He should have known this was going to be a bad day.

The moment John woke up with a headache and his head feeling like someone had inserted a lead balloon up his left nostril, he should have known his day was going to suck. Add to the fact that the aspirin he took didn't touch his headache by the time he and his team stepped through the gate. It really should have been a great big, honkin', clue.

The pain was like a vice on his head. Starting from where it clamped down on the back of his head, to where it traveled and throbbed over the top and into his forehead with a steady ache. But the worst of it was behind his left eye. It was starting to feel like someone was stabbing him in it with a hot knife.

"Colonel, are you feeling well?" It was Teyla who asked the question, right after John stumbled and would have fallen had Ronon not grabbed his arm.

"Been better," John replied. He figured he had to be a little bit honest, cause he was pretty sure he wasn't completely hiding how lousy he felt. Because if the pain wasn't making him miserable enough, and it was, then the muscle aches and intermittent flashes of being too hot and too cold sure as hell were. He felt like shit warmed over.

Rodney was giving him the evil eye, even as he took a few steps away from him. "You aren't contagious, are you?"

John started to shake his head and caught himself. Although not in time to stop pain from lancing through the vice grip on his head from end to end. His eye throbbed and when he looked at Teyla's face he only caught a glimpse of her concern before his vision blurred.

"That can't be good," Rodney was muttering. "Ronon, maybe you'd better carry him to the gate."

"No." It came out a croak, but a firm one. At least John hoped it was firm. He felt strong arms sliding around him, but then went still. The blurriness cleared and John stepped away from Ronon. "I can walk." He took a few steps to prove it and his legs didn't disappoint him. He was still functional.

Ronon eyed him for a moment, then nodded. But he did hover close by.

John didn't argue that point with him. Better to let Ronon catch him if he did fall, than hit the hard ground. That would only make his muscles ache more. "Let's move out before trouble finds us," John ordered. They had gotten lucky so far in that this world seemed deserted. After six hours of hiking through fields, they'd found nothing of interest. No people, no cities, no energy readings. A big fat zero. John wanted to keep it that way.

"You are too warm," Teyla stated, and he realized her hand was pressed to his forehead.

"Not an accurate way to take a temperature," Rodney interjected, annoyingly.

John nudged Teyla's hand away and offered a weak smile. "I'm fine. When we get back I'm going to take some aspirin and sleep for two days.

Rodney snorted. "Wishful thinking, Colonel. The moment Carson gets a look at you, you'll be his guest for a while. Because in case you haven't noticed, you look like crap."

"Shut up, McKay," John groused. He wasn't in the mood for the comments or bantering or anything that didn't resemble getting through the gate faster. To his intense relief, he could see the gate right ahead of them. Focusing his attention fully in that direction, knowing that Teyla and Ronon would have his six, John strode off.

Fifteen minutes later they were through the gate, only to be greeted by a worried Weir.

She eyed John for a moment, looking concerned, but brushed it off to announce, "We've lost Zelenka and two marines."

"What?" John was stunned. "Lost them?" He really didn't need this right now, but he couldn't exactly walk away from it.

"Well...lost communications with them is more like it," Elizabeth clarified.

Rodney looked both annoyed and irritated. "Radek was supposed to be checking the bottom level east area today."

Elizabeth nodded. "He was and we were in contact with him and his escort up until an hour ago. I've sent Lorne and Bishop and they've radioed back that they're cut off from that section. There's a door they can't open."

"Bishop couldn't open a wet paper bag with a Ginzu knife newly sharpened," Rodney complained. "I'll go."

"We're coming with you," John announced, already heading for the stairs.

Teyla hesitated. "Colonel?" she called to him.

John turned and gave a slight shake of his head. He would be fine until they found his people. Then he'd go to Beckett. He could see she got the message. "Coming Rodney?"

"Yes, yes. Coming." Rodney was patting his vest pockets then rummaging in his back pack. "I should have everything I need and, hopefully, Bishop thought to bring some tools. Let's go." He strode off looking very determined as he brushed by John.

"Ready?" John looked at Ronon and Teyla. They fell in at either side of him. John was grateful and gave a slight smile before heading out to follow Rodney.

Thanks to the transporters, they were able to travel close to the area with only twenty minutes of walking to reach Lorne and Bishop.

Bishop was in his late forties, pudgy and balding with wire-rimmed glasses. He and Rodney had a mutual glaring contest before Rodney shoved him out of the way and took readings on his scanner. "I'm not showing any life signs. Or signs of anything really. Nothing. Which suggests some kind of shielding. Fascinating." He lifted a hand and made to go off onto a tangent.

"Exposition later, Rodney," John interjected. "Can you get the door open or not?"

"Of course I can." Rodney looked disgruntled.

But fifteen minutes later he looked pissed and disgruntled while Bishop looked smug.

Rodney ran a hand through his hair and stated, "It should open."

"I'll blast it open," Ronon offered, raising his gun.

"No!" Rodney looked horrified as he jumped for Ronon's arm, pushing it down. "If you do that you could blow something up...or something. We don't know what it will do."

John moved to the door and pressed one palm to it. It felt cool to his touch and he had to resist the urge to press his hot, throbbing, face against it. His head hurt so bad at the moment that he wished he could shoot himself in the eye to make it stop. "Do you think it's booby trapped?"

Rodney moved to stand beside him, keeping one eye on Ronon. "I don't think so. I'm sure Radek has been trying to get out from his end and nothing I've tried has set off any alarms or anything."

"Have you tried thinking it open?" John was joking, but he was feeling a bit desperate at the moment. He was trying to focus on rescuing his people, but his head and body were giving him hell. And if his vision blurred out on him just one more time, he was going to start getting worried.

"Like that's going to work!" Rodney snapped. He glared at John then thumped the door. "Go ahead, Mr. Magic gene. Think it open."

John was too tired to think of a good comeback, so he decided the best way to diffuse Rodney and keep him from shouting - which aggravated the pain in John's head - was to humor him. Closing his eyes, John pressed both hands to the door and thought open. Imagine his surprise when they slid open and he stumbled through them. He tried to catch his balance, but his equilibrium was shot to hell and John hit the floor. Hard. Hard enough to send the back of his skull cracking into it, hurtling him into darkness.


"Colonel Sheppard, can you hear me?"

He recognized the voice calling his name. Beckett. He wished the man would go away. He didn't want to wake up right now. Sleeping was good.

A soft sigh then, "You need to open your eyes for me, son. Just for a moment."

"Why?" John croaked, but he made the attempt. To his relief the room was shadowed so it didn't hurt to look at Beckett. Although the man was a bit fuzzy around the edges.

"There you are," Carson drawled, looking pleased. "How are you feeling?"

John grimaced. His head felt heavy but the pain from before had faded to a dull throb. His limbs felt heavy too, and achy, but not as bad as before. "Better," he whispered. His throat felt achingly dry. "Water?" He asked, hopefully.

Carson nodded. "Of course." He grabbed a glass that had a straw in it and held it for John. "Just a few sips, you've got an empty stomach and a lot of medications running through you. Not to mention a mild concussion."

"Figures," John muttered, leaning his head back against the pillows. He was a bit surprised to find he was actually upright. Beckett seemed to delight in having him flat on his back when he woke up. "How long was I out?" It was easier to talk after the water.

"Twenty-six hours," Carson replied, then he was reaching out to pat John's shoulder, no doubt having noticed his shock. "You were pretty sick for a while there, Colonel."

John frowned at that. "I didn't hit my head that hard." Then he remembered his condition before falling. But he also remembered why he had fallen. "Zelenka and my men! Did they get out?"

Carson was grinning. "They did and they're thankful to you, Colonel. For the record, everyone is fine. You're the only one I had to treat. Be forewarned though, Rodney has been haunting this place. He wants to know how you got the door to open."

"Good question." John vaguely remembered touching the door and willing it to open. "I wish I knew."

"How is your vision?" Carson asked, getting serious again.

John blinked and realized everything was clear.

Carson was leaning in, looking into his eyes. "No double vision?" At John's start of surprise he said," Teyla filled me in on what happened at the planet. From what she told me and from my diagnosis, I'm guessing you suffered double vision at some point."

"What diagnosis?" John countered. "Let me guess...I had the Pegasus flu or something."

"No, you had...have...Sphenoid sinusitis. Which translates into an acute sinus infection. A very nasty bugger indeed."

John knew that from experience. "But you fixed it, right?"

Carson looked amused. "I gave you antibiotics, a decongestant and a Tylenol, Ibuprofen cocktail for the fever. Thankfully you didn't concuss yourself too seriously so I could give you the meds. You're going to feel like crap for a day or two more, but then you'll be on the mend."

"Can you knock me out till then?" John requested, because he was tired of feeling like crap. And being out of it had the added benefit of not having to deal with McKay until he felt up to it.

"I'll see what I can do." Carson replied, patting John on the shoulder. "You get some rest now, Colonel. Let your body heal."

John was agreeable to that. Only, apparently, his body wasn't. He drifted off to sleep only to wake up feeling hot and sick. One of the nurses was hovering nearby and must have noticed and recognized his expression because she ran over with a basin and got it under his chin just in time.

It hurt to puke, all the more so because he was dry heaving more than anything else and it aggravated the pain in his head, making John feel dizzy. By the time he was done heaving, he felt shaky. His body was limp against the pillows and when the nurse wiped his face with a damp cloth, it felt like heaven. He was so damn hot.

He must have drifted off for a time because he woke up to the sound of Elizabeth reading to him. And to the reality of the fact he was dressed in a gown instead of scrubs and that he had a catheter and two IV's. John turned his head to find Elizabeth watching him.

"How do you feel, John?" she asked, setting the book aside and rising to her feet to move to him and take his hand.

"Been better." Might as well go with his standard reply. "You look tired."

Elizabeth nodded. "Haven't slept all that much the past two days. You had me worried."

John wasn't sure he wanted to know why, but then he found himself asking anyway. "What happened?"

"You got pretty sick on us," Elizabeth replied. "You really want the details?"

"No." He had memories of being hot then cold. Of pain and puking and scrambled voices telling him things he couldn't make out. "Sorry."

Elizabeth made a face. "Not your fault. When you get a sinus infection, you don't mess around. So try not to get one again, okay?"

John gave the slightest of nods, which didn't hurt too much. "Okay. Go to bed." He gave the order as his own eyes slid closed.


Three days later John was finally allowed to shower. The Catheter had been removed the day before and the IV's just this morning. He was way more excited about being able to shower and put on his own clothes than he had a right to be, but it felt like a big deal. Being pain free felt like bliss. He was still a bit achy, but his head felt clear and the only set back he had was how weak he felt.

Just how weak made itself clear during his shower. He washed his hair then washed himself and before he was done rinsing his muscles were trembling and his knees were threatening to buckle. In fact, once he shut off the water and wrapped a towel around his waist, John found himself having to sit on the toilet for a moment. Apparently a long moment because Beckett was suddenly knocking on the door.

"Colonel! Are you all right?"

"Fine!" John replied. "Just give me a minute." Which turned into five minutes and he still didn't have his socks on when Beckett barged in the door looking frantic.

Wagging a finger at John, Carson chided, "You gave me a fright, son."

John made a face. "Sorry. It took more out of me than I thought it would. And don't say I told you so." John glared at Beckett.

"I won't, since you proved my point for me." Sighing, Beckett grabbed a dry towel and moved to John's side. "Your hair is soaked."

"Ya think?" But it was a testament to how worn out John was that he didn't argue when Beckett started drying his hair.

Carson chuckled when he was finished. "It really does defy gravity, doesn't it?"

John laughed a bit too. "Yeah. Rodney is positive I use a gallon of gel to get it to stick up like this. Truth is, it takes a gallon of gel if I want it to lie flat. So I gave up trying years ago."

"Ready to get back to bed, Colonel?" Carson was already reaching for his arm.

"My bed," John stated, locking eyes with Beckett. "I'll sleep better there. And I promise to be good."

Carson looked like he was going to refuse, even as he steered John out the door. "I figured you'd want to go to your room and I'll allow it. But if you step one foot out that door before tomorrow, you're back in here for a long stay. Understood?"

John nodded. "Right now I doubt I could go anywhere without crawling."

"Which is why I got you this." As they exited the bathroom, Carson pointed to the wheel chair perched just outside the door.

"Swell," John drawled, but he sat down in it anyway. He knew he couldn't walk all the way to his room so he'd suffer the ride.

Carson pushed him over to the exit where Teyla was waiting with Ronon. "They'll get you tucked in then Teyla will sit with you for a bit," the Scotsman explained.

John didn't argue with him. He just wanted to get to his room. "Hey guys," he said to his teammates.

"You look much better, Colonel," Teyla said, with a smile.

"Feel better," John allowed. He nodded at Ronon who moved behind the chair and gripped the handles. "I'm ready when you are."

Ronon pushed him into the hallway and they headed out. The trip to his room didn't take long and John was relieved to get there. He wasn't too happy when he stood up and his knees buckled. He was even less happy when Ronon pretty much carried him to the bed.

It was a testament to how worn out he was that John didn't say a word as Teyla tucked him under the covers. "Thanks," he whispered. "You don't have to stay."

"Go to sleep," she replied, before smoothing his hair back then pressing her forehead to his in a light touch.

John started to close his eyes but remembered something and called out to Ronon. "Hey, big guy!" When Ronon moved to his side he said, "Tell Rodney to come see me later and bring Back to the Future on his lap top. He'll know what I'm talking about. We'll have a movie night."

Teyla brightened. "I'll bring the pop corn."

"Sure you'll feel up to it?" Ronon asked, playing Devil's advocate.

"Watching Rodney watch that movie will make me feel better," John promised. He watched Ronon nod then slip out the door, then let his eyes close. He dreamed about Flux Capacitors and Rodney turning into a lemon.