The Lollipop of Doom
by Eildon Rhymer
Sheppard watched the trio as they walked towards the Gate. "Be good while we're gone," Rodney called over his shoulder.
Sheppard grimaced a smile. It was the best he could manage. As the Gate disengaged, he turned away, unable to hide his pain. It had started as cramps in his stomach, but as he moved, it flared suddenly, like claws in his chest. He took two steps; almost managed a third…
After that, there was just a confusion of pain. Pain! Pain! Darkness! Angst! Misery! He surfaced occasionally, in a sea of dramatic and vivid metaphors for "that really hurts." Pain, pain, pain etc. Like talons. Like tendrils. Shooting. Fiery agony. Stygian things. There were even lots of dot dot dots… Oh, and lots of things were excruciating, because that's a good word. Visceral. That's a good word, too.
When he woke up, he appeared to be intubated and naked beneath an infirmary sheet. This is not good, he thought, but the dramatic metaphors interfered and prevented him from speaking. He tried to signal with his hand instead.
"You collapsed in the Gate Room," said a doctor without a name. "Landed on your lollipop, and drove it down your throat. We almost lost you."
Oh, he thought. Anything more eloquent would bring out the dramatic metaphors for pain. He could feel them lurking eagerly on the fringes of his mind, like hounds baying at the scent of blood.
"Unfortunately," said the nameless doctor, "the only doctor with a name is off-world at the moment, and we're… uh… not very good, and we… uh… accidentally… dropped you. The lollipop stick was driven through your throat and into your skull. We almost lost you."
Careless, he thought. It was better than oh.
"And as we were removing the lollipop," the doctor said, "it crumbled into fine dust, which spread quickly through your blood-stream. Turns out this particular type of lollipop is a deadly poison for people with the Ancient gene. We almost lost you."
Again, he thought.
"Unfortunately," said the nameless doctor, "there is no cure for this poison anywhere in any of the Ancient databases. It will linger in your blood-steam and cause you periodic bouts of excruciating agony – though not quite so much agony that you won't be able to stagger heroically in spite of it and save the day. These attacks will last for approximately a hundred and ninety-seven days, or until you get shot with Real Bullets, whichever comes first."
Crap, he thought.
"Oh," said the nameless doctor. "I forgot. Sorry. Time for the team comfort."
Teyla and Ronon appeared. Ronon did some manly bonding and sympathy, and Teyla hugged him, which was rather embarrassing, what with the whole intubated and naked beneath an infirmary sheet thing, but kind of warm and fuzzy at the same time, although he would never dream of saying anything because he didn't do things like that, and - excuse me, hello? – there was a great big tube down his throat, put there by that voodoo medicine that passes for a real science round here…
Wait, he thought. Does the poison make me turn into Rodney, too?
He closed his eyes for a moment, secure in the presence of his team, and felt much security and comfort, and he thought about things like family and warmth and general niceness, and all that sort of stuff.
When he opened his eyes, Teyla and Ronon were nowhere to be seen. A very large man in brass armour was standing at his bedside. He appeared to be sniffing Sheppard's body. Hey! Sheppard thought, feeling very vulnerable because of the whole intubated and naked beneath an infirmary sheet thing.
"It is he," intoned the brass-clad man. "I smell in this one the presence of the Sacred Lollipop of the Implacable and Merciless Warriors Who Take Against Anyone Who Wrongs Them And Do So Hold Grudges. Human, hast thou eaten The Lollipop?"
Sheppard was unable to answer because of the whole intubated and naked beneath an infirmary sheet thing.
"Thy silence condemns thee," the warrior proclaimed. "We, the Implacable and Merciless Warriors Who Take Against Anyone Who Wrongs Them And Do So Hold Grudges, have come to take our vengeance. It will be long and inventive and full of agony and torture."
How did he get in past the Gate shield? Sheppard thought. He reached discreetly for the call button, but it inexplicably wasn't there.
Perhaps the Warriors Who etc. were telepathic, for Mr Bronze intoned, "We came in through the plot hole, and back there is where we shall take thee, human, for many weeks of torment which will seem like into the blinking of an eye to those left behind, because we can do sneaky things with time, because we are clever like that, and your Doctor McKay isn't here to tell us that we cannot, so we can get away with any sort of technobabble that we like, so there."
Sheppard tried for the button again, but it wasn't there. Atlantis seemed suddenly and inexplicably silent.
"Come," said the warrior, "let us torture thee."
There was nothing Sheppard could do to resist, though he did try, honest. The next few weeks were a living hell, and the dramatic metaphors for pain came out into the light and frolicked and played like they had never frolicked and played before. At times Sheppard almost gave up hope, but nothing could quite extinguish the little flame of hope, like a tiny cute little torch, that his team would come for him. There really was quite a dreadful amount of angst and whump. Whole chapters passed in utterances of "pain!" and dot dot dots…
(Yeah, like that.)
He also broke a mirror once (and then was savagely tortured with the shards), and a black cat ran across his prison cell.
At length the Warriors proclaimed that honour was satisfied, and Sheppard found himself back in his infirmary bed, naked and intubated. "Sorry to keep you waiting," said the nameless doctor, strolling up to his bed.
Sheppard couldn't speak.
The doctor checked his or her watch. "Only two minutes late. Now, let's have this ventilator out. Oh, and except for the periodic bouts of excruciating agony – though not quite so much agony that you won't be able to stagger heroically in spite of it and save the day – you'll be fine, so let's get all these tubes out."
"And clothes?" Sheppard gasped, when he could speak. It was easier than talking about the horrors that had just happened. If you didn't talk about things, they went away. Push them away deep inside. Bottle up the angst. Be stoic, and do that wibbly thing with your mouth as you look at the camera with pain-filled eyes…
The doctor seemed reluctant to give him clothes, but at length consented.
Sheppard lay back on the bed. A moment later, he heard an
uproar at the door to the infirmary. Colonel Carter was wheeled by on a gurney,
followed by Rodney and Keller. Sheppard sat up. "Rodney…"
Rodney waved his hands in the air. "I hurt everywhere," he said, "and you should look at my hands. Look! Look!" He frowned. "What're you doing lounging on that bed. You've had it easy, back here on Atlantis. Just wait until you hear about the bad luck I had."
"I can't wait," Sheppard managed to say.
"Your lips are blue," Rodney crowed. "I said that would happen if you ate that lollipop – and, by the way, I've still not forgiven you for stealing it from me. And you know, I'm sure I heard someone say that the President's on the line and wants to speak to you – full visuals, of course. Somebody's in trouble!" he said in a sing-song voice.
Sheppard got up wearily, and headed towards the Control Room. Next time the opportunity came up to talk sense into an alien settlement, he thought, he'd just do it.
Some days, he thought, thinking ruefully of the lollipop, just sucked.
And here's a link to the rest of my SGA fanfic. It's not all like this, honest!