AN: Welcome back! Thanks to all of my loyal readers! Your comments have helped this grow and blossom. Thanks to my wonderful beta, nacimynom for her assistance and suggestions! Comments are always welcome and appreciated. You guys rock!
Teyla was in the middle of doing her cool down stretching routine after a morning spent teaching Bantos, when she felt a spike of worry from John. She had just put her sticks in her bag when she sensed John's worry change to fear then shift again to pain on the heels of a strong vibration, most likely from an explosion. Reaching out for John, she was almost overwhelmed by the onslaught of pain emanating from him. Without thinking, she grabbed her gym bag and headed for the nearest transporter. She was halfway there when Rodney's voice sounded through her com.
"Teyla, you need to come to the infirmary."
Even through her com, Teyla could hear the worry in Rodney's voice.
"Rodney, what has happened?"
"Lt. Saunders team brought back an artifact. One of those butter-fingered Neanderthals disguised as a Marine dropped it and when it hit the floor it started emitting a hum and lit up. We got there just before the thing exploded. Sheppard used force fields to shove everyone out of the way and to surround the device. One of the emitters malfunctioned and left an opening for the force to funnel through. He and Ronon shoved me and Radek out of the way. Ronon got thrown into a wall. Sheppard was thrown down the back stairs. I don't know how badly they're hurt yet."
"I am on my way."
Arriving at the infirmary, Teyla was amazed at the number of personnel waiting to be tended to. Many were cradling limbs or holding cold packs to their heads, necks or shoulders while waiting for one of the doctors. Spotting Rodney, Teyla hurried over.
Rodney saw the lithe Athosian threading her way through the crowd. As she reached his side, he held up a hand. "Before you ask, no, there's no more news. Carson has him under the scanner right now. Jennifer's taking care of Ronon."
Teyla looked around the crowded infirmary. "You said John accessed shield emitters in the Gateroom. If he protected all of these people, why are so many injured?"
"He was a bit rough when he used the force fields to shove people out of the way." Rodney rolled his eyes as he waved a hand at the crowd. "It's mainly bruises and sprains, but Jennifer insisted everyone get checked out."
Teyla nodded, seeing the wisdom of this. "It is wise, Rodney. A bruise can hide a more serious injury."
Rodney sighed. "I know. I'm just glad our flyboy and Conan are not gonna have to wait to be seen."
At that moment, Jennifer came around a curtain. Spotting the mobile half of Team Sheppard, she headed their way. "Rodney, Teyla. Ronon's going to be fine. He's got a mild concussion and a dislocated shoulder from hitting a wall at an odd angle. I'm going to keep him overnight for observation and he'll need to wear a sling for a few days."
Teyla was about to ask about John when the faint rattle of a gurney sounded from the direction of the scanner. The gurney soon came into view, John unconscious on it and being pushed by LJ, one of the Marine medics and accompanied by Carson and Marie. John was pale and lying three-quarters prone on his right side, propped up by pillows. He had not been changed into scrubs yet and his jeans were flecked with singe marks from the debris. His shirt was missing and Teyla saw the tape on his ribs and the vivid bruises on his back. There was an IV in his right arm and Teyla noticed that instead of the previous splint, John now had a black wrapped cast on his left arm. Carson spotted the trio and beckoned for them to fall in with him.
Once they caught up, Carson reached up and ran his hand through his hair. "Well, the lad dodged one bullet but bit another. He tucked his head in enough that he does na have another concussion. However, he does have a wee spot of bruising on his back and left hip along with three broken ribs and he broke his left wrist. Fortunately, the fall didna mess up the bones in his hand. He also had a nosebleed, but I'm not certain of the cause."
The group reached the private rooms in the back and Carson turned to Teyla and Rodney as LJ pushed the gurney into the room. "I need the two o' ye to stay out here for a few minutes while we get the lad settled then ye can come sit wi' him."
Teyla nodded her assent and she saw Rodney do the same from the corner of her eye.
It was more than just a few minutes before LJ left and Marie beckoned them in. Jennifer had placed Ronon in the same room so the team would be together. If she hadn't, they all knew that Ronon would have moved himself.
John had been changed into scrubs and covered with blankets. He was lying on his right side, propped in place with foam wedges and pillows. His left arm was propped up in order to prevent blood clots from forming around the break. Carson was checking John's vitals when the team entered.
Ronon glanced up when the other half of the team entered. "Hey." He turned his gaze to Carson. "When can I leave?"
Teyla stepped to Ronon's side and touched her forehead to his. "Jennifer says you have a concussion as well as having had a dislocated shoulder." She saw his gaze shift to John. "John broke his wrist and some ribs. Carson and Jennifer wish for both of you to stay overnight."
Carson finished and settled in, grabbing a chair beside Rodney to wait as he wanted to observe how much discomfort John was in before he decided to keep him overnight. If his discomfort was tolerable then Carson wanted him in the infirmary, otherwise he would transfer John to his quarters to rest and send Ronon with him since he knew Teyla could keep both in line.
Teyla stood by John's head, running her hand through his hair, using the contact to provide a soothing presence. Carson realized that this habit of hers had made John an easier patient. Just as he started to comment on it, they heard a soft moan.
Carson lightly tapped John's cheek. "C'mon lad, I need for ye to open yer eyes for me."
John's eyelids fluttered then opened a mere slit. He uttered a sharp cry of pain and raised his arm, trying to cover his eyes and block the light.
Carson uttered a soft curse. "Is it the migraine again?" He asked softly.
His answer was another pain filled moan as John tried to curl away from the light and sounds surrounding him.
Carson dipped a hand into his pocket, pulling out a vial and syringe. He quickly filled it and injected the contents into the Colonel's IV. After just a few heartbeats, the medication took effect and John went limp, his breathing slowing as he slipped into a deep sleep.
Teyla had watched this with growing concern. "Carson? What has caused this? You stated that he does not have a concussion."
Just as Carson started to reply, another voice interjected. "I think I can answer that."
Teyla and Carson turned to look at Rodney.
Uncomfortable with the scrutiny, Rodney looked at the floor. "This morning, he was only able to give us a certain amount of information about the city systems because it was too taxing right now to go deeper. I think it has to do with where the energy for his Ancient-powered magic tricks is coming from."
Carson frowned. "If the Colonel is supplying most of the energy then that would explain the nosebleed and the low vitals." He glanced over at Teyla. "Teyla, lass, I hope ye don't mind an extra guest. Let me get a few things and we'll head out."
Something tickled her mind about that. Realizing what it was, Teyla caught the doctor before he left the room. "Should we not wait until later? Is not the brightness and number of persons in the corridors why Sam teleported John the last time?"
Carson rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Aye lass, it is. In that case, I can take my time and make sure I have what I'll need to care for the Colonel."
"Why not just have Sam transport him again?" Ronon's rumble was puzzled.
"Because, Conan, the Hammond's transporter is undergoing maintenance. No doubt Carter would have rearranged the schedule if she had known there would be a need for it, like say, a certain accident prone, messy haired colonel getting hurt again." Rodney's snark came through clearly, even at a soft volume.
Carson headed off to get his supplies together and to talk to Jennifer. Teyla stayed with John and Ronon while Rodney contacted those persons that needed to know about the incident. He rescheduled the meetings for the following Friday on the assumption that Sheppard would be well enough to handle the crowds.
They moved John and Ronon late in the evening after the city lights dimmed and there were very few people about.
It took two days for John's vitals to recover sufficiently for Carson to bring him out of the drug induced oblivion that he had put the injured pilot into, and another two for the migraine to degrade to just bad headache status. At that time, Carson felt that John was sufficiently recovered that he no longer needed to stay with the couple, and went back to the infirmary and his own quarters. Torren had been worried, but with a child's faith, knew that his Da would be okay.
After sleeping most of Tuesday, John felt much better Wednesday morning. The headache was still there, but manageable and his energy was coming back. As he took stock of his condition, John realized that there was a warm shape curled against his side. Shifting his head just enough to see, he was rewarded by the sight of a head of curly hair: Torren. The toddler was glued to John's side and looked like it would take a crowbar to remove him. Hearing a slight noise, John looked towards the door and spotted Ronon.
"He kept fussing that he had to see you so Teyla put him in here." Ronon looked amused. "Figured you wouldn't mind."
John shifted his hand just enough to stroke the boy's hair. "Nah, I don't mind. I love the kid like he's my own."
"He loves you too." Ronon's smile turned thoughtful. "Did you ever notice that when you and Kanaan were both in the same room that Teyla always kept Torren distracted?"
"Yeah, but I never thought about it."
"She did that because she didn't want to hurt Kanaan by Torren calling you daddy. Now that you're openly together, she no longer feels the need."
John got a bit defensive. "Hey, he coulda gotten the daddy title if he'd ever been around or shown interest. He didn't though, so he can't complain if Torren picked me instead."
Ronon stuck a couple of pillows behind his back as John, being careful with his healing ribs, shifted slightly, sitting up to see the big Satedan properly. "So what's the plan?"
John grinned. It was the evil little smile he used when someone was about to get a nasty surprise. "Well, I thought I'd terrorize my troops Friday morning, Rodney's scientists that afternoon then take the rest of the weekend off and Monday we'll go visit the repository world, grab some ZPMs and a few Jumpers and be home for dinner."
Ronon's grin matched John's. "Sounds good."
Easing out of bed, John swayed for a minute before his balance stabilized. "This afternoon, I thought I'd go pay Dr. Ferrin a visit." One of his trademark quirky grins crossed his face. "Since we don't have any Wraith in confinement right now he must be getting lonely."
Ronon, sitting on the end of the bed near Torren, looked at John as he crossed the room to get his clothes. "We could always put Kavanagh in the next cell."
John shook his head. "Much as I'd like to, we can't. It would be considered cruel and unusual punishment."
Ronon's laugh filled the room as John reached his closet. Once there, he started to pull out his BDUs then changed his mind, because, even though he wasn't cleared for active duty, he planned on wearing his customary black in order to emphasize their positions. John grabbed a pair of black jeans, his boots, the thigh length leather coat Teyla had given him last Christmas and a black turtleneck. He hoped that Jennifer or Carson would clear him soon. Ronon helped him dress and, Torren in tow, they headed for the mess hall to wait while John put in an appearance at the brig.
Dr. Marcus Ferrin was not having a good week. His plan to drive a wedge between the super freak Sheppard and that damnable McKay had only started to work when the incident with that flechette occurred. Even then the plan could have worked except that the Scottish freak intervened, along with the rest of Sheppard's team.
Now, not only had he been discovered, but McKay and Sheppard were closer than ever. The entire team had closed ranks once McKay had been accepted back into the fold. Ferrin had hoped that one of the devices would injure or maim Sheppard, but that damned messy haired freak had gotten lucky.
To top his week off, Sheppard's pet Satedan had come by a few times. At first all he had done was glare through the bars. Then he had moved up to sharpening his knives while he exchanged tales of gruesome deaths with the Marines on duty. The stories were so vivid that he was now having nightmares. Since then he only slept about three hours a night. He was shaking so bad that he needed to use both hands just to hold a glass of water. At this point, he didn't mind being in a cell because it meant that the Satedan couldn't physically reach him … unless one of Sheppard's muscle-bound pets let him in.
The best he could hope for would be life confinement at one of the SGC's facilities. If he was really lucky, they would let him continue some of his research. They could decide to let him rot, but he didn't think that was likely, especially if one of his hypotheses turned out to be correct. From the rumors he'd heard recently, the little subroutine he had uploaded to the city's mainframe might bear fruit very soon.
As Ferrin contemplated his future, the outer doors opened. He looked up expecting to see one of Sheppard's pets but was rewarded with the figure of Sheppard himself.
Entering the cell block, John took his time strolling around the perimeter of the cell just as he had done when they had Wraith in captivity, the slight swish of the leather brushing his jeans the only sound. He noticed the twitches in Ferrin's limbs and the dark circles under his eyes.
"Well, seems like you're enjoying your time in Club Med."
Ferrin grimaced. "This won't last. The SGC will release me and allow me to continue my work. Even if they keep me confined, I still will be able to work on my research."
John shook his head, the arrogant grin on his face that he knew infuriated people like Ferrin. "I don't think so. Y' see, we found your files on the 'research' that you were using me and Rodney for. Even under the worst of circumstances, the SGC and the IOA frown on that. I can guarantee that you will never again work on anything harder than the New York Times crossword puzzles."
John circled some more as Ferrin blustered inside the cell. "General O'Neill has especially expressed his displeasure at your actions. The SGC also did some checking on you. Imagine their surprise when they unearthed claims from some of your former research assistants and colleagues that you stole their research." John shook his head, tsking a bit as he did. "The IOA was also deeply saddened to discover that your credentials did not stand up to deeper scrutiny."
Ferrin drew himself upright. "Those are all unsubstantiated rumors. There have been several of my colleagues that were jealous of my intelligence and prowess with Ancient technology."
John cocked his head and stared at Ferrin. "Oh, so the fact that the SGC's computer experts found evidence that your credentials had been faked is all the fault of your colleagues as well, eh?"
Ferrin crossed his arms. "I have no response to that."
John gave Ferrin his best cocky grin. "That's okay. I'm sure the SGC and IOA will have plenty to say. Enjoy your stay here at Club Med. I have a feeling this is the last time you'll get to enjoy sunlight for a long time." John made sure his drawl was as irritating as he could make it. He watched Ferrin for a few moments before sauntering from the room, turning to wave at Ferrin as he stepped through the door.
Thursday, all of the department heads gathered in John and Teyla's quarters. After Ferrin's intrusion, system security had been upgraded, so they did not have to worry about spies. In addition, John had keyed the transporter to only allow authorized persons onto their floor.
Woolsey was the last to arrive for the conference. As he took a seat, John started the meeting.
"Alright everyone, we all know why we're here, correct?" Receiving nods all around, John continued. "This problem cannot continue. We all have to trust each other. What McKay did was bad enough, but what Ferrin did was worse and only exacerbated the situation. Now the Marines are mad at the scientists in general and McKay specifically. The scientists are not helping matters either by goading the Marines. If this continues, this whole city will become a powder keg."
Jennifer frowned. "Surely the situation is not that bad?"
Radek shook his head, his glasses sliding to the end of his nose. "No, Colonel is correct. I have overheard scientists using terms to refer to Colonel that are made to rile Marines."
Ronon's eyes narrowed. "Such as?"
Radek stared into the distance for a moment. "McKay's pet, gene freak, Mr. Hanky, others."
The Earth-born members narrowed their eyes at the 'Mr. Hanky' reference.
Teyla and Ronon caught this, but were confused. It was Teyla that voiced their confusion. "Is not a 'hanky' a handkerchief?"
"Aye, lass, it is." Carson decided to attempt the explanation. "But 'Mr. Hanky' is a character on a show called 'South Park'. The character is a talking piece of shite."
Teyla and Ronon had both been around long enough to pick that Scottish slang term up. Ronon's hand moved towards his blaster.
John spotted the movement. "Ease up, Chewie. There'll be time for that later." An evil thought occurred to John. "Tell ya what, any of the troops cross the line and you get to assign punishment. That'll be better than sending them back to Earth, plus it will be a visible reminder to the rest of 'em."
Ronon's grin was feral and promised pain to any one foolish enough to cross Sheppard's line.
"Colonel, I have a suggestion," said Woolsey, who had been silent until now. "Why not delay the meeting with the scientists for a few days until after your trip to the repository world? The soldiers will respond well to you and will most likely only need a reminder of their duty and to know how far they can go, but scientists respond better to concrete evidence."
John rolled this over in his brain. "So you think they need a physical demonstration of why they should toe the line?"
Woolsey nodded. "I do. These are scientists that are trained in the hard sciences and they are only going to believe the evidence in front of their eyes."
John looked at the other scientists present – McKay and Radek. "McKay, Dr. Z, do you agree?"
Radek and Rodney looked at each other before turning to their friend. "We do." Radek answered for the pair. "Seeing consequences of actions will have greater impact."
Rodney injected the next comment. "Plus, instead of calling a special meeting, if you do this during the weekly staff meeting then there can be no excuses for nonattendance. Next week's meeting is the once a month mandatory for the entire science contingent and it's being held in the assembly hall."
Woolsey glanced over at the two geeks before turning to his military commander. "They are correct and I agree with Dr. McKay's assessment and reasons for the timing."
John looked over at Rodney, who was sitting on the edge of his chair like a kid waiting for lunchtime. "McKay, would you take care of that?"
Rodney glanced down at his laptop for a moment and hit a few keys. "Done." At John's look of surprise, he clarified. "I know you well enough to know how your brain works. If Woolsey hadn't brought it up, Radek or I would have, so I was prepared because I know you military types love to show off, you especially."
John colored slightly. "I actually don't like being in the spotlight, but I do love making a point and doing it with style." His gaze turned hard. "They need to be reminded that when you play with fire, sometimes you get burned."