Set between Vengeance and First Strike
John arched an eyebrow at the weather-worn structure ahead of them at the end of the long path they were walking on, as he pondered Rodney's statement. "Looks that way. Reading anything?"
"Nothing worth mentioning… not yet anyway," Rodney briefly looked up from his scanner and took the time to sidestep a large tree root. He glanced at the path ahead of him, before fixing his gaze on the scanner again.
"Then why are we wasting our time?" Ronon grumbled as he and Teyla followed along behind.
Rodney paused and turned a half annoyed, half exasperated look on the ex-runner. "Yet! What part of 'yet' are you not getting?"
"Okay, okay," John interrupted the argument before it could start. He turned a vaguely cynical look on Rodney. "Just keep looking."
Throwing one, last, icy stare at Ronon, Rodney turned and headed towards the vine-covered entrance to the old building.
"Ronon does have a point, Colonel," Teyla's voice was quiet. "There were no energy readings from the MALP scans, nor has Rodney detected any since we have been here."
John nodded slightly at her statement and kept walking. Elizabeth had voiced much the same opinion after reading the MALP telemetry, but Rodney, in his own bulldoggish way, had insisted. When she'd looked to John, he'd just shrugged.
"Rodney's gut instinct has been right enough times for me to give him the benefit of doubt," John replied, his answer to Teyla much like the one he'd given Elizabeth.
"He's been wrong too," Ronon muttered.
"True," John quirked his brows. "But we're here. Let's just take a look."
"Can I just repeat," Rodney suddenly spoke up, "how aimless it is to come to planets like this on foot. We could've flown from the gate here in a fraction of the time it's taken us to walk!"
Thinking for a moment, John weighed the time to walk, against next month's half completed guard rotation schedule he had waiting for him when he got back. He decided the walk was definitely worth the time. "You need the exercise," he teased back. "I can't get you into the gym, so I'm forced to resort to other tactics."
"I do not have time to…" Rodney's voice trailed off as he stopped in front of the opening to the structure. "Huh," he grunted.
John's gaze followed Rodney's as he took in the appearance of the opening that looked more like the entrance to a cave than a structure. In fact, if it weren't for the perfect ninety-degree corners, he would've sworn it wasn't man made. "What?"
"Ancients build doors," Rodney replied. He ran a hand over the smooth edge of the entrance. "No sign there ever was one here."
"Maybe they liked the fresh air," John quipped lightly.
"Funny," Rodney snorted. He looked expectantly at John.
John stared back for a moment before narrowing his gaze. "What?"
"Did you forget that being the first one into dark and unknown caves is your job?" Rodney answered him sarcastically.
John flashed him a cynical half smile. "Right." He looked back at his team. "Teyla right behind me, Ronon take the six." He drew in a deep breath and let it out fast and noisily before he flipped on his P-90 light, and slowly walked into the structure. Panning the light over the low ceiling for a moment, and satisfied that nothing was going to jump out at him, he shone it forward to light his path as he led his team further into the darkness. "Anything?" he glanced back at Rodney who held his scanner in one hand and a flashlight in the other.
"Nothing," Rodney looked down at the quietly beeping scanner. "Just us."
"Good," John turned his attention forward again as he continued walking. The echo of his boots off the hard floor was muffled by centuries of dust, but John could still tell the surface they walked on was manmade, not natural. All around him, dirt, grime and something that looked vaguely like lichens covered the walls, but every once in a while, he'd get a glimpse of a smooth metallic surface that reminded him he was in a building, not a cave.
"Why do I feel like something is going to jump out at us?" Rodney's voice was hushed.
"Probably because you were nearly killed by a Super-wraith that came out of nowhere," Ronon answered his deep voice slightly amused.
"You had to remind me of that now?" Rodney snapped. "Thank you so much!"
John was inclined to agree, but he kept his mouth shut as he once again scanned the surrounding walls, just for good measure. Hell of a time to be reminded of half human, half Iratus bug… things jumping out at them….
"Rodney, I am not sensing anything," Teyla responded quietly, "and there is nothing on your scanner."
"McKay," John stopped, his light bouncing off a thick door. "You wanted a door, now you got one."
"I never said I wanted one," Rodney groused as he scrutinized the door and frame, "I was just making an observation."
"Bet I can open it," Ronon's voice was decidedly confident.
John turned quickly and pointed at Ronon's gun. "Keep that thing holstered."
"Unfortunately, he might be right," Rodney sighed. "No power and with no power…"
"We do it my way," Ronon answered as he drew his gun and dialed up the settings.
"Wait," John snapped as he glared at the Satedan, "just… wait before you go…" he waved his hand vigorously, "blasting it!" He paused a moment, until he was sure that Ronon wasn't going to open fire, before turning and dropping his gun, letting hang from his vest. Lit by Teyla's gun light, John gripped the rough seam dividing the two closed doors and pulled. He was rewarded with a quiet groan and the door shifted slightly. He looked up at Ronon. "Give me a hand."
Ronon wordlessly holstered his gun and situated his hands opposite of John's on the same door before nodding silently.
Again, John pulled hard while Ronon pushed and between the two of them, they managed to work the door almost all the way open. John brushed his hands together and smiled smugly. "There. No blasting." He ignored Ronon's quiet grunt and picked up his gun. He shone his light around the immediate area inside the door, before cautiously entering. "McKay," he looked around, "if there's no power then is there a point to continuing this?"
"Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any more narrow minded you once again astonish me," Rodney snapped as he stalked past John. "If there's something worthwhile, then we can supply the power!"
"So far," John walked further into the room, "there's a whole lot of nothing." He looked up and squinted as he stared at a narrow beam of sunlight coming through a hole in the high ceiling. "Except light," he added as he switched off his gun light.
From the far side of the large room, Rodney's sigh echoed slightly. "For once, I have to agree. There's nothing here."
"Okay, we're scrubbing this mission. Let's go." John turned and headed towards the door.
"'bout time," Ronon muttered.
"You know?" Rodney called out as he crossed the room towards them, "we would've never known… Ow!"
John spun and flipped on his light as he shone it into the shadows towards Rodney's voice. "What?"
"Something stung… Ow!"
John's eyes widened as he watched Rodney smack the side of his neck, then his arm.
"… stinging me!" Rodney's voice broke in panic.
"McKay!" John started towards his friend, Ronon right behind him but Teyla was the first to reach Rodney.
She grabbed his arm and pulled. "Rodney, you must move!" Teyla gasped and grabbed her arm.
"Come on!" John insisted, as he and Ronon reached Rodney and Teyla. His light caught on a large, black insect, roughly resembling a wasp landing on his hand an instant before burning pain shot through his wrist and up his arm. "Damn it! Go!" He pulled Rodney along with him as fire shot up the back of his thigh from another sting. Rodney stumbled heavily as John shoved him through the open door, but John caught the doctor and steadied him. Glancing back, he saw Ronon and Teyla just behind as he led them out of the building and into the bright sunlight.
"What the hell were those things?" John eyed the entrance warily for a moment before he relaxed slightly.
"Some sort of Pegasus bee or wasp or…something," Rodney answered. He hunched over and braced his hands on his knees.
John took several deep breaths. "Everyone okay?"
"I've been stung!" Rodney shot back. "So no! Not okay!" He took another ragged breath.
"Do you think they followed us?"
"No, Rodney," John fought his annoyance. "They didn't follow us. Probably guarding a nest or something." He looked up. "Ronon?"
John nodded. "Teyla?"
"I will be fine."
"I think I'm going to be sick," Rodney answered quietly.
John turned his attention to the hunched over doctor and resisted the urge to roll his eyes. HypochondriacRodneystrikesagain…. "Rodney just…."
"No!" Rodney cut him off, "I'm really… something's wrong…."
John's gaze narrowed as Rodney's shoulders shook and his breathing turned labored.
"Rodney?" In two quick steps he was at Rodney's side as Teyla and Ronon joined him.
"Easy. Look at me," John's voice was quiet but firm. He held tightly to Rodney's upper arm as the doctor looked up at him.
John tried to keep the shock from his face as red hives were already covering Rodney's face and an unhealthy flush was spreading down his neck to disappear under his shirt.
"Help… me…" Rodney's raspy voice was punctuated by wheezes.
John tightened his grip on Rodney's arm. Teyla grabbed his other arm and Ronon supported Rodney from behind as they eased him to the ground. "Okay," John put as much reassurance in his voice as he could manage, "just take it easy."
"Al… lergy…" Rodney managed as the three of them propped him up against a tree.
"I know," John answered, forcing his voice to a calm tone, as he started feeling around in Rodney's vest. "Where's your epipen?"
"Pocket… left… back…." Rodney's last word was barely more than a whisper as his eyes widened in panic. He wheezed loudly, the cords on his neck standing out and his eyes wide as he struggled just to breathe.
"Damn it!" John unceremoniously pushed Rodney onto his right side and ripped open his vest pocket. "Ronon, double time it to the gate! Get Beckett…" John flinched and closed his eyes for a moment before continuing. "Keller and a med team inbound on a jumper. Tell her Rodney's having a severe allergic reaction. Go!"
"On it!" Ronon jumped to his feet and took off, crashing through the bushes.
"John? What is happening?" Teyla questioned as she held tightly to Rodney's arm and supported his head.
John smothered his fear under hard control as he ripped open the plastic around the epipen and twisted off the cap. "It's anaphylactic shock. His throat is swelling shut. Gotta get the epi in him." Bringing his hand back slightly, he jabbed the pen into the side of Rodney's thigh. He held it for a five count before pulling it away and vigorously rubbing the injection site. He dropped the syringe and grabbed Rodney's arm. "Lift him up." He pulled as Teyla pushed and they quickly situated Rodney against the tree. "McKay?" John's hand lingered on Rodney's shoulder as he stared intently at his face.
The labor in Rodney's breath seemed to lessen slightly and he slowly opened his eyes. "Hurts…"
John pursed his lips and glanced at Teyla before looking back to Rodney. "I know. Hang in there, buddy, Keller's on her way." He glanced at his watch, his teeth grinding in urgency as he pulled on as much of his basic medical training as he could remember. Twentyminutes… theepi'llholdhimtogetherforabouttwentyminutes… ideally. Quietly, he hoped for once, things would be ideal.
"John? His pulse is very fast."
Teyla's voice grabbed John's attention and he briefly glanced at her hand that firmly encircled Rodney's wrist before making eye contact with her.
"It's the epinephrine." John turned his attention back to Rodney. His breaths still were loud and labored but he didn't seem on the verge of suffocating panic like he'd been only a minute ago. "Rodney? Can you breathe okay?"
Rodney's eyes slowly opened, their blue depths clouded with fear and pain. "Better…" he swallowed hard and took an uneven breath. "Don't want… to die…"
"You're not going to die," John put as much confidence and strength into his voice as he could. He knew the allergic reaction and the epinephrine to counteract it, had thrown Rodney's system for a loop. Shock, panic and agitation were predictable side effects, especially for a borderline hypochondriac, fatalist. "Keller's on her way," he repeated, as much for his own benefit as Rodney's. "You're going to be fine."
"Epi's not a cure!" Rodney feebly struggled to sit up his muddled mind apparently latching onto a panicked flight instinct. His breathing turned rapid, the wheezing in each breath becoming more pronounced. "God, I'm going to… die…."
"Rodney, you must be still," Teyla placated as she placed a hand on his chest.
"McKay!" John firmly pushed on both of Rodney's shoulders and held fast. "Calm down!" He stared into Rodney's eyes, their faces barely a few inches apart. "You hear me?" He lowered his voice to a reassuring, but still firm, tone. "You're going to be okay, but you need to settle down." He could feel Rodney's resistance under his hands but John held fast.
Rodney drew in two, heavy and loud breaths before giving John a rough and uneven nod.
John held on a moment longer, his gaze settling on the slightly bluish tinge bordering Rodney's lips; a classic sign of oxygen deprivation. Each scant breath Rodney managed around his swelling throat was barely enough to keep him alive. John let go and sat back. McKay needed oxygen and IV drugs. Inotherwords,Keller.Now. Frustration touched him and John tightened his lips in response. His eyes passed over Rodney's trembling body before he looked up at Teyla. "He's getting shocky. Needs to be flat on the ground." John stood and crouched next to the tree. He gently pushed Rodney forward and looped his arms under the doctor's shoulders. "Rodney," he said quietly, his mouth close to Rodney's ear, "we're going to move you, okay? I want you to relax."
"Move… where?" Rodney managed.
John clasped his hands together across Rodney's chest. "Just away from the tree and onto the ground. You always said you're more comfortable flat on your back anyway," he teased lightly, trying to put Rodney at ease. John pushed away the whisper of guilt directed at himself for assuming Rodney, once again, had been overreacting. If they got McKay out of this, he'd damn straight make sure that the next time Rodney complained about a sliver, it was just that and nothing else. No 'ifs' John! 'When!' He carefully lifted his friend while Teyla picked up Rodney's legs and they slowly moved him away from the tree. John gently lowered Rodney to the forest floor and knelt next to him. He rested one arm on his bent knee as he knelt next to Rodney. He stared for a moment at his friend's closed eyes and listened to his wheezing breath before poking him gently but insistently in the ribs. "Hey. Stay awake." When Rodney didn't respond, he poked again. "McKay. Stay with me here."
It took a moment but finally Rodney's eyes slowly opened. They were glassy and the battle he fought to take in each breath intensified. "Can't… breathe…" His eyes widened, panic touching them.
John squeezed his shoulder. "Easy. You got another epipen?" His lips pressed into a thin line at Rodney's jerky headshake. He tightened his grip on his friend's shoulder as the panic in Rodney's blue eyes intensified. His expression was almost pleading as he stared intently at John who returned the intense look with a confident and reassuring one. John knew what was going through Rodney's head and he addressed it, head on. "You're not going to die, Rodney," he repeated, but even as the words left his mouth he could see the hesitation and uncertainty in Rodney's gaze. Struggling just to breathe, talking was beyond Rodney's ability, but he didn't need words for John to understand. John again tightened his grip on Rodney's shoulder and took a deep breath. "I promise."
A sickening, choking sound came from Rodney and his hand shot up, grabbing John's forearm. His body tensed, and panic seemed to radiate from him.
Teyla jumped and crawled up beside him, opposite of John. "Rodney?"
"McKay!" John's grasped the back of Rodney's head and his gut clenched in frustrated helplessness. He watched Rodney's eyes widen before rolling back into his head an instant before his body went limp, his head dead weight in John's hand. "Aw, hell!" John quickly but carefully lowered Rodney's head to the ground, before he pressed his fingers into the doctor's throat. He waited a tense moment, and then two, unconsciously probing harder into Rodney's throat, before he shifted his hand slightly, but the end result was the same. "No pulse," he swiftly pulled his knife, easily cutting the straps binding Rodney's TAC vest and ripped it open. Tracing his finger down Rodney's sternum he placed his hands, fingers laced together then looked up and nodded at Teyla.
John waited as Teyla gave Rodney two breaths of air before he pushed down firmly. He felt ribs crack under his compression but he smothered his wince with blunt determination. In the back of his head the words of the medic from basic, echoed as he counted compressions, his voice barely above a whisper.
"Proper CPR breaks ribs. That's the reality…"
"I do not believe the air is getting through."
John continued counting in his head, his rhythm unbroken as he glanced at Teyla. "His throat's swollen shut. Keep trying. You might force air through. We gotta keep him going until Keller gets here." He sat back and nodded to her. John's gaze fixed on Rodney's chest, looking for any indication that Teyla's efforts had any effect. Rodney's chest rose slightly.
Again, John started compressions. "Damn it, McKay, don't do this," he muttered between numbers as he worked through the cycle.
"Colonel Sheppard, do you read me?"
John sat back and slapped his radio headset as Teyla once again breathed for Rodney. "Keller! Where the hell are you?"
"Wejustcamethroughthegate," Keller responded. "How'sRodney?"
Occupied with the next set of chest compressions, John let Teyla answer.
"He is…" Teyla's slightly out of breath voice trailed off. She took a deep breath. "Doctor we are performing CPR now."
"Damnit!" Keller swore. "Keepitup,we'llbethereasfastaswecan."
John completed the cycle and sat back. He looked up, watching as the Jumper raced
over the trees to land not far from them.
Teyla sat up. "Go!"
John started again, his gaze fixed on his interlocked fingers. He tuned out the burning in his arms and the sweat the tickled his brow. Each compression kept Rodney alive and that was all that mattered to him… all that he focused on. He sat back as Teyla gave Rodney two more breaths.
"Keep going!" Keller's voice reached John's ears as the doctor dashed out of the back of the Jumper, a backpack and two cases bouncing against her as she ran towards them. A medical team was right behind her and with them, Ronon. Keller spared a hand to tap her radio. "Miller, radio Atlantis. I want a full Code Blue team in the jumper bay!"
John returned his attention to Rodney as he started compressions again. He barely spared a glance at Keller as the doctor knelt next to him. "Anaphylaxis." John panted slightly. "One epipen… in."
"Probably cardiovascular collapse from hypotension as well." Keller's voice seemed more directed at herself then him as she ran scissors up Rodney's shirt, cutting it. "Get leads on him," she ordered her team without looking up. "Start a large bore IV…" She paused as John lifted his hands briefly before cutting the rest of the way to Rodney's neck and pulling the two halves of the shirt open.
John started compressions again, tuning out Keller's voice as the doctor rattled medication and treatments off to her team. John arched a brow as another medic knelt next to him.
"Let me spell you, Colonel."
"No." John turned his attention back to his tightly gripped hands. He glanced at Teyla who had bowed out in favor of a medic with a more efficient Ambu bag to ventilate Rodney.
"Colonel…" Keller started, her hands busy attaching cardio leads to Rodney's chest.
"No!" John kept going, refusing to back away… to watch helplessly as Keller's team tried to save Rodney's life. It wasn't that he didn't trust Keller, he did. He knew she was more than qualified, but Carson had saved all of them more than once. He couldn't deny that a part of him wished, very much, that Carson was here instead. It was more than that though; Rodney was a member of his team and it went against every fiber of his being to just back away and watch. John risked a glance at the doctor, who stared at the EKG scope for a moment.
"V-fib. Bolus of Lidocaine." Keller ordered before she picked up the defibrillator paddles and watched the scope. Charging…" the machine beeped insistently at her. "Clear!" she snapped.
John pulled back as Keller shocked Rodney. He looked intently at the doctor as she stared at the scope, the paddles still held ready in her hands.
"Go!" She waved a paddle his direction before she shifted both into one hand and punched the charge button on the portable defibrillator.
John started compressions again, his gaze locked on Rodney's chest. He couldn't look at his friend's face or anyone else. All his concentration… his energy focused down through his hands. "Damn it… McKay!" He panted slightly.
"Clear!" Keller barked, and John immediately sat back as the doctor shocked Rodney again.
John moved back to start compressions but Keller waved him off.
"No, wait. Sinus bradycardia." She looked up at one of her medics. "Atropine, and push that Lidocaine." Her gaze fell to the next medic. "Keep ventilating him. Let's get him back to Atlantis ASAP."
John spared a moment to take a deep breath in relief. Rodney was alive, barely, but alive.
"Doctor?" The medic with the Ambu bag sat back. "He's breathing on his own."
John shifted his gaze to Keller as she nodded curtly. "Get him on 100% O2 and watch his respirations." She shifted her hands under Rodney's arm and nodded to the rest of the team. "Let's go."
John looked away from her as he slid his hands under Rodney's hip and thigh. He looked at Ronon who had taken it upon himself to grab both of Rodney's legs, and nodded.
"On three," Keller ordered. "One, two, three."
John lifted with the rest of the team and quickly shifted Rodney into the basket. Opposite of Teyla, he grabbed one side of the rescue basket, while Ronon lifted on the bottom and two other medics assisted, one on each side. He looked at Keller who held Rodney's IV high. "Doc?"
"Move!" Keller headed towards the Jumper the rest of them following close.
They reached the Jumper quickly and as the team set Rodney on the floor John waved at Ronon. "Door." He shifted his expectant gaze to Keller, who was taking Rodney's blood pressure. "Doc? Ready?"
Staring at the BP cuff she nodded once, curtly, at him and John took the cue. He looked up towards the cockpit. "Miller! Go!" As he felt the Jumper leave the ground, his gaze fell to Rodney. John pursed his lips. "Is he okay?" he asked hesitantly before meeting Keller's gaze.
She pulled the stethoscope from her ears and looped it over her neck. "He's holding his own," she answered.
John had a moment of dark humor. "That's McKay. Stubborn." He thought he heard a quiet chortle from the doctor.
"It's helping him now," she answered. "It's a little early, but I think he's going to be fine."
John sighed and nodded, before he looked up at Teyla and Ronon who sat on the bench opposite him. A light touch to his arm grabbed his attention and he found himself staring at an understanding look on Keller's face.
"Have a seat and relax, Colonel," she said quietly. "Let us do our job."
John swallowed, abruptly realizing that, sitting next to Rodney, he was in the way of the medical team. He gave Keller an appreciative half smile at the subtle and even gentle way she'd pointed that out to him, before nodding. As he moved to stand, Keller grabbed his hand, stopping him. She turned it slightly, staring at the large, swollen welt that had grown past his middle knuckle.
"What's this?" she demanded.
John frowned. "Got stung." He looked up at Ronon and Teyla for a moment. "We all did."
"I didn't," Ronon corrected.
Keller nodded. "I want you all in the infirmary for a complete examination."
"I wasn't stung," Ronon insisted quietly.
"Show off," John muttered, flashing him an annoyed look.
Ronon smiled. "Leather."
John looked back to Keller as her expression steeled.
"I don't care," she retorted, holding Ronon's gaze with a determined look of her own.
"Doc," John started, "it's just a bee sting…" his voice trailed off as she turned her attention to him and arched an eyebrow; her expression disturbingly similar to Elizabeth's when she put her foot down about something.
"The same bees that stung Dr. McKay?" she answered firmly.
John felt himself wilt slightly. "Yeah, but he's allergic…" he sighed as she shook her head slowly.
"No arguments," she said firmly. "Infirmary for an exam, Colonel."
John let the matter drop as he half stood before sitting down on the bench behind Keller. He took a deep breath and stared at Rodney for a moment before looking up at Teyla and Ronon. He nodded slightly at them as he saw the odd mix of concern and relief in each of their expressions that he knew was in his as well. They'd come close… damn close to losing Rodney... John shook the thought off. Butwedidn't. His gaze shifted to Keller, who was monitoring the cardio scope, and he felt one side of his mouth turn up slightly. She was a highly competent doctor, but to him that had always been a given. She wouldn't be here if she wasn't. But equally important, she had guts and a strong backbone, when she needed it, and in the three years he'd been in Pegasus, John had learned that was a necessity.
His smile faded slightly. He'd be lying if he denied that part of him still wished it was Carson sitting there, monitoring Rodney or ordering him and his team to the Infirmary, in spite of their best protests. But, at the same time, he knew there was nothing he could do about it now. If there was one thing the military had taught him, it was not only did people die, but no matter how hard it was, you had to accept it and go on. At the end of the day, wishing they were there served no purpose because there was nothing you could do to change it.
He let the small smile reform on his face as she glanced back at him, but he held her gaze for a moment. Silently, he nodded slightly at her in thanks. He watched as some of the tension and hesitation left her expression and she smiled slightly in return before refocusing her attention on Rodney.
John scratched his bandaged hand absently as he looked around the infirmary. Keller's team had pronounced him, Teyla and Ronon fit, but had put them all on antibiotics and allergy medication temporarily as a precaution. Part of him couldn't believe he was off the active duty list over a bee sting, but decided it was better just to accept a few day's inactivity, then to argue over it.
Rodney was still unconscious and, according to Keller, he'd be that way for a while, but he was stable. In addition to the allergic reaction, Rodney had 2 broken ribs, as a result of the CPR, but otherwise was fine and would make a full recovery. To John, that was a fair trade off, although he didn't look forward to the months of complaining over the broken ribs he was destined to receive from Rodney. Atleasthe'salivetocomplainaboutit…
John left Ronon and Teyla at Rodney's bedside and walked through the infirmary, idly stretching his arms and legs and fighting off fatigue. Not long ago, Elizabeth had gently prodded each of them to leave and get some rest, but when they'd denied the need, she'd let it drop. They all were off active service anyway.
He paused in his wanderings as he found himself standing near to Keller's office. Hunched over a laptop and turned away from him, she didn't know he was there. He stared at her a moment, before knocking quietly on the doorframe, grimacing as she jumped and inhaled sharply. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."
Keller slowly turned in her chair and smiled at him. "I haveto learn to stop working with my back to the door." She waved at him. "Come in."
John smiled. "Thanks." He walked into the office, his gaze never leaving hers.
Keller's eyes narrowed slightly. "You should get some rest, Colonel."
John nodded and blinked hard. "Yeah, I will, as soon as…" he sighed and shook his head sheepishly.
"Rodney wakes up?" Keller finished quietly.
"Yeah," John admitted.
Keller nodded and looked away from him. "Well, you're not on active duty, so I won't insist. Just consider it friendly advice." She smiled briefly, before the smile faded and was replaced with a vaguely uncertain gaze.
John leaned against the doorframe and cocked his head slightly. "What's wrong?"
Keller returned her gaze to him. This time, the brief flash of a smile that crossed her face was hesitant and strained. "Look, I just want you to know that I understand you don't trust me at the level you did… Carson…" she swallowed. "But, Rodney really is going to be okay." She looked back to her laptop but clearly wasn't paying any attention to what was on the screen.
John's brows furrowed as he tried to make sense of her words, before realization dawned on him. He was there because Rodney was a member of his team, and he had to know that he was okay, but that was just him, and had nothing to do with her abilities.
John sighed as he came to the conclusion that she didn't see it that way… and with the close knit relationship his team had shared with Carson, and the abrupt way she was thrown into the CMO position on Atlantis, he could understand her uncertainty. Yet, when she didn't think about it, just went on instinct, she was a hell of a good doctor. He'd seen enough in the last six hours to prove that. To him anyway.
He pursed his lips and walked further into her office, before half sitting on the side of her desk, only a few feet from her. "You saved the life of a member of my team," he started quietly. He paused, waiting for her to look up at him. When she did, he continued. "That's all the proof I need to trust you without a doubt." His expression softened slightly. "I'm here because…" he sighed and shook his head, "well… it's just me. Call it a military thing… or a team thing, or whatever." His slightly embarrassed expression sobered again. "But, it's no reflection on you at all."
Keller's expression stayed neutral for a moment longer, before a tinge of blush crept up her cheeks. She smiled and bowed her head taking her turn to be embarrassed. "Thanks. I guess it was silly of me to think otherwise."
John chuckled quietly. "Maybe. But it was an oversight on our part to assume you'd just know that we'd trusted you as much as we did Carson." John swallowed hard.
Keller looked up at him, her expression sad. "I miss him too, Colonel."
John nodded. "Yeah." He stood and stretched again, not quite able to stifle a yawn.
"You really should get some rest," Keller advised again.
John squinted at her. "You too, Doc." He smiled.
She laughed quietly. "I'll take that under advisement, Colonel."
John turned and left her office, heading back to Rodney's corner of the infirmary. His mood was an odd mix of contentment and sadness, creating a melancholy that he rarely ever experienced. Inside, some part of him still missed Carson and mourned him, and that part probably always would. Even if the grief passed with time, he'd still fondly remember. Yet, he moved forward, his confidence in Keller's ability solidifying within him. He felt confident with his team in her hands and was glad she knew it. He'd still seen some hesitation and uncertainty in her, but hell, they'd all had that at one time or another. In a way, he felt like she was a kindred spirit. She'd been thrust into a command position unexpectedly and fast, much the same way he'd been when Sumner had died. John felt, in a lot of ways, he could relate to her feelings. On the outside, he'd been confident and unwavering; he had to be, but those first few months it was safe to say, he was scared as hell he'd do something wrong. John suspected Keller was going through the same thing, although she wore it closer to the surface than he ever did.
John smiled to Ronon and Teyla as he settled into a chair and braced his feet against a nearby column before pushing the chair back on two legs. He laced his fingers behind his head. "What do you think of Keller?" he asked quietly.
"She'll do," Ronon answered.
John arched a brow. From Ronon, that was the best compliment he was likely to give.
"She is very good," Teyla's gaze narrowed as she stared for a moment at John. "I hope she knows that," she added.
John slowly smiled and nodded back. "She does." Taking a deep breath, he settled deeper into the chair and waited for Rodney to wake up. His thoughts lingered on the new CMO, his confidence staying with him. She'lldofine.
This story came from a couple ideas I had bouncing around in my head. One has been there for a while, and that was "what if the hypochondriac Rodney really did get hurt?" That one sparked the title of the story too. ;)
The other was the very real truth that I'm going to have to get used to writing Keller if I want to continue writing SGA. ;) (unless I stay stuck in "pre-Sunday" season 3 ;) ) So I felt the need to "get my feet wet" writing her character. I didn't intend to delve too much into her personality, simply because we don't know much about it, but I couldn't resist giving her some. I hope I don't end up too off base when season 4 comes around! :)
Oh, and yes, I'd expect John to understand anaphylaxis and administering an epipen. I work with two retired AF officers and one retired Marine. They all knew what to do when one of our co-workers had a severe allergic reaction and needed her epipen as did I with a medical background. They learned a fair bit of emergency medicine in the service, especially the career officers.