A/N: This is a follow up from That's What Friends Are For, because GateGeek requested Shep on crutches. So once again, Sheppy gets to feel her pain.
Colonels on Crutches
If you asked me a few years ago what hell was, I would have said it was somewhere in the Middle East; with the blazing heat shimmering off the white sands and blinding you while bullets ping of the side of your 'Hawk and you choke on the smoke coming from what's left of your tail rotor. Now I would tell you differently. Now hell is defined as three days of not being able to walk, with McKay applying what he undoubtedly thinks of as a bedside manner. I couldn't even shower. I had to take a sponge bath. Now that might have been fun if that cute nurse Gigi had helped out, but no such luck. She came in the morning for my daily check-up, brought me the soap and water and helped me get ready, then left me to it. Sigh. Nowhere near as much fun but- officer and gentlemen and rah rah rah. Oh God, and McKay had to help me get to the jakes! Now when do you think I'll be able to live that one down? When Carson called me to tell me my incarceration was at an end I nearly ascended I was that stoked! Of course, the Doc didn't tell me what lay in store for me then, did he? No, he waited until I got wheeled into the infirmary and he had checked out my feet and ankle. Then told me I had stay of my ankle for four to six weeks, and come in every week for some physio. Then he handed me the twin twigs of torture, a.k.a. crutches.
"Here you go, son." He said as he handed them over to me. I looked at them suspiciously. Well, how hard could it be? I grabbed the crutches and cautiously heaved myself up. Hey! No problem. It was easier than I thought it would be. That was until I messed up the rhythm, stepped on my sprained ankle and went down like a tonne of bricks. Yeah. That hurt! Carson heaved me up and put me back on the infirmary bed. My first thought was 'Ow." My second thought was that the Doc was stronger than he looked. My third thought was that the bastard was laughing at me.
"Are you alright, Colonel?" Yeah, peachy. The Doc's concern would have been more believable if he wasn't biting back a smile. He patted my shoulder, handed me back my crutches, and said "Stop pouting, you'll be fine, son." Humph. I looked at him and he gave me his I'm-amused-right-now-but-I'm-fast-running-out-of-patience look. I so did not pout. Air Force Colonels definitely do not pout. Much.
"Oh stop being such a baby, Colonel" Caldwell's voice intruded. I looked up, about to take offence to that, and was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of Elizabeth and Rodney accompanying Colonel Caldwell, who was limping into the Infirmary- on crutches. Well shoot me in the ass and call me a bullseye!
"What happened to you?" I asked him, stunned out of my funk and into civility.
"There was a slight amount of turbulence while we were doing some tests on the FTL drive," Rodney said, before Caldwell could answer. Did the man ever let anyone answer a question? "Fortunately no-one was seriously injured."
"Yes, thank you Dr." Caldwell responded sarcastically. Rodney looked unperturbed. "I just twisted it a little. The doctors on the Daedalus said to keep off it for a few days, but to have Dr. Beckett here give me some cold compresses while I'm here. I see you're up and about?" Translation: Oh, you're alive. I can't have your job yet. I gave him my most irritating smirk, and then shifted my gaze to Rodney.
"Hey, McKay" I know how much that rhyming greeting drives him nuts. "You're two for two. What'd you do this time?" I was expecting him to snark back and declare his innocence, instead he just went bright pink from embarrassment, and didn't answer.
"I don't hold Dr. McKay responsible, Colonel." Caldwell said, in that condescending manner he has. So what was Rodney embarrassed about, then? I was about to ask, but was interrupted by the Doc bustling in and getting Caldwell settled on a bed, before pushing the rest of us out.
By the end of the day, I'd fallen down twice more and my sprained ankle throbbed. My right foot hurt from supporting my weight, even though the bruising was going down, and my armpits hurt like blazes from the crutches. Thunking down on my bed, I was just thankful the day was over. Tomorrow had to be better?
I woke up the next morning, hobbled over to the bathroom and had another sponge bath. God I'd kill for a real shower! The first thing I'm going to do when I can stand up properly is have a hot shower. And then go for a run. I miss my morning run, and not being able to run out some frustration was not doing anything for my disposition. I felt thoroughly out of sorts. I got dressed and thought the door open, then hobbled to Elizabeth's office for a debriefing; mainly to catch up on what I'd missed over the last three days.
Not much apparently, which was a relief. The way my luck was running, something had to go wrong. Lorne was capable of taking my place for a few weeks, but it was Murphy's Law, wasn't it? Well, so far so good, I suppose. Of course, who could forget the McKay factor? I was still trying hard not to blame him for my current predicament; after all, he was the one that made me get on top of the 'Jumper in the first place. Speak of the devil; I bumped into him on the way out of Elizabeth's office. He was Captain Oblivious, as usual, and was paying more attention to the tablet in his hand than the wobbly Colonel next to him.
"Oh, umm. Sorry, Colonel." There he went again. Being friendly. This state of friendliness had been continuing for the last four days, and I was getting suspicious. It just wasn't.. normal. His embarrassment from the topic yesterday, combined with his niceness over the last few days… oh, this was so his fault. I eyeballed him as I stepped through the doorway and headed across the walkway to the stairs.
"You know, McKay, you still haven't told me what happened with the 'Jumper." I glared at him. (Anyone who says it's a pout is lying, got it?)
"Oh, and now you're clumsiness is all my fault?" He tried to make it sound snarky, but there was definitely guilt there. Oh, he was so dead when I found out what he was hiding from me. And I would find out.
"I have had three days of pain, lying around being helpless," I tried not to let it show how much that word bothered me, but I don't think it worked. "and now I'm limping around on these damn things!" I waved a crutch under his nose, making him pull back sharply. "What did you do, McKay?"
"Oh, the big, brave Colonel can't handle a bit of adversity?" Nice deflection, there. "Chin up, Colonel!" McKay said in his most patronising tone, and slapped me on the shoulder. Of course, that was just when I was shifting my weight to go down the stairs. I had the damn crutches on the step below me, and I had just moved my weight onto them so I could step down when the hand of doom (read McKay) struck again. I windmilled in a blur of arms, legs and crutches, and time seemed to slow for an agonising moment. Then down I went. Roof, floor, roof, floor, roof, floor.. you get the idea. Rating on the cool-o-meter? Zero, zip, nada. And if the pain and humiliation weren't enough to really make my day, who was coming up the stairs at the same time? Colonel I-hate-you-and-I-want-your-job Caldwell. Who naturally, being on crutches as well, had absolutely no hope of getting out of my way.
So there we were, lying on the floor in a very undignified tangled heap; two Colonels and four crutches, surrounded by one horrified scientist, and several stunned marines. Silence reigned.
Shoot me now.
Well, here I am in the infirmary. Again. I really am going to have to shoot someone. Or blow something up. I'm easy. I offered to shoot Rodney in the leg again- he pointed out that the personal shield was still depleted, and didn't seem to find it amusing when I told him I already knew that. I glanced over at the bed next to me. Caldwell glared back; well, he tried to glare. It was a bit hard to do effectively with a black eye. In all honesty, I couldn't feel too smug about that, since I had a matching one. I also had a cracked rib, and the Colonel had a sprained wrist. Fortunately neither of us aggravated our ankles any further. He gave me a silent snarl and turned away. Oh yeah, this was going to be a pleasant little rest, wasn't it?
Elizabeth had been to visit us, not long after Carson and his bevy of nurses had gotten us settled and mercifully given us some painkillers. After noticing the chilly temperature caused by myself and Colonel Caldwell, she did what any good diplomat would do. Tactical retreat. Ah, our brave and fearless leader. Not so much.
Shortly after, Rodney, Ronon and Teyla came in to see us. I think Rodney was trying to hide behind Ronon.
"Hi Teyla, Ronon" I said brightly. "Rodney." I dragged his name out.
"Colonel Caldwell, Colonel Sheppard. How are you feeling?" I didn't wait for Caldwell to answer, but jumped right in there.
"Oh fine. Nice of you to ask, considering this is once again all your fault." I actually meant when he knocked me down the stairs into Caldwell, and I know he didn't mean it. Guilty minds, though…
"Why do you keep implying it's my fault? I didn't do anything! I only reached down to grab a powerbar out.." His eyes widened and he clamped both hands over his mouth. He stared at me in horror and I felt that cold, sinking feeling in my stomach, followed by the slow burn of igniting anger.
"Are you saying that you tipped me off the 'Jumper because you reached for a powerbar while running the diagnostics?" I tried for calm. Honest. I really did.
"Umm.. err. Maybe?" he squeaked. If I wasn't so angry I would have found it funny. Ronon and Teyla obviously thought it rather amusing, since they were trying their hardest not to laugh. Caldwell wasn't even trying.
"McKay.." I growled.
"Yes, well. Get better soon. I have, umm, important things to do. Life saving things. Umm.." He started to back away towards the door.
"McKay?" I said sweetly.
"Err, what?" He looked at me suspiciously.
"Run." The others burst out laughing, although Ronon put a hand on my shoulder, just in case.
Disclaimer: The copyright for Stargate Atlantis belongs to MGM studios and SciFi channel. It's their playground- I'm just playing in it.