Disclaimer: I do not own anything about Stargate Atlantis.
Summary: A tag to Quarantine in which Sheppard hit the side of that tower a little harder than he thought. This picks up at the end of the mess hall scene that occurred just prior to the end of the episode.
Author's Note: This is for Kathie, who requested a Quarantine tag in which Sheppard got whumped. She provided many of the plot ideas, as well as the title.
Batman Did It
"McKay would love this," John said to Teyla with a slight smirk.
"Love might be a little strong," suggested Carter with a wry grin.
Pushing his glasses up, Radek nodded. "More likely he will ask what took me so long."
Everyone at the table laughed and nodded in agreement. John gently rubbed his right side, trying to ignore the ache that had been building since his climb up the tower. He figured he must have pulled a muscle with all the reaching and stretching and, oh yeah, falling. Well, almost falling. Close enough to scare around ten years out of him.
"Where is Rodney?" asked Teyla.
John started twisting around to face her when the dull ache became a sharp, stabbing pain that stole his breath and made his vision swim. He bent his right arm and tucked his elbow in protectively to his side while clutching the arm of his chair with his left hand. Taking short, shallow breaths, he clenched his jaw against the burning pain and concentrated on remaining upright. His vision was gray and foggy and he couldn't hear for the roaring in his ears, but he felt someone's hand on his back, steadying him.
"Colonel Sheppard, what's wrong?"
The pain lessened enough he could breath a little easier, although not much. John blinked a few times and his vision cleared, although he still felt unsteady and even a little nauseated. He carefully glanced around to find Keller standing beside him, one hand on his back and the other wrapped around his wrist.
"You're pulse is a little quick. How do you feel? Are you in pain?" The doctor let go of his wrist and frowned as she looked him in the eye. "Colonel, I need to know what's going on."
Swallowing, John licked his lips. He wanted to tell her because he knew he was in trouble here, but he was having trouble talking. "Side . . . hurts."
Keller nodded. "Your right side?" she asked, watching the way he held his right arm pressed to his side. At his nod, she continued. "What else? Light headed? Any nausea?"
"Both," he admitted.
"Do you know of anything that could have caused this? Did you sustain any kind of injury while we were in lockdown?"
Gripping the chair and squeezing his eyes shut against a wave of pain, it was a moment before John could answer her question. "Almost fell . . . when climbing . . . the tower . . . piece came loose . . . I lost my footing and . . . banged into it . . . pretty good."
"Did he say he climbed the tower?" asked Carter, her voice demonstrating her disbelief.
"Yes," answered Teyla. "We were trapped in Rodney's lab and John needed to get to the control room to shut off an alert beacon the city was broadcasting. He broke out a window and climbed the outside of the tower."
Carter's eyes were wide. "That's four stories."
Sighing, Teyla dipped her head briefly to one side. "John said Batman did it all the time."
Keller snorted as she moved to John's right side and kneeled beside him. "Colonel, I hate to break it to you, but you aren't Batman."
"Now . . . tells me," John muttered.
"John, I think you and I need to talk when Dr. Keller gets through with you," said Carter firmly.
"I need to look at your side," said Keller. "I'm just going to lift your shirt."
Grimacing, John tried to shake his head. "We're in . . . mess hall, doc . . . need to wait."
Keller's expression hardened, along with her voice. "Colonel, I need to assess your condition before we move you to the infirmary, so I will examine you here and now and you will not argue with me, is that clear?"
"Do what she says, John," added Carter.
"I will help," said Radek.
John was hurting too bad to put up a fight, but he did manage a small grunt. He heard Radek's chair scrape about the time Keller took hold of his right arm.
"Colonel, I need you to move your arm away from your side." John let the physician guide his hand over to the arm of the chair so that he could grip the chair while holding his arm away from his body.
"Dr. Zelenka, could you hold his shirt up for me?" asked Keller, pulling his shirt up around his chest. Cool air tickled his skin and made him shudder, which sent another wave of pain through his side, making the muscles across his abdomen spasm for a moment. Eyes tightly closed, John swallowed reflexively against the rising bile in the back of his throat.
Another set of hands gripped his shoulders, steadying him when he began to drift to one side. He knew from their size it was Ronon. Keller's probing made him cringe and bite down on his lower lip to keep from crying out. It was only a few moments, but it had John wondering if he would pass out or throw up first. The fire across his lower rib cage made it hard to tell when Keller had finished, the pain lingering long after her fingers had stopped provoking it.
"Colonel, are you –"
John lost his battle to keep his stomach contents from making an appearance. He leaned over as the muscle spasms sent pain racing through his side and into his chest. Suddenly he couldn't seem to catch his breath. When the vomiting finally stopped, he was coughing and gagging and gasping for breath. He could feel hands moving and supporting him as the world faded into blackness.
"Well, who in their right mind crawls up the outside of a tower anyway? Was he trying to get himself killed?"
John recognized Rodney's voice and the level of annoyance in it, but he didn't have the energy to open his eyes yet.
"Rodney, as I have told you, John needed to get up to the control room to turn off the beacon before the Wraith were alerted to our presence. It was the only way."
"And how does he know my password? Now I have to change it and that was a really good one."
"You do realize that if he hadn't known your password, the Wraith might have picked up that signal and we could all be dead now. With the city in lockdown, there would have been no way to defend ourselves."
"Yes, Sam, I know, I know, but still . . . he knows my password. I just can't figure out how he remembered it."
John felt the tug of a smile, in spite of his best attempts at smothering it. "Easy," he whispered softly.
"John?" He opened his eyes to find Teyla smiling down at him. He could hear Rodney prattling on to someone about him being awake.
"Hey," he said, his voice barely audible. "What . . . happened?" He felt sluggish, a sure sign of painkillers, which he was grateful for since the pain in his side was now a lot more bearable. He glanced over and noted the IV tube snaking down to his hand.
"Dr. Keller will be here in a moment to explain," she said. Ronon walked up to look over her shoulder and grin down at John.
"So you've been acting like Batman," he said. "Not a good idea, Sheppard."
"Everyone . . . critic," John said, trying not to breathe too deeply. His stomach was starting to churn a little and he reached out to grip the bedrail, a small groan escaping his lips. He was almost glad to see Keller come up to the other side of the bed.
"Colonel," she said, immediately laying her hand across his wrist to take his pulse. When she finished, she looked at him in concern. "Are you nauseous again?"
"Little," he murmured.
Nodding, she turned to speak briefly to a nurse walking by before returning to her patient. "I'll have you something for the nausea in just a minute. How's the pain?"
John relaxed his grip on the metal rail and allowed his arm to slide down the bed as the nausea eased a bit. "Not bad. Wha' happened?"
"It looks like you must have body slammed the tower, because you've managed to lacerate your liver and bruise a lung. There was some internal bleeding, but it seems to have stopped on its own. We're going to have to keep a close eye on it for a few days, though, so you might as well get comfortable. Can you breathe okay?"
"Yeah, just . . . hurts a little." Every breath he took felt a little like someone was kicking him, but the drugs had the pain muted enough he could handle it.
Nodding, Keller listened to his chest with her stethoscope before straightening back up and hanging the instrument sideways around her neck. "Sounds okay for now, but try not to move around much." The nurse she had talked to before walked up and handed her a syringe, which she emptied into John's IV port. "That should help with the nausea. Let me know if it doesn't or the pain gets worse." Giving them all a short nod, she left John with his team.
Watching her leave, John let out a light snort. "Move 'round?" At this point in time, it was about all John could do just to breathe regularly. He wasn't going anywhere.
"What were you thinking, Colonel?" asked Rodney with an edge to his voice. "Do you know what would have happened if you'd fallen?"
Closing his eyes, John focused on breathing just deeply enough the pain stayed manageable. "Thinking . . . we needed . . . beacon off before Wraith . . . showed up. 'Sides, done some . . . rock climbing . . . piece o' cake." He didn't want to have this discussion, especially not now. His midsection felt like someone had set off an explosion in his tac vest when he wasn't looking.
He felt Teyla's soft hand take his and she gently stroked the back of his hand. "Rodney was just worried about you. I'm sure he does not mean to be so harsh."
"S'kay," John whispered. The momentary annoyance had already faded and he was vaguely aware of the sounds around him beginning to sound hollow and distant. He thought someone was calling his name, but the encroaching darkness promised silence and no pain, so he surrendered to it.
"You have to see this," Rodney said excitedly as he rushed into Carter's office. Not even thinking to ask, he shoved her computer aside so he could set his down in front of her. She watched in open-mouth amazement as he booted it up and began typing. Rodney had changed a lot in the last few years, but a part of him would never change and she was watching it in action. "There!" he said dramatically, waving his hand at the screen.
A fuzzy image appeared, which she recognized as the outside of the central tower. Rodney reached over and tapped a button several times, causing the image to zoom in to the top third of the structure. "Rodney, what is this?" It wasn't like she hadn't been in the middle of something.
"Radek and I discovered there are some outside monitors of key areas of Atlantis, one of those being the central tower," he explained, waving his hand once again at the screen. "We went back through the files and found the records from yesterday," he announced proudly. "Just watch."
Turning her attention back to the screen, she startled slightly at the sudden motion of something crashing through one of the windows. Squinting through the poor quality of the image, she leaned a little closer to the screen. A dark figure came out of the now open window and began climbing the side of the tower, stretching and reaching for hand and foot holds as he ascended. "Is that Sheppard?"
"Yep! Our very own Batman wannabe. Watch closely and you'll see how he banged himself up."
A few seconds later, John reached up to grab hold of something that apparently broke or came loose, resulting in his loosing his footing and swinging out before crashing into the side of the building. She watched in amazement as he shook it off and climbed the rest of the way to the balcony.
"Idiot," Rodney muttered as he closed the file.
"That was amazing," Carter said, truly impressed with John's climbing ability. She knew from his file he'd had some experience rock climbing, but she'd never seen anything quite like that. In a recent conversation with Major Lorne, she'd learned John had been ready to climb back down the tower to get to the power room once the self-destruct had activated. All of that with injuries.
"Keller said he probably didn't realize how badly he was injured," Rodney said and she wasn't sure if it was for his benefit or hers.
"I know," she agreed. "She said injuries like his sometimes take a while to manifest themselves to the point you realize something is wrong." She watched Rodney's face as he played through the video again, frowning deeply at the image. He was angry. Angry at how easily he could have lost his friend and angry that he hadn't been able to do anything to help. Rodney was still the Rodney she'd known in many ways, but he'd definitely changed in others. "He did what he had to do, you know that, right? He wasn't playing hero or anything. He was using the skills he has to solve problems as they came up."
Rodney shut the computer down and then rubbed the top of his head, making his hair stand on end, much like the back of Sheppard's. Carter tried not to smile too big. "I know, it's just . . . he does crazy stuff like this all the time." He looked down quietly for a moment before letting his gaze nervously shift to look her in the eyes. "I worry sometimes that . . . maybe he doesn't . . . I mean he sometimes acts like he thinks . . . he just takes this expendable soldier thing a little too seriously."
Standing abruptly, Rodney gathered his computer in his arms, eyes darting around like they did when he was out of his comfort zone. Carter almost laughed out loud. Rodney was still uneasy about having friends. He had some now, but he didn't always know what to do with them, and Carter found that somewhat endearing.
"Rodney, sit a minute," she said.
The frantic motion continued for a few seconds before he finally slowed and looked at her. With a brief nod, he dropped into one of the chairs in front of Carter's desk.
Letting out a deep breath, Carter gave Rodney an encouraging smile. "I think it's just that John takes his job very seriously. I haven't known him nearly as long as you and I don't know him nearly as well, but from what I can see, both in the reports and in what I've had time to observe, John thrives on protecting people. It's second nature . . ."
At the sound of someone calling her name, Carter adjusted her radio and held up her index finger toward Rodney, indicating she needed a minute. "This is Carter, go ahead." She listened, watching Rodney straighten in his seat, his eyes growing wide. "Yes, I understand. Keep me updated. And Dr. McKay is with me, so I'll apprise him of the situation." If it was possible, Rodney's eyes widened even more.
"What? What's wrong?"
Carter bit her lower lip a second, dreading passing on the news. "That was Dr. Keller. John's bleeding internally and they're taking him to surgery."
Rodney was back on his feet before Carter finished her sentence. "I'm going to the infirmary. Could you let Ronon and Teyla know?" he asked as he moved to the door.
"Wait a second," Carter called, pausing until he turned back to her. "Ronon and Teyla are already in the infirmary."
Rodney smacked himself in the forehead with the palm of his free hand. "I knew that." At Carter's confused look, he explained. "They were staying with him this morning while I worked on some things in the lab and then I was supposed to relieve them after lunch."
"Do you always do that? Stay with him when he's in the infirmary?"
Rodney nodded as if it was obvious. "We do it for each other, a team thing. Although Sheppard seems to be on the receiving end more than the rest of us. You just . . . you rest easier when you know someone's watching your back."
Carter suspected it had more to do with knowing with absolute certainty that you had people who cared about you, especially when safe in Atlantis, but she wasn't going to argue the point. She knew from experience that waking up hurt and disoriented in the infirmary was just a little less frightening when you knew you weren't alone.
"I understand. Go. I'll be down a little while to check on him." And all of you.
With a slight nod, Rodney turned and hurried out of sight. Some things really had changed, and for the better.
Rodney glanced up from his keyboard to see Teyla nod her head toward the door of the infirmary. He could see Ronon leaned back in the chair on the other side of her, his feet propped up in a second chair. The runner had appeared to be asleep, but raised his head at the sound of Teyla's voice. Turning his head, he observed Samantha Carter walking over to them.
"Rodney," she said, giving him a small nod before looking at the other two members of the team. "Ronon, Teyla." They both tilted their head forward in a quiet greeting. "Any word yet?"
"No, not yet. I wish they'd hurry."
"I do not think hurrying is wise when operating," said Teyla.
"No," agreed Rodney. "Probably not. Especially when Colonel Catastrophe is on the table."
"Rodney!" scolded Teyla.
"I'm telling him you said that," said Ronon with a grin.
"He already knows I call him that, among other things. I told him when he quit doing things that landed him in the infirmary, I'd quit giving him nicknames. Looks like I don't have to shake the habit any time soon," Rodney said bitterly.
"He is just worried about John," Teyla said to Carter. "Rodney gets . . . a certain way when he is worried."
Carter smiled. "Yes . . . he does."
"Keller," Rodney said as he stood up, ignoring the two women who had just been talking about him as he pointed to the physician walking toward them.
The doctor nodded to the cluster of people waiting. "The surgery went well. It was a little dicey at first, but we found the source of the bleeding and got it stopped. He'll be out of it for a couple of days, but he should recover."
"May we see him?" asked Teyla.
Smiling, Keller gave a short nod, not looking surprised at all by the request. "Yes, but we'll have him in recovery for a bit longer. I'll let you know when we get him moved out to the main ward. After you've all had a chance to see him, I want you to limit it to one at a time for a few days."
"One at a time?" Rodney questioned. "What if we all want to stay?"
Crossing her arms defiantly, Keller's smile slowly diminished. "I'm afraid I'll have to insist. It's critical that Colonel Sheppard be allowed to rest if he's going to recover properly. When the whole team gets together, sometimes it gets . . . a little rambunctious."
Carter tried in vain to stifle a smile. Clearing her throat, she glanced at Rodney. "Do what she says, Rodney. She only wants what's best for John."
"Fine, one at a time," Rodney muttered. "I get first watch."
"Say's who?" Ronon asked in a stern voice."
"Uh, says me?" Rodney said unsurely, his voice pitching upwards a bit as he looked nervously at Ronon.
"Okay," the Satedan said simply, a large, impish grin on his face.
"Oh, very mature," Rodney complained.
Keller broke into a grin again, exchanging a look with Carter. "I'll let you know when you can visit the Colonel."
John awoke to the soft murmur of familiar voices, allowing him to float slowly toward full consciousness. At first the sounds were merely reassurance that he was safe and all was well. As his mind cleared enough for the words to start making sense, sharp pains began to introduce themselves to the conversation as well. By the time he opened his eyes, it was with a soft groan and a hitching breath.
Silence filled the room for a moment, followed by the shuffling of feet and scraping of chairs. Someone bumped the bed, resulting in a fire racing across his belly and he groaned again.
"Sorry, sorry, I didn't realize I was so close," Rodney apologized in a quick, high-pitched voice.
"I'll get Keller," said Ronon. John wanted to smile at the big man's offer but he was too busy trying to breathe through the pain in his gut and side. Sounds faded in and out for a while before he heard another familiar voice.
"Colonel Sheppard, are you with us?"
Recognizing Keller's voice, John tried to respond. "Mmm," was the best he could come up with.
"Vocabulary skills haven't improved much," Rodney remarked.
Struggling against his weighted eyelids, John finally managed to get his eyes open. It took a few moments for his vision to clear enough to recognize all of his teammates surrounding his bed. His glance fell on Teyla just in time to see her look of worry dissolve into a smile.
"It is good to see you awake, John. We were beginning to worry."
Blinking a few times, John realized he had no idea what had happened. The last thing he remembered was talking to Teyla and Ronon as they sat with him in the infirmary. "Wha' 'ppened?" he slurred.
"You began bleeding internally," informed Keller. "I think you gave Teyla and Ronon a bit of a scare, passing out on them the way you did."
"S'rry . . . don't . . . 'member."
"I'm not surprised. You crashed pretty quickly and we had to take you to surgery to stop the bleeding. But everything went well and your vitals have been steadily improving, so I think it's fair to say you should have a full recovery."
More awake now, John was becoming aware of monitors and tubes, all making him extremely uncomfortable. He shifted in an effort to relieve some of the discomfort, but only succeeded in sending stabbing pain through his midsection, taking his breath away. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, he didn't even have the breath to moan. For once, he was grateful for the oxygen supplied by the otherwise irritating nasal canula.
"Easy does it, Colonel. I'm giving you something for the pain now," Keller said, her voice barely penetrating the strange buzzing in his ears. A few agonizing moments later, he felt the fire begin to subside and his muscles begin to unwind, leaving him winded and too exhausted to open his eyes.
"Rest, John," Teyla's voice whispered to him. He decided to follow her suggestion.
Rodney hurried into the infirmary, knowing he was late. "I'm here, I'm here," he babbled as he rushed up to where Teyla sat and Ronon stood beside John's bed. "Is he awake?"
Teyla slid Ronon a sideways glance before shifting her gaze back to Rodney. "He's been . . . in and out."
Chuckling, Ronon gave a quick nod. "And even when he's in, he's mostly out."
Mouth agape, Rodney blinked. "What?"
"You will see," replied Teyla.
A slight groan from the bed drew Rodney's attention away and he watched as John opened his eyes and blinked several times, forming a small frown as he grunted.
"Hey, sleepyhead," Rodney said brightly, hoping his friend would stay awake long enough they could talk. He was always so bored doing the bedside vigil thing, but he couldn't bring himself not to. Even though John's life was not in danger, he knew from experience how lonely it felt to wake up when no one was around.
"Hey," the patient whispered. Teyla responded to the raspy voice by pouring some water in a cup as Ronon raised the head of the bed. The motion brought a silent grimace from John, but he looked relieved at the taste of the water. "What's up?" he asked as Teyla set the cup down.
"Trading off colonel-sitting duty," said Rodney.
"Don't need a baby sitter," muttered John.
"We want to keep you company," replied Teyla diplomatically, just before pinning Rodney with a glare.
"I didn't mean anything by it," protested Rodney as he set his computer down on the foot of the bed. "You know that, right?" he asked John.
John, however, seemed preoccupied by something across the room. He lifted a shaky finger to point toward the door to the infirmary. "One of you needs to kill those," he said, his voice edged with worry.
The three of them turned to look at the blank wall next to the entrance. Ronon rolled his eyes and turned back to John. "There's still nothing there, Sheppard."
John sat up a little straighter, groaning audibly as he tensed in obvious pain. "No, they're there, on the wall, lots of them now. They look like little iratus bugs. Someone needs to kill them." As if to prove his point, he began pushing the covers off his legs as if he thought he might do it himself.
Teyla scrambled to push him back and wrestle the covers back across his lap. "John, you know you cannot get up. You had surgery two days ago. Ronon and Rodney will handle it." She turned to the two men. "You need to kill them for John."
Rodney's eyes, already wide, got even wider. "Kill what? There's nothing there but bare wall."
"Told you he was out even when he was in," said Ronon. "We've done this already."
Frowning, Rodney looked back at John's edgy expression and then to Ronon's amused, yet annoyed one. "Does Keller know he's hallucinating bugs on the wall? I mean, this can't be good can it?"
"She said it's the painkiller mix she's got him on. She doesn't seem concerned."
"Guys," John drawled in his immanent danger tone of voice.
Slumping his shoulders, Rodney glanced back at John. The man was still as white as the sheets from his bout with blood loss, even though Rodney knew they had pumped several units of blood in him. He looked sick and fragile and in pain and how could you ignore that? "Fine. Ronon, let's kill some bugs."
"Don't use your hands, they might bite you," John warned. "Grab a magazine or something."
Figured. John was half dead and hallucinating, yet still he worried about everyone else. Rodney grabbed a magazine off the table, as did Ronon, and the two men began to beat the wall around the door. Nurses and other patients looked at them like they were crazy.
"You missed one," called John. "Rodney, watch out, it's on the floor by your right foot."
Rodney couldn't help it. A moment of panic before he remembered the bugs were imaginary had him executing a twisting jump-turn so the bug couldn't get on him. He heard Ronon laugh as he beat the floor near his foot several times. "Did I get it?"
"Yeah, that's all of them," came the relieved reply.
"Good job, McKay," Ronon rumbled while thumping him in the upper arm, a wide grin spread across his face.
Teyla smiled at them both and gave them each an appreciative nod. "Thank you both. John will rest easier now that the bugs have been dealt with."
"Yeah . . . thanks guys," John whispered, his eyelids threatening to close.
"No, no, don't go back to sleep," complained Rodney. "I've played exterminator for you, so you wake up and keep me company."
"He might find more bugs for you to kill," said Ronon with a smirk.
Sighing, Rodney sat down in the now vacant chair. "Fine. Go to sleep, Sheppard. I'm done killing imaginary bugs for the day."
Ronon laughed out loud and Teyla smiled. "At least until he wakes up again," said the Satedan.
Rodney rubbed the back of his head. "This is going to be a long day, isn't it?"
Carter strolled into the infirmary, hearing Rodney's voice before she saw the subject of her visit. Immediately heading that direction, she was pleased to see John propped up in a partial sitting position and looking like he might actually be awake. Rodney was talking at something approaching light speed, resulting in an almost comical expression of feigned interest on the colonel's face.
". . . when Radek dropped the thing, it landed on the activation button, causing the whole thing to . . . Oh, Sam, hey."
It was hard not to laugh when John looked at her with a cross between exhaustion and relief. "Colonel," he said gratefully.
"Hello Rodney. John, how are you feeling? You're looking and sounding a little more lucid today."
A lop-sided grin spread across the pilot's face. "Keller finally reduced my meds enough I can think again." He gave a quick sideways glance in Rodney's direction. "The verdict is still out on whether that's a good thing or a bad thing."
"He's much better company today, but I think he's hurting more," said Rodney, totally missing the intended point.
Smiling, Carter gave John a short nod. "I think I know exactly what you mean. Oh, I brought you a present." She brought her hand out from behind her back at their inquisitive looks and proudly held up a flyswatter. "It was pretty hard to find one of these in the Pegasus Galaxy, but nevertheless, here you go." She set it in John's lap as he eyed it distastefully, a frown spreading across his face.
"Thanks," he said wryly. "I'll add it to my collection."
"Collection?" she asked, raising her brows.
Grinning, Rodney stood and grabbed a handful from the top of the nightstand, holding them up for Carter to see. "Seems to be the popular gift for infirmary patients this season. Well, at least the ones with bug problems."
"Humph," snorted Carter. "Who would have thought you find that many in Atlantis?"
"I'm never going to live this down, am I?" asked John mournfully.
"I doubt it," answered Rodney.
Rubbing the back of his head, John moaned. "I don't even remember it, really. I have this vague, sort of dreamlike recollection of seeing bugs and that's it. This is so unfair. I've already told Keller not to ever give me that particular mix of drugs again."
"Like she's going to listen to you," Rodney muttered with a grin.
She couldn't help but laugh at the colonel's predicament, leading to John making an extremely pained face. "I'm sorry, John, it's just . . . well, it's funny. I wouldn't worry too much, it'll blow over before you know it. And on a serious note, everyone is grateful for what you did. If you hadn't climbed that tower, it's very possible we'd all be dead or maybe even still trapped."
John gave her a slight nod while rolling his lower lip in for a second. "I appreciate the pep talk, but I'd rather have people stop bringing me flyswatters and bugspray."
"Oh, I don't know," said Rodney. "With your bad history of bug problems, you should probably hang onto this stuff."
"Funny. I think I hear Radek calling you."
Grabbing his laptop from the chair next to where he'd been sitting, Rodney looked down at John. "Actually, that isn't far from the truth. I didn't realize how late it was and I told Radek I'd come help him with something this afternoon. You be okay until Teyla gets here?"
"I'm good, Rodney. Don't forget to bring the chess board tomorrow."
Rodney hesitated a second. "You sure you'll feel up to that?"
"One way to find out. If I konk out before we're done, we can just leave it set up for later," John pointed out.
"True. Okay, chess it is. Don't kill any bugs while I'm gone," Rodney said as he turned and headed toward the door.
"Still not funny," John called after him.
Cater chuckled and took the seat Rodney had formerly occupied. "Mind if I stay a few minutes?"
Stifling a yawn, John gave a short nod. "Suite yourself, but I don't promise to be good company. Rodney just about talked me into a coma." Shifting a bit, John winced and bit down on his lip as he squeezed his eyes shut for a few seconds.
"John?" asked Carter, rising quickly to her feet. "I'll get Keller."
"Did I hear my name?" asked Keller as she approached the bed. She quickly took in her patient's expression and moved to the side of the bed. "Colonel?"
John relaxed a bit and opened his eyes as he leaned back against the pillows. "I'm 'kay. Just moved too much."
Keller smiled as she checked his IV. "I thought we said no moving around."
Flashing a half-hearted smile that looked like a partial grimace, John sighed. "Kind of hard not to move at all."
The doctor moved the covers down and checked John's bandages before replacing the blankets. "It's time for pain meds. That's probably why you're experiencing more pain. Haven't seen any more bugs, have you?"
"Not to my knowledge," John drawled.
"That's good. I wouldn't want people to think I'm keeping a bug-infested infirmary here."
"I don't know, it might cut down on your business," said John with a mischievous smile.
Keller administered the pain medication through the IV port and then smiled down at John. "That'll probably make you drowsy. Can I get you anything?"
"I'm good," said John. "Thanks, doc, for everything but the bug jokes."
"You're welcome. Glad to see our resident superhero is making a recovery."
"Superhero?" asked Carter.
"Our own version of Batman, from what I understand."
Carter nodded in understanding. "Oh, yeah. Maybe we should get him his own name. Atlantis man? No, that sounds hokey. Ancient man? Ooh, that's worse. What do you think, John?" she asked as she turned back to her second in command.
"I don't think he cares right now," said Keller as they watched the slow rise and fall of the sleeping man's chest.
"Breathe, John, quit holding your breath," ordered Keller, tightening her grip on his right arm. John was currently walking between the doctor and Ronon, although he suspected they were supporting more of his weight than he was. His legs were shaking with the effort and it felt like every muscle in his abdomen and chest was pulled taunt as a rubber band on the verge of breaking. Sweat trickled down the side of face, prompting an itch he had no way to scratch.
"Just a few more steps, Sheppard," Ronon encouraged.
John wanted to argue that the chair beside his bed they were aiming for looked a lot farther away than a few steps, but he was having enough trouble just drawing in enough air. He kept unconsciously holding his breath in an effort to brace his midsection against the pain of movement.
"Colonel, if you pass out from not breathing, we're dropping you on the cold, hard floor." The nurse walking behind them as she pushed the IV pole along snickered at Keller's threat.
John sucked in a deep breath and paid for it with a muscle spasm. At his groan, Ronon somehow covered the last few feet in record time and then helped Keller ease him into the chair.
"That was good, Colonel. I want you to try sitting for a few minutes while we get your bed linens changed and then we'll move you back. Don't worry, it'll get easier," Keller said as she patted him on the shoulder.
"I know," he said breathlessly. Unfortunately, it wasn't his first experience with the recovery process. Even more unfortunately, it probably wouldn't be his last. That was a thought best not dwelled on though.
"You okay?" asked Ronon, frowning at him slightly.
"Yeah, I'm okay. Just tired."
"You'll get there."
Grinning, John nodded. Now that he was able to get his breath and the fire in his stomach was dying down a bit, he was starting to feel better. He hated those first few times out of bed, and yet he relished the feeling that he was honestly getting better. Plus, he had to admit, it felt kind of good to get his muscles doing something to get the blood flowing again.
"You're grinning," said Ronon, who was also now grinning.
"I know. Guess I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."
"I thought if you saw a light, that meant you were dying."
Rolling his eyes, John sighed. "Not that light. It's just an expression that means the end of something bad is in sight."
Ronon grunted. "So why don't you just say that?"
"Because then we can't confuse our alien friends," John replied sarcastically.
"Your people are strange."
"So you keep telling me," John said.
They sat in silence a moment before Ronon looked up and waved his hand at John. "But they do make some cool movies. Maybe Keller will let us watch one tonight."
John's interest perked up immediately. He was so sick of staring at the ceiling and the walls. "That would be great." He glanced around the infirmary. Only two more patients were there and none were serious. "You have to help me talk her into it. I think she likes you."
"Maybe we could invite her to watch with us."
"Watch what?" asked Keller, checking on the two nurses changing the sheets on John's bed. "How are you doing, Colonel?"
"I'm good," John said. "We wanted to watch a movie tonight and thought maybe you could join us."
Keller crossed her arms and grinned at the two men. "You both remember this is an infirmary, right? And Colonel, you need to rest."
"I can watch a movie and rest. It's not like it takes effort. And we'll be quiet," John pleaded.
"Quiet . . . you and your team . . . right," she drawled out in disbelief.
"We could use the isolation room," suggested Ronon.
Keller hesitated and John knew they had a fighting chance. "Ronon's right, we wouldn't bother anyone in there. There's plenty of room. And I'll rest better than if I just sit and stare at the ceiling all evening."
The doctor glared at them both a moment before rolling her eyes and sighing. "Let me check you after supper and if you're doing well then . . . I might let your team watch a movie together. If I do, and I mean if, you have to remain quiet and still and if I decide it's becoming too much for you, everyone leaves immediately."
"We can do that," said Ronon, smiling broadly. "You're coming too, right?"
The doctor nodded. "Oh, yes, I'll be there. That's the only way I can be sure my patient doesn't overdo it. You know these Batman types."
"Hey!" John protested.
"And there better be popcorn," she said sternly.
John pushed the tray table away, having finished his lunch. Teyla moved it away from the bed and pushed it against the wall. "Are you still being released tomorrow?" she asked.
"Yeah, that's the plan," said John with a grin. He was in a very good mood, now that Keller had promised to send him back to his room in a little under twenty-four hours. He was still sore, but the pain was much more manageable now. He was just about to ask where Rodney was, when the scientist entered the room, Radek Zelenka trailing behind him. He was carrying a rectangular box wrapped in Christmas paper, which he set in John's lap.
John looked down at the package for a moment before looking up to Rodney. "You know it's not Christmas, right?"
Giving John his patented "you're an idiot" glare, Rodney crossed his arms. "Yes, Colonel, I'm well aware of the time of year, but that was the only wrapping paper we could find."
Looking skeptically down at the gift, John chewed his lower lip. "But why did you get me a gift? Man, please tell me it's not a giant flyswatter."
Heaving a big, exasperated sigh, Rodney waved one hand at John. "Because Radek and I wanted to and no, it's not a flyswatter. It's customary to bring people in the hospital gifts, right? Besides, what ever happened to not looking a gift horse in the mouth?"
"Gift horse?" inquired Teyla with an arched brow.
"Never mind, just open the darn thing," snapped Rodney.
John fingered the paper for a moment before grabbing an edge and tearing the wrapping away from the box. He handed Teyla the wadded ball of paper and pulled the lid off the box. A black garment was folded neatly inside. Scowling, John took the edges and lifted the fabric partway clear of the box. "Is this a cape?"
"Yes," Rodney said proudly.
Frowning, John glanced up at Rodney. "Is this the cape Simmons wore as part of his Dracula costume last Halloween?"
"Well, yes, but it's the best we could do on short notice. It's not like Atlantis has a costume store. We figured you had enough black clothes of your own to go with the cape."
John's frown deepened as he noticed Teyla and Ronon grinning at him. "So, am I the only one here that doesn't get it?"
"If you will continue, it will make sense in a moment," offered Radek.
John pulled on the cape, only to have a black mask fall out. It was oval with holes for the eyes, and it finally dawned on him what this represented. "McKay!"
Smiling smugly, Rodney nodded enthusiastically. "We thought if you were going to act like Batman, you should dress like him too."
John allowed the cape to crumple back into the box. "Not funny, McKay, so not funny."
Radek lifted his brows and pushed his glasses farther up the bridge of his nose. "You must continue, Colonel, there is more. Rodney and I have made something for you."
Without moving his head from it's position facing the box in his lap, he rolled his eyes up to glance at the two scientists. "I should probably be afraid, right?"
"Oh, no, Colonel," Radek said quickly. "I think you will like next part."
"Right," John deadpanned, letting his gaze return to the box. Carefully lifting the black cape, he deposited it on the bed next to his leg, revealing a black belt with several small box-like attachments. "What? My bat utility belt?" John asked sarcastically.
"Exactly," said Rodney as he began pointing. "This one has a small grappling hook and rope, this one some kind of claw things that help with climbing, the loop here is for a small flashlight. Oh, and this one has a miniature winch-like apparatus so you can shoot out a line and then it will pull you up. It's only guaranteed to hold up to 220 pounds, so if you ever get fat, you can't use it."
Radek grabbed two more devices that obviously went around the wrist. "This is for defense," he said, triggering a blade that shot up out of the enclosure.
"I could use one of those," commented Ronon with a feral grin.
"You have enough knives, buddy," said John. "What does the other one do?"
"Shoots out a net," said Rodney proudly. "I know what you're thinking. That's more of a spider man thing, but we thought it would be cool anyway."
John looked down at the gadgets in the box, fingering one of the plastic boxes on the belt. "All this stuff really works?"
"We have tested everything," promised Radek.
A wide grin spread across John's face. "Okay, now this stuff is kind of cool. I definitely could have used some of it climbing that tower. I can't wait to try it out."
Keller walked up to join them, peering over the edge of the box. "Whatcha got?"
"Batman gear," said Ronon.
When Keller looked at John questioningly, he shrugged his shoulders. "Rodney and Radek made it for me."
Frowning, the physician took another look in the box. "What does it do?"
"Lots of very exciting things," said Rodney.
Keller took the box from John's lap before he could grab hold of it. "Hey, what are you doing?"
"Putting this up until you're healed. I do not want to have to put you together again before you've even had a chance to recover from your first tower-climbing experience. If I know you, you'll be trying this stuff out before you're ready."
"Will not," John said petulantly.
A chorus of, "Will too," filled the infirmary.
John reacted by sliding a little lower in the bed and bringing the blanket up a little higher. "Gee, guys, thanks for the support."
"No problem," said Rodney lightly.
"Sorry, Sheppard," said Ronon. "Just being honest."
"You can have this back when you're cleared for duty," said Keller with a mischievous smile. "I'll just keep it safe until then."
"Can't I at least look at it for while?" asked John petulantly.
Keller looked in the box for a moment and then handed John the mask and cape. "Here, these should be safe enough. Have fun."
John pouted as he looked at the garb in his lap. Sometimes life just wasn't fair.
"Cheer up, Colonel," said Rodney. "After tomorrow, you can run down the hall in your cape and mask and pretend you're Batman until Keller clears you." He was so busy smirking, the wadded up cape hitting him directly in the face caught him completely off-guard. "Just what we need. A juvenile delinquent Batman," he muttered.
John seeing bugs on the wall was based on a real incident. After a close family member had surgery, she made her husband drag a chair along the wall, climbing up and down in it to kill the red spiders crawling up near the ceiling. I figured with John's history, he'd be more likely to see little iratus bugs. Is it bad when your first thought after something like this is that you have to use it in a story?