Category: Crossover with Stargate SG-1
Series/Sequel to: Perfect
Pairing: Aiden Ford/Daniel Jackson
Summary: After Aiden's encounter with the Wraith could things ever return to the way they were before?
"Hey, Ford!" John called as he caught up with Aiden in the dining hall around noon. "How was the tour?"
"Dr. Jackson didn't seem all that impressed with our souvenir shop, but I guess it was all right," Aiden replied lightly as he walked over to the counter and picked up a tray. Since his encounter with the Wraith his need for calories had grown tremendously, though his enthusiasm for food often waned with his spirits. The Wraith enzyme had played hell with his metabolism; the aftermath of the experience played hell with his emotions. Aiden selected a sandwich from the tray and a bottle of juice before he sat down. John shook his head and grabbed two sandwiches and a handful of cookies before joining him at the table.
"Here, you forgot dessert," he said as he pushed the cookies and the extra sandwich across the table. Aiden shot him a look and sheepishly acknowledged the offering.
"So what did I miss?" he asked when he'd swallowed a mouthful of his tuna fish sandwich.
"Nothing interesting," John replied. "We made new assignments to security teams and field units."
"...And I'm still on neither," Aiden said dully.
"No," John said regretfully. "Stackhouse will be in charge of base security till Bates returns. You're still in your current assignment."
"Why are we even pretending anymore?" Aiden said angrily.
"Huh?" John frowned, taken aback by his sudden change of tone.
"You insisted on reinstating me as your second, you make me attend every meeting, where Dr. Weir is always careful to solicit my opinion as if my input is as critical to the operation of this base as Dr. McKay's."
"Your opinion is--."
"I'm not stupid, John--never was, in spite of my behavior after the siege. I know what a sinecure is. Everyone pretends that everything's okay and I'm firmly back in the saddle again. You're all so anxious to prove that you trust me. But what's the point of this whole charade if no one's ever going to let me prove that I can be trusted? Why don't you just kick me down to grunt if I'm going to be doing a grunt's job for the rest of my life?" Aiden spat, abandoning his sandwich and pushing his tray away. John deliberately pushed it back.
Aiden glared at him briefly but did as he was bidden.
"I'm sorry, Aiden," John said softly as he saw Elizabeth enter the dining hall with Sam and Daniel. They stopped at the counter to pick up trays and John turned his attention back to his companion. "It's going to be a while till--."
"Yeah," Aiden cut him off, resigned to his marginalized position in the administration and defense of Atlantis. He knew that he had no one but himself to blame for his current situation, but that didn't prevent him from resenting it all the same. When John looked up again, Aiden followed the colonel's gaze and saw Carson Beckett approaching their table. He also saw Elizabeth seated at another table with Sam and Daniel. Aiden felt slightly relieved that Daniel was facing away from him.
"Eat," Carson said without preamble as he took a seat next to him. Aiden sighed and picked up his sandwich as Stackhouse walked over to the table.
"Hey, lieutenant, I don't want my apple. Do you--?" He aborted the offer when he saw Aiden’s expression. Carson smiled and took the apple. Stackhouse smiled encouragingly and walked away.
"Great; now I've become a human waste disposal," Aiden said bitterly, putting down his sandwich once more. Stern looks from both Carson and John made him lift it again. They'd both taken to supervising his meals whenever possible and when neither of them was available, Teyla, Rodney, or Stackhouse saw to it that Aiden ate a minimum of 3,000 calories a day. Even the people in food service had gotten into the act in an effort to restore the lieutenant’s health.
Carson had no satisfactory explanation for the change in Aiden's metabolism, but he knew that it was important to build the young man's strength so he'd become one of Aiden's many self-appointed guardians. Aiden didn't really mind but every now and then he rebelled against his keepers and it was usually at times like these when he was feeling depressed about his altered status on the base.
"I don't want the apple," he said petulantly.
"Fine," Carson said. Picking it up, he bit into it and smiled. "I love apples. I do hope that the Athosians will be able to get some fruit out of the trees they've planted."
"Sure," John chimed in, "in five years. But in the meantime," he said with a dramatic pause as he reached into his jacket, "I've got a little something you might like." He produced a chocolate bar and placed it atop the plate of cookies.
"I can't eat all of that," Aiden protested.
"Not now, maybe," John said, "but you might feel a bit peckish later. Teyla told me you wore yourself out in the gym yesterday."
"Teyla beat my ass yesterday," Aiden replied. "It had nothing to do with a lack of energy."
"Well, eat the chocolate and see if you can beat her ass today," John suggested. Aiden shot him a look and stuffed the bar into his jacket pocket. Satisfied, John changed the subject and quickly diverted Aiden's focus to something more pleasant.
John and Carson were talking about traveling in Great Britain (Aiden had only seen Heathrow Airport once during a changeover) when they heard laughter from the other side of the room and looked up. Teyla was standing at the table where Daniel and Sam were dining with Elizabeth, holding a ceramic dish. She offered some of its contents to Daniel and he eagerly accepted. Aiden turned back to his plate and picked up his fourth cookie.
"Want some coffee to help wash that down?" John asked. Aiden shook his head and stuffed the cookie into his mouth.
"Perhaps you would like one of these instead," Teyla said as she came over and held out the dish to Aiden.
"I'm stuffed," he replied. "Truly," he protested when Teyla gave him a doubting look. "They made me eat two sandwiches today!"
"...And four cookies," John added brightly. "He skipped breakfast."
"I had breakfast!" Aiden protested.
"You had coffee, a slice of toast and one of those peach things the Athosians grow," John replied. Aiden turned his head and glared in the direction Stackhouse had gone. Aiden now understood why he'd offered the apple.
"I get tired of eating," he admitted.
"I can't say I blame, you, Aiden," Carson said sympathetically. "John's idea is a good one. Carry something with you at all times and nibble throughout the day."
"Like McKay?" Aiden sneered.
"Aye, except you actually need the calories," Carson said with a wink.
"Just the man I wanted to see," Elizabeth said with a smile for John as she approached the table with Sam and Daniel. "Colonel Sheppard, would you fly Colonel Carter and Doctor Jackson over to the mainland this afternoon? Teyla has offered to give them a tour of her village."
"It would be my pleasure," John said generously. "Why don't you come along, Ford? It'll do you good to get off base for a while." If he was surprised by Aiden's sigh, he didn't show it. He slapped him on the shoulder. "But you have to finish eating first." Aiden sighed again and picked up another cookie.
A half hour later, Aiden slid into his usual copilot's seat beside John. It had been some time since he'd been on a Puddle Jumper. This was his first trip off base in months. He looked slightly anxious to John, who reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"You okay?" he asked gently.
"Yeah, sure," Aiden replied unconvincingly. John gave the shoulder a firm squeeze and Aiden nodded just as Daniel and Sam entered the forward cabin.
"Teyla suggested that we ride up front," Daniel said as he took the seat behind John. He noted John's hand as it fell from Aiden's shoulder and the fact that Aiden didn't acknowledge his arrival. Daniel sat back and gazed at Aiden, wondering about his behavior. He was undoubtedly a bit uncomfortable about Daniel's presence--that was to be expected, Daniel supposed--but there was something more, something a bit off about him.
Since his arrival, Daniel had noticed that Aiden seemed to be somewhat detached and quieter than he remembered. He also saw that others took pains to engage with Aiden and see to it that he was never left on his own for very long. Teyla drew him into the movie, John encouraged him to eat... perhaps Aiden was still suffering the effects of his encounter with the Wraith. Daniel made a mental note to ask Elizabeth about it later.
John quickly distracted him with a running narrative about the wonders of the Atlantis skyline from the air. Rodney and Teyla joined the others in the forward cabin and added her comments to the discussion. Sam asked several questions about both Atlantis and the Jumper, which Rodney answered eagerly, while Daniel was more interested in hearing about the Athosian settlements. During a lull in the conversation, Daniel realized that Aiden was the only one who hadn't said a word since takeoff.
"So what do you think of all this, Aiden?" he asked.
"I think it's very cool," Aiden said with a small smile. John glanced at him with a smile of his own.
"Ford was downright gushy about it when we first got here," he said teasingly. "He even tried to name everything in sight. ...Took us months to break him of that habit." He poked Aiden in the shoulder, and won another tiny smile from the lieutenant.
"When he worked out of the SGC Aiden always wanted to know the proper names of the planets he visited," Daniel said with an affectionate smile. "I admit I always wondered that myself."
Aiden's smile grew but he didn't dare to look up. John nudged him in the shoulder.
"No wonder you two hit it off so well," he teased.
"Actually," Daniel replied impishly as he gauged Aiden's reaction, "we shared several passions." Aiden's cheeks glowed as he continued: "Thai food, good music, learning about other cultures... What, Aiden--did you think I was going to tell him about our mutual love of loud tee shirts?"
"You love loud tee shirts?" Sam said incredulously.
"He's got quite the collection," Aiden said, hazarding a quick glance at Daniel, who winked. There was no need to mention that Daniel's collection consisted of a few shirts Aiden had given him from his own extensive assortment.
"We've seen the lieutenant's collection," John said teasingly. "If you haven't seen Dr. Jackson's, consider yourself fortunate, Colonel."
"That bad?" Sam asked with a questioning look at her longtime friend. Daniel smiled enigmatically.
"I can't speak for Dr. Jackson," Rodney volunteered, "but let's just say that Ford's wardrobe makes everyone who didn't bring sunglasses to the Pegasus Galaxy wish he had. ...Earplugs, too."
Aiden gave him a dirty look.
"I like the lieutenant's wardrobe," Teyla said in his defense.
"Of course," John said with a grin, "Teyla's from another galaxy and doesn't have much in the way of a basis for comparison."
"Hey! My shirts aren't that bad," Aiden protested.
"But you have to admit, they aren't that good, either," John shot back. Before Aiden could respond to the barb, Sam spotted the mainland and the discussion promptly shifted focus. Daniel noted that Aiden seemed relieved to no longer be the center of attention.
A short time later, the group emerged from the Jumper and headed toward the village. John and Aiden hung back as Teyla and Rodney led Sam and Daniel towards the village. A group of young boys, ranging in ages from ten to sixteen, came running out to greet them. After a cursory salutation to the lead group they ran straight to Aiden, who looked at John helplessly as they surrounded him and led him off. John smiled in silent blessing. Daniel and Sam had stopped to watch the scene with great amusement as the lieutenant was virtually dragged away.
"What's that all about?" Daniel asked.
"Didn't you play with action figures as a kid?" John asked wryly.
"Uh, no; I spent most of my formative years in Egypt."
"Well, those kids have their very own living G.I. Joe," John replied.
"A real American hero, eh?" Sam chuckled.
"Lucky kids," Daniel observed.
"The lieutenant's practically a kid himself," John said as he gestured for them to continue toward the village. "He's probably less than ten years older than some of those kids who idolize him."
"He was the youngest person assigned to the Atlantis expedition as I recall," Sam said.
"Yeah, by at least three years," John replied. "That's why I was surprised to hear that you two were friends, doc."
"Aiden's young, yes," Daniel said, "but we really did find that we had a great deal in common." John nodded in understanding.
"Ford has a way of fitting in wherever he goes."
"So he's fit in well in Atlantis?"
John looked up sharply when he heard Daniel's slightly doubting tone. But Halling chose that moment to come out to greet the new arrivals, preventing John from addressing Daniel's concern. After a short visit with Halling, they broke into groups and toured the village. Daniel and John went with Teyla, while Rodney and Halling led Sam on an inspection of the village's naquada power plant.
After showing Daniel around the village and introducing him to several of her friends, Teyla led him to a hut where a group of young women were making more of the pastries Daniel and Sam had sampled at lunch. One of the women, when questioned, declared that they were for Lieutenant Ford, who "needs to eat more." As they left the hut, Teyla explained that Aiden was well liked by the Athosians and that he'd even been made an honorary member of the clan. Daniel looked across a clearing and saw Aiden seated among the group of young boys. He was apparently telling them a story, his audience fixated on his every word.
"He looks content here," Daniel observed with a smile.
"Yeah," John said slowly as he looked on. He turned to Teyla and spoke softly. "We should have thought to bring him here sooner." Teyla nodded.
"We must bring him back soon," she said. Rodney also noticed the change in Aiden's demeanor when he returned with Sam.
"Why didn't we think of this earlier?" he said as he joined John and Teyla in staring across the clearing. "He's probably thrilled to be away from Atlantis for a while."
Daniel frowned and opened his mouth to question the trio, but Sam suggested that they start back before the threatening clouds closed in. Teyla sighed and reluctantly went to collect Aiden. They took their leave of the Athosians and returned to the Puddle Jumper. Daniel noted that Aiden looked relaxed, although he was quiet on the return trip. As soon as they arrived back at the base, he slipped away and Daniel grew even more curious about his former lover.
That evening, Daniel went in search of the elusive man. He wandered down the corridor where he'd been told he might find Aiden. John stepped out of a transporter and stopped short when he saw Daniel wandering up the corridor.
"Hey doc," he said tentatively.
"It's John; you look lost," John said as he ambled over.
"Daniel, and I am lost," Daniel admitted sheepishly. "I'm looking for Lieutenant Ford's quarters."
""It's--." John started to point in the direction of Aiden's room, but he turned back and gave Daniel an assessing look. "Mind if I ask why?"
"Never mind," John said quickly. "Look, can we talk for a moment?" He opened the door to his room and waited. Daniel shrugged and stepped into the room. John closed the door behind them and offered him a seat.
"What's this about, John?"
"You're a friend of Ford's, right?"
"Right," Daniel said slowly, trying to guess what John was about to say.
"How good a friend?"
"I don't see what--."
"Never mind," John said, shaking his head. "I have no right to ask. The thing is--Ford's been in some serious shit these last few months. He's had a really rough time of it and he really needs his friends right now."
Daniel bit back his initial response, which was to point out that had John simply given him directions to Aiden's room the lieutenant might be among friends even now. But he was truly curious, both about Aiden and about whatever John had to say. So instead of snapping, he took a breath and reconsidered his words.
"You're talking about Aiden's run-in with the Wraith..."
"Yeah," John said. "They did something to him... He hasn't been quite the same since."
"I understand he went through a very difficult withdrawal."
"Yes, he did--very difficult. We almost lost him," John said uncomfortably. "We eventually got his body back..."
"...But he's not himself," Daniel finished for him. "I noticed that right away."
"No," John said, relieved that Daniel understood. "You two have some history. You probably know him better than any of us." Daniel shook his head doubtfully. He knew Aiden intimately, but their relationship had been regrettably brief.
"I only knew him a few months before he left for Atlantis."
"But you wereclose," John said deliberately. Daniel met his gaze and confirmed his suspicions with a curt nod. John sat forward, rubbing his hands as he sought the right words. "The thing is... I was hoping you might be able to reach him where we haven't. We've all tried, with limited success. You saw him out there with those kids today; that's the most animated he's been in weeks. The rest of the time he sort of goes through the motions but he's not all there, you know?"
"He won't talk to me," Daniel admitted with a sigh. "I've tried; just casual conversation. He practically ran away."
"Did things end badly for you two?" John asked discreetly. Daniel shook his head. "Then try again. Try harder," John insisted. "I'm afraid we're eventually going to lose him, otherwise. It's been nearly two months and he still hasn't been returned to regular duty."
"Under the circumstances, I'm not surprised."
"Yeah," John said with a shrug. "We'd like to bring him back into the fold. He's got some lingering health issues, but that's not what's holding him up. Ford won't be returned to full duty until he can pass a psych eval. He goes to the shrink but he won't open up. He insists he's fine, but--."
"No," John sighed. "He's not. We've tried to get him to go back to earth for some R and R, thinking that might help, but he won't go."
"Can't you force him?"
"Yeah, but that would probably only make things worse. I was hoping you might try to convince him to return to earth with you," John confessed.
"He might not--." Daniel cut off his words when John's face showed his disappointment. "I can try."
"That's all I ask," John said hopefully. "Aiden is important to us--all of us. Even if he goes back to earth and decides to never return--as long as he's all right, we can live with that."
"Do you think that's likely?" Daniel asked. John shrugged. "Well, I'm certainly willing to try, but if I'm going to be of any use to Aiden I'm going to need to know everything."
Daniel and John talked for another twenty minutes and when they were done, John directed Daniel across the hall to Aiden's room. Daniel knocked but got no reply. John suggested that Daniel look for him in one of his favorite hiding places, known only to John and himself. Daniel thanked him and went in search of his troubled friend.
Daniel walked out onto a long terrace at the end of an uninhabited section of the city and found Aiden sitting alone. The young marine looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps.
"Daniel? What are you doing out here?" he asked.
"I was about to give up hope of ever seeing another living soul," he replied sheepishly. "Colonel Sheppard told me I'd probably find you at the far end of this level; he didn't tell me it was a mile long."
"Why were you looking for me?" Aiden asked suspiciously. Daniel shrugged.
"Well, aside from Sam and Elizabeth, you're the only person I really know in Atlantis. And I just spent two hours with them."
"You make new friends easily enough," Aiden said.
"I like my old friends," Daniel replied as he sat down beside him. Aiden turned his gaze away and stared out at the water. "So..."
"How's the general?" Aiden asked bluntly.
"Who's General Landry?" Aiden frowned, looking at Daniel in spite of himself.
"He's the new CO at the SGC. Jack--General O'Neill--left the SGC a few months ago."
"Oh. I guess it's easier for you two to be together now."
"I suppose it would be," Daniel said insouciantly, "if we were together." Aiden looked up, his curiosity aroused once more.
"Nothing happened," Daniel said easily. "We just went on as we'd done before you left. I couldn't--." He paused and tried to shift gears. "I fell into a funk of sorts after you left. Jack assumed it was because he wouldn't let me go to Atlantis."
"You wanted to come to Atlantis?"
"Of course I wanted to go! From the moment I first learned it existed. I knew it would be the archeological discovery of a lifetime," Daniel said excitedly. "How could I not want to see it? Being able to see it with you, to share that experience--that would have been the icing on the cake. But Jack refused to let me go on the grounds that I was needed at the SGC and there was no guarantee that if I went to Atlantis I'd ever be able to return. He kept making that point over and over in the weeks after you left, till I lost my temper and told him the truth."
"Well, I was depressed about not going to Atlantis, but I swallowed that disappointment pretty easily. I had a lot harder time dealing with losing you," Daniel said softly. Aiden blanched. "I know I'd technically 'lost' you a few weeks earlier, but that wasn't the same thing. The sense of finality when you stepped through the gate--." Daniel paused to collect himself. "I got tired of hearing Jack apologize for not letting me go to Atlantis so I told him about you. Not your name, of course, although he eventually figured out who I was talking about. He remembered how you'd looked up at the control room before you went through the gate. He was shocked, initially, to learn that I'd fallen in love with someone else, especially someone so much younger, but after a while I think he was glad I'd found someone and was genuinely sorry I lost you."
"Is that why you didn't get back together?" Aiden asked after a brief silence. Daniel shrugged again.
"I told you before; what Jack and I had was in the past--at least for me."
"What about him?"
"I can't say for sure. I think he always hoped we'd eventually get back together. He was apparently waiting for me to come around. Meanwhile," Daniel said with a small chuckle, "I was busy putting the moves on you. Anyway, we had a long talk about you, about us... We reconciled ourselves to the way things had to be and left it at that. We remained friends. Then few months ago, he announced that he was leaving the SGC to become the new head of home world security. He's based in Washington now. We haven't seen much of each other since then, although we talk occasionally."
"And what about you?"
"I went back to the same old grind...up to my ass in work, pulling all-nighters, drinking coffee by the gallon..."
"Good coffee," Aiden said, smiling for the first time.
"Life's too short to drink lousy coffee," Daniel declared. "What about you?"
"What passes for coffee around here would probably shorten your life. That was the first thing they requested when Atlantis set up the supply schedule--real coffee."
Daniel smiled, but he'd noted the evasion.
"I wasn't asking about coffee, Aiden," he said gently as Aiden averted his eyes. "Why won't you talk to me?"
"There's nothing much to tell," he said with a shrug. "We've been through some hairy stuff but for the most part we fell into a daily grind just like you--but without the good coffee." Daniel sighed. Aiden was being purposely obtuse. He decided to cut the man a little slack.
"Ever get homesick all the way out here?"
"You're fishing," Aiden laughed.
"You want to know if I missed you at all after I left."
"Well... All right, now that you mention it. Did you miss me?"
"Yes," Aiden admitted without hesitation. "Not at first; we were too busy trying to stay alive to think about anything else for the first few weeks. But as soon as things quieted down, yeah, I was lonely as hell. We all were. We were in a completely alien environment, we didn't know if we'd ever see our homes or our families again. And unlike other places I've been posted I couldn't just pick up a phone or sit down at a computer and reach out to anyone. When it got quiet I missed you a lot."
They were both silent for a few moments, each lost in his own thoughts. Daniel studied Aiden's expression as he pondered his next words.
"You haven't read your mail."
"Huh?" Aiden looked up.
"You said you were lonely. We've been sending mail to Atlantis regularly for months now. You've had at least three letters from your grandparents. Why haven't you read any of them?"
"Who said I haven't?"
"According to Colonel Sheppard, you haven't collected your mail."
Aiden glared at him. Daniel sighed and tried to calm him even as the younger man leapt to his feet.
"So now my life is an open book for everyone? Is that why you're here? It's your turn to baby-sit?"
"I'm not here to baby-sit, Aiden," Daniel said. "I'm just concerned about you. As I told you before, I've read all the reports. I know what you've been through."
"You don't have any idea what I've been through," Aiden spat back. "No one does."
"Then why don't you tell me?"
Aiden shot him a nasty look and for a moment Daniel feared that he'd pushed too far, but Aiden sighed and crumbled back to the ground. He sat for a time without saying anything, rocking back and forth, his arms wrapped around his knees. Daniel longed to pull him into his arms but he didn't want Aiden to reject his offer of support. If he wanted to help him at all, Daniel would have to first gain his trust. Daniel waited for what seemed like an eternity, but after just a few minutes Aiden began to talk.
"I haven't told anyone about it."
"Why not, Aiden?"
He shook his head and averted his eyes to his entwined fingers. Daniel waited for him to find the right words and vowed to let him speak without further interruption. Aiden relaxed his fingers and stretched out his legs, leaning back against the wall for support.
"When the Wraith kill, they place their palm on you...like that," he said, briefly placing his palm on Daniel's thigh to demonstrate, "and suck the life out of you. But they don't want you to die right away. They like to take you slowly so they get as much of your essence as possible. In the process of trying to kill, the Wraith inject an enzyme into their victims to keep them alive while they drain them. It's sick and twisted, but that's what ultimately saved me.
"The Wraith injected this enzyme into me in preparation to kill me but someone managed to kill him before he could do his thing. That left me with a shitload of Wraith enzyme in my blood. It did a real number on me."
Aiden paused again and Daniel held his tongue. "Dr. Beckett said that the enzyme essentially worked like an anabolic steroid, only far more potent. It gave me tremendous strength and speed and it also enhanced my hearing, sight and agility, but like a steroid it also seriously impaired my judgment and played hell with my health. I was lucky, however; right before the siege, Dr. McKay and Dr. Zelenka discovered that the Wraith were probably an accidental creation of the Ancients, the result of some sort of failed experiment. Dr. B and his people began with that and started working to find an antidote to the Wraith."
"An antidote?" Daniel blurted before he could stop himself. "How could there be an 'antidote' to a race of beings?"
"Well, they evolved out of some chemical intervention by the Ancients. The doc figured that they could use the same means to devolve the Wraith back into what they once were. It stands to reason that it's possible, since the infusion of Wraith enzyme changed me into something that was almost halfway to being a Wraith," Aiden replied matter-of-factly. Daniel frowned at this revelation.
"You mean the Wraith once Ancients?" he asked incredulously. Aiden shook his head.
"No one knows for sure. Their home world is thousands of light years away. They may have been the inhabitants of a planet where the Ancients built a Stargate. Who knows? According to Dr. McKay, the Ancients experimented with all manner of things, including ascension, time travel, teleportation...you name it. Who's to say that one of their experiments didn't take a wrong turn somewhere?"
"What the hell could they have been doing that would lead to the development of a species of life force sucking killers? From what I understand there's very little in the way of society or culture, no economy, no industry--the Wraith simply live to kill."
"I can't answer that, Dan. While I was out there we managed to learn a great deal about them, but I can't recall any particulars of their social structure," Aiden said regretfully. He knew that Daniel would be fascinated by the insights he'd gained into the Wraith during his time on the run, but for the life of him he couldn't remember much of it. Most of that time was a blur and he preferred it to remain that way. Daniel, of course, felt differently.
"How long were you 'out there,' exactly?"
"A couple months; somehow Dr. McKay and Colonel Sheppard managed to keep tabs on me, though they both denied it. But I saw them from time to time--too often for it to have been coincidental. I think they had me tagged like an animal in one of those nature shows," Aiden said with a mild chuckle. "Anyway, when Dr. Beckett had a prototype of an antidote ready they came for me and brought me back."
"I understand it was a difficult recovery," Daniel prodded.
"What do you think?" Aiden said, although there was no sting in his words. "The damned antidote nearly killed me. It's killed every Wraith they've tried it on since. The only reason why they think it worked on me was that I was still more human than Wraith."
Aiden laughed bitterly and leaned his head against the wall. He closed his eyes for a moment. Daniel bit his lip and waited.
"I woke up in one of the vaults under the city chained to a bed, with two marines carrying enough fire power to vaporize me standing guard. I was told that I'd been in and out consciousness for three days, during which I'd managed to damage or destroy a good deal of the infirmary. The doc was with me, along with Teyla and Dr. McKay and Colonel Sheppard."
"They've been good friends," Daniel observed. "They obviously care a great deal for you." Aiden nodded.
"They took turns sitting with me for three more days while I suffered through withdrawal. When they deemed it safe to return me to the infirmary I stayed there another two weeks. My metabolism was shot to hell and they practically had to force feed me as well as give me nutrients through an IV to give me enough strength to raise my head off the pillow. The doc still isn't happy unless I consume between 3,000 and 4,000 calories a day."
"So physically you're well on the mend," Daniel concluded. Aiden glared at him, but Daniel didn't flinch from the implied question. After a moment, Aiden turned his gaze back to the water. "You haven't been returned to duty," Daniel said calmly. Aiden wouldn't look at him again, but Daniel could see the tension in his body. "I'm told that you're on administrative assignment."
"Who told you?" Aiden asked warily. Daniel smiled.
"You weren't terribly forthcoming when I tried asking you directly."
"I'm fine, Daniel!" The warning in his tone was clear and Daniel backed down.
"I'm glad to hear it," he said. Both men knew he was lying, but they sat for a while and enjoyed the peace and quiet till Aiden started to rise.
"I should get some shut eye," he said almost apologetically. Daniel began to rise. "You don't have to leave because of me," he said. Daniel got the message and sat back down.
"Can we meet again tomorrow?" he asked hopefully.
"Yeah, sure," Aiden said. His smile reassured Daniel that he was sincere and Daniel let him go with a sigh of relief. It was a tiny victory, but it was a step in the right direction.
On to Part 3