Major (Pain in the...)

by Domenika Marzione


The entire room came to a standstill and stared at him. In any other moment, Lorne would have found this extremely funny. As it stood -- or, rather, as it sat on an exam bed with a possibly broken ankle -- he didn't so much care except that his exclamation had also frozen Yoni, who had been taking off his boot so they could x-ray it and had prompted the explosion by turning his foot too far.

"Well, Lorne," Sheppard drawled. "It's good to see that your calming effect on your marines isn't the only influencing going on with your team."

Reletti, Suarez, and Ortilla beamed proudly. Yoni snorted a laugh and went back to unlacing his boot, taking more care this time.

An hour later, the nurses had finished wrapping his not-broken ankle in gauze and padding and whateverthehellelse and he'd been issued a pair of crutches and a couple of painkillers and told that if he got up off the bed before 1400, Yoni would shoot him. Or smack his ankle. So he sat and tried to do work on one of the laptops they kept in the infirmary instead of old magazines and played petty despot by ordering the still-hovering marines to go away and get back to their unit.

Sheppard returned at 1330, retrieved Lorne's crutches from where they'd been propped against a nearby chair, and announced a jailbreak. Yoni wasn't around -- whether he was seeing another patient or had run away lest he be asked to be useful since he was already in the clinic, Lorne didn't know -- and Sheppard talked Doctor Metzinger into letting him go a half-hour early with only an admonition to be careful and an appointment for the next afternoon.

"Thanks," Lorne said as they moved slowly to the transporter.

"I wasn't being completely altruistic," Sheppard admitted a little sheepishly. "I have a favor to ask you and I didn't want to do it in front of others."

Lorne cocked an eyebrow, although the gesture was probably lost in all of the faces he was making as he tried to coordinate his movements with the crutches. He hadn't needed them since high school and he'd lost the rhythm. Nevertheless, there were very few favors that were in Lorne's power to grant to his commanding officer, at least professionally. "What is it?"

"Can I borrow your team?" Sheppard asked.

"My team?" Lorne repeated because that wasn't where he thought this conversation was going. He was protective of his team, but he had spent too long watching Edwards accept and lose members of SG-11 to really think that he had ultimate decision-making powers there.

Sheppard stopped walking and Lorne was relieved because he'd completely forgotten how draining moving around on crutches was. He leaned against the wall and waited.

"It's a favor to Caldwell," Sheppard explained, rolling his eyes. "One of his staff officers is being considered for an SG-team and he asked if we could give him a little test-drive. Like a practice run before he does the real test in our galaxy. I can't exactly say no, but Caldwell knows that, which is part of the reason he's asking, I think."

This time, Lorne was free to frown and have its meaning understood. Atlantis couldn't afford to piss off the captain of the Daedalus, not when that was their only transport between here and Earth -- they'd asked for plenty of things to be shipped aboard her that probably shouldn't have been -- and Caldwell was asking that they return the favor. Sheppard was right -- it wasn't a request they could turn down without a good reason and Caldwell knew it. Whether he was banking on it or whether it was a genuine request that just happened to be unrefusable.... Were in anyone but Caldwell asking Sheppard, Lorne might have thought more positively about it. But while relations between the two men were getting better, this particular case could go either way.

"How does my team figure into it?" He asked instead.

Sheppard gave him the are-you-stupid look normally reserved for especially dull sergeants and McKay. "Because they're your team?"

Lorne lost the fight to keep from smiling. Because it would be that Sheppard thought that leadership of a team was sacrosanct and he was absurdly grateful for his CO and his peculiar way of doing things because the truth of it was that Lorne was in no better position with respect to this request than Sheppard was to Caldwell's. "Okay. Thank you. But why my team?"

The look Sheppard gave him for that was also normally reserved for sergeants and McKay, but it was one of mischievous glee. "I don't think we should give this aspiring explorer a cakewalk and I don't want to throw him to the Wraith."

Sheppard waited a beat for Lorne to see where he was going and then grinned.

"I think I'm supposed to be insulted here," Lorne said wryly. Because he'd never considered his team as the difficult one.

They both nodded at the passing Lieutenant Salker.

"There's entertainment value in sending him out with McKay and Ronon, don't get me wrong," Sheppard went on. "But Teyla would kill me."

"Yoni may kill you," Lorne pointed out. Although Yoni would probably kill him first for agreeing to rent out his team.

"Teyla's harder to avoid," Sheppard reasoned. "All I have to do to avoid Safir is not get hurt."

Lorne bit his tongue on those odds.

"But you're out of commission for a bit and it's a natural fit...." Sheppard waved his hand vaguely.

"And you want to see what Safir and the marines can do to him without leaving marks," Lorne finished. He pushed off the wall and they started toward the transporter again.

"Pretty much," Sheppard agreed. "So, you in?"

He used to be a better person than this. He was fairly sure of it. "If he's taking my mission, can we get him to take my paperwork, too?"

"Give your paperwork to Radner," Sheppard suggested. "He likes paperwork."

Radner handled most of the S1 functions for the battalion. Even if Radner didn't like paperwork, he saw too much of it to be anything but good at it.

"I'll have nothing else to do until my ankle heals," Lorne replied sadly.

"All of my prayers have been answered! Baruch Hashem!"

Yoni sounding that happy was always a suspicious thing, so Lorne craned his neck from where he was sitting on the exam bed waiting for Doctor Abelard to re-wrap his ankle. The swelling had gone down considerably and the pain wasn't nearly as intolerable as it had been yesterday and he had some vague hope of being able to walk around within a week. Maybe.

All he could see was a rush of medical types wheeling someone in on a stretcher and Lorne waited for the crowd to clear so he could see what the hell Yoni was so pleased about because Yoni really did take being a doctor seriously.

"Oh, Christ," the voice of Rodney McKay came through, "Could this day possibly get any worse?"

The medical team got out of the way as Doctors Beckett and Weir appeared and Lorne could see what Rodney was on about and then he wasn't sure whether to be laughing with or laughing at the situation. Because it had to hurt and there would be muscle damage and yet... and yet McKay had gotten shot in the ass with an arrow and it was damned funny.

He was watching McKay and the scene around him -- including Beckett sending Yoni away -- and didn't notice that Doctor Weir had come up to him until she began to speak.

"How are you feeling, Major?" she asked, composed and concerned and not at all looking like her Science Division head had shown up with an arrow in his ass.

"Ankle's much better, ma'am. Thanks," he replied, hoping that he'd covered his surprise. He looked at the clinic door. "Where's Colonel Sheppard?"

Sheppard was good about not getting in the way of the medical teams, but he'd have shown up by now out of concern and friendship. So would have Teyla and Ronon.

Weir sighed and, right then, Lorne knew that his day had just gotten a whole lot more complicated.

"We don't know," she replied. "Rodney thought that they were right behind him, but...."

"But they weren't and now we've got to get a SAR team ready," Lorne finished, looking around for Abelard so that he could get out of the infirmary and back to work. With luck, Sheppard and his team were simply under fire and would be back by the end of the day and in one piece.

"Yeah," Weir agreed.

"I don't care!" McKay shrieked from the table they'd transferred him to. "Give me more because it still hurts!"

They exchanged a look.

"I'm going to get back to the control room," she said, not making it sound at all like she was fleeing the scene. "May I involve Major.... What is his name?"

Lorne shook his head. He had no idea. "Sure. He can tag along with Osgeny and the ready-room team when they go."

Weir patted his shoulder in gratitude and disappeared as Rodney let loose with a stream of invective that made even Beckett stand back in awe.

Abelard showed up then, waving the new roll of bandage apologetically and got to work re-wrapping his ankle. Lorne tapped his headset. "Lieutenant Murray?"

"Sir?" Murray sounded a little distracted, which mean that the gate room and control room were probably still fussing over whatever had happened when McKay had shown up. There might be damage -- probably was since they'd just painted and Murphy's Law applied in Pegasus -- and the control room scientists tended to need a lot of cosseting when shots (or arrows) came through the wormhole.

"Once you have the gate room under control, tell Lieutenant Osgeny to start prepping for a SAR mission to retrieve Colonel Sheppard and the rest of his team. He'll move out as soon as we get some sort of intel on what's going on over there besides bows and arrows. And he's taking Major Whatsisface with him."

"Aye aye, sir."

Lorne was going to say something else, but then Abelard hit his ankle the wrong way and he had to cut the radio connection or cry into his microphone.

"Sorry," the doctor mumbled.

McKay had been quieted by the time Lorne was handed his crutches and given his freedom. He made his way to the control room, stopping first at the ready room where Osgeny and his men were already strapped into their battle rattle and radiating anticipatory energy. He filled them in on what little he knew -- Sheppard's team had been on a first-contact mission -- and when he thought that they might be leaving.

"Is it true Doctor McKay got shot in the ass with an arrow, sir?" one of the sergeants asked. The rest of the unit looked shamelessly hopeful. Osgeny tried to look very busy with his tablet and stylus.

Lorne didn't even bother to wonder how they all knew. News that good traveled faster than sound.

"Yes," he sighed. "And the first marine to mention it to him will find themselves Atlantis's first corporal."

He backed up the threat by meeting the gaze of any of the marines who looked at him.

Lorne didn't know if it was good or bad that Sheppard and Teyla returned before the SAR team could be mobilized -- he hated waiting and would have sent Osgeny without intel except that what little they did have from McKay involved hostile indigs with vastly superior numbers and lots of weapons. Fearful both of sending more men into an ambush as well as sending heavily-armed marines out to slaughter a pre-industrial society, Weir wouldn't authorize the mission and Lorne had the choice of either talking her into it or pulling a mini-putsch and sending Osgeny anyway. He knew the latter would look exceedingly bad except if Osgeny pulled Sheppard's team out of a firefight, so he had opted to try for persuasion -- at least up until the point where waiting any more would be ridiculous.

And then Sheppard and Teyla showed up on their own, which was good, and then announced what Ronon had done both to get them in trouble and then to free them, which was bad, and then Osgeny and his men (along with Major Whatsisface) went through the stargate anyway. Which made the argument he'd been having with Weir moot. And did nothing for his growing headache.

"There's a certain sense of deja vu here," Yoni announced to no one in particular as he put on latex gloves. "Ronon, you know what to do."

Ronon grumbled groggily and peeled off his shirt, dropping heavily and gracelessly face-down on to the bed as the shirt fell to the floor.

"Careful, big guy," Sheppard warned, hands out so that Ronon didn't slide off of the surface. Ronon muttered something that sounded vaguely appreciative and closed his eyes again. Sheppard patted him awkwardly on the shoulder blade, stooped to retrieve the shirt, and stepped back. He made a face at Lorne that would have been wry amusement if not for the worry.

"All right," Yoni said, turning to face the collected group. "Everyone on the other side of the curtain. This is an exam, not entertainment."

"No, that would've been getting him down here," Ortilla replied, stepping back along with the others and rolling his shoulder. With Sheppard's team in the field, Lorne's had been raised to on-call status, which had proven fortunate because that meant that they had been easily able to find Ortilla, one of the few men in Atlantis big enough to help guide the semi-conscious Ronon Dex down to the infirmary after he'd fought the gurney brought for him.

Yoni pulled the curtain around the bed and the rest of them had nothing else to do except wait. Sheppard hopped up on to the nearest bed and Lorne was given dirty looks by Reletti and Suarez until he sat down on one of the stools.

"What was Sateda like, sir?" Suarez asked after everyone else had gotten settled. Beckett had taken McKay off to get looked at, although Lorne sort of suspected that Beckett wanted to get himself looked at as well, and Teyla was sitting on another stool while the marines stood.

"Looked kind of like home," Sheppard said after a pause. "Bombed out and reduced to rubble and silt in places, but modern -- by our standards, at least. They could have shot the big finale to an action movie there and nobody would have been the wiser."

From what little they'd heard about what had happened, it sounded like they had shot an action movie there.

The nurse working with Yoni came out from behind the curtain and moved past them, quickly returning with a rolling tray laden with an IV bag, gauze, tape, syringes, bottles, and a suturing kit. They could hear Yoni speaking to the nurse, but not loud enough for any words to be clear.

"He'll be okay?" Ortilla asked.

Sheppard sighed and shrugged. "Ronon's tough. He'll be okay eventually."

"I don't know if I'd be able to do it," Reletti said quietly after they'd all fallen silent. "To be a POW for seven years -- and not the Red Cross-visiting kind -- and then to finally get free and then for it to happen all over again? I mean, I'd like to think that I could handle it, but...."

Lorne looked over at Reletti, half-lost in thought. It hadn't been that long since they'd been captured by the Genii to be lab rats, but Reletti didn't seem to be counting that. Reletti had come through the experience just fine, they all had, but Lorne didn't believe for a moment that he was the only one who sometimes woke up sweating from dreams where Sheppard had never found them.

"Long ago, Ronon made a choice to never give up," Teyla said and Lorne focused on her and away from vague nightmares. "I do not think that he would be able to do so even if he wanted to."

"Anyone who's sparred with him could tell you that," Suarez agreed. "Hell, anyone who's been on the chow line with him could tell you that."

Grins all around because they'd all seen Ronon snarl his way to the last of something in the commissary.

"Ortilla? Reletti?" Yoni called out from behind the curtain. "Come here, please?"

Once they joined Yoni, grunts and sounds of lifting and shifting could be heard and then apparently Ronon was turned over because the two marines emerged a moment later looking amused and a little flushed from the exertion.

Suarez said something to them, but Lorne didn't hear what it was because his radio activated at the same time. "Colonel Sheppard? Major Lorne?"

"What is it, Lieutenant?" Sheppard answered.

"Captain Handzis is back from M1A-447, sir," Lieutenant Eriksson, gate room officer this watch, replied. "He wants to know if you'd like to push back the meeting."

Lorne looked at his watch. He hadn't realized how late it had gotten. He then looked at Sheppard, who was looking at him.

"I'll go," he offered. He doubted Handzis, who handled most of their intel gathering, would have even bothered to ask unless he'd brought back something of interest.

Sheppard nodded thanks. "Major Lorne is on his way," Sheppard told Eriksson.

Lorne felt like an old man as Ortilla and Suarez helped him stand and then hovered until he'd balanced on his crutches and taken a few steps without falling over.

"Should I invite Major.... " he trailed off because he still didn't know the guy's name and hadn't been close enough to him to read the nameplate.

Sheppard made a face. "The Daedalus is leaving soon. I'm sure he's got practice with meetings."

Lorne was most of the way out of the infirmary when he heard Reletti speak.

"You don't know his name, either, do you, sir?"

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