The smell of antiseptic was something Rodney had become used to over the years, along with the smell of blood and urine and feces, and the sickly sweet stench of decaying flesh. He'd interned in one of the worst areas, spent days with little to no sleep dealing with those who couldn't afford medical treatment so they had left their symptoms to fester until it was almost too late to save them. He'd once been part of a specialist surgical unit amputating limbs where gangrene had set in so he'd long ago lost that sense of queasiness from smelling, seeing and touching rotted flesh.
In the end he had specialized in trauma surgery, attached to the Emergency Room rather than taking an offered place as a coroner, preferring to work with the living rather than the dead. He'd become too caught up in the need to save every patient from even the most horrific of accidents to realize he was burning out mentally.
The last straw had been a kid who had been knocked off his bike by a drunk driver, and crushed under the wheels of the car. Rodney couldn't save him, and the small fists beating at him when he had to tell the mother that her child was dead had broken the last of his strength, leaving him feeling desolate and useless.
That had been three years earlier and the hospital had agreed to let him go on a long-term sabbatical, signing up with Transicon as their medical officer with sole responsibility for the health and safety of the men and women stationed in the remote Morpheus I Oil Installation, deep in the Arctic. His first year had gone well, giving him the breather he needed to catch up with modern research in his field and to offer up his own papers on dealing with severe traumas. He'd been approached between assignments by the US military but, in truth, the ghettos had been enough of a war zone for him.
More than a year after the disaster at Morpheus, he found himself on a distant planet in a distant galaxy, stemming the flow of blood from a bullet wound that had nicked the femoral artery. They'd been running and hiding for most of a day, cut off from the Stargate but aware that Jack would send in another team should they not respond to the next check-in that was barely an hour away. The stray bullet had caught Daniel when they were so close to getting home, and for that last twenty minutes Rodney had battled with the injury, fingers embedded into flesh to pinch the artery closed while gunshots ricocheted off of the trees and ground surrounding him. The smell of blood was almost overpowering as he stabilized his patient with a field IV to replace lost fluid and dirty surgery to stop Daniel from bleeding out.
Eventually, Lorne's team arrived with a jumper and reinforcements, driving back the angry natives who had attacked after Daniel set foot in their sacred ruins. Within moments, Rodney was instructing the medics as they loaded Daniel onto the stretcher for the journey to the clearing where Lorne had landed the jumper, his hands never faltering as he kept his grip on his injured friend. He barely noticed the journey back through the Stargate, only letting go once he had passed Daniel into the capable hands of the trauma team waiting in the jumper bay.
John's hand clamped down on his shoulder as the medics carried Daniel down the ramp, holding him back. Exhausted from his fight to save Daniel, Rodney allowed John to guide him down the Puddlejumper's ramp only seconds behind Daniel, and Rodney looked up to see Jack rushing in. He offered Jack a weak smile and a tired nod of reassurance as the medics swiftly took Daniel away, heading towards the infirmary where Carson's team were already prepped and waiting to take the injured man into surgery. Rodney had no concerns there because Carson was an excellent surgeon and Daniel would be safe in their friend's competent hands.
"You did good, Rodney," John stated softly.
"Well...Unless Carson messes up then I saved his leg as well as his life." Rodney frowned, suddenly filled with fear. "Maybe I should scrub up and go--"
John steered him in the opposite direction to the infirmary. "Carson can handle it," he murmured, and Rodney knew John was right because now the adrenaline rush was over, Rodney could feel his hands beginning to shake from exhaustion and low blood sugar.
John guided him back to their shared quarters and Rodney discovered he had no energy left to argue as John shut the door behind them and helped him strip out of clothing soaked with Daniel's blood. He was gently pushed into the shower, with John following on behind. Rodney watched in morbid fascination as the blood swirled away down the drain, accepting the warm hands and soft washcloth that skimmed his body, removing every last trace until the metallic scent of Daniel's blood was lost beneath the cleaner scent of soap. He hissed as the soap entered a cut that he hadn't been aware of until that moment, only then recalling the sharp bark of tree that had hit him when one of the bullets had struck too close for comfort.
"Just a scratch," John stated softly before leaning over and kissing the injury.
By the time he was dried off with a thick towel and led back into the bedroom, Rodney could barely keep his eyes open. He sank onto the bed and sighed as John slid under the covers beside him, wrapping his arms around his lover as the steady beat of John's heart lulled him towards desperately needed sleep. He felt a momentary twinge of concern for Daniel and tried to force his eyes back open.
"He's in safe hands, Rodney. Go to sleep."
As John's warm scent surrounded him, Rodney's last thought before sleep claimed him was that Daniel was not the only one in safe hands that night.