"Doctor? Doctor, can you hear me?"
Carson blinked up at the woman bent over him. His body felt like lead. It took him a moment to realize he was in the infirmary. Sharon one of his nurses was the one who had spoken to him. He tried to reply, but his throat was parched. She carefully lifted his head and gave him a sip of water. It was possibly the best thing he had ever tasted. He tried to ask what was happening but only manage an inquisitive squeak.
"You're very ill, Doctor Beckett. You and Major Sheppard have something awful. This is the first time you've been lucid in about 34 hours. Doctor McKay also has the illness, but to a much lesser degree."
"Fruit..." he rasped out.
"Yes, Doctor McKay let us know about the fruit on the planet. We think all the food there might have been contaminated some how. Since McKay didn't eat the fruit and isn't as bad off as you are, we think the main concentration was in the fruit. Sgt. Bates has gone back to the planet for a sample." Carson tried to make sense of her words. It couldn't be an allergy. It wasn't poison. "Drugs," he managed.
"You want to know what kind of drugs have been prescribed?"
"No... Fruit drugged..." Carson said and drifted back into the darkness only to find Rodney waiting there with more surgical instruments and a wicked smile.
"Now doctor," Rodney said, the supercilious tone somehow not at all muffled by the surgical mask he was wearing. "Why would the fruit be drugged? Everybody knows that fruit is good for you. You should have five portions a day...." The equipment he's holding quite anything like you'd see in any reality Carson knows. It's a strange hybrid of everything and nothing, with no identifiable purpose he can make out. "How do you feel?"
"Tired, Rodney. I know this is a dream. You can't really hurt me. So why don't you pack up all your bits and bobs and let me rest?" Carson asks wearily.
Something cold and sharp taps against a temple. "But you're in pain, Carson. And your body is tired. You can feel it while you sleep... just the same as anything else. Now, tell me where hurts most....?"
"No. No board in the world would give you a medical degree, McKay. You're not my friend. Rodney would never hurt me. You're just the fevered imaginations of my brain. Now go away." Carson closed his eyes and hoped.
"Why would I want a medical degree? Why would I want to study something as flimsy as..." The instrument stroked slowly down over a temple, down the side of his face, to his throat. Nudging his head back from under his chin. "...the human body? Voodoo. Interesting, yes, but really so much less interesting than what's going on inside your head."
Somehow the smile's visible, even through the fabric. Carson flinched away from the instrument. "Why are you doing this?"
"I want to see how you work. And anyone knows the best way to do that, is to take something apart, and see how it fits together, of course." Keeping his chin up, the other hand brought something like a scalpel to Carson's chest, the fabric parting before it with no effort. "Do tell me if I'm doing this wrong, won't you?"
"You're skills leave something to be desired," he said steadily and pulled on the strap holding his wrist down. He'd seen patients get loose from restraints. If he could only get his finger under.... When it slipped right under the strap as he wanted, Carson tried to hold back a smile. He just had to keep Rodney distracted.
"Do tell me. I love to learn new things." Like precisely what happened when sharp objects and enough pressure applied to human skin and muscle tissue. Like what happened when he pushed Carson's head back further, until his throat was extended as it could be, without snapping bone.
Carson struggled with his head too keep Rodney's eyes there. It took him longer than he liked to get his hand mostly free of the restraint. His chest was already covered in shallow cuts. It appears that Rodney wants to take his time. Carson lets out a roar of pain and as soon as Rodney is looking him in the eye, he lets his fist fly. Carson had never been much of a fighter, but his knowledge of anatomy always helped in a pinch. His knuckles connected solidly with Rodney's eye and nose. Then without a second thought, Carson pulled his hand free. It took longer to sit up and get the leg restraints off. McKay was already climbing to his feet before Carson could roll off the bed. He kept it between them and kicked the brake off rolling it toward his not-friend. With a gasp of pain, Carson ran.
There was more blood than there had any right to be, but such things as logic weren't important in a time like this. Not when there could be blood on hands, blood on the floor. Not when the obligatory large male nurses could be standing in the way, a six foot tall and six foot wide barrier looking remarkably like two escapees from a football team wearing whites.
The not-Rodney screamed loudly, something inhuman about the sound. But the frightening part was the part which was human. Like every scream of pain you could ever imagine, and then some. He moves faster than he should, his footsteps loud on the cold, white floor. "You should be in bed, doctor! This is for your own good..."
Carson did a rugby dodge around the wall of nurse. He knew it was a dream. He should have some kind of control over it. It made sense. Of course, nothing was working that way. Carson wondered if it was part of the drug. He could hear Rodney's feet slapping on the cold Atlantis floors. "Bloody hell, I'm one of those busty blondes in one of those screaming flicks that the Major is so fond of," he muttered to himself and ran as fast as he could.
Atlantis had somehow become a maze. A dark, confusing, oppressive maze, with far less oxygen than was surely normal. It was like being drowned alive, except without the pleasant feeling of euphoria, only panic. Steps behind him as he ran and ran, until he could run no more.
And then Rodney was there.
"I'd like to say this is a surprise, but isn't this always how these things go?" Carson asked with a sigh. "What are the odds of me running the other way and running in to you again? Honestly, you'd think my dreams would be less cliché."
"I could change, if you like." And a finger taps on his shoulder from behind. His mother, of course.
"Oh god, no' this," he whispers in horror. Carson backs away as the vision of his mother advances. He runs into a wall and slides down. "Fine, you win, Rodney. Just leave her out of it."
Rodney drops to squat on his haunches beside him, smiling brightly in his white lab coat. "I knew you'd see things my way."
"Why you? That's what I don't understand. Why would you... that's it, isn't it? Rodney is the key. He's not as sick as the rest of us. I've got to wake up!"
He takes Carson's face in one hand, under the jaw. The other slapping him about the cheek. "How many times have I said you are a complete and utter..."