Title: "Night Nurse"

Author: Little Red

Rating: PG

Category: Just a little Sheppard/Weir hurt-comforty fluff.

Spoilers: None

Summary: Sheppard, McKay, and six alien thugs walk into a bar...

For: Jen, who sparked many plot bunnies last night in about two squeeeful comments. And Pooh, who is not having a birthday. :)


***


Elizabeth's cool fingers are tracing gently around the bruises on his face, and for a fleeting moment before he's completely conscious, John thinks he has died and a critical error in his favor was made at the pearly gates.

A second later, he recognizes that unforgivably sappy thought for what it is: painkillers. Heavy ones. He tries to remember exactly what landed him in the infirmary, but his whole head feels full of fog and he can't narrow it down. All evidence indicates he was in one hell of a fight.

He takes an experimental deep breath, and, even through the fuzzy blanket of morphine, he has to strongly choke back the urge to cough in pain. Yep, broken ribs.

He hates those. Hates those a lot.

But this business with the Elizabeth-hands and the cool cloth on his face... this he could get used to.

He's been squinting at her through his eyelashes, pretending to be asleep as he gets his bearings in this return to consciousness and indulging in the rare care Elizabeth only shows him when he's on serious drugs, but a tickle in his throat forces him to give himself away. One of his eyes refuses to open all the way, but he trains the other one on her.

She looks all right. Worried, and more tired than usual, but all right. He takes this as a good prognosis -- she has an entirely different look when he's in critical condition.

"Hey," he greets her. His ribs twinge when he speaks, but it's a muffled pain.

She pulls her hands away, which isn't cool. Then she smiles, which almost makes up for it.

The drugs make him sentimental. He inevitably regrets 80% of the things he thinks and says while in the infirmary.

"Hey yourself," she answers. "I was wondering if you'd come around tonight."

"What happened?"

She raises an eyebrow. "You took on six Ancarans twice your size, that's what happened."

Oh, now he remembers. "McKay-"

"Is fine, thanks to your taking the lion's share. A broken hand, which he's carrying on endlessly about, but nothing serious. He managed to contact Teyla, after you..." She winces. "... got knocked around," she finishes diplomatically.

John still really wants to cough, but knows that will be unpleasant. Like she can read his mind, she disappears out of view for a moment and returns with a cup of water. She guides the straw to his mouth, although he's pretty sure he could move his arms if he wanted to. But really... his body feels like lead, and he's content to be babied. She's good at babying him, when she wants to.

Logic says she's probably just as kind to anyone else in the infirmary, at the very least to McKay and others close to her, but he hates thinking about that. He enjoys pretending he's got a monopoly on the brief moments when she's without her professional distance.

He tries to smile, but imagines it must look horrifying, with the combination of paralyzing bruises and a split lip. A quick check with his tongue says all his teeth are still there -- that's good. Very good, considering how far they are from the nearest licensed dentist.

"You should see the other guy."

Elizabeth shakes her head. "It's not as bad as it probably feels. Carson says you'll be up and around before you know it, though it'll take a while to get you back on full duty." She leans in. "Now, tell me, what made you think you could take on a whole alien bar by yourself?"

The drugs make him sentimental, not stupid. She sounds sweet, but she might be fishing for an incriminating confession. He finds that blatantly unfair, given his current position. "Are you mad?"

"No." She dabs at his swollen eye gently with a cold cloth. "You're lucky, you slept through that part."

"McKay catch it?"

She mutters something that sounded like -- and probably is -- "Children." Then, aloud, "Yes, although he claims that you were the one who refused to leave once the Ancarans started threatening you."

Not fair. "Elizabeth, they-" John moves, reflexively wanting to turn toward her to argue, but he doesn't get far. He bites down on his tongue to keep from howling, reducing it to more of a strangled yelp.

Elizabeth offers him more water to calm him down. "Don't worry. We can talk about this later. However, I don't think there's anything I can do to you that can compare to three broken ribs."

"Sure you can," he says without thinking, because it's true and because the reflexes that keep him from saying things like that have been dulled. He thinks she could probably hurt him more than anyone else he knows, without even lifting a finger. He's almost as sure that she hasn't really realized that.

She looks surprised. "I'm not really that much of a monster, am I?"

"'Course not." He really wants her to put the icepack back. Or just touch him again. That was nice. "Didn't mean it like that."

A frown, but she doesn't continue to push. A flash of worry passes over her features.

Perhaps his drugs are wearing off on her, because she admits, "It scared the hell out of me when they brought you back through the 'gate. I thought..."

He risks moving a hand to poke at her closest sleeve. "Not as bad as it looks, remember?" Still, his heart is jumping stupidly at her expression, full of concern and gentleness and the same dark shadow that crosses his own face when he thinks about the Genii and the Makeen and everyone else who has ever hurt her. He wants to fix her, to make it so she never has to look that way again.

It also feels really, really nice to have someone care that much. It means twice as much because it's her.

Elizabeth smiles weakly. "Yes. I'm glad."

He likes touching her sleeve, so he keeps on doing it. "'s nice that you worry, though." His words are starting to slur, and unconsciousness is starting to pull inconveniently at his brain again. He wants to stay awake for this. Elizabeth awash in a genuine emotion other than frustration is a rare thing, and her being sentimental and him not having the ability or desire to run away somewhere on a Very Important Mission is nearly unprecedented.

She closes her eyes, then blindly finds his outstretched hand and squeezes it. "I always worry."

"It's nice." Sober, he's always telling her to stop worrying, that it's unnecessary and unhealthy and even annoying. But really, there's something about it he would miss if she stopped. It means she cares about him. That matters more than it should.

She lays his hand back on the bed and then leans over, propping her chin on her hands. She feels very close to him.

"I'm glad it helps." Her voice has dropped low, taking on an especially soothing quality.

He watches her out of his one functional eye for a long few minutes. It's rare he actually gets the chance to just look at her without something more pressing going on, or without his own common sense kicking in to remind him that staring is both inappropriate and impolite. He still seems to do it an awful lot.

"'Lizabeth?"

"Hmm?"

"Thanks."

"For?"

Somehow, 'being here' seems like a damning response, so he ignores her question. She accepts this and, now that he's mostly asleep again, she goes back to doctoring his face with attention and cold compresses.

"Elizabeth?"

She smiles softly, almost maternally, at the twenty questions game. "Yes?"

"I kicked their asses."

A full-out grin. That, more than anything else, makes him feel a lot better. "I heard. I'm very proud."

"Well... good. Should'a seen it."

Her bare hand, compress-free, comes to rest against his cheek. "Sleep, John."

He sighs, as content as he can be after getting the devil beaten out of him so soundly that even breathing hurts. "'kay."

"Shh..."

John closes his eyes, and hopes she doesn't leave his bedside anytime soon.


*end*


*send feedback to little red*
back to Atlantis index - back to the badlands