Length: 2000 words
Summary: Another mission-gone-bad has John and Rodney in Quarantine in the infirmary. Who knew medical staff could be so meddlesome?
Note: This isn't the story that I wanted to write that is about 2/3 complete. John refused to cooperate, even more than normal, and it just wouldn't come together. I hope this somewhat meets your request in some small way. And sneaking under the wire... It's still August 7 where I am... ;-)
John woke slowly... it wasn't woke as much as clawed his way to consciousness. His eyes wouldn't open but he knew from the sound and the smell where he was. Infirmary. Fuck. Beyond the monitors and the telemtry that oozed from the city he heard click-click-click of a keyboard that told him Rodney was nearby. Good. Cool hands on his fevered forehead... that nurse with the good hands.... he felt nothing which told him he was on the good drugs... he relaxed a guard he didn't even know he was holding and fell back asleep.
The next period of consciousness was to dim light under barely open eyelids. Nighttime. He was aware enough to realize he was breathing oxygen and there was a catheter inserted in his dick. He mentally sighed. This wasn't good. The cool hands came back, touching him gently.
"Colonel Sheppard?" A soft voice. Soothing and calm. "Are you in any pain?"
He didn't have the strength to reply. He fell back asleep.
Daylight this time. Or at least early enough in the day for the lights to be on. Rodney's voice talking to him. Babbling -- not that he would say that aloud. But it was comfortable, known. Rodney was talking about... his boring day stuck in the infirmary? That didn't make sense. Why was Rodney still here? He sounded healthy, he was working on his computer. John remembered the typing noises.
Warm hands this time. Rodney's hands. On his arm. Rodney touching him. Gently, massaging up and down his arm. John reveled in the warmth. The closeness. He was too tired to tell Rodney... he fell asleep before he could figure out what he needed to tell Rodney.
Dreams this time. Dreams of himself lost in Atlantis. Endless corridors, empty corridors. No door would open for him. He didn't see anyone else and the city felt abandoned. He was abandoned. Alone. He didn't know why, he didn't know what happened. But he knew he had to keep moving. He was looking for something. Something important. He climbed stairs that went up and down endlessly and nowhere. Landings opened into empty corridors that stretched endlessly. He was chasing... something. A sound. A voice! Rodney's voice! John ran harder, he needed to protect Rodney.
A transporter door opened out of nowhere and John hurled through the door before it could close on him. He touched the map of the city, splaying his hands on the map, touching as many points as possible, hoping it would take him to Rodney. The small room spun around him like a carnival ride. He watched the walls rotate about him, the map appearing in front of him then disappearing to the side only to reappear again. He couldn't turn to see the map, he could only see straight ahead. The spinning stopped slowly and John wanted... needed... to get out. To get to Rodney. The door opened and he stepped into nothing. The door had opened at the top of a tower and he was falling....
John woke with a start.
The infirmary was mostly dark. Night again. There was oxygen still in his nose and, as he moved slightly, the catheter still in his dick. He closed his eyes but fought to stay awake for a bit. The nurse came in and he watched her check Rodney who seemed to be sleeping.
"Hey! Welcome back!" she said softly, seeing him awake.
"Wha.." he tried to ask.
"Wait a minute," she directed and moved out of his line of sight. She came back with a cup and a spoon. She dug into the cup and held it to his mouth. Ice! He swished it around his mouth slightly and she eased a couple more chips in when the first spoonful was gone. That was better.
"What happened?" he ground out.
"You have a bump on your head but not a concussion, a twisted ankle and a respiratory infection. Dr. Beckett explained it to you before but you must not have been fully aware then," she said.
"Infection?" he mumbled.
"Yes," she affirmed. "And it's knocked you for a loop since it seems to berelated to the Iratus. Dr. Beckett's working on an antidote."
"Iratus?" He could feel himself get pale. Fuck! That was not good.
"Related," she soothed. "And Dr. Beckett is sure he'll have something for it tomorrow."
John glanced at Rodney. "McKay?"
"Dr. McKay was also infected but not as badly as you," she said. "But there's concern it might be contagious, so we're keeping him here in Quarantine with you."
"Okay?" John asked.
"Yes," she nodded. "He's pretty well healed at this point. You have it worse, which keeps both of you here. Dr. Beckett wants to keep both of you here until you can both be released."
John mulled that over for a moment and must have fallen asleep. The next thing he knew it was daylight.
Carson was there this time. "Colonel? Wake up for me," he coaxed. "There you are."
"Water?" John croaked.
"Just a second," Carson turned aside and brought over a glass with a straw. He sat the bed up slightly so John could drink. John took a swallow and then started coughing. Carson helped him sit up and held him up until the coughing fit passed.
"Sorry, I suspect you're going to go through more of this," Beckett said. "Your lungs are congested and it's going to be rough, I have to be honest."
"Great," John got out.
Carson helped him lay back and John watched as Carson injected something into a port of the IV that went into John's arm. He didn't know what it was but he quickly fell asleep.
This time he woke again to Rodney sitting near the bed, his hand on John's arm. John pulled away and knew without looking that there was hurt in Rodney's eyes.
"Can't..." John whispered. "Don't..."
"I..." Rodney started to protest. "Sorry. Just... it's hard watching you lie there," Rodney said in a soft voice. John could hear the pain.
The nurse came in then... the nice one with the good hands. Nathalie. She helped Rodney to bed then came over to check him over.
"When can we get out of here?" he asked.
"There's the Colonel we all know and love," she teased, then sobered. "At least a few days. Not until your lungs are clear."
"Damn," he sighed.
"I'm giving you another dose of Dr. Beckett's anti-viral," she said. "It seems to be helping."
"Okay," he agreed, knowing there were no options. She was just letting him know what she was doing.
She left after that and John lay watching Rodney. Rodney had fallen asleep while Nathalie had been tending him.
John fell asleep thinking of Rodney.
The next days passed in something of a blur. Carson came with variations on his anti-viral medication and while it helped it also kept putting John to sleep. He protested to Carson who laughed and said, "You need to rest, so that's good, lad."
John wanted to protest the 'lad' but he knew that Carson was doing his best.
Rodney went back to his 'best friend' persona. The one that John truly hated but it was his own doing. Refusing to be anything more than friends with Rodney McKay was the only option he had. He didn't want to lose Atlantis but sometimes was afraid he was losing Rodney in the process.
They watched movies on Rodney's laptop. Well, tried to since John fell asleep shortly after they started watching anything.
When Carson finally let him take a shower, he wasn't sure it was worth it in the end. The hot shower had felt wonderful after a week of bed baths -- something he refused to think too closely about -- but the steam from the hot water loosened up the junk in his lungs and set him to coughing. It was so bad that Nathalie finally called in the night Doc to help and they ended up doing some respiratory therapy that left him weak and sore.
The next time he woke, though, it was better. He could breathe easier and the pain that had been a dull ache lessened considerably.
A couple more days and Beckett declared them no longer contagious and released them to their rooms. Teyla and Ronon came to visit briefly. Teyla brought John some soothing tea and Ronon just sat with him and mostly watched him sleep.
It only took a couple of days before John starting feeling better and getting restless. He was walking around the city and the horror of a dream half remembered came back to him briefly. He remembered searching for Rodney which prompted him to seek out the other man. He hadn't seen a lot of Rodney since they had been released from the infirmary -- at a couple of meals but not otherwise.
He got to the lab to find it lit up but empty. A turned over piece of equipment gave off a thread of smoke. John made sure it was out completely then made his way to the infirmary to see if Rodney went there.
Rodney was sitting on the edge of a bed and that nurse with the good hands was bandaging one of Rodney's hands. John didn't want to disturb them, he hovered just out of sight.
"How's the Colonel?" she asked. "I haven't seen either of you since you've been released since I work nights."
"I.... he..." Rodney swallowed. "He's okay. I guess." John froze. Rodney didn't talk to anyone and he worried what that nurse knew about them or what one of them might have said while under the influence of medication. But from his hiding place, John could see that Rodney wasn't happy.
She snorted. "Well, are you the smartest man in two galaxies, or what?"
Rodney looked up, startled. "What?"
"Are you the smartest man in two galaxies or not?" she repeated patiently.
"You have a problem. Fix it!" she said firmly.
Rodney got that look on his face that John knew well: Rodney McKay was thinking.
John eased backwards and went back to his room. He slept better that night than he had in a long time.
John recuperated, working hard on physical therapy with Teyla and his own respiratory therapy while running with Ronon. They went on missions again.
It was a couple months later that Rodney announced they had found some housing units in another tower. Most of the housing was the equivalent of two bedroom apartments with a small number of one-bedroom units. Woolsey promptly decided that the one-bedroom units were to be awarded by lottery to anyone that was interested.
Rodney put up a small fight, "Hey! I found them, I should get my pick!"
"Now, Dr. McKay," Woolsey soothed. "How would it look if senior staff just took the best units?"
"I don't care," Rodney huffed. "I'm entitled to my choice."
"You can enter the lottery, if you want a one-bedroom unit," Woolsey declared.
"Who would live with me, anyway?" Rodney demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I would," Carson offered, to John's sudden horror.
"Suppose I could, too," John had to put in.
"See? You even have a choice," Woolsey beamed at them.
"Thanks, you two," Rodney grumbled. Then perked up. "Well, you'll have time to fight over me. We have to clean out the space and make sure there are no Ancient booby-traps anyway. So no one is moving any time soon."
It actually took several months to clear out the space before anyone could move in.
At a follow-up medical check after a mission-finally-gone-right, Carson spoke to John. "I don't mind sharing with Rodney," Carson offered casually. "Unless you'd rather. Being team mates and all."
John looked at Carson who had a small grin on his face. "Carson?" he asked carefully.
Carson shrugged. "Just giving you some options. We can say we flipped for it and you lost, if you want."
John didn't breathe for a moment. What was it about the medical staff? First that nurse and now Carson. Helping them.
"Thanks." He had to smile. "I think."
"You're good for him," Carson said. "And he's good for you."
John fought the blush but from Carson's laugh, figured he didn't succeed.
Rodney was on the couch in their new apartment, sending email when John leaned over his shoulder. "What you doing?" he asked.
"Just... something I need to do," Rodney replied.
John leaned in and read the screen. It was to that nurse, Nathalie. Who somehow had won the apartment lottery and was moving into that prime one-bedroom apartment that Rodney had originally wanted.
I really am the smartest man in two galaxies.
"Yes, you are," John agreed, turning his head for a kiss.