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Summary: This is what happens when the dreams are over and reality wants attention. A tag to Doppelganger.

WHEN REALITY FADES...part one

No one had been sleeping well after the crystal entity incident that had caused bad dreams and the death of Heightmeyer. Ronon seemed to rally best of all and was a strong presence for everyone else. Teyla was feeling the loss of Kate, who had been a good friend to her. Too much loss, after losing Elizabeth just months ago as well and almost losing Ronon to his old friends.

John was feeling the weight of it all as well, but trying to remain positive for his team and the others on Atlantis. But keeping upbeat was hard to do when he felt so damn tired. And if that wasn't bad enough, his body was giving him hell. Three days had passed since they had returned the crystals and suddenly John felt like he'd been hit by a tank.

Getting out of bed had taken twenty minutes, and had only been attempted after sending Ronon off to jog alone. John had practically crawled to the shower and then he had stared at himself in disbelief. His body was covered in bruises and every part of him ached. Which included his head. He had the grandmother of all headaches going on, to the point where he felt nauseous. Once he'd managed to finish showering, John had ended up sitting down to dry off. By the time he'd pulled on underwear, sweat pants and a t-shirt he'd ended up on his knees puking into the toilet.

He was still in the bathroom when Rodney found him.

"I thought we were meeting for breakfast?" Rodney blurted out in greeting, only to fall back when his nose caught the stench in the bathroom. "You're sick!" He made it sound like an accusation.

"Go away." John really didn't want to deal with anyone right now. He wanted to be left alone to wallow in his pain and misery.

But Rodney had braved coming in and now he was staring down at John with concern sharply etched in his features. "What's wrong with you?"

John really didn't know so he figured he wasn't lying when he guessed with, "Something I ate didn't agree with me." It would at least explain the puking. Although he hadn't eaten anything since lunch the day before. Not that he wanted to even think about food right now.

"What did you eat? We didn't eat the same thing, did we?" Rodney looked panicked now, one hand moving to rub his stomach.

"Rodney...go away." John was about ready to beg him to leave.

Looking uncertain, Rodney back away. "Are you sure you're okay? I could call Keller."

John almost shook his head and thought better of it. "I'm fine. Or I will be after a nap. Just go away and I'll see you later."

"Okay. If you're sure." But Rodney was already out the door as he spoke. "Remember you said you'd help me with some calculations in my lab later!" he called over his shoulder. Then there was the whooshing sound of the door closing. Then blessed silence.

For a long time John just sat there, waiting for the nausea to pass. Thankfully, it did. Swallowing back a moan, John managed to get to his feet and over to the sink. He avoided his reflection, focusing instead on brushing the bad taste out of his mouth. Then he stumbled his way to his bed and crawled in. He felt like he'd spent the day sparring with Ronon, only getting his ass kicked by the Satedan had never felt this bad.

When the aches wouldn't ease up and nearly half an hour had ticked away, John got up again and rummaged in his sock drawer for his stash of Aleve. He took a double dose then headed for the shower. Maybe between the meds and the heat of the water he'd feel better. Maybe he was just stiff for some reason and if he got himself in motion he'd feel better.

The shower did seem to help a little, although by the time he was dressed in BDU's and a long-sleeved black shirt with a warm fleece pullover, John was feeling nauseous again. He sat down, waiting for it to pass, then he collected his radio, laced on his boots, strapped on his gun and then he was out the door.

It wasn't until he was deciding where to go first that he remembered he had a meeting with Carter. John had no clue what she wanted to talk about. She'd made it clear it was a private meeting, just them, so he'd made it a point not to think about it so he wouldn't drive himself nuts wondering what she wanted to talk about.

Which meant he didn't have much time. Since he still felt a bit nauseous, John decided to make a quick trip to the messhall. Maybe having some toast would settle his stomach. So he headed for the nearest transporter, trying hard not to wince as each step he took seemed to jar some muscle or joint or tender spot on his aching body.

THE END...of part one