He knew he had to move. It was hot. The desert was hot and the flames coming from the burning silver streak trailer and truck were hot. It was getting hotter and hotter besides sitting next to his bullet riddled car with gasoline leaking was not a good idea. He needed to move. Move away from the car. Move away from the heat. Move away from the flames. He needed to move.
His mind was totally wrapped around the idea of moving. He couldn't believe his luck. Just a few minutes…had it been minutes? Seemed longer somehow. He'd never had luck before at anything. His silver gun clicked empty in his hand. The Wraith stood over him poised to do to him what he'd seen happen to eight others over the last three months since he was handed this case to investigate. His mind wondered if it hurt. Hurt having the life, the essence of who you were sucked from you. He was too shot up to care.
John heard the planes overhead. From the sound of their engines echoing off the sand hills they were in attack mode ready to make a bombing run or a strafing run at his position. He really needed to move. Needed to get further away. But he'd never been lucky. Not in his military career, not in his job, not at gambling. There were some people in the world that had luck dripping from every pore. There were some that had no luck at all and some that fell in between. He was the former, John Sheppard never had luck on his side.
The Wraith turned and ran. Leaving him sitting there whole, not withered to dust. He needed to move. Move away from the area but all he could do was duck. A wave of heat spread out, truck and trailer shrapnel fell from the sky like raindrops; burning raindrops in an already hot desert. John caught a glimpse of the two planes, leaving behind their destroyed target.
He had to move. His brain kept telling him to move. To get away from the heat. Away from the fuel dripping from his only possession, his beloved car. Rolling to his left knee he managed to push himself up on shaky legs to take a step or two before he found himself back on the sandy ground. He had to move. Had to get away from the heat. He pushed himself up once again only to stumble after taking another step. That was it. He had no more strength. Rolling onto his back he gave up. Gave up moving. Gave up trying to protect himself. And why shouldn't he? He couldn't protect others around him. He let the heat of the desert consume him. This was as good a place as any to die. He didn't deserve any better. After all he was a solitary man.
Pain laced through his body waking all the nerve endings. His shoulder screamed loud but his right abdomen screamed louder. He wanted to move. He remembered he had to move. Had to get away from the fire, the heat, the gasoline. He ground his teeth together in preparation to move. Even that little movement sent pain down his body. All he could remember was that he needed to move.
He tried again to roll over onto his hands and knees but he couldn't. Though the pain was great it was a hand on his good shoulder gently keeping him in place. A soft, caring voice whispering to him not to move. He stopped his pathetic struggle to move. He let darkness consume him.
Hours later, maybe days later he tried again. Climbing out of the darkness towards the light. This time he managed to open his eyes. A bright light shone over him. One could say it was blinding. He couldn't see much of his surroundings, just the bright light over him. He closed his eyes. He was not ready for the bright light. Not worthy of the bright light.
His next attempt he was more successful. Not only did he manage to open his eyes, but this time he saw a face looming over him. Half cast in shadow, half in that bright light. He knew that face had seen that face before. It was the coroner. The young, beautiful coroner that didn't look old enough to be out of high school. He was flat on his back looking up the light bright over him. The same light that he saw many times over autopsy tables.
John panicked. She was going to autopsy him. But he wasn't dead. Was he? The pain felt too real he had to be alive. He wasn't dead. He wasn't. He needed to move. Move away from here. From her. Move. Move he told himself. The monitors began relaying his stress. The heart monitor was the first to signal his beating heart pounding against his abused ribcage. As hard as it was he managed to coat his dry throat with what moisture he could muter. "I'm not dead." He stated. Doing his best to state a fact. The face of the coroner moved away replaced by that damn bright light that didn't allow him to see anything.
The coroner moved back over into view. "Detective, you'll be alright. I gave you something to calm you down. I don't need you to pull open your stitches. Lie still and don't move. You'll be okay." He felt something warm and gentle move up his left arm and soon the panic faded.
Clicking…click, clack, click, clack… John opened his eyes to see what was making that noise. He'd been hearing it for sometime but hadn't been able to wake up enough to investigate. Now that he was mostly awake he saw McKay sitting in a chair by his bed typing. The clicking noise was actually typing.
"Hey." John croaked out softly.
McKay set his laptop down before picking up a small orange cup with a straw. "Just a small sip. Jennifer said you could have a drink, but not too much." He said placing the end of the straw between John's lips.
"Thanks." The water was tepid, but still felt good going down. "Why you here?"
"Checking on your progress. You got yourself shot up pretty good. You've been out of it for nearly ten days."
Ten days? Wow. But that didn't explain why this McKay was sitting by his hospital bedside. Didn't he have aliens to catch or watch or whatever he did? Why was he here? What did he want? Why hadn't he moved on?
"Why? Well…I guess because I owe you. We owe you. You saved Earth. Although I specifically remember telling you 'not to engage' the enemy."
"Don't remember that."
"I'm also here to ask if you want a new job."
"Don't think so. But thanks." He needed to move on. Move to a new place. That's what he was doing when he figured out what that Wraith in the cell was talking about.
"Are you sure? Because you really could use our help. You know with three bullet holes in you and all that blood you lost. You don't have insurance since you quit being a Detective. I highly doubt that twenty-three hundred dollars would have paid for the bed you're on for one day, let alone ten so far. Jennifer says you're weeks away from being able to get around on your own. Your car is a total loss. You have nothing else. Your brother doesn't want anything to do with you. Mikey has been looking to collect too. So say yes. My organization could use someone of your talents."
John thought it over. McKay was right, he didn't have anything. Anyone. But what talents was McKay referring too? His talent for getting into debt, or his talent for making everyone around him miserable, including himself.
"Dr. McKay, are you disturbing my patient?" Dr. Jennifer Keller asked coming into the room.
"You're a doctor?" John asked turning his head back to McKay after watching the coroner…no doctor walk in.
"Not that kind of doctor. I'm a real doctor, of real science. I have several PhD.'s in the hard sciences like astrophysics. I leave the mumbo-jumbo of the soft sciences like medicine to Dr. Keller here. However, she did manage to put you back together again, just like Humpty-Dumpty."
John turned his head to Keller placing a grin on his face. "Thanks I guess."
"You're welcome Detective." Smiling back big and bright.
"You're welcome John."
"Enough already. So? What's your answer? You taking the job or not? Time is ticking."
He was moving on before. He just didn't know where. Taking McKay's job offer would give him something to do while he thought more about his situation. What he wanted, where he wanted to go from here. Looking up at McKay he answered. "Sure."
"Great. Jennifer is he ready?"
John looked between the two. Ready? Ready for what?
Jennifer nodded in affirmation.
"Ready for what McKay?" John asked.
"We're heading home." He shot back quickly. "Daedalus, we're ready. Three to beam."
John was about to say something snarky about the Star Trek reference but didn't have a chance. A bright light engulfed the three of them. When the light faded away he was in a gun metal gray room with bulkheads. Quite different from the white plastered walled room he just left.
"What is this? How'd…?"
"All in due time Sheppard." McKay managed to say before heading out of the small gray room leaving him and Dr. Keller behind.
"It's all right John. Rodney will be back to explain everything. Let's get you settled. We have a long journey ahead of us." She motioned for one of the attendants to help move his bed into a vacated section of the small room.
Long was the right word alright. Eighteen days on a space battleship flying through something called hyperspace between galaxies. Rodney had come back to explain everything. Although John didn't understand a lot of it. It wasn't until Rodney helped him to the bridge of the spaceship just before they landed on Atlantis that John really understood what Rodney had offered him.
He had definitely moved on.