Pairing: Aiden Ford/Rodney McKay
Summary: Life on Earth without you would have been extremely quiet.
A/N: Thanks to deani_bean for the beta and the swell icon!
"Hello, hello, hello... What have we here?" Rodney said as he peered up at the tall monolith that jutted several yards into air. "This is rather..."
"Phallic?" John supplied. Rodney turned and shot him a look. Aiden suppressed a smile and averted his eyes.
"I was going to say it was rather modern compared with the other structures we've seen on this planet," Rodney said with a huff. "Your rather sophomoric observation is, however, apt. I wonder what this was used for..."
"...Aside from the obvious?" John quipped.
"What's the obvious use for a twenty foot penis?" Aiden asked.
"I'm sure this structure's resemblance to the male sex organ is merely coincidental," Rodney said exasperatedly.
"How do you know?" Teyla asked.
"Twenty foot penises don't emit energy signatures," Rodney replied. "And before either of you jumps to the unfortunate and utterly predictable conclusion," he said with a glance at the two male members of his team, "I believe this is some sort of signal tower."
"You mean like some sort of relay?"
"Precisely, lieutenant," Rodney replied. He held an Ancient device in front of a highly decorated panel. Aiden peered over his shoulder and watched as Rodney calibrated the signal.
"So it's not a giant vibrator?" John said with a smirk.
"No, major," Rodney said. "It is not a giant vibrator. The only dick around here is you." Aiden laughed as Rodney began to move around the monolith. He followed closely behind, listening with interest to Rodney's explanations. John sighed and folded his arms.
"The lieutenant has taken an interest in science of late," Teyla observed as she drew out her canteen to take a drink.
"He's taken an interest in scientists, if you ask me," John replied, mainly to himself. He also took out his canteen and took a drink as Aiden came around the other side of the monolith and waved them over.
"Look!" he said excitedly. Teyla and John quickly joined him and found Rodney standing beside an open panel.
"Is that a ZPM?" John asked as he examined the familiar-looking object. Rodney shook his head.
"It is something similar, though," he said. "Zelenka and I have found dozens of them around the city. They're like batteries; the Ancients used them to power small objects." He shielded his eyes and looked around the clearing. "I have no idea what it's being used for here."
"Could it be another one of those energy fields we found on that planet with the kids?" Aiden asked. Rodney shook his head.
"This thing isn't big enough to protect anything larger than a football field," he said as he reached into the opening to fiddle with the machinery inside the monolith. Aiden grabbed his wrist.
"Last time you did that you nearly got us all killed," he said.
"Ford's right," John said. "Let's try to find out what this thing is for before we mess with it."
"And exactly how are we supposed to do that?" Rodney asked sarcastically.
"You'll figure it out, doc," Aiden said, patting his shoulder reassuringly. "You always do."
"Of course I will," Rodney said smugly, "but it would be easier if I--."
Something whizzed by Rodney's head and hit the machinery inside the panel. Aiden grabbed Rodney and pulled him to the ground as John and Teyla tried to determine the source of the projectile.
"It's a rock!" Rodney cried. "Someone threw a rock at me!"
"Quiet, doc," Aiden said as he crawled over him and scrambled to John's side. "Can you see them, sir?"
"Over there," John said, handing Aiden his binoculars and pointing toward a line of trees off to the left. "At eleven o'clock; I make approximately ten of them." Aiden carefully scanned the area.
"I've got sixteen," he said, pointing further to the left. "Their weapons appear to be rudimentary: spears, clubs and--." He ducked. "Rocks...propelled by slingshot."
"Ow!" Rodney shouted. Aiden dropped the binoculars and crawled back over to the physicist.
Rodney lifted his head and squinted at the Marine.
"That hit me!" he complained as he angrily wiped dirt off his face. He saw a bit of blood on his hand and yelped. "Blood! I'm bleeding!"
"It's just a scratch," Aiden said. "We've got to move, sir. We're too exposed here."
"Agreed," John replied. "You take McKay and get him into cover. Teyla and I will follow."
"Negative, sir; I'm the only one with a rapid-fire weapon. I can provide better cover with my P-90--."
"That's an order, lieutenant," John spat back. "Get McKay to safety. As soon as you can move, circle back to the jumper. Teyla and I will be on your six. "
"Yes, sir," Aiden said crisply. He grabbed Rodney by the collar and practically hoisted him to his feet. "Move!" Aiden barked, giving him a shove as Teyla and John opened fire. Rodney began to run with Aiden right on his heels. They reached the end of the clearing and dove for cover. Aiden immediately turned to survey the scene. Things had gone quiet while they were running. He peered through the brush and saw John and Teyla lying on the ground. He dug into his pocket for his binoculars and got his first clear look at the enemy. A group of men, dressed in clothing similar to that of the Athosians, surrounded his fallen teammates. Aiden gritted his teeth and squatted down, his eyes fixed on the scene before him.
"Are they alive?" Rodney asked. Aiden nodded tersely as he watched the men kneel to search Teyla. He raised his weapon and drew a bead one of the men when he grabbed her breast, but as long as he didn't attempt anything more, Aiden resolved to wait. Fortunately, the man who seemed to be the leader of the group kicked the man leering at Teyla and ordered him to leave the woman alone. Aiden sighed in relief when he heard them speaking English.
"I know there are more of you out there," the chieftain shouted, looking in the general direction in which Aiden and Rodney had fled. "We saw your ship come through the great circle and followed you here. You come from the land of the Ancient ones." Rodney and Aiden exchanged a look.
"How does he know that?" Aiden asked.
"We came through the gate," Rodney said. "The Ancients obviously came to this planet and built that monolith."
"What does it do?" Aiden wondered aloud.
"We mean you no harm, but we are in desperate need of your help," the chieftain continued, drawing Aiden and Rodney's attention back to the clearing. "As you no doubt saw, our Great Stone no longer provides. We ask that you use your magic to repair it. If you do so we will return your friends unharmed."
"How do we--?" Rodney's mouth was immediately covered by Aiden's hand.
"Let me do the talking."
"I'm perfectly capable of--."
"Don't I know it," Aiden said. "But in the major's absence, I'm in charge."
"McKay, just do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. All right?" Aiden's tone didn't brook any argument, so Rodney merely nodded. "All right?"
"All right," Rodney agreed reluctantly.
"How do we know we can trust you?" Aiden called to the leader of the group.
"We only wish to have the Great Stone provide again," the chieftain insisted.
"You attacked us!" Rodney shouted back before Aiden silenced him with a venomous look.
"Please forgive Chasa for being overzealous. He thought he saw strangers violating the Sacred Stone and acted in haste. He did not realize that you are of the Ancients, that you are the Gate Keepers."
"And this is how you treat the Gate Keepers?" Aiden replied, looking at Rodney, who shrugged. "You stone us and take our friends hostage?"
"We mean you no harm," the chieftain shouted. "But we are desperate. We will take whatever measures are necessary to assure your cooperation."
"What do you think? Can we trust them?" Rodney asked as Aiden unlatched his P-90 and set it down.
"Take off your vest, doc," he said as he removed his cap and began to unzip his TAC vest.
"Don't ask questions," Aiden said tersely. "Get out of that vest, now! Put this one on."
"You want me to wear your vest?" Rodney replied in confusion. "Why can't I simply wear my own? Yours is going to be too small--."
"Put on the vest."
"But it's got my stuff!"
"That's the whole point," Aiden said as he pulled on Rodney's vest and checked to see if their hiding place was still secure.
"I need my stuff," Rodney whined. "This vest is too tight and I need my--."
"Not another word, doc," Aiden warned. "Now, stay put." He began to rise, but Rodney grabbed his arm.
"Where are you going?" Rodney whispered.
"Not another word," Aiden growled. He pushed Rodney till his back was against the trunk of the nearest tree, then pressed down on his shoulder. Rodney silently sank down to the ground and sat. "Stay here until I've gotten their full attention." Aiden said. "As soon as it's safe, I want you to take the P-90 and make your way back to the puddle jumper."
"Not the time to argue, doc. Just get to the jumper and wait for us. If we're not back in two hours, fly that thing back though the gate and return with reinforcements." Aiden straightened his attire and walked into the clearing. John sat up groggily and rubbed his head as he approached, hands raised high in the air. Teyla struggled to sit up as well.
"What is he doing?" she asked.
"He appears to be surrendering," John said with a frown, though he noted that Aiden still wore his sidearm.
"Hello?" Aiden said to the leader of the group.
"Are you the one who worked the magic on the great circle?" he demanded. Aiden swallowed hard.
"Yeah, that's me," he replied. Aiden could practically feel Rodney suppress a cry of protest. He said a silent prayer in hope that Rodney would stay in the blind where he'd been left.
"What the fuck?" John muttered as he observed his second in command come forward to negotiate for his and Teyla's release.
"If you promise to let them go, I'll do as you ask," he told the chieftain. "But if anyone else touches her," He added, pointing at Teyla, "I will not help you."
"No one shall defile your woman. I give you my word," the chieftain said. "We will free them both once the task is done."
"Agreed," Aiden replied, bowing his head in acknowledgment.
"You will work your magic on the--. Who is this?" the chieftain demanded, pointing to someone behind Aiden. He turned and saw Rodney entering the clearing, dressed in Aiden's vest and cap. He sighed and shook his head.
"I told you to stay put, McKay," he muttered as his mind raced ahead in anticipation of Rodney's next actions.
"I'm the one you want," Rodney shouted. "He's just pretending to be--."
"This is the remaining member of our team," Aiden interrupted. "McKay here is my apprentice," he said loudly enough for both Rodney and the other members of his team to hear.
"Your apprentice?" The chieftain chuckled at the notion. "Why he must be nearly twice your age!"
"Your what?" Rodney sputtered. "I'm not your apprentice and I'm nowhere near half--."
"Actually, McKay is my personal bodyguard," Aiden said hastily, leading the chieftain away from the potentially combative scientist.
"Among my people, no one who works magic goes without protection. McKay goes wherever I go and watches my back at all times. As you can see, even when I tried to leave him back there while I helped you, he came to protect me." Once again, Rodney began to sputter.
"McKay! Listen to the man," John called, nodding in Aiden's direction.
"We will not harm your master," the chieftain solemnly promised. Rodney opened his mouth to protest, but Aiden gave him a pleading look. "You will stay here and make sure that your other friends are safe."
"Yes, McKay," Aiden said. "Stay here with the others." But Rodney had his own ideas.
"I will do no such thing," he replied. "You said it yourself; where you go, I go. If you want his help," Rodney said, turning to the chieftain, "you will let me go with him."
"McKay," Aiden said warningly.
"I'm sworn to protect him at all costs," Rodney explained. "And I do mean at all costs," he said, raising the P-90 on his chest. Aiden placed a hand on top of Rodney's and made him lower it again.
"Is that your weapon?"
"Yes," Aiden replied to the chieftain. "And it's very powerful. He could have taken out all of you had he chosen to do so. I would rather this end peacefully." The chieftain nodded.
"He will remain with you."
"Right." Aiden returned the nod and looked at McKay, who shrugged surreptitiously. "Take us to your Great Stone."
"Show them," the chieftain commanded one of his men. "I will remain here to personally assure that your friends will remain unharmed."
"Good," Aiden said ominously. "If any harm does come to them I will see to it that your Great Stone never provides again."
The chieftain bowed his head and Aiden turned to follow the man who'd been ordered to guide them. As soon as they were out of earshot of the others, Aiden turned to Rodney.
"I told you to stay put until it was safe to return to the jumper."
"So you could carry out your brilliant plan? How was that supposed to work, exactly?"
"Not now, McKay."
"Did you happen to acquire a degree in physics when I wasn't looking? Or perhaps you hooked up with Zelenka and got a crash course in engineering, hmm?"
"McKay!" Aiden whispered harshly.
"How the hell were you planning to get Teyla and the major out of there? Just tell me that, will you? Because it seemed to me you were about to get yourself into a very deep hole."
"...And now you're in it with me instead of back there and safe," Aiden spat, turning to get into Rodney's face. "How many times do I have to tell you that I'm the one in charge?"
"I've always been of the opinion that the one in charge ought to be the one with the superior intellect!"
"Well, if you have such a superior intellect why can't you understand a simple command?"
"A simple command!" Rodney shot back. "A ludicrous command, you mean!" Aiden glared at him and Rodney glared right back, refusing to back down. The sound of their native guide clearing his throat broke the tension.
"The Great Stone is there," he said. Rodney and Aiden turned to look and saw a huge boulder sitting at the top of a steep hill. From its base, a trickle of water flowed down the hill and into a stream that wended its way into the woods.
"It's a rock!" Rodney declared.
"Hello? Great Stone? What were you expecting?" Aiden said exasperatedly as his eyes followed the trickle of water. He immediately understood the problem.
"Oh, and you were expecting to be asked to repair a giant rock?" Rodney said doubtfully as he took a few steps forward. He turned to the native. "What's wrong with it?"
"It does not provide," the man replied simply. Rodney rolled his eyes. Aiden pushed back his sleeves and started climbing up the hill.
"And where are you going?"
"You expect me to fix it from here?" Aiden asked reasonably. Rodney sighed and followed slowly.
"You know, it's not that I'm afraid of heights," he called up to Aiden. He hazarded a look behind him to where the native was waiting and swallowed hard. "It's the falls...definitely the falls that trouble me."
"No one asked you to follow me, doc."
"Well, you had to go and tell them that wherever you go, I go," Rodney complained. "I didn't want to make a liar out of you." Aiden paused to look back at him.
"You're the one who said that, McKay."
Aiden laughed and extended a hand to pull Rodney up onto an outcropping of rock, where they sat so Rodney could catch his breath. Aiden pulled an energy bar out of one of his vest pockets and offered it to him.
"Here, have a snack."
"I know," Aiden said as he turned his attention back to the hill. "Eat up, doc." After studying the terrain, he grabbed his cap from Rodney's head and put it on. "Stay here."
"Sir, yes sir," Rodney said, content to watch as the younger man moved with a grace and agility Rodney could never attempt to match. Aiden reached the top of the hill within minutes. He examined the rock carefully, getting down on his hands and knees to study the fissure from which the water flowed. "See anything interesting?"
"As a matter of fact, yeah," Aiden said, sitting back on his haunches and wiping his hands on his vest.
"Hey! That's mine, you know!" Rodney complained.
"You're right," Aiden said, looking down. "I'm going to need my own vest. There's a blockage preventing the flow of water."
"And that's what they want you to fix?"
"You heard them, McKay; 'the Great Stone provides.' What else could that mean?"
"What do you propose to do?"
"I propose to remove the blockage and I'm going to need my vest to do it."
"Come on down and get it!"
"Right. Yes. Coming, master," he grumbled as he climbed up to the top of the hill. He reached Aiden and started to unzip his vest, but Aiden impatiently began to dig in the pockets. He pulled out a few things and turned back to the rock. Rodney poked around in one of the pockets and pulled out an unfamiliar device. "What's this?" he asked curiously.
"It's a blasting cap," Aiden replied with barely a glance up at him. "Unlike you, I use my vest for its original purpose."
"Its original purpose..."
"Yeah; it wasn't designed to store a day's supply of snacks, you know," Aiden said as he turned back to Rodney and dug into another pocket.
"Whoa! That tickles," Rodney said as he squirmed. Aiden smiled and shook his head. "You know," Rodney said to his back, "in some cultures that's grounds for marriage."
"I'll marry you later," Aiden said. "Right now, I think we'd better get out of here."
"You're not planning to blow up their sacred rock, are you? You probably should have let me take a look at the blockage. Perhaps there's another way."
Rodney took off down the hill at a reckless speed. Aiden stood and watched him, laughing as he stumbled at the base of the hill and all but fell into the arms of the native. Rodney grabbed the man by his shirt and dragged him back another twenty yards before he turned to look back the way he came. He saw Aiden casually strolling down the hill.
"You bastard!" Rodney said when Aiden reached him. Aiden merely smiled and put his fingers into his ears. Rodney did the same and gestured for the native to copy the action. A second later, Aiden detonated the charge and a tiny explosion caused the ground to tremble. Then water began to flow down the hill in a steady stream. The native let out a whoop of joy and ran back to the clearing. Rodney glared at Aiden for several seconds before turning and heading back.
"And they just released you?" Elizabeth Weir asked doubtfully.
"They just released us," John said. "The head guy took a look in the creek, saw the water level rising back to normal and turned us loose. He even gave us a few bushels of corn and fruit as a parting gift."
"And he said he was willing to trade with us in future in return for Lieutenant Ford's assistance in other matters," Teyla added. Elizabeth turned to Rodney, who'd been uncharacteristically quiet throughout the proceedings.
"And did you ever find out what the monolith was for?" she asked.
"No; the Migians couldn't say," Rodney replied.
"The Migians?" Elizabeth repeated.
"That is the name of their people," Teyla explained.
"The monolith had been there for eons," Rodney continued, "long before anyone lived in the area, apparently. It's a moot point, anyway; they damaged it when they were throwing rocks at me."
"Maybe it can still be repaired," Aiden suggested. "You said that you'd found several more of those energy cells here in the city."
"Right," Rodney replied. "Perhaps you should take a few cells back to the planet and perform the repairs yourself, since you're apparently the expert of record."
"Whoa, doc!" John said. "Just because Ford stole your thunder out there today--."
"He acquitted himself very well," Teyla said with a smile for Aiden.
"Yes, yes, he saved the day, tra la," Rodney conceded petulantly.
"You can't stand it, can you?" John teased. Rodney glanced at Aiden, who averted his eyes and smiled.
"Good work, all of you," Elizabeth said as she rose to signal the end of the meeting. "I think you all should get some rest. It's been a long day." John and Teyla left immediately. Elizabeth detained Rodney with a few questions. He answered with his eyes fixed on Aiden, who stared back at him. After a moment, Aiden rose and left the room. Rodney got up and followed him.
"Lieutenant Ford!" he called down the hall. Aiden stopped and turned around. "May I have a word with you?" Aiden frowned quizzically.
"Later; I've got to--."
"You can write your reports later--or count your bullets or whatever it is you do post mission," Rodney said impatiently, earning a withering look from Aiden. "Please," Rodney added earnestly. Aiden sighed, but relented and followed him to an unoccupied lab.
"All right," Aiden said as soon as the doors shut behind him. "You wanted to talk."
"What was that out there?" Rodney demanded.
"Major Sheppard told you to get me to safety and then take me back to the jumper. Instead you went charging out there into the middle of a dangerous situation."
"...And you followed right along, after I told you to head for the jumper on your own," Aiden countered.
"You didn't follow orders, why should I?" Rodney shouted. Aiden just stared at him and he winced uncomfortably. "All right, that probably wasn't the smartest thing I ever did."
"Is there a point to this?" Aiden said with a sigh. Rodney's anger promptly returned.
"Yes, there's a point to this! You might have been killed! You had no idea what those men might have been planning. They might have been trying to lure us out so they could kill all of us!"
"Good thing they weren't; you would have made that all too easy for them," Aiden said smugly.
"And what was all that nonsense about being a magician?"
"I never said anything about being a magician," Aiden replied. "They thought that the person who operates the gate can work magic. I just answered the guy's questions in his own lingo."
"I'm the foremost expert on gate technology in this galaxy!" Rodney declared.
"And now we get to the heart of the matter." Aiden sat on the edge of a workstation and folded his arms. "The major was right; you are jealous!"
"I am not jealous!" Rodney spat back defensively. "I'm just saying, if the Migians wanted someone capable of solving a technical problem, they should have dealt with me!"
"Why?" Aiden said teasingly. "I solved their little 'technical' problem just fine."
"Sheer luck. Did you think putting on my vest instantly qualified you to handle whatever the Migians threw at you?"
"Of course not!" Aiden said, rolling his eyes. He smiled impishly. "And just for the record, I do operate the gate on a regular basis."
"You what?" Rodney cried incredulously.
"You heard me," Aiden said. "I operate the gate. How do you think we got to P4X-339 in the first place?" Rodney shook his head and walked over to the bench opposite Aiden's.
"You took an unnecessary risk today."
"And I shouldn't have, right?"
"You're damned right!" Rodney said. "I could have handled it."
"So you're allowed to take 'unnecessary' risks and I'm not?"
"Is that what you're telling me?" Aiden demanded, sliding off the bench to confront Rodney eye to eye. "Because I distinctly recall you once saying that the only reason why the Marines were included on the roster for this expedition was to protect your precious backside."
"How were you going to protect my precious backside by putting yourself in the line of fire?"
"That's my job, damn it! I put myself out there in the line of fire so you could get your stubborn ass back to the jumper!" Aiden shouted. "That's how I was protecting you! What did you expect me to do, just leave Teyla and the major back there?"
"Of course not. I just---." Rodney shrugged awkwardly.
"You didn't think," Aiden said accusingly. "You keep telling me that you're the smartest man in the galaxy, but sometimes you just don't think. It never even occurred to you that I knew what I was doing, did it?"
"No, it didn't," Rodney said candidly. Aiden threw his hands up in disgust.
"What the hell was I thinking when I signed on for this?" he said frustratedly.
"Oh, come, on," Rodney replied, "do you have any idea what life would been like back on Earth without me?"
Aiden exploded into laughter. He gripped his stomach and doubled over as Rodney sat and watched him with mild amusement. Aiden sat up and struggled to regain his composure. He pressed his lips together and managed to present something that resembled a straight face.
"Sorry," he managed, finally sobering enough to speak. "You asked me a question. Quiet...life on Earth without you would have been extremely quiet." He suddenly became very serious and spoke in a near whisper. "I would have missed you." Rodney reached out and caressed Aiden's cheek.
"There, now was that so bad?" Rodney replied smugly before leaning in to kiss him. Aiden grabbed the front of Rodney's shirt and pulled him closer. Rodney went willingly, allowing him to take control of the kiss, deepening it. He loved Aiden's mouth, sweet, sexy, succulent and pouting...and all his to indulge in. He opened his mouth to Aiden's invading tongue, allowing his hands to wander over the back of Aiden's head and down his arms. Rodney moaned as a frisson of pleasure trilled through his body. But to his surprise, Aiden abruptly pulled away. "What?" Rodney whined plaintively.
"I ought to have my head examined," Aiden said as he gently extricated himself from Rodney's arms.
"Not for long," Aiden said, moving toward the door. "You know the rules."
"Will I see you later?" Rodney asked, not caring if he sounded desperate, because damn it, he was and letting Aiden escape seemed like an even dumber idea than following him into a hostage situation.
"Rodney," Aiden said with a sweet smile as he reached out to cup his face. "I'll see you later, okay? But right now I'm still on duty and I've got a report to prepare." He kissed Rodney lightly, then a second time and a third for good measure, before breaking into a smile. "I've got to go."
Aiden turned to open the door and felt Rodney's hand on his ass; he carefully peeled it off.
Rodney grabbed Aiden's collar and pulled him back for one last kiss. Aiden gently pulled away before things got too heated. They always did, ever since the first time he'd allowed Rodney to get under his skin.
"Same time, same place?" Rodney asked, his eyes sparkling.
"Unless you do something stupid again," Aiden teased, ruffling his hair. Rodney slapped his hand away and unsuccessfully attempted to smooth it down.
"I won't if you won't," Rodney promised before Aiden slipped out of the lab and went back to work.