Title: Being Rodney
Genre: H/C, Friendship, Gen
Word Count: 2232
Summary: Rodney looks after John in the infirmary following an accident.
Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis and its characters are the property of other people/companies, but I am not sure exactly who really owns them. They are certainly not mine. I am not affiliated with any of these entities. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Somewhere is the vast number of LJ posts I have read in the last 4 months, I saw an SGA plot/wish list discussion. I thought it was on one of kriadydragon's posts, but I cannot seem to find it anywhere now. Anyway, there was some discussion of wanting to see a story where Teyla was portrayed as being slightly dorky about something. It gave me the beginnings of a story idea. Of course, once the muses get hold of an idea, they have a way of taking the story in other directions. So, while the story uses one of Teyla's weaknesses, it ended up being about more about Rodney. Odd how that happens, isn't it? Thank you to my beta reader, wildcat88, who patiently corrects the same mistakes again and again.
Teyla heard Rodney before she saw him.
"You're new here, aren't you?"
"I've been here for six months." A hint of indignation colored the nurse's voice.
"Six months? I don't recall seeing you here before and I've been here more times than I can count. Well, not actually more times than I can count because I can count really, really high. But, if you've been here for six months, then you should know that the 'one visitor at a time' rule doesn't apply to Colonel Sheppard and his team."
"Dr. McKay, I—"
Rodney must have maneuvered his way around the nurse because the next minute, the curtain around John's bed was yanked back.
Teyla looked up from her chair at John's bedside, blinking as the bright infirmary lights flooded the dimmed cubicle.
The nurse followed behind Rodney. "Dr. McKay, you must—"
"It is alright," Teyla intervened diplomatically. "I suggest you check with Dr. Beckett. He will be able to verify any exceptions to the rules for you."
The nurse gave Teyla a curt nod and threw Rodney a tight look of disapproval as she hurried away.
"Hello, Rodney," Teyla greeted her teammate.
Rodney tore his gaze away from John's still form on the bed, finally taking notice of Teyla's presence. "Mmm…What? Oh. Hello…I was, uh, going to sit with the colonel for a while. You don't have to leave."
"I was not leaving."
"Oh." The bluster with which Rodney entered the room gave way to uncertainty at the bedside of his team leader.
"Perhaps, you could fetch another chair and we will sit together," Teyla offered.
"Okay." Rodney brightened. He bustled off to locate another chair and returned quickly. The legs of the chair screeched along the floor as he moved his seat into position across the bed from Teyla. He remained standing, and as he watched John, a look of anxiety crossed Rodney's face. "How's he doing?"
"Dr. Beckett says he is doing well, but that it will be several days before he recovers from the concussion," Teyla updated.
Rodney nodded. "That's good."
"Yeah. I mean the part about him doing well. The part about the concussion was…not so good," Rodney explained awkwardly.
"I understand." Teyla smiled as she stood up to adjust the curtain so that only a small shaft of light shone in the end. It was just enough light to be able to watch over John.
Rodney dropped into his chair as Teyla returned to hers. There was a brief silence. Then Rodney stood again and peered more closely at the man in the bed. "He looks pale. Do you think he looks too pale?" Without waiting for an answer, Rodney continued, "He's had a head injury. Aren't we supposed to wake him up or something?"
"Dr. Beckett was here not long ago. He will return to wake John again at the appropriate time."
"Oh. Okay." Rodney sat down again. He drummed his fingers for a little while. He frowned slightly, staring at John then turned to Teyla with a barrage of questions. "How was he when he woke up? Did he know his name? Did he know where he was? He's had too many concussions. Of course, I suppose even one concussion is one too many—but one of these days he's going to find himself not firing on all cylinders." Rodney had stood up as though he might pace as he fretted, but seeing the limited space, returned to his seat.
"John seemed aware of where he was and what was happening. He was somewhat uncertain about the accident. He was still troubled by a bad headache and nausea," Teyla answered patiently.
"Oh, yuck! Glad I missed it. Saw that part more than once already today." Rodney scrunched up his face, recalling the unpleasant moments.
John stirred in his sleep.
"Rodney, perhaps if you spoke a little softer, it would allow John to continue with his much needed rest," Teyla suggested gently.
"Oh. Yeah. Right." Rodney shifted in his chair and leaned toward Teyla. In a soft whisper he said, "I'm not good at this, you know." His eyes darted around as though seeking to ensure privacy for his confession before he plowed on. "I never know what to say or do—" Rodney suddenly slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. "I should have brought my laptop."
"You are here now. That is all that John needs."
"Okay. That's good. I can do that…you know…just, uh, be here." Rodney sat still for all of ten seconds. "What are you reading?"
"Dr. Weir had finished with some of her journals and thought I might enjoy them."
"Journals? What kind of journals?" Rodney leaned forward, craning his neck for a better look.
"They are somewhat different from the ones you and Dr. Beckett read. These have many beautiful pictures." Teyla held one up.
"Woman's World…" Rodney read the title aloud. "That's a woman's magazine! You're reading a woman's magazine? Dr. Weir reads…? I can't believe she wastes her time with those."
Teyla scowled as her lips tightened. "I do not believe they are a waste of time."
"But they're full of recipes and…and…relationships and…stuff."
"There are indeed many recipes," Teyla reluctantly conceded. "However, they are also filled with many interesting stories and useful advice. Just last week I read a fascinating article on survival in dire circumstances."
"Survival tips—in a woman's magazine?" Rodney's doubt was apparent.
"Yes. It seems that a woman and her husband were trapped on a snowy mountain for five days with nothing but—"
"Okay. I get the picture."
Teyla gave a small, huffy toss of her head, and snapped her magazine into place. The light coming through the crack in the curtains fell across the pages as she returned to her reading.
Rodney sat, staring at John. Then he looked around the cubicle before his eyes landed on Teyla again. "What article are you reading now?"
"I am about to read a questionnaire. It is designed to help you learn more about yourself."
"What is there to learn about yourself that you don't already know? Those things are totally unscientific."
"Are they?" Teyla asked, feeling offended. "Perhaps you should put one to the test," she challenged.
Rodney thrust out his chin defiantly. "Alright, what is this quiz about?"
"This month's quiz is: 'Are You a True Friend?'"
Rodney appeared to deflate as he sighed. "See. I already know I'm not good at that. I mean even geniuses can't be good at everything. I'm good at so many things…just…not that."
Seeing the crestfallen look on Rodney's face, Teyla felt a rush of compassion for her teammate. "Perhaps we could look at last month's quiz." She began to reach for another magazine.
"No. Let's do this one. At least the results will be good for demonstrating the inaccuracy of these tests."
"Very well," Teyla agreed. "Question one: You are shopping with a friend. You notice that she has taken an item from the shelf and slipped it into her pocket. You would: A) Remind her to pay for the item before you leave the store. B) Offer to pay for the item in case she is short of money. Or C) Say nothing and hope she doesn't get caught." Teyla looked at Rodney, awaiting his selection.
"That's it?" Rodney gaped. "Those are your only choices?" He narrowed his eyes. "It's a trick question. The real answer isn't even on the list. The answer is D) Notify store security immediately so that you don't get charged with being an accomplice."
Teyla studied the page again. "I believe you must pick from among the three choices given."
"Not possible. My answer is the correct one. Besides, how can you bail your friend out of jail if you're arrested along with her?"
"I see," Teyla hedged, not really understanding.
"Next question." Rodney waved Teyla on.
"Your friend has just purchased a blouse with a hideous floral pattern…"
Rodney had just finished providing his idiosyncratic response to the final question when Sheppard moaned softly and stirred in his sleep. Teyla reached out and clasped one of Sheppard's hands gently.
Rodney jumped to his feet. "Colonel! Are you okay?"
"Sorry. Sorry." Rodney dropped to a hushed tone.
"S'okay." Sheppard's eyes fluttered open but quickly slammed shut. He groaned as his free hand fumbled towards his head.
"Does your head still hurt?" Rodney asked worriedly.
"Mmmhmm." Sheppard breathed in short, soft gasps. "Still f-feel sssick, too."
"Well, a little warning before you actually throw up would be nice. I already had to change my uniform twice today."
"S-S'rry 'bout that."
"Yeah, well, it's okay. Well, not exactly okay. Kind of gross really, but at least we have laundry services here."
Sheppard tentatively opened his eyes again.
"I…uh…um…I'm sorry you feel so bad." Rodney's shoulders sagged as he exhaled in relief at having found something appropriate to say. "Do you want me to get Carson?" he offered helpfully."
"No…g-gave me stuff…already…I think." Sheppard screwed his eyes shut again and swallowed several times. His hand shifted to grip Teyla's more tightly as he paled even further.
Rodney looked around then spied linen storage in the corner of the infirmary. "Wait there," he said to Sheppard as he headed out of the cubicle. He grabbed a washcloth from a linen supply rack and carried it to the sink. He soaked the cloth in cool running water and gave it an inefficient squeeze. As Rodney carried the dripping cloth back to Sheppard's bedside, he left a trail of water droplets across the infirmary floor.
"Here. Maybe this will help." Rodney slopped the soggy cloth across John's forehead. He watched as some of the residual water ran down the sides of Sheppard's head and disappeared into his spiky hair. Rodney frowned. "Sorry. Maybe I should have wrung it out more."
"S'okay. Feels nice."
"Really?" Pleased with himself, Rodney's chest puffed out.
"Mmmhmm." Sheppard's eyes closed. He seemed to drift back to sleep again.
"I guess that didn't go too badly," Rodney mused aloud.
"You did very well." Teyla looked warmly at Rodney.
Rodney smiled as he wiped his damp hands off on John's sheets then crossed the room to use the bottle of hand sanitizer.
It wasn't long before Rodney began to fidget. He eyes roamed around the infirmary. "That cloth must be getting warm. I'll get another one." Rodney jumped up and took a fresh cloth from the rack. He soaked it under the tap. This time, he was careful to wring it out thoroughly.
Sheppard stirred when Rodney lifted the first cloth away.
"Shhh. I'm just putting a fresh, cool cloth on your head, though I suppose it's not going to do much for brain damage." Rodney sighed.
"You're welcome." Rodney stood, uncertain as to what to do with the first cloth. With a shrug, he dropped it on the infirmary floor behind his chair and sat down again to wait.
A faint shiver ran through John's frame.
Rodney shot up. "You're not going to have a seizure are you?"
"Oh. Hmm…I could take the cloth off."
Puzzled, Rodney's brow furrowed and his mouth twisted as he thought for a moment. "I have an idea."
Rodney headed back to the linen cart and took and a couple of extra blankets. He shook out the blankets then tossed them haphazardly across Sheppard's bed. After viewing the wrinkled mess, Rodney tugged at the corners of the blankets, unsuccessfully trying to straighten them.
Sheppard didn't seem to mind the disarrayed blankets. Slowly and carefully, he curled up on his side, burrowing under their warmth. "Tha's…good."
"Can I get you anything else?" Rodney asked.
"'M…tired. N-need…ssleeeepp," Sheppard slurred.
"Good idea." Rodney spoke softly as he sat down.
A few minutes went by.
"R-Rodn'y?" Sheppard whispered.
"Yeah?" Rodney responded instantly.
"Talk? You want me to talk? What do you want me to talk about?"
So he did. Rodney chattered softly for a very long time until he was sure Sheppard was sound asleep.
Teyla glanced up when Rodney stood and stretched.
"I'd better get something to eat," Rodney said. I can't look after Sheppard if my blood sugar gets too low. I'll bring back something for him too. Of course, he probably won't want to eat it but I could always eat it for him." Rodney turned to leave then turned back to Teyla. "I almost forgot. What are the results of the questionnaire? It probably says I'm a lousy friend, right?"
Teyla saw Rodney brace himself physically, as if waiting for the inevitable blow. She scanned the profiles thoughtfully. "You are a loyal and caring friend. Those who know and understand you highly value your friendship." She smiled at Rodney. She saw no need to mention that her statement did not come from the magazine.
"Really? I'm a good friend? Who would have thought?" Rodney's face lit up. "Maybe I'm getting better at this. Maybe I really can be good at everything." He turned and scurried away to get his snack.
After Rodney had gone, Teyla ripped the questionnaire from the magazine. She tore it up into tiny pieces and deposited it in a wastebasket. She smiled again, thinking of her teammate and friend. Being Rodney, he'd be none the wiser, but maybe he would be a little bit happier.