Category: Established relationship
Summary: Rodney and Aiden reach an understanding--after a miscommunication nearly derails their budding relationship.
Part of the Naked Truth Series here.
"I want to start my sample collection over there," Robert Parrish said. "There are at least five species of plants I've never seen. This planet is a goldmine!"
"All right, but don't go too far," John said as he scanned the area.
"I will help Dr. Parrish collect samples," Teyla offered.
"I'll help, too," Aiden volunteered.
"I can use a hand with this equipment...or has everyone suddenly decided to become a botanist?" Rodney said, standing beside the puddle jumper expectantly. Aiden glanced at John, who gestured with his head.
"Sure, doc," Aiden replied.
"Try and contain your joy," Rodney said as he began to pull his gear out of the back of the jumper. Aiden smiled at the barb.
"What is all this stuff?"
"It's beyond your understanding, I'm sure," Rodney said. "Suffice to say, it's important."
"Of that I had no doubt," Aiden said as he stoically lifted two cases and followed Rodney down a path. "Where--."
"Set that down right there, lieutenant," Rodney said. "Open it but don't touch it."
"Right," Aiden sighed. He did as he was bidden and then stepped back to observe Rodney as he set up his equipment. At some point Rodney did deign to explain what he was doing but by then Aiden was in that mental zone he generally adopted when he was on security detail. He was completely aware of his surroundings and the fact that Rodney was talking, but the rest of him was dialed down into standby mode.
"Here, Aiden," Rodney said suddenly. Aiden was jolted back into the here and now by the sound of his name. He looked up and saw what Rodney held in his hand.
"What's this for?"
"Don't say I never gave you anything," Rodney said with a smile as he turned back to his work. Aiden looked down at the flower in his hand. It looked a lot like a rose, but its petals were thicker and velvety. He looked up at Rodney and then smiled when realization dawned.
"I get it," he said. "Yesterday you shared your chocolate bar with me. Today you're giving me flowers. You're wooing me."
"I don't 'woo,' Aiden. I'm seducing you."
"Always subtle, doc."
"You're not a child, Aiden, for all you play the sweet innocent. We're two adult men."
"That's readily apparent," Aiden said with a smirk.
"And don't you forget it," Rodney said deeply, leaning close so that no one could possibly overhear. He drew away and returned to his work. Aiden watched him for a few minutes and then walked over to where he was monitoring his experiment.
"There's no danger of that. In fact, that's what's been weighing on my mind from the beginning," Aiden said hesitantly. "I mean I'm really into this thing we've got going. And I'm really into you. It's just--."
"I said I'm into this," Aiden repeated with a sigh.
"What's 'this'?" Rodney said absently, fiddling with a knob.
"We can discuss it later," Aiden said. He bit his lip thoughtfully and started to walk away.
"You're really into me? 'It's just' what?" Rodney asked, looking up. Aiden turned back, wondering--not for the first time--how Rodney managed to split his concentration like that.
"Well, it's just that we're both men."
"That was utterly obtuse, as explanations go."
"I've never...you know."
"Hadn't ever entered my head," Rodney said smugly.
"Do you want to hear what I have to say or do you want to make fun of me?" Aiden said exasperatedly.
"I'm all ears."
"So am I," John said as he approached. "What's up?"
"Nothing, sir," Aiden said, averting his eyes. "If you're all set here, doc, I'll go help Teyla." Aiden walked away before either man could form an answer.
"What's eating him?" John asked as he watched him go.
"I don't know," Rodney said peevishly. "He was about to spill his guts when you showed up and invaded his privacy."
"Right," Rodney said, clearly not convinced. He turned his attention back to his equipment.
"So have you seen him naked yet?" John said teasingly. Rodney shot him a look that would shatter steel. "I guess I just figured with all the time you two have spent together since your injury... Well, I figured that if you were going to talk him out of his clothes you would have done it by now." John shrugged sheepishly and started to walk away as Rodney sputtered.
"Is that what you think I've been doing?" he finally managed to say. John looked back. "Do you think I've spent the last two months trying to get into Lieutenant Ford's pants?"
"Hey, what you and Ford get up to in your own time is your own business," John said seriously. He nodded, silently assuring Rodney of his discretion, and left Rodney gaping.
"Is that what I've been doing?" Rodney said. "Dear lord; is that what Aiden thinks I've been doing?" He looked around and found Aiden kneeling on the ground beside Teyla. They were laughing at something as they labeled packets of seeds and stowed them in the cases Dr. Parrish had brought for that purpose. Rodney sighed and turned away.
Rodney was sitting in a quiet corner of the dining hall absorbed in his thoughts when a shadow crossed his path. He looked up and saw Aiden take a seat across from him.
"You okay, Rodney? You've been quiet all afternoon."
"Yes. Yes, I'm--. Actually, I'm rather busy. I'm not happy with my findings from earlier this afternoon."
"Why, what happened?" Aiden asked.
"I'm not sure," Rodney said, collecting his cup and spoon. "I have to--. I need to think about this. I have to get back to the lab and see if I can figure something out. ...Figure this thing out."
"You need any help?"
"No. Thanks, Aiden," Rodney said, pausing to smile. He wanted to reach out and touch Aiden's cheek. He always found himself wanting to touch him. More often than not, the timing was either inappropriate or Aiden's reticence made Rodney restrain himself. As that thought formed in his head, Rodney abruptly stood. "No, I've got to do the calculations myself."
"Will I see you later?" Aiden asked, frowning.
"I don't know," Rodney said, "We'll see." He felt like a coward for running away when what he really needed to do was to sit down to talk with Aiden. Rodney was certain that Aiden had seen through his subterfuge and would be curious, but Rodney needed to think things through before he spoke with him again.
He sequestered himself in his lab that evening and most of the next day. Finally, out of hunger and sheer exhaustion, he stumbled out of the lab and sought fresh coffee and a hot meal. Naturally, the first thing his eyes alit on when he entered the dining hall was Aiden, sitting with Teyla and three female technicians. Rodney felt his misery anew; he hastily filled his tray and made his escape. But he was unsuccessful in avoiding Aiden entirely.
"Hey, doc!" Aiden called from somewhere behind him. Rodney froze, allowing Aiden to catch up to him. "Hey, long time no see."
"I know, Aiden," Rodney said wearily. "I'm sorry. I guess I lost track of time."
"Have you solved your problem?" Aiden asked. Rodney looked up into his earnest face and sighed.
"You look beat."
"Frankly, I'm exhausted."
"Well, then why don't you come back inside and sit down for a while?"
"No, no; I'd rather--." Rodney stared at his empty hands when Aiden took his tray.
"Well, then let's find somewhere else to eat," he said. He gestured with his head and led the way toward Rodney's room.
"No. No, I've got to--. I really have to get back to the lab."
"When's the last time you slept, Rodney?"
"Yesterday. Last night, actually...or this morning..."
"You can't even string together a whole sentence,"Aiden said reproachfully. "You're not going anywhere but to your room."
"No. I left Calvin--. He--."
"Calvin. Calvin. You know, Morris Calvin, the geophysics guy," Rodney lied. "He's been working with me..."
"Well, he'll understand that you need to rest. Knowing how hard you work your people, he probably needs a break, too."
"But I promised I'd be back," Rodney said, stopping Aiden's progress down the corridor.
"Well, call him on your com link."
"He never wears one," Rodney said hastily.
"Well, I'll get you situated in your room and then I'll go let him know that you're taking the night off," Aiden said.
"No?" Aiden frowned and Rodney looked away. Aiden moved on and reached Rodney's door. "Come on, Rodney," he said. Rodney sighed and opened his door. Aiden walked in and placed the tray on the desk. "I'm confiscating the coffee. You can eat first or sleep; your call." He took up the mug and headed for the door.
"You need to rest, Rodney," Aiden said. "And I kind of have the impression that you'd rather be alone right now."
"I'm sorry, Aiden," Rodney said miserably. Aiden set down the mug and walked over to him.
"Get some rest. We'll talk tomorrow, okay?" Aiden replied. Rodney nodded somberly. Aiden leaned in and gave him a slow, sweet kiss the made Rodney's heart lurch into overdrive. "Sleep well," Aiden said softly before he left. Rodney watched him go and shook his head. He flopped onto the bed and spent the next few hours staring at the ceiling.
"What are you doing holed up in here?" Radek said as he examined Rodney's forgotten meal. "I bring you fresh food," he said, lifting the tray.
"Don't bother," Rodney said. "I'm not hungry." Radek abandoned the tray and pulled up a chair next to the bed.
"What's eating you?" he asked solicitously.
"Do you think Aiden wants me?"
"You ask me? Why not ask the man himself?"
"I want your honest opinion. Do you?"
"Well, he has always been your friend and he has been especially friendly since your accident. He took care of you through your convalescence and helped you with your physical therapy and rehabilitation--. Perhaps if I threw myself down a crevasse a certain Marine might adopt me," Radek said pensively.
"You don't think he just feels sorry for me?" Rodney persisted.
"No one feels so sorry for you, Rodney."
"What does that mean?"
"I mean he genuinely likes you. Why do you doubt this?"
"We've been--. I told him--. Argh! I've made such a mess of things. I think I ought to let him off the hook before we do something we'll both come to regret," Rodney said, sitting up and throwing his legs over the side of the bed.
"You have Aiden on the hook? You've been keeping secrets," Radek pouted. "Why do you want to give him up?"
"I don't," Rodney admitted. "I just want him to be happy. I don't want him to be with me out of some misplaced sense of obligation."
"Have you spoken to Aiden about this?"
"No," Rodney said, rising to his feet. "But I suppose I should go ahead and get it over with." He excused himself and trudged to the bathroom, where he took a long shower as he thought about what he needed to say. Twenty minutes later he left his room and went looking for Aiden. Not finding him at his office, he looked in the dining hall and then in the training room. Aiden was nowhere to be found. He saw Teyla walking down the hall and asked if she'd seen him.
"I am on my way to him now," she said. "He is in the infirmary." Rodney didn't bother asking what had happened. He took off at a run and arrived at the medical facility a minute later. He entered the infirmary and Aiden looked up from where he was lying on a gurney. There was an IV bag attached to his left arm.
"Hey doc," he said with a smile. "Did you get some rest?"
"Never mind me," Rodney practically shouted. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," he replied. "Why shouldn't I be?" Rodney gaped at him and noted that he was fully dressed. He shook his head as realization dawned.
"You're giving blood," Rodney surmised.
"Yeah. The doc put out a call for volunteers and since I'm a universal donor--. Dr. McKay?" Aiden said as Rodney abruptly turned around and walked out of the infirmary. Just outside he stopped and bent over from the waist, heaving convulsively. Teyla found him there and called for assistance. Rodney was brought back into the infirmary and taken to a gurney in a quiet corner for an examination.
"How am I?" he asked ten minutes later as Carson made a notation on his chart.
"When was the last time you ate?" he asked.
"Rodney, you're hypoglycemic! What were you thinking?"
"I ought to tie you to a bed and keep that IV in your vein for the next twenty four hours," Carson said. "But I'll content myself with getting that bag of fluid into you. Then I'll release you into the care of the dining hall staff." He shook his head and drew back the curtain just enough to slip through. Rodney closed his eyes and sighed. Then he heard Aiden's voice and his eyes flew open again.
"Can I see him, doc?"
"Be my guest," Carson said. The curtains parted and Aiden stepped through. He moved to the head of the bed and gently took Rodney's hand.
"You didn't eat, doc," he said softly.
"I slept," Rodney said. "Eventually..." Aiden gave his hand a squeeze.
"I should have stayed and made you eat," he said.
"Don't blame yourself. It's my own fault."
"Oh, I know. You can't be trusted to take care of yourself," Aiden said. "I knew that and I still left you alone."
"Well, I wasn't exactly great company yesterday," Rodney admitted, staring at the long fingers entwined with his.
"What's going on?" Aiden whispered. But he didn't wait for an answer. He carefully extricated his hand and said, "Get some rest." Rodney grabbed his hand and held him there.
"Just get better," Aiden said reassuringly. He hesitated as if he wanted to say more, but he squeezed Rodney's hand instead before he left. "I'll see you later," he added, before drawing the curtain closed.
Carson made sure Rodney ate before releasing him. He went straight to his lab from the infirmary and got caught up on his work so that was nearly midnight when Rodney returned to his room. Part of him knew he should seek out Aiden, but he was still undecided as to what to say to him.
Rodney entered his room and brought up the light. To his surprise he found Aiden lying on his bed fast asleep. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, he sat down on a chair and just stared at him. Then he carefully removed his shoes and quietly went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and do his evening ablutions. When he emerged a few minutes later, Aiden was sitting up.
"Where have you been, doc? I went looking for you after dinner and Dr. B said you'd been released."
"I went back to the lab," Rodney replied as he went and sat on the bed beside him. Aiden rolled his eyes.
"You know, I would have thought that after what happened today a smart guy like you would know to take it easy."
"Maybe I'm not so smart."
"Maybe not, if you think I don't know that you've been avoiding me."
"Never mind the excuses, Rodney. Just tell me why."
"I was warring with my conscience."
"You; I've--. I realized that I've been pressuring you for something you didn't want."
"I never said I didn't want you, Rodney," Aiden replied. "It's just something I'm still trying to wrap my head around. Until I met you, I'd never even considered the possibility of becoming involved with a guy."
"And you only considered the possibility because I propositioned you."
"Why else would I consider it?" Aiden said reasonably. "I mean did you just decide out of the blue one day that you wanted to have sex with a guy?"
"Well, there you go."
"Huh," Rodney said bemusedly. Aiden wrapped an arm around his shoulders as Rodney pondered his words. But he couldn't be complacent. "Still; I have been pushing you and that's... I don't want to rush you, Aiden. I really, really want you," he said hopefully. "I'm not just in it for a conquest. This is real," he said, taking Aiden's hand in his and meshing their fingers together. "I've just gone about it all the wrong way."
"Hey, I thought you were doing good with the chocolate and the flowers," Aiden said with a smile. Rodney smiled, too, and felt his heart lift.
"Does that mean I've earned a second chance?"
"I thought we were still working on the first one. Actually," Aiden admitted, "I was beginning to worry that you were going to give up on me, since I've been holding you off for weeks now. I even thought you decided to go after that Calvin guy instead...till I saw him."
"Oh, please! After you, kissing Calvin would be like--. Never mind; I just got out of the infirmary and don't want to have to return."
Aiden laughed and inclined his head toward Rodney's and they sat together, temple to temple for a minute, till Rodney yawned. Aiden stood up.
"You're going to bed. Now."
Rodney suppressed a yawn, but he allowed Aiden to pull him to his feet and strip him of his shirt and pants. Aiden threw back the covers and Rodney crawled into bed. He turned onto his back, this time succumbing to a yawn as he watched Aiden stretch. His mouth continued to hang open as Aiden proceeded to pull off his own shirt, followed by his shoes, socks, and pants. He reached over and turned off the lamp before crawling in beside Rodney.
"Nice," Rodney said as he enfolded him in his arms. "But you skipped something."
"Give it a rest, will you?" Aiden chuckled. Rodney kissed Aiden's forehead.
"I'll just consider this a dress rehearsal."