SWAMPED - by NotTasha
We're down to the last chapter. Thanks so much for all your wonderful feedback. It really means a lot to hear from you.
PART 13: SEEING
He was aware of voices, talking softly near him, the smell of antiseptics, and the sensation that he was laying on sheets of inferior thread count. It was itchy stuff and he wondered why nobody ever did anything to fix the situation.
Seriously, they deserved better.
There was the quiet beep of a monitor near him. His mouth was dry and tasted like old socks. There was a tugging at his skin – tape against his arm, an IV.
He smelled what might have been breakfast – pancakes, syrup, bacon. The clink of flatware against a plate.
Ronon was laughing. Teyla said something smug, which quieted the Satedan and made Sheppard laugh instead.
Blackness. It was weird to see total blackness again. He was used to seeing the long glowing tubes of light that outlined everything Ancient. He should be able to see something, for certainly he was in the infirmary, in Atlantis.
He tried. He tried to find the lines again, the neon glow that had showed him so many details and outlined the secrets of Atlantis. He tried to push his vision out, as he'd done before, to fill his mind with the blueprint of his city.
But everything remained black – black and bleak and empty. He felt his breath catch slightly at this realization – it was gone.
The voices around him silenced.
Ronon said, "He's waking up."
Sheppard said, "It's about time." And Teyla softly called his name.
He kept trying to 'see', but there was nothing left. Come on, he thought. Come on, show me something!
Something touched his nose. He tried to ignore it as he concentrated, trying to force his vision to work. The thing came back. He considered swiping it away, but his hands felt heavy. It touched his nose a third time, and he opened his eyes.
The world around him was blurry, but filled with color, with light. There was shadow and hue and movement. He blinked to clear his vision and to focus at the thing that hovered just in front of his face.
It was beige and red and …rubbery looking.
And Rodney frowned when he finally focused on the rubber chicken, and then stared beyond it to Sheppard. "Get that thing out of my face!" he spat.
When his gaze met Sheppard's, John broke into an open grin. Relief seemed to spread over the colonel's face and he said something ridiculous about the chicken, but Rodney wasn't really listening as he changed his gaze, turning his head to see Teyla in a bed on one side of him.
Her arm was bandaged and she smiled at him with that same expression of relief and happiness. "How are you feeling, Rodney?" she asked softly.
Rodney took a moment to consider the question and answered. "Okay. I'm okay." He squinted, seeing the extent of her injuries for the first time. "You..." he started, "You okay?"
She continued to smile. "Yes, I am fine."
"How's the head?" Ronon asked.
Rodney needed to turn his head the other way to see Dex, catching a glance of Sheppard who continued to hold the stupid chicken on him. Ronon was on his other side, in another bed. The Satedan was bandaged as well, but looking as if he was tired of the infirmary. His half finished breakfast still sat in front of him.
When McKay didn't answer him, Ronon poked at his own head. "Headache?" he repeated.
"Oh, yeah. Uh, not so bad," Rodney answered honestly. "In fact, I'm feeling pretty good." He smiled a little. "I feel as if I can just get up and go back to work. I'm sure Zelenka has a thing or two that requires my attention."
"He was by to see you earlier," Teyla said.
"He took himself off night shift," Sheppard told him. "Since you were out of commission and everything, he figured he could make that command decision." John smirked, and then asked, "How many chickens am I holding up?" He waved the stupid thing back and forth.
Rodney finally found the strength to move and snatched the thing out of Sheppard's hand. The colonel seemed strangely content with that. "I am so sick of seeing this thing!" Rodney snapped at him, shaking the rubber chicken at him. "Give it a rest!"
And Sheppard sat back in his chair, his smile not dipping yet. "So, I take it you can see again."
Rodney let out a sigh as he looked around the room. The infirmary was as it had always been. "Yeah," he said. He looked toward the others, not sure what he expected to see from them.
Teyla smiled warmly. "Rodney," she said happily. "It must be wondrous to be able to see again. Are you suffering any difficulties? Dr. Keller was unsure if your vision would be entirely restored."
"It's good," Rodney said, glancing around the room. "Everything seems fine. I can see." He focused on one item, and then another, and then tried to see 'beyond' again, but his vision remained frustratingly limited to only what was directly in front of him.
"Something's wrong?" Teyla asked.
Rodney shook his head. "I can 'see' fine, but I lost the other vision. It's gone."
Sheppard shrugged. Teyla didn't look bothered by this fact. Ronon went back to eating.
Annoyed by their reaction, Rodney snapped, "This is important! I have lost a vital ability. It was very useful."
"Useful?" Sheppard responded. "You're going to have to do better than that."
Rodney furrowed his brow. "You don't understand. You aren't the one who lost it." He sighed dramatically. "It's like they always say, 'you don't appreciate a good thing until it's gone'."
Now Sheppard seemed to get upset. "You can't honestly tell me that you'd rather be stuck in the dark with those neon lines?"
"There was so much I could have accomplished," McKay went on. "So much I could have discovered! To have it taken from me is… well… We still have that device, don't we?" He looked at them hopefully. "With any luck I can reengage the ability and make full use of it this time. No more moping around! It just took a little while for me to get used to and then I was fine with it. I would have been just fine." And he crossed his arms over his chest as he watched his friends.
Teyla looked confused and maybe even sympathetic. Ronon shook his head and continued eating. Sheppard's expression was blank for a moment.
"That's about enough," Sheppard said.
"Enough?" Rodney responded. "I haven't even started. Look, someone should get the device and fire me up again before I change my mind. I'm already used to the affects of it, so let's get crackin'."
Sheppard stood. "You're feeling better?"
"Much," Rodney said. "I'm feeling perfect."
"Fine then," Sheppard said. "Let's take a walk."
Keller brought a wheelchair to the bed in case it was needed, but once Rodney was on his feet, he felt amazingly stable. The headache that has plagued him had disappeared.
And Rodney had forgotten about how pretty Keller looked. He watched her expressions change as she gave him a quick examination.
She seemed pleased. She seemed happy at the results of her tests. "His vision is back to normal," she proclaimed. "Welcome back, Rodney." And smiled so that her nose crinkled, then she cleared Rodney to take a walk. Rodney had to promise to return for further testing when Sheppard was done with him. And, if Rodney showed any sign of fatigue or pain, John promised to come back immediately.
Teyla wished them well. Ronon looked annoyed that they were able to go while he had to stay.
Sheppard and Rodney stalked down the hallways of Atlantis. They moved side by side as Rodney glanced about, seeing the city as if for the first time again.
It was beautiful.
He'd never been that interested in the aesthetically pleasing aspects of anything, but as they roamed down the hallways, he couldn't help notice how much thought had gone into the 'look' of the place. The details were astonishing.
They passed people on their way, and Rodney actually paid attention to their faces, surprised that he remembered so many of their names. He was always so bad at picturing faces and putting names to them. Most people even smiled at him.
They kept moving, not talking, just walking along the familiar hallways of Atlantis. The path seemed unplanned, and yet McKay felt compelled to make a turn, and then another, until they emerged on one of the tower's balconies.
It was a lovely day. The sun was shining. The breeze was easy.
Rodney moved forward, first taking in the freshness of the air as he leaned on the rail. He lifted his gaze and looked out at the panoramic view of the city. He took in the tall, graceful spires, the towers, the arches and high walkways. He deliberated the pretty geometry, the handsome structure. The composition looked random to an untrained eye, but to Rodney, it was perfection.
He tipped his head down and watched as waves crashed far below. The white spray seemed to form shapes like lace against the lower levels. He couldn't look away for several moments, watching the waves break and dance.
Slowly, he lifted his gaze. He knew every inch of the city. He could look across to the next tower and could rattle off every room, every lab that was situated there, but now he just looked at it, appreciating the architecture, the beautiful symmetry.
Someone was moving along a gangway far across the city, too distant to recognize. She had red hair.
There was a jumper on the East Pier and a team of marines cleaned it, and Rodney realized it was the one they'd brought to the bog planet. It was filthy, and he smiled a little, watching the poor team that was assigned the responsibility. Strangely, they seemed to be enjoying the activity as they washed the jumper down on a sunny day. One large man doused a woman with a bucket.
Another group was playing some sort of game on an open space between towers. Rodney watched them scatter and come together, not understanding what they were doing, but it involved a ball and lots of movement. Rugby? Football? He couldn't be sure. Maybe it was a game they'd made up themselves here in Atlantis.
A woman on a balcony was practicing yoga. A botanist was watering plants at an outside lab. A man was just sitting on a chair on one of the open decks, just looking out at the ocean.
He blinked and noticed a bird. It soared on the ocean breezes, hanging in the air between the towers as if suspended on a wire. It rose and fell and rose again without seeming to move its wings.
And then a cloud moved, and the light changed, throwing new shadows and making everything different.
He silently watched everything, taking it all in, aware that Sheppard was just standing beside him, watching as well. And he kept on watching.
THE END Okay, that's it. It's over! I hope you enjoyed the story