A/N: An idea I've had floating around for a while. Updates might be a little slow.
SUMMARY: Nightmares have begun to plague Rodney's dreams. What happens when they start to merge with real life?
WARNINGS: Swearing. Our boys have quite the potty mouth sometimes.
DISCLAIMER: Everything Stargate Atlantis related is property of MGM. I own nothing.
x x x
"Rodney, are you sure you're well enough to go on this mission?"
Elizabeth Weir eyed her Head Scientist with concern, taking in the man's watery eyes, clogged nose, and pale complexion.
Rodney waved a hand as he stuffed last minute gadgets into his pack.
"I'll be fine, Elizabeth. We're just going to look at some ruins. Knowing my luck, it won't be Ancient at all and I'll have to send for some hack Archaeologist team to take over." He paused before adding with a roll of his eyes, "Not that I can't write up some report about ruins with the best of them. It's not that hard. A monkey could do it. What am I saying...Sheppard could do it."
"Gee, thanks, Rodney..." drawled a voice from behind them.
Elizabeth turned, trying to hide an amused smile as she watched John Sheppard climb the stairs of the control room to head over to the pair. He made no effort to hide his appraising glance of Rodney.
"Sure you're up to this, McKay?"
"Oh, for—I'm perfectly fine!"
Three sets of eyes widened, including Rodney's.
"Oh, wow," he said thoughtfully as he wiped his nose with a tissue he had stuffed up his sleeve. "I must be sick. Though now that you've asked, I do feel pretty bad. My nose is stuffy, my eyes are watery, I'm pretty tired—although that's probably from staying up until nearly two in the morning. Once again Kavanagh's managed to screw up all my hard work on the water desalination tanks—"
"Whoa," interrupted John. "I didn't ask how you were feeling. I asked if you're able to go on the mission."
Rodney stared at his team leader for a few moments, hurt flickering across his face.
"Oh. Well, yes. Yes, I'll be fine. Happy now?"
"Ecstatic. Let's move out."
Five minutes later, the team of four stepped through the gate to come out on the other side. The gate on P4E 228 was in the middle of a forest, and judging by the dark purple hue, it was nightfall.
"Lovely place..." Rodney muttered, eyeing his surroundings with suspicion.
"Definitely not a vacation location," John agreed as he switched on the light on his P-90. "Any life signs?"
The sound of Velcro ripping cut through the eerie quiet as Rodney pulled the Detector out of his vest pocket. A glance down told him they were alone.
"Nothing. Not even an energy signature."
"On the whole planet?"
"Alright then," came John's flippant reply as he motioned for them to start forward.
Rodney hung back, eyebrows raised.
"Does no one see the problem with that?"
"The only problem I see is you not moving your ass, McKay," John called.
Rodney scowled and hurried forwards to catch up with the other three.
"Seriously though. No life signs? Hello!"
Ronon rolled his eyes, determinedly ignoring the scientist. With a placating smile, Teyla asked, "What is the problem, Doctor?"
Glad that someone was finally paying attention, Rodney waved his arms while gesturing to the screen of the Detector.
"We're here to see ruins, but there's no population on the planet!" I didn't know the Life Signs Detector could see the whole planet...
"Uh, you're supposed to be listening! That's why I'm here, remember? On your team? So you can defer to my scientific and professional opinion? Hel-LO—"
"Shut up," John snapped. He had stopped in his tracks, P-90 slowly wandering from side to side. The pale light cast shadows over everything, making it hard to tell what was real and what wasn't. Everything seemed to be moving.
"What? What is it?"
Rodney blinked and looked around, hand hovering nervously over his sidearm. He knew he was no professional when it came to tracking and whatnot, but even he could see that they were alone. A quick glance at the LSD told him so. But John, Ronon, and Teyla looked like they were poised to—
"Run!" John suddenly yelled as he let off a spray of weapons fire.
Before Rodney could argue, Teyla and Ronon had grabbed him by the arms and hauled him off, leaving John to cover their six.
"Hurry it up, McKay!" ordered Ronon gruffly. "You're holding us back."
"Excuse me?" Rodney squawked through pants of breath.
"You heard me. Move it!"
"Yes, Rodney. You must move quicker!"
"But there's nothing—"
"Ronon, get down!" yelled John from behind them. Another round of P-90 fire echoed through the sparse forest. Suddenly Ronon dropped like a sack of bricks. Warm liquid splattered across Rodney's right cheek.
He slowed to a stop, already pale face loosing more colour. Raising a shaking hand, he wiped it over his wet cheek before looking down at it. Everything was washed out, a dull purple tone around him, almost black and white save for the splash of bright red on his hand.
His throat closed up, lungs suddenly straining for air. Ronon...
"Son of a bitch!" John yelled, grabbing Rodney's arm tightly and yanking him forward. "Look at what you—forget it! Just run, McKay! And make it faster this time!"
Rodney ran on auto-pilot, letting John pull him along the dark trail with Teyla right beside them.
"Faster, Doctor!" Teyla urged, starting to sound irritated. "You must run faster! You are in my way!"
Rodney swallowed through his constricted throat, chest straining with pain. Before he could pick up his pace, Teyla was down.
John didn't let either one of them stop. They just kept running, the Colonel yelling all the way.
"God, McKay! You're getting us all killed! Why the hell can't you run faster? Shoot better? All you do is hide behind us! Get your fucking act together! You need to wake up, McKay!"
Rodney stumbled, twigs digging into his hands and knees as he fell to the ground. He didn't bother getting up. The Colonel would be able to escape better without him. But to his surprise, he felt hands grab his shoulders to give them a rough shake.
"Wake the hell up, Rodney! Stop slacking!"
Everything blurred around him, the voice fading before it came back in full force.
"C'mon, already! You've already missed the morning meeting!"
The hands shaking his shoulders disappeared as the man above him chuckled.
"Not firing on all cylinders yet? That's okay, I'm patient."
Rodney forced his eyes open to find himself safe and sound in his bed on Atlantis. The sheets were strewn around him, tangled up with his limbs.
"That's my name. You awake now? That must have been some late night you had," John said with a whistle. "You dog, you."
Rodney didn't even acknowledge the crack. Instead he sat up and looked around, at the same time raising a hand to his cheek. His dry cheek.
"What...where're Teyla and Ronon?"
Slight concern flickered over John's face. He straightened up and looked down at the pale scientist. A red indent from the pillow crease marred his right cheek, but he seemed fine.
"Uh, they're waiting for us in the conference room. The room you were supposed to be in over an hour ago. You alright, buddy?"
Realizing what the Colonel had said, Rodney looked over at the glowing clock on the nightstand. 'Crap, he's right. Since when do I oversleep?'
"Sorry, I must have..." He searched his mind for an excuse before letting out a tired yawn. "I got nothing. Now get out so I can get dressed."
John appraised him for a moment before nodding with a lazy smile.
"Alright then. Conference room in ten. Hurry it up, Rodney."
The scientist froze in the act of flinging back the sheets, a strange look on his face.
"What did you say?"
John stared with raised eyebrows as he wandered backwards over to the door.
"I said to hurry up. Elizabeth's going to get pissed. Are you sure you're alright? Want to get Beckett to make a house call?"
"No, I'm fine," Rodney assured him before freezing again. The peculiar expression crossed his face once more before he shook his head. "I'll probably go see him after the meeting. It's nothing. Just a...a headache."
Even though John could see right through the scientist's lie, he just nodded slowly as the door slid open.
"If you're sure. See you in ten."
Rodney nodded before the Colonel left. Taking a breath, he slid out of bed and made his way into the bathroom for a shower. As he stood under the steaming water, he scrubbed at his skin with the soap, or more specifically, his cheek.
'Lady Macbeth much?'
He let out an annoyed huff of breath. 'It was only a dream. A horrible nightmare. Heightmeyer would have a field day...' But there was no way he would be going to her for dream interpretation. 'I might as well just ask Carson to cast his chicken bones...'
Realizing that he was purposely wasting time, he forced himself to shut off the water and get out. After drying off and wrapping the towel around his waist, he wiped a patch clear on the mirror above his sink.
It was no wonder the Colonel was staring at him; he looked like crap. 'And now I have a great big red spot on my face. Way to go, McKay.'
With only about three minutes to get to the conference room, he threw on his uniform, grabbed a power bar, and headed out.
x x x
"—said he had a headache," John finished with raised eyebrows.
"But you don't believe him," Elizabeth surmised as she leaned back, setting her stylus on top of her tablet.
"Honestly? I don't know. He didn't seem too well, but the whole 'headache' thing sounded like one big excuse."
"Perhaps Doctor McKay simply did not have a good night," Teyla suggested. Ronon grunted in agreement.
"Heard some scientists caused a big fuss last night," he said as he crossed his arms and leaned back. "Something about an artefact."
"Probably Kavanagh refusing to share again," John said with a grin.
"As usual," Rodney commented as he strode into the conference room. Everyone's gaze immediately turned to him. He blinked before rolling his eyes. "Oh. Did the Colonel spin some tale about me being crazy or something?"
"Crazy? No," John replied lazily. "Although now that you mention it..."
"Oh, har har. Don't quit your day job."
"The Colonel only said that you didn't seem all that well this morning," Elizabeth interjected, taking in Rodney's complexion. "And what happened to your cheek?"
"What? Oh...I must have slept on it. Pillow creases and all. Can we get to the meeting now?"
John frowned slightly. If that was a pillow crease, then he was the Queen Mother. 'Apparently pillow creases grow into giant red blotches...Run, don't walk!'
"If you insist," Elizabeth said with an amused smile. Nothing threw Rodney off his game, it seemed. "Alright, I believe we were going to discuss your mission tomorrow. The one Teyla suggested. From what we've heard, the ruins are fairly extensive and do look Ancient in—Rodney, what on Earth's the matter?"
At the mention of ruins, Rodney's hand had slipped across the keyboard of his laptop to knock over John's cup of coffee. Dark brown liquid spread rapidly across the table, everyone hastily lifting their papers and electronics while shooting Rodney concerned and worried looks.
"Geez, Rodney! What the hell's the matter with you?" John asked as he dropped his folder onto the floor and stood, patting his pockets down for tissues or something.
"Uhm...hand slipped?" came Rodney's response. He winced. That didn't sound convincing even to him.
Whipping out a package of Kleenex, Elizabeth quickly passed them around and started patting down the table, eyes flickering from the coffee to Rodney and back.
"Rodney, if you're feeling that sick maybe you should go to the infirmary. Have Carson look you over."
"Yes, I think you might be right. I'll do that right now, shall I?" Before anyone could object, Rodney and his laptop were gone.
John stared at the empty chair as it spun, eventually slowing to a stop.
"Anyone else think he was a bit too eager to get out of here?"
A murmur of agreement was his response as the four of them mopped up the spilt coffee.
x x x
"You're perfectly healthy. Well," Carson corrected with a teasing smile. "as healthy as you can be."
"Oh, har har. Very funny. You and Sheppard are rolling in them today."
With a groan, Rodney sat up and pushed himself off the Lantean scanner while Carson watched on with an amused smile.
"You just need some more sleep, lad. Then you'll feel as right as rain. Do you want me to give you something to hel—"
"No," Rodney interrupted with a wave of his hand. "I sleep fine. I just need time for it, that's all." He was so used to that excuse being the truth that he didn't even have to think about saying it.
"Well then, I suggest you make some. Now get out of here and go get something to eat."
Carson thrust a thumb over his shoulder before giving Rodney a gentle shove towards the door.
"Alright, alright! No need to manhandle me..."
Smoothing down his blue shirt, Rodney huffed and stalked out of the infirmary, a plan already forming. He would hit the mess hall, eat, go to the lab, and bury himself in his work. All he needed to do was keep his mind busy so it would be too tired to think up stupid dreams while he slept.
With a faint smug smile, Rodney headed into the mess hall and joined the line. Within minutes he was seated out on the balcony with a full tray. Even though he knew it would be a long shot to see Sam, he always kept an eye out for the whale.
And apparently Sheppard knew that too.
"Lookin' for Sam?" the Colonel asked as he sat down across from Rodney, Teyla and Ronon soon joining them.
"He might still be out there somewhere," Rodney said defensively.
John just smiled lazily.
"He might be," he agreed. "You never know. It's not like he could swim right off the planet."
It took Rodney a second to realize that John was purposely baiting him. The scientist smirked faintly.
"This is the Pegasus Galaxy, Colonel. I wouldn't be surprised."
The pair chuckled, one relieved that his team was exactly how he remembered and the other happy that his friend was back to normal.
"How are you feeling, Rodney? Better?" Teyla asked, voicing the thousand dollar question.
Rodney didn't hesitate before nodding.
"Much, actually," he answered through a mouthful of Jell-O. "Beckett said I just need more sleep."
Teyla smiled and said teasingly, "Perhaps you should join Ronon and I in our training session. That would surely make you tired."
"Oh, very funny. I'll have you know that I've been training a lot more lately."
"Uh...well, no. I've been too busy. Saving galaxy on daily basis here. But I've been picturing what you've taught me. And isn't visualization half the battle?"
"Not really," Ronon said with a smirk.
"Oh, what do you know..."
x x x