When Nancy arrived back at John's room, he was awake and trying to use a fork to pick at his handcuffs. He looked up guiltily and then for show, started to dig into the slop in front of him.
"If you're going to do that, at least use a knife."
"I wasn't doing anything," he said dropping the fork onto the tray.
Nancy sat on the edge of the bed. John moved his legs aside to accommodate her and offered her a weak smile.
"Where have you been?"
"Coffee and……" She decided to be honest, "…I was accosted by Doctor Ling."
John pulled a face.
"Hey, I think she's just worried about you. To be honest, so am I"
"I'm fine. Never been better."
"John, I've known you for years and I know that when you say you're fine you're really not. Drop the act and tell me what's been going on."
John pushed his tray aside and crossed his arms over his chest. Now in the light of the room, sitting inches from him, Nancy could see the bruises and cuts she had initially missed. Under his eye there was a slight discoloration, a cut in his hairline, another under his chin and when her eyes moved down to his hands, she could see the broken skin on his knuckles. Obviously he'd been fighting with someone.
"You know you're starting to sound like Elizabeth."
A pang of something twisted Nancy's gut. She ignored the sensation because it felt distinctly like jealousy and tried to sound as aloof as she could.
Nancy breathed out quickly.
"So, you're new military commander is a woman?"
"No," John uncrossed his arms and Nancy caught a glimpse of the track marks Doctor Ling had mentioned. John didn't do drugs of any form. He didn't even like taking aspirin so as soon as the psychiatrist had even suggested he was on something she had blown it out of the water. She knew him.
"She's a civilian," he shifted under the covers and fanned his scrubs top, obviously still overheated and in the grip of some fever, "But she's always trying to get me to own up. I'm not hiding anything Nance."
"Well then what's going on? Please tell me because Ling wants you to undergo more therapy and if you really are still in the Air Force then this will damage your career. More than Afghanistan did."
He grimaced. She knew he wasn't over it and she used it to get him open up to her.
"I really did get a promotion. I really am a Commanding Officer. I can't talk about it beyond that and….I wish I could, but……."
"There are rules."
"Yes. All I know is that I'm not where I'm supposed to be and I can't remember how I got to be on Earth."
"Uh…" he cringed, "Figure of speech. Here, I don't know how I got here."
"Okay," Nancy reached out and patted his hand, "So what about those?"
He looked down at his arm and didn't try to hide the marks.
"I don't know."
"So what are we going to do?"
"You, I meant you. Sorry, it's hard not to think of us as an us. Figure of speech," she smiled and suddenly felt guilty.
Something started making a beeping noise in her coat and she sprang up to seize her phone.
Nancy groaned and looked at the readout, "I'll be right back."
"Hi Honey," Nancy moved away from her ex-husbands room and sat in one of the waiting room chairs feeling all kinds of guilt.
"Nance. I was just ringing to see where you are."
"Sorry, I….I had to come into the city this morning. I didn't think you were back until Monday."
"The meeting got cancelled. What's wrong?"
She could hear the disdain in his voice. For some reason he had never liked John. She supposed it was because he had never liked the idea that her ex had been a little more exciting than an accountant.
"Yeah. He was admitted into County General and I had to come down and fill in a few forms."
And now she was lying to her fiancée. There was no way she could tell him that for some inexplicable reason she just had to see him.
"What and he had no-one else?"
Nancy bit her lip. She didn't think he had anyone else. She hadn't asked, she had just assumed. John had always been a bit of a loner, even before she met him.
"Not really. Look, I'll be finished here soon. I'll pick up the groceries on the way back."
"Okay, just…be careful okay."
"I know what I'm doing."
"I know. I just don't want him to stress you out that's all, what with the baby and everything."
"I won't. I'll see you later."
When Nancy arrived back at John's room she found two soldiers in full uniform standing outside his door and Doctor Jenner was in with John apparently trying to calm him down.
"What's going on?"
Doctor Jenner was pre-occupied with John, trying to get him to relax.
John was backed up against the wall, tugging at the handcuffs for all he was worth.
"The two soldiers out there have come to take John to another hospital."
"What?" Nancy turned back to the door.
"I'm not happy about it either but they have official papers."
And she could tell that the Doctor wasn't. After all, John was her patient and from talking to her, she seemed to have an affinity with him.
"I'm not going!" John shouted, sounding more like a belligerent child than a thirty nine year old man.
Nancy ran forward and gave her best impression of a concerned mother, "John, would you stop that, you're going to hurt yourself."
"I don't know those men," he stated looking her in the eyes, "I have no idea who they are. I'm not going with them."
"John," Nancy tried to stop him from squirming but he was just getting more and more irate and there was something else too. He looked scared.
It was Doctor Jenner's turn.
"John, come on. Calm down."
"I won't calm down. I'm not leaving unless my team are here. They could be…." He paused, seemingly lost in a memory and he looked down at his arm to rub at the track marks.
"What is it?"
"I don't know," he said with a sigh.
"Do you remember something?" Doctor Jenner had her hand on his shoulder and Nancy had the other.
"I…….the ambush. They could be in on it."
Nancy looked to Doctor Jenner for support but she seemed just as confused and out of her depth.
The door opened and the two soldiers entered. They seemed legitimate enough. Both were wearing Air Force Issue uniforms.
"Is he ready?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name," Nancy asked moving forward protectively.
"I'm Lt Jacobs and this is Captain Sorenson."
"Colonel Sheppard. We've come to take you to another hospital." Sorenson informed John.
John shook his head, "Nah, I don't think so."
"What hospital?" Nancy asked, "I'll come with you."
"No," John said reaching for her arm, "They'll get you too."
Jacobs shook his head, "I'm afraid that's classified information. He'll be in safe hands, you don't have to worry."
"Where are my team? Is Beckett coming?" John asked pulling at the cuffs again, immersed in escaping.
on their way," Jacobs said in a slightly bored voice.
"Doctor Jenner maybe he should stay here. I don't like the sound of this," Nancy was a little confused. These men couldn't even tell her where they were taking John and they were just going to hand him over. It seemed a little odd.
Jenner let go of John's arm finally and sighed, "I'd love to help but the papers are official. He's supposed to be at a military hospital."
"There must be something you can do."
"Can we at least wait until the morning?" Jenner tried.
"Sorry Ma'am," Jacobs said approaching the bed with the keys for the cuffs, "We've got our orders."
As soon as the cuffs were undone, John grabbed his wrist and gave it a rub.
"Sir, are you ready?"
John was still rubbing his wrist and Nancy could see the dangerous look he had in his eyes.
John moved much quicker than anyone could have anticipated. What with his fever and his other injuries it was quite a surprise when he jumped off the bed and pushed past the two soldiers.
They all followed him and there was a scream in the corridor. Apparently one of the nurses from earlier recognized him.
"Colonel Sheppard," Jacobs said, hands raised in a placating gesture.
John reached out for the nearest thing he could and found an I.V pole, thankfully with no patient attached and started swiping it back and forth.
"Sir, you need to come with us."
"I don't know who you are. I've never seen you before in my life."
Nancy stood behind the two soldiers, Jenner at her side, both of them powerless to do anything.
"We work for the same program as you do Sir. General O'Neill sent us to pick you up."
"General O'Neill," John lowered the pole and looked thoughtful, "I don't believe you."
"Sir, please. I have the official papers right here…" and as Sorenson reached into his pocket, John was raising the pole again.
"Ah, don't move!"
The corridor was slowly beginning to clear, people were running off to their rooms, nurses were heading back to the admit desk and the security guards from earlier were now flanking the two soldiers. It was like a scene from a film.
"Nancy, you have to get me out of here."
His voice was desperate and pleading and Nancy was fishing for her car keys when Jenner's hand gripped her wrist.
"My car's right out front," Jenner said and her face was a mask of disbelief. Probably at what she had just suggested.
"Don't move," Sorenson said to them both.
John took a step back, nearly pressed against the wall, and swiped out at Jacobs again, "Nance!"
"I need to help him," Nancy said to the Soldier, feeling John's desperation bleed into her.
Jacobs stepped forwards and John swung out with the pole. It connected with his back, sending him spinning to the ground in a heap.
"I'm leaving!" John shouted to non-one in particular. He was already under strain from standing again and now he had one hand planted on the wall to steady himself.
He was blinking dizzily when Sorenson made his move. He hit John on the wrist so he released the pole and drove him against the wall with a thud. The back of John's head hit the wall.
"Careful!" Jenner shouted.
"No!" Nancy tried to move again but she was being held back and it was beginning to get frustrating.
"Sir, you need to believe us. We know what happened to you but-"
John was struggling to get away, kicking his legs out and fighting the force of the soldier.
"Colonel Sheppard, please!"
"I don't know you!" John shouted, "Nance? Doctor Jenner?"
John stilled and everyone turned in unison when a booming voice ripped through the corridor. Nancy didn't know what was going on but there were three people standing down the hall. The one who had shouted was a tall dark man with dreadlocks; beside him was a woman with honey colored skin and long hair and next to her was a short, rounded man with cropped hair.
"We told you to bring him quietly not assault him!"
The soldier let go of John and he pushed him away, staggered a little and then slid down the wall. Doctor Jenner was the first to get to him, checking he was physically okay before turning back to Nancy and giving her a nod.
The woman was racing over to him then, "John, are you okay?" and she was reaching for his hand, giving it a squeeze and speaking in a reassuring voice.
The shorter man stood over him and smiled, "You just had to go and make a scene."
John blinked and looked up before breaking into a huge smile, "Rodney."
"Yes Rodney and Teyla and Ronon."
"What took you guys so long?"
John had visibly relaxed and all the tenseness in his frame had dissolved. From their familial prescience Nancy knew that they were his aforementioned team.
She couldn't believe it. John hadn't been lying.
"Well, if you hadn't gone awol in the first place then we wouldn't have…" he stopped short, "What is everyone staring at? Hello, yes, Hi! Now go away, get well and all that."
The one called Ronon, with his formidable form, reached down to John and pulled him up to his feet as if he were a rag doll. John was wavering on his feet and he grabbed him around the waist to get him steady.
"Now where is his room?"
Doctor Jenner pointed, "Over there. And you are?"
"We are his friends," the woman, Teyla, said.
Rodney, the short one, stated, "We need to take him to another hospital and I know Sheppard. He'll want his uniform."
"What is going on? Who are these people?" Nancy asked as she peered through the open door to John's room
Doctor Jenner shrugged, "I guess they're his team."
Nancy continued to watch them. John had had friends but she had never seen him behave like this. He seemed close to them, if anything, closer to them than he had been to her. It was a side of him she never envisaged she would see again. Afghanistan, his friends deaths, they had all broken him and yet these people seemed to make none of that matter.
Rodney was holding out John's pants for him to step into and Ronon, the tall one, was pulling John's t-shirt over his outstretched arms. The woman, Teyla, she was undoing the laces on John's boots. They worked in quiet synchronicity, passing each other items of John's clothing; helping him stand upright to get his thigh holster on, tugging his black wrist band over his hand, tying up his laces. And John was letting them. Nancy knew from experience that he didn't like to be helpless. He didn't like to be needy. Her completely self sufficient ex-husband was allowing himself to be molly-coddled and ordered and he seemed to accept it. Like it even.
Once John was fully dressed, Rodney stood opposite him with crossed arms and Nancy could hear their conversation filtering though to them, unseen.
"I cannot believe you tried to escape from your own people."
"You don't remember?" Teyla asked patting his back, "We were ambushed on MX345. You were held captive for three days."
"I don't really remember."
"When we found you, you were pumped full of drugs and high as a kite. We bought you back to the SGC to recover and then you went all Rambo on us."
Nancy turned to Doctor Jenner, "Rambo?"
Jenner shrugged again.
"Well he did……oh come on, he stole a Zat and knocked everyone in his path unconscious and then took off into the night liked the caped crusader."
Teyla seemed confused, "I thought you said he was Rambo?"
"Rambo, Caped crusader, whatever. Either way, you're an idiot!"
"Hey, you said I was drugged. How am I supposed to remember what I did?"
"It is good to have you back John."
"Yes wandering the streets in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain is my idea of……hey is that food? I haven't eaten in like…….three hours."
John laughed, "Go for it."
"Ronon!...Fine, I'll just go into hypoglycemic shock and………do you think they can put this in a doggy bag?"
"You look exhausted John. We must get you home."
As they started towards the door, Nancy and Doctor Jenner took a step back feigning a deep conversation.
When John staggered out, Jenner held her hand out to the others, "Hang on. He needs a wheelchair."
John held his hand out and shook his head, "I'm fine."
"He'll walk," Ronon said crossing his arms.
Jenner crossed her arms and squared up to the larger man, "Hospital policy."
"Trust me," Rodney said, "Sheppard would want to walk."
had to agree.
John was in his own world, seemingly a mixture of tiredness, sickness and relief had washed away his last reserves of strength.
Teyla placed a hand around his waist and he didn't bat an eyelid. He merely reached down and held tightly to her hand. Again, Nancy felt a small twinge of jealousy at the close relationship they had and that she and John very nearly had.
"So you're leaving," Nancy asked in a quiet voice.
His friends, his team she amended, were watching her with confusion and when John didn't introduce her she figured there was a good reason for it. Their time was over. He had a new life, she had a new life and he would tell them about her in his own time. She'd learnt never to push John. She hoped his friends knew that too.
"I'll take you off my next of kin list," he said with a small smile, "Sorry you had to drive down here to save my sorry ass."
Nancy was surprised when he stepped forwards and leaned his forehead against hers. It wasn't a hug. It was odd. But for some reason she felt closer to him than she ever had, "Don't take me off that list."
"Seriously?" His voice was beginning to slur a little like a tired toddler ready for bed.
"Seriously. Maybe in another three years we'll meet up again."
He smiled and stepped back into his teams arms.
"Thanks Doc," John said as he started down the corridor.
"No problem. Just promise me you'll stay out of trouble."
"Sure," he mumbled and he shared a look with his team.
"I hope he doesn't give Beckett as much trouble as he gave me," Jenner said as Rodney and Ronon passed.
Nancy didn't know what Jenner had said but both men stopped and their backs tensed.
Rodney turned, "I'm sorry."
"His Doctor's Beckett right?"
Rodney nodded and swallowed thickly, all the color washing from his face.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, it's just…….Carson's……Carson died a few months ago."
"Oh…I'm sorry. I thought…"
Another friend dead, Nancy realized sadly.
Rodney nodded and headed off, suddenly silent and withdrawn.
They had gone halfway down the hall; when John suddenly pitched forwards and it was Ronon who grabbed him before he hit the floor. Jenner was already tensing but before she could move, Ronon was picking John up and gently placing him over his shoulder.
The move was made in silence. None of them reacted. It was painfully obvious to Nancy at least, that this wasn't the first time they had had to rescue John.
"What now?" Nancy asked tiredly.
"Now I go home and go to sleep and so do you."
Nancy smiled and watched as her ex disappeared around the corner.
"What are you going to tell Ling?"
Jenner smiled, "I'll let her figure out that he's gone."
"And miss a chance to let her know she was wrong?"
Jenner looked on thoughtfully, "That she was wrong about what? I didn't hear anything, did you?"