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Rodney McKay was in a hurry. He wanted to leave Sheppard a surprise before he got out of his meetings for the day. He'd seen his friend and team leader yesterday and he'd seemed down and pissed off.  It was no wonder, really, they were on Earth for meetings and his family was on Atlantis. It didn't help that there was some asshat desk jockey Army General who had decided to be a Monday-morning quarterback and make Sheppard defend every action over the last year.

In order to cheer him up, Rodney decided to find some of the gourmet brownies that he used to buy when he was living in Colorado. It had taken some hunting, but Rodney had been successful. A package of TinkerBelle chocolate heaven brownies were hidden beneath some magazines he thought Sheppard would like. He ducked into Sheppard's quarters, deposited the goodies on his table and left.


John Sheppard was tired. His head hurt, his eyes burned, his ass was numb from sitting for so long and his hair was having sympathy pains for his headache.

It had occurred to him over lunch that Jordan was being such an ass because he was a xenophobe. The decisions he had the most problem with were any that involved his gene, Teyla or Ronon. Tomorrow he was going to have a talk with Landry and O'Neill before the meeting. He'd barely restrained himself today when the man had the gall to call him a killer. It was only knowing that the Army General was an ass kisser that stayed his hand. He'd also seen O'Neill's face and figured that the same crap wouldn't float tomorrow.

He set his meal down on the table in his quarters and dropped onto the bed to remove his boots and socks. The cool tile felt good to his aching feet. He stood and grabbed his dinner and only then noticed the bag. He peered in and was pleased to see the latest issue of Golf Digest on top. Digging through the bag he came across current issues of AirForce Monthly, ESPN, ESPN's college football review, and SyFy. Beneath the magazines was a container of gourmet brownies.

John ate his meal and opened the brownies, but he was so tired he only ate a small portion of one before going to bed.

The next day started out like the previous one had with Jordan asking for clarification of some of the material they had already covered. When he moved to the current missions and started criticizing every decision John had made that involved one of his native teammates, Jack stepped in after the third time.

"Jordan, that's enough."

The Army General glared. "I just want to determine how suitable Colonel Sheppard is for command of such an important base."

"There is nothing wrong with Sheppard's leadership. If there were it wouldn't be up to a desk jockey such as yourself to make that determination. You do not have the background to sit here and question any of his decisions."

"He is reckless, disrespectful, and does not respect the chain of command."

Landry snorted. "Which means he thinks outside the box, doesn't suffer fools and hasn't bent over for you to screw him. That attitude is what we look for in officers around here."

Jordan was shocked into silence.

Jack took advantage of the lull. "Gather your gear and get out of our mountain. You never should have been allowed inside the perimeter much less the mountain itself. You are a xenophobe and a nancy-assed prima donna. If you'd called me a killer yesterday you'd have picked your teeth off the floor. So quit glaring at my colonel and leave."

"The Secretary of Defense and the President will hear about this."

"I know they will cause they'll get to see the recordings. We've had enough fucked up stuff happen here that all meetings and briefings are recorded."

With Jordan gone the meeting went smoothly but the throbbing had already started behind John's eyes. It was with relief that the meeting ended for the day. John grabbed a sandwich, chips and a soda then headed for the cool quiet of his temporary quarters. He ate his lunch then grabbed the brownies and magazines and curled up on the bed. Teyla and many of the other women on base often claimed chocolate was good at soothing headaches, so he figured the love of his life, not to mention the other women in Atlantis, had to be on to something.


Rodney hurried through the corridors of Cheyenne Mountain. He had a new video game that Sheppard would like and, if pressed, would admit that he wanted to check on his friend. He'd tried to call him but his team leader wasn't answering. He knocked on Sheppard's door and still got no answer. Concern spiked in his gut so he pulled out his skeleton key and used it to gain access to Sheppard's room. The first thing he noticed was the stench of vomit. He covered his mouth and nose with a handkerchief and reached for the light switch.

Rodney scanned the room then hurried across it to drop to his knees by an unmoving black lump. He reached out with a shaking hand to find a pulse. His sigh of relief at finding one was cut short by the realization that it was too rapid. He jumped up and hit the medical alert near the door.

After only a few minutes that seemed longer, Rodney heard the squeak of a fast moving gurney and several sets of boots. Dr. Lam was first through the door, a medical pack in her hand.

"It's about time you got here!"

"Calm down McKay and tell me what happened."

Rodney took a deep breath then told her of trying to reach John then finally coming to his room, breaking in and finding him on the floor.

Lam had one of her nurses get a sample of the vomit while she performed a quick check after rolling John to his back. A wheezy sound had Lam calling for an oxygen tank. She reached down and rubbed her knuckles on John's sternum and was rewarded by a soft moan.

"Colonel, I need you to open your eyes for me."

Her request hung in the air for a moment before John frowned and started trying to fulfill her request. The frown grew deeper but John finally managed to crank his eyes open. He blinked and looked around, his gaze coming to rest on Rodney's face.

"Good, Colonel. Now I need to check your pupils."

Rodney returned his friend's gaze. There was something odd about John's eyes and it took his super brain a moment to figure out what. "Doctor, I ..."

The retest of his sentence was cut off as Lam flashed her penlight in John's eyes. The response was immediate and unexpected.

John let out a sharp yell and bucked off the floor as he started choking.

Rodney reacted faster than Lam and rolled John to his side then held him as his stomach tried to eject itself. When the gagging ceased, John went limp in Rodney's grasp.

A flurry of activity followed. Lam motioned forward the gurney and had John secured to it, on his side in case of another episode of vomiting, in short order, an IV already in place as well as a nasal cannula before they hurried from the room.