Second and final chapter of my Misbegotten tag. Hopefully this fits in fairly nicely with the canon of the ep. Right then, I'm two for two – bring on Irresistible :)
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Colonel Sheppard fell asleep during his scan.
Carson couldn't say he was surprised; Sheppard's various injuries aside, from all accounts the man had not slept in days. Quite frankly, the doctor was amazed he'd stayed awake as long as he had.
Beckett had turned back from pulling the privacy curtains, much to McKay's disgruntlement, to find the Colonel had stiffened up enough just in the short time he'd been sat on the exam bed that he'd needed Carson's support to stand up and unfasten his pants. He had been able to feel the man's frame trembling minutely as Sheppard had insisted on removing his own pants and he'd realised the Colonel had been running on sheer determination and willpower alone for god only knew how long. He'd helped ease the exhausted man back up onto the bed as quickly as possible and insisted on getting him into a gown.
Sheppard had wanted to argue but even he'd had to see that scrubs weren't an option when Beckett needed to examine and treat his leg and even an infirmary gown offered marginally more dignity that sitting around in just his t-shirt and boxers. Carson had wisely neglected to mention his opinion that Colonel Sheppard would also be needing the gown for the duration of a minimum overnight stay in the infirmary. Carson had not been overly surprised to see the collection of bruises mottling Sheppard's torso as John had stiffly pulled his t-shirt over his tousled head; from what little information the team had shared of the events of the past few days, it was a wonder he didn't have worse injuries to treat.
He'd helped to swing the Colonel's legs up onto the bed as Sheppard had grudgingly lain back against the raised pillows. Now that he was home, now that he and his team were safe, Carson could see that the adrenalin that had been keeping the Colonel going was draining rapidly away. As soon as Sheppard had let himself begin to relax his iron control, the events of the past few days had caught up to him, fatigue and the physical toll of his injuries crashing over him all at once. He lay limply on the exam bed, his limbs sprawled carelessly, his eyes heavy-lidded with exhaustion, even as Beckett had gently pushed up the gown enough to examine his injured leg.
The Colonel's thigh had been firmly wrapped by the Daedalus' medical team, the field dressing marked with spotted discolouration where blood had seeped through the bandages. Carson had been as gentle as he could be in peeling back the dressings but, even so, he had been painfully aware of Sheppard tensing soundlessly as the stiff, crusted fabric pulled away from his wounds.
Sheppard had merely grunted in acknowledgement, his body held stiffly as the dressing finally came away in Beckett's hands. Carson had grimaced at the sight of Sheppard's thigh. The outer side of the leg, from the top of the thigh to down around the knee joint, was peppered with what looked like hundreds of small penetrating wounds, each crusted over with dried blood, some of them already seeping blood and serous fluid where the act of removing the dressing had broken open the scabbing. Most of the wounds were fairly small and would heal easily on their own but several had been larger in size and some of the edges were ragged from where, Carson had assumed, the Daedalus medics had had to work free deeply embedded pieces of shrapnel. He had quickly become absorbed in his work, leaning forward to closely examine the injuries, his gloved hands gently palpating the damaged flesh, deciding immediately that at least a couple of the wounds would probably need steri-strips, maybe even stitches, to help them close up properly.
The most immediate concern for the moment though, of course, had been the possibility of any foreign bodies remaining in the wounds and the concomitant risk of infection; hence the scan.
Having Ancient technology to hand was a boon for which Carson never ceased to be grateful. Whereas, in an Earth hospital, Sheppard would have had to go to the machine, and be moved from his bed onto the scanner itself, here Carson was able to bring the machine to his patient and Sheppard could stay where he was, eventually drifting off to sleep as the scanner passed almost silently over his exhausted body.
Beckett couldn't help something of a smile curving his lips as he waited for the scanner to finish its work. The Colonel looked almost boyish in his sleep, his messy, tousled hair sticking up in odd directions against the starched white pillow, his face relaxed, the tension of pain and worry smoothed away. Danger was a fact of life here in the Pegasus galaxy and it was a hard burden Colonel Sheppard had to bear, with so many lives under his responsibility; not only the lives of the expedition members but also the billions of lives back home on Earth if he should fail in his duty to repel the Wraith threat. They'd skirted close to that failure of late; too damn close.
The scanner beeped to a conclusion and Beckett turned his attention to the readout, a frown marring his brow as he studied the results. He sighed heavily. Much as he would have liked to let the Colonel enjoy some much-needed rest, it looked like Sheppard's troubles weren't over just yet.
Rodney was hovering as he opened up the privacy curtains and pushed the scanner ahead of him, gliding the sensitive equipment carefully across the infirmary floor before securing it in its usual resting place.
"How's he doing?" Rodney took a glance through the open curtains before trotting after Beckett, his apprehension evident in his voice.
"Sleeping," Carson answered simply, turning to fix the agitated scientist with a mildly disapproving look, "as you should be."
"Me?" McKay squeaked, "I'm fine. I'm not the one who had to have half a spaceship dug out of his leg – and, by the way, that has to be one of the most gruesome things it has ever been my misfortune to witness, I mean the sight of Sheppard's boxer shorts alone.." he shuddered dramatically, "and of course he has to be all "stoic" about it all. I can't believe he lied to the medical team. If I'd had any idea that it wasn't the first time he'd blacked out when he practically fainted in my arms, I would have.."
"Rodney!" Carson had to raise his voice in order to interrupt McKay's monologue of complaints.
"He'll be fine," he reassured gently, knowing that, behind the apparent callousness of the scientist's sharp-tongued diatribe, Rodney's nervous babble stemmed mostly from a deep, unspoken concern for his friend and team mate. "He's exhausted, dehydrated and somewhat malnourished, as are all of you.."
"Well, yes, of course," McKay interrupted, his chin rising defiantly as he apparently realised how close he had come to showing genuine, public concern for someone other than himself, "it's a wonder I haven't had a major hypoglycaemic reaction, really. I'm lucky to be alive.."
Carson continued his explanation with a poorly-hidden smile, choosing to ignore McKay's familiar dramatics, "He needs plenty of rest and food and I'll start an IV to counteract the dehydration. He'll also need a course of antibiotics and, I'm afraid, a wee spot of surgery."
McKay was a man who wore his emotions on his sleeve, his facial expressions changing as rapidly as his sharp mind processed one idea and the next. His ill-concealed relief at hearing Sheppard was ok was quickly replaced by shock and a hint of panic as the mention of surgery.
"What? What surgery?"
Carson grimaced as he made his way back to the Colonel's bedside, McKay following him through the privacy curtains as he picked up Colonel Sheppard's chart and made some notations. "It seems the medical team from the Daedalus weren't able to get quite all of the shrapnel out of his wounds. There are one or two pieces lodged quite deeply. Most likely they've snapped off when larger pieces were being removed."
McKay's cheeks flushed with colour as his voice rose in indignation. "I knew it! Those charlatans! Marines with medical degrees, I ask you!"
"Now Rodney, that's hardly fair," Carson interrupted calmly. "From what I understand the conditions were less than ideal and they did the best they could. The only way these fragments are coming out is surgically and they simply didn't have the facilities for that kind of procedure on the hive ship."
"Besides," he glanced at the soundly sleeping Colonel with an exasperated smile, "d'you really think Colonel Sheppard would have let himself be taken out of the action for even a minor operation with so much going on?"
Rodney's ire seemed to drain from him at that, his mouth twisting as he admitted, quietly, "They did say they couldn't be sure… He told them to put a dressing on it and he'd get you to look at it once we got back." McKay eyes were filled with an emotion Carson could quite put a name to as he regarded Sheppard's limp form. "If we got back."
"And that's precisely what we're doing," Carson soothed. "It's a relatively minor procedure, done under local anaesthetic. It'll be over and done with before you know it and the Colonel can go back to getting some much needed rest – which," he held up a hand to forestall Rodney's interruption, "is precisely what I want you and Ronon to do; after you've had something to eat."
He ushered McKay out into the main body of the infirmary to find Ronon still stretched out along his assigned exam bed; the Satedan was snoring gently. Carson couldn't help a grin.
"Hmph. Wha?" The runner came awake sharply, sitting up in a smooth movement before he'd even registered where he was and who was speaking. He blinked slowly when he saw Rodney and Carson and took a moment to rub his eyes tiredly, mumbling, "Oh. It's you."
"Come on, big guy," McKay said, not unkindly, "we've got our marching orders."
The Satedan looked to Beckett for confirmation and the doctor repeated his instructions to Rodney. "I want you both to go get something to eat and then get some rest. You'll sleep a lot better in your own quarters than in here and, quite frankly, I've enough to do without tripping over you two every time I turn around," he teased gently.
Ronon looked more alert now, and his deep voice rumbled as he asked one last question, "Sheppard?"
Carson nodded. "He's fine. I need to remove a couple of wee bits of shrapnel from his leg and he needs plenty of rest. By the time you two wake up he'll be as right as rain."
He watched fondly as Ronon and McKay made their weary way from the infirmary, headed for the mess hall, before turning briskly to his team, issuing orders for the OR to be prepped and assigning nursing staff to assist him with Colonel Sheppard.
The Colonel was dead to the world when Beckett slipped back inside the privacy curtain with an IV kit and a bag of saline solution; he hadn't moved even an inch from the position Carson had left him in, his head slumped slightly to the side, his bare legs sprawled limply on the firm mattress. Beckett took the opportunity to set up the drip while the Colonel was otherwise occupied; Sheppard didn't even flinch as the needle slid smoothly beneath the skin at the crook of his elbow.
It took a firm shake to the shoulder and repeated calling of his name to rouse Sheppard from his deep sleep. He shuddered back to consciousness, his eyelids heavy with sleep as he blinked dazedly at Carson.
"Doc?" His voice was faint, woozy.
"Aye, Colonel. That's right. I'm sorry to have to wake you, son, but I'm afraid we need to do a wee bit of surgery to get rid of the last of the shrapnel from your leg."
Sheppard grumbled sleepily. "They didn't get it all?"
"Fraid not, Colonel. Not to worry though, it'll only take a moment or two under local anaesthetic. You won't feel a thing."
"Hmph." Sheppard was hovering on the verge of sleep, his body seemingly too exhausted to do much more than stir weakly. Carson was about to call in a nurse to help him move the bed when the Colonel tensed suddenly, his eyes focusing sharply, and Beckett had to again revise his opinion of the man's seemingly limitless willpower.
"McKay and Ronon?"
"They're fine, son. Gone to get something to eat followed by a well-earned rest."
Sheppard relaxed back against the pillows, the last of his strength seeming to flow out of him along with the tension in his muscles. "Good. S'good," he mumbled tiredly.
"Right then, lad. Let's get you into theatre. Susan, can you help me with the bed please?"
Between the Carson and his nurse, they got Sheppard's bed moving towards the small operating theatre where Beckett's surgical team waited to assist him with extracting the embedded remnants of Sheppard's F302.
"Yes, Colonel?" He'd thought for a moment the Colonel had drifted back off to sleep but Sheppard's voice was firm, if drowsy.
"How d'you feel about house calls these days?"
"I'm sorry, son?"
Sheppard's voice slurred as he slipped slowly back towards much-needed sleep.
"Got something I need to show you later…"