steady breaths – easier said than done, because Sheppard's own breaths were harsh, ragged and strained.
"I'm here, Colonel, I've got it."
Beckett pulled Sheppard away, and started shouting orders to the med team all ready kneeling around McKay.
It was completely the terror at feeling McKay die on his shoulder that caused Sheppard to fall backwards, stumble, hit his ass and wipe his mouth, growling, "What took you so long?"
"Colonel, we came as fast as possible."
Teyla knelt in front of him, pulling his focus off the equipment, shouts, and chaos.
Sheppard tried to clear his throat, failed, tried again. God, the adrenaline rush was wearing off, leaving him feeling wrecked. God damn. McKay had died on his back.
"Are you all right?"
She wouldn't let him look away, following his sliding stare. Teyla looked worried, concerned…why? Pushing himself unsteadily to his feet, Sheppard brushed his pants free of dirt and fought off the head rush that hit so hard he almost went down again. Black spots danced over the image of Beckett shouting, "Clear!" and Rodney's back arching off the ground.
Stunned, Sheppard turned to look at her dead on and said, "I'm gonna pass out now." Then the dots joined ranks, and he was gone…
One of Carson's fears had come true. Then, it'd happened again.
Staring at Rodney's chest rising in tune to the ventilator, hearing the matching vent on his other side where Sheppard also lay fighting for his life, made Carson want to call his mum and cry about the cruelty of life.
To lose one friend was a tragedy, to lose two, it was bloody devastating.
The tube went from machine to mouth in Rodney, and in Sheppard; epinephrine had kept McKay's throat from closing completely, and in Sheppard they'd simply gotten him home fast enough.
One might face permanent brain damage, the other, if he woke up and his body managed to fight off the toxins from the bug, would probably live without any lingering effects.
All they had to go on was a small two fanged red mark on the colonel's palm. The natives had described a rare bug with a bite that could make their children sick. It lived in the trees and they said catching one was dangerous and difficult. Still, Lorne and Ronon were out looking, in haz-mat suits. The bite was deadly in half of the cases in the Botsan people, and it was proving nearly so to Sheppard. Carson wasn't willing to risk anyone else, no matter how hot it would be in those suits. He'd sent them back with a Jumper and instructions to alternate searching with rest in fifteen minute increments.
Either one, time would tell. If they'd gotten Rodney's heart and breathing started in time, if Sheppard's body would be strong enough to endure. Time, time, "Bloody hell, it's always about time, isn't it!" he swore to himself.
"Teyla, I'm afraid there's been no change." He scrubbed tired hands over his face. Almost eighteen hours since they'd carried the two men home.
She smiled encouragingly. "I am sure they will be fine." But her troubled eyes didn't match her words, and Carson was nice enough to keep his observation to himself. The lass was looking at the possible death of two teammates, and from what he'd seen, Sheppard's team was close. A lot was in unspoken actions rather than words. The times they spent sitting by each other's bed while one or more recovered.
And still they asked him every time if it was okay. In fact, the last time when Sheppard had been recovering from the retrovirus, they'd gone with something original, and between the three of them shared the question of being able to stay with the colonel.
Now Teyla was all that was left with Ronon off world looking for the bug, and if Sheppard did recover, this had certainly sealed the man's phobia of any insect in the Pegasus galaxy.
Her chair positioned between the two beds, she let some of her worry show. "Is there anything I can do?"
Carson shifted in his chair, trying to ease the pins and needles in his legs. "Pray, Teyla, and talk to them. Let them know they have reasons to stay."
"I will." She studied him intently. "Carson, you should rest. I will watch over them, and get a nurse if anything changes."
A nurse wasn't him. A nurse wasn't feeling the dark, deep, tight pit inside. No, he needed to stay as much as she needed to be here, for the same reasons. Sitting was driving him mad, but leaving wasn't an option. He stood, stretched and decided to check both men's vitals. "I couldn't, not now." He left the answer to stand for what it was.
God bless her, she accepted it and started telling Rodney about Zelenka's trip to the planet full of children. The one he'd refused to discuss with McKay.
Sheppard's blood pressure was lower than he liked, his temperature up. Knowing there wasn't anyone to see, Carson ruffled an affectionate hand through his hair, hoping the touch would ground the colonel in this world. "Keep fighting, Son, Ronon won't stop looking till he's got the thing."
He moved away, reluctantly, and made some notes in Sheppard's chart before moving on to McKay. His pupils still refused to react fast enough for Carson's peace of mind, his reflexes sluggish. Realizing Teyla had stopped talking and was watching, he smiled half-heartedly. "We keep praying, Teyla. It's all we can do."
At some point during their vigil, Elizabeth and Radek joined. Hopefully someone, somewhere, was listening.
Drowning. He'd been drowning.
No…that wasn't right. Dying. He'd been dying, but not from drowning. He couldn't breathe, something was wrong, why couldn't he breathe? Rodney started to sit only to find hands latching to his wrists, and legs.
"Breathe out, hard, Rodney!"
Carson. Carson was talking to him, breathe out? He couldn't breathe in!
He tried, though, as hard as he could, which was pitiful, but the tube sliding in his throat caused him to choke and gag even as it came free of his mouth. Oh, God. That was…unpleasant. "Carson?" It was whispered and weak, but it came out.
"You're fine, Rodney…or, you're going to be."
A tickle turned to a cough, and McKay winced through the fire in his chest. That hurt, oh, wow, really that hurt. "What the hell happened?" Raspier, weaker.
Teyla was there, helping him sit. He could smell the warmth and soap she used, but where was Sheppard? He'd been with Sheppard…
Carson leaned in to his line of sight, holding a straw and water. "A little only, and before you ask, Colonel Sheppard is fine…sleeping right there, see." Beckett pointed across from them to where McKay could see the familiar tuft of brown hair on pillows. He didn't miss the IV and monitors, but otherwise, he looked okay, but why were they here?
He sipped the water, then dropped against Teyla, exhausted.
Questions swirled with indignation as he realized what he was feeling down under the sheet. Fortunately for Carson, sleep was tugging him back down, into the soft fuzzy grayness where catheters and intubation tubes and IV's didn't exist.
Elizabeth stretched tiredly in the chair. She'd sent Teyla off to bed an hour ago, and she couldn't help but feel the need for sleep herself. It'd all ready been a long day for her when she'd taken over Rodney and John duty. Two days ago they'd been on death's door, and Carson hadn't been convinced either one would survive.
He'd couched his words in medical lingo, hiding behind explanations so convoluted he'd hoped she wouldn't follow the bottom line. Unfortunately, she had. Brain damage, death, fatal toxicity levels.
All very ugly words.
Both men had woken a time or two since the worst had passed. Ronon and Lorne had caught one of the bugs, and it'd been surprisingly easy to find an antidote for the venom. It was similar to a rattle snake on Earth. Carson had explained the process of adapting the anti-venin they had on hand. Not knowing what they would face in this galaxy, the biology department had come well stocked, making assumptions that they might run into similar life that resided on Earth.
Their foresight had most likely spared John's life.
As for Rodney…she was going to tell him no more eating dishes off world unless they had been tested and cleared, period. Complacency had almost killed her head scientist, and most of the time, her friend.
Losing both at the same time would've been perhaps more than she could have coped with, and when they were discharged and free of any remaining effects, she was going to make it clear they had better be more careful in the future!
A soft groan made her tiredness evaporate in the time between one second to the next.
Sitting up, she turned towards the sound – "John?"
He blinked at the ceiling, confused.
Standing, she hit the call button, and leaned forward so that he could see her. Carson had explained the times he'd woken before he hadn't really been with it, and might not remember anything. She was told to expect confusion, disorientation…what she hadn't expected was the thick lump that strangled her assurances before they left her mouth.
Swallowing back the tide, she took his hand in her own and held on. "You're safe, John. You and Rodney, both. You did it – you saved him."
Dazed eyes cleared and he jerked his head to the side, searching. She recognized the moment he saw McKay, the tension she felt in her hand eased. It shouldn't have surprised her when she saw Rodney's eyes flutter open, blink, then lock on to Sheppard, who had pushed himself weakly onto an elbow to stare at Rodney better.
"Do that to me again, and I'll…" Sheppard coughed.
McKay snorted painfully. "You'll kill me yourself, I know."
Sheppard nodded weakly, then collapsed back into his bed.
Ronon had been napping peacefully in his own bed across the room, and woke from the noise. He turned to his side, shaking the frame so much the rattle of metal was heard by everyone. After he'd gotten settled and shoved a pillow over his head, the runner grunted irritably, "Either one of you do that again, and I'll kill you."
"Nobody is bloody killing anyone!" Carson strode into the infirmary shooting daggers at the three men. "Ronon, rest – I told you if you didn't take breaks you'd get heatstroke and now you've got to deal with the consequences. Rodney, Colonel Sheppard, since you're both awake, we might as well remove those catheters."
This time the shared look was one of alarm. Two matching fingers lifted weakly from the blankets and pointed as they chorused, "He goes first."