Christ, he was in pain. Something was definitely broken in his chest for breathing to hurt as much as it did. The beep of the heart monitor he was attached to sped up as he fought to get air into his lungs.
"Rodney, open your eyes. You're okay, you're in Atlantis," John whispered into his ear, barely audible over the heart monitor.
Oh, right. Kidnapping, Genii, underground bunker, dramatic rescue. Everything came slamming back as he snapped his eyes open. John leaned over him, wrapping a hand around the back of Rodney's neck and stroking his thumb along his hair line.
"John," Rodney gasped, hand flailing until it landed on John's arm.
"Shit, pain?" John didn't wait for Rodney to nod before he was up and yelling for Keller and Rodney took a moment to miss the warmth on his neck before his panic took over again.
"They must have given him something that's blocking the painkillers." Rodney heard Jennifer before he saw her, rushing to his bedside and fiddling with the IV in his arm. Oh right, injections at a regular interval. He'd forgotten. Jesus, how had he forgotten ?
John circled the bed and stood opposite of Jennifer, reaching down to grasp Rodney's hand in his. Rodney tried to focus on John, the frown on his face, the way his brows were pulled down low and scrunched together. Rodney squeezed his hand as Jennifer started yelling for a nurse and something with a long name he couldn't quite understand.
"You're going to be okay. I promise, it's okay now," John said, low and sure as he crouched down, putting his face level with Rodney's. "We burned everything to the ground. We got you."
"Here we go," Jennifer said, pushing something into his IV port. Relief flooded his body as the pain in his chest relaxed.
"Good," he sighed, squeezing John's hand again as he settled down into his terrible, hospital pillow.
"Thanks, Doc," John said over him as he stood up.
"No problem. That should hold him for a while. Call me if he needs anything," she said, patting Rodney's hand before retreating to her office. He tried to wave her goodbye, but oh wow, he felt good. He didn't even mind the scratchy oatmeal coloured sheets and lumpy pillow or the almost-fluorescent lighting or the steady beep-beep-beep of his heart monitor.
John settled down into the visitor's chair, his arm outstretched to keep hold of Rodney's hand. God, he wanted to sleep, but he couldn't with John all the way over there.
Rodney frowned, pulling at John's hand. "Why are you over there?" He shifted as much as he could in the hospital bed, leaving not enough room for John, but it was as much as he could spare. If they could deal with the little cots the Ancients called beds on a daily basis, they could manage this.
"Are you sure?" John asked, looking unsure as he stood up, ducking his head a little. Rodney glared at him, the one he usually reserved for the 'scientists' who asked stupid questions. "You're injured..." But it was a token protest as John slid under the covers beside Rodney. He curled around him, resting his head on Rodney's shoulder, careful to avoid any problem areas.
Rodney drifted back to sleep, resting his cheek on the crown of John's head.
"How's he doing, Doc?" John asked, walking as quickly as he could without running to stand beside Rodney's hospital bed.
Carson sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "He's better, and we're expecting a full recovery. They did quite the number on his leg, but with physiotherapy he should be good."
"He'll love that. When he wakes up they'll probably be able to hear his bitching halfway across Atlantis." He smirks, the same one that get Rodney to sputter and go off on a wild tangent, but it feels brittle. Rodney had been missing for four days - the unwilling guest of the Darryans, who as it turned out, needed an expert in Ancient artefacts. John had felt frayed around the edges the whole time and now that Rodney was back, not quite whole or healthy but safe, he's starting to feel things knitting back together inside his chest.
But John doesn't want people to see that. He doesn't want them to know that what hurt wasn't when he was thrown through the open worm whole to an abandoned planet, but when he lost sight of an unconscious Rodney being carried away from them.
Carson must have seen it though, because the Doctor patted his arm and gave him a sympathizing look. "You know, John, Rodney's been a part of top-secret research groups for over half of his life now. As bizarre as it may seem, he can be discreet."
John gritted his teeth together and stuffed his fists into his pockets. "It doesn't matter, Carson."
"I'm not asking anything," Carson said quickly, glancing around to make sure no one could hear, "I'm just saying that Rodney has similar feelings, is all."
"It doesn't matter because I can't do that. It wouldn't be fair."
"To who?" Carson pressed, and John exhaled loudly, rocking back on his heels.
"To both of us! It shouldn't be- It shouldn't have to be a secret. We shouldn't have to sneak around." John felt his shoulders tense because he want it, to be with Rodney. For it to be public without the risk of him being reported. It hurts to sit with Rodney in the infirmary, sitting in the chair, unable to touch him the way he wants to. "I have to go. I'll come back later," he said, his voice rough.
John doesn't meet Carson's eyes when he not-runs out of the infirmary, the beeping of Rodney's heart monitor chasing him out.