"Colonel, you look like a dead dog."

John groaned. "Thanks, Rodney. I love it when you say encouraging things like that." He placed a hand on the wall to steady himself, trying not to double over again. His stomach cramped in protest, just to make sure he didn't forget about it.

"Not helping here!" Rodney snapped. He gave a sigh of exasperation, then slung John's arm over his shoulder. "I'm going to help you get to the infirmary, mainly because I want to get you there before you puke on me or something."

Despite his discomfort, John snorted. "I don't think you have to worry. I have no plans on doing that, mainly because I know I wouldn't hear the end of it."

"I told you not to eat that stuff. It may have looked like popcorn, but…"

Only a few hours ago, the team had returned from a trip to the mainland. Teyla had wanted to be with her people for their harvest and had asked John to take her over there. Ronon had come, too, enticed by the thought of a good meal. And Rodney came because…. well, John didn't really know why Rodney had accompanied them. Probably just to annoy them, on general principles.

All the food had been good, but John had been particularly enamored with a dish that both looked and smelled like popcorn. After his first bite, he found that it tasted like popcorn, too. He remembered grinning and thinking that all he needed for true contentment was a football game and a beer.

Unfortunately, though, the good times hadn't lasted. No sooner had they arrived back in Atlantis than John had started to feel vaguely nauseous. That had quickly progressed until he'd thrown up what felt like everything he'd ever eaten. Even then, he hadn't wanted to go to the infirmary. John didn't want his significant other to see him in this state. No, he would just stay in his quarters and sleep it off. Rodney had had other ideas, though. He'd come to John's door just in time to see the Colonel praying to the porcelain god, and the scolding had started almost immediately.

"…I don't see the big deal about going to the infirmary. They'll start an IV, give you some fluids, and then you'll get something that will send you into happy slumber. You'll feel better, I won't have to watch you throw up – everyone wins!"

"Rodney…" John tried to think of an appropriate comeback, but was interrupted by their arrival at their destination. Rodney pushed him onto a bed, glared at him, pulled the curtain, and then went to find one of the medical staff. John hoped that it would be one of the nurses and that they wouldn't bother Carson. After a busy few days, the physician had finally managed to finish his paperwork and get back into the lab.

No such luck. He heard footsteps approaching and an unmistakable brogue. "Thank you, Rodney. I'll take care of it. You can go now… please." The physicist grumbled something in response, then left.

Carson pulled the curtain back and stepped up to the bed, carrying a basket of IV supplies. He looked at the colonel with a mixture of concern and exasperation. "Rodney said you've been, and I quote, 'barfing up a lung.'" It wasn't a question.

John knew that it was pointless to argue with the physician when he got into this mode, but he tried anyway. "McKay's exaggerating," he said. It might have sounded more convincing, though, if he hadn't doubled over and grabbed for a basin at the same time.

Carson shook his head. "What am I going to do with you, John?" As he spoke, he deftly wound a tourniquet around his lover's arm and punctured the vein just above the elbow. For the next few minutes, he was occupied with drawing blood and beginning a saline infusion. When he finished, though, Carson turned back to John and raised one eyebrow.

John sighed. "I just didn't want you to see me like this," he muttered. "It's not like I've never had food poisoning before." He winced as another cramp hit.

"Believe me, I've seen much worse." Carson's blue eyes held fondness now. "You run yourself ragged trying to care for us and keep us all safe. It's time to let someone fuss over you for a change." He patted John on the shoulder. "Lie down and get some rest. And let me know if you want something for the nausea."

John's first inclination was to refuse. Then he thought about what the other man had said and changed his mind. "Thanks, Carson. For that, and for putting up with me in general."

After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Carson laid a hand gently on John's cheek. "I wouldn't have it any other way."