The news that John Sheppard learned was more than enough to knock him out for a whole day. He stirred occasionally but was still pretty much asleep until nearly dinner time the following evening. When Ronon heard of his friend being awake again, General Landry was sympathetic enough to excuse him from his gate duties with SG-1 to stay behind and keep Sheppard company.
He refused to be removed from the bedside, no matter who asked, even when one of the orderlies came to wash his brother down, as they did twice a week. Flipping through one of the Earth magazines that he had been introduced to – Playboy – he did not immediately notice when his friend started to wake up quietly.
“What did I tell you, Chewie,” John said sleepily. “Too much reading of that stuff makes you go cross eyed.” He wished he could rub his eyes awake right now.
Ronon didn’t look up from the page he was on and snorted. “What did I tell you about stopping getting hit in the head, Sheppard?” he replied before looking up at the nurse who stood at the next bed over. “You can let him loose.”
“Doctor has orders for the restraints,” she replied, shaking her head. “Your friend is a risk to himself.”
“He’ll stay put.”
“I…can’t,” she insisted, in a tone that indicated she wished she could.
“He’ll stay put,” Ronon repeated with more insistence.
The young woman looked over at John, who was still trying to get his bearings, and nodded slowly. “I could get in trouble, you know,” she whispered as she came over to release the lock on the patient’s hands but left the ankle restraints in place. “Make sure he doesn’t tear out his IV again.”
“I won’t. I promise I’ll be good,” John said and slowly sat up to rub the sleep out of his eyes. “Ronon will make sure I don’t do anything stupid, you can tell Carson that when he gives you grief.” He blinked, trying to get his eyes to focus on Ronon and the nurse, but it hurt like hell.
The woman nodded and walked off, leaving the men to themselves in the relatively quiet area; the other patients were still either resting or in an induced coma. The Satedan looked back at John and shrugged before sitting back as comfortably as he could in his chair. “S’up?”
“You tell me, how are you doing?”
He shrugged a shoulder. “Surviving. They got me with SG-1 now. I couldn’t deal with sitting around doing nothing anymore. Sent Teal’c back to his people to work with his council.”
“Well, I think that’s a good thing,” John said, finally able to see Ronon’s stupid grin. “At least you’re not bored while you’re trying to deal with everything.”
“I was stuck in here for two weeks. They had to release me – didn’t give them much of a choice. I tried crashing with Teyla but she’s…all she does is watch the television. She tried explaining something called soap to me. Why would you cry over soap? There is plenty of it to wash yourself with on this planet.”
John chuckled. “Soaps are silly TV shows that are usually aimed at stay at home mothers, old ladies and everyone else who likes to watch fake tragedy. It’s supposed to make people feel good.”
“Yes, they are.”
“How about you?” Ronon asked, looking at him warily.
John shrugged, wondering why one of his arms wasn’t functioning properly. “I can’t remember much and I’m still trying to process the information Carson gave me last time I spoke to him.”
He nodded. “We’re lucky we got out at all. If McKay hadn’t gotten the shields around the tower up for the two minutes that he did, we’d be dead too.”
John just looked at him with a blank face.
“Oh, you don’t remember that. Umm…McKay took over for Zelenka after he went down. I think you tried to get to Woolsey. Last I saw you before we were through the gate, you and Elsa were in the infirmary.”
“I think I remember something about Elsa, me and Rodney in a room with a few of the wounded so that he could work on something to get the gate back under control, and that we had to move towards the control room,” John said. “Although I’m not quite sure.”
Ronon shrugged and raised his legs to rest them on the empty bed next to John. “Like I said, I don’t know what happened after that point. Teyla was heading for you and I went off after a group of Genii that were on their way to the gate room.”
John managed a small smile. “At least Rodney died as a hero, like he always wanted to go out should the time arrive,” he said sadly.
“Yep,” Ronon nodded with respect. “They all did.”
“So, what happened? Did we get help any reinforcements from Earth or did we dial the gate to get out?”
“Dialed Earth,” he answered simply. “There wasn’t enough time to do anything else with the self destruct going.”
“Did the Genii set the self destruct?”
Ronon shook his head. “You did. Right after…right after you managed to radio me that she was gone.”
John tried to construct a time line of the events in his head, and this didn’t make any sense. If he’d been in the control room, he could have
easily made it out himself, instead of being unconscious like Carson had said he was.
“All I know is that you ran back for something. I think it was to kill one of them specifically. Teyla tried to stop you but ended up going along to back you up.”
John slowly nodded. “I’m sorry…” he started. “I just want to know what happened, I really can’t understand how it could have gotten so out of hand.”
“Don’t beat yourself up over it. All of us are still trying to understand it. All you can do is grieve and move on,” he explained. That was the Satedan way. “You still have Teyla, Carson, me. We’re still here, so you aren’t alone.”
“Yeah…” he said in a far away voice. Why didn’t anyone know what happened to Elsa? He was never really for longing for someone to be around him, but he missed her, and it hurt, and he just hated that he couldn’t remember. She was the one person he saw himself settling down with, eventually. Elsa liked to keep him at bay as much as he kept others away mostly because of his horrible track record with women. “What happened to her? To Elsa?”
Ronon thought about it, as he was pretty sure of what was going through his friend’s mind. “I don’t know. I think it was just you, her, Teyla and them, wherever it happened. Teyla refuses to talk about it so she probably knows what happened because you can see that she is carrying something heavy.”
John nodded, still in thought. He wanted to ask why Teyla was on Earth, and then remembered that Atlantis had been blown up, by his own hands. Obliterating everything on Atlantis, dead or alive, that hadn’t gone through the gate. “I take it that none of her people made it?”
“They went for the Athosians first. Teyla was the lucky one,” he grunted.
There are worse things than losing the people and the home that you love… he thought. “I can’t imagine how she must feel to be the last of her people,” he sighed. “Are you helping her to deal with it?”
Ronon rolled his shoulders. “She has the kid. I know she is making sure he understands where he came from. Teyla’s strong, you know that. The SGC makes her see a shrink once a week and I’ve been going there most weekends when we haven’t had a mission.”
He noticed how Ronon’s speech had changed from being with Mitchell’s team for only two months. Ronon had picked up the Earth lingo more quickly, despite the fact that he had spent the last 6 years on Atlantis. Of course, now that Ronon was permanently stationed on Earth, he had to be more ‘Earth like’ and blend in. “Carson’s keeping the shrink away from me, afraid they’ll lock me up in a white padded room.”
“Heh, you got a reputation around the base, that’s for sure.” He laughed, “Just don’t do anything stupid because seriously – Carson and Teyla would lose it if you did. They’ve barely been hanging on as it was, until you woke up finally.”
“I’m not going to do anything stupid,” John said. “I’m fine, and as soon as I’m cleared I’ll be working.”
“Tell that to someone who doesn’t know you,” Carson’s voice sounded, and he greeted Ronon with a smile. “Out with you, he needs his rest now.”
“I just woke up?” Sheppard half asked. “I’m not going back to sleep, Carson, so you’d better give me something to do if you’re going to send Ronon away, or I’ll go nuts.”
Ronon looked back at Beckett with a raised eyebrow. “He’s been behaving,” he reassured the man. “I’ll make sure that he gets rest but wouldn’t you want to stay awake for a little after being out for months?”
John wanted to ask if he could stretch his legs and walk around a little, but knew he would be pushing his luck. “I’ll even eat whatever you bring me,” he promised.
“Aye,” Carson sighed, “but no more talk about Atlantis apart from memories from before the Genii attack. You need to give your brain the time to process, son.”
“Ronon was reading Playboy, I’m sure that if I ask him nicely he’ll describe all the gorgeous women in that magazine to keep me entertained.”
“I’m glad you still have your sense of humor as a coping mechanism, Colonel.”
Ronon only grinned back at Sheppard, happy that the John he knew was still in there. “We’ll be good, Doc.”
“I’ll see what I can do about some jello or broth.” Carson nodded. “And don’t you dare roll your eyes at me, Colonel.”
“I welcome the piss and jello,” John said and then turned to Ronon as Carson went in search of food. “Seriously, I can barely see past you into the room, you’ll have to describe those women in that magazine to me.”
“Oh, they’re hot,” Ronon said, sitting up so that he could hand over the magazine. “See for yourself. I like this one particularly, but she reminds me too much of Teyla. It’s a little disturbing.”
He nodded, lifting the magazine so he could get a better view. One eye was doing fairly okay, the other not so much. “Oh, this is going to be hard to get used to,” he said and as he managed to find a way to look at the picture in the magazine. “Yeah… I think you’re right,” he said, squinting because the light was reflecting into his eyes from the glossy pages.
“You should tell the Doc to check that out. They might be able to do something about it,” Ronon pointed out.
“I will, once my eyes get a few more days to get used to seeing again.” John nodded. “Coma, remember?” He smirked and turned the page of the magazine before putting it down. “Alright, that’s too headache-inducing,” he muttered.
“Sucks to be you,” the other man said and took the magazine back, rotating it as he studied another model.
“Yep.” John nodded. “Now come on, describe her to me.”
“Gross,” Ronon chuckled.
After a while, Carson came back with food, and insisted that it was time for Ronon to leave, but that he was more than welcome to come back the next day. “Piss again, really?” John frowned at Carson, who sat down in the same chair Ronon had just vacated.
“You haven’t had any solid food for months, John, and you didn’t eat that much the other day so yes, piss again, and if you keep it down, maybe next time we’ll switch to jello.”
He managed to eat it all this time, despite it missing something… like salt, and a better taste. And it really bugged him that he couldn’t use his left arm that well, but he was sure that Carson would explain it to him once he was ready.
“Now, we need to talk,” Carson said, and pulled the chair closer to John’s bed. “You have been far too perky and normal for an ex-coma patient who just received terrible news.”
“I just want -”
“Let me finish,” Carson interrupted with a glare. “You have not been yourself and frankly I’m concerned. I know you want to get up and move about, but don’t think that I won’t put you back into a coma until you’re fully healed up so I can at least hurt you for behaving like an ass without feeling guilty about disrupting your healing process.”
“I am -”
“No, you’re not,” Carson said quickly. “There’s a reason why you’re still here with the rest of the severe cases and not out of the infirmary.”
John sighed and just looked at Carson.
“So, if I tell you to rest, what are you going to do?”
“Rest and get bored.”
“Exactly, glad we had this conversation,” Carson said, and made sure that John was secure in his bed. “Rest and get bored, Colonel.”
John made a face and let his head fall back to the pillow. “Can we just like put me on probation or something with those? Just for the arms at least? Trust me a little, as I have to trust that you guys aren’t going to kill me in my sleep…”
“John, no one’s going to kill you in your sleep.” Carson smiled down on him. “You’re still under my care but I’ll think about it for a wee bit longer before I feel confident enough to remove the rest of the restraints.”
He groaned as he felt the leather being secured around his wrist again. Joy, he thought, and tried to go to sleep, as he had few options for anything else.
“You’re wielding a needle.” John chuckled.
“I’m a doctor, needles are what I do. Now, drop those pants mister.”
Their gentle teasing was interrupted by an explosion and all of a sudden, he was in the middle of a corridor surrounded by dead Genii.
“John, this way!” Teyla’s voice sounded and he started to run in her direction.
“I thought we had lost you, Colonel,” Jennifer said almost in a far away tone.
“Not me, Keller.” he replied. “I swear, they are hellbent on killing all of us, no matter if they’re women, pregnant, old or…”
“I know John,” Teyla agreed with a deep sadness in her voice. “We have to get back to Elsa, we can’t leave her unprotected like that.”
“You go and find Ronon, I’ll get back to Elsa and McKay to see what they…” He fell to the floor when another explosion went off. “Son of a…” He coughed. “Teyla?”
“I am fine, go!”
John instinctively tried to sit up after waking suddenly. He was covered in a cold sweat and his heart was racing fast enough to set off his monitors, bringing the medical staff running.
“Colonel, you need to breathe and try to calm down,” Dr. Lam said as she started to lower the volume on the devices. “Focus on your breathing! You’re having a severe anxiety attack…”
“Let me move,” he breathed heavily. “Please, I just…” He paused and tried to catch his breath. “I want to move…”
Carolyn dug in her pocket for the key to the restraints and released his arms as quickly as she could. She looked up at one of the male orderlies who was helping and quietly ordered him to stay and keep an eye on the patient. She also ordered some Valium to help calm Sheppard down. Injecting it into his IV, she spoke soft, reassuring words, hoping that it would help. She could only imagine what he had been dreaming about to cause such a violent response.
Once his limbs were released, John felt somewhat safer and wrapped his good arm around himself. He managed to partially curl up on the bed without being able to move his legs too much and began to calm himself down as his breathing evened out. “I’m okay…” he said in a small voice, and tried to ignore the tears in his eyes.
“Is there someone I can get for you?” she asked quietly.
“No…” He shook his head; he wanted Elsa but that was going to be a ridiculous request. “Just a bad dream, that’s all,” he muttered.
She nodded and adjusted the IV bag. “The specialist for your eyes is coming to see you tomorrow,” she said, trying to change the subject.
“Would you rather I give you something to help you sleep or do you want to just lie there for a while?”
“Sedating doesn’t help me deal with this,” John replied. “Just don’t restrain me… I won’t freak out…” He pulled his weaker arm around him. “I promise, I’ll be fine…”
Carolyn nodded. “I’m going to have Andrew sit here with you in case you need anything,” she said. “Hopefully you’ll be able to start rehab by next week if all goes well over the next few days.” She hoped that the information of their plans for getting him back to his feet would help him feel somewhat comforted.
He nodded for an answer, and then decided to tune everything out while his head still went crazy, as if it was high on drugs. Probably the rush of adrenaline. At least she didn’t restrain him at this time, that was a plus. He felt safe for now.
“Carson would kill me, sorry,” Mitchell grinned. “But I was allowed to bring you this.” He placed a cup of red jello in front of John’s nose.
“Yum…why not blue?”
“Teal’c and I made the kitchen get rid of all blue jello after we heard about Sam. Just doesn’t feel right with her not around like that.” Cam shrugged, “Ronon is a good guy. Not very talkative, though.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, Cam,” John said, deciding to sit up and take a stab at the jello. “Ronon gets the job done. Just give him some time to open up to you, he’ll be cracking the most inappropriate jokes that will make you wet your pants.”
Mitchell made a face that sort of imitated Teal’c trying to be amused. “I believe that. He’s obsessed with Playboy. Sorry about that,” he replied.
“My fault.” He snorted and took a bite of his jello. At least it didn’t taste like piss, and the strawberry flavor was a welcome sensation. “I was doing a routine inspection of some Jumpers one day and I decided that next time I’d let someone else do it because some Marines…” He shook his head, laughing. “Playboy was the tamest thing I found in Stackhouse’s Jumper.”
“Sounds like a grand ol’ time, buddy. You need to get back on your feet. Your friend’s kid keeps asking about you, like all day, every time they visit. Think that you’re gonna end up being his almost-daddy,” Cam said as he ripped a piece of meat off the ribs and ate happily.
“Working on it. Lam said something about rehab but I wasn’t paying much attention,” John said. “Carson wants me to take it easy, and stop acting like everything’s fine after waking up after a two-month-long nap.”
He shrugged. “It happens. You’ll be fine. Just gotta wrap your head around it for awhile. At least you are in better shape than me after my accident.”
He nodded. He and Mitchell had had frequent email contact after they met when SG-1 came to Atlantis. Cam was an okay guy and he knew that Mitchell, of all people, probably understood most of what he was feeling. “At least you could still return to do the work you love, I’m not so sure if I can. You’re a little fuzzy around the edges.”
“It wasn’t easy. The docs doubted I would be able to even walk but I wouldn’t listen. I guess it depends on the injury as well.”
John finished his jello with a triumphant grin and put it on the bed. “I’m making progress, I can move my arms now that they took those restraints off,” he said as he eyed Cam’s steak greedily. “Don’t tell me you’ve got potato salad there as well.”
“I hate you.”
“I know,” Cam smiled widely. “I’m sitting here, eating my dinner with the delicious smells, to motivate you.”
“Figured as much.”
“Oh, and I brought you some lemonade.” Cam handed him a firm plastic cup. “Carson hasn’t authorized that, so enjoy.”
John shook his head amused and took a sip. “Oh, that’s good.”
Mitchell nodded and returned to his steak, mmming at every bite he put in his mouth to taunt his friend.
For some reason, John was a little relieved when Mitchell left his bed side after talking to him about useless things for over an hour. He was grateful that Cam didn’t mention Atlantis at all. It was fun, though, to hear what his friend thought of having Ronon on his team and what they had done in the past two months.
In all honesty, John felt like crap, and he suspected everyone around him knew that, even with his refusal to show it. He just wanted to retreat and try to get his ducks in a row. Or maybe not; it depended on whether or not he’d ever be able to get a clear picture in his head about what had happened on Atlantis, what had happened to everyone he cared for.
He found that trying to be his usual self was tiresome, and that maybe Carson had been right; he should act the way he felt, but leave his idiotic thoughts to himself in case the SGC shrink showed up.
He decided to temporarily give up wracking his brain over things that happened in the past and that gave him some space to assess his current condition. One of the docs, he couldn’t remember if it was Lam or Beckett, had mentioned that he had had severe head trauma and some kind of aneurysm. John wasn’t a doctor but even he knew that that was a good reason as to why his left arm felt like dead weight at times. He wasn’t quite sure about his eyesight, but he knew for a fact that if his eyes didn’t start to clear up – especially his left eye – the doctors wouldn’t allow him to return to active duty or – perhaps worst of all – to fly.
He’d tried focusing on distant objects, but while people standing by his bedside were relatively clear, anything beyond that was blurry. Closing his left eye helped, so he knew it was his right eye that was the problem. It worried him. He loved to fly, and sure, maybe not puddle jumpers anymore, but any aircraft would do at this point.
And should his arm never return back to normal, he doubted they’d clear him for firearms either. But whatever was going to happen, he was going to work his ass off to at least to be able to shoot again, bad eyes or bad arm be damned.
His thoughts made him sleepy. He knew it was sometime in the afternoon but he decided to obey his body and tried to fall asleep.
“I haven’t broken anything, I’m fine,” John said reassuringly, knowing full well that Elsa could force him to go to the infirmary if she gave word to either Carter or Woolsey. He had been an idiot and hadn’t seen that trench. He never had stupid accidents like this; it was usually Rodney’s area to get hurt by falling over. Needless to say, he had hurt his pride along with his shoulder and ankle.
“Don’t make me pull rank on you.” She tugged on his good arm. “Come on, limpy,” she said lightly with a big smile on her face.
There were donkeys in the infirmary. Asses. “What are they doing in here?”
“Oh, the circus is in town, do you want to go?” Elsa wasn’t dressed in her doctor clothes anymore. She looked as if she worked at the circus, dressed like some sort of trapeze artist, and looking extremely hot in that outfit.
“I hate the circus.”
“Oh, but there aren’t any clowns, don’t worry.” She smiled and placed her hand on his forehead. “There, all better.”
“I know,” she said with a wink and jumped onto a trapeze. “How do I look?”
“I might go to the circus with you if you’re looking like that…” John swallowed hard. Elsa’s long legs were wrapped around the bar as she hung upside down, giving him a good look at her cleavage.
“Good. Now turn around, walk out of here, and go left; I’ll be waiting for you there.” Elsa smiled at him and he obeyed her. He walked out of the hay – and donkey – filled infirmary and turned left, only to be caught in an explosion.
The ceiling came down on him, and he couldn’t breathe properly, nor could he figure out where he was exactly; the smoke-filled corridor was disorienting. The sound of screams echoed in the distance and he knew he had to get out from under the rubble and move on, despite the fact that he wanted to give up. He was tired of fighting, of getting shot at, of being stabbed, but he had to go on and try to fix this mess. He tried to push away the beam holding him down, only to be surprised to find Elsa, dressed in white clothes and a pair of wings, lifting the heavy beam as if it were nothing. “You can’t save us all, John, but thank you for trying,” she said as she helped him to his feet, then exclaimed, “You’re hurt!” She sounded shocked. “Go find Teyla, she’ll take you to see Carson, go John, now!”
“Not without you-“
“You’ve done all that you can for me, John. I’m sorry it was too late, but you still have time to help Teyla.”
“GO JOHN!” Elsa yelled at him. “You need to stay safe, go!” She pushed him in the right direction and he had no option but to clutch his P90 and stumble out of the corridor.
“John? John, wake up,” Teyla’s voice sounded from somewhere in the distance. “You are okay, wake up, John.”
He opened his eyes with a start and looked right into Teyla’s face. “I found you…” he sobbed.
Teyla’s heart was breaking in a million pieces all over again as she stroked his unruly hair from his sweaty forehead. “You had a bad dream, John,” she said to him as she sat down on the bed to pull him half onto her lap. “You’re safe,” she said softly as she continued to caress his hair. “I’ll keep the bad dreams away, get some rest.”
She had never seen him cry like this, as he never truly showed his feelings to anyone. For John’s sake, she was relieved that the rest of the patients in this part of the infirmary were out cold, although many probably would never wake up from their comas, which was a sad thought. John would never have forgiven himself if anyone had seen him lose it like that.
Carson didn’t know that she had snuck in to see him. Ever since John had woken up from his coma, she had felt the desperate need to be with him, but Carson had told her that neither John, nor she, was ready for their reunion.
She now realized why; because he had just recently learned what had happened to Atlantis, John was still in the first stages of grief, even with his memory loss. She had to be careful not to be drawn back into her own feelings. Teyla stayed by his side until her friend was back into a deep slumber and wondered when things would begin to work out.
“Good morning, Colonel,” Carson’s voice greeted him happily. “I see that you’ve made yourself comfortable again.” He smiled widely.
John looked up at Carson and then at the pillow stuffed between his arms and chest. “Morning.” He shrugged and slowly sat up, looking at the plate of food Carson had in his hands. “Please don’t tell me that you’re going to act like Mitchell and eat that while sitting next to me,” he groaned.
“Oh no, this is turkey on a cracker,” Carson said, and put the plate in his lap. “I know how much you like turkey sandwiches, but I think that they may be a bit too much for you now.”
“I’m eating whatever you give me, and it’s staying down… how about getting that tube out?”
“You need to learn to have patience, John.”
Turkey on a cracker it is, John thought. At least it’s not jello or piss. “Was Teyla here earlier?”
“Yes, she came by to see you last night, but you were asleep.”
“Okay.” He nodded slowly as he took another bite of his cracker. “She could have woken me up.”
“She knows better, lad,” Carson said, and sat down on the chair next to his bed. “There’s someone coming over in an hour to check your eyes, to find out how much damage there is and if it can be repaired. Are you okay with that?”
“Can’t you do it?”
“I’d rather have a specialist look at it,” Carson admitted. “I have my own theory, but I’d rather let Dr. Cale have a look at it.”
“No, Cale,” Carson shook his head sadly. “Dr. Cole, our Dr. Cole, perished on Atlantis, John.”
He sighed and finished the first cracker out of two, it had been good to taste something again, something he loved, but right now, he didn’t want to eat the other one. “Can I save this for later?”
The doctor nodded. “Not a problem. I’ll come let you know when the specialist arrives.”
John knew that Carson kept his legs restrained so he couldn’t just walk out of the infirmary, or fall flat on his face trying, but he would give anything for a walk right now, to see who else was in the infirmary still. Most likely a few of the scientists he was told he was found with.
He wondered why Teyla hadn’t waited for him to wake up or why she hadn’t woken him up when she was there. He wanted to know how she was holding up, wanted to hear it from her, not from people around her like Beckett.
“When is Teyla coming back?” he asked as he tried to pull himself up on the bed as far as the restraints allowed. “I’d really like to see her and actually see she is well for myself.”
“When she’s ready to face you,” Carson said after a moment of thought. “She’s a strong woman, but seeing you when you were asleep and thrashing about made her realize she’s not ready to confront you and your questions yet.”
John slammed his back on the pillow with frustration. “What if I promise not to ask about Atlantis and Elsa and everyone? Please?”
“I’ll ask her, John.” Carson sighed tiredly, knowing that Teyla was the one who had stopped John and his tossing about when he was having a bad dream again, and she might be the only one to really get through to him. At this particular moment, Carson felt that John was playing a game with him yet again.
“Then at least give me something to do…” John gave up; he wasn’t the one in charge, Carson was, and if Teyla wasn’t ready, then he had to believe him. “I’m going crazy without being able to do anything. I feel fine, there must be something I can do while I’m trapped in here,” he said stubbornly.
When Carson didn’t reply, he noticed he was feeling hungry. “Did you bring me something real to eat this time instead of jello or piss?” he asked, hopeful.
“You have the turkey cracker, Colonel. Finish that and I will consider something more.” Beckett grinned again, knowing that he would likely have to find something, as the things that the man had eaten had been staying down.
“What cracker?” John looked around and saw a plate with a cracker sitting next to him. “Oh, thanks, finally something tasty.” Carson watched for a moment concerned about his short term memory aside from his visual range. It was something he might have to look into further later.
Leaving him to his snack, Carson walked out to the commissary in order to find something easy for his friend to eat, as well as to make a call to Teyla to see if she would be open to the man’s request. He was sure that John would try as hard as he could to not ask questions. Carson knew that Teyla was there when it happened, but other than giving a vague description of the situation, she kept a lot of the details to herself which was not healthy either.
“John,” Carson’s voice sounded.
He must have had dozed off. Blinking slowly, John rubbed his eyes. “I’m awake, I was just…”
“It’s okay, lad.” Carson chuckled. “I’d like you to meet Dr. Logan Cale, he’s going to check out your eyes.”
“I’m awake,” John repeated, looking at Carson and the new guy standing next to him. “Hello, Doc.”
Dr. Cale smiled. “Hello back. Let’s get you sitting up here and have a look,” he said simply as he helped raise the head of the bed. He started out with a simple exam with the pen light and distance perception.
He winced when the doctor shone that annoying light in his good eye but had to squeeze his eyes shut when he did the same in his left eye, not only did that light blind him completely, but he also felt a little jolt of pain echoing in the back of his head. “Don’t do that,” he muttered, wanting to hit the doctor, but he had promised Carson that he would behave himself.
“I’ve read your medical file, Colonel Sheppard,” Dr. Cale started, “and this is not the first time I’ve assessed you either. Because you’ve suffered severe head trauma, some vessels in your eye have burst due to blood clots and I fear that it has done some damage.”
John remembered hearing some of this before, but a lot of it still sounded like Swahili to him. “Okay…”
The ophthalmologist smiled and shook his head. “I have the SGC setting up some equipment so that we can do some extensive tests to be sure. We will find out how much damage is done and just how permanent or repairable it might be. Please have some patience.”
For some reason John couldn’t help but chuckle at that, also because at the same time the doctor spoke those words, this great Johnny Cash song came into his head basically telling him that he should fear the worst. “If I’m not patient, Carson will take away few liberties he’s given me, so I’ll be good.”
“I must say, the medical team that worked on you when you were brought in has done an amazing job in trying to save every bit of you, Colonel,” Dr. Cale eventually said when Carson was back. “I’ve seen the pictures of what your face looked like when they started, and I’m so glad that they cleaned out your eyes as well as they have.”
“Carson’s the best and he only works with the best.” John nodded slowly, wondering why the doctor was sucking up to Carson, who kept quiet.
“The way I see it, the ultrasound shows that the blood vessels in your left eye are healing nicely. There’s a healthy blood flow through them, and I’m sure that in a bit more time your eye will stop hurting when exposed to direct light or light changes.”
“But?” There was always a but, John knew that.
“Nothing major, that’s the good news,” Dr. Cale started. “Your retina, the part that deals with the light and images in your eye, has torn in a few places, which gives you that blurry vision and light sensitivity.”
“Okay, so…” His mind went a thousand miles a second. “Contacts?”
“It’s not advisable, and I doubt that it’d restore the vision as the part that receives images in your eye is damaged; had it been any other part then sure, maybe. You can wear sunglasses to make the transitions of light easier on you when you’re outside or working, but I’m afraid that I’ll have to tell you, and General Landry, that your flying days are over. I’m sorry, Colonel.”
He looked at Carson, who looked on worriedly. “Don’t worry, I’m alright, I’m a big boy,” he managed to say, but in fact, he was far from it. He was angry, sad, and confused all at once. “Will the, ehm… fuzziness clear up?”
“You need to retrain your eyes to work together again. Even now, I can see that your bad eye has given up at the moment as it’s tired of working, and is trailing off a bit to the side. But give it some time, you’ll be fine.”
“But no more flying?”
“I’m afraid not, Colonel.”
He nodded slowly as he began to think. He could go back to work, could still travel through the gate; he’d learn how to shoot with only one good eye, he could do that. If Mitchell could work his ass off to walk again and do the things he was still doing, then the least John could do was to focus on the things he could re-learn… although he really wished he didn’t have to.
Carson could see the wheels in John’s head turning and immediately spoke. “Oh no, Colonel. I’m sorry, but that is out of the question. I know what you are thinking and I cannot sign off the clearance for you with your history. Not anymore.”
He looked at Carson and tried hard not to say something mean. “Now you’re trying to pull the rug even further from underneath me.”
“No, I’m not. I am being realistic and honest with you. You have a long road to recovery ahead of you and I, for one, would like to keep you alive to a ripe old age,” Beckett replied. “Teyla and Ronon have been working on the apartment to ready it for when you are able to leave here, where you will likely be in a wheelchair until you get through significant physiotherapy. Don’t you want to show her around Earth? You always talked about it before.”
He didn’t know what to say. Of course, everyone wanted to keep him around, but right now he was just angry. “It’s really hard not to do something stupid right now.” John tried to stay calm and just balled his fists until his knuckles looked white. “Like hurt someone.”
“I am sorry John, but this is how it is. You will learn how to adapt. I have every confidence in you,” Carson said and made sure that his patient was comfortable before returning to his other duties and patients.