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FIC: Tabula Rasa - Conclusion - Hotitudinosity
fiction by jalabert
jalabert
jalabert
FIC: Tabula Rasa - Conclusion
Title: Tabula Rasa
Author: Jalabert
Category: First time
Rating: R
Pairing: Aiden Ford/Carson Beckett
Summary: What if the one you loved lost everything but you?


Aiden and Carson quickly established a routine; each evening after Aiden had dinner, they walked to the balcony for a quiet half hour of privacy. Sometimes they talked, but often as not they just sat together, Aiden with his back to Carson's chest, securely wrapped in his arms as they basked in the serenity and took in the view.

"You promised we could talk, once I was out of the infirmary," Aiden said on the second night. They'd never gotten around to talking that first night. After making out like a couple of high school kids for about ten minutes, Carson insisted that they return to the infirmary. Both he and Aiden were too overcome with emotion to say much on their way back.

"You're not officially out just yet," Carson reminded him "You've got to go back in a few minutes."

"Don't remind me," Aiden sighed. "And don't split hairs, doc. We aren't in the infirmary and I choose to talk here and now."

"All right, all right, lad," Carson said soothingly, kissing the back of Aiden's head. "Just don't get used to this sort of capitulation."

"It is pretty rare," Aiden grinned mischievously. Carson rolled his eyes.

"You were going to tell me about denial," he prompted.

"You know, the first time I saw you, way back in Antarctica, I thought you had a great accent."

"I knew it. It's always the accent," Carson sighed. "No one ever admires me for my charm, or my endearing personality, or my skilled hands."

"On the contrary, I was very impressed with your hands--your eyes, too, " Aiden assured him. "But I wouldn't allow myself to be tempted. Then I wouldn't allow myself to be attracted and when I realized that I had managed to fall for you in spite of my efforts, I just went into denial."

"When?" Carson asked in his ear, before nibbling at the sensitive lobe.

"What difference does it make?" Aiden asked, frowning. "The more important question is when did I stop being in denial."

"When was that?" Carson asked. Aiden stared at the water and settled more comfortably against Carson's chest.

"When I knew that I was probably going to die back on that planet and not seeing you again was the only thing I was worried about," he said. Carson could tell by the detached tone of his voice that Aiden had been transported back to that horrific moment on PX3-889. He held him tighter, protecting him from the painful memories of that awful day. Aiden sighed deeply. "I thought about all the time I'd wasted, and the fact that I was about to lose you forever. I wish I'd taken the risk." Aiden pulled away and turned around to face Carson. "I wished I'd told you I loved you."

"I love you, too, Aiden," Carson whispered, reaching out to caress his face. He leaned in to kiss him, but before their lips met, Carson was summoned on his com link and they were forced to cut the evening short due to a medical emergency.

After the third day, Elizabeth began to allow others back into the corridor when Aiden was abroad. That made it a bit harder for them to find privacy. Whenever he was outside the infirmary, Aiden was swarmed by friends and acquaintances. He welcomed the contact, and if he accidentally encountered someone in uniform he was fairly oblivious. Carson observed him carefully, and Kate took note of the effect re-socialization had on Aiden. He began to relax and open up a bit during their sessions together, though he still refused to talk about Carson. If Kate suspected that there was more going on between them than a few evening strolls, she never let on.

After a full week had gone by, Kate and Carson conferred and agreed that it was time to move Aiden out of the infirmary. They selected a room on the edge of the quadrant where most of the scientists were housed, not far from Carson's quarters. Carson packed some of Aiden's things and brought them to him there, including one of Aiden's uniforms. He went back to the infirmary, leaving Aiden to unpack. Kate found him staring into the mirror, a half hour later.

"So what do you think?" she asked, leaning against the wall to study his reaction.

"Well, it still fits," Aiden quipped as he pulled off his cap and set it down. He ran his hand over the Pegasus expedition patch on his arm and sighed.

"What do you feel, looking at yourself in uniform?"

"I don't feel much of anything," Aiden said with a shrug. "It's just clothes."

"It is just a set of clothes," Kate agreed, "but that uniform is a very important symbol to you. You, as a Marine, attach great importance to the uniform you wear, don't you?" Aiden nodded. "And when that uniform became associated with something traumatic and painful--."

"Not anymore," Aiden said, shaking his head.

"Good," Kate replied. Aiden turned to her. "And no, it doesn't mean I'm going to disappear and leave you in peace," she chuckled. Aiden smiled.

"I didn't think so," he admitted. "I've still got issues." Kate patted him on the arm.

"You're doing great, Aiden. You're making tremendous progress. But it's not over yet." He nodded in understanding. "I'll leave you to get settled and come back in an hour for our session...unless you'd like to come up to my office?" she asked tentatively. Her office was a good distance away from the quiet and relatively isolated area he'd been moved to.

"Day trip?" Aiden asked hopefully.

"I'll see if we can arrange it. I'll contact Carson. If he's not available I'll come down."

Aiden sagged a little and nodded. Kate patted his arm again and left. Aiden returned to gazing at himself in the mirror. There was a knock on his door and he told the visitor to come in. The doors opened and John, Teyla and Rodney entered the room. Aiden turned around and smiled at his team.

"Hey guys."

"Nice digs!" John said as he walked over to the window. "Hey look, Teyla! He's got an ocean view on this side of the city."

"Very droll, major," Rodney said. "Hey, Aiden, how's it going?"

"Pretty good," Aiden replied. It felt wonderfully normal to be standing there with his team, in uniform and talking about mundane things.

"You look well, Aiden," Teyla said. "It has been a long time since we have seen you dressed in uniform."

"Yeah," Aiden said, turning back to the mirror. "I think I've lost a bit of weight."

"We've got a cure for that," John said. "We've come to take you to lunch."

"Lunch? In the mess?"

"No," Rodney said hastily, shooting John a look. "We thought something more intimate might be in order." Aiden frowned in confusion.

"We have arranged a picnic for you," Teyla said with a smile. She took him by the arm and led the way to one of the larger balconies near his quarters where most of the science personnel hung out in the evenings. As it was early afternoon, they had the place to themselves. John unfolded a blanket and spread it on the ground. He patted the floor next to him and Aiden went to sit down. Teyla opened the cooler she'd brought and wondrous smells wafted out to assault Aiden's nostrils.

"Teyla and I made a run to the mainland this morning and found a caterer," John revealed.

"That looks awesome," Aiden said as Teyla heaped food onto a plate for him.

"Hey, don't give it all away," Rodney protested as he claimed a space next to Aiden. "I heartily agree that the guest of honor could stand to gain a pound or two but the rest of us have got to eat."

"Do not worry, Dr. McKay. We brought back plenty of food," Teyla laughingly assured him. The food was doled out and they began to eat.

"Sorry I'm late," Carson said a few minutes later as he stepped out onto the balcony and pulled off his lab coat.

"I hope you don't mind that I took the liberty of inviting your new boyfriend," Rodney said to Aiden, bumping his shoulder as he spoke. Aiden merely smiled at the tease, much to Rodney's surprise. "Huh," he said, processing that bit of information. He noted that Carson took a seat beside Teyla, affording him an excellent view of Aiden. But other than that, there was nothing in either man's behavior or looks to confirm Rodney's suspicion that things were progressing between the two men.

"Is there dessert?" Aiden asked as John cleared away the remains of their meal.

"You want more food?" Carson asked incredulously.

"We brought you some tehuelpa," Teyla said with a defiant look at Carson.

"And we've been saving a tit melon for a special occasion," John said smugly.

"Major!" Carson cried, indignant on Teyla's behalf.

"Hey! I'm not the one who named it, am I?" he said with a glare at the men seated across from him. Carson's eyes went wide.

"Hey, don't look at me!" Aiden protested. "That's something I didn't name." Rodney was too busy helping himself to the tehuelpa to voice a protest.

"Delicious," he said with a smile. "What?" he asked when he looked up and saw that all eyes were on him. Aiden elbowed him and demanded that he share the dessert. John cut slices of melon and handed them out.

"No wonder you're late for your session," Kate said, arriving at the balcony. "I wonder where you'd wandered off to."

"Sorry, doc," Aiden began.

"He was kidnapped for a good cause," Rodney said, cutting him off. "Would you care for a slice of melon?"

"I'd love one," she replied, stepping out onto the terrace. Rodney scooted over and made room for her. She sat down and accepted the offered fruit.

"The guys just wanted to throw me a little celebration," Aiden said sheepishly. "I forgot all about the time."

"It's quite all right," Kate insisted. "How does it feel to be out here with your friends?" Aiden's smile more than answered her question. She returned it and tried to put him at ease by joining the others in conversation. "I really don't think you need to see me today, Aiden," she said as she finished her wedge of melon and wiped her mouth with the napkin Teyla gave her. "You're in good hands here. I'll see you tomorrow at our usual time."

"Thanks Dr. Heightmeyer," Aiden said apologetically.

"You know where to find me if you need to talk," she said. Aiden nodded and watched her go.

"Sorry, Ford," John said. "We had no idea--."

"It's cool. I think she's right. This is better than any therapy session." he looked at Carson. "The doc said that maybe I could go to her for my sessions from now on."

"That's very good, Aiden," Carson replied. "I'll try to arrange my schedule to accommodate you."

"Don't sweat it, doc," Aiden said. "If you aren't available, I'm sure one of these guys can pitch in." Carson looked stricken for a moment, then smiled like a proud parent.

"That's good, lad; very good." He got to his feet and dusted himself off. "I've got to be going myself. I'll stop in and check on you later," Carson said to Aiden. "Thank you for having me," he said to the others. Rodney watched him go and then elbowed Aiden again. The two of them shared a conspiratorial grin.

**

Aiden was sitting at the desk in front of the large window, staring out at the late afternoon rain when he heard a knock on the door.

"It's open," he said, his eyes riveted to the view outside.

"You're in uniform!"

Aiden turned and saw Sergeant Bates, along with Stackhouse, Murray and Bledsoe, all in civilian attire. He rose to his feet, swallowing hard.

"I was just trying it on for old times' sake," he said self-consciously. "Should you guys be here?"

"Probably not, and we're not planning to stay," Stackhouse said nervously. "We just heard you were out of the infirmary and wanted to welcome you back, sir." Aiden managed a smile and shook hands with each of them.

"Thanks, guys. It's good to be back," he said. Bates nodded and shepherded the men out. Aiden exhaled and sat heavily on his bed. He took a few deep breaths, rubbing his hands together and trying to gather himself. That didn't ease his discomfort so he laid down for a few minutes, but he still felt uneasy. Finally, he stood up again, cleared his throat and went to the door. He stared at if for a full minute before he found the courage to open it and step outside.

**

Carson was shocked to glance up and see Aiden standing in the middle of the infirmary. He set down his laptop and strode over to meet him. Anne also looked up and smiled when she saw him.

"I knew you couldn't stay away," she quipped with a wink. Aiden smiled, but he only had eyes for Carson.

"Aiden?" he said frowning.

"I need to see you for a minute, doc," Aiden said nervously. Carson took him by the arm and led him into the office.

"What's wrong?" he demanded as soon as they were alone. Aiden knew that if he told Carson what had happened, he'd be furious. He didn't want Carson upset; he needed Carson calm and reassuring. He needed Carson to help him deal with his problem. "Aiden?"

"I had an anxiety attack," he said simply. "A small one; I just needed to hear your voice." Carson eyed him worriedly.

"Should I call Kate for you?"

"Her voice doesn't really do it for me, doc," Aiden said impishly. He closed his eyes when Carson reached out and gently caressed his cheek, visibly relaxing under his touch. Carson pulled him into his arms and held him for a moment.

"Did you come all the way here on your own?" he asked, suddenly realizing that he hadn't seen Teyla, Rodney or John in the infirmary. Aiden looked up and nodded guiltily. "You could have reached me on the com link, you daft git."

"I didn't think of that," Aiden said with a shrug. Carson reached for Aiden's wrist to take his pulse.

"It's a little fast," he said as he pulled Aiden to his feet. "Come; I want to take your blood pressure," he said.

"I'm fine, doc."

"You're in the infirmary, lad. This is my domain and I'll satisfy myself, if you don't mind."

"What if I do?" Aiden shot back. Carson glared at him for a moment, then smiled and patted Aiden on the shoulder.

"You're fine," he declared.

"I just told you so."

"All right," Carson said pausing at the door of his office. "I won't check your blood pressure; I should probably check my own with you coming in and giving me such a start." Aiden smiled beatifically. "Give me a few minutes and I'll walk you back to your room."

"I'm good, doc," Aiden replied. He nodded to himself, realizing it was true.

"Three hours out of the infirmary and you don't need my help anymore," Carson pouted. Aiden leaned in and spoke in his ear.

"Oh, I still need you, doc," he said reassuringly before he slipped past Carson and walked to the door. He turned and frowned. "I don't have a com link."

"I'll see that you get one," Carson said hoarsely. Aiden smiled and left the infirmary.

No longer focused on getting to Carson, Aiden became hyper-aware of his surroundings. He felt oddly exposed as he walked toward the transporter. He passed a small group of uniformed Marines about to go on duty and he froze when he saw their weapons.

"Hey, lieutenant!" Sergeant Ramirez called. He saluted sharply as the others behind him did the same. "Great to see you out and about."

"Yeah," one of the men behind him said, reaching out to touch Aiden, who suddenly found himself surrounded by an eager group of soldiers. He felt his panic rising. His heart raced in his chest and he began to feel dizzy. His companions were oblivious as they wished him well and peppered him with questions about when he'd be returning to duty. Aiden thought he was going to faint until he felt a firm hand rest on his shoulder and heard the voice that would forever mean safety to him. He didn't even bother to look back. He merely closed his eyes and took a steadying breath as Carson dispersed the crowd.

"The lieutenant's supposed to be resting," Carson said firmly. "The longer you keep him from it, the longer it will take him to return to duty." Aiden didn't move for several seconds. "Open your eyes, lad." He did as he was bidden and found himself looking into Carson's deep blue eyes. "Are you all right?" All Aiden could manage was a nod. Carson escorted him to the transporter. He didn't speak again till they reached Aiden's room. "Are you really all right?" Instead of answering, Aiden burrowed into his arms. Carson wrapped himself around him and held him for a few minutes, gauging his heart rate by counting the beats of the heart pounding against his chest.

"I'm sorry," Aiden said long after his pulse had returned to normal. Carson kissed his brow.

"No need to apologize, lad," he murmured softly. "You did fine. How were you to know you'd be besieged by a handful of your many admirers?" Carson felt Aiden smile into his shoulder.

"So you followed me to make sure I made it back to my room?" There was no accusation in his tone, only curiosity.

"I was on my way to a meeting, actually," Carson said. "They're probably wondering where I am about now." Aiden reluctantly released his hold on Carson.

"You'd better go, doc," he said, smiling when Carson looked affronted.

"There you go dismissing me again. I'm likely to develop a complex at this rate," he said. He kissed Aiden's forehead, but Aiden pulled his face down and placed three chaste kisses on his lips. Carson smiled curiously.

"You'd better go," Aiden said with a sigh.

"Right," Carson said, staring at his mouth. As soon as Carson was gone, Aiden's uneasiness began anew. He paced his room for a few minutes before he came to a decision. He went to the communications panel and punched in a code.

"Hello?"

"Yeah; Dr. Heightmeyer? I think I'd like to see you today, after all. Could you come down?"

**

Carson was exhausted by the time he got off duty that evening. There had been a number of casualties from an off world mission gone bad as well as an accident in the jumper bay. Carson's team had been kept busy throughout the afternoon and evening. So it was fairly late by the time he reached Aiden's quarters.

"You're late," Aiden said from the desk as he closed his book of poetry. "Really late."

"I'm sorry, Aiden. I was stuck in the infirmary with a--."

"Okay, it's okay," Aiden said, rising to pull Carson into his arms. "The corporal explained it to me when she brought my dinner."

"We can still take our walk," Carson said as he nuzzled Aiden's throat. He glanced down at Aiden's stocking feet. "Put on a pair of shoes and--."

"Not interested in walking, doc," Aiden replied, lifting his chin to give him better access. "Already got plenty of exercise today."

"Oh, and I was so looking forward to our moonlight stroll," Carson teased. Aiden pulled back a little to look him in the eye.

"It's raining cats and wombats outside, Carson."

"Wombats?" Carson said, too comfortably situated to trouble himself with Aiden's choice of words or to check the weather outside the window. "What shall we do instead?"

"I've got an interesting proposition for you," Aiden said in a low, suggestive tone. "I was thinking we might be ready for a little experiment."

"Details, Aiden," Carson murmured between the tiny kisses he was scattering along Aiden's throat.

"A few ground rules first; we should keep it simple," Aiden said in his ear, "just something to let us stretch our legs. We won't be going far; and when I say it's time to come...back, I'll brook no arguments from you. I've decided on a particular path and we'll stick to it."

"I doubt you'll hear any argument from me on anything you suggest tonight," Carson replied, vaguely aware that Aiden was mimicking his own words from several nights earlier.

"We'll need to take a few precautions, of course. I don't want our first trip out to go badly in any way. If it's successful we'll extend it a bit next time, I promise."

"I'm going to hold you to that," Carson vowed. Aiden smiled slowly and leaned in to capture his mouth. "You mentioned precautions," Carson said many kisses later. "Perhaps I should go and fetch--."

"Not necessary, doc," Aiden said, "Tonight's just for recon. We can worry about that stuff tomorrow."

"But you just said--."

"And you said you weren't going to argue about anything," Aiden replied, covering his mouth with his fingers. "I was talking about another kind of precaution."

"What other kind of precaution?" Carson asked as he allowed Aiden to sit him down on the bed and pull off his shirt.

"Take off your pants," Aiden commanded. Carson got to his feet and began to undo his trousers. "Just your pants." Carson looked up.

"Oh, that's your precaution, is it?"

"Just for tonight. I hope you don't mind," Aiden said, pulling back the covers. He pulled off his own shirt and pants and crawled under the covers. Carson followed, using the ATA gene to lower the lights. Aiden pulled him into his arms. "I really need this tonight."

"We both need this," Carson replied, resting his head on Aiden's shoulder. He listened to the sound of Aiden's heart for several minutes. "Strange; in my fantasies, I was always the one holding you."

"Mine, too," Aiden said. Carson raised his head and they stared into each other's eyes for a moment and then laughed. "This is a first for me. I've never invited a man into my bed just to cuddle before."

"So you've had some experience with this, have you?" Carson said, oddly relieved.

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah," Carson replied, echoing his tone.

"Good," Aiden teased. "I wouldn't want to make you look bad."

"I'm afraid you probably will," Carson admitted. "I'm not as young as I used to be."

"Hey, neither am I," Aiden said with a shrug that dislodged Carson's head. He looked up at Aiden again, and saw him smile in the dim light of the room. "I love you, Carson Beckett."

"Say that again," Carson demanded.

"I love you, Carson Beckett," Aiden repeated, punctuating the first three words with brief kisses.

"I dearly love hearing that."

"That's great, but can we stop talking now?"

"I thought you liked my voice."

"I do," Aiden said as Carson shifted positions so that he pull Aiden into his arms. "But maybe we could talk tomorrow. That all right with you? " Aiden asked as he rolled over and straddled Carson's hips. He leaned in and kissed Carson, but when Carson tried to deepen the kiss, Aiden suddenly drew back.

"What?" Carson complained.

"Time for that reconnaissance mission I mentioned earlier." Aiden said as he got up on his hands and knees. He began to kiss him all over his face. "Remember?"

"I can barely breathe, much less think with you doing that, Aiden," Carson said as Aiden slowly slid backward along Carson's torso and began to nibble on his throat. His hands began to roam over his lover's body and he lazily explored every nook and cranny and pulse point he found. When Carson suddenly inhaled sharply, Aiden paused and looked up.

"You okay, doc?" he asked amusedly. His tongue found a rib and made a loving study of its length.

"I've never felt better in my life," Carson purred. "Reconnaissance, you call this?"

"Yeah; it's a military term. Want to give it a try?"

"I want to try all sorts of things on you," Carson said as he rolled over, reversing their positions. "Oh, Aiden, you're such a beautiful, beautiful man. I dearly love the sight of you," Carson said reverently as he began his own exploration. Aiden giggled when he nibbled on a particularly ticklish spot. "I don't mean that in a negative way, of course. You're as masculine and macho a man as ever was. Never a doubt about your masculinity. But the touch of your skin is like..." His voice trailed off briefly as he ran his palm over Aiden's abdomen. "And the taste...lovely. Just beautiful." Aiden rolled his eyes.

"Nervous, doc?"

"A little," Carson admitted. "I'm not terribly good at military maneuvers, as you undoubtedly recall." Aiden laughed, but he softened it by reaching up to pull Carson's face to his and kissing him deeply before releasing it.

"Don't ever change, doc," he said softly. Carson remained frozen exactly as Aiden left him. "Doc? Carson?" Aiden said worriedly.

"Sorry," he replied, blinking rapidly. "My mind just shorted out for a moment. Went completely blank."

"I know the feeling," Aiden replied. He pulled Carson into his arms and pulled the covers over them both.




The End

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Comments
(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 24th, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

cheers

thank you very much, that was totally lovely. Nice to see an unusual pair exercised a bit ;-)
Merwy
jalabert From: jalabert Date: May 25th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: cheers

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
hth_the_first From: hth_the_first Date: June 24th, 2007 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)
This was really a fantastic read -- I think you got a pitch-perfect blend of Ford's two sides, that sweet, innocently playful one and also the brasher, impatient side. And I love stories with Carson in his element, and I love that you remembered that a lot of these people had history together back on Earth, and I love that you dealt with that uncertainty that a dorky middle-aged guy like Carson would be likely to have once he's fallen for a hot young Marine, but dealt with it in a reasonable way, not some weird excess of self-loathing or whatever. I love your immense attention to detail in this story -- I can imagine it was a little exhausting to write, keeping this careful pace sustained over so many segments. An excellent achievement, thank you very much for sharing it!
jalabert From: jalabert Date: June 24th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a beautiful comment!

It was the first thing I saw when I got online this morning, and it absolutely made my day! This story was a lot of work; The basic idea for the plot was in my head for nearly a year before I began to write it, and once I did it quickly got away from me. The flashbacks inserted themselves, I struggled to keep the medical aspects of Aiden's condition reasonably plausible, and had to maintain continuity throughout a very long and complex story. The characters were the easy part. Having written fifty-plus Aiden stories, I find writing him no problem, but I had to tease a fully-fleshed out Carson from the relatively thin characterization provided in the series.

It's very gratifying to know that my work is being enjoyed and appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
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