Thanks to Kodiak for her wonderful beta skills! There are spoilers for Common Ground ahead. Be warned!

John winced as he listened to Beckett's voice. He didn't figure that Carson was in the mood for a compromise. As they exited the jumper, John knew he'd have a battle on his hands – one which he was doomed to lose.

"Infirmary, now please, Colonel." Carson put up his hand to quell John's argument. "Don't bother, lad. You're coming with me whether you like it or not."

John grimaced at the sharpness in Carson's voice. He recognised that tone of voice well enough. No way was Beckett going to let him go, even if he used the ubiquitous puppy dog eyes scam, not that he felt like trying to pull that one.

John was exhausted and yet strangely tense. Full of nervous energy, yet wanting nothing more than to shower and curl up in his bed. John knew he wouldn't manage to sleep, despite the innate tiredness he felt.

"Doc, seriously, I'm fine. Can't I just go to my quarters and shower, then I'll come for my post-mission check when I've had some sleep?" John knew his voice sounded pathetically pleading, almost begging, and he inwardly berated himself for sounding so… needy.

John knew deep down he wasn't going to win the argument, and if he were honest, he couldn't blame Beckett for his concern. That didn't mean he wasn't going to try to get his own way. He'd survived four Wraith feedings, and was now, to all intents and purposes, back to the usual thirty something John Sheppard – only he wasn't. Something was wrong. John felt wired, restless, strong and full of energy, yet tired to the bone – and vulnerable.

His team and Elizabeth had had to watch him being tortured. John knew that would live with them for years, and John couldn't stand the pity and compassion they'd be subconsciously throwing his way. Sure, they all knew him well enough to know he'd hate that and would try to not let it show, but they wouldn't succeed. Crap, what a mess.

"I'm sorry, Colonel." John saw the discomfort on Carson's face. "I understand you'd like some privacy, and some time to – to come to terms with…the hell you've been through." Beckett's words were rushed and apologetic, and John bit his lip as he began to feel uncomfortable at Carson's sympathy. "However, I surely don't need to remind you that your body hasn't had much fun in the last twenty-four hours, and I really need to give you a thorough examination. So, let's get this over and done with, okay?"

John exhaled and ran a shaky hand through his hair. He'd put his friends through enough already, he knew that.

Sighing, he nodded his agreement to the doctor.

"Okay. If everything checks out, and I'm a good boy, you'll let me go?"

Carson grimaced before answering.

"Let's wait and see what my tests reveal. If everything's okay, and I'm satisfied you're not going to keel over, then possibly, and I stress possibly, I'll let you sleep in your quarters. No promises though."

John reluctantly followed Beckett out of the Jumper bay, ignoring the concerned faces of his team. He had a feeling he had a long infirmary visit ahead of him.


John closed his eyes as the scanner passed over him. He had known it was inevitable that he'd have to change into scrubs, let Carson drain off large amounts of just about every bodily fluid available to him, and undergo hours of torturous tests. After all he'd been through, John mused at the unfairness of that. He'd been to hell and back. Been captured by Kolya, used as a pawn in his little power game, and then suffered the humiliation of being tortured in front of his team-mates. As if that wasn't enough, he was now stuck in the infirmary while Carson tortured him some more.

That wasn't true, or fair, John knew that deep down. Carson was just being his usual professional and caring self. Problem was, John was beginning to feel like a guinea pig. He couldn't blame Carson for wanting to run every test under the sun. John had had his life given back to him, and who'd have guessed the Wraith could do that? Course, it was the damned Wraith who'd sucked him dry in the first place.

"All done, Son." Carson's voice surprised John, and he involuntarily jerked in shock. Looking up into Carson's face, which, not for the first time that day, showed concern, John bit his lip as he realised he was going to have get used to a lot of sympathy being thrown his way.

"Sorry, Colonel. Didn't mean to startle you. I've finished the scans, you can go back over to your bed now."

John wearily sat up, and slung his legs over the side of the examination table. He lowered his feet to the floor, and was instantly hit by a wave of dizziness that momentarily overwhelmed him. He wavered for a few seconds, and swallowed as bile threatened to spill into his mouth. John felt Beckett's hand on his arm, and breathed deeply to try and control his nausea.

"Let's get you back into bed Colonel. Do you think you can manage to walk?"

John nodded as he felt himself gently being guided across the room.

Once he was situated in bed, the vertigo and nausea stopped as quickly as they had begun. John shook his head to clear his foggy brain. He felt restless again, and strangely rejuvenated, though the tiredness was still lurking in the background.

"Sorry about that. Think I got up too quickly," John apologised. "Are we done yet?" he asked as he settled down against the plumped up pillows. John had tried hard not to whine, but the longer he was detained in Carson's domain, the more antsy he was becoming. "I really need a shower – and food. I can't remember when I last ate…" he began as he suddenly felt a ravenous hunger assault him.

"No, we're not done. Especially after your little dizzy spell. You can shower in the infirmary bathroom in a minute, and I'll send Melissa to get you something to eat." John saw the compassion return to Carson's worn features, and inwardly cringed. "I know you want to retreat and lick your wounds, lad, but I can't let you go until I'm sure there's nothing wrong with you."

John closed his eyes in resignation.

"I know. Sorry, Doc."

"That's all right. Why don't you try and get some sleep, and I'll go through your test results, then we'll see about that shower and some dinner."

"'Kay," John replied, as his energy levels depleted again and exhaustion got the better of him.


"Colonel? Come on, Son, open your eyes for me."

John heard the voice through a sea of fog.

"Mnnn. Tired," he whispered by way of reply.

He heard the soft exhale of Beckett's breath.

"Aye, I know. But, I just need you to open your eyes, then you can go back to sleep."

John pried open heavy lids, and blinked rapidly to try and get Carson to come into focus.

"Sorry. Must have dozed off," he began, until he noticed the dimmed infirmary lights. "How long have I been asleep?" John asked, suddenly feeling alarmed at the obvious passage of time.

Carson exhaled, and looked at his watch.

"Ten hours. I was starting to get a little concerned. You were non-responsive for quite a while. How are you feeling?"

John considered the doctor's question. He felt the strange yet familiar feeling of restlessness surging through him, but at the same time, the weariness was tugging away at him, threatening to pull him under.

"Kind of strange. Tired but…on edge. What did your tests show?"

"Pretty much what I expected. Your pressure is high, heart rate's elevated, and your blood chemistry is all over the place. Your kidneys aren't too happy at the moment either, and I have no idea why. Are you in pain?" Carson asked, and John noticed the frown on his face.

"No. Just feel weird. Everything else okay?"

Carson snorted and gave Sheppard a withering look.

"Pretty much. You're going to have to stay here a little longer, I'm afraid."

"Figures," John muttered. "Can I at least take a shower?"

Carson smiled pleasantly at Sheppard.

"Yes. I'll be sending Melissa with you though. Don't worry, she can wait outside. I just don't want you unsupervised at the moment. Let me take out the IV and you can be on your way," Beckett replied.

John looked at his hand in surprise. When had he gained an IV?

Carson efficiently pulled out the cannula and guided John's other hand over to press a wad of cotton wool on the small wound.

"Right. All done. Keep pressure on that for a few seconds while I get a band aid."

When Carson had covered the pinprick on John's hand, he offered his own hand to help his patient stand.

John looked at Carson wearily, annoyance evident on his pale features.

"I think I can manage on my own, Doc," he murmured, as he hopped to the infirmary floor.

As luck had it, fate stuck its tongue out at John, and he buckled as a wave of vertigo hit him. Unable to support himself, John crumpled, only to be saved from a humiliating nosedive by a surprisingly agile and strong Beckett.

"Really? Back to bed, Colonel. The shower can wait, unless you fancy a sponge bath?"

When John didn't answer after he had been situated in bed, Carson looked down in concern.

"What going on, Son?" he questioned gently, as he noted John's pale, sweaty appearance, tightly shut eyes and shallow panting.

"Don't feel so good," came the muffled, pained reply.

"Aye, that much I'd worked out for myself. Care to share what's going on? Have you got any pain?" the doctor asked as he busied himself taking John's vitals.

When John remained silent for the second time, Carson knew something must be seriously wrong.

"Colonel? Are you in pain?" he asked again, a little more forcefully.

Carson's question was answered when John suddenly rolled to his side, curling up in a foetal position as a soft moan left his lips.

"I'll take that as a yes," Carson muttered to himself. "Colonel? Where does it hurt? You might as well own up now, before I take matters into my own hands and prod you from head to toe."

John continued to moan quietly, but Carson managed to make out a faint 'sick' before John bolted upright, veering sideways, and promptly threw up over the side of the bed. Carson tutted at himself for being so slow on the uptake, and grabbed a nearby emesis basin, being careful to avoid the slippery mess on his infirmary floor. Fortunately John had an empty stomach, so there wasn't much to bring up. Helping John into an elevated position, Carson held the bowl and supported John as he continued to retch, bring up only meagre amounts of bile.

When he finally stopped heaving, John let Carson lower him back down against his inviting pillows, and managed to grind out a pathetic 'sorry', before groaning again.

Carson shook his head and patted John's arm.

"I'm afraid the IV goes back in, Son. Is the pain in your back?" he questioned his recalcitrant patient, having a pretty good idea what was wrong with John.

"Yeah. Sorry, Doc," John apologised again, and groaned as the pain intensified.

Carson momentarily left his patient, returning a minute later with equipment John really didn't like the look of.

"I know, Colonel," Carson sympathised when he noticed the look on his patient's face. "However, I think you're probably showing the first symptoms of renal failure, and not only do I need to take more blood, I'm afraid I'm going to need to monitor your urine output very carefully." Carson hesitated and winced. "I'm sure you already know what that means?"

John nodded weakly.


Carson grimaced, snapping on gloves with his usual practised efficiency.

"Sorry. I know how much you hate this, not that anybody in their right mind would like it, but this is necessary."

"'S'okay," John mumbled with resignation, "don't really care right now."

Carson attended to his task quickly, and then proceeded to take more blood for analysis, though he suspected it would show further deterioration of John's kidneys. If John was in the early stages of renal failure, Carson didn't want to hang around with treatment. There was little doubt in Carson's mind that the wraith feedings had taken their toll on John's body. The fact that his life had been restored, and he looked his usual young self again could be masking other problems. He had no idea how a wraith could give life, any more than he fully understood how they took it. All Carson knew was that he had one very sick colonel on his hands.

"All done, Colonel. I'll get Melissa to come and sort you out. I'm afraid it's gown time again. Just try and relax. I'll get you something for the nausea and pain momentarily."

John nodded almost imperceptibly, and his eyes remained tightly shut as he tried to breathe through his pain. Being sucked dry by a wraith and then rejuvenated certainly had its down side, and John wasn't sure how much more of the downside he could stand.