Disclaimers: Not mine.
Note: The word apocryphal means questionable.
"No, no, no, no!" Rodney exclaimed, kneeling by his friend. He looked around and noticed, thankfully, that the people who had attacked them were no longer there. "Sheppard! Come on, wake up!" he said, checking John's pulse.
His own heart nearly stopped when he couldn't find one. Rodney took a deep breath and quickly called Teyla as he began CPR. "You've got to hurry!" he cried between compressions and breathing for John.
"We are on our way, Rodney," came Teyla's response.
Rodney was so intent on trying to save John that he didn't hear Teyla call out to him. He just wanted to scream at him, tell him to stop fooling around and wake up. He nearly did when he felt strong arms pulling him away.
"Ronon let go of me!"
Teyla moved in front of him. "Rodney it is too late," she said, tears in her eyes.
"You must have been trying since you called us and that was nearly ten minutes ago."
Rodney continued to stare at his friend's unmoving form. He then tried to remember what had them running. Oh, the natives. He wasn't sure what they had done, but whatever it was couldn't have been good for first contact.
Before he could respond to her (still not believing what she was saying), Ronon let go of him and pulled out his weapon. Teyla's ear seemed trained on something as well. "We gotta go," Ronon said, turning to leave.
"Wait! We can't just leave him here!"
Weapons fire began to erupt all around them and Ronon made the decision to grab him and head towards the 'Gate. Teyla fired as well, but her eyes strayed to the body lying on the ground. We will come back for you, John, she thought.
John's hand flew to the back of his neck when the dart pierced him. He slowed down when he realized something was seriously wrong. He had trouble calling out to Rodney as he fell to the ground. John willed himself not panic as all the feeling in his body left him.
Suddenly he heard Rodney rushing to his side. "No, no, no, no!"
What was Rodney freaking out about? He was just unconscious… right?
"Sheppard! Come on, wake up!"
He had heard Rodney worried before, but this time it was scaring him. He couldn't open his eyes to let his friend know he was still alive and well. Okay, not physically well.
John realized Rodney was performing CPR on him when air was being deposited in his lungs. That and the fact that he heard a rib cracking.
"You've got to hurry!" Rodney was saying.
"We are on our way, Rodney!"
It was quiet for a while. The only sound John heard was Rodney breathing for him.
How could he let Rodney know he was still breathing? Barely, yes, but apparently enough to keep him alive.
"Ronon let go of me!"
"Rodney it is too late." Teyla seemed to pause. "You must have been trying since you called us and that was nearly ten minutes ago."
No, it wasn't too late! John wanted to scream. Whatever was in that dart definitely wasn't good!
Another quiet moment only this time John heard their ragged breaths. Ronon must have sensed something. "We gotta go," he said.
"Wait! We can't just leave him here!"
Don't worry about me, Rodney. Save yourselves, John thought.
John heard the pounding of feet around him, but no one seemed to pay much attention or if they did, he couldn't tell. Finally all was still. He slowly started to feel the numbness in his body go away and leave a tingling sensation in its wake.
About twenty minutes later (could have been longer, he wasn't certain), John was able to sit up. He nearly cried out when his cracked rib protested. He'd forgotten about that! John reached around to pull the dart from his neck, placing it carefully in one his vest pockets.
He really needed to start heading back to the 'Gate. Although he wasn't paralyzed anymore, the thought of getting up and actually walking around did not sound too appealing to him.
After struggling to stay upright, John slid on the ground towards some bushes. He hated having to hide but with feeling so weak he would have to do so until his team returned. Albeit to pick up a dead body…
The minute Atlantis' flagship team arrived everyone knew something had gone horribly wrong. The three stood in the middle of the room panting and looking utterly defeated. Elizabeth walked down the stairs afraid of what they were going to tell her.
From the looks in their eyes, though, she knew. It had finally happened. "Where…?"
Ronon shook his head. "Still there. We had to make a hasty retreat."
Elizabeth noticed that Rodney merely glared at Ronon. He muttered something to himself then ran off. "We'll check back in an hour. If things have cooled off by then, I'll send Major Lorne's team with you."
The pair nodded, then followed Rodney. Elizabeth took a deep breath and headed back up to her office, mind reeling. She tried concentrating on her reports, but she just couldn't.
She almost jumped when Chuck entered. "Dr. Weir, it's been an hour," he said.
"Of course. Lets dial it up."
Noting that it was clear, she had Chuck call Ronon and Teyla, then went to check on Rodney...
"Rodney," Elizabeth said. "Ronon and Teyla are ready to go. Are you going with them?"
"No!" Rodney replied tersely.
Rodney glared at Elizabeth. "Look, I said no! Now I have a ton of stuff to do right now so please leave me alone!"
"All right, Rodney," she said.
Elizabeth sighed as she headed back to the control room. It looked as if Rodney was going to have the worst time of them all in dealing with John's death. She took a deep breath and mentally yelled at herself. She was not going to grieve right now. Not until John was brought back and she was alone in her quarters.
Elizabeth nodded to Ronon and Teyla and Major Lorne's team as they waited to depart. With a nod to Chuck, she told him to dial.
Once John was leaning against the tree, any adrenaline he had gained was gone and his eyes slipped closed. He awoke several hours later when he noticed a chill in the air.
The good thing was that the incessant tingling was gone and he could feel his extremities. The bad news was that he was freezing and whatever was in that dart seemed to be wreaking havoc on his body. John's head was pounding, he was weak and he felt as if his heart were skipping every other beat. John knew he had to get up and make his way back to the 'Gate.
Everyone thought he was dead by now so they would wait until it was clear to send anyone for his body He didn't feel as if he had time to wait, though.
John took a deep breath and, using the tree for leverage, stood up. Yeah, he could do this!
John was more than halfway to the 'Gate when he began coughing. His lungs felt like they were on fire. All he wanted to do was collapse on the ground, but he couldn't. No, he wouldn't! He was not going to die on some messed up planet all alone!
"Come on, John," he said, "one foot in front of the other. Just get back to Atlantis so Rodney can yell at you and Ronon can kick your ass for almost dying."
John had to drop behind some bushes when he saw people heading towards him. He couldn't hear what they were saying, though. "Ronon this is Lorne. Any sign of him?"
"No," came the one worded response.
"It is likely the people who came after us took him away," Teyla replied.
"This is Sheppard, come in!"
There was silence for a moment then, "Authorization code, Sir," Lorne requested. John gave it and coughed again when he was finished. "It's good to hear your voice, Sir. Although it sounds a bit rough."
John shook his head with a grin. "Yeah. Listen, you have that friendly group of people heading down the path we came down. Go back to the 'Gate, I'll meet you there."
"Sheppard, where are you?" John thought how nice it would be to have Ronon join him, hell even carry him, but he needed to stay conscious and he wouldn't if he waited for the Satedan.
"No, I'll be fine. See you in 10 minutes. That's an order, Ronon!"
"That's an order, Ronon!"
He looked at Teyla, who nodded. "We're going after him anyway. Meet us at the 'Gate."
"Well have Dr. Beckett standing by," Lorne said.
Ronon's eyes were trained on his surroundings. He only hoped John hadn't strayed too far off the path. Telya's thoughts were swirling around in her head. She had been so prepared to grieve for her friend she wasn't sure what to say to him when they found him.
Ronon pointed ahead. It looked like she was going to find out.
"Sheppard," Ronon said, kneeling next to his friend.
John's eyes opened. "Tried. Still a little tired."
"It's fine," Ronon replied as he and Teyla helped John to his feet.
Teyla smiled at him. "Let us get you home, John."
Elizabeth joined Carson near the Stargate. "That man has more lives than a cat," he told her. She nodded in agreement. "Did you speak with Rodney?"
"I tried, twice, but he wouldn't listen. Not even when I told him John was still alive."
"Perhaps he doesn't want to get his hopes up," Carson said.
Suddenly the 'Gate kawooshed open. Carson and his team immediately swarmed around the trio. "John, can you tell me how you fee?l"
"Better than before, Doc. Right lower pocket. Dart."
Carson noted that man was having trouble breathing as he was helped onto the stretcher. "Lets get him on O2, STAT!"
"How's he doing, Carson?" Elizabeth asked three hours later.
"He's resting comfortably right now. We haven't had to put him on a respirator yet, but he's still having slight trouble breathing. We're monitoring his heart rate right now. From what we've learned of the poison, it incapacitates a person to the point of paralysis. It's so pronounced that it's no surprise they thought he was dead."
Elizabeth took a deep breath. "That would explain why Rodney's been acting the way he has. I don't suppose he's been in here."
"Not at all," Carson replied. "I just sent Teyla after him. He needs to see Colonel Sheppard breathing for himself; he's not going to take anyone else's word for it. I probably should have sent Ronon, though. Rodney's more afraid of him than Teyla."
A cough from John interrupted their conversation so the two walked over to his side. "Colonel?"
"Doc, what did that stuff do to me?" John asked, moving the oxygen mask to the side. "It feels like my heart's going to pop out of my chest. The last time I felt that way…"
John trailed off as Elizabeth placed a hand on his shoulder. She and Carson both knew he was talking about the Wraith that fed off him.
John took another breath of air from the mask. "Where's Rodney? He's the only one I haven't seen."
"He's a little nervous about coming to see you, Colonel," Carson replied. "We don't think he wants to get his hopes up… um… that is…"
"If I die," John said.
Teyla found Rodney on a balcony near his quarters. He was sitting in the corner and she would have missed him if he hadn't called her name. "Carson sent you to find me, didn't he?"
"He did, Rodney," Teyla said, sitting next to him. "We were worried about you."
"I see that you are physically well, but deep inside you are fighting to regain control of what has happened. You do realize that John is alive."
Rodney stood up in anger. "Yes, I realize that! But I didn't know it three hours ago, Teyla! I'm afraid that if I don't accept it now and he dies, I won't… I mean I can't…"
Teyla's arms were around Rodney before he could even blink. Tears coursed down his cheeks and again he felt out of control as he cried for his friend and for being so selfish because he didn't want to be hurt again.
"I'm sorry," Rodney said to her after a few moments of regaining his composure.
"It is all right. Perhaps you would like to return to your quarters before you visit John."
Rodney could Teyla that she wasn't giving him a choice. "Thanks. I'll meet you there in about an hour."
"I will see you then."
As Teyla entered the hallway, she saw Ronon coming towards her. "Where is he?"
She shook her head. "He needs some time to himself. He will come to the infirmary within the hour."
"And you believed him? Besides he's had plenty of time to be alone. Sheppard needs to see him."
Teyla glared at him. "You will leave Rodney alone Ronon," she warned. Ronon glared back, but conceded.
John nodded nervously to Carson. As much as he hated having a respirator shoved down his throat, he was having too much trouble breathing to argue. "I'll just get everything together, Colonel."
As Carson left to get the equipment, John stared at the ceiling, willing his breathing and heart rate to go back to normal. He hated feeling like this. John's thoughts were interrupted when he heard someone enter the infirmary.
"Rodney." The scientist just stood there silently. He wouldn't move any closer to John. "Come here," he said, breath still coming in small gasps.
"I'm good. You seem… well," Rodney said as he swallowed around the lump in his throat. "You need rest, I should go!"
"Rodney!" John shouted again as his friend ran out.
John ignored the fact that he could barely breathe and removed the IV and leads from his chest. At this point, Carson came rushing in the room, two nurses following. "Colonel!" he exclaimed, rushing to help John.
"Rodney," John gasped out. "I need… him… back in here… Carson!"
Carson eyed one of the nurses, who rushed off to grab a sedative. "Just relax," Carson told him. "Let's get you back into bed."
"Sorry," he muttered.
"Its all right, just calm down. I'll make sure Rodney comes back to see you." He smiled at the nurse, who had reattached the IV and was injecting the sedative.
"Relax, John. Everything will be all right."
John nodded as he drifted off to sleep.
Elizabeth was heading to the infirmary when Rodney nearly slammed into her. His face was pale and there was thin sheen of sweat on his forehead. He looked not unlike a deer caught in headlights. "Rodney, are you all right?" she asked.
"What about him?" Elizabeth wanted to know. iPlease don't say he's dead,/i she thought to herself.
"I… gotta go."
Elizabeth was not sure she could handle much more of an unglued Rodney McKay. According to Radek, he had pawned off all his important work to him. When Rodney came to his senses he wouldn't be a happy camper.
She sighed. She would have to send Carson or Kate to talk to him and neither was going to enjoy that assignment. Elizabeth would go herself, but Rodney didn't listen to her and from what she gathered from Teyla, he hadn't listened to her either.
Elizabeth entered to see Carson finishing the placement of the respirator. "Has it gotten that bad?" she asked.
Carson nodded. "Aye. And Rodney agitated him."
"That's why he ran out of here so fast," she realized.
"He's going to have to talk to someone."
Elizabeth agreed. "Teyla spoke to him some time ago and he seemed all right, but I guess actually seeing John in here hit him hard."
"Well, he's resting for the moment. Perhaps I should talk to Rodney. Even though Colonel Sheppard's condition seems dire, he just needs some time to rest and let the drug leave his system. I trust you'll sit with him?"
At her nod, he continued. "The nurses will be around to check on him. If I'm needed…"
"Go on, Carson," Elizabeth said with a smile. "Well be fine."
Radek just stared at Rodney in confusion. "What do you mean you are unavailable for simulations? Rodney, you are head of this department. You started this project because you did not trust me, or anyone else, to deal with it! I do not understand."
Rodney glared at him. "You don't need to. As you said, I am head of this department so I can delegate as I see fit."
Before Radek could respond, Rodney was gone. He sighed, shaking his head and muttering in Czech. He knew that Colonel Sheppard and Rodney were good friends, but he didn't know how deep that friendship was.
"Is Rodney in here?" Carson asked, popping his head in.
"Just left. He's in a mood, Carson."
"Aye. I'm sure he is," he replied.
Carson caught up to Rodney just as he was about to enter his quarters. He called out to his friend and was a little surprised to see fresh tears on his face. "Rodney," Carson said.
"Rodney, I realize that you're worried about Colonel Sheppard, but he's not dead and he's not dying! True he had to be put on a respirator, but its only temporary until the drug is flushed out of his system and he is fully rested from the trauma he went through because of it.
"He was just as scared as you, Rodney. Remember, even though you didn't know he was alive, he was left behind."
"Hit me, Carson."
Carson watched as a range of emotions played over Rodney's face. "I need to sit down for a minute," he said. The physician nodded and helped him to a chair. "I've been an idiot, haven't I?"
"No, Rodney. You've been behaving quite human."
Rodney took a deep breath and thought about the last day and half. The scariest thing he had ever experienced in the Pegasus Galaxy was surprisingly not death by the Wraith (although that was a close second), but losing his friends.
"Good," Carson said, "because I was about to send a pissed off Satedan after you."
Elizabeth smiled when Carson arrived with Rodney in tow. She stood up to allow him to sit, but first gave him a hug. "You're a good man, Rodney."
Rodney merely nodded as he sat down. Making sure Elizabeth and Carson were out of earshot, he moved closer to John. He didn't have to wait long for him to wake up as John blinked his eyes open.
John motioned for paper and pen. Rodney disappeared from his line of vision and returned with the items a few minutes later. John wrote the following:
Thank you. You didn't want to leave me there, but they made you and you really didn't have a choice. It's been awhile since I had anyone I could call a friend, but since coming to Atlantis, I've met some wonderful people, most of all you. Now enough of this mushy stuff and get Carson over here so this damn thing can go.
Rodney shook his head when he read the last sentence. "Carson just put that in. There's no way he's going to take it out already." John just rolled his eyes. "Hey now, don't be in such a hurry! You need your rest because your body has been through the ringer!"
Carson cleared his throat and Rodney turned to see him grinning along with
Elizabeth. "What?" he asked. "I'm right, aren't I?"