John's dreams had been weird, well weirder than usual, and it usually ended with him waking up with a blinding headache. The first time John'd had one of these 'dreams' and woken he'd gone to the infirmary. Of course they had just given him some pain killers, had put it down to stress, and sent him on his way.
Something was different, he could feel it; he wasn't sure what, but it was there. It was like something bubbling away just beneath the surface, something that was getting stronger or so he thought.
At one point he had been so distracted by this…well whatever it was that he had completely ignored everything Rodney had just explained to him. Not that he always listened when Rodney went off on a rant about something but this rant had been about his precious Puddlejumpers, something he prided himself in knowing everything there was to know about.
The ensuing argument between them had been loud and exasperated, and it got to a point where he had to walk away. They didn't end up speaking to one another for a full three days, an accomplishment for them, before Teyla had intervened. It seemed she didn't like to see them at odds with one another. Now they were back on speaking terms yet again and it was like the argument had never happened, though the feeling bubbling away beneath the surface was still there.
At present he sat in his room actually attempting to read War and Peace. He had gotten past chapter three now. He felt something pass him by, causing him to shiver. Looking up he tried to figure out what had caught his attention, but his room was empty except for him and his posters.
Getting to his feet, he strode over to his door to see if anyone was standing outside. Reaching out a hand, he didn't even get chance to open the door when his radio crackled to life, making him jump.
Shaking his head, he snatched the radio from his bedside table and slipped it in his ear. He let out a quiet sigh as Rodney's voice filtered through. Without actually even listening to what Rodney was saying he'd already given his answer, along with a nod of his head that he knew the man wouldn't see. Picking up his jacket from the back of the chair, he left the room, letting Atlantis guide him to Rodney's location.
Reaching the chair room he was surprised to find Rodney was the only person there. He took a moment to admire the man working in front of him. Before he stepped into the room, he made sure his trade mark smirk was in place. He didn't want to give away that he was worried about something, especially to someone like Rodney who would try to figure out what was wrong.
"Ah Colonel, you're here. Good. Now if you could just sit down and think of the city for me," explained Rodney, not even giving the standard 'hello'.
As John turned to the chair, the feeling returned. This time it made his skin itch as though something was crawling all over him. It felt like he was stuck in one place, he couldn't move, couldn't breathe and for one brief moment he thought he was going to be sick all over the place. The feeling passed as quickly as it had come, but it left him feeling unnerved. He'd never felt anything like that before, especially not when it concerned the Ancient technology. He crossed his arms and took a step backwards; the feeling wore off even more as he moved away from the chair.
"I'm not doing it," he said quietly.
"What?" McKay's head snapped around to stare at him in surprise.
"You heard me; get someone else."
He turned to go, to leave the chair room, to leave the sick feeling behind him, when he heard Rodney shout after him. "Colonel!"
Spinning around he said, "I'm not doing it, McKay."
"Look Colonel, I'd do it myself, but I can't concentrate on the chair and read the information it'll give me at the same time." Rodney whined.
Glancing between the chair and Rodney, he really felt like he shouldn't be doing this. One look at Rodney's rather earnest face though had his resolve weakening. Not that he would ever tell the scientist that of course, he didn't need Rodney thinking he could get away with everything with just one certain look. That was why John'd been so hard on him lately; he didn't want Rodney to know just how much he could affect him with a question or a certain look directed his way.
"There are plenty of other people with the gene on this base, McKay. Find someone else to help you!" John protested.
He was annoyed now; he didn't like having to tell people the same thing again and again. Sometimes he wished that Rodney was military, and then he would be able to pull rank on him and stop him from some of his more grandiose plans. But then he remembered that if Rodney were military, they wouldn't be as close as they were now, or as comfortable around each other. An unexpected thread of calm distracted him, and he realized he had totally missed what Rodney was saying and ended up looking a little confused.
Sighing Rodney said, "Just sit in the chair, Colonel."
"Look, I could ask anyone on this base, but you've got the strongest gene. I asked you because I trust you not to set anything off," explained Rodney quietly, like he was afraid someone would over hear him being sincere.
Again John looked between both Rodney and the chair, and finally nodded his head. God knows he gave in to Rodney way too many times, but he just couldn't help himself, and he really didn't want to look into the why right at that moment. Scrubbing a hand through his hair, he perched himself on the chair. This would be the first time since Atlantis had landed here after fleeing from the Ausurans, that he would be using the chair again.
"What am I concentrating on then?" he asked.
"The city itself nothing else Colonel, just the structure. Not the drones, not the engines, not…"
"McKay! I get it, sit back and think of Atlantis," interrupted John.
He pushed back so he reclined in the chair, his head resting against the coolness of the back and his hands on the jelly-like substance on the arms. He vaguely heard Rodney moving around behind the chair, probably checking the computer, but he forgot about him as he closed his eyes. Soon John found himself submerged once more in his connection with the city.
Letting him self slide into the connection was like having a very hot shower, it scalded you at first but became sort of relaxing a moment later. He looked for the line of connection he needed to give Rodney the readings he wanted. Once he'd found it, he pushed himself towards it.
John could feel the city pulse inside his head. It was like the city's way of saying she had given him access to her systems.
It didn't last long, as John suddenly felt like he'd been drenched in freezing cold water, and the connection broke abruptly. He sat up quickly, breathing heavily, Okay, that was strange. The city had never done that to him before, had never pushed him away like that.
He noticed that Rodney was standing in front of him, looking slightly panicked, waving his hands around dramatically. The panicked look turned into a slightly annoyed one. As John made eye contact, he figured he'd done something, maybe, he wasn't sure. Maybe he should really start paying attention now.
"I told you not to think of anything but the city, the structure. Nothing else!" Rodney exclaimed, his face having a slight red tinge to it.
"I didn't," replied John baffled. "I thought of just the city, the structure just like you told me to."
"Actually Colonel, you didn't. All the weapons, all the ZedPM information came online but not the city. It's just a good job I-hey! Where are you going?" Rodney called after him.
John was up and out of his seat before Rodney could even finish his sentence. The way the connection had acted it had freaked him out a little bit. Sure he'd been feeling unnerved by the connection for days, ever since he'd landed here, but this, this worried him. This wasn't meant to happen, not to him or any other gene carrier, this city wasn't meant to kick him out of the connection between him and the technology. He needed to clear his mind of this, what ever this happening to him was. He needed to spar, and he knew just the person he could go to.
Reaching out he hastily pushed the buttons on the DHD, praying the Stargate would open quickly. He heard Rodney moan besides him, but for the moment he didn't dare turn to look at the man, knowing what he'd see if he did so.
Ever since the day with the chair, he had pretty much avoided the scientist, mainly to avoid questions he couldn't and wouldn't answer. Now, now said scientist was lying at his feet and would probably bleed to death if the Stargate didn't activate.
They had come across a low level energy reading on the planet. Of course when they had gone to investigate, the natives of said planet got a little bit upset with them, saying they had desecrated their shrine. Of course even explaining things calmly to them didn't seem to help as they had attacked, and Rodney ended up getting the brunt of it.
John let out a half smile as the wormhole finally stabilized, the blue shimmering pool bathing their faces in the bright light. He radioed on ahead, along with sending his IDC before going back to help Rodney to his feet.
"Come on, McKay, no dying on this mission," he said shakily.
All he got in response was a half nod and another low groan. He knew that Ronon and Teyla would follow him through the gate no questions asked; he wouldn't have to worry about issuing that order.
Dragging Rodney through the gate was no easy feat, but he finally stepped into the wormhole in front of him, to step out in the Gateroom. He was relieved to see that Keller was already there waiting for them. He got Rodney on the waiting gurney and began to follow the team to the infirmary. John didn't know why, but he had the urge to make sure the other man was safe, even if that meant Keller ended up kicking him out not five minutes later. He simply had to know.
He never saw the lights of the city grow brighter as he raced through the corridors at the back of the medical team or hear the slight hum that Atlantis gave as he passed. In fact he was so engrossed in making sure Rodney was okay, that he didn't even hear Carter shout after him or see the rest of his team turn up.
Running a hand through his hair, John looked at the bruised and bandaged scientist again. It was strange, he felt like it was almost his fault and the guilt swirling in his stomach was making him feel sick. He had been s sure that the locals wouldn't mind them poking around the ruins.
In the end not only had he been wrong, but it had landed a team mate in the infirmary. He felt something beyond simple guilt then twist in his stomach something that he hadn't felt for a long time. It was the urge to take care of someone, but this wasn't just someone.It was Rodney, his scientist. He took a step forwards; he couldn't believe this was happening. What the hell had he been thinking?
He was going to take another step towards the bed when he heard someone behind him clear their throat. Turning around he smiled as he saw Colonel Carter standing there, hands clasped in front of her.
"Colonel," he said with a nod of his head.
"John," replied Sam stepping towards him. "How is he?"
"Doc says he should be awake by tomorrow."
Something must have shown on his face and in his voice as Sam took a step towards him and placed a hand on his arm, a comforting gesture that did not comfort him at all.
"It wasn't your fault, John. You didn't know they were going to turn on you."
"I should have seen it coming, though." John protested
"Even Ronon didn't see it. Don't beat yourself up over this, John. He wouldn't want you to."
"That's easier said than done," John said, whispering so low he knew she wouldn't hear him.
"I think I'll visit later, when he's awake and complaining again." Sam said with a smile.
He knew then she was just as worried about Rodney as he was and with that she was gone. He stared at the spot she had been standing in just moments before, before shaking his head. He took a seat at the side of Rodney's bed with a sigh. This was his fault and no one could tell him otherwise. Besides he was the military leader on Atlantis; it was his job to take the blame for things.
That's not true.
Turning his head around quickly he tried to find the source of the voice, to find who had spoken to him. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, his breathing heavy, and he had to press his hands into his knees to stop them shaking. But no one was there. Well no one close enough to whisper something to him and it had been someone whispering, a soft peaceful whisper that had made his ears itchy to listen to.
He got to his feet and moved to the foot of Rodney's bed looking left and right, along the rows of beds. Most of them were empty, but the odd one or two had occupants asleep, no one that could have whispered something to him. Okay, maybe I just caught the end of a conversation. It does echo in here, and voices do carry. Or I finally am hearing things. No, no, it's just voices carrying, nothing else just voices.
He knew hearing things wasn't a good thing. He felt something brush past his back then. Spinning around he let out a quiet sigh. It was just Keller coming to check up on her patient.
"How…How is he?" he stuttered, throat dry and voice cracking slightly.
"He's doing pretty well. I'm sure he'll be awake in no time," replied Keller, turning to smile at him, but she ended up frowning instead. "Are you alright, Colonel?"
"Fine, I'm fine."
"You sure? 'Cause you don't look it? I can run-"
"I'm fine Doc," interrupted John. "Really, I'm fine. If McKay wakes up, tell him…Never mind, he'll probably already know."
He discretely ran a hand across Rodney's foot as he turned and fled the infirmary. He vaguely heard Keller calling after him, trying to get him to come back. He had to think. Sort his head out; maybe take one of the nice painkillers he'd been issued. Anything to shake the-god-awful-bubbling-beneath-the-surface-feeling once more. To not have to think for a short while.
A few days later he was once again traipsing towards the infirmary, tablet tucked under his arm, visiting Rodney. John had promised he would sneak a laptop in, but Keller had caught him before he even got through the door, so he tried something a little less obvious. Of course he had to make sure that Keller didn't find it, but that was easy enough, he'd give it to Rodney to hide. After all the man wasn't just a genius at astrophysics; he could hide stuff pretty damn well as well.
Stopping a few feet away from the bed, half hidden by one of the metal cupboards, he watched Rodney giving the nurse a few orders. John had to admit that even when he was half covered in bruises, cuts and bandages, Rodney didn't have problems letting everyone know who was boss. Hell John had heard that just the other day he had managed to reduce a young nurse to tears. Of course he didn't blame Rodney for shouting at her. She had been a bit too clumsy with the more delicate equipment, and she had actually managed to drop one of the hand held scanners on the floor which had sent Rodney into a tirade about inept medical staff and that the Ancient equipment needed to be handled with care. Luckily the scanner wasn't broken. Of course the young woman-newly arrived on Atlantis as well-not use to dealing with one Rodney McKay had burst into tears and ran off. He smiled slightly as he remembered the look on Rodney's face when Keller had stormed in and started shouting at him, he didn't think he'd ever seen the timid Doctor shout as much as she had done then.
Stepping from the side of the metal cupboard, John stopped at the end of Rodney's bed. He supposed he should say something to save Rodney's latest victim and possibly Rodney himself, as the nurse looked ready to hit the scientist.
"McKay, leave the nurses alone." John said.
"Colonel," greeted Rodney, his demeanour changing as he faced the other man. "Tell them to discharge me then. These bungling idiots don't know what they are doing, and I need to be working."
"Well, I never!" spluttered the nurse.
John couldn't help smiling as the uptight nurse left in a huff. Oh yes, Rodney was definitely getting better. He sat down on the edge of the bed - the chair had mysteriously disappeared from the bedside a few days ago - and placed the tablet on Rodney's lap.
"You brought it! You didn't touch anything on it, did you?" Rodney asked eyes alight with enthusiasm.
"Of course and no, McKay, what do you take me for?"
"You want me to answer that? Hey, what are you doing?"
"You gotta play nice, or I take the toys away," John said taking the tablet back.
He had to keep from smiling as Rodney crossed his arms and huffed out a breath, trying to pretend not to be bothered. John perversely enjoyed tormenting the man. John glanced down at the tablet to see what Rodney was going to work on when the tablet's screen flickered off and then back on again in a matter of seconds. He didn't think he had seen anything and didn't get chance to ponder it further as the tablet was yanked out of his hands. Looking up he saw Rodney clutching the tablet tightly in both hands as though expecting it to be taken from him again. Obviously he had waited till John wasn't paying attention to take it back.
"I don't play nice, Colonel, nor do I share my things."
At least he didn't see the screen go blank for a moment. John smirked. It looked like he had gotten away with that. Rodney's words made him shiver though, something he had surprisingly gotten use to over the last few days. Since Rodney's latest brush with death, John had been feeling something for the pushy scientist. Something that was confusing him and making him wonder if he'd taken one too many hits to the head.
Before he could reply, he heard a soft peaceful laugh pass his ears, making them feel itchy and making his skin crawl. He jumped up from the bed as though he had been burned, looking around the infirmary for the source. But again there was no one there; this was beginning to creep him out. He shouldn't be hearing these types of things, not unless a Wraith was nearby. Which he knew was impossible, the Wraith didn't know about the current location of Atlantis.
"Colonel? Colonel!" called Rodney.
Turning back around, John asked, "Did you hear that?"
"Someone laughed. Are you sure you didn't hear anything?"
"Colonel, it's an infirmary. People are too sick to be laughing and joking. Except you obviously."
"But I heard…" John stopped speaking, looking around the infirmary once more before shaking his head. Maybe he had lost the plot. "Never mind, forget I ever said anything."
"Are you okay, Colonel? I mean I know I'm not the best person on picking up on these types of things, and you probably wouldn't tell me anything relative anyway, but…are you okay?"
"Yeah…yeah, Rodney, I'm fine."
He sat back down and saw the worried look on Rodney's face. John hadn't meant to worry his friend, and now he felt bad for freaking him out.
"I'm fine, Rodney," he repeated, hoping the use of Rodney's first name would ease his worry.
"The last time people started seeing things, I lost half my people, Colonel."
"Well I'm not seeing things, McKay."
"No, you're just hearing people laughing instead," snarked Rodney.
"I said forget it," replied John sternly. "Besides don't you have other stuff to be thinking of?"
"Like who's watching your lab while you're laid up in here?"
It was a low move, but it worked as Rodney started to rant about Zelenka. Relaxing his posture slightly, John took the time to think. He couldn't shake the feeling of someone being there. It was like he was meant to know something, something important, but he couldn't put his finger on what it was.
"What did you do?" Rodney demanded.
"What. Did. You. Do?" Rodney insisted
"Nothing," John answered, shrugging.
He had just stepped into the infirmary to escort Rodney back to his rooms, on doctor's orders so he didn't slip away to his lab. What John hadn't expected was to be accused of doing something as soon as he had walked through the door. Not that he knew exactly what Rodney was going on about.
"You did something. I know you did, Colonel. I'm a genius remember!"
"Okay, McKay, it's time to calm down and actually explain what I've supposedly done wrong." John placated the upset man
John quickly thought back over the last couple of days, but nothing stood out. He really couldn't think of anything he'd done to make Rodney this irritated with him.
"There is no supposing about it. Look…"
He mumbled a quiet 'oh' as Rodney pulled the tablet out from under his pillow. So maybe that flickering the other day had done something to the tablet. John watched the screen as Ancient writing scrolled past, never stopping and never breaking. It was like something out of the Matrix, except this obviously was meant to mean something.
"Okay, you've still lost me, McKay. How does it doing that, make it my fault?"
"You are the only one who touched this tablet; it's been like this since you handed it over to me the other day. Therefore, it's your fault, so what did you do?" repeated Rodney.
"Again, nothing, McKay!"
"Well, why is this happening then?"
John shrugged; he had no idea how to answer that. He didn't know a thing about the tablets, nor did he know anything about Ancient script. He left that kind of stuff up to the scientists and the guys that had PhDs on the end of their names. It didn't mean a thing to him, other than there was some kind of problem.
"I don't know. Maybe it has a virus." Suggested John.
"The Ancient database and subsequently, these tablets don't get viruses, Colonel," scoffed Rodney.
"I don't know then, McKay!" John protested his innocence
Taking the tablet from Rodney's hands, he hovered a hand over the screen, wondering if he could do something, when it flickered. It blacked out for a minute before coming back online, and this time there was no scrolling Ancient writing. He looked up at Rodney surprised; he hadn't touched anything yet, so nothing should have worked.
"How…how….how?" asked Rodney shocked.
"I didn't do anything," John answered, looking between the tablet in his hands and Rodney.
Hands shaking slightly, he handed the tablet back, to Rodney before stuffing his hands in to his pockets. He didn't speak; he couldn't speak. How was he supposed to explain what he'd done when he didn't know himself?
"I don't know, okay?" John said quietly, refusing to look up. "I just don't know."
"Maybe you didn't do anything. Maybe, maybe Zelenka was running an update, yeah that could work. It was just luck that when you touched it, the update happened to finish." Rodney theorized
He knew Rodney was trying to reassure him and he was thankful for it. It wasn't often one got Rodney McKay trying to be reassuring. It didn't help, not really. He had caused the changes to the tablet; he knew he had.
"Thanks," mumbled John.
"Right, of course, anyway aren't you meant to be distracting the nurses while I make my great escape?"
"McKay, you've been given the all clear. You don't need a distraction." John rolled his eyes
"Some knight in shining armour you are," huffed Rodney quietly.
At first John didn't think he had heard that right but one glance at Rodney's slightly red face had him smiling. It seemed Rodney had expected John to rescue him from the infirmary; it was sweet in a Rodney kind of way. Not that he could really blame the man for wanting to escape more quickly, the place just wasn't the same without Carson, and he knew Rodney still missed the Scottish doctor a lot.
"Did you say something?" John asked
"Nothing, Colonel, nothing at all."
Smiling John shook his head before helping Rodney gather up his things and together they left the infirmary. Walking the corridors with Rodney was always enjoyable, mainly due to the fact that half of the new recruits wouldn't approach them or rather wouldn't approach Rodney. This time though it was slightly different. As he passed one of the smaller labs, John stopped dead as he felt something brush past his back.
There was the soft peaceful voice again, just on the outskirts of his hearing range, but it was definitely there; he had definitely heard it. John didn't move, couldn't move; it was that feeling all over again, like something crawling all over his skin. He shivered. He thought that since he had taken the pain killers this what ever it was had disappeared.
A touch to his arm had him stepping backwards. The touch hurt him like he had just been burned. Blinking a couple of times to clear his head, he saw that Rodney was staring at him worriedly.
"Sorry," John shook his head
"For?" Rodney asked focusing on John
"I have to go," he replied, hastily, avoiding Rodney's eyes. "I'm sorry."
Turning around John made his way back down the corridor. Whatever was happening to him was getting stronger and that scared him. He wasn't actually aware of where he was going until he stepped out on to the empty pier, the cool breeze hitting his face, taking away the majority of his panic and calming him slightly. He leant back against the wall next to the door before he slid down, so he ended up on the chilled floor with his arms resting on raised knees, head bowed.
This couldn't be happening after everything he had survived; after all he had seen he was finally losing it. Going mad, stark raving loony and he didn't know why or how to stop it. The sound of the door opening made him look up though he didn't move from his position on the floor. He smiled tiredly as Teyla stepped through the door before sitting down next to him. It figured Rodney had gone to Teyla about his sudden disappearance.
"So what did McKay say?" John asked when he realized Teyla wouldn't start the conversation
"He is worried about you." Teyla answered gently
He gave Teyla a pointed look, the only person Rodney ever worried about was himself. There was a tiny minuscule bit of hope deep down that he could be wrong maybe just this one time.
"He thinks he has done something to anger you," Teyla said.
"He hasn't." John protested
John looked away, once he realized that tiny bit of hope had died. He didn't have the energy to think about Rodney and his feelings at the moment despite the fact that he really had wanted Rodney to be worried about him. He had bigger things to worry about, like how to stop him self from possibly going crazy. He felt Teyla move next to him and a hand came to rest on his arm. Looking up from the hand to Teyla's eyes he saw Teyla studying him.
"Something is bothering you," said Teyla softly. "Something which you do not want the others to know. What ever it is, Colonel, you can come to any of us. Keeping it inside you is not good for the soul."
He hated when she did that; it unnerved him. He had always known that Teyla was a very perceptive person. She always knew when one of them needed to talk or needed a partner to spar with. So it really shouldn't have surprised him that much that she had picked up on something like this. Smiling gratefully he awkwardly placed a hand on top of hers.
"You are welcome, John. You will have to let Rodney know you are not angry with him."
Rolling his eyes he nodded, "I dunno where he gets these ideas from."
Letting go of her hand he climbed to his feet dusting himself off slightly before helping Teyla to her feet as well.
"I should go talk to him," John said gesturing over his shoulder towards the door.
"You must," agreed Teyla.
"Thank you, Teyla," John said.
He left her out on the pier and made his way down the corridors towards Rodney's room. He had to admit that as he drew closer to the door he felt slightly nervous having never been in Rodney's room before. He knew if Rodney was upset with him John didn't want their conversation held in a public corridor.
Tugging at the sleeve of his jacket, he stopped just outside the door. Taking a deep breath, he ran a hand across the door chime and waited. He frowned when there was no response. Surely Rodney wasn't that angry at him, was he? John repeated the process a second later, but still no answer. Swearing he turned and stalked down the corridor, he had inkling where the man would be. As he reached the labs he heard Rodney's distinct voice and it sounded like someone was getting an earful.
Stepping silently into the lab, John made sure to keep out of sight, in the long shadows that were cast by the metal cabinets. He wondered what Rodney was doing here; he had only been discharged from the infirmary about an hour earlier. John knew that if Rodney split any of his stitches Keller would be after him, not Rodney. He had made a promise to her that he would keep an eye on the man.
He watched for five minutes, letting the voice wash over him, before he saw Rodney wince and then he knew it was time to intervene. John stepped out from the shadow he had been standing in, but it seemed Rodney hadn't even notice him. The shouting seemed louder now that he was closer and actually paying attention. The content was trivial, nothing important at all.
"McKay!" shouted John.
Okay, so that worked, it looked like he just found a way to shut Rodney up, do something totally unexpected and a little out of character.
"Colonel! What do you-"
"Shut up, McKay," said John, before turning to the rest of the assembled scientists. "Everyone clear out. Go do…whatever it is you guys do when you aren't here. Go!"
"You have no right to do this, Colonel!" Rodney shouted at him
"Actually I do," replied John, sending a glare at Rodney.
He waited until everyone had left the room before making sure the door was sealed. Hopefully anyone passing would take that as a sign that they didn't want to be disturbed. He didn't need anyone walking in; especially as he knew the argument to follow would end up being pretty loud.
"What do you think you are doing, Colonel? This is my lab, my staff. You can't just come in here and…and…and pull rank!"
"I can and will when the CSO hasn't been cleared to return to work yet!" John shouted.
"What?" Rodney's eyebrows headed toward his hairline
That wasn't meant to come out, and it took him a split second to figure out that he should just explain the truth. Especially since Rodney was glaring at him.
"I know what you're like, Rodney. You get bored easily and I know you hate being stuck in the infirmary since…Look, I made a deal with Keller, I-"
"You did what?" Rodney asked suspicious
"Made a deal with Keller," repeated John.
"How could you do that, Colonel? I could have internal bleeding, or some sort of infection cause you made a deal with …with…them, people!"
"Look, Keller said-"
"I don't care what she said Colonel!" Rodney shouted, taking a step forwards, so he stood very close to John. "This is my health, Colonel, not yours. You don't know what could have or is going to go wrong!"
John wasn't sure what happened next. All he knew was that he had pinned Rodney against the wall and was shouting.
"God damn it, McKay, something did go wrong! You nearly died again! I dragged you back through the gate! I watched the blood pooling on the floor!"
"Don't make this about you, Colonel."
"It's not," said John his tone dropping. "It's about you. We nearly lost you, Rodney. So I wouldn't take a chance with your health. Keller wouldn't have agreed if you weren't fit enough." By the end he was whispering.
He stood there, hands gripping Rodney's arms, his breathing heavy as he looked into the blue eyes. He couldn't say anything else as he lost himself in the intense gaze that held him in place. He started learning forwards slowly, not sure what was happening when the door banged open.
John leapt back from Rodney like he'd been electrocuted and ran a shaky hand through his hair making it stand on end slightly. He glanced at the door to see an overly happy looking Zelenka standing there, watching them.
"Ah, did I interrupt?" Zelenka asked
"No," Rodney answered hastily.
John shook his head; his ability to speak still seemed to be evading him for the time being. Glancing at Rodney he noticed that the man was rather flushed and John wasn't sure if it was a good or a bad thing. He began to think that Rodney knew what he would have done if Zelenka hadn't walked in. He hoped that Rodney wouldn't pick up on that.
"I should….remember what I said, McKay," said John shakily.
He fled the lab before Rodney could reply, hoping that Rodney would take what he had said seriously and head back to his rooms. Once John was safely behind his own door, he banged his head against the metal once. So now he definitely knew that his feelings for Rodney weren't exactly just platonic any more. God he felt like an idiot that had gotten way out of control back there that should never have happened.
John's chest felt tight as he thought of what he would have done had Zelenka not walked in. God he was seriously messed up in the head; this couldn't be happening not to him, not now.
Taking a deep breath he stepped away from the door and lay down on his bed, kicking off his boots as he did so. The day had most definitely been a weird one, as he tried to get his mind to stop going over everything. Closing his eyes, he concentrated his thoughts on the Puddlejumpers which seemed to work. His mind finally stopped racing over the 'what ifs' and maybes. Rolling on to his side, John finally managed to slip into a very light sleep.
Looking around John wasn't exactly sure where he was, but by the look of the décor he figured he was still on Atlantis, which was something. He stepped forward not sure exactly what he was meant to be doing here.
The soft peaceful voice flittered past his ears; he turned around quickly hoping to find the source of the voice, hoping to see someone standing there. So he was surprised when he saw the back of a bluish figure disappearing around a corner.
"Hey, wait a sec," called John.
He took off at a run following the bluish figure or rather trying to follow it. As he got to the corner the figure had disappeared around the corner, he felt something walk past his back and heard the same voice again.
It was frustrating as he turned around and ran back in the direction he'd just come from. As soon as he got there again, the figure was gone, like it had never been there at all.
"God damn it! Stop messing with me. Who are you?" John shouted.
But there was no answer forth coming for his questions. He ran a hand across his face. Why would someone do this to him? Who would want to do this to him? Well he knew one type of person to want him to go crazy, the Wraith, but they didn't know where Atlantis was, so there was no way they could get to him, was there? He was going to shout again when he heard the soft peaceful voice laugh, right next to his ear, and the ghost of someone breathing tickling his neck. Spinning around, his eyes widened as he saw…
Gasping John sat up in bed, his head throbbing, heart pounding and his breathing feeling laboured. His shirt was stuck to his back he was sweating in the cool air. He couldn't remember the last part of the dream, but he knew it was important, really, really important. As he tried to remember exactly what that last part had been the more the dream disappeared. It was like trying to hold water; it just trickled away everywhere.
Sighing he lay back down, that dream had been a bit more vivid than the others he'd had. He glanced at the clock that sat on his bedside table and groaned out loud as it read 1 am. It figured he would be woken early by something.
For the rest of the night, he only let himself sleep for a few minutes at a time. He knew he would regret it come morning, but he didn't want another weird dream. What ever was in the dream, John hoped to god it wasn't going to cost someone's life.
"You and McKay have a fight?" asked Ronon.
"You, McKay, fight?"
"Erm…what? No, why what's he been saying?" asked John.
"Nothing, but you're distracted." Ronon commented
John ducked as another swing came his way. He'd been sparring with Ronon for the last hour or so and this was the first time either of them had mentioned Rodney or actually even talked. Of course he was distracted; he was still berating himself for what he'd done the other day. It wasn't something he could exactly forget, especially when said scientist wasn't even speaking to him.
He wasn't paying attention again and the next blow landed to the back of John's legs, sending him to his knees. John placed both hands on the mat, cursing quietly to himself. He had never yet beaten Ronon in one of these sessions and sometimes he hated it, hated that he couldn't hold his own all the time. He was a fully trained Air Force officer, for god sakes; he should be able to do this.
"So, apologize," said Ronon, offering his hand.
John looked up at the tall Satedan, taking the offered hand as he got to his feet. Of course Ronon would suggest that; it was simple. Yet it didn't feel very simple to him.
"It's not that simple." John said.
"It is. You say sorry; McKay says sorry." Ronon replied calmly
"You've met McKay right? The same Rodney McKay that we are currently talking about right now, the one that doesn't apologize?"
"Okay he isn't even talking to me right now, so even if I wanted to, I couldn't apologize." John said feeling obligated to explain his dilemma
"Make him listen then." Ronon said, clearly in no mood to deal with John's excuses.
John was going to reply when Ronon took a swing at him, and he brought up his own stick stopping the wood from striking him. He pushed away out of the position before taking a swing of his own. John caught Ronon in the shoulder but it didn't even make the other man flinch. He went to try for another hit, but Ronon got there first and again John found himself on his knees.
"Teyla said you hadn't been practising," commented Ronon.
"Teyla says a lot of things," replied John.
"You're only saying that so you don't get in trouble with her," smirked John.
He knew there was some sort of attraction between Ronon and Teyla. He had said as much to Rodney at one point, only to get totally scoffed at and his idea dismissed.
"Sheppard, even you don't get on the wrong side of Teyla."
"Okay fair point." John replied, smiling as he relaxed a little.
Sparring relaxed him as well as leaving him battered and bruised, but it was worth it in the end. To know he had achieved something. Picking up the stick, John was about to suggest another round when he heard it, that voice again.
Dropping the baton on to the floor, he ran out of the gym, his feet carrying him to god know where. A surge of panic rose up as John realized he was doing what the strange voice had said. But it didn't seem to matter as the voice had sounded distressed, anxious, even worried. Very much the opposite of what he was use to hearing. He vaguely heard Ronon shouting after him, but he didn't stop or turn around. John knew Ronon would follow him.
He ran, his legs burning and chest heaving as he came to a stop outside one of the newly opened labs. Opening the door he stepped inside and stopped the only person in the room was Rodney. There was nothing wrong here, but the voice came back again stronger and louder this time.
"Colonel?" Rodney was oddly formal
"You have to leave," panted John.
"You have to leave," John insisted.
He was looking around the room trying to figure out what was wrong, but everything looked normal to him. But then he wasn't a scientist, so he wouldn't know if something was out of the ordinary unless it was flashing at him.
"I don't think so, Colonel," McKay said.
"McKay! You have to leave," insisted John again.
Rodney crossed his arms, "Why must I leave? This is about the other day again, isn't it? I'll have you know, Colonel, that Keller has finally given me the okay to work. So I – hey, don't touch that!" Rodney almost shouted
John had taken hold of some strange circular thing from the desk. It was a bit bigger than the average sized CD. He felt his pulse quicken as he realized this was what the voice had led him to find. It began glowing in a sequence, like it was on some sort of count down or timer. It was then the voice came back to him.
It looked like it had been active for a while and John wasn't sure he would be able to turn it off. Placing it back on the table, he turned to see Rodney and Ronon standing there watching him.
"You both need to leave, now." John was close to begging
"Not without you," McKay retorted.
"McKay!" John replied in frustration
"You can't stay here with that…that…well, what ever that is, Colonel." Rodney pointed out
"Neither can you two. Leave…" John tried to get them to understand what he was trying to do.
"Colonel." Rodney started
"That's an order!" John unconsciously used his command tone – the ones the Marines knew to obey without question
Voice stern, eyes bright he started to forcibly remove Rodney from the room. He knew Ronon wouldn't argue with a direct order. Once the door was closed, John turned back to the device. He didn't know why he had stayed behind, but he knew he had to.
If the device was what he thought it was, then half of the corridor could be taken out as well as his own life. Picking it up again, John clutched the device tightly in his hands, desperately thinking 'off' at it. When that didn't work, he squeezed his eyes shut and began mumbling the word out loud. The voice he'd been hearing all this time got louder and more persistent.
"Dangerous! Dangerous! Dangerous!"
He dropped the disk back onto the desk then, grabbing his head as he propelled himself backwards. The noise of the voice was too much; it was like nails on a chalk board only much louder. He couldn't take it; then there was pain. So much pain. All over his body, his hands fell away from his head as the disk exploded, showering him in metal shrapnel.
As John fell to the floor, he could taste the coppery tang of blood in his mouth, could feel the heat from the smouldering equipment and could feel his jacket pull as it was shredded. Then silence, nothing, he couldn't hear anything. John tried shouting out, tried to call for someone, but all he did was bring up blood. Coughing he felt pain rip across his stomach causing his head to spin.
This is not good, was the only coherent thought he could muster up at that moment. Then he heard it, footsteps, someone shouting at him and a hand was touching his arm, trying to calm him. Groaning John opened his eyes, wondering just when he closed them. He could just make out the blurry form of Rodney kneeling next to him. He smiled as he thought of Rodney being the one there to help him, to comfort him.
"I don't know what you're smiling about, Colonel. You're injured pretty badly," said Rodney worriedly.
John tried to say something, but all he could do was bring up more blood. He didn't think anyone could cough up that much blood, but he guessed he was wrong. He tried to move, to get up, but as soon as he tried, pain raced through him, white hot pain that had him crying out and nausea rolling in his stomach.
"Don't move! Did you not just hear me say you are severely injured?" Rodney commanded
"R-Ronon?" John asked weakly.
"Gone to get Keller; he forgot his radio when he chased after you. How did you know?" Rodney asked
"You're on Atlantis, yes." Rodney prompted, attempting to be reassuring.
"'Rry 'Kay," slurred John.
He felt his eyes drift close. The blackness seemed like a very welcoming thing at the moment and he was tempted to let himself fall into it. A scared shout from McKay had John opening his eyes again. He could see the fright literally rolling off the scientist in waves and realized he couldn't fall asleep, couldn't fall into the blackness that threatened to consume him. Reaching out, John gripped Rodney's hand in his own, hoping it would keep him grounded and give him something to focus on.
"You can't go to sleep, Colonel, not until Keller gets here, alright?" Rodney said softly
"O-kay," whispered John.
Another cough washed over him and he lost even more blood. John moaned again. God, he wanted drugs; he didn't care what as long as he could get something inside him to take the agonizing pain away.
"'urts," John whimpered.
"Well, it's going to when you put yourself right in the path of an explosion. I mean, do you have any idea how idiotic that was? You're lucky that thing didn't take out the whole room, otherwise you'd be dead instead of…" Rodney immediately shut up, as he realized what he was about to say. "How did you know to come here, Colonel?"
"'Lantis," mumbled John.
Even though he was already answering the questions truthfully, he knew that his answers wouldn't make much sense to Rodney. It was hard to think and too painful to try to talk more than the odd one or two words here and there.
"Yes, you're on Atlantis, Colonel," repeated Rodney. "Why did you do it? Why stay behind?"
"Dunno," answered John, his voice sounding hoarse now.
He gave a squeeze to the hand he was holding, hoping it would answer one of Rodney's questions. He smiled painfully as Rodney understood his meaning; John had done it to keep him safe. Of course, it had nearly cost him his own life, but Rodney was safe and that was all that really mattered. He shifted very slightly testing his body. If he moved too much, it hurt like hell. If he moved very, very slowly, it hurt, but not as much. John figured that he had broken a couple of bones easily.
"Don't move, Colonel," said Rodney.
There was a moment of silence as he felt a hand probing his side before Rodney's voice drifted to him, "Oh god."
He looked at Rodney, trying to catch the man's eyes. John knew what ever had made Rodney pale that much could mean only one thing, he was in a bad way, a very bad way.
John tried to move to see what had scared Rodney, but a hand stopped him. He stared at Rodney as he finally looked back at him and showed John his left hand; it was covered in blood. He felt sick again and the pain in his stomach seemed to return twice as bad.
"Look, something has gone right through you. You have to stay still, Colonel," said Rodney, an edge of panic in his voice.
"I don't know; I can't see it. Just stay still, Keller will be here soon."
Nodding John tried to relax, but now he that knew he was losing a lot of blood, he started panicking slightly. He let go of Rodney's hand and tried reaching down trying to feel, exactly what had happened, but he ended up causing himself more pain. Groaning he stopped moving.
"Colonel, stop moving," repeated Rodney for the fifth time. "The more you move the more you bleed,"
"Need…pressure…" John said, doing some sort of half gesturing to the wound.
John saw Rodney pale, but the scientist obliged and pressed on the wound making him let out a strangled yell, the pain was unbearable now and he felt his eyes water. God why had he listened to that voice? Why had he stayed in the room? Why? Why? Why?
He vaguely heard Rodney talking to him, probably trying to give him reassurances, but it all seemed a bit fuzzy now. Then suddenly there was another pair of hands on him. He had to blink a couple of times to get his eyes to focus, but when they did, he saw Keller there. John saw her lips move, but his head hurt too much to actually process the words. Finally he closed his eyes; he knew that Keller was there and she would do her best to keep him alive. So for now, he could rest. He let himself drift off into the welcoming embrace of the blackness, everything was forgotten now, and nothing hurt.
He was standing on the pier looking out over the sea, it was calm. No people rushing around, no one shouting, it was peaceful. John took a deep breath taking in the cool sea air before exhaling it. God, he loved Atlantis. Sure it was in a different galaxy, and there were bad guys he had to fight, but he came home to this and it just made everything all the more right. He had never had a place that he felt this comfortable back on Earth. Nowhere had ever felt like home, until he had come here. Atlantis was his home now.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" asked a soft peaceful voice. "I love it here. For that, I thank you."
Turning around quickly, John saw a young bluish-white woman in a long silken dress standing there, smiling at him. He frowned at her, he was sure he knew her from somewhere. It felt like he had known her for a long time. Kind of like someone you would meet in the street, you know their face, but you couldn't quite remember their name.
"Of course, you know me, John Sheppard," giggled the woman.
"Who? What?" he asked baffled.
"I'm Atlantis, or rather I'm a programme designed to help my people with the connection to their city,"
"Atlantis, you're telling me you're Atlantis? As in the city I live in Atlantis, built and then abandoned by the Ancients, that Atlantis?" John asked, starting to feel a little confused.
"In a manner of speaking."
"Oh god, I really have lost it," John moaned.
Running a hand through his hair, he laughed a little hysterically, he had finally lost the plot, gone crazy, what ever else they called it, he'd lost it. That explosion had finally tipped him over the edge.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked.
"It is time," the woman said.
"Time? Time for what?"
"The city has been watching you all, ever since you arrived, keeping people safe, and advancing the connection. It wasn't until you landed the city here that the city decided it was time." she elaborated.
"For you to take your rightful place as the main connection to the city."
"Wait, what?" asked John.
That was the last thing he had expected to hear from the rather transparent woman in front of him.
"Before my people left for the last time, we had one person called 'The Connector'. The Connector would mentally look after the city. The city has been reaching out to you, John Sheppard. You are more special than you know."
"Because of the gene?"
"I do not understand-- gene?" she looked puzzled
"The ATA gene, the thing that lets me use all the Ancient stuff, that gene!" John elaborated.
"Yes, you are to become the Main Connector. You have more of my people's blood in you than you know." she said serenely.
"No! I'm not…I won't do it!" John tried not to shout at her
John started pacing up and down, every so often dragging a hand through his hair. He thought that his life couldn't get much weirder, but he had just been proven wrong yet again. Suddenly he stopped pacing and turned to look at the young woman. His face settled into a stony mask as something occurred to him.
"Did you set me up to get me to the lab earlier? Did you do that?" John demanded.
"The city knew you were not accepting the connection, it took-"
"Did you or did you not set me up?" John asked firmly, growing more agitated with the woman.
"It secured our way to talk to you, to explain things you needed to know," the woman replied soothingly.
"So not only are the Wraith after us, I now have a murderous city to contend with. Great!" John muttered.
"No, she would not kill you, John Sheppard. This had to happen. We had to explain things; the more you fought us the more it hurt," the woman explained.
"This is just great."
He watched as the woman tried to take a step towards him, but he stepped away. Her presence may not have made his skin crawl but he still didn't completely trust her. Besides he didn't know what would happen if she touched him, and he wasn't willing to take that risk.
"Please understand why we did this, John Sheppard," said the young woman glancing over her shoulder. "I have to go now. Don't fight us any more, please."
"Go where?" he questioned
"You'll be fine," she soothed.
"Wait, where are you going?" John cried.
"Goodbye, John Sheppard."
"Wait!" John shouted after her
John watched as she disappeared and knew no amount of shouting would bring her back any time soon. He was left standing alone on the pier, the silence starting to make his ears ring a little bit. He sat down, a feeling of tiredness washed over him now that the woman had left. Closing his eyes, John let himself fall into the blackness that was waiting for him.
Waking was a painful process, everything seemed extra heavy and his head felt like it had been stuffed with cotton wool making everything kind of fuzzy. He could hear someone speaking off in the distance, it sounded muffled and he had trouble trying to focus in on it. Slowly he opened his eyes, it was dark in the infirmary and John knew, just knew he had slept through at least one day if not more.
Carefully he started trying to move. His hands moved easily, but they were sore. His arms felt heavy, but it didn't feel like he had any broken bones there. Next were his legs, his right leg moved fine, but again he felt a little sore around his knee. His left leg however, he couldn't move. Moving his head to the side so he could see, John saw his leg in a bright white plaster.
One broken bone, he closed his eyes. That was going to put him out of commission for weeks, easily. John must have dozed off for a few minutes, for the next thing he knew he heard someone moving around at his side. Opening his eyes, he saw Keller changing one of the IV bags that was feeding him what he assumed were the good painkillers, despite the heaviness he was feeling no pain, into his system.
Opening his mouth, John went to speak, but all that ended up coming out was a half sort of croak, although it did get Keller's attention.
"Welcome back, Colonel, don't try to speak just yet. You've made your throat sore from all the blood you coughed up," explained Keller.
He had so many questions that he wanted answering, like how long had he been out? Had anyone else gotten hurt? What had exactly happened to him? So many questions going around his head that he felt a wave of dizziness sweep over him. Closing his eyes again, he tried to get his head to stop spinning, but he ended up making it worse. John clutched at the bed sheets and heard Keller saying something to him before he passed out, the blackness consuming him once more.
"How long was he awake for?"
"Not very long, I don't expect him to wake properly for another day yet." Keller explained softly
The voices were so near, but John couldn't seem to open his eyes. They felt like they weighed several tons, so he had to settle for keeping them closed. Nor could he make any noise, his throat hurting him too much, so he ended up just listening to what they had to say in the end.
"If he ever does," John identified Rodney's voice.
"He will he's a fighter," and that's Keller reassuring him.
"You didn't see him, all the blood he had lost. Oh god…" Rodney fretted
"Hey, he'll get through this, McKay, but getting worked up won't help him. Come on let's get you something to eat." Ronon said gruffly.
John heard the voices drift away as they left. He slowly let himself be dragged back down to the ever comforting sleep. Whatever pain killers Keller had given him were pretty damn good, John thought, smiling as he finally fell back to sleep.
The next time he woke, it was bright in the infirmary and there seemed to be a lot of people bustling about. John watched the staff for a bit. It was strange none of them were taking any notice of him. Turning his head to the side, he smiled as he saw Rodney sitting there head buried in a lap top, tapping away intensely. Reaching out slowly, being careful not to pull out any of the needles from the back of his hand, he touched Rodney's arm. The material of the jacket felt soft to his sore fingers.
It worked. Rodney looked up, ready to shout at who ever had disturbed him, before realizing John was awake.
"Colonel!" said Rodney, relieved.
"Hey, Rodney," croaked John his voice feeling as raw as it sounding. "How long have I been out?"
"Two days. Do you have any idea how worried the others have been?" Rodney replied
"Just the others?" John teased.
God, it felt good to be teasing Rodney, especially considering they hadn't talked to one another in what felt like an age.
"Well, that is…of course, I was…I mean…" Rodney stammered.
"Rodney," John said, gripping his arm again. "I get it."
John started coughing then, long and hard, a pain running across his stomach as he tried to draw in a breath. He tried to curl up but couldn't seem to move. Finally the coughing subsided and John took some shaky breaths, okay, that hurt.
"I should get Keller; she will want to make sure you're okay," Rodney fussed.
Nodding, John let go of Rodney's arm and watched as the scientist disappeared from view. He waited for what felt like half an hour before Rodney reappeared with Keller in tow.
"Hey there, Colonel, how are you feeling?" Keller asked cheerily, as she began to check John's condition.
"Like I was in an explosion," answered John, letting out a hiss of pain.
He knew most of the tests she did were necessary, but that didn't mean he liked them, especially when they ended up causing him pain and making him want to curl up into a ball.
"You are very lucky to be alive, Colonel. A piece of shattered disk ended up slicing right through your stomach, only just missing anything major. This could have been a lot worse," Keller told him.
"I did wonder about the slight stomach ache," John joked feebly.
"Stomach ache! Colonel, you nearly died, and you're joking around!" exclaimed Rodney, a slight note of hysteria in his voice.
John glanced at Rodney then, surprised to see the look of worry on his face. Now that he thought about it and took a moment to really look at Rodney, John realized he had truly scared the other man. Rodney looked like he hadn't been sleeping well or eating properly for days.
"Sorry," whispered John, contrite
He knew that this wasn't really the time to reach out and really touch Rodney, no matter how much he wanted to.
"You should be, Colonel, you really should be," Rodney scolded.
"McKay!" said Keller disapprovingly.
"Leave it, it's fine," replied John, helplessly
He watched as Rodney stood staring at him for a moment before collecting his stuff and leaving. John understood why Rodney was angry at him; he had been the same when Rodney had gotten injured. Hell, he had pinned Rodney against the wall and shouted at him. Looking up at Keller, he saw her give him a sympathetic smile and offered her a small shrug. He didn't feel like explaining what had just happened.
He let Keller finish checking him over without saying anything. His mind was still caught up in Rodney and Rodney's actions at that moment. A touch to his shoulder had him looking at Keller again though.
"He'll come around, Colonel. He cares a lot for you, and you nearly died," she counselled.
"What do you mean?" John had to ask
"I mean he's scared, he's close to you, and like I said, he nearly lost you," Keller replied.
"So he has to shout at me?" asked John eyebrows rising.
"He reacted the only way he knows how," shrugged Keller. "Do you want me to get someone to talk to him?"
"No, he'll be fine," replied John before changing the subject. "So, Doc, how long till I get outta here?"
Keller smiled, "Not for a while yet Colonel. You've got some serious recuperating to do first."
Sighing he leaned his head back on the pillows and stared at the ceiling as he listened to Keller run through the list of his injuries. Broken leg, sliced stomach, various cuts and bruises and one roughed up throat. John nodded his head in what he hoped were all the right places and then he was left on his own with nothing but his own thoughts. Not even the smiles of the nurses could distract him at that moment.
John felt lonely; he actually wanted Rodney to be here to keep him company, but the scientist was having issues, issues that revolved around him. God, it was going to be a long road to recovery.
He was bored, okay, he was more than bored, but that was still classified as being bored. John was now allowed to move around a little and walk around a bit, but he was still restricted to staying in the infirmary. Keller told him that he wouldn't be discharged for a while yet.
Of course, he'd had his visitors - Ronon, Teyla, Lorne, and even Carter had come to see him. Rodney hadn't been back, but he put on an understanding, face pretending that he understood why Rodney wasn't there and had let the others do the talking. He didn't bother asking about Rodney's absence either; John knew he would come around when he was good and ready. Forcing the matter would just push Rodney further away.
Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against the pillows. John had done a lot of sleeping over the last couple of days, more than he had since the siege a few years back. A soft peaceful laugh had him opening his eyes suddenly No, no, no. John didn't want this to happen, not now, not again. He had gone several days without thinking of that dream. He'd even gone so far as to tell himself that it had been a strange reaction to the drugs he had been given.
But it seemed he was mistaken as he turned his head to either side but didn't see anyone there. Shakily, he tried to relax again, telling himself he had miss-heard, but the laugh came again this time a little louder.
"What do you want?" hissed John quietly, lips barely moving.
The last thing he needed was everyone thinking he was crazy by talking to himself.
"Nothing, just a reminder." the voice said
"What?" John demanded
"The Connection is strong. Do not fight it."
Then the voice left, just as quickly as it had appeared, leaving John feeling more than faintly uneasy. He was breathing heavily, and his hands were sweating so much he had to wipe them on the sheets. John could feel his stitches pulling tightly with each breath. He ran a hand through his hair, frustrated that he had no idea what was happening to him. The not knowing was almost as torturous as the explosion had been.
A hand on his shoulder startled him, and he turned to the right to find Teyla watching him worriedly.
"Teyla," he breathed out.
The presence of Teyla seemed to calm him down, stopping him from getting lost in his own panic.
"Colonel, how are you feeling?" her soft voice asked
"Good, good, how long were you standing there?" John asked nervously.
"A few moments," answered Teyla frowning. "Is everything alright, Colonel?"
"Fine, its just fine." he answered, hoping she wouldn't press for more
He let Teyla talk at him for a while, making sure he answered and nodded in all the right places, but John wasn't listening, not really. Leaning his head back, he took a moment to concentrate on the connection he had with Atlantis. There was the usual hum there, the acceptance, but there was something else there -- something stronger underlying the hum. John pulled himself from the connection and was confused when he found Keller at his side as well as Teyla now.
"What?" he asked.
"You were unresponsive for several minutes, Colonel," Keller said as she checked his vitals.
"No, I wasn't." John protested automatically
He couldn't have been, could he? No, it was impossible. He didn't become unresponsive when connected to Atlantis. It just didn't happen.
"I assure you, Colonel, you were," said Teyla.
"Look, I'm just bored. I apologize, Teyla, if I seemed to zone out on you. I didn't mean to worry you." John said, fumbling for an excuse for his behaviour.
He watched as the two women shared a look. He knew what they would be thinking, and he knew that they'd be wrong. He wasn't stressed out or having any bizarre reactions to the drugs. He also knew that if he tried to explain that, they would send him for a full psyche evaluation in a heartbeat.
"If you're sure that all it was?" asked Keller concerned.
"I'm sure," John answered firmly.
"Okay then, call me if you need me." Keller answered, reluctance clear in her voice
Then she was gone, leaving him alone with Teyla. John tried to give her his best winning smile, but it didn't seem to be working.
Pushing himself upright, John said, "Look, I know what you're thinking, and you're wrong."
"Colonel…John, I know that you did not just 'zone' out," replied Teyla. "I am just trying to help. Tell me what's wrong."
"Like I said, I'm fine, Teyla. I really am." John repeated steadily
He knew it wasn't true. He could feel it wasn't true, but he didn't want to share that with Teyla. He wanted to…No, not going there. He wasn't going to think about wanting to talk to Rodney, not at all. He didn't need to talk to the scientist, he didn't need to see him, he didn't…oh who the hell was he kidding?
John missed Rodney a lot more than he had bargained for. It was like feeling homesick in a way. No matter how much you wanted to go home, there was something blocking your way. Taking a deep breath John tried pushing the feeling away; he didn't need to be feeling these things.
"John?" asked Teyla.
"Sorry, Teyla, I was just thinking." John answered
"Of Doctor, McKay?"
"What?" John was startled.
"It is very clear to all of us," whispered Teyla smiling.
"It is?" John asked nervously.
He wondered when the room had had suddenly gotten so hot or when had Teyla figured it out. Whatever it was? John wasn't at the stage where he was willing to admit what the 'it' was to himself.
Leaning closer, Teyla replied, "You miss your friend."
"Friend?" John said faintly
"Rodney is your friend, is he not?" Teyla asked
"Of course," John sighed. "How did you know?"
Oh god, he really had thought Teyla meant something completely different. He felt stupid for jumping to conclusions like that; it wasn't good for him.
"As I said, it is very clear to those who know you," answered Teyla.
"Right, of course, it is," replied John before lowering his own voice. "How is he?"
It was the first time since Rodney had walked away that he had consciously asked that question. Actually it was the first time he had let anyone know he missed Rodney. John also knew that if it had been anyone other than Teyla, he would have denied it, made a joke of it.
"He is working." she informed him
"Working?" Now John was confused
John knew then something wasn't quite right. The way Teyla had said 'working' made him edgy. There were two types of Rodney McKay working that he was aware of, one was working like a semi-normal person and the second was not one he liked to think of often. The second mainly involved Rodney, power bars, coffee, and no sleep, in that order.
"He has been trying to work out the Ancient device that exploded." Teyla elaborated
"Let me guess, he hasn't let anyone help him or gotten any sleep?" John guessed.
Teyla's silence confirmed his suspicions that Rodney had not been taking care of himself at all. God, that man drove him crazy. John pulled the bed covers off himself (thankful that the staff had given him a pyjama set) and started to get up. He was going to talk some sense into Rodney whether he liked it or not.
"Colonel, what are you doing?" A hand gripped his shoulder, stopping him from moving. He had forgotten that, although small in height, Teyla could easily stop him if she wished to, even when he was healthy.
"There's something I have to do," John gritted out.
"Doctor, Keller said you could not leave the infirmary yet." Teyla was firm
"Teyla, I'm fine. I can get up and walk around." he protested
"Yes, I understand that, Colonel, but you cannot go and speak with Rodney," Teyla insisted.
That made him stop trying to get out of bed, and he stared at Teyla. How the hell did she know? Was the one thought running through his head. Her hand finally dropped away from his shoulder, but he didn't make any further attempts to get out of bed.
"I didn't say anything about going to see McKay." John tried to bluff
"You only tried to leave after I had told you about Rodney. It was an easy assumption to make, Colonel," Teyla replied calmly.
Okay, so maybe Teyla did read him better than he thought. Again it shouldn't really have surprised him.
"Look, Teyla, I appreciate the concern, but Rodney-" John started
"Is not your responsibility," interrupted Teyla.
"He is a member of my team, Teyla," John argued.
"Ronon and I will talk with Rodney," Teyla assured him.
"No, I'll go and-"
"He is not solely your responsibility. We are his teammates as well, John."
"Teyla," the warning tone clear in his voice.
Again she repeated, "He is not just your responsibility."
"Yes, he is!" John snapped.
The silence that followed made him realize that he had maybe said too much, especially when Teyla gave him that smile. The smile that let him know that she had figured something out, was okay with it and would wait for him to confirm her suspicions.
"Look, I didn't mean-" John tried to back down
"It is alright, John. I understand, Rodney is a…close friend. I understand."
"A friend, yes, definitely a friend," John stuttered
"Then I understand the responsibility you feel towards him." Teyla said with a small smile
John cringed slightly at that. Teyla's words sounded cheesy, even to him. He really hated the drugs the infirmary gave him and how they made him talk too much. He moved again, this time so he was reclining against the pillows, holding his stomach as he did so.
Teyla didn't stay much longer after that and then John was left on his own again. Left with his own thoughts, that feeling of loneliness crept over him again. He didn't really even acknowledge Keller as she came and took his blood pressure; soon after he was drifting off into a light sleep his conversation with Teyla forgotten for now.
Pinning Rodney up against the wall, John growled low in the back of his throat before kissing him harshly. Hands started trailing down Rodney's arms before gliding back up again, intent on trying to pull his t-shirt off.
Pulling away from the kiss, he heard Rodney moan and he couldn't resist kissing him again. This time a bit slower, hands giving up on trying to get the t-shirt off. They travelled further down coming to a stop at the clasp of Rodney's trousers.
"Colonel," whispered Rodney.
But he didn't stop, lost in a haze of wanton lust, but the voice came again this time louder. It started being repeated over and over again.
"John, John, John."
Waking with a start, he saw Keller standing over him looking worried. Reaching up he ran a hand across his face, really, really hoping he hadn't said anything out loud.
"You were trying to roll over, and I was afraid you'd tear your stitches. You were…erm…well, you were moaning pretty loudly," said Keller, blushing.
"Nightmare," answered John hastily.
The look on Keller's face told him she didn't believe that, but he wasn't going to say anything else. Anything he said was pretty sure to land himself in trouble and embarrass both of them.
"Right, of course. I'll just…leave…sorry to have woken you, Colonel." Keller stumbled over the words.
"Don't worry." John tried to be reassuring.
He watched as Keller left quickly. He knew what she was thinking, but he also knew that she wouldn't say anything to anyone about it. He knew she was naïve to the ways of Pegasus, but she could keep a secret, that much he was certain.
Sighing, John closed his eyes again, trying to recapture the dream from earlier, but it was like trying to hold water. The more he tried to think about it, the more it disappeared. In the end he settled for not knowing; he could think about it when he woke the next time. If he even remembered, that was.
"You have to take it easy." Keller repeated for the fifth time.
"I know, Doc, I promise I won't do anything." John swore.
He was supposed to be getting discharged from the infirmary, but if Keller kept repeating herself, he would no doubt end up there for another night. The Ancient devices Carson had found in the infirmary had been used to heal the break in his leg and now it was just very badly bruised and wrapped in a heavy bandage as the bones finished knitting together. His stomach was still stitched up, but Keller had told John the stitches would come out soon, if he behaved himself and did as he was told. Not that any of this bothered him too much all he cared about at that moment was getting back to his quarters.
"Good, now the stitches…" Keller started
"Doc, I know. You've told me already," John replied smiling.
"Right, of course. Then, Colonel, you are free to leave." she announced
"Thanks, Doc." he gave her an informal salute
Carefully John got to his feet, grabbing the crutch he'd been given for his leg and headed out of the infirmary. His joy at being released was short lived as the stitches in his stomach meant he couldn't stand up straight and they pulled every time he moved. Half way back to his quarters, John had to stop, placing a hand on the wall to steady himself.
After making several such stops along the way, mostly to rest but sometimes to talk to passersby inquiring after his health, he finally reached his quarters.
Stepping inside, John let out a smile. He was happy to be back somewhere other than the infirmary again. As the door slid shut behind him, he limped over to his bed. Who knew that walking could tire him out so much? Leaning back he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
John was bored, so bored he was actually contemplating doing some of the paper work on his desk. Sighing he leaned back in his chair, the stitches in his stomach had finally been taken out. Which meant it was one hell of a lot easier to move around and it would be made all the better once his leg was fully healed.
So he had hobbled his way down to his small office and looked through most of the paper work detailing what had happened in the last few weeks with his men. Letting out another sigh, John pushed some of the papers to the side when he came across a report that had a familiar scrawl on it. Curiously he picked it up, wondering why Rodney had left him a report.
After reading it over, John realized Rodney had taken another look over the pieces of the disk that had exploded. Frustrated he slammed the paper down before running a hand through his hair. Rodney never knew when to leave things alone. John knew he had scared Rodney with the almost dying, but surely that would have deterred him from examining the disk, not encouraged him. John shouldn't have been surprised that Rodney would want to go near the fragments again, especially after what had happened.
The voice startled him slightly. Looking up, John smiled when he saw Teyla standing in the door way. He hadn't even notice her presence he was so lost in his frustration at Rodney.
"Teyla, how are you?" he asked, pleased for the distraction. John didn't want to be angry at Rodney.
"I am well, and yourself, Colonel?" she inquired
"Good," he replied shifting in his seat slightly. "Stiff from sitting for so long though."
"Then, it is good I arrived," answered Teyla smiling.
"I don't follow?" John said.
"It seemed to me that you need some company and as it is now lunch time, would you care to join me for something to eat?" she asked politely. In such a way that he knew he couldn't refuse without raising suspicions.
Oh, now he knew that Keller had mentioned something about his non-existent eating to his team. The first few weeks of his recovery had been pretty rough and he really hadn't felt like eating much and half of what he did eat he only brought back up. So John had slowly sort of stopped eating. Oh, he ate, just not as much as he should have.
"Keller sent you here, didn't she?" John asked warily.
"No, I have not spoken with Doctor Keller today." Teyla smiled serenely
John just gave Teyla a disbelieving look. He knew how persistent Keller had been about his health recently. Hell, at one point she had somehow managed to rope in Ronon into help out. Sighing he figured he wasn't going to be able to talk himself out of this one, especially if Teyla was working with Keller to get him to eat more food. Pushing back from the desk, he stood up, hiding a wince as he stretched and put weight on his bruised leg. He really shouldn't have sat still for so long.
"Right, lead the way." He gave in as graciously as he could
John followed Teyla through the maze of Atlantis corridors, neither of them saying anything. Not that John minded he enjoyed spending quiet time with Teyla. It made a nice change from listening to Rodney's insistent rambling. The thought of Rodney reminded him of what he had found on his desk before Teyla had turned up.
Frowning, he asked, "Teyla, if I ask you something, would you answer truthfully?"
"Colonel….John, I will answer anything you ask of me, if I am able to" she hesitated
"That disk that exploded. Why did McKay look over it again?"
"Dr. McKay was very upset over what happened to you. He thought…" she started
"Teyla," John interrupted.
"Colonel, he has been trying to figure out why it exploded. He was very…" she tried again
Stopping, he grabbed her arm, turning her towards him. That's when he saw something in her eyes. Rodney had said something to Teyla, something that he knew Teyla could not tell John without breaking Rodney's trust. Rodney's trust was important to him, as well. John didn't have any right, any right at all, to ask Teyla to break it. Letting go of her arm, he stepped back and gave a slight nod to let her know that he understood.
"I am sorry, Colonel." she apologized
"Don't be, I shouldn't have asked," he replied. "Come on."
He started walking again, this time giving Teyla one of his usual bright smiles. He fell silent again as they continued the rest of their walk.
"What?" he asked loudly, turning to look at Teyla.
"I did not say anything, Colonel," Teyla replied.
"You didn't just say my name?" he asked
"You sure?" John asked again.
"I am positive. Are you sure you are feeling well?" Teyla questioned
John stared at her for a moment. He couldn't believe this was happening yet again. It- whatever it was- hadn't happened for a while and it picked now to reappear. God, he really needed to figure out exactly what was happening with his head.
"Actually, I think I'll pass on the whole 'going to the mess' thing." John said, trying to sound casual.
"Colonel?" asked Teyla concerned.
"I'm sorry, Teyla." he shook his head
Turning to leave, he heard Teyla call his name twice more but as he made his way quickly down the corridor, he didn't hear her any more. John was too focused on trying to figure out whom to go to. Either he was going to go to Heightmeyer and get himself sent back to Earth for being insane, or he was going to see a certain scientist.
A certain scientist that may be able to figure out what the hell was happening with his gene. John wished Carson was still around. He'd known more about how the gene had worked than anyone else. John took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart. It was only as he slowed down that he realized just how fast he had been going.
His leg was hurting him a lot now, enough to make him grip just above the wound on his leg and lean against the wall. As he leaned, he felt the connection spark to life. The moment his hand touched the cool wall, a stream of information started filling his head. It was like taking one look at a book and just knowing what happened next. Snatching his hand away broke the connection, and John took a moment to catch his breath.
Stepping away from the wall, wincing as he did so, John looked at what he'd pressed. It was a small information point like the maps in the transporters, but these were for the corridors. Of course, only a few people with the gene could activate the corridor points, but something like that had never happened to him before. If Ancient technology was starting to go crazy around him, then he really needed to find out why! He couldn't afford for the systems to go haywire around him since it could easily cost someone his or her life.
Of course the one person that could possibly figure out the 'why' had probably locked himself away in one of the labs. But this has got to stop, John thought tiredly. So with his leg hurting, head aching and worry levels through the roof, he started towards the main science lab.
Choosing to ignore the voice that kept calling him, he carried on walking. What was beginning to worry John the most was that no one else could hear this voice at all, only him. Maybe it was something left over from the whole 'Bug' incident, but that wouldn't explain the stronger connection to Atlantis. Plus it had been over two years ago that had happened. John hoped that if he ignored it then it would take the hint and leave him alone.
Turning right at one of the junctions, he continued walking for a short while before the lights started flickering slightly. Paying it no heed – the lights were always flickering for one reason or another – John took another few steps when the lights went completely out, plunging the corridor into darkness. Although it was day time, this section of corridor he'd walked down didn't have any windows, so there was no natural light getting in.
"You're ignoring us, John Sheppard," came the whispered voice.
It wasn't the usual soft, calm, peaceful voice John was use to hearing. It was an impatient, irritated voice. A voice, which if he wasn't a fully trained officer, might have just have intimidated him.
"Then take the hint," he replied.
He couldn't see anything. The corridor was pitch black, and all he could hear was the voice ringing in his ears like an echo. John wasn't even sure if anyone else walking by would be able to hear him talking to himself.
"You cannot just ignore this, John Sheppard. This is who you are."
"No, who I am is a damn good pilot that got tagged for this mission because of some stupid gene! That's who I am!" John shouted at the voice.
"You are much more than that. You are the Main…"
"Do. Not. Say. It!"
This is beginning to get irritating, he thought as he grit his teeth. John didn't want to be Atlantis' anything; he wanted to be himself. Himself with the odd quirk of being able to work high level math in his head and being able to astound Rodney from time to time. He just wanted to be Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, fly boy extraordinaire. Nothing else.
"You cannot deny what you are to become,"the voice insisted.
"Oh yeah, just watch me!"
"Why do you insist on ignoring us?"
"Why are you so persistent?" John countered.
"We have already explained this to you multiple times,"the voice said.
"And I've already replied multiple times!" John yelled at the empty air.
His frustration grew to a point that he didn't care that he couldn't see two steps in front of him. John started walking down the corridor.
"You need to face this, John Sheppard; you cannot walk away from it,"the voice continued to claim.
John didn't bother answering. He knew the corridors in Atlantis were pretty much straight lines. So he figured he'd keep walking, well hobbling as the case maybe, until he came across a lit corridor. He had been walking for a few minutes when he felt something pass behind him. John stopped in his tracks, he knew that feeling, and he waited quietly for the inevitable to happen again.
"Have we not explained things well enough to you?"the voice queried.
Now John recognized the voice - it was the soft, peaceful voice of the bluish figure from his dreams. Obviously they were trying a different approach since the whole 'intimidation' thing didn't work. John didn't answer, clenching his hands into fists. He took a deep breath, this wasn't meant to be happening to him. Closing his eyes, he tried to will himself anywhere other than the corridor.
"John Sheppard," whispered the voice.
He shivered as he felt something pass across the top of his shoulder, like someone was putting a hand there. Trying to comfort him, no doubt, but it didn't help. The touch just felt cold, empty.
Lowering his head he whispered, "Why me?"
"As I have explained,"said the voice,"it is your connection, the strongest connection since the others have left. Atlantis needs that."
"If I accept, agree to this, what happens to me?" John asked reluctantly.
"You connect to Atlantis; it was always a great honor to do so."replied the voice.
That's what I'm afraid of, he thought despondently. John figured that somewhere along the way there would be some sort of consequence to connecting himself to the city.
"I…I have to think about it." John tried to stall for time
"There is no thinking about this,"the voice insisted."You have to decide."
"Well, you're gonna have to wait," he replied shortly. "Give me another day, another twenty eight hours."
He knew Atlantis was thinking over what he had offered, he could almost feel it working it out.
"Very well, John Sheppard, but you have to make a decision when we next speak."
Before he could speak, John found the corridor all lit up again. He had to blink a couple of times to adjust to the brightness. Once he had done so, he realized two things. One, the corridor was still empty, no one was around which made him sigh in relief. Two, he was leaning against the wall across from Rodney's lab. Mustering up his courage and fully expecting to be told he was crazy, John took a step towards the lab…
"Are you telling me that Atlantis is sentient?" Rodney demanded
"Yes," John replied, sighing
"You're kidding right, I mean this is some elaborate joke that you've cooked up just to see how far you can push the scientist into believing you. I don't think so, Colonel." Rodney started to turn away.
"McKay!" John protested
"No, sorry, Colonel, but I have proper work to do," Rodney said dismissively.
John sighed. He didn't have the fight in him at the moment to argue with Rodney, not when he had already explained it to him several times.
"Why did you do it?" Rodney asked suddenly.
"Do what?" John was puzzled. What was Rodney talking about?
"Put yourself in the way of the blast?" Rodney elaborated
John looked up. He hadn't been expecting that question, but Rodney was refusing to turn around to meet his eyes. He had to think about that for a moment, why had he done it? At the time John had just been following what the voice in his head was telling him to do. But that hadn't meant that he had to stay behind. He could have gotten out if he had wanted to, so why didn't he?
"I did it because I'm your CO. It's kinda in the job description," he gave the standard reply.
But it seemed that Rodney wasn't buying that bullshit today, and John saw him tense before turning around. The emotion on Rodney's face surprised him so much that he ended up taking a step away from him.
"Don't," Rodney growled.
"What?" John asked, playing the confused card.
"I'm a genius, remember? I can figure things out, so do not give me that usual military spiel. Why did you do it?" Rodney demanded
Oh yeah, John had forgotten that, after all the time he'd spent with Rodney, the man could read him like a book. No matter the mask he wore, Rodney could and always would be able to see through it.
"I…I don't know." John stuttered.
"What do you mean 'you don't know'? You must have some idea why you did it," Rodney was aghast.
"I don't." John repeated.
He really didn't want to get into an argument with Rodney. John knew that if he did, he wouldn't win.
"Come on, Colonel. Come on Colonel. You can do better than that!" retorted Rodney shortly.
"You want to know?" he asked losing his patience.
"It was Atlantis! I had a little voice in my head, McKay, telling me you were about to be in an explosion," started John his voice rising. "Do you get that? I had Atlantis, city of the Ancients, talking in my head! Some little voice making me do stuff. Wanting to make me into this important Connection or something. Do you get that, McKay? I don't know why I stayed, I really don't, but I did, so deal with it!"
John's chest was heaving by the end of that. He hadn't realized just how much his frustration had built up over the last few days. He was grateful that Rodney was alone in the lab. John didn't want to think what he would have said if anyone else had been around.
"That's why," John whispered.
Running a hand through his hair, he blew out a sigh. John couldn't believe he'd gone off on Rodney again. At least this time he hadn't pinned him up against the nearest wall. John wasn't sure how long he had been standing there when he realized Rodney hadn't said a word. He took a moment to look him over realizing that Rodney was staring at him, mouth slightly gaping. The usual Rodney McKay surprised look.
Great. He really was going to be called crazy now, no doubt Rodney would run off to Colonel Carter and he'd be shipped back to Earth the next time the Daedalus arrived. Hmmm…he wondered how he would react that far from Atlantis, permanently. Actually the mere thought made his stomach roll, he didn't want to have to leave Atlantis.
"Look, I should just go. Forget I ever said anything, okay?" John offered into the silence
Turning away, he started for the door half hoping that Rodney would call him back, stop him. But all that met him was silence. John closed his eyes for a moment, wishing that Rodney would say something, anything. Reaching the door he glanced over his shoulder and couldn't help the grim smile, Rodney was furiously working on a nearby laptop.
John figured Rodney was engrossed enough in his work that he wouldn't even notice when John left. Quietly he slipped out of the lab, slowly making his way back to his quarters. Maybe he should have accepted the Connection earlier, it would have saved some hassle and the whole getting 'blown up' thing.
"You could always accept it now," the voice slipped in.
Groaning, he shook his head. John didn't need Atlantis trying to persuade him to do anything. He had twenty eight hours, and he was going to use them.
"Just…go away," he said.
Turning around he was surprised to see Rodney standing there, tablet in his arms wearing his usual 'I've figured it all out' face.
"McKay?" he asked. John wasn't quite sure why the man was there. Shouldn't he be reporting to Colonel Carter right now?
"You left," Rodney protested.
"Yes, you started working," John replied slowly.
Sighing, Rodney rolled his eyes, "You military grunts are all the same, no patience. I was trying to find something to do with what you told me."
"I don't follow, McKay." Damn Rodney for confusing him like this
God, he was really off his game if he had lost the thread of the conversation so quickly. John couldn't wait till he was cleared for duty again, that might give him a fighting chance.
"I found something about Atlantis supposedly 'needing' someone to connect to it. It seems that it was more than just an honor; it had a purpose. The person who was connected could look after the city, know nearly everything everyone did and know if anyone say like the Wraith was in the city!" reported Rodney.
John closed his eyes as he realized the implications. He would essentially be solely responsible for Atlantis. A hand touching his arm had him opening his eyes, he saw the concerned look Rodney was giving him. He had a sudden, stupid urge to ask Rodney to find a way to take the gene away from him, so that none of this would happen.
"What…what else does it say?" John forced himself to ask.
His heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest as Rodney continued to read. John watched Rodney's face carefully and felt his stomach drop when Rodney frowned. When Rodney frowned like that, it was not a good thing. He had forgotten he could also read Rodney
"What does it say?" John asked patiently
"Oh, yes, right, erm…well, the thing is the Ancient database is obviously very old. So things can be misinterpreted, I mean…" Rodney hesitated as he tried to avoid saying something.
"Sorry, right, it says…well, it says that the Ancients that did this were in put in stasis, connected to the city permanently," Rodney said reluctantly.
John wondered when the corridor had become so hot. He took a few shaky breaths, but it wasn't working, the panic was starting to take over.
"What…what else?" he asked quietly.
"They…Colonel, there is nothing to suggest this has to happen to you. You aren't an Ancient." Rodney stalled
"What else?" John demanded though he wasn't even sure if he wanted to know now.
He was having trouble hearing what Rodney was saying his heart was beating so loudly.
"It says that they eventually died," answered Rodney reluctantly.
Nodding, he turned away from Rodney, swallowing thickly as he started down the corridor. His mind was numb, totally and utterly numb. John knew that there was a chance he'd die here, but he never thought it would actually be from the city itself. He should have expected that though after the entire city had led him to that disk.
He wasn't even aware where he was going until he stepped into his room. He sat heavily on his bed, twenty eight hours until he died, and it wasn't even something he could really fight. Unlike when he'd been infected with the retro-virus, John couldn't win this battle. It was a matter of either accepting it or letting Atlantis continue to make things go haywire every time he touched something.
He let out a sigh and tiredly ran a hand through his hair. He had finally found a sort of place he could call home, only to have to lose it all over some stupid gene. Tiredly he rubbed the back of his neck, after everything he had been through, all the stuff he'd seen, he had lost to a city, a fucking flying city in a different goddamn galaxy.
The sound of his door opening him made him look up. He was surprised to see Rodney step into his room looking a little irate. Not that John could understand why, at first Rodney hadn't even believed him about the voice.
"You are so frustrating!" began Rodney, pacing back and forth.
"You are so frustrating! Do you really think that you can just walk away, give in, and give up?" Rodney demanded.
"Now hang on, not twenty minutes ago you, Doctor, Rodney McKay, genius of Pegasus, didn't even believe a damn word I said!" John exclaimed. "So do not tell me I am giving up because I'm not!"
"Oh yeah, prove it!" Rodney demanded
John wondered briefly if he had zoned out and missed a big chunk of conversation somewhere along the way.
"As soon as I had finished, you walked away! You totally ignored the most important part of what I said," Rodney steamrollered over his thoughts.
"What would that be then?" John asked wearily.
"Ancient. You are not really an Ancient! This can't happen to you." Rodney was triumphant.
Ah, now it made sense. Rodney still didn't believe him and had only humored him by doing the search.
"This is happening, McKay. It's all happening right now," John ground out.
"As much as you like to brag, Colonel, you are not an Ancient!" Rodney was insistent
Brag, does he not hear himself, John thought slightly bemused. He shook his head, getting to his feet, so he stood in front of Rodney. Sure he still felt slightly numb about the whole thing, but he couldn't deny it.
"McKay…Rodney, this is happening," John began, not looking away holding Rodney's eyes with his own. "I don't want it to, but it is going to happen. Everything that the database says is happening and I can't stop it."
"No buts, McKay, this is happening."
"No!" Rodney protested.
"What?" John wasn't sure he had heard correctly, but one look at the defiance on Rodney's face confirmed he had heard correctly.
"I said 'no', Colonel, this isn't going to happen," whispered Rodney.
"McKay!" John sighed in frustration
"No, Colonel, I'll find a way, so this doesn't happen. I won't let a…I won't let this happen!" Rodney crossed his arms emphatically.
Growling, John ran a hand through his already mussed hair. As much as he liked the thought of Rodney helping, he would be more of a hindrance than anything else, especially since John had pretty much accepted his fate.
"No, McKay, just no, you can't help!" John said.
"I'm not going to just let you give in to this; we found a solution when you were turning all Iratus on us. I'll find a way to stop this," Rodney said decisively.
"You can't, god dammit, McKay!" Why couldn't Rodney see that there was nothing to fight, no puzzle to figure out and no wires to be re-routed? He had to accept that.
"Why not? We've faced worse, been in worse. Or do you want this to happen? So bored with fighting the Wraith, you want this to happen? Is that it - you secretly want this to happen?" Rodney asked with astonishment in his voice.
"Don't you dare," warned John.
He was angry now. Rodney had no right to say any of those things, none of them were true. Of course, he didn't want this to happen. Hell, at the moment John didn't even want the damn gene, but he most definitely didn't want this to happen.
"What? Tell the truth. What's wrong, Colonel Sheppard? Too close to home?" Rodney taunted.
"Stop it, McKay," John growled.
"Or what? You've already given in; you can't do anything!" Rodney repeated
Angrily, John grabbed Rodney by the arms and slammed him against the wall for the second time in several weeks. This was starting to become a bad habit of his.
"You don't know what you're talking about!" John screamed. "I can't stop this, you can't stop this, no one can stop this!" John ground out.
"Because you aren't letting me try! So resigned to your fate that you won't let anyone in!" said Rodney loudly.
"You don't get it." John shouted back. He pushed Rodney further into the wall and stepped closer so that he was right in Rodney's face. But it didn't matter; he still ended up shouting at him.
"Then make me 'get it'…John." Rodney demanded in a small voice.
The way Rodney said his name, in that sort of half pleading John not to do something way, John heard that. Still breathing heavily, he let go of Rodney and took a small step backwards. He had promised himself that he wouldn't do this again, but he'd broken that promise. Now all he had to do was wait for Rodney to flee and he could go back to accepting this in silence.
He was surprised when, instead of fleeing like before, Rodney stayed put. He was further surprised when Rodney took a step towards him, a determined glint in his eyes.
"Look, you should just go, I shouldn't have done that. It was stupid, but McKay, you have to know you can't do anything to prevent this, you can't-" John babbled. Great. Now Rodney had him babbling.
John would have continued talking except Rodney was kissing him. Frustration with an underlying of fear was all he could feel in the kiss. At first John was too stunned to do anything, before he came to his senses and started kissing Rodney back. Bringing up a hand, he gripped Rodney's shoulder, squeezing it in a silent plea that Rodney accept this; accept what John had to do. When it became apparent that air was needed, he broke the kiss.
Breathing heavily, John took a step backwards, shivering as he lost the contact heat with Rodney. He folded his arms across his chest, closing himself off. He knew why this had happened. He knew that, because he might die tomorrow, Rodney had gotten some idea in his head about kissing him.
"John," whispered Rodney.
"You should leave," John replied.
"I just-" Rodney ground to a halt.
"Don't, just…Rodney, please leave," John begged.
"I…I…I…Sorry," Rodney turned to leave, stopping at the door as if he hoped John would change his mind.
John just nodded slightly, closing his eyes, he couldn't watch Rodney leave. His head was a mess he couldn't deal with this at the moment. Once he heard the door close behind Rodney, he sat down heavily, head in his hands. He couldn't believe that had happened. Sure it had sort of happened to him before, of course, the last time it had been a woman who kissed him. John shook his head dragging a hand through his hair, he didn't need this, he should have pushed Rodney away. Instead he pulled him closer.
Instead of pushing Rodney away, he'd been pulled in by the desperation, the longing and he'd kissed back. John touched his lips, they held the memory of what had just happened. Sighing he dropped his hand, he couldn't afford to be thinking how right the kiss had felt, how he had for one moment thought he could have what Rodney was offering him.
"Stop it," he said, chastising himself out loud.
Getting up, he paced around his room, wincing as he put too much pressure on his leg. But he welcomed the pain that flared up, it meant he could focus on something other than Atlantis and Rodney. Turning to walk back to his door, something caught his attention, and he stepped towards it frowning. It was Rodney's tablet with the information about the connection on it.
Picking it up, John hesitated. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know all the information. Did he really want to know how he was probably going to die? To be connected to Atlantis forever. Eh, what the hell? I haven't got anything to lose now. He squashed the image of Rodney that popped up in his mind, he didn't need his subconscious telling him things. Things that were most definitely not true, that would most definitely not ever happen.
Taking a seat on the edge of the bed again, he took a deep breath and started reading, his mind taking everything in and sticking on words like connection, stasis and death. At one point he had to stop reading and just absorb what he had read. There was so much, yet so little in front of him.
Finally he had read through the fragmented information and if he were quite honest, it still didn't help him. He still had questions that he wanted answered. Placing the tablet on the floor, he leaned back on the bed, one arm resting across his stomach tracing the new scar there and the other acting as a pillow. Closing his eyes, John let out a sigh. He wished…hell, he figured that no amount of wishing was going to help either of his situations. Slowly he found himself drifting off to sleep…
"It is nice of you to join us, John Sheppard."
Turning around he couldn't help letting out a groan as there in front of him stood the blue-ish-white figure in the silken dress.
"Why am I here now?"
"Why not?" asked the woman.
John just smirked before turning his back on her; he realized that he didn't have to reply to any of the questions. Besides he noticed that this time, the view Atlantis had given him was a rather nice one.
"You ignore me."
"Yup," replied John nonchalantly.
"Why would you do such a thing? Once you have connected, we shall be communicating many times," the voice questioned.
"Now, hang on, I haven't agreed yet."
He stared at the figure. John hadn't even contemplated that maybe Atlantis would know his answer. After all the city was in his head, it made a sort of sense. Sighing he just shook his head; this shouldn't have surprised him anymore.
"Do not concern yourself, John Sheppard; we will give you the full amount of time you asked for."
"But for now you must rest in preparation for what is to happen."
He opened his mouth to ask just what connecting to Atlantis would require in terms of preparation, but he never got the chance as the figure passed a hand across his cheek, and John felt himself falling, falling into the blackness.
Waking with a start, John looked around. He was still in his room wearing the same clothes that he fell asleep in. He looked at his watch and realized that he'd slept through the night, which meant he only had so many hours left.
Stiffly he sat up, rubbing a hand across his face, wiping away some of the sleep. Getting to his feet he started to gather some clothes up for the day but ended up kicking the tablet.
Bending down, John sighed, "Sorry, Rodney."
He picked the tablet up and dropped it on his bed before continuing to get changed. With still not being cleared for duty, John didn't have to wear full BDUs, though he still preferred them to casual clothes, especially if he had to connect to Atlantis today. At that thought, he couldn't help shivering.
Because he hadn't really told anyone what was going on, John had quite a few farewells to make as well as apologizing to Rodney for yesterday. He didn't want to have that hanging over his head. He wanted a clean slate, a clear conscience. Once John was in clean clothes and had done some exercises for his leg, he felt ready to face the day.
He toyed with the idea of putting his radio on but dismissed it. After today he figured he wasn't going to need it. Slipping on his jacket, John picked up the tablet and headed out of his room. He had several stops to make before…well before.
His last stop was Rodney's lab; he had left making this visit till the last for obvious reasons. John gripped the tablet a little tighter, the visits he had already made hadn't quite gone to according plan. In fact he hadn't mentioned what was going on to anyone really. Well, Teyla had figured out that something was wrong, but John had quickly changed the subject.
So here he was in front of the door to the lab, tablet clutched in his hand tightly, preparing to go in. He knew that once he had done this, apologized, he would have to leave to connect to Atlantis. That would be the end; no more John Sheppard. He sighed. The sooner this was out of the way, the sooner everything would be finished.
He stepped into the lab to find it deserted except for Rodney. The lab itself was a mess, there was papers strewn across one of the desks and three laptops running simultaneously. He took a step closer and noticed Rodney's appearance. It was obvious he had worked through the night to find an answer for John.
"McKay?" he asked.
"Colonel, ah good you haven't…you know…yet," Rodney replied waving a hand between John and one of Atlantis' walls.
It was then John noticed the slight tremor in Rodney's hands. Placing the tablet down on top of the papers, he took a moment to look around. John noticed only two discarded power bar wrappers lying near the laptops, which he knew weren't a lot for Rodney. Normally there would have been six, four at the least.
"Not yet," he replied. "When did you last eat?"
"A few hours ago. Now, Colonel, I think I've come up…"
"With a way for you…"
"To not have to connect, I mean…"
"McKay!" he shouted.
John grabbed one of Rodney's flailing arms and turned him around to face him. It was then he felt the tremor run through Rodney's body and the slightly glazed look in his eyes. Which of course all led to one thing, Rodney had not eaten enough in the last four hours.
"Damn it, McKay! Why didn't you eat?" he asked annoyed.
"I'm trying to save your life, Colonel, besides I ate. Now, as I was saying…"
John totally ignored Rodney's babbling for a few moments while he pulled out a power bar he'd picked up earlier from the mess when he'd been making his sort of farewells.
"Here, have this," John tried to hand the power bar over.
"Thank you for the concern, Colonel, but I'm fine," Rodney said.
"Then why are you shaking?"
"Maybe because you're holding my arm so tightly, it's restricting the blood flow!" snapped Rodney.
John let go of Rodney's wrist as though he'd been burnt, but he put the power bar in front of Rodney anyway. He had not come here to fight, just to apologize, but he should have known that with Rodney nothing was ever straight forward.
"I didn't come here to argue."
"I know what you came here for," Rodney countered.
"Yes, so if you could just get it over with. I have other work to be doing."
"Yes, the city, despite what you may think, does not run on its own. So just do it."
Again, John felt like he had zoned out and missed half a conversation. Although he was pleased to note that the power bar he had handed over was now gone.
"I don't think I follow," he said confused.
"You came here to take me off the team. I saw you talking to Sam earlier," Rodney said.
"What! McKay, I came here to apologize for last night!" John exclaimed.
He ran a hand through his hair; trust McKay to make up his own conclusions about what was going on, conclusions that weren't even half true. Sure John'd gone to talk to Sam, but not for that reason. He had not even mentioned Rodney's name.
"Apologizing, McKay, it's what normal people do when they do something they shouldn't have. You may have heard of it?"
"Why?" asked Rodney.
"Why are you apologizing now?"
Sighing John replied, "You know why, McKay. Last night I shouldn't have…you know."
"Kissed me back?"
"Colonel, don't apologize," whispered Rodney, turning away.
John would have continued but the blue-ish figure suddenly appeared just behind Rodney. John stopped talking and stared straight ahead. He couldn't believe that Atlantis would be that daring. He heard the soft, peaceful laugh ring in his head, making him take a step backwards.
"The chair," she whispered.
The words thrummed in his head like an echo. He took a deep breath. John thought he had more time, longer, this couldn't be it? Could it?
The sound of Rodney's voice broke the slight trance he was in. He blinked a couple of times, bringing his focus back to Rodney. But even with focusing on Rodney, the voice persisted in his head, making it harder to concentrate on one thing.
The hands gripping his arms grounded him a little bit more, but that just caused the voice to become louder. John gripped the lab table, he noticed he was shaking now, and he could feel sweat dripping down his back. Pain was spiking in his head, making him grit his teeth.
"The chair," he ground out.
"Colonel, you aren't well. I'm taking you to the infirmary," Rodney insisted.
"No! The chair, I need to get to the chair!"
"Colonel, you can't honestly be serious about that? You are ill. The infirmary is where you need to go!"
"McKay! You can't prevent this, remember that. Now, please the chair."
He wasn't use to begging, but he was desperate. It seemed now that he had made his choice to connect to the city, Atlantis was pushing him. He saw Rodney nod silently, and smiling tightly, he let go of the table. God, his legs felt like rubber. But he had to do this; he had agreed to do this. He wasn't going to show any weakness at all, not a shred.
Slowly, John made his way out of the lab, quite pleased that Rodney hadn't let go of his arm. The journey was slow and torturous; he had to keep stopping when the voice over powered him for a few moments. Rodney was helping; he was somehow managing to bring John back to himself. So long as Rodney kept holding his arm, he was able to stay in the here and now, no matter how loud the voice shouted at him.
Along the way, they had passed several people who had given them strange looks and John was sure that the rumours had started up by now. That was proven they reached the chair room and found Colonel Carter, Teyla, and Ronon standing inside. Groaning, John shook off Rodney's arm, instead leaning against the wall and breathing heavily. The walk to the chair room had taken a lot more out of him than he had thought, and he felt exhausted at that moment.
"I guess the rumours have started then," snapped Rodney.
"Well, when two members of this expedition are helping each other down a corridor, and not in the direction of the infirmary, one does have to wonder what's going on," Carter said.
"Look, I don't really have time to explain it all to you," replied Rodney. "Colonel Sheppard needs to get to the chair. I'll explain more then."
John felt a slight pride at that; even if Rodney didn't totally believe him, he was still defending John. He pushed away from the wall; Atlantis was pushing him hard now.
"Trust him," he said, through gritted teeth.
"I do, Colonel, but I need to know what is going on," Carter said.
"Atlantis is happening, Colonel," he replied.
"The chair, John Sheppard, now!"
His legs gave way as the voice gave a loud shout in his head; luckily Ronon caught him before he hit the floor. John gave a grunt of thanks as Ronon helped him towards the chair.
"Colonel!" shouted both Rodney and Sam.
He gave them both pointed looks. John knew what they were asking, but he couldn't answer them, not without making the situation worse. He nodded subtly at Rodney and noticed him pale slightly.
As Ronon let go of him, he gave the Satedan a small smile. This is why John didn't do farewells often; they hurt. Finally he sat back in the chair and felt the connection flare into life immediately. The chair tipped backwards, and John felt himself be pulled fully into the connection.
As he felt the city start to accept him, he felt odd, and everything was heavy. Kind of like when he woke up after being unconscious for a long time. The voice that had been shouting at him not moments before was now silent. Hell, he could practically hear his own thoughts echoing now.
Then it ended; just like that John felt the connection break, and he found himself sitting forwards looking at confused faces. He frowned; he thought that he would die. All the information that Rodney had found, everything he had read and he wasn't dead?
"Is that it?" asked Ronon
"Yeah," John answered confused.
John glanced at Rodney and frowned when he saw the smug look on his face. He knew! He felt frustration swirl in him. If Rodney knew, then he had kissed John because…No, not going there. That isn't happening, he thought. Squashing that little bit of joy in himself, John did not feel anything for Rodney McKay, nothing.
"You knew," he accused.
"I told you, Colonel, you are not an Ancient. Of course it wasn't going to work."
"You knew all along! Then why did you…do that?"
He was acutely aware that they weren't alone and they really shouldn't be having this conversation right now. John wasn't thinking very rationally at the moment. His elation at not being dead had quickly been replaced by annoyance at one Rodney McKay.
"Why, McKay?" he questioned.
Getting out of the chair, John stood in front of Rodney. His legs felt heavy, but he ignored them to focus on questioning Rodney instead.
"You wouldn't listen, Colonel. You were so prepared to die that there was nothing I could do to get you to stop and think. Not that you do much of that. It seemed like the right thing to do!"
"Dammit, McKay! You can't just do stuff 'cause it seemed right!" John yelled.
"Well, excuse me, Colonel, for making you see sense!"
"See sense? McKay, you messed with my god damn head. You-"
"Whoa, time out, guys," said Sam, stepping between them, just as John took a step towards Rodney. "Whatever has gone off, you can sort it later. Right now, I want to know just what the hell happened here."
John looked at Rodney for a few seconds before sighing. Shaking his head, he turned to Sam and explained everything that had happened, from the explosion to the dreams he had been having. Once he had finished, John realized that Rodney had left. Obviously he didn't want to stick around after their little fight.
"I want Dr. Keller to check you over," Carter insisted.
"I'm fine," John tried to argue.
"Colonel, you just told me you have had Atlantis talking to you. Let's just call it a precaution."
"Honestly, Colonel, I'm…"
"That's an order, Colonel." Carter stated.
"Yes, Colonel." John said with reluctance.
He left the room with a snapped out salute and made his way towards the infirmary. John still couldn't get over the fact that Rodney had sort of known all along that he wouldn't die. Then why the kiss? Why? But the question wasn't helping him; it just made him feel even more confused. Sighing, he quickly made his way to the infirmary, so he could have something else to think about. John didn't want this to come between him and Rodney, but he had a sneaky feeling it already had done.
"Well, all of the scans have come back clear. I can't see anything to indicate that Atlantis had connected with you," explained Keller.
It wasn't really the answer John had been hoping for. Well, at least he hadn't been told he was crazy, yet. Sighing, he leaned back against the pillow. Despite the rush of being alive, he now felt distinctly tired.
"Thanks, Doc, I'll just be going then," he replied, trying to get up.
John was surprised however when Keller pushed him back down.
"Doc?" he asked baffled.
"The scans are clear, but I'm concerned about your leg," said Keller.
"When I first released you, I told you to take it easy. Now I know you've been under pressure with all that's happened, but you didn't follow my instructions."
"I did everything you told me, Doc, honestly!"
Okay, so not only had he argued with Rodney, he was now falling into an argument with Keller. This really was not the way he wanted to end his day.
"Oh yeah? Then why has the swelling not gone down?" Keller challenged.
John just smiled at Keller, hoping that he could sway her to let him off the hook. He knew the swelling hadn't gone down completely, but he'd figured that it would eventually. It definitely hadn't worried him too much lately.
"Look, I know that you don't like being grounded," said Keller slowly. "But ignoring what I say isn't gonna get you back out there any quicker. I'm putting you on another week's leave."
That most definitely was not what he wanted to hear, and the frustration from earlier was back. He didn't want to be laid up for another week. John needed to keep busy to stop himself from thinking.
"You heard me. I'm sorry, Colonel."
"Great, just great," John said. "So I'm stuck in here for another week?"
"No, I am willing to release you so long as you promise to not go walking all over Atlantis."
"I don't go 'walking all over Atlantis!'"
"No? Then you won't mind if I restrict you to your quarters and the mess then, will you?" Keller said cheerfully.
Despite feeling disgruntled over it, John didn't really have the energy to argue with her. He shook his head; he really didn't want to get into a shouting match with the petite Doctor. She was small but occasionally intimidating.
"Good then, Colonel, you may leave, but you are restricted to only moving between your quarters and the mess." Keller reminded.
Grumbling, he got up from the bed, wincing as he put pressure on his leg. Okay, maybe it did hurt more than he had previously thought, or maybe it was just because Keller had called attention to it that he now noticed it.
The corridors were quite busy with Atlantis personnel in various degrees of uniform, all finishing for the day. John nodded to a few of his men as he passed. He noticed that the civilians he passed gave him strange looks, like he was going to do something odd. Sighing, he shook his head and carried on; he didn't care if most of them thought he was crazy. Well, he minded if a certain civilian thought that, but John doubted said person was even thinking of him.
Reaching his quarters, he opened the door and stepped inside, feeling himself relax as he was behind closed doors. It was sometimes hard work to keep up the appearance of being the strong military leader. Sometimes John just wanted to relax without having to worry about his responsibilities.
Speaking of relaxing, John kicked off his boots and settled down on his bed. After everything that had happened that day, all he wanted now was to sleep and clear his head.
Lying down in the bed, he closed his eyes, hoping that when sleep claimed him it would be peaceful. But falling asleep wasn't as easy as he had hoped even though he wasn't too worried about Atlantis invading his dreams; it was the thoughts of Rodney keeping him awake.
John couldn't figure out why Rodney had kissed him; it didn't make any sense. He certainly couldn't tell why Rodney was even interested him like that. John rolled on to his side, tucked an arm underneath his pillow, and closed his eyes. He figured that if he couldn't get to sleep, he could at least relax.
But even relaxing wasn't helping as his mind seemed to drift back to the kiss they'd shared. John could practically feel Rodney kissing him as he remembered it in more detail, could feel the hands holding his waist, and could taste the unique flavour of Rodney as he finally kissed back. He clenched his hands as though he were really there holding on to Rodney, putting everything into the kiss.
John let out a small whimper as he then remembered breaking away, the slightly empty feeling that had settled in his stomach. Suddenly he opened his eyes, pulling himself out of the memory and cursing himself for getting lost in it. But as he stared into the darkness of his room, he felt that empty feeling stir again in his stomach.
Groaning, he sat up; he wasn't going to get any sleep tonight without talking to Rodney first. Blatantly ignoring Keller's orders for rest, John pulled his boots on again and left his quarters. Determination made him ignore the slight twinge he felt when he put weight on his injured leg as he walked down the now empty corridors.
But it seemed that luck was not in his favour that night. As he turned the corner that would take him towards Rodney's lab, he ran right into Keller. Luckily he hadn't been walking any faster; otherwise he would have knocked her over.
"Sorry, Doc," John said, side stepping her.
"That's okay, Colonel, but last time I checked, your quarters weren't down this way," replied Keller cheerfully.
Cursing under his breath, he turned around to face her, hoping that he would be able to make her understand why he was out. He didn't relish the thought of telling her just why he was going to see Rodney so late in evening.
"Look, Doc, I know I'm supposed to be resting, but I figure that helping McKay out in the labs won't require any walking," John explained.
"Except to get there."
"Well, of course to get there, there isn't a transporter right next to my rooms."
John had a sinking feeling that he wouldn't be winning this argument either tonight.
"Then you should have stayed in your quarters. I haven't cleared you for this yet," Keller said.
"It's just a little jaunt, nothing major," he shrugged.
"I can make it two weeks leave if you'd like?" asked Keller, smiling innocently.
Sometimes John really hated the medical staff on Atlantis; they all knew how to manipulate him. He often wondered if Carson had left a book behind for the staff on 'the ways to manipulate one Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard', it would be the type of the thing Beckett would do.
"That's alright, Doc, I'll just head back to my quarters now," he replied.
He was expecting her to leave then, but she didn't, just stood there giving him a very pointed look instead. Sighing, John walked back the way he'd just come, before re-entering his quarters. The room seemed to echo with his footsteps as he walked the length of his room; it made him shiver slightly.
Lying down on his bed again, John resigned himself to having to count the lines on the ceiling. He really did despise the Ancients' version of décor; it was all straight lines and squared edges. Slowly, after a long time of staring at said décor, he found himself slowly dropping off to sleep.
The pier was nice at this time of day; he enjoyed the quiet of the piers. Especially if his day had been full of alarms going off and being shouted at by Rodney for doing something stupid. John let out a contented sigh and started to walk the length of the pier.
It wasn't long though before he felt like someone was watching him, and he shivered at the thought. He didn't like the idea of someone watching him; it unnerved him. Folding his arms across his chest, John continued walking until he heard an all too familiar laugh. That soft, peaceful laugh that had haunted him was back again.
"I've done what you asked. Can't you just leave me alone?" he demanded.
He didn't turn around, not wanting to face the figure that had tormented his mind with her laugh for the past few weeks.
"Yes, you have done what we asked, what was needed. For that we are thankful, but that is not the end. Atlantis is old, John Sheppard. There are many secrets she is hiding. You are more Ancient than you realize. In time you will see that," the voice replied.
"What do you mean?"
"You will find out in time."
"Ya know what? I'm sick of all this bullshit. If you can't tell me now, then I'll…I'll…disconnect from you!" John threatened.
The only response he got was a laugh, a long, loud laugh. Okay, that wasn't what I expected, he thought. It seemed the program had found his answer very amusing as a few minutes later she could still be heard laughing to herself. John smiled bemusedly; he hadn't realized he could entertain Atlantis with just one word.
Shaking his head, he said, "Look, I don't know what you're trying to achieve, but it isn't going to work. Next week, I get put back on active duty, going through the Stargate, stopping the Wraith!"
John noticed that got her attention as the abrupt silence made his ears ring slightly. Slowly, he turned around wanting to see her reaction. It didn't surprise him that she looked way more than just pissed off.
"You can not do that."
"Oh yeah, just watch me. You can't stop me," John taunted.
"The connection must be here at all times."
"Well, sorry to disappoint."
"If you leave, Atlantis will fail."
He rolled his eyes, "A little over dramatic there, aren't you. Look, I wasn't brought here to just stay in the city all the time," he said.
"No, you were brought here because you possessed the strongest connection to the city. Did you really think that if you hadn't woken the Wraith, you would be going out into the galaxy?" chided the figure.
The question cut him deeply; John didn't think anyone on Atlantis thought that of him. But he had to wonder, if he hadn't woken the Wraith, would he really still be going on missions? Maybe that was why Rodney had kissed him, because Rodney didn't see him as anything other than the Ancient gene?
"Look, I don't know what kind of mind games you're playing, but it ain't gonna work!"
He didn't need Atlantis trying to mess with his mind; it was already messed up enough over Rodney. Atlantis trying to scare him wasn't going to work, or rather he wasn't going to let it work. But John couldn't help the little niggle of doubt that wormed its way into his mind.
"I am just programmed to tell the truth," she whispered.
"I don't care. Return me to my regular dreams. You got what you wanted, so leave me alone."
He watched as the figure before him sighed, a hand passed across his forehead, and he found himself falling into a blissful blackness.
The following few days were absolute torture for John, he got bored of moving just between his quarters and the mess. Plus the dream he had had after connecting with Atlantis was still disturbing him slightly. He had started over analyzing everything he did, trying to figure out what Atlantis had meant.
Although Atlantis had made no further attempts to connect with him, he did feel the connection more now. At one point on his third day of going to the mess and back, John enlisted Teyla's help.
He figured that to understand this 'connection' he had to know more about it. Sure meditation hadn't worked when he'd been stuck in the time dilation field, but this time he really wanted it.
Plus, with him not talking to Rodney or rather Rodney avoiding him, John had to get his information another way. Also there was only so much in the database that would tell him what he wanted to know. He had to do this his own way.
The meditation helped him a little bit; he now knew what the connection felt like. It was, when he concentrated enough, like having a hot drink on a very cold day. It made him feel warm, which was odd for the connection, but he realized that it was just a stronger feeling of what he felt when flying the puddlejumpers.
Since the meditation breakthrough a couple of days ago, John was back to feeling bored. It was boring when he was restricted to his quarters with only War and Peace to entertain him. He desperately wanted to be back on missions again, to be doing anything again.
John craved the thrill of going through the Stargate, the anticipation that they might find something that would better help them understand Atlantis and the Ancients or help them in their war with the Wraith. Sighing, he leaned back against the bed and stared blankly at his laptop screen; there were only so many times he could play solitaire.
"Screw this," he said.
Getting up he disregarded Keller's orders and left his quarters. He was going to do something, anything, so long as he wasn't stuck in his quarters or sitting in the damn mess hall. John wasn't really paying attention to where he was going until he stepped into Rodney's lab. They hadn't spoken to one another for days, and he realized he had missed Rodney's company.
"McKay," he said in way of greeting.
John had spotted Rodney hunched intently over a laptop
"Colonel, aren't you suppose to be resting?" asked Rodney.
"I'm fine, honestly."
"Oh, I see you're well enough to come and annoy the scientist instead of resting!" snarked Rodney.
John smirked; he had really missed Rodney.
"What are you working on?" he asked.
"Don't think that by changing the subject I'll let you annoy me. It's the text to do with the connection," Rodney said as he turned back to his laptop.
John felt something twist in his stomach at that. Even after everything he'd said and done, Rodney was still researching the subject for him. He leaned over Rodney's shoulder to take a look at what he had found and concentrated on not thinking of how warm Rodney felt at such a close distance.
"Do you mind? It's difficult to work with you leaning on me."
"Not at all," John replied.
But he did pull back when he felt Rodney tense, he sighed inwardly. It seemed Rodney really was uncomfortable around him after the whole pinning against a wall fiasco.
"What did you find then?" he asked curiously.
"Nothing, well other than what we already knew. It seems that once an Ancient was connected they didn't bother to keep any more records," sighed Rodney, his frustration evident.
John could sympathize. After all, the connection had left him a little…a lot confused to say the least. He reached forward to point something out when he accidentally brushed the tablet on the desk next to Rodney. Immediately he felt a stream of information enter his head. It only lasted a second, but it was enough to send John reeling backwards gasping.
The connection had felt so strong, was it going to be like that all the time now? He shivered, trying to shake the feeling off, but he still tingled and not in the good way.
"Colonel?" asked Rodney worriedly.
"Nothing, I'm fine," John replied rubbing his arms.
"That wasn't nothing, John. Was it Atlantis?"
He knew Rodney was just being a friend showing his concern, but the concern felt like it was making his skin itch. Or was that still the tingling feeling? John couldn't really be sure; he just knew he didn't want any obvious concern. He wanted it to be ignored, dismissed but, the day he wanted Rodney to be oblivious, he wasn't.
"It was nothing, okay? Absolutely nothing," he lied.
This was why he hadn't told people earlier; every little thing he did people would immediately assume that it was Atlantis. Not that he remembered what he'd just absorbed from the tablet, all he knew was that it was information, possibly information he'd use later on.
"Of course. It was absolutely nothing. Because Colonel Sheppard doesn't need help, he can handle things on his own. Heaven forbid anyone actually know more than him, know anything that could help him!" snapped Rodney.
"McKay!" he warned.
God, he couldn't believe they were fighting again. It seemed that that was all they could do now. It wasn't their usual arguing either; it was angry and hurtful.
"What! What are you gonna do, Colonel, pin me up against the wall again?"
"Well, it's better than kissing me!" John exclaimed angrily.
Then silence reigned as he was in slight shock that he had mentioned the kiss out loud. By the look on Rodney's face, he was shocked as well.
Without another word, John fled the science lab, making his way back to his quarters. He couldn't believe their talk had deteriorated so quickly. Reaching his quarters, he stepped inside and started to try and figure out why or when everything had gone wrong.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, that is what you are, Sheppard, stupid, the mental berating carried on until the very person he'd walked away from entered his room. He was surprised that Rodney had the gall to just enter his quarters like that.
"McKay, come on in," he said.
"You want to know why I kissed you that day?"
"Well, since you are here, you might as well tell me!"
John knew he was being childish over the whole thing, but he wasn't ready to face his own feelings yet. So he acted defensive, annoyed, anything so that he didn't talk about his feelings and no one picked up on them.
"Don't be so obtuse, Colonel!"
"I'm not, McKay! Besides I already know why you kissed me," John retorted.
"Yes, I do."
"Really?" asked Rodney.
"Yes, McKay, now can we move past it, and get on with things?"
He didn't want Rodney to declare any kind of undying love for him; he wasn't ready to hear that. Not that he thought Rodney loved him or anything as ridiculous as that.
But he was surprised when, instead of leaving, Rodney stepped forward and kissed him. This time John didn't hesitate; he pushed Rodney away, ignoring the stab of hurt he felt in his chest as he did so. John also ignored how he had, for one brief moment, felt like he was flying.
John stared at Rodney as though he were seeing him for the very first time. He couldn't understand what kind of mind game Rodney was playing. He felt so much pain at the thought that this might some kind of game to Rodney. Breathing heavily, John took a step back, crossing his arms and ignoring the strong urge to kiss Rodney again. He also wondered when Rodney had stopped being 'McKay' in his head.
"I think you should leave," he said quietly.
John watched as this time it was Rodney that fled his room. He sighed as the door closed, leaving him alone with nothing but his thoughts. Stupid, stupid Sheppard, he thought kicking at his stuff on the floor. He really couldn't understand what was happening lately. Everything just seemed to be totally out of his control.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, he thought back over the last few weeks. Everything had happened to him so quickly that he hadn't had time to sit and think. Maybe that was why he felt like he was on edge, and he briefly wondered if Keller could give him something to take the edgy feeling away but dismissed the idea. He really didn't need to be drugged up on anything right now.
He wasn't sure how long he had sat there, going over everything that had happened, when he felt something pass in front of him. Looking up, John was irritated to see the program standing there, smiling at him. When he had connected to Atlantis, he hadn't realized that he would be stalked by this figure.
"What?" he asked.
After all the confrontation he had had with Rodney, he really was not in the mood for dealing with Atlantis as well.
"You are needed. Atlantis wishes to start imparting her information to you."
"Well, you can tell Atlantis that I am stuck here with orders to stay here, so I can't go anywhere, no matter how much Atlantis wants it."
John started to worry when the figure in front of him smiled brightly at his challenge. He never did like it when things smiled at him in that way.
"You think you need to leave this room?"
"I have told you; you are more than you know. Atlantis can connect to you right here."
Okay, that was news to him; he didn't realize the connection was that strong. Although that did throw up alarm bells, if Atlantis could connect to him anywhere at any time, he could have plenty of trouble dealing with the rest of the expedition, and he really didn't need help in that department.
"How?" he asked.
"All that is needed is for you to place a hand on the wall; Atlantis shall do the rest," the figure explained.
Frowning John slowly got to his feet; this sounded a bit too easy for his liking. He found a space on the wall, next to the window before stopping.
Turning to look at the figure, he asked, "This okay here?"
"Yes, just place your hand there," she replied.
He felt something tighten in his chest at the overly eager look the figure was giving him. He knew something felt odd in doing this. The last thing he wanted was to cause anyone else any pain. He had already caused enough over his years here; he didn't need to cause any more.
"Place your hand there," insisted the figure.
"Okay, okay, I'm doing it!"
Closing his eyes, John put his hand on the wall and felt the connection flare to life. It had grown stronger since he connected to the chair, and he was having trouble keeping his mind in the here and now. John tried to pull away, but he felt a cold hand hold his in place. He shivered as the cold travelled up his arm, across his shoulders, and into his neck and mouth so that he could practically taste it.
John tried to ask her to let go, but his tongue felt thick in his mouth, and he could only whimper as the connection grew stronger. Suddenly he found his head filling with the layout of the city, every room, every corridor, but it was just too much. His head started to ache as he was held in place by the chilled hand; he could feel blood start trickling from his nose.
Then the hand let go, and John fell backwards landing on his back on the floor, his head throbbing in time with his heartbeat. He cracked his eyes open to see the figure standing over him, still smiling, but the smile wasn't nice, it was one of victory at all cost.
"Thank you, John Sheppard, the first part is complete."
He moaned as he tried to reply, but it was too much, everything hurt. He curled up on his side before closing his eyes again. John heard the soft, peaceful laugh and thought that this is what his life had come to now. Slowly, he let himself fall unconscious to escape the pain and the thought that he really was going to die after all.
The next thing he knew was that he was lying on something a lot softer than his floor. He heard a murmur of voices, but his head hurt too much to make out who it was. He tried to open his eyes but even that made his head hurt even more.
He let out a moan, relieved that his voice was still working even if the vibrations of the sound made his head throb. He knew it had caught someone's attention as when he felt a hand on his arm.
His head still hurt way too much to make out what was being said to him, although he could now distinguish between two different voices. He turned his head in their direction; that made his head feel like it was floating.
His brain felt like someone had decided it would look much better all mashed together. God, he hurt. The first voice he heard started to sound urgent, but he still couldn't understand why. He felt something warm travel up the length of his arm before being encased by the soft blackness. It cocooned his mind and stopped the pain as John drifted back to sleep.
"You are so stubborn, Colonel, letting us believe that everything was fine. You should have asked for more information instead of…"
John heard Rodney pause; he wanted to speak out and reassure him he was okay. He wanted to apologize, but his tongue felt heavy in his mouth. It was difficult to form words, and John couldn't open his eyes.
He had been in this half-awake, half-sedated state for the last day. John realized one thing while in this state though; people talked a lot more when they thought you couldn't hear them. It frustrated John because he wanted to reply, to have an actual conversation with the person visiting him at the time.
But he couldn't. It was like connecting with Atlantis caused him to forget how to do these things. At least his head didn't ache any more, so he was able to think more clearly, for all the good it did.
John heard Rodney shift in his seat, and figured he was leaving to get some work done. So John was surprised when he felt Rodney grip his wrist tightly. He felt as though he were holding his breath, anticipating what Rodney would do next.
"You don't know why I kissed you, John, and you never will."
Then the hand was gone and so was Rodney. John counted the foot falls as they led away from his bed and out of the infirmary. He was angry that he couldn't get up and follow Rodney. John figured his anger must have been reflected on his heart monitor because Keller soon came and administered a small dose of sedative. John felt himself slip into the blackness once more…
Blearily John opened his eyes. At first nothing was in focus; everything was just a mesh of colours and brightness. After blinking a few times, he finally focused on his surroundings. He smiled as he saw his team, his friends, standing at the end of his bed. John turned his head to the side to see Keller checking him over.
"Hey, Doc," he croaked.
His throat felt like he had swallowed sand paper, and he couldn't help coughing. After Ronon handed him a drink, John looked at his team. They were all looking on edge and, in Rodney's case, a little rough around the edges.
"Welcome back, Colonel," said Teyla, finally smiling.
"Thanks, Teyla, how long was I out for?" John asked warily.
He had a feeling that he wasn't going to like the answer they were going to give him.
"Three days, Colonel," chipped in Keller. "You were in constant pain, so we had to keep you sedated."
"Yes, it looks likes the Ancients who went into stasis were to be spared the pain that the connection brings," Rodney began to explain, answering John's questioning look. "Yes, I did find more out, buried amongst a ton of other files that probably held life changing discoveries, but I…"
"Thanks, McKay," John interrupted.
"Yes, well, you're welcome."
He knew he had embarrassed Rodney enough for the time being, so John focused his attention else where.
"I remember some stuff," he said.
The worried looks he got in response to that statement were not comforting ones.
"There were times that, although you were sedated, you would say things," said Keller all the time acting the professional.
"What type of things?"
"Things about Atlantis, things you shouldn't even have known. Colonel, you were talking about things that were happening elsewhere in Atlantis," Keller said.
"I don't follow."
"Colonel, you were…"
"What she's trying to say is you were talking about things that were happening then and there, while you were unconscious." Rodney interjected.
Oh, he thought, that isn't good. But he couldn't remember dreaming of anything like that. Sure he could remember being in the half-awake state, but that was it. John didn't even remember the connection giving him any odd dreams.
"Oh," he said finally.
He wasn't even sure what else to say. How could he reply to that? What did they want him to say?
"It seems your connection is rather strong, and we shouldn't have dismissed it so easily, Colonel," replied Keller.
"What does this mean?" he asked.
Again, he was sure that he wasn't going to like the answer. He felt a small coil of dread curl in his stomach.
"Colonel, you have to know that we will help you any way we can," said Keller.
Rolling his eyes, he asked, "McKay?"
"It means you could have another…episode if you will. It could also explain why the database says the Ancients were put in stasis - to stop this from happening."
"It is entirely possibly, Colonel."
"Great, just great."
John knew it had been too good to be true. Now he knew the truth, and it wasn't anything he liked. He leaned his head back against the pillows and stared up at the ceiling.
"Colonel?" asked Keller.
"I'm fine," he replied, ignoring Rodney's disbelieving snort.
He didn't want to fight with Rodney again; hell, he didn't even want to be here at the moment. He wasn't sure what could be done. Again, the situation was out of his control.
"We'll just leave you to rest then," said Keller.
John nodded his head and listened as they all left, until all he could hear was his slightly ragged breathing. He closed his eyes tightly, fighting down the urge to flee. He wasn't used to things being so far out of his control.
"You've just given in again, haven't you?"
The voice surprised him; John hadn't expected Rodney to stay behind. Opening his eyes, he saw Rodney standing at the side of his bed, arms crossed and slight scowl on his face.
"No, I haven't," he replied.
"Oh please, I know you, Colonel. Since you've already agreed to 'connect' or whatever, you figure you can't get out of it. So you do what comes naturally, you give in. After all, you don't have anything to fight for," said Rodney.
"Oh, you know me do you, Rodney? Then know this, I may have these episodes, and I might not survive, but I will fight my damn hardest to stay alive! So you don't know me at all!" he snapped.
It was only as Rodney started smiling that smug smile that John realized he'd been had and not in the way that he wanted either. He shook his head; it figured that Rodney would be able to manipulate him. But truthfully he didn't mind, what he had just said had given him new hope. He may not have a specific something to fight for, but he was going to fight; if only to prove Rodney wrong.
"McKay, you are…"
"Hmmm," John agreed. "I remember you visiting me."
"You told me I was stubborn, but I sort of passed out after that."
He didn't want to bring up what else he'd heard that day. He didn't want to bring up the feelings again, and John most definitely did not want to argue with Rodney again any time soon. Hopefully if he totally ignored the whole 'kissing' thing, they could get on with life and eventually forget it had ever happened.
"Well, you are, Colonel. Besides at that time, we weren't sure if you'd wake up. I would have said anything at that point."
"I know," John replied.
He smiled softly at Rodney then, before he ended up yawning. Now that he thought about it, he felt exhausted. Who knew that talking could tire a person out so much?
"I'll let you sleep, Colonel," said Rodney.
John nodded and watched as Rodney left the infirmary. He got as comfortable as he could in the infirmary bed before closing his eyes. He was going to prove to Rodney that he could fight this, that he wouldn't have to be put in stasis like the Ancients. With a smile on his face and thoughts of how smug he was going to be when he proved Rodney wrong, John fell into a natural sleep.
The hand ghosted across his chest, making him quiver as he closed his eyes tightly. John gasped as the hand started to unzip his pants. He wanted to speak to encourage the travelling hand, but all that came out was another moan.
God, this was torture. The hand knew just what he liked, as though it had mapped this path across his body before. As the hand reached inside his pants, John opened his eyes. Leaning up on his elbows, he let out another moan as he saw Rodney kneeling at his feet with a smug grin on his face.
The sight itself, coupled with Rodney's hand on his cock was enough to send him over the edge…
Waking with a start, John sat up in bed breathing heavily. He could feel the sweat drip down his back. The dream had been pretty vivid for him, and letting out a groan of despair, he flopped back down. He didn't need to be having that type of dream about his friend. Because that's all Rodney was, all John could let him be.
He looked at the clock on his bedside table and let out another groan as he read the time. Two a.m., he hated his mind sometimes. John lay there, staring at the ceiling and thinking about the mission he had in a few hours.
It was his first mission since he had been hurt a month and a half ago, and John was looking forward to it. He had finally been given the all clear by Keller the other day, and although they were all worried about him having another 'episode,' John thought he would be fine.
Atlantis had been fairly quiet since he'd taken in the information from the wall; he still had a stronger awareness of Atlantis but that was about it. John had noticed that he now knew his way around Atlantis much better, which meant Rodney had to stop teasing him about his sense of direction.
Sighing, he rolled out of bed. John knew lying in bed staring at nothingness any longer would drive him crazy. So he got up, washed, dressed, and headed out of his quarters. He knew the perfect place to go at that time of morning.
The corridors were empty as he walked down. John knew that most of the staff on the night shift would be in the Gateroom for guard duty. Not that he thought that anyone would want to invade at two in the morning.
Although the Genii had, that single stray thought made him shiver. That was when he realized the people on Atlantis had become family to him, and John knew he'd do absolutely anything to protect them.
Shaking off the rather morbid thoughts, he stepped out onto the balcony. It was chilly outside, which woke him up even more. It was also quiet very, very quiet.
He wasn't sure how long he had been standing there when he heard the door open. Glancing over his shoulder, he smiled as Teyla came out to join him, not even pulling away when she put a hand on his arm. Normally, he would have shrugged it off, uncomfortable with the notion of needing something from someone, but this time he didn't feel that at all.
Instead he put his own hand on top of hers. John stood there for a few minutes before letting go of Teyla's hand and turning back to admire the view.
"Morning, Teyla," he said quietly.
"Good morning, Colonel," replied Teyla smiling.
"You are worried," Teyla said.
"I'm not worried," he shrugged.
He didn't need to bother her with his problems, especially since he wasn't sure exactly what was worrying him.
"John, after everything that has happened, it is understandable that you would be worried."
"I'm not worried," John repeated.
He tried to sound convincing, but one look at Teyla had him sighing again. He hated it when she saw what he tried to hide, and he knew she wouldn't let the subject drop.
Running a hand through his hair, he said, "Fine, I'm nervous about the mission. Since Atlantis...connected to me, I don't know how it'll affect me going off world."
Teyla put her hand back on his arm. This time John tensed at the contact, not wanting the comfort any more. He didn't need the comfort; he was a man and a soldier, so he could cope.
"I am sure that, whatever happens, we will help you," assured Teyla.
"Teyla...I...thanks," he replied.
After all, what could he say to that? He couldn't exactly tell her everything. A small breeze hit his face, making him quiver again. Trust him to be totally messed up in the head.
John stayed out on the balcony until the sun came out, and Teyla stayed with him, distracting him with news of how her people were settling in on the new planet, New Athos they had called it. He was grateful that she didn't bring up the subject of his concerns again.
When the door opened again, John turned around to find Ronon standing there with his arms crossed. If he hadn't known Ronon so well, then John would have been slightly intimidated.
"'Bout time I found you both," said Ronon gruffly. "Mission is in about an hour, and McKay is already bitchin'."
That made him laugh; trust Ronon to have found Rodney before the others had. John had gotten use to Rodney's complaints before a mission. Usually dragging Rodney into the Gateroom would shut him up.
"Well, might as well go see what our resident genius is up to then," he replied smiling.
He noticed that Teyla had rolled her eyes at them, but he knew that she knew that he didn't mean it badly. He couldn't count how many times he had jokingly called Rodney one name or another. Besides Rodney called him god knows what when he wasn't around.
Still smiling, John left the balcony listening to Ronon complain about what Rodney had been ranting about. He knew that, despite all complaining, they respected Rodney one hell of a lot. Besides they wouldn't have gotten out of half the situations they'd been in if it hadn't been for him.
John made a quick stop at his quarters to pick up his jacket and told the other two he would catch up. Picking up his jacket, he turned to leave when he saw the figure appear right in front of him.
"Look, I don't know what you want, and I don't care. Just leave," he said.
"You can not leave Atlantis so soon; Atlantis needs the Main Connector for a few more days," the voice replied.
"Sorry, no can do."
"You can not do this!" insisted the figure.
He stepped around the figure, not comfortable with walking through her, intending to leave when his door locked. Stepping up to the door, John tried to unlock it, but all he got was a declining noise in response.
"Let me out," he demanded, turning back around.
"You need to stay here, just a little bit longer."
"Look, if you don't let me go, then my team will come looking for me, and Rodney will get this door open," John argued.
"Atlantis will not allow them to do that."
"You think Atlantis would be able to stop them?"
He didn't need this; this wasn't happening. It couldn't be, could it? John refused to believe he was locked in his quarters of all places.
"Look, I have to go off world. I'll be gone a few hours, and then I'll be back for a few days."
He couldn't believe he was trying to negotiate with a hologram. Well, he supposed it had to happen one day. He could actually see the figure thinking it over.
"You make a good argument, but Atlantis still needs the connector here."
He nodded in understanding as the door behind him unlocked, without saying anything he left his quarters. John never saw the rather malicious grin on the figure's face, nor did he hear her speak.
"You'll come to realize that ignoring us is not the best solution."
The world they stepped out on was nice; it wasn't too hot or too cold. In fact John was pretty sure that this world could be put on the list of possible Alpha sites.
He felt rather relaxed despite the argument he had had with Atlantis before leaving. In fact, other than listening to Rodney talking a mile a minute, it was rather quiet. He started walking away from the Stargate, hands resting loosely on the P90 he carried. But as he moved away he felt...well he wasn't too sure what he felt, but it kept him looking over his shoulder.
It was like something was missing, something important he'd forgotten. On top of that, he had a headache forming. John looked over his shoulder again to realize that he couldn't see the Stargate.
"What's wrong?" asked Ronon.
"Because, Colonel, you have looked behind us twenty-one times," said Rodney.
"I've been counting, but you can't blame me. You looking over your shoulder all the time makes me nervous. Is someone following us? Is it Wraith? God, it's Wraith, isn't it? They've been here since..."
"McKay!" John shouted, making the scientist shut up immediately. "We aren't being followed."
"Then why all the looking?"
"I just, look it's nothing. Can we just complete this mission and go?"
He walked on, leaving the other three behind him. John was irritated now; he just knew he was meant to be doing something else. He sighed quietly to himself as he came across a desiccated village. Wraith! At least as he walked through the destroyed village, it gave him something else to focus on, something different.
"How did it go?" asked Sam.
"It didn't. The village was destroyed," John answered bitterly.
He had been angry since he had found the village. No one deserved that. He blamed himself partly as well since he effectively woke the Wraith up. John didn't dare look at his team. He knew what he'd see there, worry for him and anger at what the Wraith had done.
"I'm sorry. We'll debrief later on. Colonel, go and get your team checked out by Dr. Keller."
He nodded his head before storming out of the Gateroom. The headache from earlier was still with him, and that made him feel even more strange. Dropping his stuff off at the armoury, he headed to the infirmary, noticing that his team was following him.
Reaching the infirmary, John didn't speak a word as Keller checked him over and gave him the all clear. But because he hadn't spoken to any one, he had forgotten to mention the unusual headache. On his way out, the headache spiked causing him to grab the nearest wall. John closed his eyes, waiting for it to pass.
"We told you. Atlantis needs the Main Connector at this moment. You should not have ignored us, John Sheppard."
Unfortunately, the pain didn't diminish straight away. If anything, it flared up more, making him grip the wall even tighter. His connection was pushing out, trying to activate something, before it stopped. Suddenly, he was able to hear Keller speaking to him, Rodney panicking slightly, and Teyla trying to calm Rodney down.
Opening his eyes, John looked straight at Keller, hoping that he would be able to convince her that he was okay…now.
"No, you're not. You were unresponsive for several minutes, and from how tense your body was, I'd say you were in pain," replied Keller. "I want to check you over again."
"Honestly, Doc, I'm fine."
John tried to relax, but when he did that, he felt himself shake slightly. It was like coming off an adrenalin rush too quickly.
"That wasn't a question, Colonel."
"Figured," he muttered.
He let Keller lead him back to the bed and then let her run every test imaginable. He already knew what she was going to find, nothing. Because he knew that the connection didn't show up on any test or scan. John figured he really shouldn't piss Atlantis off again in the future.
Sure enough half an hour later Keller let him leave the infirmary, this time with orders to rest. He ended up at his quarters again, stopping as he saw the figure waiting for him.
"What? What is so important that you keep annoying me? I've already connected with Atlantis, now let me get on with my life," John said angrily.
It felt like he wasn't being given any peace whatsoever.
"The connection is given to the strongest person; it involves connecting with Atlantis and becoming the Main Connector," the figure replied.
"You've already told me all this! Why me?"
"I have already told you that," she answered. "Atlantis has been watching you for a long time; you are more like my people than you know."
"Stop saying that!" he shouted.
He started pacing his quarters; he didn't want to deal with this. He stopped pacing when he noticed the figure was smiling brightly at him.
"All I have to do is stand here and explain things, and it gets your attention. Now that we have it, may I suggest that, in the future, you do as I ask?"
"What is that?"
"Do not ignore this. This has been given to you, and you must accept that."
Before he got the chance to reply, the figure vanished from his quarters. Anger was twisting at his gut, making him feel sick. He had been manipulated, and now he had no choice but to agree with what ever Atlantis wanted, all because of his stupid gene.
Suddenly, an idea struck him, and he needed Rodney's help. Picking up his jacket, John headed out towards the science labs. He was quite pleased he had thought of this and was really hoping he would have a solution to his problem soon.
Reaching the lab he was surprised to not find Rodney there. In fact the entire lab was empty. Okay, try the next place, he thought. So he turned around and headed towards the mess, but it seemed his second guess was as bad as his first. Rodney wasn't in the mess either. Okay, third times the charm.
John headed off towards Rodney's quarters. His anger had diminished slightly now, but he was still determined to do this. Reaching Rodney's quarters, he pressed the chime; he felt slightly nervous having never been inside Rodney's quarters before.
He smiled when the door opened to reveal a slightly dishevelled looking Rodney. John noticed Rodney's hair was still damp, meaning he had not been out of the shower long. God, that conjured up mental images he really shouldn't be having of his friend.
"McKay, I tried looking for you in the labs and the mess hall," he replied.
"Yes, well, I'm not there, obviously. What do you want, Colonel?"
"I want you," John said.
"I mean I need, and I don't say this often enough so savour it, your help."
"Well, come on in then."
John followed Rodney into his quarters, quite pleased to note that it was exactly as he had imagined them, organised chaos. He felt himself relax as the door swished closed behind him.
"What do you want me for, Colonel?" asked Rodney.
"The gene," he said, pointedly ignoring the tone Rodney had used.
"What about it?"
"I know that Carson left you his notes on the ATA gene. I need you to find a way to take it away."
He knew that bringing up Carson's name was a gamble. Last time he had mentioned that named to Rodney, he'd caused an argument that had lasted a week. He knew that Rodney and Beckett had been close and that Rodney missed him. Hell, John missed Beckett, too, but he needed help.
"I can't just take the gene away; it doesn't work like that."
"Well, find something that will dampen it," John said.
"Look, I don't understand how the gene occurs naturally. Carson certainly didn't!"
"It's no good shouting at me, Colonel! I can't give you anything like that! The only way to stop the connection is to probably kill yourself."
For one split second, John actually contemplated doing it. It seemed that not answering was the wrong thing to do as Rodney started ranting at him.
"You can't, Colonel, I won't let you do that!"
"We could do what we did when that damn bug attached itself to my neck," he suggested hopefully.
"It won't work. You'll still have the gene. Killing yourself is not an option, John!" Rodney argued.
"Then think of something, McKay. I want this either gone or weakened!"
The one person he thought that could help him was turning him away, was telling him no. John never thought Rodney would be the one to let him down.
"As brilliant as I am, I can't actually perform miracles," Rodney said emphatically.
John fell into the nearest chair and took a deep breath. No, the answer rang in his head like church bells. He noticed that Rodney had sat down on the edge of the bed and was staring at him.
"Why do you want to get rid of the gene?" asked Rodney quietly.
"You wouldn't understand"
"Genius, remember, why?"
Sighing, he answered, "Because I don't want it any more, Rodney, simple as that."
"What about the puddlejumpers?"
"The puddlejumpers. If you get rid of your gene, you won't be able to fly them."
Okay, so he hadn't actually thought his idea all the way through. Sometimes he hated the fact that Rodney could make him see sense.
"I can't carry on with this though," he finally admitted tiredly.
After everything he'd been through, he was tired. He wanted to sleep without Atlantis invading his dreams; he wanted to activate Ancient technology that wouldn't send him into fits.
"You can... Look, it's your connection, John, and you decide when to connect. You can't give up, we...I need you to keep going."
The pure, raw emotion he heard in Rodney's voice made him look up; he saw so much emotion on Rodney's face. It made his chest ache in a way he hadn't felt in a long time. John wanted to get up and comfort Rodney, but he couldn't move. He was stuck in the chair, staring at Rodney.
But with seeing all that emotion, John felt one thing in his stomach, one thing that he was so sure of, determination. He wasn't going to let Atlantis beat him; he was going to fight if only to make Rodney happy. He couldn't give in, not yet; it wasn't his time. Finally, John smiled at Rodney, and the emotions he saw were quickly hidden behind the well placed mask.
"So, fancy a game of chess?" he asked.
"I'm a busy man, Colonel. I don't have time for games right now," replied Rodney.
"Oh yeah? Play one game of chess with me, and I won't tell anyone about the movies you put on the list of personal items requested from Earth."
"How did you know about those?"
"I know everything about my team, McKay."
John got up and headed out of the room, laughing as he heard Rodney splutter and rant about abuse of power. He just shook his head and carried on walking towards the recreational room; it would be empty at that time of day.
The last few weeks had been fairly normal, well as normal as it was possibly to get on Atlantis. His connection, although still very strong, had evened out. John had not had any more mysterious blue-ish figures appearing, and although the voice did call to him at times, he ignored it.
John was now the one who chose when to push the connection; of course, sometimes he would sit and wonder just what he had done to deserve all of this. But his thoughts normally got interrupted by Rodney, who had developed an uncanny sense of timing recently.
That was something that was now sorted as much as possible as well, Rodney. Things were pretty much back to normal between them; the banter and arguing was once again light and friendly. There was just one small thing John had noticed; he had found himself watching Rodney more.
Sometimes he would forget himself and watch Rodney with a smile on his face. It was stupid; John shouldn't have been losing focus around him like that, but he was. He made sure though that it didn't affect their friendship, but he was unsure as to where all this had come from; it was frustrating.
He had at one point been so distracted by his thought process that he totally missed the instructions Teyla had given him on a new sparring move. That landed him on his back with a new bruise forming on his shoulder. Sometimes, John was sure that Teyla enjoyed beating him up just a little bit too much. Of course, all of that had led him tell Teyla how he acted around Rodney and how he didn't know why. He trusted Teyla not to say anything to anyone about that conversation.
Teyla of course just gave him a patient, knowing smile before patting him on his arm and leaving the gym. No words of advice, just a smile which had left him more confused than ever. In the end, he had let the subject drop; whatever was stirring in his gut was bound to make itself known soon enough. Pushing it was not going to help him at all, just make him even more confused.
John had continued to go off world and was quite happy when the prickling feeling finally stopped. He wasn't sure what had made it stop, but he wasn't about to argue with it. It had set the whole team on edge when John constantly looked over his shoulder. Of course, one time it had saved their lives from the Wraith, but that was it.
Currently he was sitting in the mess hall having a quick breakfast. Normally, he wouldn't have bothered, but he had bumped into Rodney who had all but dragged him there. So John had picked up a small bowl of cereal and let Rodney ramble on at him.
He made sure to nod in all the right places. Taking a sip of his coffee, John glanced around the mess. It was starting to get busy now as the day shift started work. He was going to reply to a question that Rodney asked of him when he saw it, the blue-ish figure.
She stood a little way from his table and stared intently at him as though trying to goad him into saying or doing something. He felt his mouth go dry as she began smiling. It wasn't a nice smile, and John felt his blood run cold. Suddenly, he was snapped back to the present when a sharp pain flared in his leg; he'd been kicked.
"Ow! McKay, what was that for?" he asked.
He rubbed at his shin, another bruise, before glancing over Rodney's shoulder again. The figure had disappeared, and he was just looking at an empty table now.
"You weren't listening, Colonel."
"Yes, I was."
"Of course, you were. That's why you've been staring at the table behind me for the last five minutes. I mean if there is somewhere else you need to be, please don't let me stop you!"
"There isn't. I was listening, McKay," John lied again.
He watched as Rodney grudgingly accepted his answer. He only let Rodney continue talking for another few minutes before cutting in. They had a briefing to get to, and if he didn't stop Rodney talking now, they would end up being late. Of course, John was kind enough to let Rodney talk all the way to the briefing before he shared a small shrug with Carter, letting her know that Rodney had been like this all morning.
He took a seat on the chair nearest the door, just in case something happened that needed his immediate attention. He offered Teyla a smile as she entered, and he noticed that Rodney had paused his talking when Teyla walked in. Yet he didn't stop talking when Ronon showed up. Well, that's odd.
"Right, since you are all here, let's begin," started Sam. "While you were off world yesterday, some of the scientists came across a piece of information regarding some hidden rooms."
"Hidden rooms?" John was intrigued.
"Yes, Colonel, hidden. We have narrowed them down to three possible locations."
He watched as Carter brought up the map of the city and pointed out the locations. John was surprised that none of the possible locations were near transporters, which would mean a fair bit of walking and the high probability of Rodney moaning constantly.
"What's supposedly in these 'hidden' rooms?" Rodney asked.
"From what we could make out, it is something to do with Ascension."
John looked at Rodney noticing that they were thinking practically the same thing - the energy cloud creature that had accidentally been let lose when they had first arrived. He really did not want a repeat performance, especially since they had a ZPM now. The creature would end up twice the size of the first, and they wouldn't have Rodney in a shield this time to save them.
"So one of these rooms has something in it to do with Ascension and not that I'm not curious because I am, I mean I really, really am. But why send us? Why not Zelenka?" McKay asked.
"The first room I sent a science team to was locked. None of that team had a strong enough gene to open the door, which is why I'm sending you guys in," Carter answered.
"So you want us to go and unlock the doors?" John asked.
Not that he minded traipsing around the city unlocking doors and discovering secrets, but he couldn't help remembering the smile from earlier. Something was not right; he could feel it.
"Basically, yes. I know you don't normally do this type of thing, Colonel, but I would appreciate it if you could find out as much as possible."
He knew exactly what she was asking, without actually asking it. His gene had grown stronger from the connection with Atlantis, so he could get more information on the rooms than anyone else. It had taken him a while to master only taking the information in that he needed, and it often left him with a headache for hours afterwards. But if it was going to help, he would do it. That's what Atlantis had given him the connection for after all.
"Thank you, Colonel. You are all dismissed. Feel free to gather your stuff and head out as soon as you're ready."
John got to his feet and offered Sam a nod of his head before leaving the room. He heard the others follow him down into the locker room.
"You think there really is going to be some more of Ancient tech in the rooms?" asked Ronon as they geared up.
"I don't know," John replied, "but Carter certainly thinks so."
"If Colonel Carter is correct, then it is a good thing we have Dr. McKay with us," Teyla commented.
Smiling, John shook his head. He knew what Teyla was doing, stroking Rodney's ego, and it would keep the complaining at bay. Although it only seemed to work when Teyla did it, any time he or anyone else tried they were accused of wanting something or making fun of him.
"Why's that then?" he asked.
Although Rodney was not actually speaking, John knew he was listening to every word that was being said.
"We have someone that can understand the Ancestors' writing."
"Good point," he replied. "Right, let's move out. The sooner we start, the sooner we will be finished."
Clipping the P90 to his tac vest, he headed out. He knew from the many experiences they had had - Wraith that had snuck in, Replicators that could still be hiding, a lot of things really - that he could never be too careful. So he wasn't going to take any chances, not with his team's lives or his own.
As they moved farther away from the centre of the city, he noticed the silence more. Even Rodney's talking could not really fill the void of quietness; there was no hum of other people for him to listen to. As John walked down the corridors, he had to turn the small light on top of the P90 on, so he didn't trip over anything.
It wasn't dark as such, just dull. It was obvious they were on the lower levels of the city. He carried on leading the way. Although he had never walked these corridors before, he just knew instantly which way to go.
"I'm picking up a strange energy reading," spoke Rodney.
"Where? Is it like the black cloud thing?" John asked.
He stopped at a corner. It seemed they were close, but he didn't want to go around opening doors if he was going to be letting something out.
"No, it isn't like the black cloud thing, Colonel. According to this, it's just down here," replied Rodney.
John had to grab Rodney's arm as he tried to take the lead. He wasn't sure how many times he had distinctly told Rodney not to walk ahead of him. It was his job to protect the scientist, not the other way around, and John couldn't do that if Rodney went first.
"What?" asked Rodney.
"I'll take point, McKay."
"Oh please, we are on Atlantis, Colonel," scoffed Rodney
"You don't know what is down there, McKay!"
"I can guess. Doors, corridors, possibly a control panel. Nothing to get all…military over."
"Rodney, perhaps it is best if you let Colonel Sheppard go first. We do not know what sort of thing the Ancestors or the Replicators left behind during their stay here," cautioned Teyla.
John was very happy to have Teyla on his team just then. He could actually see Rodney shiver at what kind of surprise the Replicators could have left behind. He gave Teyla a grateful smile as he finally let go of Rodney's arms. John stepped around the corner, light bouncing off the walls. His footsteps and those of his team sounded exceedingly loud as they made their way down the corridor.
He noticed that there were no windows down the corridor, making it almost impossible to see anything more than a meter away from him. Finally he reached the end of the corridor to find a dead end, no door, no nothing.
Turning to Rodney, he asked, "Well?"
"It should be here. The energy reading is right in front of us," Rodney insisted.
"Well, McKay, this is a dead end, no door here unless there is another way in?"
"There doesn't seem to be. The energy is just in this one place."
Sighing, John ran a hand through his hair; everything in him was telling him he had come the right way. But now he wasn't sure, and with Rodney also saying it wasn't here, he really started doubting himself.
"Okay, we head back, let Carter know, and take it from there," John decided.
"But the energy reading," protested Rodney.
"What do you want me to do, McKay? I don't see a door, do you? We go back."
He felt a bit like he had kicked a puppy when Rodney let out a disappointed sigh. He didn't like pulling rank or disappointing Rodney, especially on something like this, but it couldn't be helped. He had no idea how to get into that supposed room, which meant he had to scrap the mission.
Maybe he could come back with some way to get through the wall without breaking anything. Turning away from the door, he intended to follow his team back up the corridor when he felt something brush past his back.
John quickly turned around to see the figure standing there, smiling at him again. He felt his blood run cold as she continued to stare at him. He started to shout for the others when she held a finger up to her lips, shushing him.
"What do you want?" he asked.
"You will see, John Sheppard, that ignorance is not bliss." the figure warned.
With that she vanished, and the wall in front of him lit up. It was not a wall at all but a very well designed door that blended into the walls seamlessly. John reached out a hand to open the door when Rodney's voice shouted at him.
"Colonel, what the hell!"
Turning around, he smiled as Rodney stood staring at the door. Of course Rodney's shout had brought Ronon and Teyla running as well. He held up his hands slightly as Ronon had his weapon trained on him, ready to fire.
"It's alright; I just found the door," he said.
"Dunno, it just appeared."
He shrugged; it wasn't exactly the truth, but he doubted that any of them would really believe the story of the blue-ish figure. He had not exactly mentioned that part to anyone when he was explaining about his connection to Atlantis.
"Maybe we should open the door," suggested Teyla.
"Of course," replied Rodney.
Before John got a chance to stop him, Rodney had stepped around him and pressed a hand across the panel. Nothing happened; the door stayed put. Again he hated the look of confused upset on Rodney's face, but he was also glad it hadn't worked. They didn't know what lay behind that door.
"It doesn't work," said Rodney, now glaring at the door. "This is a complete waste of time, stupid door doesn't even respond."
Shaking his head, John reached past Rodney and pressed a hand across the door panel. The door gave a bit of a shudder before it finally opened, and he gave Rodney a smirk before stepping into the room. The room smelled musty, and there were signs that it had some water damage from being submerged for so long and from the storm a few years back.
"Watch your step, and don't touch anything," he said looking at Rodney.
"What? Why did you look at me when you said that?"
"Because, McKay, you normally press something, so this time, don't."
"I wasn't going to anyway!"
"Good," said John.
As he walked further into the room, his boots squeaked slightly, and he noticed that the lights were flickering as they got used to being on. There, in the middle of the room facing away from the door, was a console.
It was kind of like the ones in the Gateroom, but this one had its own screen. John stepped towards it when he heard a slightly muffled curse. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Rodney had tripped over the small step up to the console. Obviously, Rodney had decided following John was the best idea.
"Careful, McKay," he said.
"Of course, Colonel."
He smiled as he watched Rodney for a moment before shaking his head. Sometimes Rodney amused him far too much, but he knew if the laughed, he would hurt Rodney's feelings. John didn't want that.
"Colonel," called Ronon.
He patted Rodney on the shoulder as he passed, going over to see what Ronon had found. He was surprised to find what looked like rows of drawers with Ancient writing on each of them. He shared a look with Ronon; he didn't think this room had something to do with ascending any more. In fact, he was willing to bet a week's supply of power bars that this was Atlantis' doing, somehow.
He was tempted to open one of the drawers and find out just what was inside, but John knew better than to do that, especially without having any clue as to what could be inside. He turned to his left and went over to the far wall; again he came across the same thing.
Drawers lined that wall as well, each with Ancient writing. If he didn't know any better, John would have said he was in some kind of a morgue. Yet that couldn't be right because he knew most of the Ancients either ascended or left for Earth.
"Teyla?" he called.
"I have the same over here, Colonel," replied Teyla, the concern clear in her voice.
"McKay, can you figure anything out?"
"Working on it, Colonel."
He rolled his eyes; trust Rodney to have not listened when he told him not to touch anything, but then in a way he was thankful that Rodney had done that. It meant that they would have an answer more quickly and be able to know exactly what this room was used for.
Shivering he started walking around the room, noticing more and more drawers on the walls. Hell, there were even some on the wall next to the door, although they looked more like a pattern than actual drawers. Probably there to keep in with the rest of the walls. He hoped that Rodney would give him an answer soon as to what the room was.
John was just taking another walk around the box like room when he felt something brush past his back. Turning around, he shook his head as he saw the figure. He noticed that none of the others could see her. Okay, that's a bit weird.
"What do you want?" he hissed, making sure his voice didn't carry.
He didn't need his team thinking he was crazy again.
"This room is for your eyes only; only you can truly understand what this room holds," the figure explained.
"Well, my team isn't leaving this room; just leave us alone."
"You must do as I say if you do not…"
"You'll what? Anything you say is not going to scare me. I've faced down Wraith, remember!"
"Pain comes in many forms. You have been duly warned, John Sheppard."
He watched as she vanished. That really annoyed him. Sighing he turned to his team. Rodney was working away at the console, muttering to himself. John vaguely wondered if Rodney talked in his sleep. He smiled inwardly at that mental image before looking over to Ronon and Teyla who were now talking quietly together on the far side of the room.
They were close; John could tell that. He often wondered if there was something between them but had always dismissed the notion. He knew that Ronon was still mourning the loss of his wife. Sighing, he slowly walked over to the two of them.
"Look, I don't think there is much point in you guys hanging around. Head back to Carter, and let her know what we haven't found," he said.
"You sure you and McKay are gonna be okay?" Ronon asked.
"It's an empty room. Nothing is going to happen."
He ignored the small chill he felt creeping over his arms and neck. It was just his imagination; he was sure of it.
"So long as you are sure, Colonel?" asked Teyla.
"Trust me; we'll be fine."
John led the other two to the door; he realized that through all of that Rodney hadn't even looked up. Going over he stepped up to the console making his presence known; it wouldn't do to make Rodney jump.
"What have you found?" he asked.
"Nothing, it's all in some kind of code. I can definitely break it but I'm gonna need my laptop for it," said Rodney quickly.
Raising an eyebrow, John stared pointedly at him. If that wasn't a hint, then he didn't know what was. But he was not prepared to leave Rodney alone in a strange room filled with drawers, especially after his little argument with Miss Pissy Atlantis herself.
"Well, we'll head back then, give Carter a rundown of what we found, then come back," he said.
"I'll continue working then."
"I'm not leaving you here on your own, McKay."
He wondered if Rodney ever listened to anything he said or if he just heard the bits he wanted to hear.
"Colonel, it's an empty room on Atlantis. I can take care of myself, thank you very much."
"What happens if you activate something?"
"Did you not hear me? Most of this information is in a code. Even when I break it, I won't activate anything. You won't have to worry your small military brain over this."
Oh, so Rodney had resorted to insulting him to get him to leave, but it wasn't going to work. John saw Rodney go for something on the console; instinctively he grabbed his arm, stopping it in its tracks.
"If I leave this room, you'll come with me, McKay!" John ordered.
"What the! Colonel, let go!"
He was not expecting Rodney to pull his arm back so forcefully, and he ended up stumbling into the console with his hand landing heavily on top. He shuddered violently as Atlantis took advantage of his momentary lapse of control and bombarded him with the information from the room.
The connection in his head pulsed in time with his heartbeat, making him close his eyes tightly. With the connection being so powerful, he couldn't hear Rodney shouting at him. John saw the code that Rodney had been talking about, along with what it meant and what it was hiding.
He let out a whimper as he saw what had happened in this room all those years ago. It stopped as quickly as it had started, and John stumbled back into one of the walls, breathing heavily. His head was pounding, his legs felt weak, and his stomach was churning horrendously. Slowly, he opened his eyes to find Rodney standing in front of him, holding him up so he couldn't sink to the floor.
Bringing up his own hands, John held onto Rodney's arms as his stomach slowly stopped trying to tie itself up in knots. He stared into the blue eyes noticing that now Rodney was there it was grounding him, he wasn't getting lost in the information he had just consumed. Finally, his breathing slowed, and he let go of Rodney, smiling tiredly as Rodney also let go of him.
"I think we should get Keller down here," said Rodney.
Shaking his head, John said, "I'm fine. It was just a little…intense."
"A little intense! Colonel, you were having some kind of seizure; you wouldn't respond when I called your name!"
He truly was; he had not meant to scare Rodney so much, and he was tempted to pull the man close to him. But he squashed the idea; John didn't think Rodney would appreciate it at the moment, not after he had just scared him so much.
"Yeah, well, sorry doesn't cut it, Colonel! You can't think that I will let this go! You need to see Keller, Colonel, I can't…"
"I know the code you need," he said.
"If you think that changing the subject is going to stop…wait, what?" asked Rodney, confused.
Oh, he knew that would shut Rodney up, although he did feel a little bit bad about his methods. But he knew that, if Rodney had carried on, he would have ended up in the infirmary. Of course, the fact that Rodney was so concerned about him was rather nice.
"I know the code," he repeated.
"Well, what is it?"
"McKay…Rodney, this room…it doesn't have anything to do with them ascending," John said.
"What? How do you even know that? You can't know that, Colonel!"
"I can, Rodney."
"Look, just give me the code, so I can get some work done."
John knew that, no matter what he said at that moment, Rodney wouldn't listen to him. Sighing, he stepped back to the console, hesitating for a moment before putting the code in. He watched as the screen flickered briefly before giving the information they wanted in the correct order.
"There, don't say I didn't warn you though," he replied.
"Thank you, Colonel."
He watched as Rodney started eagerly reading through the scrolling information. Shaking his head, John headed to the door. Although it was dull in the corridor, he felt like it was a breath of fresh air from the musty room. Taking a deep breath, he leaned against the outside wall, closing his eyes for a moment. All the information he had taken in was…God, it was awful. He felt himself shiver as he thought of what he had taken in.
"We told you that you should not ignore us." the voice chided.
Opening his eyes, John glared at the figure standing before him. He was really beginning to detest the woman and everything she stood for.
She smiled, "I do not think so, John Sheppard. You see, you now know one of Atlantis' dark secrets."
"One, how many are there?"
"That would be sharing too much information with you."
"Too much! I just saw a side of the Ancients I never want to see again!" John cried.
"You think that they were all nice. You know that they were fighting the Wraith. They had to fight any way they could."
John was slightly unnerved that the figure found the whole situation a laughing matter.
"And that gave them the right to do something like that!" he said, gesturing into the room. "I don't want this anymore; I don't need to know what secrets Atlantis has in the closet! Take this away!"
"We have already spoken at great length about this. It is not possible. Besides if we took it away, how would you save your friend?"
A cold dead weight settled in his stomach at the words. Fear had gripped his chest, and he could feel his breathing pick up.
"Your friend is currently being disgusted at the information he has gathered; oh but he's more than a friend. You feel for him. That is going to be such a disappointment," the figure mocked.
"Leave him alone!"
"I'm afraid he knows too much, John Sheppard. The secrets of Atlantis are only for the Main Connector's eyes and mind."
"What are you going to do?"
"I have not done anything. When you fell on to the console, you set off the room's defence system. The console is programmed to explode and send the room into a lock down," she said frowning. "It is a shame; Atlantis always held a special place for this room, and now it has to be destroyed. Oh, don't worry. The explosion will be contained to this room; it won't affect anything else."
John stopped listening as he felt the floor give an ominous shake, without thinking he dashed into the room only just making it past the door as it slammed behind him.
"McKay!" he shouted.
But his voice was drowned out by the low rumbling noise; it grew in pitch until it was all John could hear. He could see Rodney grip the console to steady himself, and he wanted to shout at him, tell him to let go. The drawers on the walls started cracking and splitting opening, bits of Ancient glass shattering on the floor.
God, John hoped that all that stuff in the drawers was dead. Otherwise they would be in even more trouble. He saw that the back of the console had started shaking now. He screamed out at Rodney, but the other man couldn't hear him. The rumbling noise was deafening now.
John tried to make his way to the console, but something caught the backs of his knees, sending him to the floor. It was hard to get back up as the shaking continued; several times he fell flat on the floor, P90 digging into his stomach.
Finally he touched the bottom of Rodney's trousers, trying to get him away from the console. But John wasn't quick enough as the console exploded sending Rodney flying into the wall. It also sent him skidding across the floor. John smashed his head on the wall hard, and the last thing he saw before passing out was Rodney being covered by debris from the console. He never saw the room covered in sparks or the figure standing in the middle, admiring the destruction. It truly was a shame they lost this room.
He groaned; God, his head hurt a lot. He tried to turn away from the voice that was calling him, but there was something pressed against his back, something solid.
Slowly, he opened his eyes, letting out another low moan as the light made his head pound even more. Finally things started registering, like the cold hard wall against his back, the sparking console in front of him, and the dust that seemed to be falling like rain. Also the blue-ish figure was standing in front of him, watching him with disapproval, or was that disappointment? He really couldn't tell which, with his head hurting.
"John Sheppard." she said again.
"I'm awake," he said, coughing slightly.
"We did fear the worse for a moment, John Sheppard, but Atlantis is glad you are awake now."
"Good for Atlantis," he snapped.
Carefully, he climbed to his feet, holding onto the wall as his head cleared some more. Letting go of the wall, he surveyed what was left of the room which wasn't much. Half the drawers were either opened, cracked, or completely shattered, scattered across the floor, the console…Well, all that was left of that was the step up to it.
Off to the side of the console was a pile of rubble, but there was something about that pile of rubble that made John stare. He couldn't place why that pile felt so important to him; he was having trouble remembering things in any kind of order at the moment. John tried to take a step towards the rubble, but the figure stopped him by stepping in front of him.
"Move," he said.
The urgency in his stomach was starting to claw its way up to his chest. He had to get to that pile; he just had to.
"It is too late for your friend."
Suddenly he remembered, remembered who was in the room with him when it had gone to pieces, Rodney. Now along with the urgency, he felt sick. He had to get to his friend; he had to help him. Again John went to rush forwards, but the figure stopped him. As he still wasn't comfortable walking 'through' her, he had to stop.
"Let me pass, now!"
"We told you; ignorance is not bliss. You ignored us; you must pay the price," the figure said.
"Yes, you told me, so why am I not the one under that debris?" he asked.
He anxiously peered around the figure and felt his stomach drop when he couldn't see anything of Rodney, only the pile of fragments that had a layer of dust falling on it.
"We tried that. You need to listen to reason; you needed something to make you realise you cannot ignore this."
"So you hurt McKay!" he shouted. "Move, now!"
Again he tried moving around the figure, but she refused to let him pass and kept blocking his way.
"God damn it, I said move!"
John was practically screaming now. He had to get to Rodney; he had to help his friend. John couldn't just leave him to die under all that rubble, but the figure wouldn't let him past.
"It is too late; we have told you that." said the figure coldly.
"You have given me nothing but lies. Now either let me pass, or I promise I will find a way to stop this connection!"
"Everything I have told you has been the truth, John Sheppard. I have not led anyone astray or lied to you!"
"Oh anger, didn't think a program could get angry," John taunted.
He could see the anger bubbling just underneath the surface of the figure's face; he took advantage of her distraction and managed to step around her. He was at the pile of debris in a matter of seconds and knelt down to start moving bits of console fragments away slowly from the body.
"Stop, you cannot do that!" the figure insisted.
"Why don't you do something useful, and get Atlantis to let someone know we are here?" John replied.
John didn't stop moving rubble, and after a moment of silence he glanced over his shoulder to see that she had disappeared. Good riddance, he thought as he concentrated on moving more of the debris slowly. The last thing he wanted to do was cause Rodney any more pain or damage.
After what felt like a lifetime, he pulled away a piece of rubble to uncover a bloodied hand, Rodney's bloodied hand. Throwing the piece of metal to the side, John gripped hold of Rodney's hand; it was cool to the touch. For one brief moment, he felt his whole world turn black as he thought that he had lost Rodney for good.
He never heard himself mumbling words of encouragement as he felt for a pulse just below the slippery thumb and held his breath. At first John couldn't feel anything except for the slick, thick blood, but after wiping his hand on his trousers a few times, he finally felt skin, chilled skin. Closing his eyes, he prayed to whoever was listening before pressing down. He managed to find a weak, very weak, pulse.
"That's it, McKay, you keep fighting," he said, relief thudding thought him.
Keeping one hand gripped tightly on Rodney's, he kept shifting the rubble. It was even slower going now he was only using one hand, but he didn't care. John had to keep hold of the hand for the reassurance that Rodney was still alive. At one point he was sure he had felt Rodney move but was disappointed when he realize that it had just been him moving the hand, not Rodney. All the time he was moving rubble, he was talking, rambling on, a trait that he most definitely had picked up from Rodney, about anything and everything.
He was half way through uncovering Rodney's head when he felt the presence of the figure behind him. But he didn't bother acknowledging her; he had more important things to do. It seemed that the figure did not want to be ignored, and he felt a chill run down his back as she dragged a hand across his neck.
"Leave me alone," he said.
"Leave him. It is too late for him now."
"Don't say that."
"But you must believe me. I have not lied to you yet, and I never would. I have always helped you, John," the figure attempted to persuade him.
"What do you want? I mean, you've already tried to kill me and now Rodney. So what do you want?"
He could feel the anger in him like a wave breaking on the shore; it just kept on crashing over him. It was all he could feel as he twisted around to stare at the figure.
"I want the Main Connector to remember what it is he does," the figure demanded.
"Well you've got the wrong guy," he replied.
"I have not. You connected; you agreed, remember?"
"I agreed, so you'd stop with the headaches you were giving me."
He turned back to continue with clearing the pieces of console off of Rodney. John was worried about the amount of blood he could see surrounding Rodney's body. What he wasn't expecting was to be wrenched away from Rodney by the supposed holographic imagine and be thrown across the room. He ended up cutting his forearm on a piece of drawer as he slid across the floor amongst the debris.
"What the hell?"
"I warned you repeatedly, John Sheppard, do not ignore me!"
"How?" John asked bewilderedly.
"I'm also programmed to take a solid form when I feel the city is in need of protecting."
"Great, a security measure!"
He got to his feet, ignoring the bleeding arm. He was damned if he was going to let some programmed security system stop him from helping Rodney. He took a step towards his friend, but she stepped in his way, her hand actually pressing against his chest, stopping him.
"This form will last for another twenty minutes of your time before I take holographic form again," the figure said.
"Fine, then I'll wait."
"But with the amount of weight pressing down on your friend, he will not survive for very much longer."
John felt his stomach drop; this program was going to make him watch Rodney die. He didn't want Rodney to die because of him; Rodney wasn't allowed to die yet.
"You can't let Rodney die; he hasn't done anything wrong," he insisted.
"He has seen this room. That is enough," decreed the now solid figure.
"What, to warrant a death sentence?" he exclaimed angrily.
"Yes, this room is not the Ancients' proudest moment, this room…"
"Is going to be Rodney's tomb!"
"That is not true; you can take him back once you leave this room."
"I get to take a dead body back? You're kidding. There is no way I'll let Rodney die in here by your hand!" John ranted.
He wasn't sure if it was tears or sweat on his face, although he was telling himself it was sweat from moving the rubble. He was frustrated, tired, but most of all he was in pain, emotional pain. The thought that he might lose Rodney was so painful, it made his chest ache and his mouth dry.
"You fell into the console; you hit that button. By your hand you will watch your friend die," the figure replied.
"No, I didn't do that," John denied.
He took a step back, shaking his head. He knew he had fallen onto the console, but he hadn't pressed any buttons. Had he? No, it wasn't possible, was it? He couldn't remember now; everything was fuzzy.
"I can show you evidence if you would like?"
"Fine," John snapped. "I did it, so you can show some mercy and let him live. Show the whole of this base that you have compassion, that you feel something and aren't just some automated program!"
God, he really hoped that appealing to the figure's pride was going to work. Otherwise he was going to have to forcibly move her out of the way. He wouldn't be able to get to Rodney and keep him alive till the others got there. He watched as the figure thought over what he had suggested.
"We know you did it; this is not our fault, so therefore we do not have to fix it. The decision stands. Rodney McKay knows what this room is, and we can't allow that. I'm sorry."
"Look, even if I hadn't connected, and you hadn't shown us this room, we would have still found it. You wouldn't have been able to stop us. This would still happen, so let me help him!" John argued.
If he could, he would have gotten down on his knees and begged, but he had a lot more dignity than that. John did let his mask slip, let the figure see that he really wanted Rodney to live. He didn't realise that he had been holding his breath until the figure nodded her head. Again relief thundered through him, making him feel light headed.
"Once you leave this room, you cannot ignore us anymore. That is the agreement, or I let him die." the figure announced.
At that moment in time, he would have agreed to become a Wraith's meal if it meant he could save Rodney. As soon as the figure moved, John dashed back to Rodney's side, finding the pulse again, but it had gotten weaker; he could hardly feel it now.
"Come on, buddy, don't give up now."
John was doubly certain that this time he felt Rodney's hand twitch, and he couldn't help smiling. That is what he liked to feel, Rodney fighting. He found it amazing when Rodney fought, and it always made him feel proud that Rodney had learned something from him, even if it was something as small as learning to hold on just that little bit longer. He squeezed the hand tightly, hoping that Rodney would get the message; he wasn't alone.
Again he started the difficult task of moving rubble from around Rodney's body. As he was moving a piece from Rodney's legs, John realized something. The tight, sick feeling he had every time something happened to Rodney was because he had feelings beyond friendship for Rodney.
He felt something very strong for Rodney. It wasn't love; John didn't open his heart that easily any more. But he definitely felt something akin to love for Rodney, and with the man lying almost dead in front of him, it hurt. That is what that pain he felt earlier was; it was his feelings for Rodney.
"Great time for a clue, Sheppard," he said.
He could have hit himself for being so stupid, but then again it gave him more reason to make sure that Rodney survived this escapade. It also made him realise that this was the reason why they always argued so much and why he went to Rodney when he was in trouble.
Shaking his head, he got back to work, carefully removing shrapnel from Rodney's legs. As he moved one particularly sharp piece, he found the source of all the blood. Rodney's legs had been torn down to the bone, and he was certain that one leg was broken.
"Sorry, Rodney, but you might feel this."
He knew Rodney was unconscious which was unnerving in itself. John wasn't used to Rodney being so quiet and still, but he also knew that sometimes you could still feel and hear things while unconscious. He just hoped that on this occasion Rodney could only hear his voice and not feel anything.
He somehow was going to have to make three make-shift bandages, but most of Rodney's clothing was covered in blood. Plus all he had on was his jacket, and John wasn't sure he would be able to rip it. The SGC had made sure they were double the thickness, so they didn't tear as easily.
Making a quick decision, he ripped some material off his t-shirt and tied one piece at the top of the wounds to stop them from bleeding. He did the same with the second leg but added another piece to the ankle along with a piece of straight rubble to act as a splint underneath the leg. It was only when he pulled the material tight that Rodney started making a sound.
Securing the make-shift bandages, he moved so that he was kneeling near Rodney's head. John knew what Rodney was like when first waking. Sure enough, as soon as the blue eyes opened, Rodney started flailing, the pain making him want to curl up. John held onto Rodney's shoulders, hoping that it would offer at least a small amount of comfort and calm him down more quickly.
"Hey, McKay, welcome back," he said quietly.
"Just take it easy; you're hurt pretty badly," John said.
"God, my legs! I'm dying, aren't I? That's why you're holding me down, isn't it? Oh God, I'm gonna die!" Rodney wailed.
He vaguely wondered how Rodney could go from being unconscious and nonresponsive to wide awake in a matter of minutes. But he wasn't going to dispute the fact; to him Rodney being this awake was a good thing.
"You aren't gonna die, Rodney, I swear."
"But my legs?"
"Are banged up, that's all," John attempted to calm Rodney.
He wasn't going to let Rodney sit up to see them either. Finally, he let go of Rodney's shoulders. Taking off his jacket, he rolled it into a ball and put it behind Rodney's head to act as a pillow.
"I need to find a way out; the door sealed itself shut," he said.
Getting to his feet, John was acutely aware of Rodney watching him. He knew that when Rodney was injured, he didn't like being on his own. Hell, he could hardly blame him, too many times he had suffered on his own from injuries, and it wasn't a pleasant experience when all you had for company was the pain.
"I could help," Rodney offered.
"No, stay there. I can fix this."
"Colonel, the place…is in bits. You…can't fix all of…this."
He had noticed the little pauses in Rodney's sentence, and that worried him. It meant Rodney was starting to feel the pain, and John had nothing to give him to ease it.
"I can try," he replied.
There was a niggle of guilt worming its way into John's head though; he couldn't fix this, not after he had caused it. He looked at Rodney and noticed the drawn, pain-filled lines on his face, he'd caused that. He had injured Rodney, brought the man so close to death that he could call himself the Grim Reaper.
Well, at least he isn't going to know about your feelings now. As soon as he finds out this was your doing, Shep, you might as well have gone into stasis. The thoughts made him feel sick, and he had to turn away, unable to face what he had done. The guilt turned to acid in his mouth as anger at himself started to eat him, to squash any other feelings.
"C-colonel you can't…fix this when…there is nothing left," said Rodney, through gritted teeth.
"What do you know, McKay?" he spat out, losing his temper. "I'm not just some military grunt that you can look down your nose at. Hell, I've spent three years working by your side, McKay. Is it that hard to think that I may have picked something up?"
By the end, he was shouting with all the anger he felt at himself for causing this mess. He tried to stop himself from talking; he really did try, but the words still came from his mouth. It was like a flash flood. Once it started, it never stopped, it never gave way and never changed course.
"Well, of course…there is, Colonel…but this room is…unfixable!"
"I know that, McKay. Thanks for the insight!"
"Then you…gotta wait for…the others!" Rodney panted.
"I'm not gonna sit around watching you…"
John shut up quickly, as he realized what he was about to say. He may be angry at himself, but that didn't mean he had the right to take away Rodney's hope.
"Watching me what? Die? Is that it…Colonel? I'm gonna die."
Okay, so he knew the moment this argument had started that Rodney would be the one making sense instead of him. That's how John knew that this situation was a little out of his control now.
"No, I won't let that happen," he said quietly. "But I can fix this, Rodney. This is my mess."
"Ours," Rodney corrected.
"It's our mess," said Rodney softly.
Going over, he knelt next to Rodney again and took hold of his bloodied hand, frowning as it was still cool to the touch, a sure sign that Rodney was going into shock.
"It is mine, McKay. When I fell into the console, I pressed something, therefore my fault."
He wasn't looking at Rodney as he spoke. He was watching his hand as it carefully wiped the sticky red blood away. Well actually, he just ended up smearing it around the pale hand, but it was the gesture that counted. John liked Rodney's hands; they were big, able to comfort in the strangest of ways and explain things a lighting speed.
"I pulled you…it is our fault…Colonel."
He shook his head, how could he explain to Rodney that it was his fault? If he hadn't ignored Atlantis and his connection, then they wouldn't have been stuck in this room with his mess.
John felt a hand holding his arm. He looked at his arm and saw that the cut was a lot deeper than he had realized.
"It's nothing, just a scratch."
Finally, he looked up and was caught in the blue gaze before him. John wanted to lean down and hold onto Rodney. But with the mess he had caused, it wasn't a good idea.
"I know, genius remember," said Rodney before succumbing to a coughing fit.
John held on to Rodney's hand as coughs racked his body. He was slightly alarmed to find that Rodney had coughed up blood. He looked over his shoulder to find that the figure had turned back to her holographic form. He begged with his eyes for her to help them. He couldn't lose Rodney, not now.
But the figure shook her head before disappearing again; looking back at Rodney he was even more alarmed to find that Rodney had closed his eyes, looking for the entire world like he had died.
"McKay! Rodney, come on, McKay, rise and shine!" he said, giving the shoulder a small shake.
"'Urts 'olonel, 'urts," slurred Rodney.
"I know, but you gotta stay awake. I'm gonna get the door open. You gotta talk to me, stay awake, yeah?" John pleaded.
"No, no sleeping, Rodney. Stay awake," he answered. He leaned forwards so that he could whisper into Rodney's ear, "For me, stay awake for me. Please."
It seemed to work as Rodney squeezed his hand in response before starting to talk quietly at him. John slowly moved away from the now pale form of Rodney and headed towards the door. He had to get the door open, to get outside of the room and radio for help.
"The door is sealed," the figure spoke suddenly.
"I know, but I'm gonna try to open it."
"Is gonna be held just so long as Rodney gets out of here alive," he said turning to look at her. "If he dies, the agreement is off."
"That is not what…"
"It is exactly what we agreed!"
He realized then that, although he was talking to the figure, Rodney was also still talking to him. God, he was gonna give Rodney as much coffee as he wanted after this for the amount of effort he had put into staying awake.
Taking a step closer to the blue-ish figure, John said, "Open the door now, or the deal is off,"
"I can make demands. Now do it!" he shouted.
His nerves were visibly shattered now, and he didn't need this type of hassle from the figure. He had a job to do, and he was going to do it regardless of anything else.
"It's alright, Rodney; I've just found a way to open the door."
He gave the figure a smug look before going back over to Rodney. Again he knelt down on the floor besides him, taking hold of his hand.
"I gotta go outside the room to call for help. I won't be long; you stay awake Rodney," John said.
Now, he knew Rodney was bad, especially since his answers had gone down to just one word. He left the room quickly, praying the door wouldn't close behind him. Clicking his radio, John was thrilled when he got a signal.
He relayed a message to all open channels requesting a medical team, especially Keller, at his location ASAP. Before heading back inside, John sighed as he saw that Rodney had passed out.
This time he didn't bother trying to wake him, just made him as comfortable as he could. It seemed like a lifetime before the medical team turned up, then John spent several minutes explaining what had happened and then before he knew it, Rodney was being wheeled out.
The rest of his team turned up, and after that everything was a bit of a blur. He heard people talking at him but couldn't remember what they were saying. Before long John found himself lying back on an infirmary bed being given a sedative. He didn't even protest as the sedative made itself known, and he began to feel sleepy.
The last thing he heard was Keller shouting orders to get Rodney stabilized before he was dragged down into the deep sea of blackness once more. All feelings, everything that had happened were forgotten for the time being.
Everything felt fuzzy, like he had been hit repeatedly over his head a few too many times. His mouth was dry, and all he could do was make a small moaning noise as he tried to speak. But that at least did get him some attention as a moment later, he felt someone checking him over.
He never understood why doctors had to check you over twice; it was a mystery to him. Slowly he opened his eyes. Thankfully it wasn't too bright in the infirmary as he finally made out the smiling face of Keller staring back at him. Well he guessed it could have been worse; it could have been a Wraith smiling at him.
"Hey," he said hoarsely. His throat felt like sandpaper.
"Welcome back, Colonel, I wasn't expecting you to stay out for so long. How do you feel?"
"Like I got hit in the head a coupla dozen times."
He was going to speak again when he caught sight of the occupant of the bed facing his. His heart skipped a beat as he saw all the tubes and wires connected to the pale form of Rodney. John abruptly sat up, ignoring the spinning of the room, intending to go over there and sit with Rodney. But as he stood up, his legs wouldn't quite hold him, and he had to grip hold of the bed to stop himself from falling flat on his face.
"Colonel, get back into the bed," ordered Keller.
Grudgingly, he let Keller help him back up on to the bed. Once he sat back down, he turned his attention back to Keller. He wanted answers.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We had to sedate you, Colonel; you were in a state of shock. I didn't want to run the risk of you crashing. Now that you're awake, I want to keep you here for a day before I let you leave. Make sure the sedative has run its course."
He nodded. That was why he didn't like being given sedatives. They always took so long to clear out of his system.
"What about McKay?"
He watched as Keller looked over to Rodney before she turned back, and he could see the answer written all over her face; it was bad. He wanted an answer, but it seemed that Keller was at a loss for words to give him. Again he felt his chest restrict. If Keller was speechless, then he had reason to worry.
"Doc, what about McKay?" he demanded.
Sighing, Keller answered, "He is in a bad way, Colonel, and all we can do is wait and see. I'm sorry."
"No, you have to do something."
"Colonel, I have tried. I really have, but…"
"But we are in Atlantis! There has to be some kind of machine that can help him!"
He was not prepared to lose Rodney, not after he had finally admitted he had feelings for the man, if only to himself. It wasn't fair; this wasn't meant to be happening.
"He was talking in the room; he was talking," John insisted. "He was awake, Doc."
"I'm sorry, Colonel. Rodney used up a lot of his strength staying awake for you."
For you, the words rang in his head like a death bell sounded on an empty street, for you. That meant it was his fault, all his fault. By your hand, those words rang in his head. He felt sick; all this it was his fault. There was nothing else to it, his fault.
Leaning back against the bed, John let Keller's words drift over him. His eyes never left the still form of Rodney. How did he manage to do all that? How had it gotten so out of control? He should have had better control of this; he should have sorted it out sooner, instead of letting it drag on.
He lay on the bed for the following hour, going over and over what he should have done, how he should have done certain things. All the things that made the entire mess his fault. Although he did pay attention when Keller finally discharged him, he only got the usual spiel: rest and come back if he noticed any changes. But instead of heading out of the infirmary like he should have done, John headed to Rodney's bedside.
He reached Rodney's bed and hesitated. He didn't really have any right to be there at the moment. It was his fault that Rodney was in this mess. He moved, so his body was shielding him as he took hold of Rodney's hand, just like he had done back in the room, and gently ran a thumb over the smooth skin there, mindful of the tube stuck in the back of Rodney's hand.
Quietly, he started talking, "I don't say this often, but I'm sorry for landing you in this mess. It was my fault, McKay, all mine, that's why…that's…I'm gonna try connecting to the city again, find out why this happened. I want you to know…" he paused not sure how to continue. "That I…ah hell, Rodney, you're a genius, you know."
He gently squeezed the chilly hand before letting go. John had hoped that his little speech would have provoked some kind of reaction, but Rodney didn't move, didn't show any signs of having heard John speak. Sighing, he took a step back; it hurt a lot to be this close to Rodney.
"You gotta pull through this, McKay. You aren't allowed to die; that's an order!"
Finally John turned his back on Rodney and wrapped his arms around himself as he slowly left the infirmary. He was hoping that maybe Rodney would wake up before he left, but as the door came into view, he resigned himself to the fact that Rodney just was not going to respond to him.
He left the infirmary, taking a deep breath as he did so. John could feel himself shaking slightly. He hadn't realized just how badly Rodney had affected him until now. Slowly he started walking away, his legs feeling like lead as he walked the corridors. His stomach was twisting itself into knots so much that he feared he was going to be ill.
Reaching his quarters, he stepped inside the dark room. As the door closed behind him, all the emotions he'd been suppressing came to the surface. In a fit of pure grief, he picked up his book and threw it across the room, smiling painfully as it hit the wall with a dull thud.
He picked up something else to throw, not really seeing what it was, when he realized he wasn't alone. Turning, object still in hand, he glanced at the intruder that stood behind him.
"I would not do that," the figure said.
"Can't you leave me alone?"
"I am here to offer you something."
The figure was being helpful again. John wondered how she could flip between vindictively wanting to kill him and being helpful so quickly, but dismissed those thoughts. Now wasn't the time to be wonder about the figure, not while Rodney was lying in the infirmary fighting for his life. He dropped the object at her feet, silently admitting defeat.
"That so? Well shove it, I'm not interested!"
"It is about why I chose you and not one of the others here."
"You really think I care about that right now? Just get out!"
He turned away from the figure, disbelief course through him. This was so stupid; he couldn't deal with this now. Too much was out of his control, and it scared the crap out of him.
"You should care about it, John Sheppard, for it could possibly save your friend."
Turning back around quickly, he was ready to shout at her for bringing Rodney into the conversation, but he didn't. The blue-ish figure in the silken dress was giving him a pointed look, a look that let him know that he might just want to listen to what she had to say.
"Rodney is a fighter. He'll get through this, with or without my help."
"But do you really want to risk that? Without the knowledge I am offering, he will die," the figure said persuasively.
"Manipulating me!" he said angrily. "I agree to whatever it is that you say I have to do for you. So just stop it!"
He knew he shouldn't accept this offer without arguing about it. But he was hurting and not thinking straight, so being rational was not high on his list just then.
"I only ask that you let your connection to the city become stronger. Without that, the knowledge I give will not work."
"See, right there, I have to agree to do that before you'll give me anything!"
"The choice is ultimately yours, John. Do you really want Rodney to die by your hand again?"
"He will die. His ribs are crushed, and right at this moment your doctor is trying to restart his heart again."
"But the choice, as I have already said, is your own."
"You don't know anything!" he shouted. "It is my fault Rodney is laying there dying! He doesn't need me messing anything else up for him! It is my fault; nothing you give me can help!"
Breathing heavily, John sat down in the chair, putting his head in his hands. It is my fault, he thought pulling at his hair slightly, and the pain in his scalp distracted him from the pain in his chest.
"If it is your fault, then you should to take this offer to fix your mistake," the figure reasoned.
He snorted, "If only it were that easy."
"It is; you are more Ancient than you know."
"What does that mean?"
He could hear the tiredness in his voice, could feel the weariness take hold of him. He just wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there for a very long time. John did briefly wonder if he could transfer back to Earth, but if he did that, he would face a possible court martial for killing a team member.
"When the Ancients left the city, most made sure they would ascend when they reached Earth," the figure explained.
"I know all this. Spare me the history lesson," John said aggravated.
"Some Ancients made sure that the legacy would live on. The gene is not the only thing you possess, John Sheppard."
It took him several moments to figure out exactly what the figure was talking about. Slowly he looked up, letting his hands drop from his head, studying the figure closely. If he understood her correctly, that meant, that you have more going for you, Shep.
"I'm still not following?"
"You know the people of my Atlantis have a no interference…policy, but they did not want to be forgotten completely. They built the Stargates and left genetic imprints on people that…"
"That created the gene, nothing more," interrupted John.
"Genetic imprints from the Ancients grow stronger and more advanced with each generation. You just have to unlock it."
He rolled his eyes. Of course, there was always a catch. Why could nothing be that straight forward for him? Although his heart did beat a little bit faster at that revelation, maybe he could help Rodney.
"How do you know all this?"
The figure laughed, "I listen to what has been spoken over the years, and the returning Ancients last year filled in a lot of information for me."
"How do I help Rodney?"
John figured time was now of the essence, and he couldn't waste a second.
"The gene can give you access to the healing, but you have to let your connection grow."
"Then I can heal Rodney. How do I do that?"
He watched as the figure moved away from him, frowning as he got to his feet. If he could save Rodney, he had to act quickly without wasting time.
"It requires you submerging yourself into the connection," the figure answered.
"Yeah, you told me that already. Let's do it."
Since he had just figured out he was going to save Rodney, nothing else mattered. John felt lighter somehow, knowing that he was going to be helping instead of hurting Rodney again.
"The process will make your gene stronger. There is a possibility that it will become too much for you, and you will die. As your friend mentioned, you are not Ancient," warned the figure.
"Why are you so concerned?"
"The city does not wish for you die."
"Coulda fooled me," John retorted.
"Now is not the time to speak ill of Atlantis. Think carefully before you answer, John Sheppard. This could kill you."
His heart was beating so loudly that he was surprised people out in the corridors hadn't come to find out what the noise was. His tongue felt thick in his mouth as he realized that, if he went through with this, he could die. But then he thought of Rodney and of Keller telling him she had done everything she could. Well, now it was his turn to help. If this worked, then he would be seeing Rodney's face light up over some Ancient tech once more soon.
Finally, he came to a decision. Taking a deep breath, John took a step closer to the figure. He didn't care if this killed him; he had to try for Rodney.
"What do I do?"
"Head to the chair room. Atlantis will do the rest."
With that the figure disappeared. Without missing a beat, John left his quarters. Making his way through the corridors, he didn't make eye contact with anyone, afraid they would realize what he was about to do and try to stop him. Reaching the chair room, he was happy to find it empty and locked the doors behind him.
John didn't need to be disturbed while he was doing this. He walked around the chair once, his hand dragging across the top of it, feeling the coldness that was the Ancient Chair. If he died, then Rodney would die as well, so failing was not an option this time around.
"If you are ready?"
"Sit down," the figure instructed.
"This is for you, buddy," he murmured.
He hesitated again, just for a moment, before sitting himself down. He let his connection bring the chair online. At first nothing seemed to happen, except maybe a slight prickling in the back of his head.
The prickling started to heat up as his connection to the city grew stronger. Soon he felt like he was on fire; his whole body felt hot, too hot. Pain was starting to crawl up his legs as he felt the connection pull him farther into Atlantis than he'd ever been.
John began crying out as the heat and pain combined to torture his body. It felt like tiny hot poker sticks were being shoved into his skin repeatedly, all over his body. Even when he'd been fed on by Todd, it hadn't hurt this much. He closed his eyes tightly; his hands dug into the arms of the chair, his knuckles turning white.
With his eyes closed, he could see in his mind's eye exactly what Atlantis was giving him. It was so intense, everything he was taking in. His head felt so full of information he wasn't even sure would be able to remember any of it after all was said and done.
He could feel sweat drip down his back as he continued to heat up. He wanted to make a stupid joke about getting a sun tan on the inside to the figure, but all that came out was a shout of pain. He wondered if this was what Rodney was feeling at the moment.
As John thought of him, an image of Rodney appeared in his mind. It was an incentive to keep going, to keep fighting. So he did, he grit his teeth, clenched his hands even tighter, screwed his eyes closed, and let the pain wash over his body. Rodney was worth this pain; he was worth everything John could give him.
Heat reached new levels, and John wondered if steam was coming out of his ears like some sort of cartoon. He wanted to laugh at that, let out a really loud laugh and have Rodney look at him oddly. But he couldn't, he hurt too much.
Finally after what felt like a year and a half, the pain and heat left his body. The connection lasted slightly longer before finally receding until he was back in his own mind. His breathing was erratic as he opened his eyes and sat forwards.
His hair was plastered to his head, and his stomach was roiling so much that he thought he would be seeing his lunch again. He looked up to find the blue-ish figure smiling an actual, genuine smile at him. John smiled back, nodding his head in thanks for what she had offered him.
"I do apologize for the pain. This process is not the natural way."
He couldn't speak, not only did he not know what to say, but his throat was too dry. Slowly, he climbed to his feet, feeling his legs shake slightly. It took a moment for John to steady himself. Once he had, he unlocked the doors, smiling as he found his gene was easier to use.
"Go to your friend, John Sheppard."
"T-thank y-you," he croaked out.
For the second time that day, he was walking quickly through the corridors. He never noticed the lights becoming a little bit brighter as he passed. His whole focus was on getting to the infirmary to help Rodney. Maybe, just maybe, he would be able to sort out his mistakes and clear up his mess.
John strode into the infirmary with an air of confidence surrounding him. He walked past the empty beds until he saw Rodney's bed with Keller plus nurses rushing around. Without hesitation, he walked forwards, not saying a word and came to a stop at Rodney's side.
"Colonel, you have to move, we are trying to keep Dr. McKay alive!" protested Keller.
He just stared at Keller, still not saying a word. John turned back to Rodney and stretched his hand out to Rodney's chest. Closing his eyes, he searched for the part of him that would help.
Once he had done that, it was a matter of pushing it forwards. He felt the heat from before return, but it was nowhere near as intense as before. He could feel all the broken parts of Rodney's body and set about fixing them. He would not be losing Rodney, not today.
After a few minutes, he pulled his hand away and blinked, once, twice before slumping to the floor unconscious. John never saw the blue-ish figure watching him carefully and never heard her speak either.
"You are more Ancient, John Sheppard, but it has to come naturally. This was a one time deal. You won't remember doing this."
God, his head hurt. It felt like someone was trying to make mince meat with his brains. Mumbling John tried to move to see if it would ease the pain, but he couldn't. As he moved his hand slightly, he felt something tug just underneath the skin.
Groaning, he slowly opened his eyes but quickly closed them again. It was way too bright to be trying to open his eyes. It seemed all the fidgeting he was doing caught Keller's attention as he felt a cool hand placed on his bare arm.
John hadn't realized just how hot he was until then. Actually now it had been brought to his attention, he could feel the sheets sticking to him. He tried to kick the covers off, not really knowing what he was doing or where exactly he was.
"Colonel, just relax," said Keller.
The voice was a calm one, and he felt himself relax slightly. But he was still way too hot, and his head felt like it was going to explode.
"I'm going to give you something to help with the pain."
He wanted to nod or say something, but he couldn't. It hurt too much. But it soon didn't matter as a cool feeling crawled up his arm, all the way up to his head. Finally, the pain receded to the back of his mind, so it seemed like a memory. John knew how it felt, but he couldn't feel it. What was left in the wake of the pain was exhaustion, like he had gone several days without sleep, and he had to give in, he had to sleep…
"Colonel, it's good to see you awake."
Blinking a few times to clear the fog in his head, he smiled as Keller approached him. He had only been awake for a few minutes, and he was trying to get his head to stop swimming. It made remembering things a little problematic at the moment.
"Hey," he said.
God, his throat felt so dry, like he hadn't had a drink in weeks, which was impossible because he would have been dead. Dead, the word gave him a barrage of images; images of Rodney lying under rubble. Of Rodney being attached to all the medical equipment and of Keller telling him there was nothing she could do.
John felt fear grip him at the thought that he could have lost Rodney. He didn't dare contemplate what it would be like without him around Atlantis.
"Is fine, Colonel, I released him yesterday. You somehow saved him," answered Keller.
"I don't remember," John said, still very disoriented.
What do you remember?"
"The room, McKay being buried, you, the rest is just…kinda a blur. He is okay, isn't he?"
He wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry, not that he would be doing either of them in front of Keller. No, he would wait until he got back to his quarters before showing any kind of emotion; it was safer that way.
"He is completely healed," reassured Keller.
"Good. What about me? Why am I here?"
Sometimes he hated it when people had to fill in the blanks for him. Normally John would have just left it alone, not bothered with finding out what had happened to the missing time. But something was telling him that what had occurred was important.
"I released you, and you left for a short while before returning," started Keller. "It was like you were in some kind of trance. You wouldn't listen to anything anyone said. You healed Rodney, I don't know how, but you did. Then you collapsed and started running a fever. You were in a lot of pain, Colonel. At one point, we thought…Well, you are awake now; that's all that matters."
"I can't…I don't remember any of that."
Frustration gripped him, he had to remember, to find out what he had done, but he couldn't. He wasn't even getting any small flashes of memory. It was gone, completely and utterly gone.
"The fever could have something to do with that. I wouldn't worry too much. You are both alive which is the important thing."
He nodded. Of course, that was the important thing, that he and Rodney were alive. John just wished he knew how.
"So when can I leave?"
"I'll see how you do today. I want to make sure you don't relapse," Keller said.
"Well, I feel fine."
"Still I would rather wait a while before I consider letting you go."
"Aww, come on, Doc, what am I supposed to do here?" whined John.
He was confused at first by what she meant, then he followed her line of sight to see his book sitting on the table besides him. Smiling, John picked it up. He knew of only one person that would leave him his book. This meant that said person had been in to visit him earlier.
He wasn't really aware of the time passing until Keller came back an hour later. He had actually managed to read a whole chapter and a half of his book, more than his quota for a month.
"Can I leave now?" he asked, closing the book.
"Impatience, Colonel, will not get you released any quicker," replied Keller smiling.
Shaking his head, he let her do her checks. John liked Keller even if her humor was a little…odd. Once she had finished, he waited with baited breath to see if he would be discharged.
"You're still warm, Colonel, I'm going to keep you here over night."
"Look, I can rest perfectly well in my quarters."
"Yet you won't rest. I've read your file, remember."
He sighed before swinging himself around, so he was sitting on the edge of the bed, intending to get up.
"Look, I feel fine, I am fine, I'll rest, I promise."
God, he couldn't believe he was begging, but he knew it was true. He would rest much better in his own quarters. He needed his own private space to think over what had happened.
"You are not fine, Colonel. You are stuck here until tomorrow. That's an order," replied Keller.
"God damn it, I'm fine!" John bitched.
He wanted to throw something; he didn't want to be stuck in the infirmary. John needed to be on his own to sort out the feelings he had for a certain scientist.
"You are far from fine, Colonel. Now, are you gonna stay here voluntarily, or am I going to have to get Colonel Carter?"
John glared at Keller before sitting back up on the bed. He knew she was only doing her job, but he didn't like sitting around and waiting.
"Good, I'll be back later."
Watching Keller walk away, he was sure he heard her mutter something about 'stubborn military officers,' but he ignored it. Sighing, John closed his eyes; this was going to be a long day. Slowly he found himself drifting on the edge of sleep, the sounds of the infirmary keeping him from falling too deeply.
It was when he couldn't hear the sounds of the infirmary any more that he opened his eyes. Looking around, he realized that there was no around, not Keller or a single nurse…
"Hello?" he called.
But no one answered, he was completely alone. Pulling his covers off, he went to get up when he felt a chill pass across his back. John stopped moving; he knew that feeling all too well. Turning around, sure enough, he saw the figure standing there. Sighing, he leaned back against the pillows again, this was all he needed.
"What do you want?"
"To make sure you are well."
"After the gift you were given, Atlantis was worried," said the figure.
He felt like he had missed a big chunk of conversation somewhere along the way. It was worse than having a conversation with Rodney about some new discovery; he always jumped to the end first.
"I cannot share that information again; just know that you saved your…friend," the figure explained.
"That's it, that's all you came to say? That I saved Rodney? How, how did I save him?"
"You were more Ancient than you will ever remember."
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"It means it was not your friend's time to die after all."
"Well, that makes a change from trying to kill us."
John was pretty certain that he saw the figure looking a little bit apologetic. Well, he never thought he would see that happen.
"I will admit we did use some extreme ways to get your attention. For that I am sorry," she said. "This will be the last time I appear before you, John Sheppard. You have done as we asked. You are more Ancient than you know, now."
"What do you mean?"
But instead of an answer, all he got was a laugh and a hand on his cheek. Closing his eyes, he let the figure push him down before he felt her lean in close.
"Ancient is in your blood; it runs through your veins. Goodbye."
Gasping, John sat up suddenly, eyes flying open and breathing heavily; he realized that Keller was standing at his side looking worried.
"Colonel, can you hear me?"
He nodded, unable to form any kind of words at the moment. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest and his chest heave as he took in some much needed air.
"Good, I want you to just listen to my voice. Nothing else, okay?" said Keller.
Again, all he could do was nod, but he did manage a small smile as she took hold of his arm.
"I want you to slow your breathing down, small shallow breaths until you are calm," began Keller.
He continued listening as Keller gave him instructions to regulate his breathing. Finally after what felt like hours, he was breathing normally again. God if that was what Rodney felt like when panicking, John never wanted to feel that, ever again.
"Thanks," he whispered.
"You're welcome. What were you dreaming that made you panic like that?"
Frowning, he was sure he had been awake and shook his head negatively. As far as he could remember, he had been awake the whole time.
"Yes, dreaming, you were asleep."
"Colonel, are you okay?"
"Yeah…yeah, of course, sorry," John was still confused.
"Don't be, so the dream?"
The answer came so easily to his lips, a lie that nobody would dispute. Besides he couldn't tell Keller exactly what had trigged the panic attack, he would be shipped back to Earth if he did. No, it was best if he kept that information to himself.
"I understand, Colonel. Do you feel up to visitors?"
John didn't want anyone to think that he couldn't handle a little panic attack. Although that feeling of someone holding his chest, making it hard to breathe, made him shiver. He never, ever wanted to feel like that again; never. His thoughts were interrupted by his team entering the infirmary.
He felt his whole face break into a smile as he saw them. John's heart gave a little jump as he spotted Rodney looking for all the world like he hadn't been pulled out of rubble just days before. He oddly wanted to get up and hug him close to make sure it was real and not some strange fantasy his mind had made up.
"Hey guys," he said.
"Colonel, it is good to see you awake," said Teyla.
He was surprised when she hugged him. Slightly uncomfortable with the display of affection, John patted her back awkwardly. He didn't realize he had been that bad off. Finally Teyla let go, and he was thumped roughly on the back by Ronon. John waited to see if Rodney was going to do something next, and he felt his heart sink when Rodney wouldn't even look him in the eye.
"It's good to be awake," he replied. "So, what's been happening?"
He listened as Teyla and Ronon filled him in on what had been going on. Although Rodney did speak, it wasn't with the same type of enthusiasm as usual. John tried to ignore the stinging in his chest at Rodney's blatant ignoring of him. By the end of their visit, he wanted to shout at Rodney to look at him and demand not to be ignored, but he kept quiet.
When Rodney turned to leave, John tried to call out to him, to get Rodney back, but his voice got stuck in his throat, and all he could do was watch as Rodney left. Once he was left on his own, he starting thinking over what he had done to make Rodney hate him. The only conclusion he came up with what that Rodney had somehow found out that the whole exploding console was John's fault.
Maybe he has finally come to see what a mess I made. The thought made him close his eyes against the wash of guilt. It was his fault, all his fault, that Rodney had nearly died, his fault they didn't have that room anymore; his fault. His Fault.
Those two words became like a mantra in his head, the guilt eating at him like some kind of Wraith. Finally though John fell into a restless sleep with the thought of it being his fault plaguing his dreams throughout the night.
With orders to take two days rest before going back onto active duty, John locked himself away in his quarters. It had hurt a lot more than he had realized when Rodney had all but ignored him the other day. In fact, the only person he was letting see him was Teyla, and that was because she had orders to check up on him from Keller.
But everyone else stayed away, not that he minded, he wanted to be alone. He had a lot to get his mind around, like the fact he was more Ancient now and his feelings for Rodney. Admittedly, he knew he had feelings for Rodney, but he wasn't sure how to act on them.
So many years in the Air Force had taught John to hide behind a mask, showing no emotions. Then there was the whole 'his fault' guilt, he couldn't expect Rodney to forgive him that easily.
Sighing, he turned away from the door; he wasn't going to get anywhere by staring at it. Running a hand through his hair, John started pacing. So much was going through his mind that he didn't know quite how to switch off from his thoughts. John was so focused on his own thoughts and guilt that he didn't hear his door open until he turned around.
Stopping in his tracks, he took in the sight of Rodney in his quarters, arms folded across his chest. Looking for all the world like someone had taken one of his toys away.
"You are so dense, Colonel. I can't believe how dense you are!" Rodney said.
"After everything that's happened, and you, supposed MENSA level brain, can't figure it out!"
John stared at Rodney not sure if he had zoned out and missed half of the conversation again or if Rodney really had started in the middle, again.
"Rodney, what the hell are you talking about?"
His head hurt from trying to make sense of the one-sided conversations he had been having lately.
"You, you idiot!"
"Okay, insulting me isn't gonna help. What are you talking about?" John asked again.
Instead of speaking though, Rodney stepped forwards and kissed him hard. For a moment, John was too dazed to move until his brain caught up, and he gripped Rodney's arms. Pulling him flush against his body, John kissed back not believing this was actually happening. Just as quickly as it started, he pushed Rodney away, breathing heavily as all the self doubt and guilt came back. John wrapped his arms around himself, stepping away from Rodney.
"How can you do that?" he asked.
John's voice sounded broken even to his own ears. He didn't understand how Rodney could do that when it had all been his fault. The guilt made a prominent return, and John had to sit down.
"Please, I know you're okay with this, John. The whole pinning me against the wall thing kinda gives the game away. I'm a genius, remember," Rodney said.
"But it's my fault," he whispered. "You nearly died because of me."
John couldn't look at Rodney, not and see all the accusations he knew he would find. So he was surprised when Rodney hit him on the shoulder.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"The pity party."
He got a little annoyed then. Rodney had no idea how he was feeling. Besides John had to get him to understand it was his fault.
"Look, it is my fault. There isn't exactly anything you can say that will change that!" John insisted.
"I can try."
For one moment, John wondered what Rodney meant before he was being kissed again. He tried to push Rodney away, but he found he really couldn't do that. In fact John found himself lying back on his bed, pulling Rodney on top of him.
He realized then that yeah, it really was his fault, but this outcome he could live with. It was one connection he was willing to invest in, even if he was more Ancient now.