Word Count: 1,718
Rating: PG-13/sickness, some swearing, and references to dark topics.
Warnings: references to childhood abuse. Non-explicit, but if it bothers you skip this one.
Propmpt: hc_bingo: 'fever/delirium.'
Notes: Companion to What Weight We Bear.
It’s not like him to be sick. He hasn’t had more than a cold in years, probably since he was in flight school, so it’s probably why he doesn’t recognize it at first. Not surprisingly, actually, Rodney notices it before he does.
“Are you sick?” Rodney asks, peering into his face, far closer than John thinks he’s ever seen Rodney get to anyone who has more than a particularly violent hangnail. “Because if you are, I think that we should maybe get back to Atlantis.”
“I feel fine.” And yeah, okay, that’s a lie, because now that he thinks about it, sickness explains the throbbing headache and the weird chills and the aching in his joints. It might also be the cause of the bone-deep weariness he’s been dealing with for the past few days. Sure, all of those could also be explained by job-related stress and the strange weather patterns on New Lantea, but the more John thinks about it, the more he thinks Rodney might be right.
“Because, you know, Colonel, if you’re sick, then we really should cut this trip short. I mean, if you start vomiting all over the place, that could put a serious dent in our trade relationship with-”
“I seriously doubt I’m going to throw up on the trade delegation,” John says mildly, but his stomach does a weird sort of tumbling thing when vomit is mentioned, so he suddenly isn’t as sure of that fact as he’d like to be. “But maybe we should think about wrapping things up.”
It’s all Rodney needs to hear; he’s already tapping on his radio. “Teyla, Sheppard needs to get back to Atlantis. He looks like he’s about to pass out.”
John opens his mouth to object to that comment, shoving way from the wall as he does so, but suddenly he’s realizing that Rodney’s right, and he’s falling to the floor.
“What happened?” Evan’s using his best I’m-not-frantic voice, but he’s pretty sure it wouldn’t matter if he were a screaming, hysterical mess right now. Nobody in the Gate room would notice. They’re all staring at John, who’s slung over Ronon’s shoulder, cheeks bright and sweating.
And unconscious. Also that.
Ronon’s placing John onto a gurney and Keller’s rushing him away, and Evan forces himself to grab Ronon by the arm rather than go chasing after them. “What happened?” he demands again, and this time Ronon looks at him.
“Passed out,” Ronon says succinctly, just like he says everything else. “He’s pretty sick.”
Evan blinks. Sick? John doesn’t get sick. He hasn’t been sick in years, since before Atlantis, since before they were both properly in the military at all. Evan thinks back to those days, quickly, remembering exactly how ill John had fallen then, and wonders if he’s somehow missed the signs of John being sick this time.
He hopes it’s different, that this is just overexertion, because f it’s not, things are probably going to get a hell of a lot worse before they get better.
It isn’t different, of course; by the time Evan gets down to the infirmary to chat with Keller, she’s diagnosed John with three different bacterial infection and something that’s possibly viral, and John’s hooked up to so many machines and wires and tubes that he wouldn’t be able to move properly, if he were in any condition to be moving at all.
“Doc,” Evan tries, needing to speak to Keller before this goes to hell in a handbasket, but she’s busy checking John’s stats, and she flails one hand at him in a kind of go-away-I’m-busy motion. “Dr. Keller.” He uses his command voice, and she looks up sharply, even as the two Marines on the other side of the room slink out. They’ve been on the receiving end of that voice. “Your office, please.”
Keller follows him through the infirmary, which is a little silly and probably looks really bad for those working under her. He holds the door open for her, though, so she gives him a tiny smile as she passes him, and he shuts the door firmly after he’s let himself in.
“I need you to move Colonel Sheppard into isolation and restrict his visitors.”
Keller does an astounding job of not letting her jaw drop, though she does frown at him. “That seems a bit drastic, Major Lorne.”
Evan sighs and runs his hand through his hair. “Look, Doc, you remember what I told you, that one time, that you swore you would immediately forget?”
Keller’s eyes widen. She’d overheard a comment he’d made to John when he thought they were alone, and of course they hadn’t been, but how the hell was he supposed to have known that? And she’d tracked him down later and asked, and he’d told her that yeah, they were sleeping together, and she’d understood what he hadn’t said, about it breaking so many rules that it was almost funny. When he’d asked her to please forget what she’d heard, what he’d said, she’d immediately made the locking-my-lips-and-throwing-away-the-ke
“He’s going to say things, Doc,” Evan says now, looking Keller right in the eye. “When he’s sick, when he’s bad like this, he – hallucinates. And he talks. And things will be overheard that shouldn’t be public knowledge.”
“And you could both lose your jobs,” she finishes, and yeah, that should be what he’s worried about, but really he’s thinking about John’s shitty childhood and everything he’d learned last time John had collapsed like this, and he’s far more concerned about that getting around than the rumors about the two of them being confirmed.
“Yeah,” he says instead of revealing anything else. Keller will figure it out soon enough.
Keller nods. “I’ll restrict his visitors to you and his team,” she says, holding up a hand. “They all know, too, and don’t you even try to tell me they don’t.” They didn’t know, not the important things, but Evan can’t very well explain that to Keller. “I want someone with him constantly for the next forty-eight hours or so, Major, and if I’m even restricting which nurses can go in there, I’m going to have to go outside the box for this one.”
Evan nods slowly. There’s no way his team knows what John’s been through; he’d only told Evan because they were sleeping together and Evan had already heard the worst of it through John’s hallucinations, so he knows there’s no possibility that he’s told his team, no matter how much he values them. But Keller’s right; John shouldn’t be alone, and Evan can’t be there all the time. John’s team won’t say anything, won’t judge.
The forty-eight hours becomes seventy-two becomes a week before John finally opens his eyes without the haze that’s been there for far too long. Evan isn’t sleeping, not really, but he’s slumped in the chair beside the bed with his hands folded across his stomach when he hears it.
“You look like shit.”
Evan’s so relieved to hear the words that he doesn’t even register their meaning. “Oh, thank God,” he mutters, pawing for the button that will bring Keller in at full tilt. “Thank God.”
John’s blinking and trying to sit in the bed, but he’s weak from the sickness and a full week of not moving at all, so it’s a struggle. He ends up half-leaning on one arm, tilted towards Evan. “How long was I out?”
“Eight days,” Evan informs him, and John grimaces. “Yeah. You scared the shit out of us, John.”
“Sorry?” John offers, grimace still firmly in place. “I didn’t realize I was sick.”
“Clearly,” Evan sighs. “You really, really were, though.”
“I did notice,” John tells him, poking at the tube in his nose like he wants to take it out. Evan leans over and swats his hand away, and John’s hand drops. So do his eyes, focusing on a ball of lint on the sheet. “Did I… say anything?”
Evan closes his eyes and swallows. Listening to John reliving his own private nightmare over the past week has been Evan’s personal hell. “Yeah,” he says, because John already knows.
“Who was in here?”
“Me, Keller, Ronon, McKay, and Teyla,” Evan lists off. “I wouldn’t let anyone else in here. Not even the nurses.” He offers a tired half-smile. “Coincidentally, we might be unofficially outed. Just so you know.”
“Really?” John lifts one eyebrow, just one, and Evan knows he’s feeling better. He doesn’t even look concerned. “Will there be fallout?”
“Probably not.” Evan had talked to the few Marines who’d approached him and gone to Woolsey himself. Woolsey had made a point of emphasizing his own status as a civilian when Evan broke the news. “I might love rules,” Woolsey had said, “but I think protecting the team out here means more than that particular regulation.”
Evan had felt like he might have kissed the man, if Chuck hadn’t picked that moment to tap on the glass and hold up a few papers.
“Cool,” John’s saying as Keller comes in and flutters around him, adjusting wires and taking readings and doing whatever else it is that she does.
It’s still another day before John’s moved out of isolation and four after that before Evan is allowed to slowly walk him back to his quarters. After he gets John settled into his own bed, John tugs on his hand. Evan sits on the edge of the bed and doesn’t protest when John wraps an arm around his waist.
“I’m sorry,” John says into his hip.
Evan frowns. “For what?”
“Talking,” John says more quietly.
Evan pus his hand firmly over John’s against his own thigh. “John,” he says evenly. “Don’t.”
Don’t apologize, because it wasn’t your fault. You were young and you didn’t know any better. You couldn’t have stopped him. Don’t apologize for reliving it, either. You were sick. I already knew. I stayed for you. I kept you safe.
“Thanks,” John says softly, tugging at Evan until Evan strips off his jacket and lies beside him, letting John curl up into his chest. John falls into sleep easily, but Evan stays awake for a long time, not sure if he’s trying to remember, or trying to forget.