Title: Spinning

Author: Philote

Rating: PG

Characters: McKay, Sheppard

Summary: He's faced Wraith and knife-wielding Genii and death in forms more creative and numerous than he ever could have imagined, only to find that there is nothing more frightening than his own mind.

AN: Takes place sometime shortly after "The Hive," spoilers for that episode. Written for the 'Not Happening' challenge on sgaflashfic.


'This is not happening. You're fine; just relax.'

That internal command isn't working like it used to.

And this is happening. The only questions are how bad it really is and what the end result is going to be.

He's pacing his little room, his thoughts refusing to settle long enough for him to even think about sleep. His mind has always been a frenetic place most people wouldn't even want to visit, let alone live in. But it's always worked for him. It was always organized, categorical thoughts leading him to where he needed to be.

But that was before—pre-enzyme. Lately it spins off without him, goes off on multiple unrelated tangents; leaves him befuddled. He's beginning to wonder if he'll ever feel normal again.

He's beginning to fear that maybe something broke, something that can't be fixed.

He's faced Wraith and knife-wielding Genii and death in forms more creative and numerous than he ever could have imagined, only to find that there is nothing more frightening than his own mind.

On this particular night he can't escape a chilling thought, one that all others seem to lead back to. There was an attempted culling earlier that they thwarted. There are three dead Wraith at a crash site just yards from the town's edge. And they're haunting him.

Calling him.

The really disturbing part is that he knows his thinking is clearer now. But he doesn't care so much, because he also knows that if it were in his system, his thoughts would seem to make more sense to him. And at the moment, that trumps health and logic.

He doesn't remember making a decision, but he finds himself out his door and headed down the hallway. Near the main entrance of the quaint little guest quarters he veers sharply to the left, throwing open another door and swinging it shut behind him. "You have to do something!" he proclaims unceremoniously.

Sheppard jerks upright, hand reaching for the nearby pistol before his eyes are even open. He squints in the dimness, not a terribly difficult task with the light of two moons. "McKay? What's wrong?"

"There are three dead Wraith out there, Colonel!"

Sheppard stares at him for a beat and lowers the weapon. He shifts, and Rodney notices with a bit of disgruntlement that his bed looks considerably larger and more comfortable than the one in Rodney's room. "They are dead. We made sure of it."

Good grief, the man is an idiot. He rolls his eyes in disgust. "Believe me Colonel, I wouldn't be thinking about doing what I'm thinking about doing if they weren't!" He pauses, breathing heavily, and is struck with an overwhelming thought. "At least, I hope I wouldn't," he finishes with a frightened whimper.

"Rodney," Sheppard sighs, a mixture of concern and something Rodney can't quite identify. He finally replaces the gun on the floor beside his cushy bed. "Do you want to talk?"

"No, I don't want to talk! I want you to do something!"

Sheppard stares at him for a beat, and Rodney belatedly wishes he'd bothered to at least try hiding his panic. Then, "Fine. Lie down." The Colonel tosses the blanket back and gestures to the space between him and the wall.


"Lie down!"

He reacts to it like a field command, like his life depends on it, because that's how it's delivered. He doesn't pause to think until after he's complied, at which point he reflects that no one should be able to pull that off while sitting in bed, half asleep, hair sticking up in angles that defy physics.

And he was right; Sheppard's bed is way bigger. They both fit with room to spare, more space between them now than when they share those standard-issue tents.

Sheppard carelessly tosses the covers up over him. "I'll know if you get up," he warns sternly, then flops back onto his side facing the door.

Rodney blinks at his back. "That's it?"

Sheppard throws him a look over his shoulder. "Was there something else?"

"Believe it or not, I did not come in here to talk my way into your bed!"

"Then why did you come in here, Rodney? What is it you want?"

His tone is abruptly far too gentle. It makes something inside Rodney crack in a painful way.

"I want this to stop," he finally whispers.

Sheppard turns fully to face him and snakes a hand out to grip his forearm, tender but firm. "It'll get better. But it'll take time."

"I don't know if I can last that long."

"Yes you can. You're better than this. It won't beat you."

"How do you know?" He'd wanted it to be patronizing, but somehow it comes out weak and tremulous.

"Because you didn't go out there. You came to me. And I won't let it."

Rodney stares at him. It's a fine sentiment, really it is, but he doesn't see how…

"Rodney!" Sheppard interrupts his thoughts, a little smile playing at his lips. "You're thinking too much again."

"Tell me how to stop." And again with the pleading in place of the intended biting wit. He's really got to get his brain and mouth on better terms.

"What did you used to do to shut that huge brain off at night?"

"I mentally recited the basics of wormhole physics over and over."

The Colonel blinks. "No sheep?"

And Rodney, despite himself, cracks a smile. "No sheep."

Sheppard shrugs and rolls onto his back. "Then go for it. You can even do it out loud if you want. Though I should warn you, if you do, that I'll probably be asleep long before you."

So he does. Softly, in a monotonous whisper, and Sheppard is snoring within five minutes. It takes Rodney a bit longer. But he holds himself still and keeps his eyes on the moons through the window, and his mind doesn't stray from the theories he's reciting. And, sometime deep into the early morning hours, with John Sheppard securely between him and the rest of the world, he drifts off to sleep.