Spoilers: Thirty-eight Minutes
Summary: Aiden continues to cope with post-traumatic depression and something more.
I'm bored. I wouldn't have thought it possible, given all the wonders and mysteries still to be discovered here in Atlantis. And yet, I can't find anything to hold my interest. I've slept as much as I could and now I spend all my waking hours--far too many--staring at the walls.
We're still on down time, courtesy of yours truly. Major Sheppard has completely recovered from his recent brush with death, but I haven't been cleared to return to active duty. I strongly suspect that the reason I haven't been cleared yet has more to do with my breakdown last week than the sling cradling my arm. I still can't believe that I let myself lose it in front of the major. I bawled like a baby for about ten minutes before I regained control and clammed up. He did his best to get me to talk but what the hell was I supposed to say? Any words that came out of my mouth would have made me sound like...well, like the crybaby I'd been that day.
I suppose he thought he was doing the right thing to tell Dr. Beckett what happened. The doctor paid me a visit and we had a brief talk. Well, he actually did most of the talking. I was too mortified to say much, other than to refuse to speak with the psychologist. Dr. Beckett told me that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress and that it was not uncommon for someone to have trouble coping after going through an experience like the one we had. Of course, no one else who was on the shuttle that day seemed to be having any problems, just me. The doctor said that I'd been under greater stress but that everyone aboard the jumper had been traumatized. I had to take his word for it. Teyla appeared to be fine and Major Sheppard showed no signs of trauma when he came to visit.
The doctor let me rest for another day or two before I was ordered to get out of bed. I didn't comply so he began sending people to visit me. First Markham and Stackhouse, then Bates and even Dr. Weir came by. It was hard to keep up a game face so I decided to humor the doctor and take a walk. Hey, he didn't say I had to mingle so I walked the perimeter of the city, alone with my thoughts. It felt good to move around again. It felt even better to get back to my room and back into bed. I slept in the next day, till I was roused by the doctor's house call. He apparently wasn't fooled by my attempts to convince him that I felt better. He sent the major to see me again. Major Sheppard made a bit of small talk and then asked if I was hungry. When I said I wasn't, he insisted that I needed to eat and dragged me to the mess hall.
At least when I was in my room and bored, I didn't have to bear witness to the fact that no one gives a damn whether I'm alive or dead. In the mess hall, the reality was like a cold slap in the face. After saying hello when I sat down at the table no one said another word to me. It was as though I'd become invisible--as though I wasn't even there. Even the major ignored me for the most part, chatting with everyone else and only sparing a moment every now and then to tell me to eat. I felt like a kid at the adult table on Thanksgiving.
There was no one my age around to go and talk to, except a for few Athosian girls. When they first settled on base, we were told that they were off limits, though I'm probably the only one to take Dr. Weir's edict seriously. I suppose that edict wouldn't include Teyla, but she only has eyes for the major. Everyone has eyes for Major Sheppard, including me. What is it about that guy? I never even considered lusting after a guy before I met him. That day when he held me in his arms--. I don't want to revisit that. Having those kinds of thoughts about my CO can't bring me anything but trouble. He's even more off limits than the Athosians. Besides, he'd never consider me in that way even if I wanted him to.
Major Sheppard was devoting a surprising amount of time talking to Dr. McKay over dinner. In fact, they spend a lot of time together on missions, too, for all that the major was always yanking his chain. I had to wonder if that's all an act; they seemed awfully comfortable. I wondered why I'd never noticed it before. They were very friendly for two men who allegedly got on each other's nerves. I know for a fact that Dr. McKay worships the ground the major walks on. I've seen him checking the guy out. Hell, I've seen everyone checking the guy out. I've checked the guy out. But the major? Would he? Would they?
"You're not eating, lieutenant."
That's because I suddenly lost my appetite, sir. I pushed my plate away and rose, feeling worse than I did when I first took to my bed. I needed to get back there. Now; I had to get away before I lost it again. I didn't trust myself to be around people any longer.
I began to run. I'm fast, but the major is faster, especially when I've got an arm pinned to my side in a sling. He grabbed my sore arm and I cried out in pain, letting him think that he hurt me. It made him let go and I kept running. I made it to my room and shut the door, knowing that it wouldn't deter Major Sheppard for one instant. When he arrived a few seconds behind me I was in the bathroom, losing what little dinner I'd managed to choke down. A warm hand gently rubbed my back as I began to dry heave. When it was finally over I splashed water on my face and sat down on the seat, wishing he'd just go away. I closed my eyes, willing him to disappear, but he didn't move. Major Sheppard knelt at my side, a warm hand on my knee.
"Are you all right, Aiden?"
I had nothing to say. I felt like an idiot, nothing more than a stupid, lovesick kid. What was I expecting? Did I really think that the major would prefer me over someone like Dr. McKay? He's an odd guy, but he's also a lot older and a lot smarter than me. People pay attention to him even when he's being pompous and annoying. No one ever overlooks Rodney McKay. Major Sheppard certainly hasn't. I suddenly felt like crying again. I got to my feet and tried to leave the bathroom, but the major wouldn't take the hint.
"Excuse me," I said softly. He rose to his feet and continued to block my path.
"I'm going to call Dr. Beckett," he said.
"Do whatever you want," I said recklessly before pushing him out of my way. I could feel his eyes on my back as I walked over to my bed and flopped onto it face down. The major made good on his threat and called the doctor as I scrambled to roll onto my back, wincing at the pain in my arm.
"What the hell is going on, Aiden?" he asked when he was done betraying me yet again.
"Nothing, sir, I just--. I told you I didn't want to eat."
"Are you coming down with something?"
"How the hell should I know? Sir." That's good, Aiden. Way to impress your CO. I covered my face with my good arm and tried to disappear. Ironically, it never works when I want to be ignored.
"Come on," the major said, extending a hand in my direction.
"Where?" I asked. I wasn't leaving my room again till I was thirty if I had anything to say about it.
"We're going to the infirmary."
"Aiden, you haven't been fine for over a week now."
"So?" I said, suddenly angry. "What of it?"
"Don't you want to get better?"
"Frankly, sir--." Squash that. "Begging the major's pardon, but I'm just tired. Whatever I ate in the mess didn't agree with me."
"Well, let's get you checked out," he said as though he was speaking to a six year old.
"I'm not a child!"
"Then stop acting like one and get off your ass," the major said exasperatedly. I did as I was bidden and went with him to the infirmary.
"What have we here?" Dr. Beckett said. I glared at him. I was in no mood to be patronized.
"I took him to the mess and tried to get a meal into him. He up-chucked it," Major Sheppard reported.
"How are you feeling now, son?"
"I'm fine," I said perversely. It didn't take a medical degree to know that I was anything but.
"Well, why don't you let me take a look at you just to make sure," the doc said. I sighed and prepared to endure the unnecessary examination. The major folded his arms and shifted his feet. "There's no need for you to stay, major."
"It's no problem, doc," he replied.
And now I was to be denied my privacy.
"Why don't you go back and finish your meal, sir?"
"It's not a problem, lieutenant," he repeated. No, major; I'm the problem, aren't I?
I could have insisted that he leave. I knew that Dr. Beckett would have backed me up, but I also knew that it would only further arouse the major's suspicions. I don't know why he was suddenly so interested in my welfare. He didn't seem to be worried about me back in the mess.
"You're a little flushed and your blood pressure is a little high, but that could just be because of the vomiting. Have you felt ill, otherwise?"
"Did you eat anything unusual tonight?"
I couldn't even tell him what was on my plate, so I simply shrugged. The doctor put a hand on my shoulder.
"I think you'll be fine, lad. Go and get some rest."
"Thanks, doc," I said as I slipped off the table and buttoned up the shirt I'd borrowed from Stackhouse. The major walked a few feet away and waved the doctor over.
"I thought you wanted him to get out and socialize with other people," he whispered.
"The lad's obviously tired, major. Let him get some sleep."
"He's done nothing but sleep for eight days now!"
"It's not uncommon in a case like this. He's bound to withdraw into himself for a bit."
"Well, how do we get him back out again?" the major asked impatiently. I didn't want to hear any of this, but I had no choice. They weren't exactly being discreet.
"Give him time, major," the doctor advised.
"We haven't got time! As long as he's unfit for duty my team is on forced downtime."
"He's got another few days off the duty roster because of his arm, major. I'll reassess everything then."
"And if he's not himself by then?"
"Getting back to work will help. All this forced idleness is bound to make one introspective."
I didn't wait to hear the rest. I walked out of the infirmary. They probably didn't notice. They were too busy talking about me to see me. I sighed and headed for my quarters. Turning the corner, I saw Dr. McKay.
"Are you feeling better, lieutenant?" he asked, surprising me with his inquiry.
"Yeah, thanks," I said, awkwardly.
"Glad to hear it. So, uh--."
"He's inside," I said glumly, gesturing toward the infirmary.
I didn't bother to reply. I heard the door behind me slide open and I didn't have to turn around to know that I'd become invisible again.