The things you realize while lying on the ground, bleeding out.
“Promise me you won’t go crazy when I die.” The words come out slurred despite the care he takes in forming them, consonants slipping away from him like sand through shaking fingers. When he blinks, the world blurs.
“You’re not going to die, Rodney.” Sheppard sounds almost angry, but Rodney can hear something else, something that might be terror. Funny how he hadn’t noticed it before. “Ronon’s gone to get a medical team. You’ll be back in the infirmary and bitching about your eighty-bazillion stitches before you know it.”
“Promise me,” Rodney repeats, the ‘r’ and ‘s’ coming out wrong, because the medical team’s not going to make it in time. He can feel the world going soft around the edges, can see it already fading into nothing. His feet and toes have gone numb, although his leg burns like it’s on fire. “Need t’ know you won’ do anythin’ stupid.”
“I’m not going to do anything stupid because you’re not going to die.” Everything goes white on Sheppard’s last word as something grates inside Rodney’s leg, and Sheppard needs to stop doing whatever the hell it is he’s doing, because dying shouldn’t be this painful. It feels a little like Rodney’s been yanked out of his body, and for a while he can’t manage anything more than a whimper.
He knows Teyla’s out there somewhere, can hear her murmur something to Sheppard—no terror or anger there, just worry and concern—but the blood roaring in his ears drowns all her words.
When color and sound come back, he’s being dragged, Sheppard’s hands hard under his arms, Teyla following with gun at the ready. The sky’s a brilliant blue above, deep enough to dive into, and Rodney can’t feel anything below his waist, but those things don’t matter. There’s something he needs to know, but he can’t remember what it is—just that it was important. He would ask if Sheppard knows, but even as he tries to put the words together in his head, the blue of the sky is blocked out by the familiar gray of a jumper, and he’s being cradled against Sheppard’s chest.
Then there are doctors and a stretcher, and he’s suddenly inside the jumper, cheek resting against Sheppard’s thigh, Sheppard’s warm fingers curled against the back of his cold neck. “You’re not going to die, Rodney.” And there’s no fear now in Sheppard’s voice, no anger, just enough faith that Rodney can’t help but believe: faith strong enough to hold the universe together.