A/N – many thanks to honus47 for editing all my chapters/stories!
A/N2 - to my guest reviewer who said this strongly reminded her of Play Misty for Me, I looked it up as I've never seen it. Not a big Clint Eastwood fan. My cable company has it on demand and I plan to watch it!
Teyla stared at the man in the bed, connected to wires and machines, covered with a strange looking blanket. He was so quiet and still. The only time Colonel John Sheppard was quiet and still, he was either about to attack or at death's door. She didn't like knowing which one it was, she'd seen it too many times already. She reached out and gently touched the hand closest to her, the one without an IV in it, surprised and worried at the heat coming off him. She turned the hand carefully and gripped it in her own. Leaning forward she placed her forehead carefully against his, not hearing her teammates quietly leave the space.
"John? I am here. Carson and Jennifer were able to help me, just like they are helping you. You need to fight this, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. You need to come back to us, to me. We have a wonderful future waiting for us, but you need to be here. Dr. Hanson is in the brig and will not hurt anyone else again, I can promise you that." She whispered fiercely. If the SGC didn't take care of Hanson, she would, and she knew she'd have help. His hand twitched in hers and tightened around her fingers for a moment although his eyes didn't open. The lines around his eyes seemed to lessen a little and she took heart.
"John? I do not know if you can hear me, but I want you to know how much I love you. How much Torren loves you." She squeezed his fingers again and this time his head turned towards her. She knew he was still unconscious but was overwhelmed that her words had reached him and that he'd automatically turned towards her. She stroked her free hand down the side of his face, continuing to murmur softly. None of it really making sense but conveying her love and support. A short while later, she yawned and put her head down on the bed for just a moment.
They found her like that an hour later when Rodney peeked in to see how she was doing. His panicked call for medical help brought everyone running and she raised her head to blink sleepily at him without really waking up, putting it back down and falling right back to sleep.
"Rodney? What are ye going on aboot?" Carson asked quietly.
"She was out cold, I was afraid she'd fallen back into a coma!"
"Nonsense, she's just exhausted."
"She just slept for hours! How can she be tired?"
"A coma isn't a healing sleep. A good nap is exactly what she needs right now."
Ronon stopped behind them, worried that something was going on. He smiled at the conversation and the scene beside Sheppard's bed. He quietly stepped in and carefully lifted Teyla into his arms. Carson gently untangled her hand from John's, eliciting a murmured 'no'. Carson took the hand in his own and Ronon made his way towards her bed. She clung to it and calmed. When she was placed into her own bed, she again struggled a bit and said. "John?"
Surprisingly, it was Rodney who leaned forward and did his best John Sheppard imitation. "I'm fine. Go to sleep."
She smiled and snuggled down into the covers. Carson quietly took her vitals and then motioned her teammates away. He pulled the privacy screens around her and they made their way to the rest of the group who were still hanging around. Lorne was missing as he had work to do but Radek and Katie were both there, tablets open but forgotten on their laps.
"What happened?" Asked Radek worriedly.
"McKay had a panic attack at the sight of Teyla sleeping." Ronon smirked.
"I did not! I simply wanted to be sure that she hadn't slipped back into a coma."
"Aye, Rodney, I know ye did. Ye're a good friend." Carson soothed him.
"I am, aren't I?" McKay preened a little. Ronon smacked him on the back, pushing him several feet forward.
"What was that for?" He rubbed the now aching shoulder.
The smirk was gone from Ronon's face and he looked serious. "Doc's right. You are a good friend."
The expression on McKay's face was enough to send the rest of them into gales of laughter. Some of it due to the relief that at least one of their friends appeared to be out of danger.
John continued to hold his own over the next few days, but his fever refused to break. Teyla left his side only to eat, sleep, spend a little time with Torren and take care of her own needs. She spent hours each day with him, and a good part of the night after sneaking out of her bed. Holding his hand and talking to him, just like Dr. Cole suggested. She wiped his face with a cloth of cool water as it seemed to make him feel better. The doctors conferred but agreed they were doing all they could, and it was up to time and the Colonel to do the rest. On the fourth day after Teyla woke up, she was dozing by his side when something made her sit up. She watched John carefully and finally saw a bead of sweat make its way down the side of his face. Gently laying his hand on the bed, she scurried out to find either Carson or Jennifer, neither one of whom was ever far from John's side. Carson looked up from his paperwork when he saw her racing towards him, his heart rate picked up as he went to go meet her, worried about what had her so worked up.
"Teyla? What is it?" None of the alarms on the machinery around John had issued a warning but he trusted her instincts.
"Carson! I think John's fever has broken! He is sweating and does not feel anywhere near as hot!" She grabbed his hand and dragged him toward John's bed, although he needed no persuading. Inside, he saw the same as she and he said a silent prayer of thanks to any and all gods who might be listening. He put the thermometer into the Colonel's ear and waited for what seemed like hours for it to beep, indicating it was ready. The result made him smile widely.
"Aye, Teyla, ye're right! His temperature is down tae 103. Still high but much better than the 105-106 he has been running. I think he might have finally turned the corner!"
Teyla sank into his arms and hugged him tightly. The worry of the last few days giving way to a silent torrent of tears. Carson wrapped his arms around her and just let her get it all out. When she finally stepped back, he reached up and brushed a few tears away, smiling when she blushed furiously. "It's perfectly natural, lassie. Ye've been very worried over the past few days and, as me mum used to say, a good cry gets all the bad out. Now, would ye like tae be the one tae inform his friends that he's taken a turn for the better?"
"Yes! I need to tell them, all of them." She reached up to touch her earpiece, only to remember she hadn't worn one for days. Carson smiled and removed his, handing it to her silently. She smiled widely at him and he thought, not for the first time, what a lucky man his friend was. He stepped back and let her make her calls in peace, knowing the infirmary would erupt in visitors in just a few minutes. All of them had been in and out at various times over the last few days, keeping Teyla company or sitting with John when she went back to her quarters to spend time with her son or to sleep. The entire base seemed to be waiting for something. He'd noticed how unnaturally quiet it was the few times he left the infirmary himself. He had a feeling the waiting was almost over.
Rodney was the first one through the door, skidding to a halt and bent over, panting hard. "Rodney, what's the rush?"
"Teyla…Teyla…said…John's…fever…had…broken." He could barely get the words out between gasping for air.
"Aye, it is. Still high though." He felt he had to issue the warning, although he was just as excited inside. "But the fever's definitely broken."
A weird look came over Rodney's face as he pulled up a not so distant memory. "What about…brain damage? Weren't you and Jennifer concerned about how long he'd been without O2?"
"Aye, but none of the scans show any anomalies. There could be something that we can't see even with the Ancient technology, but I'm cautiously optimistic."
"Cautiously…? You doctors are all the same! Platitudes, wishy washy mumbo jumbo and no concrete information!"
Carson was used to Rodney's tirades against the medical profession and just smiled. "Aye, it's an inexact science at times. The human body can do marvelous things and can also take a turn for the worse with no good reason."
"Humph. I don't know why…" He was interrupted when the next person rushed into the room. Ronon looked a little wild eyed and was still carrying his Bantos rods. He'd obviously just come from sparring and had forgotten to leave them behind.
"Is he awake?" The big man asked, looking at Rodney who was still breathing hard and raising an eyebrow.
"Not yet. His fever has broken and his temps down, but he hasn't woken up yet. That could take a wee bit."
"Excuse me?" Carson's jaw just about dropped open.
"What? Didn't I use it right? Felt right."
"Ah, aye, you used it right."
"Nothing, nothing. Teyla's in with John. Why don't ye two go have a visit?"
The two men disappeared towards John's bed, a brief struggle ensuing as they both tried to go through the opening at the same time. Ronon solved it by simply pushing the mobile privacy curtains further apart. Carson could hear Teyla welcoming them and then the quiet murmur of conversation softly spoken.
Radek was next, looking almost as wild as Ronon, but then, that was his usual look. "Colonel is better?"
Carson wondered if he should just write up a sign and post it outside John's area. Yes, his temperature is down. Yes, the fever has broken. No, he's not awake yet. Yes, you can visit for a short time. That's what he'd put up. Chuckling a little, he said the words to Radek out loud, who then also disappeared behind the curtains. The murmur increased slightly and then fell again.
The Scot looked at his watch, mentally betting himself on when the next person or persons would slide through the door and who it would be. He won on the time but lost on the who. Or at least on all of the who. Lorne appeared as he'd expected but had Katie Brown in tow. He'd heard a rumor that Katie had been dating an engineer but that he'd recently broken it off because she was too focused on her work. Not that he listened to gossip, mind you. Sometimes you just couldn't help over hear your nurses discussing things. Especially when you walked quietly and stayed hidden during said discussion. Secretly, he was very pleased as he thought the two people in front of him would make an excellent couple. He felt a little sad then. Rodney had Jennifer. John had Teyla. It was obvious that Ronon and Amelia were a couple. If Lorne and Katie hooked up, he and Radek would be the only ones left alone. Even then, he'd heard another 'rumor' that the little Czech and the quiet Miko Kusanagi had been seen together more often than their work warranted.
He went through his routine again and they then both joined the growing crowd around Sheppard's bed, the mobile curtains moving outwards with each new visitor. When Jennifer and Miranda showed up hours ahead of their schedule, right on the heels of Lorne and Katie, he just waved them in. When it appeared the influx was over, he decided to join his friends. Inside the curtained area, which was becoming less private by the minute, the mood was quiet but jubilant. They were all pleased at the turn of events but trying to keep their voices down so as not to disturb the patient. He moved through the crowd and quietly began doing vitals again, pleased to see his patient's temperature had fallen another half a degree to 102.5.
He looked up to find a pair of glassy hazel eyes staring at him. He smiled and opened his mouth to welcome John back when Sheppard beat him to it.
"Having a party and didn't invite me?" The raspy voice was just loud enough to silence the conversations around him. It lasted only seconds before erupting into 'about times' and 'welcome backs'. When it finally died down, Sheppard wearily looked at everyone surrounding his bed and asked. "What happened?"
"Oh God, he does have brain damage!" Rodney moaned.
"Rodney!" Carson admonished him and then turned back to the Colonel. "What do ye remember, son?"
Feeling incredibly tired and not up for long conversation, John sighed and gave a condensed version. "Hanson. Drugged. Locked room. Swim to East Pier. Teyla." He shot up in bed. "Teyla!"
She rushed to his side and grabbed his hand. "I am here John and just fine! How are you feeling?"
"Teyla?" He shakingly put up a hand to touch her face and she turned into his palm. "You're okay? She didn't hurt you?"
"She tried but did not succeed." Having exhausted what little reserve of strength he had, Sheppard slumped back in the bed and closed his eyes.
"Is he going to be okay?" Ronon asked.
"Aye, looks that way!" Carson responded, pleased. "He most likely will never remember the result of his swim or the rescue, but that's tae be expected as he was unconscious through most of it. He remembered Dr. Hanson and her threat tae Teyla, so it appears his memory is fine."
"He is in the room and can hear you." Sheppard's voice was weak, but they could hear his exasperation loud and clear.
"Now, all of you out so I can examine my patient." Carson said as he began to shoo them out, only to turn around and find one or more of them had slipped back in behind his back. "Out! All of ye except Jennifer and Miranda." They said their final goodbyes and finally left, although Teyla remained. She looked determined not to move an inch.
"Teyla, love, why don't ye go grab something tae eat and come back in a half hour. We should have finished the exam by then and gotten John cleaned up and the bed changed. He's sweated right through them. I'm sure he'd like tae feel clean." Here John groaned his agreement, not happy with the number of tubes going into and out of his body. He hated catheters, what man didn't? He understood the need but would start lobbying for its removal immediately.
"John?" She went to stand by his bed and took his hand.
"I'll be fine, and I could really stand a change of clothes, maybe some scrubs?" He looked past her to Carson, who gave nothing away. "Go grab something to eat and, when you come back, I'll be in better shape." Even the short conversation was wiping him out.
She studied him and then finally nodded. Leaning down, she touched her forehead to his sweaty one and whispered to him. "I love you."
He looked up at her and smiled that crooked smile that never ceased to make her heart flutter and replied. "I love you too." She smiled down at him and the two were frozen in place until Carson finally took hold of her arm.
"Out with ye, lassie. He'll still be here when ye get back."
"Very well, I will be right back John." Sheppard nodded and watched her go. He turned to find Carson smiling at him and he blushed, although he would blame it on the fever if asked.
"Now, how are ye really feeling son?"
"Tired. Like I got run over by a truck. What happened doc?"
"Let's get ye squared away and then we can talk." Carson proceeded to take the Colonel's vitals again, making notations in his chart and, when done, had Marie and one of the other nurses come in to change the bed sheets and clean the Colonel up. Feeling better once out of the damp, sweaty clothes and with clean sheets under him, John still felt tired.
"What'd she give me?"
"Something one of the Ancients whipped up that turned humans into robots that did everything they were bid." His disdain was clear.
"Like Lucius's herb?"
Carson grimaced. That was the third time someone had likened the drug to that lamentable incident. Sheppard had teased him about his addiction to Lucius for several weeks after they'd administered the antidote. He remembered every moment and still couldn't believe he'd acted such a fool. He shook his head no.
"Don't remember that. In fact, I remember that I didn't want to do anything she wanted me to, unless…." He paused, stricken.
"What if I don't remember?" He whispered back.
"Don't worry aboot it. Turns out those with the ATA gene are pretty much immune tae that aspect of the drug."
John felt an overwhelming relief. "Good, good. What happened to Teyla? She said Hanson tried to hurt her but didn't succeed."
"She was given a different drug hidden in her food, but she didn't eat all of it so was spared the worst outcome. She was in a coma for a bit, but Jennifer and I found an antidote in the Ancient database and were able tae recreate it, with Katie Brown's help I might add!"
"Aye, her and Lorne made quite a team!" Carson twinkled at him and John had to smile. The smile slipped away when he ran their conversation through is head.
"What do you mean Teyla was spared the worst outcome?"
"Well, in full dose, it causes the victim tae slowly suffocate tae death." Carson took a step back when he saw the change come over his friend. The man's eyes went dead, and he seemed a different person.
"Where is she?" The tone of voice made Carson shiver. John's easygoing normal persona made it easy to forget he was a trained soldier, capable of killing even though it was to protect.
"Ronon shot her."
"Is she dead?" The words were cold yet somehow hopeful.
"No, she's in the brig. My understanding is that Major Lorne was quite peeved with him as he had wanted tae interrogate her." He tried to inject some humor into the conversation and it worked when the light came back into his friend's eyes and his lips quirked.
"Now, that I would have liked to see."
"Ye might have, if ye'd stuck around instead of trying out for a bloody swim marathon."
"Couldn't just sit there, doc."
"Ye were drugged, ye great bloody eejit!"
"And I had no idea how long it would take for someone to find me or what was happening to Teyla. She threatened the woman I love, what was I supposed to do?"
Carson's mouth opened and closed like a fish, not ever expecting John Sheppard to be so open about his feelings for anyone, not even Teyla. He shook his head. "Well, it's over now and ye have a nice long stay in the infirmary tae look forward tae."
"The drug was that powerful?"
"Nay, ye didn't make it to the East Pier on yer own. Ronon went in after ye and Lorne took up a team in a jumper tae pull the two of ye out. Ye swallowed a lot of water and weren't breathing when they brought ye on board. Sgt. LaCroix had to perform CPR on ye to get ye back. Ye were hypothermic when ye finally made it back, which might hae been a blessing in disguise as it slowed yer metabolism down. Unfortunately, when yer temp came back up, it just kept right on going. Ye picked up a bacterial infection that did nae want tae let go. Yer temp spiked to 106 and ye went into convulsions."
"Doesn't sound pleasant, kinda glad I missed it."
Carson sighed. "Tis no joke, Colonel! Ye're important tae this base. It wouldn't be the same if we'd lost ye."
"It's never the same, doc. But, we move on." John seemed pensive and Carson realized he was thinking of those they'd lost along the way, including, ironically, his own self.
"Aye, well. Ye're on the mend now and have a lovely lassie waiting for ye along with a wee lad who misses ye."
John lit up. "I can't wait to see Torren."
"Well, do as ye told and maybe ye'll see him sooner rather than later."
"Is that blackmail I hear?"
"Aye and what of it?"
"Proud of you, doc. Didn't think you had it in you."
Carson blinked a couple times and was saved when Teyla returned to the infirmary.
John was finally released from the infirmary after a week, with strict instructions that he was to rest and do nothing more strenuous than a short walk. He and Teyla holed up in her room for the first day with Torren. The next morning, she followed him when he stalked to his room, dressed in her Athosian workout clothes, her Bantos rods strapped to her back. Removing his civilian clothes, he silently put on his regular uniform of black BDUs and strapped on his 9 mil. The sight of him standing there stirred her. For some reason, the thigh holster did funny things to her insides. She pushed the temptation away as she knew he was focused on what he needed to do. Dressed, he turned to her and tilted his head. She nodded and stood. They walked together to the brig, still silent.
The marine on guard snapped to attention when John appeared, saluting even though it wasn't required. It spoke volumes about respect and the relief that he was recovering, without a word being spoken.
"Fredericks, I'm going to need the room."
"Done sir!" The man stepped away without asking a single question. John slid his hand over the sensor and the doors swished open.
Ruth looked up at the sound of the door opening. She sprang up from her cot when she saw him enter. "John! You're alright! Oh darling, it's so good to see you!" Teyla stepped through and Ruth's face turned bright red, her lips turning up into a sneer. "What is she doing here?"
"She is here because I asked her to be. She is here because she's the woman I love."
"Oh John, you don't know what you're saying! You don't love her, you love me! You know you do, you don't need to pretend anymore. Remember what you said? That you're using her to get those backwards worlds to cooperate. Tell her!"
"She knows what she is to me. She is the love of my life and my rock. One of the most honorable and smart women I've ever met. She is so far above you she is just a shining star in your night sky." Teyla looked at him, hiding her surprise at his poetic words. She was seeing a side of him she'd had no idea existed and she found she liked it.
"John, what are you going on about? We're meant to be together, you know that!"
"We were never meant to be anything, and we never will be. You're being sent back to the SGC to face trial for the attempted murder of the leader of the Athosians and kidnapping of the commanding officer of this base."
Completely ignoring his words about Teyla, Ruth fastened onto those about him. "I had to get you away from her influence. I love you! I would never harm you!"
"You drugged me and locked me away. Cut out my transmitter and threw it into the ocean. You most likely won't end up in jail, my educated guess is that you'll end up in an asylum somewhere. I wish I could feel sorry for you but all I feel is rage." He stalked up to the edge of the brig. "If I had my way, I'd give you what you gave Teyla and stand watch as it did its work." His face and eyes were flat, cold and devoid of any kind of feeling. Ruth stepped back, afraid.
"John, you don't mean that!"
"I never gave you permission to use my first name. You will address me as Colonel Sheppard, if you must address me at all. The last time I'll ever see you Dr. Hanson, will be when you're taken into custody by Colonel Caldwell and escorted onto the Daedalus for transport back to Earth. I won't wish you well as I hope you rot in hell."
He turned on his heel and left. Teyla paused a moment as she listened to Hanson scream his name and insist they loved each other. She shook her head and followed her love.
Ruth slowly shuffled onto the Daedalus, dragging her feet and craning her neck for a glimpse of John, sure that he would come to his senses and stop this travesty. Behind her, another woman followed, an airman carrying her baggage. She tried to drown out the annoying sound of the woman's voice as she went on and on about how she was heading home to be Atlantis's right-hand woman in the ongoing medical research the base was doing. How important her work was and how honored she was that Carse and Jen trusted her, completely oblivious to the fact that she had pretty much been given the boot back to Earth.
John stood on the balcony overlooking the pier where the ship was docked, Teyla at his side. He watched Ruth Hanson and Celia Larm walk up the ramp, along with the personnel transferring back home. Celia quickly caught up with and then passed Ruth, who was being prodded along by the armed guard escorting her. He caught her eye and pulled Teyla close, deliberately planting a kiss on the tip of her head as she snuggled into his side, his eyes never leaving the botanist's. The look on the woman's face sent a shiver down his spine. She would soon be gone from his city, but the legacy she left behind would take time to heal. He'd recently had several nightmares where Teyla took Mandy's place, or vice versa, sometimes both of them in mortal danger and he couldn't save either of them. Teyla would wake him and just the fact of her being at his side would drive the shadows away.