Susn wanted h/c fic where Carson was competent, Sheppard was the victim, and Rodney to be Rodney.
lky looked over it first when it was a brand new baby fic and beat it into submission (it squealed), beth_green gave me edits and constructive and wonderfully helpful medical advice (NO! You don’t want John to develop hyperaemia) and then tovalentin went over it with the finest of tooth combs. Thank you.
Yes, this is being posted in parts – because there’s only twenty four hours in the day and, unfortunately, it’s back of one am and I have to get up in less than six hours. Part two should be posted tomorrow.
The edge of the bridge
SGA fic for Susn
The edge of the bridge’s wooden slats cut into his belly. Teeth gritted, Rodney gripped the collar of Sheppard’s tac vest as the man dangled, at arm’s length, above the chasm.
It should have been a simple little traverse across a wooden bridge on their way back to the Stargate.
And then a rock slide, or more accurately rock sprinkle, from above. But one flying rock had tapped Sheppard precisely on his temple and he stumbled -- one step, -- two steps -- and fell against the single meagre line of rope that acted as a handrail.
Then he had tottered that final step backwards to slip between rope and edge.
Rodney lunged. His fingers had just brushed the edge of coarse fabric. For a heartbeat they weren’t connected, and Rodney flung himself further forward. As he belly flopped on the bridge deck the air whooshed from his lungs, but he had caught Sheppard as he slithered over the edge.
Fingers scrabbling, Rodney teetered, weight unbalanced. He had flung-out arm, snagged a rope suspender and stopped his forward slide.
Sheppard was now a dead weight -- a gentle, swinging pendulum. The bones and tendons and ligaments were slowly separating in Rodney’s shoulder. Sheppard’s head lolled, and a glistening scarlet line slowly filled the grooves of his ear.
There was no solution. The physics were solid. He couldn’t lift a dead weight. He had no leverage lying on his belly.
“R -- ny?” Sheppard stuttered, shifting.
Shivers of pain laced along Rodney’s nerves from fingers to neck.
“Stay still. Don’t move,” Rodney grated. The pain was unravelling him. “Focus past it. Focus past it.”
“Rodney?” Sheppard whispered.
“Stop moving. Oh, god. Oh, god.” Rodney was reduced to whimpering. A hundred and sixty-five pounds of weight were slowly ripping him in half. He slowly, millimetre by millimetre, slipped further over the edge.
Sheppard twisted, trying to reach his hand.
“No, fuck. Don’t. Oh…. Hurts.” There was something horrible happening deep inside his shoulder. “Don’t move.”
“Rodney,” Sheppard said quietly. “Let me go.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Rodney, we’re both going to fall,” Sheppard said urgently.
“If you keep wriggling like a stupid fish on a line, we will.”
“Rodney, let me go.” He craned his head and smiled. “It’s okay.”
“It’s not okay! Oh, god. You fucking suicidal idiot. I’m going to set Heightmeyer on you.” He closed his eyes against Sheppard’s calm expression.
He tried to blot it all out. To just keep his cramping grip on Sheppard’s tac vest as something tore inside his shoulder.
A vibration, four staccato beats in the bar, joggled him, and he whimpered anew. The beat stopped and a bass drum bounced him into white pain. A lighter snare drum settled at his side, an agonising counterpoint.
The weight was lifted away.
“I’ve got him, McKay,” Ronon rumbled.
Then Teyla said, “And I have you, Rodney.”
Wraith-born strength pulled him to his feet, and he put heart and soul into the wail as he moved. White fire churned from fingertips to, strangely, the back of his ear. Teyla’s arm under his other arm kept him upright.
“Rodney. Rodney! You will be in considerably less pain if we reseat your shoulder. Ronon.”
A dark figure loomed beyond the black spots marring his vision. “Get away from me, you big oaf.”
Small fingers dug into his armpit and everything went white.
“Rodney?” Soft cat paws patted his cheeks. “Rodney?”
McKay opened his eyes, but the expected cat’s eyes were soft hazel. Cold fingers gripped his chin and waggled his head.
“Hey, there you are.” Sheppard grinned.
“Get off!” McKay sat up and grabbed at his shoulder as pain woke anew. “Ow! OW!”
Ronon crouched on one side of him, Teyla on the other. Hemmed only by the bridge ropes, it was a horribly precarious position.
Teyla was already drawing a field dressing from her hip pocket, rolling out the long bandage. She looped it around his torso and, with a swish, bound the limb firmly against his chest, wrist snug against his heart.
“That will help,” she said resolutely.
And at that point Sheppard was spectacularly and messily sick on Rodney’s lap.
Rodney’s wail could have split glass. Sheppard reeled back, and Ronon snatched him from the bridge’s edge. Hanging over his arm, Sheppard retched and cast vomit into the abyss. He flopped, boneless, only held up by Ronon’s grip.
“John?” Her hands full, Teyla could only ask.
“Fuck, no.” Sheppard feebly brought a hand up to the bloody side of his head. “Lights. Fuck, yellow rainbows.”
“I’ve got puke on me!”
“And I’ve got a concussion.” He retched up a mouthful of stringy bile.
“Looks like it,” Ronon said simply. Leonine, he stood, grabbing Sheppard’s wrist and slinging it over his shoulder. “Doc will know what to do.”
Sheppard hung like a curtain, but found his feet and the strength to stand. He swore dully and clamped a hand over his eyes.
“Teyla.” Ronon jerked his head at the cliff top where the bridge lines were tethered.
Rodney whimpered as she manhandled him upright.
“Lean on me, Dr. McKay. I can hold your weight.”
It should have been embarrassing, but the pain was excruciating, so he allowed a tiny, contained woman to help him along the swaying bridge. Sheppard took one step and then another, through pure force of will.
Sheppard slumped two steps on, slipping to the wooden planks in an unconscious slither. Ronon, as deftly as a dancer, swooped down with the line of his fall and scooped him up.
“Colonel!” Rodney blurted.
“I’ve got him.” Ronon hefted the lanky man in his arms.
Rodney could see the sweep of his dark hair over Ronon’s shoulder. The bridge rocked as Ronon picked up the pace. Teyla matched the sinusoidal wave, using its motion to better traverse the bridge. By the time that they had reached the safety of the cliff edge, Ronon was halfway up the path leading from the bridge. At the pinnacle, the Stargate stood proud.
“Pain. Hee!” Rodney breathed hard through his teeth, as he stumbled at her side. “Oh, it fucking hurts! You…”
Ahead of them, the Stargate whooshed.
They reached the rise. Sheppard lay curled on his side in the shadow of the DHD.
“Teyla.” Ronon crouched down and gathered Sheppard to his breast. “Use your IDC.”
“Atlantis, this is Teyla Emmagan. We are coming through and we request a medical team in the gate room.”
The shock of the event horizon washing over John was like cold shower water. Waking during the transition was an altogether new experience. The swoop and yaw of their transition between gates was a thousand times worse than a tiny yacht on high seas. On the other side, he unceremoniously threw up on the embarkation platform.
“Oh, geez.” He was on his hands and knees. Sensation concentrated on touch as he kept his eyes firmly closed. A large, warm hand rested on the small of his back. He scuttled away, one eye half opening, crawling. He thought that he saw the edge of the platform, and he made a beeline for it and the darkened doorway beyond. Voices clamouring together discordantly reigned overhead. He caught the top of a set of steps, and let himself slither down.
“Colonel Sheppard.” Something touched him; he caught it, twisted it with a snap and it stopped interfering. The floor under his cheek was cool. It would be easier to stay. The floor panel thrummed contentedly. He stroked the tile and let himself seep into the floor. He was almost ensnared, and then he remembered: the need to get to the doorway. To get to –- safety. He couldn’t figure out where his knees were. The lights were impossibly heavy against the back of his neck, forcing his mind to spread over the floor. There was danger. People were touching him.
“Bugger!” Carson swore as the force field snapped him back, jarring his now broken wrist. Colonel Sheppard’s defensive reflexes, even when reeling and half conscious, were phenomenal. And now the colonel was neatly protected by a shimmering dome as he curled on the floor. The medic who had worked with Carson to corral the stumbling colonel stood open-mouthed, his fine black hair standing on end at the residual shock.
“What?” Rodney staggered down the steps and collapsed ungainly on his knees by Sheppard. One wing clipped, he reached out to just impinge with the force field. Lightning like Jack Frost’s paintings strobed beneath his fingertips.
“Get it down, Rodney. I need to check John now!” Bright, glossy blood stained the side of the colonel’s head, masking who knew what damage.
“Huh,” Rodney said, voice interested. “It stands to reason when you think about it. The Ancients were at war. I always thought that the gate room was curiously open. There must be these protective fields, stationed like bulwarks throughout the embarkation hall.”
“Fascinating. How’s about getting it down?” Carson said through gritted teeth.
Rodney glanced up to the control room on the overhead balcony and called, “Campbell, security protocols, probably linked to the shield as a secondary backup.”
“On it,” the sergeant yelled, worried.
“Emitter, emitter,” Rodney muttered, glancing at the ceiling. “No, floor.” He glanced around, mapping the ochre patterns.
“There’s nothing here, Dr. McKay,” Campbell called.
“Idiot,” Rodney said disparagingly.
Frustrated, Carson slapped the shield. “John, son. Think this damn thing off so I can help you.”
With what looked like a sigh, John curled tighter.
Carson turned on his heel and sought out Teyla. “Teyla luv, can you tell me what happened to the colonel?”
“He sustained a blow to the head.” She tapped her temple smartly. “It bled freely but he spoke clearly and we thought that he had only cut the skin. He was helping with Rodney. But then the colonel vomited and said that he could see a yellow rainbow. He had trouble standing, and when he stood he passed out.”
“I need details. What hit John? How hard was he hit? Timeline between the hit and the colonel showing periods of reduced consciousness? Any other injuries?”
Rodney’s attention jerked towards him like a laser sight. “One rock approximately five centimetres in diameter hit the left side of his head. I don’t know its mass. It was moving at terminal velocity -- 9.791 meters per second on M9V-412. Loss of consciousness was immediate. He was unconscious for approximately three minutes, then confused for about thirty seconds before Teyla and Ronon rescued us--” Rodney stuttered to a halt in his deadpan recitation and looked to Teyla.
“When we reset Rodney’s shoulder, he fainted momentarily. Between rescuing both the colonel and Rodney from the abyss, there was perhaps five minutes?” She raised an eyebrow at Ronon, requesting corroboration.
“‘Bout that, before he started puking and started fainting all over the place,” Ronon confirmed.
Damn, that did not sound good; he needed to get the force field down and examine his patient. Andaman, his head nurse, tapped her ear piece, no doubt requesting additional aid. She nodded at his gaze and mouthed, “Getting Dr. Ciembroniewicz to go to the OR. Dr. Pega is on his way here.”
“Ronon.” Rodney clicked his fingers together and then pointed at the floor. “Peel up that tile.”
The runner responded by unholstering his blaster. The power cell whined as he spun the weapon. Energy arched from weapon to floor and spread, ricocheting through the supportive framework.
“No! Don’t do that, you idiot.” Rodney scrabbled back out of range, bottom scraping over the platform.
“Jesus!” Shocked, one of the medics jumped.
“That’s not going to work. You’ve probably locked the whole system down!” Rodney remonstrated even as he struggled to his knees and stood. Muttering, he stumbled to the stairs leading to the operation’s room.
Bringing his nose as close to the force shield as was humanly possible without touching it, Carson squinted at his patient. John was pale, and even through the blurring of the shield Carson could see sweat marring his brow. Shock? But that was speculation; it could be something as simple as a post-mission adrenaline crash. His patient’s eyes were closed, but through the coruscating force shield he saw John lick his lips.
“Carson?” His colleague, Dr. Claudio Pega, crouched at his side. “What’s the story? What happened to your wrist?”
“Head injury.” Carson scowled. “Rodney? Hurry up!”
“Work faster.” The diagnosis of brain injury was a given, but its severity was unknown. He needed to get through the damn force shield. “Rodney!”
“Not helping. Yes!” The force shield lit up at Rodney’s exultation.
Carson inhaled, freezing, but the dome remained solid. Bugger, he thought. Overhead, Rodney castigated the Ancients’ ancestors for having relationships with goats. John passed out -- Carson saw it, saw consciousness ebb, colour drain and muscles sag. All bad signs.
“Bastard!” Carson slammed his fist down on the force field. “Switch the fuck off, now!”
“Carson,” Elizabeth remonstrated, but fell silent as the shield fractured away like shattering glass.
“Yes!” Carson reached for his patient. He got his good hand on John’s neck in the space of a heartbeat, checking his airway and breathing in one instance. That his circulation was acceptable was evident from the blood streaming across his face. “Collar and board, asap, people.”
“Excuse me, Carson,” Dr. Pega said, and Carson’s well-trained team moved into position as he fell back, effectively hindered by a newly broken wrist that was swelling to hard-fatness even as he watched. It was going to hurt like a bitch when the adrenalin wore off.
John’s c-spine was secured and he was flipped onto his back. Dr. Pega shone a light in his eyes, and he groaned miserably. Carson upgraded his GSC to eight: still indicative of severe brain injury.
“Left pupil’s dilated with respect to his right pupil. Sluggishly reactive to light,” Pega reported in a monotone.