Rating: PG for swears
Length: 2100 words
Summary: For the enter_tzone Multi-fandom Challenge
This is actually fawkesielady_ed's fault. She wrote a cool story for the Twilight Zone challenge (read it here) which lead me to the site and... blammo, there I am signed up for yet another challenge. There are some cool fic and art already with more coming, check it out!
Thanks to fenchurch1 for the beta... and to her cat Fenny for finding those typos....
"Don't forget that on Thursday we leave for home," John announced. They had been riding in silence since they left the airport and the sudden statement startled Rodney into wakefulness.
"I remember," Rodney grumbled from the passenger seat. He rolled his head to relieve the kink that had developed from sleeping mashed up against the door. He had fallen asleep as they had pulled out of the rental car parking lot and he felt faintly bad about making John do all the driving. He squinted into the daylight.
"And what day is today?" John asked patiently. He didn't take his eyes off the road as he drove the sedan up the mountain to the SGC.
Rodney rolled his eyes and flipped John off. He didn't need this.
"Come on, you can do it," John coaxed.
"You have got to be kidding me," Rodney protested, turning to look at the other man.
John sighed. "Rodney. What day is it?" he repeated with a touch of frustration. Rodney wished he could see John's eyes to know what he was thinking. He didn't have a clue about what was going on behind those sunglasses.
Rodney rubbed his forehead and his shoulders slumped. "Umm.... Sunday?" Suddenly, he wasn't sure.
It looked like John bit back his first reaction but answered in a horrid, neutral voice, "It's Tuesday. We have 48 hours before we leave."
"Right. Tuesday. Okay, I can work with that," Rodney replied. "No. Wait. How the fuck did it get to be Tuesday?" He was confused. Tuesday? That couldn't be right.
"You keep falling asleep and every time you wake up, you don't know what day it is," John replied. "We've had this conversation too many times." Now Rodney recognized the play nice with the natives voice that really never worked but that never stopped John from using it.
"Wait. What's going on?" Rodney demanded, suddenly afraid. Was something wrong with him? He felt mostly okay, well, except that his back knew he had been traveling too long without being able to sleep on a good bed but, now that it was brought to his attention, his head was fuzzy. That made him worry.
Another sigh. "I don't know, which is why we're getting back to the SGC as fast as I can get you there," John told him. "There was no other way to get back and this was as fast as anything." That explained the car and why John hadn't even teased about having to do all the driving, not that he would have let Rodney drive, given a choice.
He pulled into the sentry gate for Cheyenne Mountain and flashed his ID. "Colonel John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay," he told the guard on duty.
"Yes, sir, we've been expecting you," the guard replied. "Park over there, leave the keys in the car and someone will take care of it for you." He pointed to a parking area not too far from the entrance.
Climbing out of the car, Rodney stretched to try to get some of the kinks out of his back. He grabbed his bag and laptop case from the back seat of the car as John got his bag from the trunk and they went through the standard identity checks at the gate. Rodney thought -- almost longingly -- about airport security as their bags were checked and they went through a metal detector... it seemed to take forever before they were on their way down the elevator to the SGC. Rodney could feel a headache gnawing its way through the back of his head.
Another guard met them as they got off the elevator. "Dr. McKay? You need to come with me," he said.
"Where to?" Rodney snapped.
"The infirmary," the guard informed him.
Rodney sighed. He should have known. "Okay," he gave in. He turned to John holding out his bags. "Take these?" He wanted to make sure that no one fooled around with his laptop and he knew he could trust John to hold on to it for him.
John shifted his hold on his own bag and grabbed Rodney's bags, "Sure. I'll get these settled and swing by to check on you as soon as I can." Rodney watched John go off toward what he knew was the SGCs excuse for living quarters.
Rodney's headache was all encompassing at this point, so he didn't hassle the guard as they went off to the Infirmary. By the time they got there, he was glad to be guided to a bed to sit on and could close his eyes against the harsh overhead light. Before he knew it, he was in scrubs and had been poked and prodded in place he didn't want to think about and an anonymous nurse had taken several vials of blood. The only good news was that the doctor had given him something for the headache and was letting him rest on a not-awful bed until they got the test results.
A soft voice, "You okay, buddy?"
"J'n?" Rodney mumbled as he struggled to move.
"Shhh.... it's okay," John replied. "You can sleep." A warm hand on his shoulder was comforting.
"Stay?" Rodney gathered up the strength to ask.
"Sure," John answered, "not going anywhere just yet."
Rodney knew he must have fallen asleep. When he woke, the infirmary was half-lit for nighttime hours. He craned to look around but couldn't find John anywhere. His movement must have triggered something because a nurse came over.
"Drin," Rodney got out blearily and the nurse held a paper cup with a straw. The water was close to room temperature but felt good going down. She let him have a couple of good swallows before she took it away.
"Not too much," she said in only the way hospital nurses can but she did help Rodney move around and get better settled into the bed.
Once he was comfortable, he became aware of the pressure on his bladder. He really didn't want to move at the moment but knew he needed to take care of that before it became worse. "Any chance I can use the bathroom?" Rodney asked.
The nurse looked up from the notations she was making on his chart and replied, "Let me get a wheelchair." She held up a hand to stop his protest. "Just so you don't fall over on me." Rodney had wanted to protest but the dizzy feeling when he transferred to the chair made him glad for the ride. The nurse hovered outside the small room as he peed and washed his face in the small sink.
The short time upright in the bathroom exhausted him and he was grateful for the chair to help get back. The nurse helped him back into the bed and he quickly fell asleep.
When Rodney woke again, the lights were still dim but John was sitting next to the bed. Rodney just watched as John read a report of some type, turning the pages carefully. Rodney must have made a noise or movement because John looked up and exclaimed, "You're awake!"
Rodney tried to swallow but coughed roughly. John helped him sit up and gave him what must have been the same water again -- it wasn't quite as good as it had tasted before but it would do.
"Better?" John asked as he set the paper cup down on the bedside table and sat back in the chair.
"Yeah, thanks," Rodney answered, coughing slightly to clear his throat.
John shifted and sat up straight in the chair -- Rodney knew this wasn't good. It was his 'Colonel Sheppard' posture that Rodney had seen John bring out when disciplining Marines. "Rodney, where'd you go Saturday night after the conference was over?" John asked formally.
Rodney snorted. "I was with you," he replied. What the hell was John talking about?
John shook his head. "You were gone overnight -- almost ten hours. I couldn't find you until you showed up in your room Sunday morning." He looked at Rodney seriously, "I left you talking with Gregor Todorovich in the bar. I gave you an hour and went back to look for you and neither of you were there -- the bartender hadn't really seen you leave but thought you had left together. I checked his room and your room and ... Did. Not. Find. You." John took a deep breath. "I kept looking all night and didn't find you until you showed up in your room in the morning."
Rodney was stunned. "I..... I don't....." he swallowed, hard. "I don't remember that." Rodney closed his eyes to focus. "You and I had dinner and I saw Gregor in the dining room. We moved to the bar and we talked. I... I guess I had too much to drink." He laughed mirthlessly. "I've become such a lightweight but I swear I only had a couple of drinks. I remember Gregor helping me to my room and then.... then you waking me up." He looked at John, stricken. "Oh, my god. This isn't good."
"Now you get it," John -- no, Colonel Sheppard answered flatly.
Rodney felt himself pale. "What... what do they think happened?"
Sheppard waved the file in his hand. "Your blood tests show flunitrazepam -- commonly know as rohypnol."
"What?" Rodney squawked.
"On the street, it's been used as a date rape drug," Sheppard explained. "It's a hypnotic that also causes short term memory loss. It makes the victim cooperative and they don't remember what happened."
Rodney was stunned speechless.
"Since we don't know what you may have said or done, the SGC wants to keep you here until they can run further tests or they can find Dr. Todorovich," John paused. "Who has disappeared."
"How... how bad is it?" Rodney forced himself to ask.
"I won't lie," Sheppard said bluntly. "There's discussion about taking away your security clearance."
"No!" Rodney whispered. No, no, no, no, no his mind gibbered. That would be the end of ..... of everything. Not only would he lose Atlantis, he'd not be able to work in any government lab or on any government-related project. Beyond all that, he'd lose John.
"I'm sorry," Sheppard replied seriously. No smirk, no slouch. That made it bad.
"Help me," Rodney begged. He winced at the whine in his voice.
Sheppard stood. "I'm sorry but there's nothing I can do. I have to go home," he explained. "It's Thursday. The Daedalus leaves today whether we're on it or not."
"John, please," Rodney was bewildered. He didn't know what to say. What could he do?
Sheppard turned and walked to the door. He stopped and said, "I have to go. So long, Rodney."
Rodney tried to get out of the bed, "John.... please, don't leave me...... don't go......" He was tangled in the sheets and couldn't get out of the bed. He fought with the sheets, trying to untangle his legs but nothing would cooperate. "John! Wait!.... Wait for me...." He sobbed helplessly as John walked out. "Wait for me.... don't leave....." He collapsed on the floor, hand outstretched, not sure what he was reaching for. He felt helpless. "Please.. don't go," he whispered, broken.
Warm hands on his shoulders shook him gently, "Rodney.... Rodney.... wake up...."
"Don't leave me," Rodney sobbed. "Please....." He reached blindly, seeking.....
"Shh.... Rodney, wake up. You're dreaming," John's voice whispered softly in his ear.
"John?" Rodney hiccuped. He forced his eyes to open... to make sure this was real.
"I've got you," John crooned. "Shhh...... you must have had a bad dream."
Rodney scrabbled, reaching for John in their bed. He latched onto John and plastered their bodies together seeking comfort and confirmation that John was really here. "You didn't leave.... you didn't leave..." He knew he was babbling but he couldn't stop. The reprieve was too much to process just yet.
"Shhh...." John held him close, rocking him like a small child.
Rodney took a deep breath. Relief that it wasn't real... relief that John was still here. "It was so real.... you were leaving me here.... going back to Atlantis without me." He was panting as the dream played out in his memory.
"Never go without you," John soothed, not letting go.
Rodney nuzzled into John, seeking warmth and assurance. Fine tremors shook his body as the adrenaline flooded his system. He couldn't get warm.... the only places that were warm was where he was in contact with John.
"Okay?" John whispered moving his hand over his back. The touch was comforting.
Rodney nodded, "Better. Thanks." He started to relax but didn't let go. He moved enough to kiss John, not with passion but with comfort and familiarity.
"Good, sleep," John murmured against his lips. "We have a lot to do. Don't forget... on Thursday we leave for home."
ETA: Go looky -- danceswithgary made the prettiest cover! Tell her how nice it is.... Here
4. 16: On Thursday We Leave for Home - A colony has barely survived on a sparse planet baked by two suns for thirty years only because of their megalomaniac leader who treats them like children. A conflict arises when a rescue ship arrives and offers them a new life back on Earth.