Title: Back to Atlantis
Category: angst, with some romance
Summary: With Carson unable to figure out what was wrong with Elizabeth, it's up to Doctor House to help her.
Season/Sequel: season 3 AU for Atlantis, and post season 6 for House, sequel to When Worlds Collide
Archives: my website, others ask please, I never refuse
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: This fic was written for Misura, who won the auction at help_haiti and asked for a House MD/Stargate Atlantis crossover, with Elizabeth still there, and some Rodney and House interaction. I couldn't resist writing it as a sequel to my other crossover, When Worlds Collide. Also, for House MD, in this fic Lucas is gone, and Cameron's back.
John stepped out of the transporter in the living area, quite worried. His team had a meeting with Elizabeth first thing in the morning, and she hadn't showed up. It wasn't like her. He had tried contacting her, but she didn't answer her radio. That wasn't like her either. This was what had made him decide to go to her quarters to check on her.
Chiming the door once, then twice when she didn't answer, he finally decided to use his emergency code to enter.
"Elizabeth?" he called out, entering the room slowly.
When he didn't see her anywhere in the room, he guessed that she might have taken another route, and was now waiting for him to show up in the conference room. Just as he was turning away though, he spotted her radio resting on her night table. She would have never left her room without it, of that he was sure. Stepping closer to investigate, he noticed that the bathroom door was open, and could hear sounds coming from it. Walking towards it, he stopped short on the threshold as he saw Elizabeth sitting on the floor by the toilet bowl, her face white as a sheet, and breathing heavily.
"Elizabeth?" he called once more, finally grabbing her attention.
She turned her head towards him, and he could see her lips forming his name though no sound passed through it. Kneeling beside her, he brushed a strand of hair away from her face, and could see the sweat that had formed on her forehead.
"I'm taking you to see Carson," he said in a soft tone.
Standing up, he helped her get to her feet. When he saw her swaying though, he realised that she wouldn't be able to make it there, and he swept her up in his arms. Her own arms wound up around his neck, and where he had expected her to resist, she said nothing. This finished convincing him that something was wrong with her.
As he walked out of her quarters, he felt her head coming to rest against his shoulder, and he tightened his hold on her. He passed by several members of the expedition on the way to the infirmary, all of them looking worried to see their leader that way. He was pretty sure they all remembered the last time it had happened, when the whales were warning them of the danger that was to come. He could still remember her fainting in the control room and him scooping her up in his arms, not wanting to wait for the medics to come and get her.
Today was the same. He could have called for a team of medics, but he didn't want to wait. He just wanted to get her to the infirmary as soon as possible, and listen to Carson telling him that she was fine. Looking down at her face, he saw that her eyes were closed, and he finally noticed, that her arms were wrapped more loosely around his neck as they had been before. Hoping that she was just resting, and wasn't unconscious, he picked up his pace, and let out a sigh of relief, as he saw the infirmary doors just a few feet away.
"Beckett!" he called as he entered.
A nurse motioned him to a nearby bed as the doctor approached, and he deposited his precious package down. He stepped back as nurses started tending to Elizabeth, but he kept his eyes on her, wishing for her to open her eyes, so that he knew that she was fine.
"What happened, Colonel?" he vaguely heard Carson ask. When he didn't answer, the doctor prompted. "John?"
"She was late for the briefing," he started explaining, forcing his eyes away from Elizabeth's still form. "I called her radio, but she wasn't answering, so I went to her quarters. I found her in the bathroom, sitting on the floor, by the toilet bowl. I think she's been sick. But she was conscious, then. She looked at me, and she stood up when I helped her, though she wasn't stable. I brought her here straight away."
"Did she say anything?"
"No. She tried to say my name, but nothing came out." He paused, licking at his lips in nervousness, and looked at Elizabeth. "Is she going to be ok?"
"I'll see to it."
As Carson turned away to join his team at Elizabeth's bedside, a nurse drew a curtain around them, secluded them away from the rest of the infirmary.
Left alone, John wondered for a second about what he should do. He knew that with Elizabeth here and unconscious, he had to assume command of Atlantis, and so he contacted first Chuck, then his team to let them know about Elizabeth's status, what he knew of, at least. He decided against making a City wide announcement, knowing that people had seen him walking towards the infirmary with her in his arms, and that the rumour mill would do its work.
Not wanting to leave the infirmary before knowing what was happening with Elizabeth, he took a seat just outside the infirmary, and waited.
He didn't know how long he had been sitting here, when his team joined him. Teyla sat beside him, and rested a hand on his shoulder. Turning his head towards her, he offered her a small smile, not wanting her to worry about him too. Rodney sat on his other side, and nodded at him when their eyes met. Ronon stayed standing, his back resting against the wall. They didn't share a word, they just waited, willing for Carson to come back quick and tell them what was going on.
He didn't know how long they had been waiting just outside the infirmary, when Carson finally joined them. His face was closed, and neither could say whether it was bad news or really bad news.
"Carson?" Teyla was the one to ask.
"I don't know what she has. She woke up when we were examining her, and she couldn't talk. She tried to, but no sound was coming through. I examined her, we did a scan, nothing can explain the state she's in. I can't find out what she's suffering from."
"But you're going to," Rodney said, and hope could be heard in his voice.
"I don't know."
"Is it life-threatening?" Ronon voiced what the group had been thinking.
"I don't know. I... I don't think we can do it alone."
"What do you need, Beckett?" John asked, though he already suspected the answer.
"Get Dr. House, here, ASAP."
Cuddy barely remembered the last time they did this. It had been before Rachel, before Lucas.
Now, Lucas was gone, but Rachel was there, sleeping in Wilson's room. And here she was having dinner with Wilson and House. She was pretty sure it had been the oncologist's idea to invite her, and that the other man all but tried to whine his way out of it. But he was there nonetheless, and he was being nice, which was a nice change. She wondered what Wilson had to promise him in exchange; probably something that had to do with paying for his lunch, she guessed.
She looked around the room, and realised that it was a good thing that in the end, they were the ones who bought the apartment. Now that she was alone with Rachel once more, she felt better to be in the house she had always known. As she was sipping her coffee, she listened to Wilson tell her about how their neighbour, Nora, thought they were a couple. She let out a giggle and noticed the scowl on House's face; he didn't want her to know about it.
"Well, Wilson is obviously omitting something important," House finally said, and from the look he was sending Wilson, Cuddy knew that this was payback. "I was at the restaurant with Nora, talking about how Wilson and I didn't work anymore..."
"Meaning you wanted to get into her pants," Cuddy interrupted him.
"Well, yeah. Anyway, Wilson came in, he made a very touching declaration of love, and proposed. I couldn't not say no."
Cuddy was laughing out loud by the time he was done. One look at Wilson told her that not only he was embarrassed by the story, but that he was already thinking about ways to make House pay. She could also bet that he was hoping that she wouldn't use it against him at one point or another.
"I wish I had been there to see that," she said, wiping away non-existent tears. "That seems to have been such a moving moment."
"And the ring was very beautiful too," House added, and Wilson dropped his head on the table.
Cuddy felt a bit sorry for him, but she hadn't forced them to tell her the story; they had given her the information willingly. She could understand though why this Nora had thought that they were a couple: it wasn't common for two men past a certain age to live together. It worked for them though. House needed the stability Wilson provided him, and Wilson somehow benefited from House's craziness too.
She was about to reassure Wilson that she wouldn't tell a soul about all this, when there was a knock on the door.
"I'll get it," Wilson said, jumping to his feet.
"You're lucky he puts up with you."
"Like he has a choice," House replied, though Cuddy knew better; she knew that he was grateful to have Wilson's friendship.
"It's for you, House."
Wilson came back in the room, and saw that both Cuddy and House sighed as they saw the man who was following him.
"Doctor House, Doctor Cuddy, nice to see you again. I'm actually glad you're here too Doctor Cuddy, that way, I won't have to call you for your permission."
"What? You need me again?"
"What is it?" Wilson cut in before there could be an answer. "The CIA needs you again."
"No, Doctor Wilson, not the CIA, just the Air Force. General Jack O'Neill," Jack said, handing his hand out to the doctor.
"How do you know my name?"
"I know a lot of things."
"What do you need him for?" Cuddy asked, knowing that Wilson would continue asking questions, and that Jack would probably deflate him each time.
"You know I can't tell you much until you agree to come with me. Though, I can show you a partial medical file. No name, nothing but the symptoms, the tests and their results."
"That'll do," House replied, throwing his hand out so Jack could give him the file. Opening it, he started scanning it, his face completely unreadable. "Ok."
"I don't guess I have a choice but to let him go with you," Cuddy sighed, but Jack's next words surprised her.
"Actually, it would be great if you could come too, Doctor Cuddy. Your friend needs you."
She didn't need to ask which 'friend' he met. Looking towards the door of the room Rachel was sleeping in, she let out another sigh.
"I can't leave my daughter and the hospital again."
"I don't know what you can do for the hospital, but you can bring your daughter with you this time around, if you need to."
"We'll have to stop at my house so I can collect some clothes for me and Rachel," she said, giving her answer at the same time; from the moment she heard that Carson needed her, she knew she couldn't say no. "Wilson, can you take care of the hospital again?"
"Of course...," he started to say when House interrupted him.
"Actually, I'll need Wilson for some tests."
"You're thinking cancer?" Cuddy voiced his thoughts out loud, before turning her head towards Jack to see that his eyes had closed and anguish was written on his face. "Whose file is it?"
"Can Wilson come with us?" she asked, not wanting to think that the woman she had met briefly and came to respect during that short time could be so seriously sick that they needed House's help.
"I'll have the papers ready for when we arrive at the airport. I'll wait for you outside," Jack said, already taking his phone out of his pocket as he was leaving.
"Can you tell me what's going on, now?"
"Not yet, Wilson," she replied. "Get your bags ready, you two, I'll tidy things up in the kitchen."
As she was washing the dishes, she thought about Carson, about Elizabeth, about John, and all these nameless faces she had seen when she had been in Atlantis. She knew they needed Elizabeth, and she hoped for their sake that House would find what was going on with her. She then thought about Wilson, who had harassed them with questions after they came back from the City, and how he had been disappointed when neither of them had told him anything. He would finally find out about all this, and knowing him, she was sure that he wouldn't believe any of it until they stepped through the Gate to Atlantis.
Drying her hands on the towel, she turned back to find Wilson entering the main room, his bag in one hand, and holding Rachel in his other arm.
"I'm sorry I've woke her up."
"It's ok. Hey, baby," she said, taking her daughter in her arms, who snuggled against her chest. "You ready?" she asked, as she saw House approaching holding a bag in his hand.
Both men nodded in answer, and she preceded them out of the apartment.
As she stepped onto the street, she saw Jack waiting for them by a black sedan; she noticed that it was the same car and the same driver as the last time. Smiling at the driver who held the door open for her, she slid onto the backseat, Rachel on her lap. House slid in beside her, and Wilson and Jack sat opposite them.
"Being a General has its perks," Wilson remarked.
"The job has more to do with it than with me being a General," Jack had to admit.
"Cool. Where are we going, then? You haven't told us, yet."
"Doctor House and Cuddy already know. As for you, I can't tell you yet."
Cuddy watched as Wilson understood that he wouldn't get another word out of Jack and decided to wait to know their destination. Turning her eyes towards House, she saw him taking another look at Elizabeth's file, probably trying to decide his course of action with the few symptoms they already had. She had often seen him concentrating on cases like this one, but it wasn't often that he knew the person before.
The ride to her place was a short one, and deciding against taking Rachel inside with her, she put her in House's lap.
"Hey! What do you think you are doing?" he asked, but she was already out. "Wilson, take it!"
"First of all, she's a 'she', not a 'it'. If Cuddy heard you... Secondly, she seems pretty comfortable where she is."
As House looked down, he noticed that Rachel's hand had fisted into his shirt and she was already falling back asleep against his chest. He couldn't help the small smile that stretched his lips at the sight. Looking back to Wilson and Jack, he noticed that they both raised an eyebrow at him.
"One word...," he warned them, but he knew that it was to no avail; with his position, Jack had probably nothing to fear from him, and Wilson would do what he wanted anyway.
When Cuddy took her seat back beside him, she looked at them but made no move to take her daughter back from him, and instead took her phone out from her pocket and dialled a number.
They were only privy to her side of the conversation, but they understood that she was first calling her assistant's desk to call in sick for the next few days, and then Cameron to ask her to cover for her. They made small talk before she hung up, and once more, instead of taking Rachel back, she took the file he had set aside. He looked between her and Rachel for a moment, before turning towards the other two men who both sported an amused look on their faces.
"Take her back."
"She's sleeping. If I take her back now, and wake her up, you'll be the one trying to make her go back to sleep," she warned him.
"Fine," he grumbled, and watched as she turned back to the file, a smile playing on her lips.
That wasn't really fine, but he guessed that he didn't have much of a choice in the matter; one way or another, he would be stuck with Rachel, and even if he didn't have a lot of experience with babies, he knew it was better if she was sleeping. Sighing, he turned his head towards the window, watching as they drove to McGuire, if they were to take a private jet to the Colorado as they did last time.
As soon as they were on the private jet, Wilson started asking questions again; questions that were silenced when Jack dropped an enormous stack of paper in front of him. He opened his eyes wide as he saw this, and even more when Jack told him that he had to initial every page and sign the first and the last ones. Taking the pen Jack was offering him, he turned to offer a murderous look to House.
"Don't look at me like that. You were quite happy to come."
"And don't tell me it's not one of your practical jokes," Wilson countered.
"We had to do the same the first time General O'Neill came to request House's help," Cuddy assured him, knowing that House would probably play along.
Wilson sighed, and resisted the urge to bang his head against the table; he really couldn't believe that House did the same a few months back as he wouldn't even do his own paperwork. Sighing once more, he signed the first pages, read a few words here and there, and turned to the second page. This was going to take time, but if it meant that House would finally stop his teasing about this place he and Cuddy had been to, then it was probably worth it.
"So, you're going to come with us, this time around?" House asked Jack as he sat opposite him.
"Probably yeah. Any ideas yet?"
House shook his head no, and returned to the file. They only had a few symptoms yet, and some were amongst the most common ones. If he were to say what Elizabeth was suffering from right now, he would give a list of ten or so diseases that could fit these symptoms. He would probably need to wait until she get sicker, or even to make her sicker to find the right one. If he could find it before it was too late. He had thought that it could be cancer at first, but after reading the file again and again, he wasn't sure anymore. It could be cancer, or it could not be cancer. Hopefully with Wilson here, he would be able to rule it out or confirm it pretty quickly.
Jack observed the three of them as they were both busied with something else. He couldn't help but wonder again how Cuddy and now this Wilson too could be friends with House. But then, he remembered that there was a time, right after Charlie's death, when he wasn't the nicest and most joyful person to be around. But still, Daniel had come into his life, and he hadn't given up on him when everyone else, including Sara, did. He guessed that it was somehow the same with House. But he hoped that he understood what he had here, and that it was a precious thing.
Turning his head to look outside, he saw nothing but the dark night. From this height and above the clouds, he couldn't see the city lights that he knew were right beneath them. Knowing that the flight would be long to Colorado, and really he wondered if he shouldn't have asked for the Odysseus to wait in orbit and beam them directly to the SGC. It was too late for that anyway, so he decided to just shut his eyes and take a nap.
Of course, the moment sleep was about to take him, Wilson decided to start bickering with House about one thing or another. He just tuned them out, as he would do whenever Daniel got excited about a rock.
"I'm sorry," Cuddy told him, as he looked towards her.
"It's ok. I'm kind of used to this. How can she sleep through all that?"
"Well, she's a baby, so that pretty much explains it all."
"What I wouldn't give to still be a baby sometimes!"
"Do you have any kids?" she asked, before cutting off any response that he might have. "Sorry, not my place to ask."
"Not a problem. Twins, a boy and a girl, barely two months old. You might actually see them as they're where we're going with their mother right now."
They ended up swapping stories about newborns for the rest of the flight. There are some times when he inserted stories about when Charlie was a newborn too, and if she noticed it, she didn't question it, and he was grateful for that. Being a father again brought back a lot of memories about Charlie and Sara, good ones as well as bad ones. He had shared them with Sam during one of the many nights the twins kept them awake, and she had listened to them, cried with him and laughed with him.
"There, done," Wilson said, putting the pen back on the table and pushing the stack of papers towards Jack. "Now, may I finally know where we're going?"
"We're about to land. So, buckle your seatbelt, and I'll explain everything later."
Wilson all but groaned as he took Jack's advice. From the corner of his eyes, he could see House' lips stretch into a smile, and in front of him, Cuddy was trying very hard not to laugh.
"Next time I know something you don't, I won't tell you."
"Yeah, like you can keep a secret!" House scoffed.
"No, you really can't. Cuddy, tell him."
"I'm sorry, Wilson, but he's right, you can't."
"Whenever I want to know about something that's happening in the hospital, I ask you, and you tell me everything."
Wilson opened his mouth to protest, but he understood that it would be void. Closing his mouth and turning away from them, he waited for the plane to land. It was dark outside, and aside from a few lights, he couldn't see anything, he couldn't find out where they ended up, yet. As the plane came to a stop, he could see that a black sedan, that looked exactly like the one that took them to the Air Force Base, were waiting for them. He guessed they were probably on yet another Air Force Base, and even if he knew the name, he wouldn't be able to tell where it was situated.
It wasn't until they were seated in the car that he spoke again.
"So, where are we?"
"Peterson Air Force Base," Jack answered.
"So, I guess the patient is somewhere nearby...," he tried to extract more information, knowing that now he signed and initialled everything he had to sign and initial he could be told the truth.
"You still aren't going to tell me?"
"Not here, no."
Wilson sighed again, and once more he noticed that Cuddy and House were smiling.
"It won't be long, now, Wilson," she reassured him.
As Carson entered the infirmary, he noticed that John hadn't moved overnight from his seat at Elizabeth's bedside. He couldn't say that he was surprised, he had been expecting it. If one of them was in the infirmary, he could be sure that the other would barely leave them.
Stopping right behind him, he put a hand on his shoulder, catching his attention.
"She hasn't woken up all night."
"It's probably better this way. Until we know what she's suffering from exactly, there isn't much I can do. If she's sleeping peacefully, at least, that means she's not hurting." He paused, and noticed the dark circles beneath John's eyes. "Did you sleep at all, lad?" he asked, and when John shook his head no, he frowned. "I know I can't convince you to, especially since you're in charge of the City with Elizabeth here, but at least go take a shower and change clothes. Doctor House shouldn't be long now."
With one look towards Elizabeth's sleeping form, John nodded and stood up from his chair.
Carson watched as he left the infirmary, before turning back towards Elizabeth. Checking her vitals without disturbing her, he was glad to see that they were normal and she wasn't running a fever. That still didn't tell him which disease she caught, but at least, they could rule out infection.
Walking towards his office, he saw Sam entering the infirmary, her twins resting in the baby sling she wrapped around the three of them. Smiling at the sight, he motioned for her to follow him to his office. Closing the door, he waited for her to sit, before sitting in his chair.
"So, what can I do for the three of you, today?"
"Nothing, really. I just wanted to have some news, good news hopefully, about Elizabeth. I saw John just outside, but he told me that there was no change."
"No. And you shouldn't be here. Though I'm pretty sure it's not contagious, otherwise Atlantis would have initiated quarantine by now, we never know."
"I know. But as I'm done with helping McKay and Zelenka..."
"You're not telling me you're getting bored? I'm pretty sure these two keep you busy enough," he said, as he leaned towards Sam to get a look at the twins.
"That they are."
"Did they keep you awake, last night?"
"No. They just asked for their 2am bottle, but aside from that, they were quiet. I bet even Jack won't believe me when I tell him," she said, letting out a giggle, remembering how many nights the twins kept them up with their cries. "And speaking of Jack, he'll probably be here soon. I should go and wait for him in the control room."
"I know that technically," he started, as he remembered she was here because of one of Rodney's so-called emergencies, "you're still on maternity leave, but do you mind..."
"Keeping an eye on the City? Don't worry, I will," she nodded in understanding. "He hasn't slept at all, last night, has he?"
"No, I don't think so. If he's not careful, he'll end up in a bed here, too."
"I can't say I haven't seen that, before," she replied, thinking about the times she or Jack would keep vigil at the bedside of the other. "Barring any emergencies that only he can deal with, I'll take care of the rest. McKay told me that the teams have chosen to delay any non-vital missions until Elizabeth is better. Well, I'd better go, now."
With Carson's help, she rose from the chair. Carrying the twins in the sling sometimes felt like she was still pregnant with them. But she wouldn't want to carry them any other way. That way, they were close together, as they had been in her womb, and they were close to her. They could feel her breathing and heart beat, and many times, when they didn't want to sleep, she found that carrying them in the sling would calm them.
Entering the control room, she nodded at the technicians, and went to sit beside Chuck.
"Doctor Weir?" he just asked, a worried look on his face.
"Still nothing. But I'm sure Doctor House will be able to help as soon as he's here," she tried to reassure him, and it seemed that he had somehow heard her as the Gate came to life. "IDC?" she asked, as she was already standing up.
"Lower the shield."
She kept her eyes on the Gate as she walked down the stairs and watched as Jack, then House, Cuddy, and a man she didn't know came through. She was halfway down the stairs when she heard the man exclaim.
"I can't believe it! I can't... I'm going to be sick," he finished, sitting down quickly.
"It'll pass," Jack said, smiling as Sam stopped before him. "Hello, you," he started, pecking her lips, before leaning towards the twins. "And you, and you," he continued, kissing his children on the head. "Doctor Cuddy, Doctor House, you remember Sam. And this is Doctor Wilson," he nodded towards the man who was getting up from the floor. "Doctor Wilson, this is Samantha Carter. And hiding in there are Luna and Joshua."
"And who's this?" Sam asked to a very awake Rachel.
"That's my daughter, Rachel. They're lovely," Cuddy said, taking a peek at the twins.
"Can we go before they start talking about nothing else but babies?" House complained. "I thought we were here to diagnose someone."
"Yes, yes, let's go," Jack said, putting his hand on Sam's lower back, motioning for her to follow them. "Did they behave?"
"They let me sleep last night, so I'd say that yes, they behaved," she answered, to which Jack groaned. "I have to warn you. John hasn't left her bedside all night."
"Damn... I can't say I'm surprised, but..."
"I know. It reminds me of..."
"It's not really different, that's for sure. But..."
"Pretty sure, yes. Sorry."
"Do you always speak like that? I mean the half-sentences?" Wilson asked before Jack had time to reply.
"Most of the time, yes," Sam answered. "When you know someone for more than ten years, you tend to know what they're thinking."
Raising an eyebrow, Wilson looked towards House and Cuddy, which earned him an eye roll from each of them.
"Ten consecutive years, Wilson," House was the one to speak.
"Anyway, that's freaky."
"I know," Jack replied to Wilson, a smug smile on his face. "We sometimes manage to freak out a friend of us. Though most of the time, we do it on purpose to make him go crazy," he had to admit.
"Lisa!" Carson called as he saw the group approaching the infirmary. He walked towards them and hugged Cuddy, being careful of Rachel in her arms. "She's really cute," he said, stroking her cheek as she looked at him with wide eyes. "Doctor House, good to see you again, even though I'd wish it was under other circumstances," he greeted the man who nodded in answer, before noticing the other man. "I'm Doctor Beckett."
"Yes, I should have guessed. Lisa talked about you a lot."
"Should I be worried?" Wilson asked, but before Carson could answer, House spoke up.
"Besides the ones you already know about, when she woke up a few minutes ago, she started seeing double."
"Ok, let's do a brain scan, then. Wilson, you help him."
"Wait a minute. Doctor Wilson... You're an oncologist. You're thinking about a brain tumour?" he asked, turning towards House.
They all turned to find John only a few feet from them. He had obviously heard Carson's words given by his reaction.
"You really think she...?" He stopped as he couldn't bring himself to voice the words.
"For the moment, he's only guessing," Cuddy tried to reassure him. "But he can be right. Double vision associated with the other symptoms sometimes means that the patient has a brain tumour. Now, it doesn't mean that Doctor Weir has one. It can be entirely something else. We won't know until we do a brain scan."
"Now, let's go," Carson said, nodding to John to follow them if he wanted.
"Do you want to leave Rachel with us?" Sam offered Cuddy.
"You already have the twins, I wouldn't want to..."
"If Sam offered, she meant it."
"Alright, then," Cuddy accepted, handing first the diaper bag, then Rachel to Jack. "Be good, baby," she told her, kissing her cheek. "Thank you."
Entering the infirmary, she saw Carson and Wilson near the scanner, and she guessed that one was explaining how it was working to the other. Looking towards the other side of the infirmary, she spotted Elizabeth lying on a bed with John at her side. He was talking to her, but she was too far away to hear what he was saying. Guessing that House was probably in another room, she walked towards the bed. Elizabeth managed a weak smile as she saw her approach, and she returned it.
"It's good to see you again, Doctor Weir," she said, although she knew that the other woman couldn't answer.
"I've told her about the brain scan and what Doctor House suspects."
"It's only a guess, but we need to be sure."
"She knows," John replied, and Elizabeth let out a heavy sigh. "And now, she's saying that she's getting frustrated of not being able to speak for herself."
"Ok, then, I'll ask easy questions, then. Do you still feel nauseous?" she asked, to which Elizabeth nodded in answer. "Carson said you started seeing double when you woke up. Did it improve?" Elizabeth shook her head no. "I'd suggest you close your eyes and rest them, but I don't think you'd like it very much." She received another shake of the head in answer. "See, what did I say?" she said, and she saw the other woman's lips stretched into a smile for her effort. Spotting Carson and Wilson coming towards them, she took her leave. "I better go see what House is doing. I wouldn't want him to wreak havoc in here too."
"He's in the same room as the last time you came," Carson indicated. "I saw a nurse bring him a whiteboard a few minutes ago."
Cuddy nodded in answer, before leaving to find House. He was indeed in the room, and she could see that he had written the symptoms along with the words 'brain tumour' down on the board. She observed him as he was sitting, facing the board, and twirling his cane in his hand.
"They're about to do the scan."
"Good. Where's she?"
She wondered for a second if he was talking about Elizabeth before realising that he meant Rachel.
"She's staying with General O'Neill and Colonel Carter. They offered."
"Good, we'll be able to get some work done, then."
They worked in silence for the next twenty minutes.
Cuddy took the opportunity to read Elizabeth's medical file that Carson had left for them. A complete medical history didn't teach her much, except that less than a year before, she suffered from something called 'nanites'. She had never heard of that before, and when she asked House about it, he shook his head no. She would have to ask Carson about it, but she couldn't help but wonder if it could have anything to do with the state she was in.
She sighed, having found nothing that could help them, and put the file down on the table.
"What can it be if it's not a brain tumour?" she asked, needing to find another explanation.
"It is a brain tumour. It fits with every symptom."
"No sign of a brain tumour," Wilson said, entering the room, followed by Carson.
"You've missed it."
"We haven't missed it, because it's not there."
"Then it's too small."
"House, this scanner is probably a hundred times better than the one we have at the hospital. If there was a tumour, we would have seen it."
"A hundred times better?" Cuddy repeated, rising an eyebrow.
"I did tell you the Ancients were pretty advanced for their time," Carson replied. "I know what you're probably thinking, and I'm sorry, but we don't have a spare one we can give you."
"Too bad, we could have used it," she said, smiling. "I was looking at Doctor Weir's file, and I spotted something. It's said that she suffered from 'nanites'. Could it be a relapse?"
"What are 'nanites'?" Wilson asked before the Lantean doctor could answer.
"Something bad," he answered, not really wanting to explain everything. "And no, it can't be a relapse. The first thing I did when Sheppard brought her here was to check for them. And nothing changed. Any other ideas?"
Before someone could answer, they heard John shout for a nurse. They immediately left the room and spotted nurses around Elizabeth's bed.
"What is it?"
"She can't breathe, doctor," one of them answered.
"Ok, Elizabeth, I'm going to have to intubate you. It'll help you breathe, ok?" he tried to reassure her, as the nurses were preparing what he needed.
Cuddy injected a paralytic in the IV, and watched as Carson intubated Elizabeth. Once he was done, he stroked her forehead, before finally releasing a breath. She put a hand on his shoulders, squeezing slightly, and he looked at her, a small smile on his face. Patting her hand, he nodded at her, and walked towards John.
"So, what now?"
"We find what she has. John... You know you're her medical proxy if..."
John interrupted him by nodding; he knew he was her medical proxy, and she was his. They both trusted each other to make the right decision for the other when they couldn't. But he didn't want to talk about that right now. She wasn't in a coma, or even unconscious, he didn't need to make any decisions for her. He didn't want to make decisions for her.
He watched as the doctors went back to the room they were in before they rushed to Elizabeth's bedside. Going back to sit on the chair beside Elizabeth, he took her hand in his, and she started to stir. Her eyes flew wide open and she brought her free hand to her face, and was ready to grab the tube when he stopped her with his own. She turned her face towards him, and he came closer to her.
"It's ok. Carson had to help you breathe. Remember?" he whispered, and she nodded slowly. "Good. You scared me there, you know. I thought... Don't ever do that again."
She squeezed the hand he was still holding, and he couldn't help but kiss her forehead, letting his lips linger there longer than he probably should have. Pulling away slightly, he locked eyes with her, his free hand resting against her cheek.
"Once you're out of here, we'll have to have a little talk, just you and me." In her eyes, he could see that she understood what he meant, and he let out a sigh of relief. "Let's get you something to write on, so that you don't move your head too much with that thing in here."
It had been four hours now since Carson intubated Elizabeth, and they were still nowhere closer to a correct diagnosis. The four of them were getting rapidly frustrated as they eliminated disease after disease. They knew that with her now suffering from respiratory failure, they might not have as much time as they needed.
"We need to buy time," Wilson voiced their thoughts aloud.
"I may have an idea, but she won't like it," Carson said, not wanting to do that, but knowing that it might be the only way.
They followed him outside the room, and towards Elizabeth's bed. John was still with her, talking to her about the Superbowl game he had watched the month before, but he stopped as soon as he spotted them.
"Elizabeth, we still don't know what you have, and your state is worsening. I hate to suggest the idea, but we may have to reactivate the nanites."
She shook her head no, her eyes pleading with him, before reaching for the notepad John brought her and scribbling a few words on it. She turned it towards them, and they all could see what she had written: never again.
He had known her answer from the moment he had thought about this solution, but he still had to try.
"It might be the only way," he tried again, but she shook her head once more.
"I don't know what he meant by that, but he offers you time and you refuse it?" House said, not believing that she was saying no to such an opportunity.
"You don't know what she's been through," John replied, glaring at him, before turning towards Carson. "And I can't believe you would suggest it. You know what happened to her last time. And what happens if you do reactivate them and we can't shut them down this time?"
He was about to continue speaking when Elizabeth put her hand on his arms, making him turn towards her. He grabbed her hand, and squeezed it, nodding at her.
"Ok, we won't reactivate the nanites, don't worry, Elizabeth," Carson reassured her.
Turning away, he sighed and walked towards the room, determined to find what was wrong before it was too late. He knew the other three doctors would follow, but it didn't stop him from sweeping the table clear with a hand, throwing everything on the floor out of frustration.
"Calm down, Carson, please."
"Cuddy's right," Wilson continued. "It won't help Doctor Weir in any way if you start losing it."
He knew they were both right, but it still didn't mean he was ready to listen to them. He turned back towards the door, and even though he couldn't see her from where he was standing, there still was the image of her lying in this bed, her face pale, and her body failing her. She needed his help, and that was the most important thing right now. Turning to face the others, he nodded and could see that Cuddy was relieved to see him like this.
"Ok, so now that you calmed down, what do we know?" House asked, having already cleared the board from their guessing, leaving only the symptoms.
"It started yesterday, early morning," Cuddy started, reading from the file. "Colonel Sheppard found her after she didn't show up for a briefing. He found her in the bathroom, having thrown up. He brought her here straight away. There, you examined her, and found nothing, except for another symptom: speech impairment."
"And then, this morning," Wilson continued, "just before we arrived she woke up and began to see double. And a few hours ago, we got respiratory failure and had to intubate her."
"No fever," House was the one to speak this time, "means no infection. We can rule out anything contagious too, since no one else is sick. It's not cancer, since there was no sign of tumour on the scan."
"It could be head injury," Wilson suggested. "It fits the symptoms."
"No, we would have seen it on the scan, too," House ruled that out.
"What if the double vision is unrelated?" Cuddy asked. "It could be poliomyelitis, a SARS, or even food allergy."
"I don't believe in coincidences," House just said, dismissing her idea.
"That's it!" Carson suddenly exclaimed before she could reply. "The double vision isn't a coincidence. Botulism, it fits perfectly all the symptoms. She must have ingested the toxin."
"Carson, you all eat from the mess. If it was botulism, she wouldn't be the only one sick."
"Except that sometimes, our friends and family send us some food straight from Earth," he said, running out of the room, the others following. "Elizabeth, did you eat something your mother or someone else sent you from Earth?" he asked, but sighed as she shook her head no. "Damn, it fitted."
"What fitted?" John asked, hating to be out of the loop.
"Botulism. It fitted all of her symptoms. I thought that since she's the only one sick, she might have eaten something the others didn't, something that was sent to her. We're back to square one," he sighed, and behind him, House, Cuddy and Wilson all sported worried looks; they were still nowhere closer.
"You're not!" John said, surprising them. "Back to square one, I mean. Earlier this week, Elizabeth, me and Lorne's team went to renew the treaty with the kids on M7G-677, and one of the younger girls offered Elizabeth some food. No one else but her ate it."
"Alien botulism? Cool!" House said, before calling a nurse to give Elizabeth the treatment she needed. "You might have to keep the ventilator for a few days, but after that, you should be fine."
Elizabeth nodded, and John sighed in relief, squeezing her hand. She looked at him and nodded her head at him slowly, before turning back towards Carson, a meaningful look on her face.
"I know, I'll gather what I need, and I'll leave with a medical team for M7G-677 as soon as possible. Do any of you want to come?"
"We can?" Wilson replied. "It's not dangerous?"
"It's a peaceful planet, protected from enemies. We'll still go with another team, just in case. So, any volunteers?"
"I'd better not go with my leg," House said, as Cuddy and Wilson nodded with enthusiasm.
"My team will accompany you," John offered, to which Carson raised an eyebrow. "Come on, what better way to get back at McKay for having Colonel Carter come during her maternity leave, than send him to M7G-677?" he added with a grin.
"Actually, I have a better idea..." Carson began, "tomorrow will be his monthly physical, but we could do it today. Doctor House, would you mind doing his physical?" he asked, turning towards him.
"As I understand this, this is your way to get back at this McKay... Does this mean I can be cruel to him?"
"Well, maybe not completely cruel, but something along those lines, yes," John agreed, while Carson nodded. "Elizabeth?" he started, but she interrupted him by showing them what she had written: 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'. He smiled at her, before turning towards the others. "Perfect. Now, get your team ready, give these two something to change into, and I'll contact my team. Meet you at the Gate in fifteen," he said, getting up
Soon, House was left alone with Elizabeth. He licked his lips, banged his cane on the floor, signs she could associate with nervousness in him. She knew from what Cuddy had told the last time they were here, that he didn't like dealing with patients. And she was now his patient. Scribbling something quickly on a new page, she turned the notepad towards him, and caught his attention.
"You're welcome," he replied, after having read the page. "But it's your Doctor Beckett who found the answer, not me."
She turned another page, and wrote a longer text, before showing it to him. 'I know. I thanked you for him, not for me'.
"Why?" he asked, taking a seat as he watched her as she continued her writing. "He lost his self-confidence after he had missed that tick bite on Lieutenant Cadman?" he read, and he really couldn't believe it. "It's easy to miss it, if you're not searching for it," he said. "Well, anyway, he had the epiphany, not me, or Cuddy, or Wilson. He should be better now."
"Elizabeth?" Rodney's voice interrupted any further talk between the two. "Carson said you're going to be fine," he said, and she nodded as he patted her hand. "And can you imagine he gave me the choice between going to M7G-677 with them and having my physical today? Like I'd rather go see these kids!" he humphed, and Elizabeth was grateful that she couldn't laugh with that tube in her throat. "You're Doctor House, I presume. Carson said you'll replace him."
"Yes, follow me," House said, sending a conspirational look to Elizabeth.
"I can't believe it, we're on another planet!" Wilson exclaimed, as he walked beside Cuddy and Carson towards the village.
"Actually, you already were on another planet in Atlantis."
"Maybe, but it didn't feel the same. I'm walking on another planet!"
"I'm sorry for him," Cuddy felt the need to apologize to her long-time friend.
"You don't have to. It's an understandable reaction. A day ago, he didn't know it was possible. I seem to remember you being pretty impressed after you came back from a tour in the Jumper."
They soon reached the settlement and were greeted by Keras and Pelius. John made the introductions, and quickly explained why they were back so soon.
"We had some sick people in both our villages," Pelius informed them. "But it wasn't the first time it happened. We gave them a decoction made of herbs and plants, and they were better after a few hours."
"Really?" Carson replied, surprised that they had a way to treat their friends. "Can we examine some of those people? Just to be sure they're fine." He hesitated for a second before asking the next question. "And can you find me some samples of those herbs and plants you're using in that decoction of yours? I'm quite curious."
"Of course," Keras was the one to answer, after a silent conversation with Pelius. "I'll send Neleus to gather them, and we'll take you to our people."
"They're awfully young to be leaders of their people," Wilson whispered to John, and Cuddy couldn't help but agree.
"We'll explain later," he replied.
Wilson, Cuddy and Carson each examined a person who had been sick with botulism, but neither could find traces of it. Still, any doubts were dissipated when they were told the symptoms they had; they were the same Elizabeth suffered from.
They didn't stay very long after that. Neleus handed a small bag with the herbs and plants to Carson, while Pelius explained exactly how they made the decoction. Just as they were getting ready to leave, Ronon and John got two big bags out of their backpacks, full of chocolate bars, Carson was sure of that, and handed them to two boys.
On the way back to the Gate, John explained, as promised, the situation with the kids.
"They committed suicide?" Wilson repeated John's words, not quite believing that he was saying the truth.
"They thought that the Wraith left them alone because there was no adult. We managed to prove them that it had nothing to do with their sacrifices, but that it is a EM field protecting them from any advanced technology."
"Wraith?" Cuddy asked, never having heard the word before.
"The bad guys. Basically like vampires, but instead of sucking your blood, they suck the life out of you."
"Great...," she grimaced, and Wilson could only agree with her.
That didn't stop them from asking more questions about the Pegasus Galaxy, and the remainder of the walk back to the Gate was filled with stories about the people, the enemies, the friends, the expedition met since they first set foot on Atlantis.
They were entering the infirmary, ready to have their post-mission check-up when they heard Rodney's voice.
"You're absolutely crazy!" they heard him shout before he appeared from behind a curtain. "This guy is crazy!" he cried, pointing to House as soon as he spotted them.
"What did you do, House?" Cuddy asked, rolling her eyes, as he walked towards them.
"Me? I'm innocent, you know me."
"What are you hiding behind your back?" she asked again, and he showed her, a maniacal smile on his face. She ran a hand across her face as she saw that it was a butcher knife in his hand. "House..."
"I plead the Fifth."
"Of course, you would. Where did you find that?"
"I asked one of the nurses to go get it for me, and they were pretty compliant once they knew what I needed it for."
"And what did you need it for, exactly?"
"I said I had a slight headache," Rodney was the one to answer, "and he wanted to cut my head off! He said that I wouldn't have another headache that way!"
"House, get that back to the kitchens," Cuddy ordered.
"Oh, but Mom..."
Pouting slightly to add to the character, House was about to leave the infirmary, when John stopped him.
"Please, tell me this has all been taped by the security cameras," he whispered so Rodney wouldn't hear.
"Pretty sure it has."
"Rodney, why don't you go see if Radek needs you, now that you're done with your physical?"
"You did that on purpose," Rodney narrowed his eyes at Carson.
"Now, why would I do that?"
"I don't know, but I'll find out. I'll find out," he said, leaving but making sure that House was nowhere in sight.
Once they were sure Rodney was out of earshot, the group exploded in laughter.
"I didn't think that House would go to that length, really," Cuddy said between laughs, gasping for breath at the same time.
"Don't be sorry for that," John replied. "I wonder if this video won't be even better than the one with the arrow in his butt."
"Elizabeth says that it could be a tie," Teyla said, reading from the notepad Elizabeth was showing them.
"You're probably right, love," Carson had to admit. "Ok, now, let's calm down. They're waiting for our check-ups."
They each went to sit on a bed, and Cuddy had to push House away when he tried to be the one to examine her. She had known he would try this, he was House after all.
When he was done with his own check-up, John went to see Elizabeth. He could see that her state had improved slightly as she was less pale. He took his seat back at her side, and started telling her about the mission, and what they might have found. Cuddy smiled as she saw them; she had already noticed their closeness when she first came to Atlantis, but it seemed to have evolved to a new level with Elizabeth being sick.
"I suppose you'll stay until tomorrow at least," Carson's voice jolted her from her thoughts. "I mean, it's getting late, so it's probably better if you don't leave until tomorrow."
"Well, I guess we could," Cuddy replied with a smile as Wilson and House joined them.
"What? You're ready to leave your precious baby alone for probably another day?" House said, on a sarcastic tone.
"Cameron can perfectly take care of it. She knows what to do, and without you there, I'm pretty sure she won't have any problems," she concluded following Carson in the hallway.
They entered the mess hall, and Cuddy immediately spotted Jack and Sam sitting at a table with their twins and Rachel. She loaded her tray, and went to join them, sitting beside her daughter.
"Hey, baby. I missed you," she said, hugging her, and Rachel babbled happily at her. "I hope she wasn't too much of a hassle."
"Not at all. She ate her lunch, had her nap, and played with Jack."
"It sounds like her day has been pretty full. She might go to sleep easily tonight."
"You're staying here for the night."
"Carson offered, and given the hour, we agreed."
"You agreed, and didn't ask our advice," House countered.
"Is it possible to visit the City?" Wilson asked, thinking it was best to change the subject.
"You can visit some parts of the City, yes, but not the whole City," Jack answered.
"McKay once compared it to Manhattan," Sam continued. "There are still parts of Atlantis that are unexplored."
"You should ask Colonel Sheppard for a tour outside," Cuddy suggested. "It's wonderful."
"I could pilot you, if you want," Carson offered, and Wilson nodded. "But we'll wait until tomorrow morning for that."
"Where's Colonel Sheppard, by the way?" Jack asked. "No, actually, don't answer that. I'd better not know."
"Jack... Even if there's something going on, they're not doing anything wrong."
"I know that, but..."
"She might be his boss, but she's not in the military," House started before Sam could reply. "And there are no rules preventing a civilian to date a military under their command."
"How do you know that?" Jack asked, surprised.
"My father was a Marine. I read the book when I was a kid."
"Didn't you have anything more interesting to read?"
House didn't reply, but Wilson knew better. He didn't read the military regulation book because he wanted to, but his father made him read it. It had probably been a way to teach him about respect and discipline.
"Anyway," Jack continued when he saw that House wouldn't answer his question, "while you're right, it's a bit more complicated with the IOA breathing down Elizabeth's neck."
"An international committee which is overseeing everything that has to do with the Gate both in the Milky Way, and in Pegasus," Sam replied, preventing a rant from Jack on the subject. "They sometimes make things difficult for Elizabeth."
"I know that with the board," Cuddy said, remembering quite a few times when they reproached her the fact that she was defending House.
They continued eating, making small talk about their jobs, and their lives.
"This was awesome!" Wilson exclaimed for the thirtieth time since they left the Jumper Bay.
House and Cuddy couldn't help but roll their eyes, but they still couldn't blame him for his reaction; they had been quite the same when they first flew around the City, even though they didn't express it quite this way.
"I take it you like it," John said from where he was sitting by Elizabeth's bed.
If he hadn't changed, they could have sworn he hadn't moved since they left him there the evening before.
"Like it? Are you kidding? That was awesome!" He paused, and watched as John nodded and Elizabeth tried to smile despite the tube.
"Well, we came to say our goodbyes," Cuddy interrupted him as he opened his mouth to say something else, something she was sure was along the same lines. "I hope you'll feel better soon," she told Elizabeth, squeezing a hand. "And if you happen to be near Princeton one of these days, give me a call. I'll be happy to see you again." She then handed Rachel over to Wilson, and turned towards Carson to hug him. "And I do expect you to come soon, ok?"
"I'll do my best," he promised her, kissing her on the cheek, before doing the same to Rachel. "It was a pleasure seeing you again, Doctor House, and meeting you, Doctor Wilson," he said, shaking both men's hands in turn. He watched them leave the infirmary, and turned back towards Elizabeth. "So how are you feeling today, lass? A bit better?" he asked, and she nodded slightly. "Good."
"When will you get the tube off?"
"We'll try tomorrow morning. The good thing is we've found the cause only a few hours after you started having respiratory failure. It didn't have time to cause too much damage. And as for how long you'll have to stay here," he continued, reading what she just wrote, "I'd like to keep you here in observation for at least a week. I want to be sure you're completely fine before I release you. And after that, I want you to take at least another week of rest. I know you have work," he anticipated her reaction, "but you'll find that you need it."
"She'll take a week," John assured him. "Even if I have to put a guard, or better Ronon, at her door to prevent her from leaving, she'll take it."
Carson knew he could count on John even without asking; he was too protective of Elizabeth to risk her health, not to mention her safety.
Taking his leave, he went to his office, and sat down heavily on his chair. He might have gotten sleep the night before, but those last two days were exhausting. If he could, he would take the rest of his day off, but he didn't want to leave Elizabeth. He knew that she would be fine, but he wouldn't forgive himself if something happened while he was resting. And he still had to add the recent events to her medical file.
He was about to start writing, when there was a soft knock on his door. Looking up, he smiled tiredly as he saw Laura leaning against the doorjamb.
"What can I do for you?"
"It's more about what I can do for you. I came to get you for lunch. Take an hour off, at least," she added, knowing that he had planned to have lunch in his office. "Please."
"I guess I can. But one hour," he warned her.
Getting up and joining her at the door, he couldn't help the smile that crept up his face as he felt her hand taking his. They were taking things slow since she had been sick, and he had to admit he liked it. She was good for him, he knew that, and he hoped that this time, they could get over the fact that their first kiss was through Rodney. He could already feel it fading from his mind, as one by one, Laura's kisses replaced it.
"Where were you?" Foreman asked, as he saw the four of them, Cuddy having decided to check on the hospital before going home with Rachel, entering the hospital lobby, but they knew he was addressing House. "We had a case, and you were completely unreachable. Even Cameron didn't know where you were!"
"You had a case," House repeated. "So, what does it mean? Successful diagnosis or death?"
"We caught it. It was a Guillain-Barré. But where were you?"
"Another galaxy," he answered, much to Cuddy and Wilson's surprise.
"Yeah, right. You don't want to say, ok."
They watched Foreman leave, before House turned to find himself facing his two friends.
"What? He didn't believe me, anyway!"