Pairing: John/Rodney Established relationship
Word Count: ~3270
Episode Tag: Grace Under Pressure (Episode 2.14)
Disclaimer: Not mine, I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Yvonne for beta.
Summary: Rodney needs some comfort and John needs to know that Rodney is okay.
When the ramp finally opened, John had to call upon all his years of military training not to run forward and grab Rodney in his arms to hug him and kiss him again, and again. Instead, when he and Radek found Rodney, gasping for breath and face down in the damaged jumper: He forced himself to calmly ask Radek to help him get Rodney to his feet so that they could transfer him, as quickly as possible, to the rescue Jumper. Bracing Rodney's arms across their shoulders, the journey between the two craft was accomplished in moments.
While Radek went straight though to the cockpit to reduce the size of the shield back to normal, John closed the back hatch, then ruthlessly stripped his lover all his clothes... despite his vociferous objections that he was cold.
"You'll warm up much quicker if you get out of those wet clothes," John murmured into the closest ear. "Then I can use a nice warm towel to pat you dry, then we can concentrate on getting you warmed up. I'm just following Carson's instructions; since he is in charge of all those large pointy needles we are both going to do exactly what he says. Aren't we?"
Rodney registered the comment about 'large pointy needles' and nodded as enthusiastically as he could.
"Good, then neither of us will get in trouble," John went on, and then he snatched a quick kiss on his lover's shoulder blade while he was hidden from any chance of Radek seeing him do it.
By the time Radek had finished with the field reconfiguration and input the equations for using the Jumper as a hyperbaric chamber, John had Rodney dressed in a set of scrubs, over which he'd pulled a set of sweats, then finally had a blanket wrapped around him, and was helping him drink a mug of warm, sweet tea... despite Rodney's protest, "But... it is TEA." John just raised an eyebrow at the comment, and muttered, "Pointy needles" at him, as he and Radek changed places.
John went forward into the cockpit, and settled himself in the pilot's chair. He lifted the Jumper off the sea floor and, as soon as there was enough clearance, he stood the craft on its tail and headed for the surface. It wasn't that it would make the journey any quicker, nor would they be able to leave the jumper until all the stages of the decompression were complete, but he knew that just being able to see the sky would make Rodney feel so much better.
As soon as they had broken the surface, and were enroute to Atlantis, John checked over the settings that Radek had input... just to be sure that the values were correct. He knew that he was being paranoid, but Rodney meant far too much to him and too valuable to the city of course, for him to take any chances with unavoidable errors; for decompressing too slowly was just as bad as doing it too fast. Once he was satisfied that everything was correct, he reported on the Command channel that they were now inbound with Rodney on board.
Carson immediately started asking questions, "How is he? What's his breathing and blood pressure like?"
At the same time, Elizabeth asked, "What about Griffin? Why isn't he with you?"
John shook his head in bewilderment. Who should he answer first... and how? Taking a deep breath, he said, "Rodney has at least a concussion, and as he had been up to his neck in very cold water has hypothermia, which we are treating according to your notes, Carson. Radek is in the back, keeping an eye on things like breathing and blood pressure, while I am doing the piloting. And, Elizabeth, Rodney is so cold at the moment it's difficult to understand everything he is saying, but from what I can gather; Griffin gave his life to save Rodney's somehow. I'm sure we'll get all the details later."
"Aye," Carson interrupted, "Elizabeth, I think it would be better if we leave any stressful questions until he's in a better state of mind. However, John, if he wants to talk about it, then let him. In the meantime I'll talk to Radek about the readings."
"Okay Carson," John replied, as Elizabeth said, "I'll wait." Then John's headset was silent.
A few minutes later he could hear Radek answering Carson's questions in a long-suffering tone, whilst he was trying to help Rodney... then there was silence for a while, until Rodney started muttering again.
John listened quietly as Rodney, with occasional sympathetic comments from Radek, rambled on about the trouble with the drive pod, the explosion and sinking towards the sea floor. How the windscreen had started cracking and their retreat into the rear compartment... only to find that the door wouldn't close... his inability to override the system from his tablet. He had started towards the controls at the back, near the ramp, when Griffin had called out 'Good Luck, Rodney' as he staggered back inside the cockpit and closed the doors from there.... Only just in time. Rodney was almost sobbing as he described hearing the window break and the water rush inside.... "Why would he do that?" Rodney mumbled sadly, over and over again.
Radek patted him on the shoulder, and offered him some more of the warm tea, and Rodney became silent again.
At that point John desperately wanted to gather his lover in his arms and comfort him until the sadness went away... and he promised himself that would be what he would do as soon as they were alone together after this ordeal was over.
Even after they arrived in the city, they were still going to be 'trapped' inside the Jumper during the decompression, and that amount of time wasn't going to be easy on any of them, especially Rodney. Bearing that in mind, he used the Command channel to contact Elizabeth and Carson again.
"I have a question for you Elizabeth," he said without preamble. "Will we be able to leave the overhead door to the Jumper bay open while we are decompressing, or would it be better to find somewhere else to land the Jumper?"
"What's the matter with the Jumper bay, John?" Elizabeth didn't sound happy about his request.
"What did you have in mind, lad?" Carson questioned, sounding far more sympathetic.
"Rodney was trapped with very little light; I believe it would be kinder to him, and Radek and me of course, if we could make sure that it's not dark outside the Jumper. He's taking short naps and he's a bit disoriented when he wakes, so I thought that with natural light surrounding us he'd know immediately that he's not on the sea floor any more and won't panic."
"That sounds like a good idea, lad. Did you have a place in mind?"
"Actually, I was thinking of that large balcony near the infirmary. We could face the Jumper out to sea, and back up to the doors that lead into the corridor. Perhaps put an awning over the gap between us and the city."
"Aye, that's a good place, it would be easy to keep an eye on you all there. By the time you reach the city, we'll be ready for you."
"Thanks, Carson.... Elizabeth?"
"Yes, I can see that it would be a good idea," she replied, "I'll consult with Major Lorne to make sure that you'll get all the peace and quiet that you need."
"Thank you. See you soon."
Elizabeth called Major Lorne as she left her office and walked towards the transporter with Carson. She updated the major on the status of the rescue, and asked him to meet Carson and herself outside the infirmary; as soon as her request was acknowledged, she followed Carson into the transporter, and out again moments later.
Carson led her a few steps away from the infirmary, then ran his hand over an almost invisible sensor at about head height, and two large doors slid quietly apart. "John explained it to me that this isn't really a proper balcony, it's actually part of the roof of the lower floors of this building. The doors we used were put there for maintenance purposes; there isn't access to roof from inside." He looked around him and went on, "It's a good place for them to be setting down, we can easily keep an eye on them here.... Now, let's go to meet the Major, and then I'll be telling my folk about the situation."
Laving the doors open, they went back into the corridor just in time to see Lorne exit the transporter, as Carson carried on into the infirmary whilst Elizabeth took the Major out on to the balcony. "This is where John will be setting the Jumper down while they finished their decompression comfortably..." she told him. Well as comfortably as possible she amended to herself.
Lorne nodded, and took in the view, walking over to the fairly high railings and looking out to sea, then turned around to look at the city. "It's a good choice," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. They'll be able to see out of the windscreen, and no-one will be able to see in unless they are standing on the balcony without a very powerful telescope."
"That's good to know," Elizabeth told him. "John mentioned having an awning covering the back of the jumper and the doors so that the medical team doesn't get wet should it rain."
"I'll get right on it, Doctor Weir. I'll talk to Captain Morgan about that she'll know what we have in store; then, as soon as the Colonel has set down, we'll know what size we're going to need."
"Thank you, Major, I'll leave that in your capable hands. I'm going to have a quick word with Carson, and then I'm going back to my office, because I'll only be in the way here." With that she turned and left.
Lorne took another look around: In his opinion the Colonel had chosen the best place to land the Jumper this close to the infirmary.... Satisfied that he knew what the Colonel had in mind, he left to talk to Captain Morgan about tents and awnings.
John went on the alert immediately when Rodney went silent midway through a rambling sentence. He craned his head round the doorway and whispered Radek's name; he raised an eyebrow at the Czech when he looked round.
Radek got to his feet and came to stand in the doorway. "He's not asleep," he said, only just loud enough for John to hear. "He's lying there... shivering, biting his lips, and... not talking. He slapped my hands away when I tried to adjust the blanket. I don't think I've said anything to upset him... he just suddenly withdrew into self... and won't talk. Is not like Rodney not to talk."
John nodded; talking was practically Rodney's default setting. He looked at his watch, and checked their heading. "We'll be in sight of Atlantis in about ten minutes, so we should be parked on a balcony with the drive powered down in about twenty-five to thirty minutes. Just tell him that... but don't prod for an answer."
"Da, that I can do." Radek went back to sit beside his friend, and delivered John's message, sounding rather like a steward on an aircraft.
There was no reply.
Time seemed to have slowed down; and when John finally landed on the designated balcony, it seemed like three hours had passed instead of less than thirty minutes. He got up from his seat and stretched before peering around the doorway to see if anything had changed; nothing had. There came a knock on the windscreen, and Carson was there pointing at his ear. John cycled through the channels until he found the one that the Doctor was using.
"How is he?" was, of course, Carson's first question.
"He's not doing well, Carson. He's still shivering and has basically shut down and is refusing to talk." John ran his hands over his face. "I think perhaps the problem is tiredness; heaven knows I'm tired, and Radek looks as if he could sleep the clock round, too. Radek has put the pressure changes on automatic, and I have checked his figures... He has also sent the schedule to you, so you will know when the changes take place."
Carson's accent thickened with worry. "I dinna know what ta suggest..."
John took a deep breath. "Look, we've shared tents many times off world.... Would sharing body heat help him get warm and adjust to the fact that he's not alone?"
"I didna like to suggest it, lad; but that would be a good idea I think."
"Okay, I'll do that, and get Radek to sleep as well, if I can."
Carson grinned. "I'll give you a wake-up call in the morning. Call me on this channel if you want to talk, or need any advice."
"Will do. Thanks Carson. I really hope I don't have to call you."
"Aye laddie, me too." Carson vanished from his view. John beckoned to Radek and relayed the basics of the conversation the Doctor.
They quickly made a bed for Radek in the cockpit, and moved Rodney slightly so that John could share his blankets. They stripped down to their boxers and got into their respective beds... to sleep and, hopefully, not have nightmares.
Some hours later, John blinked awake as someone patted his cheek. When John blearily opened his eyes, Rodney was nose to nose with him. "Hi Rodney. How are you feeling?" he whispered.
Rodney looked at him quizzically in the dim light. "Why are you in bed with me?" he asked just as quietly.
"I'm here to warm you up, and keep you company... both Carson and I thought it was a good idea." John gave him a quick kiss on the nose. "Radek is sleeping in the cockpit." He glanced that way. "And it appears to be night outside, though we are getting a little of the backwash of light from the nearby buildings. We've parked the Jumper on that large balcony just outside the infirmary, which also gained Carson's approval."
Rodney hugged him tightly. "Thank you for coming for me."
"I'll always come for you, no matter where or when; try to keep you safe no matter what happens..."
"Your men would never believe you're such a big softie," Rodney replied with a slight hint of a chuckle.
"Only with you.... Now, go back to sleep because I have no doubt that Carson will want to talk to us bright and early."
Rodney took a deep breath and relaxed his grip. "Okay," he murmured and settled down to get some more sleep.
John lay awake for a while, basking in the fact that Rodney was in his arms, safe and... almost well.
The next few days were every bit as tedious as John had feared. Obviously the decompression had to run its course. However, Carson then kept them in the infirmary while he ran test after test on them... and Rodney was starting to tense up again. Even visits by the rest of their team didn't alleviate the tension or the tedium.
Just after lunch on the third day, John took a trip to the bathroom and made a call on a headset that he'd borrowed from Teyla. "Elizabeth, I need to talk to you."
"If you come to my office now, I have the time--"
"That's just it. Carson is still holding us captive in the infirmary, and Rodney is about to come unraveled. Having been scuba diving since I was six years old, I know there is no reason for half the tests that Carson is insisting that he needs to do."
"I didn't realize... I'll be there in a few minutes."
"Thank you." John went back to his bed, and surreptitiously returned the headset to Teyla as he passed by her chair.
A few minutes later John saw Elizabeth enter the infirmary and make her way to Carson's office. There were grins exchanged between the team members at the sight, though they had faded somewhat almost ten minutes elapsed before Elizabeth and Carson approached the area where he and the others were sitting around on beds and chairs.
"I'm releasing you to your quarters," Carson announced in an unusually abrupt one of voice. "If nothing untoward happens in the next two days I'll put you all back on active duty status." He turned away and went back to his office.
"You're free to go," Elizabeth said with a smile. "It comes with provisos. Rodney and Radek, you are not allowed back in the labs until the day after tomorrow; and John, no running or sparring with anyone... especially Teyla or Ronon. As soon as you are back on duty we can schedule the mission to Yaohan, which I know will please Teyla, and some of the other expedition members, if we can manage to negotiate for some of their fruit and fabrics."
John grinned back at her. "I promise: No running or sparring... and thanks for the intercession."
"I'll expect a particularly nice bolt of deep red cloth on your return from the mission," she said over her shoulder as she left to return to her office.
John grinned at Teyla. "I guess we'd better make sure that nothing goes awry with our trading, Teyla," he said as he gathered his property which had migrated from his quarters with Ronon's help.
"I believe that would be a good idea," she replied smiling back at him, but sounding solemn.
Once outside the infirmary they went their separate ways. Ronon and Teyla decided that after helping Radek return to his rooms they would go off somewhere and spar. John and Rodney went in the direction their quarters, then went to their game room, to wile away the time until dinner.
When John's watch chimed they saved their files and argued amicably about the ways they were using to modernize their 'Country' on their way to the mess hall. Rodney, of course, took a scientific stance; whilst John took a military one.
They had a light dinner and took some snacks back with them to Rodney's quarters which had a slightly wider, but much longer bed than the one in John's room. Rodney had tried John's bed once, and declared it unfit for a child, let alone a tall adult... and there definitely wasn't room for two. John had just grinned, and meekly followed Rodney back to his quarters, and this was where they ended up every time from that day forward.
Once the door was closed, and locked behind them. John took Rodney in his arms and asked, "I know you're tired, so what do you want from me tonight?"
Rodney rested his head against John's shoulder. "I just want you to hold me... just like in the Jumper... to let me know.... Then I'll know we're both alive."
"I can do that."
"I love you, I love the way you understand me; and I really don't tell you that enough...." Rodney then pushed himself away and stripped off down to his boxers.
John grinned and followed suit. "I'll always love you, Rodney, like that Irving Berlin song says.... Always." He then pulled his lover down on the bed so that Rodney's head rested on his chest. He thought the lights down low, and held him while they both drifted off to sleep.