A/N: This was written for Round 4 of the Last Fiction Writer Standing #3 challenge at LiveJournal's sga_lfws. The prompt required a story in which some activity of the characters' daily routine was the cause of whump.
Out for the Count
White hot agony exploded in Rodney's skull, becoming all that there was to his existence. He wasn't aware of falling. His brain registered his impact with the water's surface only enough to cause him to hold his breath in reflex. Then Rodney's mind drowned in a tidal wave of pain as his body drowned in the liquid.
One one thousand, two one thousand…
The count started in the back of John's mind when he discovered Rodney lying face-down in the water, motionless. He knew that three minutes without oxygen could cause irreparable brain damage. If his teammate went longer than that…
Three one thousand…
As he scrambled toward the water's edge, John tapped his earpiece, calling for medical assistance. He marked the passing seconds like a mantra, refusing to consider how long Rodney had already been submerged.
Eight one thousand…
Lunging forward, John wrapped his arms tightly around Rodney's chest. He grunted as he yanked his friend upward. Water, tinged red with blood, cascaded from the scientist's body as John wrestled the inert form face-up.
Twelve one thousand…
The pallor of Rodney's slack face and his blue-tinged lips screamed that John didn't have the luxury of the few seconds it would take to haul his friend onto dry ground. John dropped to his knees and sat back on his heels. He pulled Rodney's body across his legs, cradling him above the shallow water. Tilting the man's head back, John sucked in a lungful of air and began rescue breathing while his fingertips desperately searched Rodney's neck for a pulse.
Twenty one thousand…
John's relief at finding faint, fluttery evidence of a heartbeat was overshadowed by the difficulty of forcing oxygen into water-logged lungs. "Come on, Rodney, breathe!" John coaxed as he battled the unresponsive airways.
Thirty one thousand…
"Where's the medical team? What the hell's taking so long?" John shouted into his radio, not giving a damn that it was unreasonable to expect a thirty-second response time.
Forty one thousand…
The litany grew more frantic. "For Chrissake, Rodney, breathe!" John had to force himself to calm down and exhale more gently. Over-inflation wouldn't help.
Fifty one thousand…
"Dammit, McKay! Of all the stupid ways—"
John was interrupted by a twitch of movement.
Rodney's chest seized. John maneuvered him onto his side as the spasm was followed by a weak gurgling sound. Choking gave way to retching and Rodney spewed out the water he'd taken in, coughing harshly and gasping for air.
Sixty one thousand…
John hit the button on his internal stopwatch. Murmured reassurances replaced his panic-driven tracking of time. "It's okay, Rodney. I've got you. Just…just keep breathing." He tapped his comm. "McKay's breathing again."
"That's a relief." The brogue was unmistakably Carson's. "The team's on its way."
Rodney groaned and continued to hack up every last droplet he'd inhaled as John rubbed his friend's back with one hand, trying to ease the violent muscle contractions.
Carson arrived a moment later. "Bloody hell!" he exclaimed as he surveyed the scene. Rushing toward Rodney, he fired off instructions to his staff. "First, let's get him out of the bathtub."
As the team went to work, John relinquished his hold on Rodney. He pulled himself up on legs that trembled from the after effects of the adrenaline rush. "It took a minute to get him breathing again. Before that, I-I don't know how long… The water's really cold… He didn't show up for our chess game…"
"…So we think you fell asleep in the bath and missed our match," John explained. "You woke up when the water turned cold, and then slipped and hit your head when you were getting out of the tub."
"Th-there's no brain damage, right?" Rodney slurred, seeking reassurance for the hundredth time. "M-my head still h-hurts."
"Carson said you'll be okay."
"You know, it was one heck of a way to avoid certain defeat in our rematch," John teased lightly.
"D-defeat? Dream on." Rodney paused, yawning. "When I get out of here, you're gonna see a chess master at work." His voice trailed off and his eyelids drooped as sleep tugged at him.
John smiled. "I'll count on that."