Category: Crossover with Stargate SG-1
Pairing: Aiden Ford/Daniel Jackson
Summary: Daniel unexpectedly finds perfection in the arms of a young lover, till fate intervenes to divide them.
Daniel wasn't expecting to fall in love the day he first laid eyes on the handsome young lieutenant who'd just been assigned to SG-3. He was in the middle of a critical briefing at the time, of course, and he became so distracted by the intense dark eyes following his every move that he had to struggle to focus on his presentation. Things only got worse when General Hammond asked Daniel a question that completely threw him for a loop. He stormed out of the briefing room annoyed with himself for being unprepared for the general's question and for twice losing his place in his notes.
Daniel frowned and turned to see the young lieutenant approaching. He'd apparently followed him from the briefing room.
"Lieutenant?" Daniel said with measured patience. He wanted nothing more than to return to his office and grab his gear so he could get the hell out of dodge. He was in no mood for anything that would postpone his departure.
"I have a question if you've got a minute, sir," the surprisingly soft-spoken officer replied. Daniel frowned expectantly. Up close he looked extremely young to Daniel and impossibly, even more handsome.
"Drop the 'sir,' lieutenant. I'm a civilian."
"I called you 'sir' out of respect, not rank," the lieutenant replied with a smile that made Daniel's heart skip a beat. "In your presentation just now, you said that culture of the inhabitants of PX7-224 appeared to resemble that of the Amish. I just wanted to ask whether you thought we should avoid speaking to them. I know that the Amish tend to remain somewhat aloof from the English--."
Daniel just stared at the younger man in amazement as he continued his question. Not only had he apparently listened to the linguist's entire presentation, he clearly knew a great deal about the culture Daniel had used to draw a parallel with the alien race the SGC was about to open negotiations with.
"You don't look Amish," Daniel said when the African-American soldier was done. "You don't happen to have a degree in social anthropology, do you?"
"No, Dr. Jackson," he answered seriously, "My background is in--."
"It was a joke, lieutenant," Daniel said as he started to walk down the hall. He was losing precious moments. He wanted to be off the base as soon as possible. "Besides, isn't it your job to stand around and look threatening while SG-1 does the negotiating?"
"That's precisely my point, sir. I don't want my unit to make a misstep that could jeopardize the treaty."
"Major Warren has been on a bunch of these diplomatic missions. Just follow his lead and you'll be fine."
"Yes, sir," the lieutenant replied. Daniel shot him a look and was rewarded with another smile.
"Would you prefer to be called 'Dr. Jackson'?"
"Actually, I would prefer to be out of here in the next ten minutes," Daniel said before he could stop himself.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hold you up," the lieutenant said as they stopped within a few yards of the elevator.
"It's okay," Daniel said with a smile to soften his earlier remark. "It's kind of refreshing to speak with an intelligent Marine." The lieutenant smiled again and Daniel suddenly wanted to forget about rushing out.
"Any time, Dr. Jackson. Good night." With that, he turned and went back the way he'd come. Daniel sighed and watched him go. He hadn't even asked the officer his name. He scratched his head and made a mental note to ask him in the morning before they went through the gate. He turned to enter the elevator.
Daniel cringed when he saw Sam and Teal'c standing there.
"I'm getting ready to go back to work," Daniel lied as he stepped around Teal'c and entered the car.
"It's quitting time, Daniel," Sam said as she and Teal'c followed him.
"For you, perhaps; I've got a treaty to finish. And that sounds really funny coming from you," he added with a squint at her.
"All work and no play--."
"And that sounds even funnier coming from you, Teal'c," Daniel said.
"Look, let's get out of here. Have a beer, maybe grab a pizza--." Sam threw up her hands.
"We've all been under a lot of stress since--."
"Yeah, I know," Daniel said softly. No one ever said it out loud. Since we lost Jack. "Not tonight, Sam."
It took him several minutes to convince them to go. When he was finally alone in his office, Daniel sighed and sat down at his desk. As long as he'd said he was staying, he might as well get some work done. Truth be told, Daniel did want to review the treaty one last time before the mission. He pulled it up on his computer and read it carefully. Although the people of PX7-224--which only Daniel called by its proper name of Sandreada—spoke a dialect similar to English, there were subtle differences. Daniel had worked with a Sandrean scholar to prepare the documents for the negotiations, but it couldn't hurt to check it one last time for errors.
An hour and a half later, Daniel changed into his civilian clothes and headed for the elevator. He entered the car and pressed the button that would take him to Level 16, but stuck out his hand to hit the "door open" button when he heard the footsteps of someone running to catch the closing door.
"Thank you," the lieutenant said. Daniel looked up and saw the officer, now dressed in a pair of soft, faded jeans and a long-sleeved tee shirt that clung to his sculpted torso. He forced his eyes back to the lieutenant's face. "I thought you were leaving earlier, sir—I mean Dr. Jackson," the officer said with a smile.
"Try Daniel," the linguist replied as he tried once again to compose himself under the intense gaze of the officer.
"Aiden," he replied.
"Aiden," Daniel repeated thoughtfully. "You know, you don't look Irish, either."
"Speak to my folks," Aiden replied with a shrug. The elevator reached Level 16 and the two men walked over to the elevator to the surface.
"Where do you live, Aiden?"
"Oh, right now I'm sleeping on a friend's couch," he replied with a sheepish smile. "I just arrived in Colorado Springs four days ago. I have yet to even start looking for a place. The SGC's been taking up all my time."
"Have you been off world yet?"
"No; tomorrow will be my first trip through the gate," Aiden said. Daniel smiled at the memory of his own first walk through the Stargate. That experience had changed his life forever, both for the better and for the worse.
"A little—well, I think I'm more excited than anything. Should I be?" They reached the surface and signed out. Daniel laughed at the question.
"Probably," he replied.
"What was your first time like?" Aiden asked as they headed toward the parking lot. Daniel turned to look at him.
"That is a very long story."
"I've got nothing to do for the next--," Aiden checked his watch, "twelve hours." He looked at Daniel expectantly. Daniel, in turn, only hesitated for a moment, although he knew that he was about to embark on something that that was inherently dangerous. He didn't care. Daniel was tired of going home alone every night. He needed a little danger in his life. He also needed to get laid, though he unsuccessfully tried to squash that notion and bury it deep in the recesses of his mind.
"Follow me down the mountain," Daniel said. "There's a place a couple of miles from here where we can grab a beer and a burger. Then I'll tell you the whole story." The lieutenant smiled and jogged over to a small import car towards the back of the lot. Daniel led the way down the hill, questioning his sanity all the way to the restaurant. He pulled into the lot and spotted Sam's car. He stopped his own car and waved Aiden over.
"What's up?" he asked after rolling down his window.
"Change of plans. This place looks like it's pretty crowded and it's impossible to hold a decent conversation when that place is jumping," Daniel said.
"Got an alternative?"
"Yeah, I think I do." Daniel put his car in drive and headed to a small place near his house. This confirmed Daniel's suspicions; he was definitely insane. Had they stuck with his first choice he stood a fair chance of only engaging in a harmless flirtation. But taking Aiden to Angelo's clearly upped the stakes and increased the risk. It also increased the potential reward. Daniel smiled to himself as he emerged from his car. You only live once, he thought—well, most people do, anyway.
"This place is much quieter," Daniel said as they sat down in a small booth, "and the burgers are just as good."
"I'm ready for that beer," Aiden replied as he was handed a menu. The two men placed their orders for beer and burgers.
"Are you even old enough to drink?" Daniel asked as the waiter went off with their order. Aiden laughed.
"I'm twenty-five, Daniel," he said. "I'm old enough to do anything I want to do." There was no mistaking the meaning behind the words. The look in the Marine's eyes made it impossible to misinterpret, as did the knee that ever so lightly pressed against his own. It remained there over the course of the next hour.
"I suddenly feel very old," Daniel said with a twitch of a smile, but it was a lie. Despite the fifteen-year gap between them, age was the farthest thing from his mind as the heat of Aiden's leg seeped into him. They made small talk while they waited for their burgers, neither man paying much attention to what was said. Both were focused on the subtext, a conversation that needed no words, just a tenuous physical contact and the promise of more to come. Over dinner, however, Aiden pressed Daniel to tell him the story of the first expedition through the gate.
"Is it true--?" Aiden paused to swallow the last of his burger and wiped his mouth. Daniel sighed involuntarily as Aiden licked his lips. "I've heard people talking about you on base." He waited for the waiter to take their plates. "They say you've died and been revived three times. One guy said you were dead for a whole year." Daniel leaned forward and Aiden met him halfway.
"Don't believe everything you hear," the linguist said. "I've been dead far more times than that." He sat back.
"You mean it's true?"
"This is not the place to discuss it," Daniel said softly as he signaled for the check. Of course, the restaurant was no place to discuss anything they'd talked about over the course of their meal, but Aiden didn't question that. "I've got it," Daniel said when the lieutenant reached for his wallet. He handed the waiter a couple of bills and rose to his feet. "Are you okay to drive? If not, I could take you in my car..."
"That might be best," Aiden replied without a missing a beat. "I can come back for it in the morning." Daniel walked to his car, anticipation making him thrum with excitement. Aiden retrieved a small duffel from his car before joining him.
"Is it far?" the lieutenant asked rubbing his hands together in a manner Daniel thought was expectant rather than nervous.
"Not far," he replied. They traveled the next three blocks in silence. Daniel pulled into his driveway and turned off the ignition. He flashed a brief smile at his companion and stepped out of the vehicle. Aiden quickly followed suit, grabbing his duffel and following Daniel into the house.
"This way," Daniel said. He led Aiden straight to the bedroom, since neither man seemed disposed to playing games. He also knew that if they stopped in the living room they'd never make it to the bedroom.
"Nice," Aiden said as he looked around. Daniel pulled his sweater over his head and tossed it on a chair. "Very nice," Aiden said softly as he placed his hands on Daniel's chest and lightly traced the flat, muscular planes. He tugged on Daniel's tee and pulled the linguist closer. Daniel wouldn't recall later which of them moved first. It didn't matter; they were on the same page and in minutes they were both naked and writhing on the bed.
"Beautiful," was all Daniel could say as he explored the expanse of perfect golden skin on his young lover's back an hour later. Unlike Daniel's, Aiden's skin bore not a single scar. Daniel marveled at it as he studied it in the dim light of his room. Aiden was untouched by the horrors of war—at least physically. Daniel knew for certain that the man sleeping beside him had never been shot by a staff weapon, that he'd never been zatted or subjected to a Goa'uld hand device and it broke his heart to think that injury was an inevitable consequence of the Marine's chosen profession. Janet Fraser once told him that the injury rate for SGC field personnel was 100%; if you went through the gate you were going to be hurt.
Daniel fell asleep with his arms wrapped around Aiden in a futile effort to protect his perfect, unblemished body, if only for the night. He awoke again when he felt the warmth withdraw. A minute or two later, Daniel could make out the sound of the shower and he turned onto his back, trying to will himself awake. He finally succeeded when the smell of coffee wafted into the room. He opened his eyes and saw Aiden standing next to the bed with a mug in his hand. But that's not what held Daniel's attention; Aiden wore nothing but a towel wrapped low around his waist.
"I make lousy coffee," he said apologetically as he handed over the cup. "There doesn't seem to be any sugar in the house so I assumed you didn't take any."
"You assumed correctly," Daniel replied before taking a sip. He winced slightly. "And you're right about the coffee, too."
"Hey, it does the job," Aiden replied as he casually removed the towel and reached for his shorts. Daniel stared unabashedly as he sipped his coffee, smiling when he realized it was empty. Coincidentally, Aiden was fully dressed at the same moment.
"Nice compensation," Daniel said as he slid to the edge of the bed and stood.
Daniel wrapped his arms around Aiden's waist and pulled him close.
"Bad coffee, good show," he said before kissing him lightly and releasing him. Daniel went to the bathroom and took a quick shower. When he emerged from his bedroom fully dressed ten minutes later, he found Aiden eating a bowl of cereal.
"Hope you don't mind," he said sheepishly. "I--."
"No, no, not at all," Daniel said as he went to the coffeemaker. "You're a growing boy," he said with a wink. "Besides, someone should eat it. I never touch the stuff. Sam bought it for me when I was laid up recently, but I've never been a fan of cold cereal. I will insist, however, on having a decent cup of coffee before we leave."
"I could use some myself," Aiden replied. He wolfed down the remainder of his breakfast and spent his last few minutes at the house indulging his desire to kiss Daniel senseless.
Daniel reluctantly dropped Aiden off at his car, fighting an irrational urge to turn around and take the young soldier back to his house. Aiden would never go through the gate, if Daniel had his choice. He'd never face death at the hands of a system lord or witness death and destruction on a global scale. Daniel shook off his funk and drove to the SGC. He could not prevent Aiden from fulfilling his dream; had no right to even consider it. He changed into uniform and packed his gear. When his eyes met Aiden's across the gate room an hour later, they nodded civilly.
Thirty-seven hours later, they greeted each other with far more passion. They'd arranged their rendezvous on the way back to the gate.
"Congratulations on the negotiations, Dr. Jackson. You had the Sandreans eating out of your hand," Aiden said as he fell into step with the members of SG-1.
"Thank you, Lieutenant—Ford, is it? But I can hardly accept all the credit. A lot of people were involved in making the negotiations a success."
"And they all say that this wouldn't have happened without you," the lieutenant replied impishly. Daniel glanced at the smiling Marine.
"You'll turn my head, lieutenant!" he said softly, hazarding a heated look at Aiden. It was returned with interest. "So, what do you think of your first mission through the gate?"
"Piece of cake," Aiden said smugly, "but to be honest, all I can think about now is getting back to Earth."
"Yeah; hot food, a nice warm bed..."
"Chinese food," Aiden interjected.
"Chinese," Aiden repeated with a look at Daniel. "All right; where does one find good Thai food in Colorado Springs?"
"I know a great place just six blocks from my place," Daniel said.
"I'll have to check it out. I haven't had decent Thai food since I was stationed in Bangkok."
"I'll give you the address."
Daniel handed Aiden a slip of paper in the infirmary. The young Marine arrived at Daniel's place a half hour after Daniel got home.
"I hope you like angel hair noodles with beef," Aiden said as Daniel stepped back to let him pass. "I figured it was a safe bet."
"Right now I'm hungry enough to eat anything," Daniel replied, locking the door before following Aiden into the kitchen.
"If I'd known that I would have skipped the takeout and come right over," Aiden said. He set the bag down on the counter and leered at Daniel, who had to fight the urge to pull Aiden into his arms for a kiss. He settled instead for chuckling at the remark and opening the refrigerator to retrieve a couple of beers. Daniel's hands trembled slightly as he lifted the bottles. He quickly closed the door and took a steadying breath before turning back around. To his relief, Aiden was unpacking the food. Daniel stared at him as he moved about the small kitchen.
"I got spring rolls, dumplings, and lemon grass shrimp, too," Aiden said. "Where do you keep your plates?"
Daniel cleared his throat and reached over Aiden to grab two plates from the cabinet. He placed them on the counter and stepped back as Aiden began to pile them with food. Once again, Daniel found himself staring at the younger man and he shut his eyes tightly.
This is supposed to be about sex, Daniel told himself. I'm not supposed to be standing here feeling like a--."
"Are you all right, doc?"
"Yeah," Daniel said. "Sorry; I was thinking about those translations I have to do for--." He fell silent as Aiden invaded his personal space.
"Stop," he commanded softly. He gave Daniel the barest of kisses before stepping back. He smiled disarmingly and gestured toward the plates with his head. "Let's eat." Aiden picked up the plates and went to the table. Daniel swallowed hard and tried to will his body to cooperate before grabbing a couple of forks and joining him.
"So you were stationed in Bangkok?" Daniel asked as he poked at a shrimp.
"Yeah, briefly; I was only there for two weeks before I received orders assigning me to the SGC."
"Exactly how does one get assigned to the SGC? I've always wondered about that."
"Well," Aiden said, pausing to wipe his mouth. "To begin with, you have to pass a background check and have an exemplary service record. Then you have to be recommended by your CO, be approved by the CO of the SGC and somebody at the Pentagon."
"How does your CO recommend you for assignment in the SGC when he presumably doesn't even know of its existence?"
"I suppose the Pentagon solicits recommendations. They don't have to explain what they're recruiting for," Aiden said with a shrug. "How did you come to be at the SGC? I have to imagine it's harder to find archeologists than grunts for placement."
"That's a long story," Daniel said with a hint of a smile.
"I got nothing but time."
"That's what you said last time and look what happened," Daniel teased. Aiden's smile faded, however.
"If you aren't okay with what happened--."
"Oh, I'm very okay with what happened," Daniel assured him. "If I weren't you wouldn't be here now. But I do know a trap when I hear one," he said, wagging his finger. Aiden adopted a look of pure innocence. "And please stop doing that. It makes me feel like a cradle robber."
"What am I doing?"
Daniel laughed again.
"Oh, you're good. You're very good," he said, leaning across the table to kiss Aiden's smiling mouth. "Mm," he murmured. "And you taste as good as I remember."
"Let's see if the same holds for you," Aiden said before deepening the kiss. He allowed a hand to wander over Daniel's shoulder and down his arm, but Daniel caught it and pulled away.
"Finish eating," he commanded. "You're a growing boy and I need all the strength I can get." Aiden smiled and lifted his chopsticks. Daniel did the same, twirling them in his fingers as he spoke.
"You know, in Thailand, people actually eat with--."
"...A spoon and fork," Aiden said with a nod. "They use chopsticks to eat soup, ironically enough."
"Yes," Daniel said with a frown. He set down the chopsticks and picked up a fork. "I forgot about your vast knowledge of other cultures." Aiden laughed at the tease.
"It's hardly vast; I picked up a thing or two while I was in Bangkok. But I like using chopsticks."
"How did you learn about the Amish?"
"I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania."
"Where did you go to college? What was your major?"
"I studied education at Penn State. I figured that if I didn't make the military my career I'd want to teach high school."
"Why high school?" Daniel asked curiously.
"I had the coolest teacher when I was in high school. He was like the big brother I never had and he really helped shape my future. I'd like to return the favor sometime."
"...By shaping other young minds?"
"Yeah," Aiden said shyly. "Where did you go to school and what did you study?" he asked, turning the tables. Daniel indulged him with tales of his childhood in Egypt and his education in some of the finest universities in the United States and Europe. They ate at a leisurely pace, enjoying good food and good conversation. When they were done, Aiden collected the plates and, much to Daniel's surprise, he began to wash them.
"You don't have to do that, you know."
"I know, but my grandmother always said that if I used a plate I'd better wash a plate," Aiden explained as he rinsed Daniel's plate.
"You must be the ideal dinner guest," Daniel said wryly. Aiden looked over his shoulder and caught Daniel staring.
"Looks like you're ready for dessert," he said archly. Daniel smiled and offered him a towel. Aiden turned off the water and quickly dried his hands. He was about to step into Daniel's waiting arms when the phone rang. Daniel swore and decided to ignore it, but he heard Elizabeth Weir's voice and reconsidered.
"Excuse me, I'd better--." He sighed as Aiden nodded and backed away. He took the call and when he was done several minutes later he went looking for Aiden. Daniel found him stretched out on his bed reading an archeology magazine.
"Is everything okay?" Aiden asked, looking up.
"Yeah, everything is... fine," Daniel replied distractedly as Aiden smiled, set the magazine down and rose to his feet. "That was just, um..."
Aiden began to peel off his tee shirt.
"The mission to...P2X-334--the one the translations were needed for..."
"Yeah?" Aiden asked as he dropped his shirt and reached for the zipper of his jeans.
"Postponed," Daniel said dully.
"Postponed?" Aiden frowned. He dropped his hands. "Why?"
"Who cares?" Daniel said, suddenly focused again and reaching for Aiden. "It means I don't have to stay up half the night translating some obscure text about some obscure ritual."
"Cool," Aiden said with a broad smile that Daniel found impossible to resist.
They spent the better part of the night becoming better acquainted and, since SG-11's mission had been postponed, Daniel was free to spend the following day with his new lover. By the time Aiden left the following morning, Daniel knew he was a lost man. He tried to figure out how Aiden had managed to get under his skin so quickly, but he eventually gave up trying to understand it. Better to enjoy it while he could. No one knew better than Daniel Jackson that life was fleeting.
One afternoon a week later, Daniel was in his office writing a report when he heard the klaxons signaling an unauthorized offworld gate activation. Out of habit, he rose from his desk and headed for the gate room. By the time he arrived, members of SG-2 and SG-3 were coming through the gate. Daniel froze in horror as a medical team rushed past him and the leader of SG-2 was placed on a gurney. Daniel looked around frantically till he saw Aiden being carried through the gate unconscious.
He held his breath as Janet Fraiser and her team worked on Aiden. A moment later Daniel heaved a sigh of relief when she declared that he was merely unconscious. He watched the medical team wheel Aiden out of the gate room and it took all of his strength to remain behind. He wanted to follow the gurney to the infirmary and keep a vigil, but he had no valid reason for doing so that would not arouse suspicion.
Daniel reluctantly returned to his office and said a silent prayer that Aiden was all right. After two hours he gave up trying to concentrate and decided to go the infirmary and simply ask after all the members of SG-2 and SG-3. A general inquiry should not fuel suspicion, he assured himself as he strode through the corridors. Daniel stepped into the elevator and smiled when he saw Sam. She pushed the button and greeted him with a smile.
"Hi" he said casually, belying his nervousness. "What's up?"
"I'm on my way to Dr. Weir's office to pitch my proposal for another trip to Antarctica. There's got to be something we missed," she said, referring to the technology they brought back along with the stasis chamber containing Jack O'Neill. Daniel nodded, but his thoughts were clearly elsewhere. "Where are you headed?" she asked innocently. The elevator stopped on Daniel's floor and he evaded the question.
"I just have to, uh..." The door closed and Daniel headed toward the infirmary. As he drew closer to his destination he kept telling himself that Aiden wasn't seriously injured; Janet had said he was just unconscious.
He looked up at the sound of Janet's voice. He'd been so lost in his own thoughts he hadn't noticed that he'd passed her in the hall.
"Janet! Hi," he said awkwardly.
"I hope you aren't looking for me," she said tiredly. "I was just sneaking over to the commissary for a quick break."
"I'll go with you," Daniel offered. "I haven't eaten anything in...today," he said sheepishly. He endured Janet's stern look and followed her to the commissary. They got sandwiches and coffee and found a table. "I was actually about to head to the commissary when the gate was activated earlier. How are the injured men?"
"They're in surprisingly good shape, considering," Janet answered after a sip of coffee. "According to Major Warren, they were ambushed on their way back to the gate. They hadn't seen anyone until that point and they were on the planet for hours."
"Maybe the natives were hoping they'd just leave."
"That's what Major Warren said. One of them must have done something that made the natives restless."
"So their injuries weren't serious?" Daniel prodded.
"For the most part no, thank goodness," Janet said. She poked at her sandwich as she began to tick off a list of relatively minor injuries incurred by the teams.
"Two of them left the gate room on gurneys," Daniel interrupted.
"Oh, yes; Sergeant Britton was the most seriously injured of the bunch. He suffered a fractured ankle when he fell running for the gate. Lieutenant Ford was hit by a dart when he stopped to help him."
"A poison dart?"
"Is there any other kind?" Janet replied. "It was a mild poison, thankfully; nothing that would cause lasting damage or death, but enough to do the trick. He's sleeping it off now and ought to be released later today."
For the first time in hours Daniel was able to relax. It occurred to him later, when he returned to his office, that he'd been anxious for Aiden all day. He closed his eyes and spent a few minutes trying to regain his composure before getting back to work. Janet, meanwhile, returned to the infirmary, where she found Aiden sitting up in bed.
"You're supposed to be resting, lieutenant," she said as she reached for his chart.
"I'm feeling fine, ma'am," he replied. "How much longer do I have to stay here?"
"Let's take a look at you." Janet checked Aiden's vital signs and then drew the curtain for a thorough post-mission physical. When she was done she told him to dress and meet her in her office. Aiden appeared at her door a few minutes later.
"Ma'am?" he said softly. Janet looked up.
"Come in, Lieutenant Ford," Janet said. She gestured toward a chair. "Have a seat."
"So am I fit enough to leave the infirmary?" Aiden asked eagerly.
"You're fit enough to leave the planet," Janet replied with a glance at his chart. "You've suffered no lasting effects from that dart. I wish I knew exactly what that compound was; it disappeared from your system before we could get a decent sample and it left no trace. I want you to take it easy the next 24 hours, but otherwise I think you're fine." Janet closed the folder and looked Aiden in the eye. "You're a lucky man, lieutenant--and I'm not talking about the dart."
"Lieutenant Ford, I'm a major in the US Air Force. Technically, I shouldn't even broach the topic I'm about to discuss with you. However, the fact that I'm a medical doctor--and more importantly, your doctor--gives me both legal protection and ethical standards to fall back on."
"I'm lost," Aden said bluntly. Janet smiled reassuringly.
"Don't worry, lieutenant, I'm on your side, here. I just want to give you a friendly warning."
"About the hypocrisy you're likely to encounter if you're not more careful. Did you know that in spite of the 'don't ask, don't tell' regulations there are some doctors who wouldn't think twice about making a notation on your permanent record if they found evidence of 'inappropriate sexual contact' during a physical exam?"
Aiden blanched and Janet pretended not to notice his embarrassment.
"It's a clear violation of the DADT regs," she continued, "not to mention a violation of the patient's confidentiality, but there people out there always looking for ways to make trouble."
"Yes, ma'am," Aiden said softly.
"I'm not saying that all the medical staff feel that way, but I have heard rumors that CO's on some bases have pressured medical officers to report any such findings. Granted, the sort of physical I just gave you is not the kind you're likely to be subjected to on a regular basis, but just to be on the safe side, you should keep that possibility in mind."
"While you're assigned here, I'll do all your post-mission physicals. If by some miracle I'm not on base when you come to the infirmary just ask one of the nurses to page me or Dr. Warner. And don't worry," Janet quickly added when Aiden shifted uncomfortably, "asking for me won't automatically tag you as someone who's chosen an alternative lifestyle. There are several people around here whom I see exclusively for a variety of reasons. SG-1, for example: an alien with a parasitic symbiote instead of an immune system for the first hundred or so years of his life, a cantankerous colonel who's known for reducing nurses to tears..." Janet shook her head. "And Daniel Jackson has a medical history that simply tests one's ability to suspend disbelief. Long story short: if you return from anything other than a simple milk run, you're going to be subjected to a thorough head to toe exam. Just play it safe." Janet patted Aiden's arm and rose, effectively signaling the end of the discussion. But Aiden was curious.
"Why the thorough exam?" he asked as he rose to his feet.
"It's a matter of security. Who knows what someone might bring back to the SGC after contact with an alien environment?" Janet leaned against her desk and cited a number of cases where SG teams brought back viruses, dangerous and wildly invasive plants, and on two occasions, weapons of mass destruction embedded in the bodies of children.
"Wow! I had no idea."
"Be careful out there, lieutenant," Janet said as she signed his release form. "And be careful here on earth, too. I trust you're taking precautions."
"Yes, ma'am," Aiden said, averting his eyes as he blushed. Janet smiled and shook her head.
"My nurses would be heartbroken if they found out you were batting for the other team. We'll just have to settle for ogling," she said as she watched Aiden move toward the door. He stopped and turned around.
"I'm an Air Force major, a medical doctor, and a woman, lieutenant," Jane said with a wink. Aiden smiled and left.
He had just kicked off his shoes and settled on his bed to watch television when his phone rang. He dug the phone out of his jacket pocket and checked the caller’s identity before accepting the call.
"Hey doc," Aiden said with a warm smile.
"Are you all right?"
"You heard about the incident on P3X-717."
"I saw you being carried through the gate," Daniel said evenly.
"I'm fine, Daniel. I was hit by a dart with a mild poison. Dr. Fraiser gave me a clean bill of health and released me."
"I want to see you."
"I thought we had plans for tomorrow night."
"I want to see you now; I'll come there if necessary," Daniel insisted.
"That's probably not a good idea," Aiden said softly.
"Well, then tell me where I can meet you and I'll come by and pick you up."
Aiden relented and suggested that Daniel meet him at a strip mall a short distance from the tiny place he was renting till a better one became available. There was a housing shortage for military personnel in Colorado Springs. Aiden didn't have a family to worry about and he wasn't picky, so the small efficiency would suit his needs till a vacancy in the officer quarters became available. But at least three other marines assigned to the SGC lived in his building; Aiden was certain that Daniel would be recognized if he showed up on his doorstep.
"I'll be there in twenty minutes," Daniel said before he hung up. Aiden took a quick shower before walking over to the mall. Daniel was waiting at the edge of the lot. Aiden smiled and slid into the passenger seat.
"Where the hell did you get that tee shirt?" Daniel said, lifting his shades for a closer look.
"You don't like it?" Aiden said with a slight pout.
"I like it," Daniel chuckled as he put the car into drive.
"You're just saying that."
"No, I really like it; you're wearing it," Daniel said with a wink. He didn't say another word till they reached his apartment. Daniel fidgeted nervously as they rode up to his floor in an elevator with several others. Aiden frowned at him quizzically. When they reached Daniel's apartment, he literally dragged Aiden through the door and slammed it shut behind him.
"What the hell?" was all Aiden could manage before Daniel pushed him into the center of the living room and began to strip him. "Daniel!"
"Take this off," Daniel demanded as he tugged on Aiden's shirt.
"Take it off or I'll rip it off."
"Okay, okay!" Aiden said as he pulled off his shirt. Daniel undid Aiden's pants and let them fall to the floor. He impatiently pulled Aiden's shorts down and nudged him to step out of them. Aiden kicked off his shoes and nearly stumbled as Daniel yanked the offending garments off. Daniel fell to his knees and ran his hands over Aiden's torso, hips and legs then spun him around and repeated the motion. Aiden giggled at the sensation.
"Man, that tickles," he said as he reached for Daniel. His hands were batted away. "If I'd known you'd be so eager I would have gone commando," Aiden teased. But Daniel wasn't interested in sex.
"Let me do this; I have to see for myself," Daniel said softly as he continued to examine Aiden's skin.
Daniel ignored the question. Aiden smiled sadly and shook his head as he began to understand. He grabbed hold of Daniel's hands and pulled him to his feet.
"I'm fine, Daniel," he said. But Daniel found the tiny bruised spot on his neck, the pinprick of blood that marred the otherwise flawless skin. Aiden took hold of Daniel's face and brought his eyes back to his own. "Daniel, I'm fine." He pulled Daniel into a hug and held him tightly.
"I don't think I can do this," Daniel said bleakly. "I can't stand the thought of you going through the gate and coming back hurt or wounded or--." He dropped his hands and stepped back.
"...Or dead? Shouldn't I be the one worrying about that, given your history?"
"Daniel, we both do this for a living. I'm not going to try to deny you the opportunity to explore new worlds; are you going to try to tell me I can't do the same thing?"
Daniel stared at Aiden mutely. Aiden licked his lips and smiled.
"I ran into a little trouble out there today, but I came back in one piece. I'm a little bruised, a little tired, but I'm fine."
"I'm sorry," Daniel said sheepishly. "I just--."
"Care," Aiden suggested. "I care, too, but you won't see me doing any strip searches. The doc is thorough enough." Daniel returned the smile and pulled Aiden back into his arms.
"Experienced the full Monty today, did you?" Daniel chuckled.
"Yeah! I've never had a post-mission cavity search before," Aiden said as he averted his eyes. "She knows we--well she knows I'm gay." Daniel nodded.
"Janet doesn't miss much, but you can be assured of her discretion."
"Yeah, that's what she said."
"Ah, she gave you the talk," Daniel said perceptively. "Don't sweat it. We just have to be careful on base."
"Yeah, off base, too," Aiden said pointedly.
"Sorry; I was a little panicky," Daniel said with a shrug. Aiden rolled his eyes and Daniel took advantage of his distraction to nibble his throat.
"You taste good," Daniel said. "Smell good, too; and look, you just happen to be naked," he said teasingly. His hands began to wander down Aiden's torso once more, but this time they sought to arouse rather than diagnose.
"...And more than a little horny," Aiden said, drawing Daniel's hand further down to prove his point. Daniel kissed him into silence, wrapping himself around Aiden and practically fusing their bodies into one.
"Bed," he commanded after a few minutes of intense necking. He reluctantly released Aiden, kicked his fallen tee shirt aside and started toward the bedroom. But as he tugged on Aiden's hand, he felt resistance.
"Hey! That's my shirt!" he protested.
"Who cares?" Daniel replied as he pulled harder. This time Aiden moved.
"You kicked it!" he pouted. They reached the bedroom and Daniel began to undress.
"Here, you can kick mine if it'll make you feel better."
"You said you liked it!"
"You aren't wearing it anymore," Daniel said with a wink before he pushed Aiden onto the bed.
They continued to see each other, two or three nights a week for the next four weeks. Then one day Aiden appeared at Daniel's office. Daniel was surprised to see him; they were very careful on base and the marine had never even been to his office before. More importantly, Daniel was busy. Out of the blue, three system lords had requested a meeting with the head of the SGC and Daniel was preparing to brief Dr. Weir.
"Have you got a minute?"
"Uh...yeah," Daniel said, closing the folder in his hand. "What's up?"
"I'm being shipped out."
"Shipped out? Where?"
"Atlantis base, in Antarctica," Aiden said glumly.
"Why were you reassigned?" Daniel asked, a pang of fear gripping his chest.
"It's a standard troop rotation. All the security personnel serve one month shifts."
"Oh," Daniel said. "When... Uh, when do you leave?"
"We ship out in twenty-four hours."
"Not much time," Daniel said, dropping the forgotten folder on the desk.
"No, sir," Aiden sighed. He backed out of the office. Daniel let him go and stared at the wall for several minutes, rousing himself when Dr. Weir came down to see him.
The system lords arrived and monopolized all of Daniel's time for the next several hours. When he finally had a free minute he went looking for Aiden, but learned that Major Warren and the other members of SG-3 were having a team night on their last day in the Springs. Before he could get a hold of Aiden, Daniel was beamed out of the SGC and onto the Asgard warship that bore his name.
Two weeks passed before Daniel saw Aiden Ford again, this time at the Atlantis base. Jack O'Neill had been revived and promoted to the rank of general. When he assumed command of the SGC, Dr. Weir was assigned to the Atlantis project to oversee the search for the Lost City. Daniel went with her, anxious to resume his quest and anxious to be reunited with his young lover, even if all they could do there was talk.
At first, Aiden was just happy to see him again. Daniel was relieved to find that he was just as beautiful and flawless as he was when Daniel first laid eyes on him. But he noticed that Aiden's eyes were a little sad. Daniel pressed him for an explanation. It was impossible to find any real privacy in the cramped facility, so they walked over to the mess and found a table in the corner where they could speak freely.
"I've learned a few things since I've been here," Aiden said softly. "It's a small base, people talk."
"I heard... Someone told me that you and Colonel--General O'Neill--." Aiden broke off, unwilling or unable to finish the statement. Daniel sat back and sighed. "It's true, isn't it?"
"That was a lifetime ago, Aiden."
"I'm well aware of that. But we're no longer...anything to each other. Haven't been since I returned a year ago."
"That's not how I heard it."
"Really," Daniel said with a hint of annoyance. "Exactly what did you hear?"
"I heard about what a bastard the general became after you ascended. I've also heard about how he's more or less chased off anyone, male or female, who's gotten within twenty feet of you since you came back."
"Jack and I are not involved, Aiden. You and I are involved."
"Lieutenant Simmons is stationed at the Pentagon now because he got caught staring at your ass in the gate room."
"What the hell--? Look--."
"I don't think I can do this," Aiden said hesitantly. Daniel felt anger welling up in his chest. "I've just been handed an assignment of a lifetime. I want to go through the gate, not end up stranded in some remote location because I slept with the general's--."
"I am not the general's anything!" Daniel whispered fiercely. "Look, if you want to stop seeing me, fine. But don't break up with me because you're scared of my ex-boyfriend. You're supposed to be a Marine, dammit!"
Aiden laughed in spite of himself, as did Daniel. But Aiden quickly sobered.
"I'm not—well maybe I am a little afraid of him. I heard he's a hard ass. But I've also got my career to think about."
"I can understand that," Daniel said, somewhat resigned. "I'm sorry, Aiden," he said, wishing that he could touch him, hold him, maybe even make love to him one last time.
"So am I."
Three days later, Daniel solved the mystery of Atlantis and Aiden saw General O'Neill for the first time. He saw the way he looked at Daniel, who seemed to be oblivious. But Aiden suspected that it was only a matter of time before he noticed and was forced to confront the fact that two men were in love with him. So when Dr. Weir announced that the trip to Atlantis was a go, Aiden was among the first to volunteer.
Daniel was back at the SGC when he saw the name "Aiden Ford" on the roster. He warred with his emotions, but in the end he respected the lieutenant's decision. It was truly the assignment of a lifetime. He wanted to see Atlantis himself. He wanted to see it with Aiden. He wanted to be there for him, to shield the young soldier from the dangers that lay ahead. Jack, of course, refused to let him go. His decision angered Daniel, although he knew that the general's reasons for denying his request were sound. He asked for and received a few days of leave before the scheduled Atlantis mission. He needed some time to reconcile himself to the fact that he was being the denied the opportunity to see the most important discovery of his life firsthand. He also needed to reconcile himself to the reality of losing Aiden. They'd parted amicably; Daniel returned to the SGC and Aiden stayed on in Antarctica. But other than accepting Aiden's decision to stop seeing each other, Daniel felt that there were still unresolved issues between them. He needed to see Aiden before he left.
He wasn't sure Aiden would agree to see him, and after leaving two messages on his phone, Daniel was half-convinced that he had been rejected. But late one night a few days later, Daniel's phone rang shortly after he went to bed.
"Hey, doc," Aiden said. Daniel sat up and turned on the light. "Hope I didn't wake you up."
"You know me," Daniel said as he laid back, basking in the sound of Aiden's voice.
"I'm sorry I didn't get your messages earlier. I've spent the last three days in pre-mission briefings and training; cell phones were off limits."
"Yeah," Daniel said mentally slapping himself on the head. Of course he would be preparing for the mission. "I guess they've been putting everyone through his paces."
"Yeah," Aiden said, and Daniel could hear the smile in his voice, "these preparations make the landing at Normandy look like a picnic."
"I'm sure. Look, I was wondering if I could see you before you leave—maybe dinner tomorrow?"
"I'm flying out tomorrow," Aiden said regretfully. "They gave us a week of compassionate leave and I'm going to go and spend a few days with my grandparents."
"When will you be back?"
"I'll be back on Thursday. I have to close up my apartment and take care of a few things before I go."
Daniel thought he ought to be more sensitive to Aiden's issues just then, but an idea was forming in his head that overrode everything else. He sat up again.
"What about the weekend? Do you have any plans?"
"No; well, some of the guys wanted to go out have one last night on the town. I'd rather have dinner with you than follow a bunch of grunts to a strip club."
"Listen, Aiden, a good friend of mine has a cabin near Crested Butte and he lets me use it during the summer when I want to get away. Why don't you come up to the cabin with me for the weekend? We could--."
"I don't know if that's a good idea, Daniel," Aiden replied softly.
"What would be the harm? You're about to leave Earth, possibly for the last time. I know we technically broke up three weeks ago, but--."
"I'm not going to change my mind, Daniel."
"I don't want you to change your mind, Aiden," Daniel replied, surprising himself when he realized that he truly meant it. "You once told me that you would never try deny me the opportunity to explore new worlds. I won't do that to you, either. But I do want to see you again. I want to--. I need to do this, Aiden. We sat at a table in a roomful of strangers and ended our relationship. We couldn't really talk in Antarctica. I couldn't hold you; we couldn't say a proper goodbye. Please, Aiden--I need this. We need this."
"I have to be back on base at midnight on Sunday.”
"Fine; we'll arrange things around your schedule. Just say you'll come," Daniel pleaded.
"You promise not to--. Yeah, I'll come," Aiden said.
"I'll make it worth your while, I promise."
"I'm going to hold you to that," Aiden said with a chuckle.
"You can do anything you want to do, as long as you promise to hold me," Daniel said with a smile.
Early Friday morning, Aiden took a cab over to Daniel's place. From there the two men took off toward the west. Daniel resisted the urge to obsess over his young lover. Aiden had gotten used to it, tolerating Daniel's fascination with an amused smile. But this weekend would be different. Daniel had to let go of his beautiful young lover and he distracted himself by teasing Aiden about his attire, which had become a standing joke between them.
"Exactly how many loud tee shirts do you own? I've lost count," he said as he hazarded a glance at the colorful artwork emblazoned across Aiden's chest. The younger man rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Man, you're so going to miss these when I'm gone," he laughed.
"Somehow I doubt that."
They arrived in Crested Butte and stopped to pick up food and supplies before reaching the cabin. Daniel unpacked the groceries while Aiden looked around.
"This is very cool."
"Very cool," Daniel agreed.
"So how do you know this guy?"
"He was one of my archeology professors at the University of Chicago. He spends his summers in Machu Picchu doing research so his vacation place is empty. I think he mostly uses it during the winter, anyway."
"Is he what?" Daniel asked, emerging from the kitchen. Aiden turned around and smiled.
"I was just wondering if you two were ever involved."
"He's nearly sixty!"
"Age disparity doesn't seem to be an obstacle for you," Aiden said cheekily.
"He's not gay. In fact he recently married again, ironically enough to someone about your age."
"What is it about you archeologists and May-December relationships?" Aiden teased.
"May-December?" Daniel sputtered as he unsuccessfully pretended to be offended. Aiden's laughter was too infectious, his proximity too tempting. Daniel pulled Aiden into his arms and finally succumbed to the urge to kiss him.
"I was beginning to wonder when you'd get around to that," Aiden said before he deepened the kiss. There were several things Daniel intended to get around to during the weekend. He wasted no time in getting started on his list and was pleased to find that Aiden also had an agenda that closely aligned with his own.
Daniel got his wish; he spent three days with Aiden in a little cabin far from Colorado Springs, where the two men laughed and cried and loved together for the last time. When he dropped Aiden off, the young Marine dug into his bag and pulled out a package.
"I want you to have these," he said with an impish grin. But he promptly sobered and averted his eyes as he tried to put his feelings into words. "Thanks for this weekend, doc. It... it meant everything to me," he said as he fought back tears.
"You mean everything to me," Daniel said hoarsely. "Never forget that." Aiden shook his head.
Throwing caution to the wind, he leaned over and kissed Daniel for the last time. Then he opened the door and got out. Refusing to look back, he jogged the three blocks to his apartment. Daniel watched him in his rearview mirror. When he was out of sight, Daniel pulled out slowly and drove home.
Back at his apartment, Daniel pulled out a bottle of scotch and poured himself a stiff drink. He turned on the radio and sat in his dim living room, sipping occasionally. Memories both recent and long past flooded his mind. When the glass was empty, Daniel reluctantly rose to refill it. That's when he remembered the package.
He tore open the brown paper and found three of Aiden’s favorite tee shirts, each adorned with a colorful design. Daniel smiled and carried them to his bedroom, where he reverently hung them in his closet.
Daniel watched with a heavy heart as Aiden strode up the ramp. He turned back and looked up for a minute before he walked through the gate and out of Daniel's life forever.
"Daniel?" Jack questioned gently. Daniel shook his head and walked away.
On to Imperfect