Title: "Special Delivery"
Rating: T (language), gen
Set in Season Three up to Common Ground
Synopsis: A quake traps Sheppard and McKay under ground with a pregnant woman. Shep whumpage, lots of buddy bonding, and the guys learn of a couple new things they never wanted to learn about.
Author's Note: This is my first completed SGA fic! I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading!
"McKay, it's Christmas, lighten up a little," Sheppard muttered under his breath as he knelt behind him.
Rodney straightened from the panel he was working on and turned to him. "Let's get this perfectly clear, Colonel. Christmas has never been my favorite day of the year, not even when I was a kid. I've never cared if it was a white Christmas, blue or any other color you might name. It's just another day to me. Besides, we are in another galaxy, on a planet that has no idea what Earth celebrates in the way of holidays, so give me a break."
Sheppard frowned. "Fine, forget it's Christmas. Lighten up anyway. Otherwise, it's going to be a very long day."
McKay continued to grumble indiscernible words as he went back to digging through the disassembled control panel, attaching various wires to his test equipment, and Sheppard let him. Anything that would get the area's power distribution system fixed, so they could leave, was fine by him. Rodney had been in a snit ever since Sheppard volunteered him to check on the city's energy problem. It was a goodwill gesture, but McKay was still pretty touchy about the whole thing.
Sheppard blew lightly on his cold fingers as he stood. A recent wave of frigid weather had overwhelmed the central power generator's ability to properly distribute the city's needs. In the building's basement, the chill felt especially strong. The control room was huge. At sixty feet by thirty and filled with cabinetry, control panels, and other monitoring equipment, it was the heart of the facility.
Sheppard glanced over to their escort, a very pregnant young woman by the name of Dr. Zalea Modek. With her dark hair and tall stature, she was a good representation of the city's population. She had a bright smile that made her blue eyes twinkle, though it could have been the pregnancy adding to her sparkle. But her smile sagged a bit as she ended a conversation with her superior, the head of the power plant, Dentin Hozer, via her handheld radio. Hozer had gone with the others to ensure a key relay switch was activated properly when the time came.
Sheppard smiled politely and asked, "Did the others have any success?"
She shook her head slightly as she rubbed her back. "Our recent ground tremors seem to have blocked the main access to the conduit tunnels, so they are going to try another entrance."
McKay's head popped up. "Ground tremors? You've had recent seismic activity?"
Dr. Modek nodded. "Yes, they've been unusually strong lately."
Rodney sighed and got to his feet, tossing the wires in his hand back at the console. "Well, that explains the anomalous readings I've been getting." He paused, glancing around nervously. "We should really vacate the premises until the building has been checked thoroughly for structural stability."
Sheppard took a step closer. "Do you really think that's necessary?"
McKay rolled his eyes. "No, I just say these things arbitrarily. Yes, of course, I think it's necessary. Without the power distribution grid functioning properly, all the city's energy is essentially passing through one set of generators, instead of the four powerhouses it was designed to use, putting too much strain on the system. There's a distinct possibility that more severe tremors could trigger a disastrous response, even an explosion. We need more sophisticated equipment than they have on this planet to determine its safety and correct it before anybody spends any more time here."
"I don't understand," Modek said. "What would seismic activity have to do with our power distribution problem?"
"A lot, if this plant is built over a quake fault line like I think it is. It's the only thing that would explain the readings I'm getting."
"Surely the architects took all that into accou-"
"Not enough, obviously. In their defense, part of these readings wouldn't register on the equipment you use, so they had no way to know about the dangers involved."
McKay's eyes widened. "And the readings are becoming more alarming. We better move."
Dr. Modek still looked a little confused, but she nodded. "I will tell the others to leave the building," she said as she activated her radio.
Sheppard tapped his headset. "Lorne, this is Sheppard."
"Get the puddle jumper ready. It looks like your team will be going home to retrieve some equipment before we can finish up here."
Lorne replied, "On my way."
They waited while McKay loaded up his computer and other gear. Finally, they were ready.
"Okay, let's go – " Sheppard started. He looked around, feeling slightly dizzy. Something was wrong, and it took him a second to realize the floor beneath his feet was shaking and it was getting worse. "Ah, crap," he whispered.
He glanced at McKay who had run to stand inside one of the entrances into the main control room. Various objects started falling from the walls and tabletops. Sheppard put an arm around Zalea and pulled her away, just as one of the overhead support beams dropped from the ceiling. Debris rained down on them in its aftermath, with Sheppard shielding her as much as possible.
The young woman screamed in terror and the trembler just kept going. A smattering of seconds seemed like an eternity. Sheppard quickly looked around the room and saw few options. There was a heavy wooden conference style table sitting against one wall and he hoped it would hold up as he pushed Dr. Modek under its protection.
"Stay here," he said curtly once she was safely there and turned toward McKay.
"Over here," Sheppard shouted as he waved. It was hard to be heard over the deep rumbling noises from the building.
McKay looked at him and then away, reluctant to leave his position of relative safety. Sheppard raised his voice and shouted again, this time using every bit of authority he had in him, "McKay, move your ass over here right now!"
With hesitation, Rodney started toward him. He was about six feet from the doorway when the room behind him disappeared with a loud crash as the floor above collapsed on into it. Flying debris exploded from the collapsed room. One chunk hit McKay in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground.
Sheppard crossed the distance between them with long strides as more loud crashes continued in the floors above them. He grabbed McKay by his jacket and dragged him away from the door. The lights went out and Sheppard relied on memory, hauling McKay over to the table. He pushed Rodney under it to join Dr. Modek just as the emergency power came on.
Sheppard took a deep breath and coughed from the dust in the air. Just as quickly as it had started, the shaking stopped. There were a few more distant crashes as things settled, then the silence grew ominously. He glanced around, his gaze taking in the rubble and blocked exits and the sudden reduction in the size of the room. He turned back to McKay and Modek. "Are you two okay?"
Dr. Modek sobbed with fear, her hands wrapped around her unborn child. Sheppard knelt down to her side. "Dr. Modek, are you okay?"
She didn't seem to hear him, so he shook her arm. "Zalea, can you hear me?"
She blinked a few times, and then finally saw him. She took a ragged breath, her body visibly shaking. "Are-are we going to die?"
Sheppard gave her his best smile. "Not today. Are you okay?"
She wiped at her face with one hand. "I - I think so."
"And the baby?"
Her resolve seemed crumple with his question. She felt her abdomen with both hands and sighed with relief. "I can feel him move, so I think he's okay, too."
Sheppard smiled again. "Good, just hang in there. We'll get you out of here as soon as we can."
She nodded, but seemed unable to stop crying completely. She put a hand to her mouth and Sheppard noticed how violently her hand trembled. He squeezed her forearm in silent comfort, and then a groan from McKay made him turn to look in his direction. "McKay, are you doing okay?"
"Do I look like I'm doing okay? I was almost flattened like a pancake! Give me a moment to recover," he barked in reply. His expression was tight with pain, but he seemed more angry than seriously wounded.
Sheppard glanced around once more. "Well, stay put while I check things out."
Dr. Modek reached out with one shaky hand. "Be careful."
He nodded as he pulled away. "Always am."
McKay snorted in response, but Sheppard ignored him. The emergency lighting helped, but it was barely enough to make out more than the dimensions of the room. He pulled up his P-90 and turned on its light, sweeping it around the room for a better look. Both exits out of the room were blocked with debris, one more than the other. They weren't going to get out of there without a lot of help.
Tapping his headset, he said, "Lorne, do you read me?"
There was a moment's delay and then Lorne replied, "Yes, sir, but the reception is bad. You're breaking up."
Sheppard went to speak, but coughed from the dust still in the air, and then spoke louder, "We're trapped in the basement of the power facility. Looks like the quake brought everything down around us."
"Are you and Dr. McKay all right?"
"Yeah, at least we are at the moment. Get on the horn to Weir and have her send in two more jumpers with men and equipment, along with Zelenka and a few more engineers. I'm afraid you're going to have to dig us out."
"Yes, sir. I'll be over there as soon as I talk to Dr. Weir."
Sheppard lowered his voice as he glanced at Dr. Modek who was still crying a short distance from them. "We've got a very pregnant woman stuck in here with us, so I'd appreciate it if you'd hurry . . . "
"Understood. I'll radio you when I'm at your location."
"Roger. Sheppard out."
McKay joined Sheppard as he clicked off his radio. The scientist was still holding his shoulder, but he didn't seem to be in as much pain as he flexed the joint, testing its mobility. "We are so screwed," he whispered as he looked at the exits and then up above him.
"Things could be worse. We could have been flattened like the next room, but we weren't."
McKay pulled the muzzle of Sheppard's weapon upward so the light shone above them. "See that rift in the ceiling over there? One more quake like the last one and we will all be human pancakes."
Sheppard glanced back to Modek about ten feet away. She was crying more heavily now that the adrenaline rush was passing. "Keep your voice down. We've got to keep that woman calm or else we'll be dealing with all kinds of things we don't want to deal with, like unscheduled baby appearances . . . "
McKay stiffened and looked back at her, his hand dropping away from his shoulder as if suddenly forgotten. "You don't think she'd actually go into labor?"
"Don't you know anything about pregnant women? Sudden shocks like this have been known to induce premature labor, so I repeat, we've got to keep that woman calm."
McKay pursed his lips and he blinked several times before he nodded in agreement. "Just on the off chance something like that happens, have you ever delivered a baby?"
Sheppard's eyes widened at the thought and he snapped back, "Do I look like a damned obstetrician? No, I don't know the first thing about delivering babies. What about you, Doctor McKay?"
"Very funny. I'm a doctor of real science, not some quackery." McKay sighed and shook his head, repeating his earlier sentiment, though in a lower tone. "We are so screwed."
Sheppard ignored him. "Let's take inventory of what we have with us since it might take some time for them to dig us out."
With an almost mechanical demeanor, McKay emptied the contents of his vest and pants pockets onto a desk, along with Sheppard. Sheppard felt a little better as he took note of their supplies. It wasn't enough for all of them to survive on for more than a couple of days, even with rationing, but maybe if he cut back on his own portions, he could extend the supplies a little longer.
"We've got to ration everything, but we've also got to watch out for Dr. Modek. She needs to eat and drink enough for two."
McKay's expression fell. "I have a very high metabolism. I need to eat too, maybe not for two, but I need to eat . . . "
Sheppard growled, "McKay, get your head out of your stomach. What do you think will happen if that second support beam goes?"
Rodney didn't hesitate. "Pancake City."
Sheppard rubbed his forehead. He had an annoying headache and McKay wasn't helping it at all. "Enough of the pancake analogies. Won't the other support beams protect us even if that one gives way?"
"Maybe . . . "
McKay squinted as he looked up and followed the support beams to both ends. He held up his good hand, obviously recovering from his brush with death, as he pointed and talked more to himself than anyone else. "Luckily, there are several support beams over the width of this room or we'd already be dead."
He walked across the room with Sheppard's P-90, using its light to examine each beam separately. Sheppard followed close behind. McKay cleared his throat and said, "Actually, we might be able to strengthen this most troubling support beam, but it's a lot more difficult to calculate the weight distribution without the floor plans of this facility. Maybe if we . . . "
"If we what?" Sheppard asked, starting to follow McKay again as he began walking in another direction.
"Let me think for a minute."
McKay's left arm still hung motionless at his side, but he didn't seem to be in as much pain as he stepped away from Sheppard, still talking to himself. Sheppard smiled. The science guy was on the case. Things were looking up.
He turned back to Dr. Modek. She was talking into her radio with a low and shaky voice. "Yes, we are all still alive, though I don't know how. We are trapped in the main control room, but it looks like all the exits are blocked. We will need help to get out."
Her chin trembled as she said, "Tell Arlin that the baby and I are okay and that I love him."
She paused, apparently letting the party on other side of radio talk. She nodded, closing her eyes. "Thank you. I better sign off for now to preserve the power unit. I will relay more information when I have it."
When she was done talking, Sheppard knelt down so that he was eye level with her. "Did the others make it out of the building in time?"
She nodded, taking a deep breath. "It seems we are the only ones trapped at the moment. They have ordered rescue teams to coordinate with your people."
"We'll be out of here in no time." He winked and said, "I think it's safe to come out from there if you want to."
She nodded warily and put out a hand for Sheppard to help her stand, but stopped as she looked down at her calf length dress and overcoat. The floor below her was soaked with liquid. A knot formed in Sheppard's gut even before she said the words, "I think my water just broke."
Now, it was Sheppard stammering with fear. Facing the wraith singlehanded in the past hadn't really fazed him much, but give him a woman about to have a baby and he was terrified. "Your-your water broke? Ah, that's not good. Is this your first child?"
She nodded as tears began to form in her big blue eyes. "Yes, but he's not due for another month. He can't come now. This is no place to have a baby. It's not sterile. It's not warm. And my husband isn't here and neither is my doctor. I can't have the baby now," she said, the pitch in her voice rising a notch with each protest.
She grabbed Sheppard's arm and groaned as she bent low in pain. He supported her with both hands. "What? What's the matter?"
She sucked in air and squeezed her eyes shut. When she finally looked up, her face was reddened. "I think that was a contraction."
Sheppard took her by both shoulders. "No, no, no. Listen, you were right. This is no place to have a baby. Just – just cross your legs. Help is on the way. Here, let me get you some water to drink."
He busied himself with releasing the strap securing his canteen on his tac vest and noticed a slight tremor to his own hands. He took a deep breath. The thought of playing Dr. Delivery in the Dark unnerved him much more than the risk of being crushed if the overhead support beams fully collapsed.
Zalea shifted and he took note of her awkward position. He secured the canteen strap again. "Let's get you moved first. Just have a seat on the table and relax."
She moved fairly easily and that eased Sheppard's concerns for some reason. He helped her sit on top of the table as he pulled out his canteen again, along with a power bar.
"I've got something for you to eat and water to drink. Just concentrate on not having that baby until we are rescued, then you can have your husband and doctor at your side to witness the birth of little junior here. Until then, no baby, promise?"
Zalea broke down in tears again, so badly this time she could hardly take a breath without shuddering. Sheppard grimaced. Damn it, where was Beckett, or even Teyla or Weir when he needed them? They could deal with an emotional mother-to-be. He just wasn't made for that kind of stuff.
She finally picked up the canteen and took a long drink. Sheppard stood beside her, playing mother hen as he watched McKay out of the corner of one eye. Rodney had paced the length of the room's support beams twice but still seemed to be calculating something in his head. Suddenly, Zalea gasped, dropping the canteen, and reached out, clasping Sheppard's forearm with every bit of strength she had and emitted a long groan.
"Another contraction?" Sheppard asked breathlessly, not wanting to hear the answer that would surely come.
She nodded and Sheppard glanced at his watch. It had been barely three minutes since the last one. He didn't know much about how babies were born, but he did know enough to know that contractions three minutes apart weren't a good thing.
"Just hang in there. I'm going to have our doctor brought over with the rescue teams. He is very good. He'll know just what to do."
"I'm going to have my baby a month early and here, instead of the birthing center -- without his father -- without my doctor -- without . . . " she said, her voice rising with spiraling emotion with each word. It ended by a shuddering sob and Sheppard found himself awkwardly taking her into his arms.
"Shush, it's not all that bad. You've got me and McKay. We've come through more crazy situations than I can count and we always survive. Don't worry, we'll get you through this, too."
Rodney was back beside them by then, surprising Sheppard as he pulled out a handkerchief and gave it to her. She wiped the tears from her face and blew her nose. Rodney put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. His voice was low and calm as he said, "He's right, you know, Dr. Modek. The others will be here soon. Just keep thinking good thoughts about the baby and know we will get out of this."
Modek looked up at them and took a deep breath. "You're both right. I need to stay positive. And, please, call me Zalea."
McKay smiled and patted her hand. "I'm Rodney and you can call Colonel Sheppard John. Now that we know everyone on a first name basis, can you hold on a moment while I show something to the Colonel? We won't be away for more than a moment."
"Thank you again," she said with a stronger voice.
Sheppard fell in step behind McKay as they walked across the large room and whispered, "That was pretty damn impressive. I didn't know you had it in you."
"It takes someone who has known sheer panic to calm another panicked individual. Basically, you lie so blatantly that the panicked person will believe anything you say to them. You know, a little like what you do with me, but I never really fall for it. Besides, I couldn't let her know just how truly screwed we are."
"Well, keep that gloomy thought to yourself. And I don't lie to you, I just give you a different perspective, a better outlook on the situation."
"And what tidbit of enlightenment do you have to impart now?"
As McKay waited with his arms folded over his chest, Sheppard looked around. "Look, we can't just stand around here doing nothing. We need to see just how bad things are in order to make them better, so get to work."
It seemed like they had barely split up when Zalea screamed, pulling Sheppard back to her side.
"What is it? Another contraction?" Sheppard asked, putting a hand on her arm.
It took a good thirty seconds for her to respond. "They are coming faster and harder. I thought going into labor took a lot longer than this. My Aunt Kala was in labor for three days . . . "
By this time, she had grabbed his hand and squeezed the hell out of it, still riding out the last contraction. "Oh God, I can't have the baby here. I can't. This isn't the way we planned it. We've got to get out of here right now!"
Sheppard caught McKay's glance a few feet away. "Call Lorne and see where Beckett is. I have a feeling we will be needing him sooner rather than later."
McKay walked up to Sheppard, stopping a few feet away, and said in a loud whisper, "You better hope they find us fast, because there's no way in hell either one of us can deliver this baby."
Sheppard looked up at McKay and spoke through clenched teeth. "Do I need to repeat calm and coolheaded?"
"You can repeat it all you want, there's no way–"
"After you call Lorne, why don't you go follow up on those plans of yours for shoring up the support beams?" Sheppard said firmly, interrupting McKay's building tirade.
McKay's mouth opened and closed a few times before he sighed and left them to call Lorne, still muttering, but now he was far enough away that Zalea wouldn't be able to hear him. Sheppard glanced upward briefly and prayed the ceiling would hold out until help arrived.