Title: Understanding (The last bit)
Character(s): John and Teyla friendship
Genre(s): Stargate Atlantis: H/C -Angst
Summary: John needs a minute. One Shot. Expanded a little. I couldn't resist.
Teyla slipped her tray onto the commissary table and Ronon looked up, acknowledged her with a tilt of his head and then continued to eat.
Teyla didn't have to lie to Ronon. She knew she could trust him and that he too would always have John's best interests at heart. His hard exterior had never fazed her. She knew he only acted that way to survive, just as she had been required to harden over the years.
"He is resting in my quarters."
Ronon stopped eating and stared at her for a second, "You and him-"
"No," Teyla felt the blush creep up her neck, "Of course not."
They had always been close but never like that. She respected him too much and she hoped John felt the same towards her.
"He was hiding from Rodney."
Ronon shovelled some potato into his mouth, "Know what that's like."
"Rodney has been working him too hard. As a consequence, he is feeling unwell."
Ronon dropped his fork, "I'll kill him."
She couldn't help but smile at the hollow threat, "No, you will not."
Ronon looked disappointed, but she knew even he had a soft spot for the scientist. He couldn't not have after the many times Rodney had collectively saved their lives.
"What's wrong with him?"
"He has a migraine. Apparently interfacing with the chair is not as easy as he tells us it is."
"Sounds like Sheppard," he grinned and then amended his expression at Teyla's look, "I mean he's stubborn. Not going to let a little thing like pain get in his way."
"Then you are also stubborn by your own admission."
Ronon shrugged, "Never said I wasn't."
"I will take him some food after I have eaten. I've also told Colonel Carter that he is indisposed."
"He's not going to like that."
"I told her nothing of his condition. I merely explained that he was otherwise engaged. She has rescheduled for tomorrow morning."
"He won't like that either," Teyla shot him another of her patented looks reserved only for her team, "Early meetings – they interfere with his run."
"Your run you mean."
Ronon didn't agree, but he also didn't disagree. She knew that he enjoyed their work out. She also knew it was because Ronon never tired at beating John in anything remotely competitive. It was one of the reasons John never went to the firing range with him anymore. Something about his marksmanship looking lame in comparison to Ronon's 'freakish' gun. John's words. Not hers.
A tray was suddenly and unceremoniously dumped onto the table and then Rodney was slouching into a seat and sighing.
"What's up with you?"
Rodney gave Ronon a scowl, "I can't find Sheppard anywhere!"
Teyla shared a secret look with Ronon and felt a smile curve her lips.
"He's disappeared! We were onto something earlier and then he just……he left...probably lost somewhere knowing his sense of direction."
"Or maybe he is resting," Teyla suggested.
"Resting? Sheppard? Are you kidding me? He'd rather run himself into the ground than admit he's tired or ill or whatever. It's his fault anyway….he wanted to continue the diagnostics in the chair. Said something about possibly finding more drones and-" he waved his fork around, "-now I'm all intrigued and he's disappeared."
"Sheppard wanted to continue?"
Rodney sighed, "That's what I said."
Teyla again shared a look with Ronon. That made sense.
"It can't be that important if you have time to stuff your face."
"I've nearly gone into hypoglycaemic shock looking for Colonel MIA. I'm going to 'stuff my face' as you so eloquently put it Ronon and then I'm going to find Sheppard if it kills me."
Teyla restrained herself from rolling her eyes which was an all too familiar compulsion when it came to Rodney. He had always been very dramatic.
"I believe you should leave John alone," and she popped a 'fry' into her mouth.
Rodney didn't miss a beat, "Why? What do you know? Where is he? You know where he is don't you? Is he hiding?"
"Plead the ninth."
"Ronon I believe it's the seventh," Teyla corrected with a smile.
"You're both wrong. It's the fifth, plead the fifth! Now where is he?"
"You are both as bad as one another. I do not know where he is."
"Yes you do," Rodney sighed and gulped down some of his 'cola' "You're a bad liar Teyla."
"Rodney, I would never lie to you. My Athosian heritage dictates that lying is ungracious." She couldn't resist.
"Hmmm," Rodney mumbled as he ate, "We'll see."
Teyla finished her meal, spent a few minutes chatting to one of the female scientists and then headed back to her room to check on John. When she entered, she was surprised to find the bed empty and only ruffled sheets in his wake. Her Athosian bedspread was on the floor, one of John's boots was far across the room and the door to her washroom was closed.
She instinctively knew that John was in there. She doubted very much he would have wandered out into the corridors without his boots and as she approached the door she could hear him retching.
She didn't want to impose, but she couldn't ignore it, so she knocked the door lightly.
"John," she warned.
The toilet flushed and the door opened just as quickly. John was leaning against the wash basin, exhaustedly washing his face with one hand.
"Feeling better," he said in a pathetic voice that was unlike him.
"Is it really that bad?"
Sheppard dried off his face, staggered passed her with his eyes squeezed shut and his jaw working hard and dropped onto her bed. Without another word, he reached into the back pocket of his combats and pushed a leaflet into her hands.
"What is this?"
John leaned forwards and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, "I knew this might happen. Figured I'd make a pre-emptive strike."
Teyla opened the leaflet.
"Found them in Keller's infirmary a few weeks ago…she's got stacks of them; sexual health, stress, irritable bowel syndrome……..you name it, she'd got it……..I snuck this one out….been carrying it around for just this occasion."
When she stared at him dumbly he continued.
"It tells you about migraines. So, you can read that, realise I'm not dying and that this is just another symptom of a migraine and not turn me into Keller."
"John……" she turned the leaflet over in her hand, "If you feel that bad-"
He lay back on the bed, "It's all in there. This is normal. In an hour I'll be-" he stopped abruptly and looked at his watch, squinting tiredly as he tried to read it, "Dammit! I'm late."
"No you are not."
He was already trying to push his boot onto his foot without moving.
"I told Carter that you would see her tomorrow morning."
He stopped, looked up at her with narrowed eyes, "What? You told her?"
"No. I said that you had some requisition forms to fill in…paperwork."
He looked crestfallen, "Paperwork? Ah…now I'm actually going to have to do it."
"I thought you could do with the time off."
He rubbed at his face, as if it would alleviate the pain, "Well thanks….I just….I could have handled it."
"I am sure you could."
John sighed, sat with his shoulders slumped forward and Teyla decided to intervene.
"If you will not take medication then maybe I can help……"
He looked pensive, shuffling a bit on the bed, but not uncomfortable. "How?"
"An old trick," she said discarding the leaflet on a side table and coming to stand in front of him, "When I was sick as a child my father would try to make me feel better," she placed her fingers on John's forehead and started to move them in slow concentric circles, "He used to tell me that when you are sick…you are in a way, unbalanced."
John had closed his eyes, but was still sitting a little too rigidly, "My dad used to tell me to buck up," he half laughed but she could tell it was tinged with something sadder.
"Buck up?" she asked.
She continued to work along his forehead, down to his temples, around his ears and applying the barest of pressure.
"I worry that you will injure yourself one day John, through no fault but your own."
He didn't answer – he was too busy leaning into her touch.
"How does that feel?" she asked as he reached the soft skin under his eyes; just enough pressure, short, gentle presses meant to relieve his pain.
"I can't not help Rodney. He just gets frustrated with everyone else and I figure it's easier than have him blow up at the wrong person."
"Yes but there is no need to push yourself."
"Point taken. Can't say I can promise anything though."
She was interrupted by somebody knocking on the door and both she and John froze.
"Times up," John muttered, "That'll be Rodney."
Teyla approached the door cautiously, but already doubting it was Rodney. If it had been, he wouldn't have waited for her to open the door. All too often he just barged in. On one occasion he had entered, seen she was half dressed and quickly backed out, covering his eyes and berating her for daring to be naked in her own room. Even after that, he still continued to come in uninvited assuming their friendship meant he could abuse her privacy.
"Yes?" she asked, pressing her hands against the door.
She pushed the door release and Ronon was leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed and with a serious expression.
"He's been found out; we need to move him now!"
John got to his feet slowly and slouched over to the door, "What's up?"
"McKay knows you're here and he's on his way."
"Then we must move quickly," Teyla said, gathering up John's jacket and boots, "Come on."
John stared at them both as if they had lost their minds, "I'm fine I can handle Rodney."
Ronon took one large step forwards and poked John in the side of the head. He grimaced, recoiled backwards and made a hissing sound between his teeth, undoing all of Teyla's hard work.
"You're not fine, now come on," and Ronon grabbed John by his arm and tugged him out of the room, while Teyla covered their six.
They negotiated the corridors as if they were on a mission, pulling John aside when he nearly collided with a group of chattering scientists and checking every corner before they moved on.
They arrived at Ronon's room and all piled inside. Teyla took a moment to scan his room and found herself tutting at the state of it. There were clothes all over the floor, a knife leaning precariously against a bookcase, a badly hung painting that threatened to topple down onto the bed and food and drinks cartons everywhere.
She found herself tidying up as John stood over Ronon's bed and scratched his head.
"Uh buddy, you ever clean this place?"
Ronon grabbed a handful of clothes, books, weaponry off the bed and tossed it into the corner, "I like it."
"This is where you meditate?" Teyla asked.
Ronon looked guilty and she knew he hadn't been practising.
John seemed to find the notion amusing, "You meditate?"
"Hey, you wanna crash here or what?"
Ronon had picked up earth colloquialisms a lot easier than Teyla had. She refused to barbarise her language like earth people did.
"It's fine," John said testing the bed, "Thank you."
"You look like crap," Ronon said as he turned down the lights a little.
John blinked tiredly and rubbed at his eyes again, obviously struggling, "Thanks."
"You're not going in that chair again."
"I'm not going to argue with you Ronon."
"It's making you sick."
"Ice cream makes me sick but I still eat it."
Teyla looked up from folding Ronon's clothes, "Ice cream makes you sick?"
John sighed, "I thought I was supposed to be resting."
"You're just going to lie awake after we leave anyway……"
"No I won't," John said.
"You can't shut off. Won't allow yourself."
"I want to sleep," and John punched a pillow and lay down with all of the mannerisms of a sulking child.
"Fine, sleep," Ronon disappeared into his washroom and then reappeared with a glass of water.
John eyed it suspiciously, "What have you put in that?"
Ronon took a swig of the water and then put the rest of it on the side table, "It's clean. Just sleep."
Ronon went for the door and Teyla hung back a minute. She watched John have a sip of the water and then he settled back down onto the bed and threw his arm over his face to block out the light.
After she was sure he was okay, she joined Ronon out in the corridor.
"McKay wouldn't dare look for him here," Ronon said with a ruthless grin, "He'd be terrified of finding me."
Teyla watched him, "Was his water clean?"
Ronon nudged her with his elbow, "Nah, put a sleeping tablet in it."
Blaring alarms pulled Teyla out of her sparring routine with Ronon. She managed to duck a well aimed swipe before Ronon did some real damage and stared up at the ceiling as if that would offer up an explanation for the noise.
"What's going on?" Ronon asked, tossing his Bantos sticks aside and heading out of the Gym.
Teyla, slicked with sweat, and feeling uncomfortable and on edge fell into step beside him, "We should head to the cont-"
The city wide broadcasting system came online and Colonel Carter's clear, calm voice boomed out at them.
"Colonel Sheppard report to the chair room immediately. I want all personal to stay alert. We have a wraith dart scanning us overhead."
Teyla felt her heart begin to race and she suddenly felt sick to the stomach. Their good intentions had been ill conceived.
"We must wake John," and get him to the one place they were trying to keep him from.
Ronon was already running and she was struggling to keep him in sight.
Teyla activated her earpiece and tried to keep her breathing even as she moved, but as she spoke she was panting hard, "We are getting him now."
"I knew you knew where he was."
"This is not the time Rodney. We will bring him to the chair room."
"Well hurry. We think this is a lone scout ship but if it reports back to the hive we're in trouble."
Teyla signed off and was at Ronon's room before she had realised.
Inside, Ronon was turning on the lights and shaking Sheppard's shoulder, "Sheppard."
John was unresponsive, lying on his front, head tilted to the side and completely unaware of how much they needed him.
"Sheppard!" Ronon shouted now, shaking him harder than before.
Teyla watched, feeling the wraith now, knowing it was searching, scanning, hoping to find life, and she willed John to wake up.
"How many sleeping pills do you put into his water?" and her tone was accusatory. She would apologise for it later but now wasn't the time.
"Three," Ronon said. He sounded just as angry with himself as she was.
"John," she tried now, gripping his leg and rocking it back and forth, "John wake up!"
Ronon rolled him onto his side and Sheppard opened his eyes a little, staring at them blearily.
"We have a wraith dart flying over the city; you need to go to the chair room."
John nodded, seemed to make an effort to move and then closed his eyes again.
Ronon walked away and Teyla took up his position of trying to coax Sheppard up, "Please John."
"Tired. Head hurts," he mumbled and tried to shove his face back in the pillow.
"Roll him over," Ronon ordered when he returned.
Teyla did so and she watched as Ronon poured, what must have been ice cold, water over John's face. He snapped awake immediately, wincing and grunting and swearing but he was a bit more lucid than he had been before.
"What the hell?" he reached for his head and swallowed thickly, "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
"Chair room now," Ronon said grabbing him by the arm and hauling him up before he could put some boots on.
"What's going on?" John asked, shuffling with them and rubbing his eyes like a sleepy toddler, "How long have I been asleep?"
"Four hours, "Teyla provided and she felt guilty. Guilty because she had tried to protect him and failed and guilty because Atlantis was relying on John and he didn't seem to realise it.
"Four hours," he groaned, pace quickening as Ronon pulled him on, "You put something in that water didn't you?"
Ronon ignored him and Teyla refused to be party to any of it. She hadn't condoned him drugging John but at the same time she had considered it herself. It seemed to be the only way to make him slow down.
"Where are we going?"
"Chair room…..dart…." Ronon informed him.
"How long has the dart been here?"
"Not long, Rodney needs you to take it out with a drone," Ronon said as they entered the transporter.
"One drone. Piece of cake. Any signs of the hive ship?"
"Rodney thinks it's alone," Teyla offered up as the transported hummed around them.
"I'll check the surrounding airspace when I'm in the chair – make sure it's not broadcasting."
When they entered the chair room, Rodney was already rushing over to them and pushing John towards the chair. He didn't even ask why he was soaking wet, or why he had no shoes. He gave Teyla and Ronon and mutinous look and then turned his attention towards the city scanners.
John looked pale and Teyla noticed the tremble of his hands as he interfaced with the chair. He went completely still and the seat glowed and made a thrumming noise.
"You see it?" Rodney asked, looking up from his string of data.
"Got it," John answered lazily, "It's in the fourth quadrant."
"Well take out!" Rodney snapped.
"Can't……," John slurred a little, "……..need to wait till it's away from the tower. If I take it out now, it'll wipe out the control room."
"What about the-"
John arched his back, "It's fine, it's alone. I can't see any other ships…at least not close enough for it to broadcast any Intel. Just give me…….."
The city shook. It was the tiniest of movements but it was the signal that a drone had been released. Teyla thought it was a pity that they could not see it from where they were.
"Have you got it?" Ronon asked impatiently.
"John?" Teyla was worrying now.
Suddenly, the chair light dissolved, they were thrown into relative darkness and John sat forwards, "It's gone."
"Good," Rodney released a long breath, "Now we need to analyse this data so just sit back and-"
"No," John said, getting up and rubbing his neck.
"No?" Rodney turned to look at the Colonel and then to Teyla and Ronon.
"No," John stated firmly.
And he left.
Rodney took off after him and Teyla and Ronon followed, intent on watching out for John. They could overhear their conversation as they shadowed them. Ronon went to catch up but Teyla grabbed him by his arm. Call it female intuition but she sensed they shouldn't interfere.
"We need to analyse the data!"
"No Rodney. I've been in that damn chair for-"
"What was that?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I saw that….are you……..do you have a headache?"
"Yes Rodney, okay."
"I'd recognise that look anywhere."
"Rodney, what are….where are we going?"
And that's where the conversation tailed off.
They caught up to them outside Rodney's room, where he pushed them both away and guided John into his room. They both followed him in. They had come this far.
Rodney merely sighed dramatically and then ordered John to sit on his bed. He disappeared into his washroom, while John looked miserable and wet, and then returned again with a glass of water.
"You're not going to throw that at me are you?"
Rodney glared at him, grabbed his hand and pushed the water into one and then unfurled his other hand and slapped a bottle of tablets into it.
"Anti-migraine tablets – your headache will be gone in a few hours………….water to swallow them."
He paced his room and John watched him with a look of confusion, or maybe surprise. Rodney switched the lights off and there was a soft blue hue that enveloped the room.
"I installed these especially…..they cut out the glare of the light so you wont be light sensitive. Are you going to take one of those or stare at them?"
John dutifully swallowed and downed his glass of water. Rodney passed the empty glass to Teyla. She smiled fondly for the man before her. She realised their error at shutting him out and assuming he was wholly to blame for John's condition.
She should have known. John always pushed himself too hard. It was easy to assume anyone but himself was responsible. She promised to apologise to Rodney for that.
"Lie down," Rodney had pulled the covers back on his bed and was patting the mattress, "Come on."
"Rodney I really-"
"You're not fine and why didn't you say…oh never mind, you're an idiot. All questions should be answered with you being an idiot…..lie down."
John shot Teyla a pleading look but she was beginning to get the feeling this was for his own good. Ronon was stood beside her smirking at John's ritual humiliation.
John had lain down but he was looking very uncomfortable as Rodney started to tuck him in.
He slapped Rodney's hands away, "Don't make me hit you."
"Don't make me tell you I haven't cleaned my sheets in four weeks."
John tried to get up, "That's it."
"I'm kidding," Rodney said with a little smile, "Do you know how many parasites can fester in bed sheets? I wash them every other day thank you."
John conceded but still didn't look happy.
"Okay, I have food in this cabinet, there's a water bottle on the side table and this bed has a special orthopaedic mattress designed to fit your body. It means you won't get any kinks in your neck and aggravate the headache. Oh and here…….." he reached into another drawer and drew across John's forehead with a little stick.
"What is that?" John asked, looking more and more frustrated.
"It's herbal, designed to soothe," Rodney stood back and smiled at his handwork.
John looked miserable.
"Where are you going to sleep?"
"In your room."
"I don't think so."
"Fine, you can go back to your rock hard, too small bed with your flimsy curtains that let all the sunlight in and I'll stay here."
"It's very blue in here," Ronon noted and Rodney snorted.
"It is very thoughtful of Rodney to allow you his room," Teyla said. And it was. It really was.
"Yes…thoughtful….now appreciate it and sleep."
John thought about it for a second, grimaced because he still felt awful and then rolled away from them, "Go away."
"You're welcome," Rodney snapped.
They all left one by one and Teyla lingered again, waiting for him to drop off before she could leave.
She looked around the room, feeling a little safer in the knowledge that John had saved them again. Despite everything, he had gone against his pain and he had taken out the wraith dart that threatened their peace.
It seemed John had a point.
He was needed by the city.
He was needed by his team.
As she closed the door to John's soft snore, she finally understood.
This story has given me a damn headache! Seriously! I get migraines and now I have one. Thanks John, you've whumped me :D
Thanks for reading.