Title: Just an Ordinary Plant
Notes: Written for the first ever ShepsAtlantis ficathon. The prompts were: Shep whumping (always) Mckay (or anyone else) angst, the whump causing Sheppard to lose weight.
Spoilers: None, but takes place during season three before "Sunday".
Disclaimers: Nope, doesn't belong to me.
"Just put the gun down, John," Elizabeth said, her voice as controlled as possible. Inside she was shaking with fear. Fear for her friend who didn't seem to know what he was doing. Fear for herself because she didn't think she could talk him out of this.
His eyes wildly darted back and forth between her and the Airmen surrounding them. Someone was after him, why couldn't she see that? He didn't know where to go... Who to turn to. John thought he could trust her, but she was standing among the people who had betrayed him!
Elizabeth moved closer to him as she whispered soothing words to him. She noticed, thankfully, that he was starting to lower his weapon. Making certain the others stayed in their current positions, Elizabeth was able to take the weapon away from John.
As she grabbed his arms, he sank to the floor, taking Elizabeth with him. He suddenly cried out in pain as she held onto him. "John?"
"What does?" she asked, looking all around for injuries. It was then she saw blood seeping onto the floor from a wound on his side. "Oh my God! I need a medical team down here now!" she exclaimed.
"No!" John screamed.
"You need help."
John shook his head furiously. "They're the reason I'm like this! They attacked me and are trying to make me go crazy with their medicines. Carson stabbed me with a scalpel! He hurt me, 'Lizabeth!"
Elizabeth's heart thundered in her chest. She couldn't believe this was happening. All this from a crazy Pegasus Galaxy variety plant. John's team had gone off world with one of the botany teams to check out some interesting fauna. Since the team they normally go with was on another mission, John volunteered, relishing the opportunity for a relaxing one...
"Remind me why we're here, Sheppard?"
John glanced over at the Sateden. The man looked over at the botanists and a flustered Rodney McKay, who was helping one in particular. "Don't you ever get tired of getting shot at all day?"
"Used to it, I guess."
"Well, I'm not," John replied. "For once I'd just like to relax and not be worried about someone pointing a weapon at me."
John smiled as he heard Katie Brown's laughter. At least Rodney was having a good a time. He stood up to make his rounds and check on the team spread around. He asked Teyla to check on the two botanists behind the gate.
"Dr. Brown." John ignored the fleeting look of jealousy that crossed Rodney's face. "How's it going?"
Katie grinned. "Very well, Colonel, thank you! This plant," she said, showing him a tall green and blue bush, "seems to have properties similar to aloe. It smells just as lovely too."
John could tell she was waiting for him to lean in and smell them so he did. One of the pods of pollen suddenly burst causing him to ingest half of the powdery substance. John staggered back from the planet as he attempted to expel the pollen by coughing.
Rodney began to freak out, worried about anaphylaxis. "Sheppard!" he exclaimed. "Are you all right?"
John finally stopped coughing and accepted the water Katie handed to him. "Thanks," he said, taking a big sip. "I'm fine," he replied still choking on the pollen.
Rodney wasn't so sure about it. John's eyes seemed red and irritated. It was probably best to get him back to Atlantis to be checked out. He knew he would be dialing the gate right now if it were himself.
"I'm sorry, Colonel!" Katie exclaimed. "I honestly didn't think they would do that."
"Don't worry about it, Doc."
"Let's pack up for the day," Rodney suggested.
John shook his head. "Relax Rodney, I said I was fine."
"Every time you say you're fine, you end up in the infirmary for a long stay. The least you can do is let Carson check you over. Who knows what substances are in that pollen?"
John really wasn't in the mood to hear Rodney whine all day about going to see Carson. He took a deep breath and called Teyla and Ronon to let them know as he headed over to the 'gate.
As he dialed, everything began to swim in and out of focus. He blinked and everything was back to normal. Shaking his head, he pressed the button to activate the gate and nearly screamed in fright at the event horizon coming towards him.
"Idiot," he muttered after a few moments and punched in his IDC. When it was accepted, he stepped through to Atlantis.
Elizabeth met him at the bottom of the stairs. "Are you all right, John?" she asked, noticing the redness in his eyes.
"Peachy. I smelled a plant and one of the pods filled with pollen burst in my face. Rodney insisted I come back to be checked out."
She nodded. "Good thing he did. Your eyes are red and..." Elizabeth was cut off by a cry from John as he grabbed his head. "John!" She called up to Chuck for a medical team. "John, answer me, please."
John blinked and lifted his head. He seemed a bit wobbly on his legs so Elizabeth helped him to the stairs so he could sit. "Damn."
Carson and his team arrived before she could reply. "What have we here?" he asked, kneeling in front of John. The colonel explained what happened. "I don't suppose you brought a sample of the pollen with you."
"No, Doc. I didn't think of bringing it with me. I didn't think it was as bad as your tone is telling me."
Carson patted John on the shoulder. "It's all right, Colonel. We'll just have your team bring some samples when they return. It's probably just irritated your eyes so we'll get them flushed out and let you rest."
"Sounds good to me."
"I'd prefer if you let us take you on the gurney."
John stared at it for a few minutes. It certainly would be nice to lie down on that, especially so he could close his tired and burning eyes. John climbed onto the gurney to the astonishment of the others, but he didn't care. All he wanted to do was close his eyes.
As they began moving, his heart seized inside his chest. Where were they taking him? What did they want to do with him? Carson had something in his hand. It looked sharp and it was starting to worry him. He suddenly jumped from the gurney, surprising everyone around him.
"Stop!" he cried. "Leave me alone!"
"Colonel, please calm down, we're only trying to help you," Carson replied.
John swung a fist into Carson's nose and the physician dropped to the floor. He vaguely heard one of the medics calling for back up. John wasn't going to wait for their back up and turned, forgetting about the gurney.
He ran into it and knocked it over, feeling something pierce his side. He couldn't worry about that right now, though. He had to get away. He had to run away from everyone. From everything.
John remembered his 9 mil and grabbed it, running towards the Gateroom...
"How's he doing, Carson?" Elizabeth asked the moment he stepped away from John. His nose was bruised, but thankfully not broken. John was going to feel horrible about that, she thought.
"We have him sedated right now and we're running some blood tests currently. I'll know more once we have a sample of that pollen!"
Lorne spoke up. "If this pollen is as toxic as you think, Doc, maybe we should be avoiding that planet all together."
Elizabeth nodded. "For the moment, I think that's a good idea. Why don't you head up to the Gateroom and lock out the coordinates? Also, send an e-mail out to all the botanists. They aren't going to be happy because they've found some great medicinal plants there. Just make certain they understand why this is happening and that it's only temporary."
"Aye, Major. We just want to run a chemical analysis on the plant before we allow anyone to return."
It was quiet in the Gateroom when the team returned to Atlantis. "I should probably take this sample to Dr. Beckett," Katie said. "I'm pretty sure Colonel Sheppard is all right, but he made need this."
Rodney nodded. "I'll go with you."
The rest of the botany team went their separate ways while Teyla and Ronon followed Rodney, confusion evident on their faces. As they walked down the corridor towards the infirmary, everyone they passed would look away.
Finally, Major Lorne stepped out into the hall from the infirmary and Rodney stopped him. "What's going on? Where is everyone?"
"There was an... incident in the Gateroom earlier. Everything's under control at the moment, but Elizabeth suggested that everyone take some time to deal with it."
"What kind of incident?" Ronon asked.
Lorne took a breath. "Colonel Sheppard kind of went berserk, waving his gun around and screaming that the medical team was out to get him. Dr. Weir was able to calm him down, but he must have been injured some time between being taken to the infirmary and arriving back in the Gateroom."
The four stared at Lorne in stunned silence. Rodney just knew it had something to do with the plant Katie was holding. He took it from her and rushed into the infirmary, calling for Carson.
"Rodney, calm down!" Elizabeth admonished.
"Sorry," he replied, "but we just ran into Major Lorne out there and he told us what happened. Where's Carson? I have the evil plant."
Elizabeth pointed towards the lab. "He's checking on Colonel Sheppard's blood work," she replied. She nodded to Teyla, Ronon, and Katie.
"Dr. Weir, I am so sorry!" Katie exclaimed. "This is all my fault! I told him he should smell the plant. It didn't do anything when I did. I swear I didn't know the pod was going to burst!"
"It's all right, Dr. Brown. Why don't you get cleaned up and get something to eat? You can come back to check on Colonel Sheppard later."
Katie nodded slowly, but didn't move. "Perhaps I could come along with you to the mess hall," Teyla said, taking the young woman by her arm.
"Sheppard'll be fine," Ronon said, following the women.
Elizabeth took a deep breath as she headed back into the lab to see what Carson had determined. Ronon was right. If anyone could defeat this, it was John Sheppard!
"Elizabeth, I was just coming to see you."
"What have you found?" she asked, noting the worried expression on his face.
Carson took a deep breath. "The chemical composition of the pollen is amazing! It..."
Rodney cut him off. "For crying out loud, Carson, just tell her!"
"Tell me what?"
"The composition of it does not allow for an antidote," he replied. "I'm afraid that if Colonel Sheppard cannot fight the effects on his own, we're going to lose him."
Elizabeth stared at Carson in complete shock. Of all the things John had gone through only to be waylaid by a plant! Her heart thundered in her chest when she realized she may lose one of her closest friends. Had they not just been through this when Kolya had kidnapped him, feeding him to that Wraith?
"No," she whispered.
She barely felt Rodney and Carson help her to a chair. Elizabeth closed her eyes, willing the room to stop spinning. She wasn't supposed to show how much she really cared for her second in command.
"Would you like to see him, Love?" Carson asked gently. At her nod, he asked Rodney to bring her to John's bed. "I'll be there in a moment."
Carson sighed as he watched them head over, turning when Dr. Cole called his name. "This pollen seems to act a lot like LSD and from what we can tell; it's going to get much worse for the Colonel."
John was asleep when Rodney and Elizabeth walked up to him. Their eyes strayed to the restraints on his wrists and ankles. For the first time, Rodney realized how bad it was. He swallowed around the lump in his throat before he spoke.
"What... what happened?"
Elizabeth explained John's altered state when he arrived and how he voluntarily accepted the gurney. Rodney listened with wide eyes and was suddenly glad that he forced John back to Atlantis.
"Carson?" Elizabeth asked when he walked over to them. "What's wrong now?"
"Not only can I not come up with an antidote for this, but he's going to be experiencing some serious side effects. The hallucinations will probably get ten times worse. According to Dr. Cole, it would be the equivalent of taking LSD for five hours straight."
All the color drained from Rodney's face. "There's gotta be something you can do," he gasped out.
"We're going to move him into one of the private rooms, make him more comfortable. I guess I don't have to ask you if you'd like to take shifts to sit with him. The hallucinations could get really bad, though."
Elizabeth stood resolute. "He would be there for anyone of us. I don't plan on leaving him alone."
Carson nodded, noting that Elizabeth was going to be the first one to sit with John. "Rodney, why don't you get Teyla and Ronon and let them know what's going on. And I'm assuming Katie is going to be upset by this seeing as she thinks it's her fault."
"Yeah, I'm on it." Rodney placed a hand on Elizabeth's shoulder. "Let me know if you need anything. I'll be back in a few hours to relieve you."
Elizabeth nodded, taking John's hand in hers. She hated the fact that this was causing her to reveal her feelings to everyone, but she couldn't help it. John Sheppard had become a friend. Someone she could always count on even when they didn't see eye to eye.
"John," she said, her voice thick with emotion. "You have to fight this! That's what you told me when those nanites had control over me. I suggest you follow your own advice."
A moan escaped John's lips as he began to wake. She saw the fear in his eyes when he realized he was restrained. "Elizabeth?" he asked nervously, looking beyond her.
She noticed he was focused on something behind her. "John," she said. "Look at me!"
"I trusted you, Elizabeth! You let them tie me up! You're gonna let them hurt me! How could you do this to me?"
John began to pull at the restraints as Carson came rushing toward him. "Lucy, I need five ccs of Compazine, stat! Colonel, please relax, you're going to hurt yourself."
"Stay away from me Carson!" he growled. "I want go home!"
"John, you are home!" Elizabeth replied, tears streaming down her face.
He began to relax as the Compazine took affect. "No... I want... I want my Mom."
As he drifted off to sleep, Carson and Elizabeth stared at one another in stunned silence. John had never mentioned his Mom to them. "Is she still alive?" Carson asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
"No. She died when he was five." Carson could tell Elizabeth was quite shaken by what just occurred and she knew what he was about to say. She turned to face John again, holding his hand tightly. "No, I'm staying."
Rodney couldn't believe it. For the past two years John Sheppard fought wraith, iratus bugs, being stuck in a time dilation field, almost turning into a wraith, and almost having himself blown up multiple times and now he had been sent to the infirmary because of a plant!
He blinked as the voice pulled him from his reverie. "Katie!"
"Um... I was wondering how Colonel Sheppard was doing."
Rodney could tell that she hadn't been sleeping very well. He recognized the symptoms from looking at his own reflection in the mirror. He immediately took her hand and led her out to the balcony.
"Before we talk about Sheppard, let me get one thing straight with you. What happened was NOT your fault, Katie! You couldn't have predicted it and you couldn't have prevented that. You know I'm right!"
Katie nodded slowly. "I know that, Rodney, it's just... I can't stop thinking the opposite."
"I know what you mean," he replied, wrapping his arms around her. He felt her hold tightly to him and idly wondered when he'd gotten so soft.
It was Ronon's turn to sit with John. He leaned back in the chair, legs stretched out, and regarded his friend. John had lost a fair amount of weight in the week since he'd been sick.
Ronon stood up and began to pace. He hated this! He remembered this was why he didn't try to become attached to people. Not since Maleena died. And now the one person who had pulled from that despair was unintentionally doing it again.
He was so lost in thought that he didn't realize that John had loosened his restraints...
John woke up groggily, trying to remember where he was. Everything was blurry for a few minutes so he blinked repeatedly until the room came into focus. It was a private room off the infirmary. He remembered now. Carson stuck him in here. John decided it was better than the brig.
He attempted to sit up only to feel the tug of restraints on his wrists and ankles. John took a deep breath to quell the rising panic as he attempted to maneuver out of them. After a few tries they finally came undone.
John stood up carefully, holding onto the bed as the room tilted sideways. Once he regained his equilibrium, he turned only to come face to face with a rather large person. It took him a minute to realize it was Ronon.
"You too, huh big guy?" John asked, taking a cautious step backward.
He couldn't believe Carson had recruited the Satedan into his services. John could feel his heart racing beneath his rib cage. Was it just him or was it really hot in there? He could feel himself slowly going crazy and that scared him.
Glancing at Ronon, John debated his choices. He could lie back down and allow himself to be restrained again and be tortured by the people he thought were his friends, or he could attempt to escape.
John chose the latter and slowly moved away from Ronon, making it look like he was going to return to the bed. Before Ronon could even blink John ran for the door and tore it open.
Rodney was coming in for his shift when a terrified John Sheppard came running at him. John was looking behind him and Rodney couldn't move out of the way in time so the pilot slammed into his friend, falling to floor in obvious pain.
Rodney couldn't believe what happened. If John had been in top form, he would have been the one to fall. "Carson!" he exclaimed, kneeling next to John.
"Rodney?" he gasped as he opened his eyes.
"What are you doing?" he asked. Rodney looked up to see Ronon rushing into the room. "Nice job, Conon!"
John shook his head. "I don't trust him, Rodney. Please don't make me stay with him!"
"Don't worry about it. It's my turn to stay with you anyway. I'll make sure that mean man doesn't come back!"
Ronon grunted in response.
"Rodney," Carson sighed with a sigh. "We're trying to reassure him, not turn him against everyone."
John eyed Carson warily as Rodney helped him to sit up. He still wasn't sure about where the physician's loyalties lie. He didn't want to believe that Carson had him stabbed with a scalpel...
"Colonel, just relax. You know I don't want to hurt you, I just want to help you. Will you let me?"
John nodded slowly and allowed Carson to help Rodney bring him back to his room. "Doc, do I have to have the restraints on?" he asked.
"I'll keep them off for now," Carson replied, patting John's arm. "If you start to get violent again, I will have to put them back on."
"And it looks like you'll have to change his bandage," Rodney said, pointing at the blood seeping through John's scrubs.
John looked up at Carson sheepishly. "Sorry, Doc."
"It's all right, Lad. I'll be right back."
Rodney watched John in silence. This was the first time in the past week he'd been that lucid. He dreaded to think what that could even mean. True, it could mean that the pollen was officially out of his system, that John would be fine. But could it also mean that...
No! Rodney said to himself. No!
Carson returned a few moments later and began re-dressing John's wound. Normally he would have left the task to one of his nurses, but right now he felt utterly defeated and wanted to help his friend as much as he could.
John blinked. "Not now, Rodney, I'm tired."
"Yes, Rodney. If it's your turn to stay with Colonel Sheppard, then I would like you to keep quiet. He needs his rest." Carson stood up. "I'm going to analyze the results of your latest blood work, Colonel. I have a good feeling about this especially since you're the most lucid you've been in a while."
"K, Doc." He paused. "And, Carson, I'm sorry for..."
Carson held up his hand. "No apologizing! I do not blame you for how you've been acting, Son. You were poisoned."
John sighed as Carson left the room, closing his eyes. "Yeah, by a plant," he muttered, drifting off to sleep.
As he woke up, John's breathing began coming in short gasps. He glanced over at Rodney's sleeping form. His friend was probably exhausted, but John knew he'd get over it. "Rod...ney." He paused, again gasping. "RODNEY!"
The scientist jumped and fell off the chair. "What are you trying to do, Sheppard, give me a heart..." Rodney trailed off, seeing the scared look in John's eyes.
"CARSON!" he exclaimed, yelling loud enough to wake anyone in that wing of the infirmary.
Where were all the nurses and doctors, he wondered. Rodney was about to call Carson on his radio when the physician came in. "Took you long enough. He's having trouble breathing."
Carson moved over to John's side. "Colonel?"
"Not sure... what happened, Doc. I just..."
"Relax, Lad, you're hyperventilating. What were you thinking about before it started?" Carson asked.
John looked away from Carson and Rodney. "Dying. Believe me, I am willing to do that for everyone on this base, but..."
"You're prepared for that," Carson replied.
"Yeah." John was finally able to breath easier after vocalizing his fears.
Rodney moved around the bed so John could see him. "Look, I know you're scared, but you're not alone. And besides, Carson won't let you die. He has voodoo on his side!"
John chuckled while Carson rolled his eyes. There was a knock on the door and everyone turned to see Elizabeth standing there. It was time for her shift to sit with John. "Did I miss anything?"
Rodney and Carson left the room. They didn't want to embarrass John by telling her what happened. He could tell her if he wanted. Rodney glanced over at Carson. "Were you able to find anything out from his blood work?"
"Aye," Carson replied, running a hand through his hair. "It doesn't look good, Rodney. It's true the pollen is completely out of his system, but it's wrecking havoc on his body. His immune system has been compromised and the fact that he can barely keep anything down is really worrying me."
Anger was simmering within Rodney. He couldn't believe he was going to lose his best friend to a plant! "There's gotta be something you can do, Carson," he said, attempting to hold in the scream that wanted to erupt from him.
"Rodney don't you realized that we've tried everything! We've tried everything except..."
Carson swallowed around the lump in his throat. "Sending him back to Earth."
"Are you insane? Send him back to Earth?"
Carson nodded. "Aye, Rodney. I don't like the idea any better than you, but there's nothing more I can do here with the equipment I have."
"Then send for the equipment!"
"Stargate Command will not allow that and you know it."
"Then give him the option."
"No, Carson," he replied. "Let him choose where he wants to be. If you can't help him, he's not going to even want anyone else to look at him."
He sighed, knowing Rodney was right. John would want to be with his friends... his family. "All right, I'll give him a choice."
Elizabeth clutched tightly to John's hand as he dreamed. She could tell by the way his eyes were squeezed shut and tears were seeping through that he was having a nightmare.
"John," she said, placing a hand on his forehead. She jerked it away when she felt heat radiating from it. "Carson!" she called, not wanting to leave her friend alone.
Luckily he and Rodney had been just outside the door when she called and they rushed in. "Elizabeth?"
"He's burning up, Carson."
Carson checked John's temperature. "Bloody hell. 104 degrees. Rodney, get Lucy and tell her the Colonel's temp is up. She'll know what I need."
Before Rodney could move, John began seizing. Carson immediately went into action, telling Elizabeth to help John keep from injuring himself. "Rodney, go!"
Rodney blinked and ran out of the room. Luckily the seizure only lasted a few moments, but to John's friends it felt like a lifetime. Elizabeth still held onto John as Carson checked him over again.
"Is he all right?" she asked.
"Aye, for now. We need to get his temperature down fast, though." He looked up at Elizabeth, noting her pale features and dark circles under her eyes. "We're going to be at this for a while. Why don't you try to get some sleep?"
She laughed sardonically. "You expect me to sleep after what just happened?" Carson merely gave her a look. "Fine, I'll try, but call me if..."
"I will, Love, now go on."
Elizabeth didn't want to go to her quarters so she found a bed in the most secluded part of the infirmary to lie down on. She knew she should be up in the control room, but they would want to know how John was doing and she wouldn't be able to hold her emotions in once she answered.
Being the leader of an expedition team, she had to maintain professionalism and that wasn't going to happen with her blubbering like a baby. She needed time to herself to cry for her friend. She had done this after each time that Wraith sucked the very life from him.
"Elizabeth." She looked to her right to see Rodney and sat up. He seemed as defeated as Carson. Elizabeth patted the bed next to her and Rodney sat. "How are you doing?" he asked.
"All right considering."
"Tell me about it! And in all the chaos, Carson didn't mention what he almost decided."
She eyed him curiously. "Almost decided?"
Rodney explained Carson's plan. "Instead of doing that, though, he's going to let John decide what he wants to do."
"I'm afraid he can't make that decision, Rodney. Colonel Sheppard has slipped into a coma."
Two days later, Carson was looking up at a not so happy Satedan. "Doc, this is a bad idea! You know better than any of us that Sheppard needs to stay here."
Carson sighed. He hated the fact that Stargate Command had ordered him to send John back to Earth. He didn't know what else could be done for the Colonel. Maybe they could help him, but it's more likely he'll remain in the coma with no cure in sight.
Teyla placed a comforting hand on Carson's shoulder. She could tell he was having a horrible time dealing with this. "Leave him alone, Ronon. Dr. Beckett has tried everything he could to have John remain here."
"No," Carson said, "It's all right, I understand how you're feeling."
"Carson!" Elizabeth exclaimed, rushing over. "John's awake!"
John smiled tiredly at Carson when he came through the door, Ronon and Teyla close on his heels. "Bloody hell, Colonel, you had us worried!"
"Didn't mean to."
"I know you didn't," Carson replied, checking his vitals. "Blood pressure is still quite low, but you're heart rate is back to normal. Looks like you've beaten the odds yet again."
John nodded. "Thanks to you. All of you, really. I may not have seemed to know what was going on, but I did. I know that you were all nearby and that I was never alone. I just wanted to say that I appreciate that."
"Anything for a friend, John," Elizabeth replied. "Anything for family."
He searched for a face in those in around him. "Where's Rodney?"
Katie glanced into John's room, where she found Rodney. She knew he would be in there and that he purposely left the door open for someone to find him. "Have you heard the news?" she asked, sitting next to him.
"That my best friend is being sent back to Earth?"
"You haven't heard?" Katie asked in astonishment. "Rodney, he's awake."
Before she could reply, Rodney was up and out the door. He returned a few minutes later, planted a kiss on her lips and left the room again. He never ran so fast in his life, not even with Wraith chasing after him.
He arrived in the infirmary to see John quietly sleeping in his usual bed. Rodney found Carson in his office. "What happened? Not that I'm complaining, mind you."
"Rodney," Carson said. "I was about to call you. Truthfully I don't know what happened. The closest we can speculate is that his own body fought off the pollen."
"So he'll be all right?"
"As soon as we get some food into him he'll be fine. And yes, you can go see him Rodney," Carson told him.
Rodney nodded and went over to John's bedside. It was then that Rodney was able to really get a look at him since this whole mess started. He could hardly believe how much skinnier John had become.
"Hey," John said, opening his eyes.
"I thought you were supposed to be sleeping."
"Key words there, Rodney." John noticed his friend was decidedly quieter than usual. "You okay?"
Rodney gave him a look. "Are you serious? What kind of question was that? My best friend nearly died from smelling a plant, how do you think I'm doing?"
"Just relax, I'm fine. Besides, Carson will kick you out if you keep shouting."
"I'm sorry... I...
John watched him in mild amusement. The scientist had never been at lost for words. "I understand, Rodney, and if it makes you feel any better, I would have felt the same way if it had been you."