“Squad One to Lantea Hospital.” Fireman-Paramedic John Sheppard held the radio handset with his shoulder, both hands putting pressure on their patient’s wound, “Come in.”
“This is Lantea,” said an unfamiliar voice.
“You’re not Beckett,” John blurted.
“And I’d heard that paramedics weren’t smart,” said the voice, dryly. “I’m McKay. You have a patient, I assume?”
“I – yes,” said John. He took a breath, getting his head back in the game. “Yes. Male, about thirty years old. Stab wound to the left side of the rib cage. His BP is…”
“Sixty over ninety,” supplied his partner, Fireman-Paramedic Teyla Emmagan.
John repeated it over the radio and added, “Bleeding is under control, but not stopped.”
“Start a drip of Ringer’s Lactate and transport as soon as possible. Lantea out.”
“So,” said John, as the ambulance arrived and they lifted their patient carefully onto the gurney. “New doctor, huh?”
Teyla arched an eyebrow. “I do not think this one will be so amused by your flirtations.”
He grinned and started packing up their gear. “It’s worth a try.”
“Ooh, no, you don’t want to try with that one,” said Head Nurse Laura Cadman. “He’s made three of my nurses cry, just today.”
“Do not tell him that,” said Teyla. “It will only encourage him.”
John leaned against the nurses’ station, holding the replacement supplies for their squad truck as Teyla and Cadman handed them to him. “I like a challenge,” he said.
Cadman snorted and added a saline bag to the pile. “There are challenges and then there are challenges. I mean, he’s cute and all – those shoulders, really, and that ass—”
“That does not sound very professional, Laura,” said Teyla, but she was smiling.
The other woman grinned. “Dr. M. Rodney McKay – don’t ask me what the ‘M’ is for, I don’t know – is the most disagreeable person I have ever met. And I did a tour in the Marines.”
“He can’t be that bad,” said John.
“Stick around here for a while,” Cadman told him. “You’ll find out.”
“But not today,” said Teyla. She took a box of gloves, but carried it herself. “We are still on duty.”
Cadman added another package of gauze to the pile in John’s arms. “Good luck.”
“Squad One to Lantea Hospital, come in.”
“This is Lantea,” said McKay. “What is it?”
“What, no hello?” said John.
“This is an emergency frequency, Sheppard,,” the doctor snapped. “If you don’t have an emergency, go away.”
John grinned, but said, “We have a patient, don’t worry. Teyla?”
His partner sat on the curb nearby, beside a girl who was cradling her arm carefully against her chest. “I can find no other injuries, John,” Teyla replied.
“Okay,” he said. “Victim is female, about – how old are you, buddy?”
“I’m eight,” said the girl.
“Eight years old. Broken arm, no break in the skin. Patient is awake and responsive.”
“Then what did you radio me for? Bring her in to the hospital.”
“We’re waiting on her mom,” said John. “Her little brother ran up the road to get her from a neighbor’s house.”
“Well, it sounds like she’s in no immediate danger. Did you really need me to tell you that? Paramedics do receive training, or so I’ve been told.”
“Rules say we’ve got to be under a doctor’s authority, McKay,” John told him. “And rumor has it, you’re a doctor.”
“I am a surgeon, Sheppard,” he snapped. “I have a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Immunology from Harvard. And where is your degree from?”
“Stanford, actually,” said John. “But I’ve only got an undergrad in Mathematics, so you’ve got me beat.”
“I…,” McKay spluttered – John had never seen him, but he could just imagine the annoyed slope to those broad shoulders Cadman had described. “That is just…”
“Oh, here’s the kid’s mom,” John said. “We’re bringing her in. Squad One out.”
“Hey, Doc,” said John, as Carson gave instructions to have their patient – a overambitious homeowner who hadn’t quite known the power of his pneumatic nail gun – taken into one of the ER’s examination room. “Where’s McKay.”
“Ah,” said Carson.
“He is frequently the one who answers the radio,” added Teyla. “But he never receives the patients we bring in.”
“Dr. McKay is a highly-skilled physician, but Mr. Woolsey has asked that he not interact directly with conscious patients.”
“What?” said John. “Why?”
Carson smiled. “You may have noticed he’s a wee bit… blunt? A few patients have reacted less than favorably.”
“Cadman did say he’d made her nurses cry,” said John. “Why’s he working the ER if he can’t interact with people?”
“Ah,” Carson said again. He hesitated, then said, “You know I don’t listen to gossip, John, but there’s a few stories about our new doctor. Most seem to think he’s been sent to us as some kind of punishment. For us or for him, I couldna’ say.”
“Well,” said Teyla, “Please tell Dr. McKay that we appreciate his expertise in the field.”
“I will, lass,” said Carson, and went to tend to their patient.
“Squad One to Lantea Hospital,” said Teyla, somewhere far below the scaffolding where John sat, beside the victim whose injuries he hadn’t yet been able to find.
“This is Lantea,” came McKay’s voice, distantly. “Where’s Sheppard?”
“He is with our patient,” Teyla told him. “A worker at a construction site. We are still determining his injuries.”
“Can’t find any!” John called down to her. “Male, about forty. Unconscious, shallow breathing. Heart rate is…”
He paused, taking it as Teyla repeated the rest of the information. “One-sixty over ninety.”
“Was he wearing a helmet? Did Sheppard check for head injuries?”
“Yes, I did!” John yelled. “No head injuries, no bruises, no scrapes, nothing.”
“Take off his shoes, said McKay. “Check for small burn marks.”
“John, did you hear that?” asked Teyla.
“Yes,” said John, wrestling the worker’s heavy boots off. “Yes! There’s a burn mark on his left foot. Good call, McKay, he’s been electrocuted.”
“Electrocuted means he died. He’s merely received an electric shock. Immobilize the patient, then transport immediately.”
“Acknowledged,” said Teyla, as Ronon and Ford started up the scaffolding to bring John the backboard from their truck. “Squad One out.”
“Sheppard,” said Ronon, and John looked up so fast his elbow skidded off the table.
“Hey,” he said, trying to laugh it off, but Ronon just smirked.
“Daydreaming about your doctor again.”
“He’s not my doctor,” John protested, automatically, then frowned. “I mean – I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”
“Of course, John,” said Teyla, in the tone that said she absolutely didn’t believe him, as she began to set the table around him.
“I’ve never even met him,” said John.
“Not for lack of trying,” Ford put in, then added, “Sir.”
“We have been spending more time at the hospital recently,” said Teyla. “Especially at the nurses’ station.”
“I thought Cadman was your friend,” said John.
“She is, which is why I often talk to her while you spend your time looking down the hallway for Dr. McKay.”
He scowled. “I hate you all.”
Ronon grinned. “Hey, we’re on your side, Sheppard. I think you oughta just man up and ask him out.”
“I don’t—” John said again. “I can’t just – Do you think he’d want to?”
Teyla smiled. “There is one way to know for sure.”
He sighed. “I was afraid you’d say that.”
“Squad One to Lantea Hospital,” said John.
“Lantea here,” came McKay’s voice.
“We’ve got a car accident, multiple vehicles.” John had set up the radio on the concrete steps of an office building, where the rest of Engine One were bringing the injured. “Multiple victims, don’t know how bad.”
There was a pause on the other end. “Carson just went to get the ER ready here,” said McKay. “Go ahead.”
“This one first,” said Teyla. She had been checking each victim, but came up beside John to speak into the radio. “Female, in her sixties or seventies. Severe bleeding. Ronon is putting pressure on the wounds, but her breathing is quite shallow.”
“Start a drip of Ringer’s lactate and keep up the pressure. Transport immediately.”
“The ambulances aren’t here yet,” said John.
“As soon as possible,” said McKay. “What else?”
“John!” yelled Teyla, kneeling beside a prone figure, and John pushed the radio handset at Ford, then ran to help her.
Everything was a blur after that, rushing between patients, shouting information for Ford to relay to McKay and listening to instructions he relayed back. Finally, the last ambulance left, and John retrieved the radio box.
“Hey, McKay,” he said. “Last one’s heading your way now.”
“Oh,” said McKay. He sounded as tired as John felt. “Thanks. Um, drive carefully.”
John smiled. “I will. Squad One out.”
“Hope you enjoyed your day off,” said Lorne. Normally, he was one of the paramedics on B shift, but he’d pulled a double shift covering for John, who’d finally been forced to use his vacation time.
“I guess,” John said. “Got through a whole chapter of War and Peace. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?”
Lorne shrugged. “Compared to B shift, but Teyla said it was about normal. Although, your doctor did seem annoyed it was me on the radio and not you.”
“He’s not my—” John began, then sighed. “Don’t you people have anything better to do than gossip about my love life?”
“Nope,” the other man said, cheerfully. When John glared, he added, “Hey, we think it’s great. I mean, I don’t get what you see in him, but I’m with Ronon. Ask him out.”
“Over the radio?”
Lorne frowned. “You still haven’t actually met him?”
“No,” John admitted. “Do you think he’s avoiding me?”
“You were gone for one day and he was worried about you. I’d say that’s the opposite of avoiding.”
Lorne shook his head and handed over the station log book. “Ask him out, Sheppard.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Squad One to Lantea Hospital.”
The words were right, some part of John’s brain recognized, but not the voice. Why was Ronon on the radio? Where was Teyla? If she was hurt, he had to—
Pain shot up his entire left side, and hands pressed down on his shoulders. “Be still, John,” said Teyla. “You are injured.”
He remembered, now. Engine One had been called to a fire, a large apartment building. Several people were still inside, and the firefighters had fanned out, sweeping each floor. John and Teyla had found a bunch of teenage kids on the seventh floor, and had just gotten them out the window to the ladder of Engine Two when an explosion had erupted from somewhere further inside.
Teyla, out on the ladder after the kids, had been out of the line of fire, but John…
“How bad?” he croaked.
“Bad enough that you should remain quiet,” she said.
“Patient is conscious,” Ronon was saying. “Injuries to his left side, can’t tell yet if it’s burns or something else.”
“There are definitely lacerations,” said Teyla. “But I do not believe any of them are serious.”
“It’s not your job to believe,” snapped McKay. “It’s your job to give me information.”
“Much of the bleeding has already stopped,” she said, then flashed a penlight in John’s eyes. “Breathing is normal, pupils are responsive.”
“I am sending it now,” said Teyla. “What can I give him for the pain?”
“Nothing,” said John. “I’m fine.”
“Is the patient refusing medication?” asked McKay.
“Yes,” she said, “but I am ignoring him.”
“What? Why? You can’t do that!”
“Dr. McKay, the patient is John.”
“Oh, my god,” said McKay. “Yes – Right – Start a morphine drip, ten CCs. Transport as soon as possible. And tell Sheppard…”
“Tell him if he dies on the way to the hospital, I’m going to kill him!”
“Acknowledged,” said Teyla. “Squad One out.”
John woke slowly, becoming aware of his body only distantly. Everything around him was bright and soft, except for the low rhythmic beeping coming from somewhere beside him.
“Whazzat?” he mumbled.
The white fuzz of the ceiling was replaced suddenly with the brightest blue eyes he’d ever seen, above a mouth set in a scowl. One corner was crooked and John wondered muzzily what it would look like smiling – until the mouth spoke with McKay’s voice.
“It’s a heart monitor, you idiot!” he snapped. “It’s monitoring your heart, so I can be sure you’re not dead. Not for lack of trying on your part.”
“Didn’t—” John began, but his throat was dry.
His bed was raised slowly and a cup with a straw held out. “Slowly,” said McKay. “I don’t need you drowning, after all the work I’ve done.”
John’s brain wasn’t up to this conversation. “McKay?”
“Who else?” the doctor grumbled, then he let out a long shaky breath. “You scared the hell out of me, Sheppard.”
“Sorry,” said John. “It’s not like I went looking to get blown up.”
“I just…” McKay fiddled with the hem of John’s blanket. “I know your job is dangerous, but I never really understood what that meant until I thought I might have lost you.”
John reached out to catch his hand. “Nah,” he said. “Couldn’t die, not until I’d finally asked you out.”
“You – what?” said McKay. “Me?”
“Yes, you. And, you know, I’ll probably need medical supervision. Maybe you know someone who can give me… personal care?” When the doctor hesitated, he added, “You, Rodney. I mean you.”
“Oh. I – okay.”
John grinned. “Awesome.”
“Squad One to Lantea Hospital.”
“Lantea here. What now?”
“Got a patient for you, Rodney,” said John.
“Of course you do. Because if you were using this frequency for personal reasons, that would be highly inappropriate.”
John grinned at the radio box. “Love you, too, McKay.”
“Inappropriate, Sheppard,” but now John knew the smile that hid behind that grumpy voice. “Your patient?”
John settled his shoulders, serious again. “Patient is female, twenties, got herself stuck in some kind of gym equipment…”