Category: First time
Summary: Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
“Don't you need to go to the infirmary?” Rodney asked when he heard the medical alert, which went out on all channels of the city's communications system.
“No,” Carson said as he resumed reading. “I'm off duty. Anne will contact me if I'm needed.” He continued working as if he hadn't heard John's message, but Rodney's naturally inquisitive nature wouldn't let it go.
“Aren't you even curious as to what happened?”
“Then why don't you find out what's going on?”
“I'm not that curious,” Carson said as the door opened to admit Parrish. Rodney suddenly found himself torn between fleeing the botanist's company or staying to learn what he might make of Carson's findings. Ultimately, the decision was taken away from him when Parrish spoke.
“The two Aiden Fords were apparently in some sort of altercation near the dining hall,” he declared. “I was kicked off the transporter so they could take the unconscious one to the infirmary.”
“Unconscious as in--.” Rodney opened his mouth and shut it again. Carson looked up and Rodney barely acknowledged it before he took off for the infirmary. He arrived to find John in the midst of a rather heated discussion between Bates, Elizabeth and the unfortunate soldier who failed to subdue Beta before he attacked his twin.
“But his hand was injured, sir! I thought it was--.”
“No one asked you to think, corporal. I told you to take Ford back to his quarters,” John shouted.
“None of this would have happened if Lieutenant Ford hadn't left his quarters in the first place,” Bates insisted.
“The lieutenant was in my company, sergeant,” John reminded him pointedly. “Or are you accusing me of something?”
“Major Sheppard, this isn't getting us anywhere,” Elizabeth said warily. “Where are the two Fords now? And are they being kept apart?”
“Yes, ma'am,” Bates replied, glaring at John. “My men have got them both under close watch.”
“Well, I hope the rest of the men under your command are better at following orders,” John spat back.
“What's going on?” Rodney cut in unceremoniously.
“Our newest member of the Atlantis family just took a swing at Lieutenant Ford,” Elizabeth replied.
“Was he hurt?” Rodney asked, managing to keep the alarm out of his voice. He directed his question primarily to John, instinctively trusting to him to understand his concern.
“Why don't you go and check,” John suggested perceptively, casually nodding to the left as he turned to engage with the two Marines once more.
Rodney walked to the far end of the infirmary, where where Anne Johnson was standing beside a bed. As he approached he saw Aiden reach up to touch the bandage she'd put above his eye. He barely caught a bit of his conversation with the physician.
“I still can't believe that little bastard hit me!” Aiden said with a groan.
“You were about to hit him, weren't you?” she replied. Aiden carefully lifted his head to squint at her.
“No. Why would you think that I was?”
“No reason, actually,” Johnson admitted. “I was just speculating. I'm trying to figure out whether your thought processes and your twin's are guided by the same impulses. With twins that isn't usually the case. Although they may think alike, they're capable of--and they usually exhibit--independent behavior, almost from birth. But you and Beta--I like that name, by the way--the two of you are different.”
“Everyone keeps insisting the we're the same,” Aiden said, laying back and closing his eyes.
“I meant that you aren't like other twins,” Johnson said with a smile, “but I suspect you know that.”
“We aren't at all alike. He sucker punched me; I had no intention of hitting him.”
“But I bet you wanted to,” Johnson teased. Aiden pressed his lips firmly together and refused to answer. Johnson smiled and patted his arm. She noticed Rodney and took a few steps backward. “Just a few minutes, Dr. McKay. I want him to get some rest.” Rodney nodded and stepped forward as Aiden opened his eyes and sighed.
“Thanks, Dr. Johnson,” he said softly as she withdrew. He turned hooded eyes to Rodney momentarily and then closed them again.
“You look like shit,” Rodney said softly, but his voice was full of affection.
“I wish I could say the other guy looks worse, but--.”
“He's just as pretty as you are,” Rodney said mischievously. “Except he doesn't have a black eye, of course.” Aiden opened his uninjured eye to briefly glare at him. “So what happened?”
“He hit me,” Aiden replied angrily.
“Well, you sort of had that coming, didn't you?” Rodney said, pulling up a chair. “You saddled him with a name you knew he'd hate, you resent his existence and by your very existence, his own has been greatly compromised.”
“If you came here to say 'I told you so,' could you wait until tomorrow when--?”
“I came here because I heard you were injured and I was worried about you,” Rodney said fiercely, glancing up to assure that the others were still preoccupied. “Why else would I be here?” Aiden didn't answer. He brought his arm up across his eyes and laid there, silent and unmoving, until Rodney concluded that he'd fallen asleep. He was about to rise and leave when Aiden finally spoke.
“You walked out on me earlier,” he said softly.
“That may have been a mistake on my part,” Rodney confessed. Aiden uncovered his eyes and Rodney shifted uncomfortably.
“May have been?” Aiden repeated incredulously. He turned his head to squint at Rodney. “Why don't you come back when you're sure? Or not, as the case may be,” he said rolling over so that his back was to his stunned companion.
“I guess I deserve that,” Rodney said rising to his feet. But before he could leave, Aiden turned back and sat up, gripping his head as the pain surged.
“No you didn't,” he said, swinging his legs over the side of the bed to sit up.
“Should you be doing that?” Rodney asked anxiously, instinctively reaching out to steady him. He caught himself before he made contact, however, and withdrew his hand before Aiden opened his eyes.
“Probably not,” Aiden said through his teeth as he straightened up. “I'm sorry, Rodney. Look; I don't want to fight with you. I'm in pain, I'm in a lousy mood, my headache from earlier today has gone into overdrive, and I'm probably letting all of those factors outweigh my better judgment. The doc wants me to stay here overnight. Let's talk tomorrow when I get out of here.”
“Okay,” Rodney said, his spirits lifting. “Why don't you get that rest you so obviously need and I'll come back again in the morning.” Aiden squinted up at him and Rodney smiled apologetically. “Take it easy,” he said softly, conveying as much as he could in those three words. Aiden nodded and Rodney helped him to lie back down on the bed just as Elizabeth and John arrived at his bedside.
“How are you feeling, lieutenant?” she asked softly.
“I feel like hell, ma'am,” Aiden replied meekly.
“Your twin packed quite a wallop, lieutenant,” John said, smiling. “You've been holding back in our training sessions, haven't you?”
“It's not a good idea to fight dirty with one's CO, sir,” Aiden said wryly.
“No, not a good idea, lieutenant,” Elizabeth agreed. “Get some rest.” She turned and left, effectively ending the visit for the entire group, but neither John nor Rodney moved. Aiden, who had shut his eyes, opened them again.
“What?” he said more bluntly than he'd intended. He sat up again, shaking off Rodney's arm when he tried to prevent it. “Exactly how much trouble am I in?”
“None, Ford,” John replied. “I just want your word that there'll be no reprisals.” Aiden gave him a look that would strip paint.
“There will be no reprisals, sir,” he said grimly. John patted him on the shoulder and with a quick parting glance at Rodney, walked away, leaving the two men staring at each other.
“Back into bed with you,” Rodney commanded. Aiden smiled and allowed him to fuss for a few moments before finally grabbing his hands and pushing them away.
“Go!” he barked, but his smile belied his gruff tone.
“Sleep well, Aiden,” Rodney replied. He left Aiden to rest and headed toward the exit, but paused when he heard John's voice. Curious, he followed his ears and saw that he was speaking to Beta in one of the examination rooms.
“How's the hand?” John asked as he entered the room, where one of the medical staff was wrapping Beta's injured hand. Teyla was standing to Beta's other side.
“It feels surprisingly good,” he said, flexing it with obvious pain. John rolled his eyes.
“Bruises and a nasty little laceration, sir,” Corporal Simon replied. He ignored Beta's dirty look and left the room so the two men could speak privately. John wasted no time in unleashing his anger.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn't haul your ass to the gate and drop kick it back to that planet!”
“With all due respect, sir, I was provoked,” Beta replied recklessly. “You know as well as I do how big a pain in the ass he is!”
“Ford!” John growled, sorely tempted to grab him by the lapels. The only thing that prevented him was the certain knowledge that it would have been exactly what Beta wanted him to do. “Look, are you purposely trying to make trouble?”
“No, sir,” Beta said petulantly. “But he had it coming. How come no one jumped down his throat when he went after me?”
“When did he ever attack you?” John demanded. Beta rolled his eyes.
“Only about ten seconds after we met and three more times in the next half hour. Then two or three times once we came through the gate; I think he was trying to impress Teyla,” Beta said teasingly, but neither Teyla nor John was buying his game.
“Now, we both know that's a lie,” John said, pulling up a chair.
“All right, yeah, that was a lie,” Beta admitted with a laugh. He turned to Teyla. “Although the guy is very concerned about not looking weak in front of you.”
“Aiden Ford is rather competitive,” Teyla replied. “And like most of your military, he is uncomfortable being bested in combat by a woman.”
“Yeah, well, he's got some serious sibling rivalry issues, too,” Beta said.
“Not surprising, given that Ford was an only child for the first twenty-five years of his life,” John said amusedly. “It's kind of hard to suddenly find yourself part of a huge litter.”
“He's not adjusting well, is he?” Beta remarked sarcastically.
“And you are adjusting well?” Teyla replied before John could say the same thing. Beta's response was a bitter laugh.
“Look,” John said warningly, “I want you you to go ahead and get it all off your chest now.”
“You're behaving like a damned ten year old, Ford. Get it out of your system now,” John spat, “because if you don't straighten up and change your attitude you're going to end up spending the rest of your life in that damned suite.”
Beta pouted and John shook his head reproachfully. He glanced up and saw Rodney approaching the door out of the corner of his eye. Beta also saw him and sighed.
“Your turn, Doc,” he said.
“My turn?” Rodney repeated in confusion.
“This is where you tell me to grow up and behave or no one will ever love me, right?” Beta said petulantly. John and Rodney exchanged a quick glance. None of the men in the room acknowledged the Marine standing just outside the room, but they all knew he was within earshot.
“I just wanted to see if you were all right,” Rodney said.
“I'm cool,” Beta said, managing to sound both defeated and defiant at once. Rodney nodded and cleared his throat.
“If you need anything...” He shrugged and, with another glance at John, departed. Beta smiled and John abruptly leapt to his feet, startling him out of whatever he'd begun to say.
“Let's get you back to your quarters,” John said with a nod at the Marine. “Have you eaten?”
“Not hungry,” Beta replied.
“See that he gets a meal, anyway,” John commanded. The guard nodded and led Beta away. Teyla accompanied them. John ran a hand over his face and collapsed into the chair once again.
Beta was picking at the vegetables on his plate when he heard the unmistakable voice of Carson Beckett outside his suite. He sat up and pushed the plate aside as the doctor entered the lounge.
“Shouldn't you be eating that?” Carson said mildly.
“Would you eat this?” Beta replied, spearing up a chunk of something resembling a potato with his fork. “It tastes like it was cooked sometime last year.”
“If it's from the rations we brought from Earth, it probably was.”
“Oh, well, that must be it, then.” Beta sighed and placed the potato back on his plate before he looked up at Carson with a frown. “What are you doing here?”
“I thought you might like some company,” Carson replied as drew up a chair. “May I?”
“Knock yourself out.” Beta regarded him for a few more seconds as he sat down. “It's pretty late for a house call, Doc.”
“Probably,” he replied with a shrug. “It's a good thing I found you wide awake and contemplating your dinner well after midnight.”
“Oh, I get it. He sent you.”
“Major Sheppard. Or Dr. McKay--one of them.”
“Neither of them sent me, actually,” Carson replied, “although I did have a chat with the major earlier.”
“Then let's have it,” Beta said, sighing.
“Have it? Have what?”
“Whatever you came to say. The sooner you do, the sooner we can both get some sleep.”
“If you're tired I can come back in the morning,” Carson offered, although he made no move to leave. Beta shot him a look and Carson frowned. “What's wrong, son?”
“Beta,” he corrected. “We may as well both get used to it.”
“If you don't like the name--.”
“I haven't got another one,” Beta said uncomfortably.
“Well, we'll just have to find you one, then,” Carson said reassuringly. “But enough about that now. Tell me what happened.”
“You already know, Doc. That's why you're here, isn't it?”
“I'd like to hear your side of the story, if you don't mind.”
“All right,” Beta said, sitting up straighter and placing his hands in his lap. “Just tell me one thing first: whose side are you on?”
“This isn't about taking sides, Beta,” Carson replied. Beta slumped in his seat.
“You could have fooled me, Doc. It seems to me that--. Never mind,” he said sullenly.
“No, tell me,” Carson said encouragingly, but Beta remained mute. “You believe that everyone has it in for you. We're all Aiden's friends and therefore you're bound to get the short end of the stick.” Beta didn't reply but the set of his shoulders spoke volumes. “I tell you what--suppose I agree to take your side.” Beta looked up suspiciously. Carson smiled and sat forward. “You're absolutely right, Beta. I can state unequivocally that we're trying to be fair, but none of us has really been able to see it from your perspective. You could use an advocate out there.”
“Right now, I'd settle for having one in here, Doc,” Beta confided. Carson's smile widened as he extended a hand.
“Then I'm your man,” he said. Beta took his hand and smiled.
“How are you feeling, Aiden?” Teyla asked as she approached his bed the following morning.
“I'm fine,” he said, moving gingerly as he tried to sit up.
“It is a good thing you chose the military over acting,” Dr. Johnson said as she approached the bed. “I could tell you're still in pain from ten feet away.” She pulled out her pen light and examined his eyes.
“I still have a bit of a headache,” Aiden admitted when she withdrew. “But I'm well enough to return to my quarters, right? You said--.”
“I said that I wanted to observe you overnight,” Johnson finished for him. “And you are no worse than you were last night, so I'll release you. But you're not to return to active duty until I've had a chance to examine you again,” she warned.
“That won't be an issue,” Aiden said glumly as he sat up.
“Teyla,” the doctor said, understanding his meaning and moving on. “Would you be so kind as to escort my patient back to his quarters?”
“I would be happy to assist him,” she replied, taking hold of his arm. Aiden thanked the doctor and they left the infirmary. “Are you sure you are well enough to be on your own?” she asked when they had walked a bit. Aiden noted that they were being followed by security and sighed.
“Yeah, I'll be fine,” he replied. “All I want to do is relax and I can't do that back there.”
“It is sometimes difficult to find peace in a setting cluttered with foreign energy,” she said. Aiden gave her a sidelong glance and smiled.
“You've been talking to Chen again, haven't you?”
“I find his description of alternative religions and belief systems fascinating,” Teyla replied.
“I find his wooing technique even more fascinating,” Aiden quipped. “I can't believe you can't see through him, Teyla!”
“Perhaps I do not wish to, Aiden,” she replied as they rounded a corner. “Here are your quarters. Do you wish me to help you get settled?”
“Thanks; I think I can manage to find my own bed,” he replied wryly. “Thanks.”
“You are welcome,” she replied. “Rest well.” She waited until Aiden was safely inside his room before she left.
“Where is he?” Rodney said when he spied the empty bed. He turned around and repeated his question to Dr. Johnson. “Where's Aiden Ford?”
“He's been released and returned to his quarters,” she said. “The poor man tossed and turned all night. I suspect he'll rest much better in his own bed.”
“Good,” Rodney said. “Good.” He stuffed something into his pocket, turned and marched out of the infirmary with Dr. Johnson frowning at him in confusion.
Teyla was walking down the corridor when she saw Bates up ahead speaking with Radek. She quickened her pace and caught up with him just as Radek turned to leave.
“Good morning, Teyla,” he said affably.
“Good morning, Dr. Zelenka, Sergeant Bates,” she replied.
“Teyla,” Bates replied curtly. He started to turn away but Teyla touched his arm.
“Sergeant Bates, I'd like to know why you have put Aiden Ford under house arrest.”
“He's not under arrest, Teyla,” Bates said wearily. “It's just a precaution.”
“Against what?” she asked pointedly. Radek folded his arms and smiled smugly.
“I have just had the same argument with him,” he said. “I hope you do better talking sense into his thick head.”
“Dr. Zelenka!” Bates cried as the engineer walked away. Radek dismissed him with a wave of his hand and stepped into the transporter. “He heard about what happened last night and doesn't understand the need for--.”
“I do not understand, either, sergeant. What danger is Aiden Ford to Atlantis?”
“He--. Look, Lieutenant Ford is confined to quarters, like it or not, and I'm under orders to make sure he stays there.”
“Very well,” she replied. “I will take up this matter with your superiors.” Teyla turned on her heel and left Bates staring at her back. He sighed and shook his head as she strode purposefully toward the command center.
“Good morning, Beta,” Carson said when the sullen man entered his office. “What are you doing here?”
“You said you'd be my advocate,” Beta said. “I need a consultation.”
“All right,” Carson said, closing his laptop and setting it aside. “What can I do for you?”
“They want me to leave Atlantis,” Beta said glumly.
“Who?” Carson replied incredulously.
“Well, it was Teyla's idea. She thought it might be easier or everyone if I moved to the mainland.”
“What do you think about the idea?”
“I think they're just trying to get rid of me,” Beta said sullenly. Carson observed him for a moment.
“No you don't,” he said sagely. Beta looked up. “All right, on the surface of it, that's exactly what it sounds like and that's exactly what you thought. But you know Teyla. You know she wouldn't ever do anything to hurt you.”
“She wouldn't do anything to hurt him, you mean,” Beta interjected.
“She would never hurt either of you. She has your best interests at heart. And you know that her idea has at least some merit, or else you wouldn't be considering it.”
“Who said I was?”
“You are, aren't you?” Carson challenged, sitting back. “Isn't that why you're here?”
“All right, Doc, so I am thinking about it,” Beta admitted. “What do you think of the idea?”
“Well, that depends,” he replied.
“Nah, nah, Doc. Don't turn it back on me. I'm here seeking your advice.”
“Well, in that case,” Carson replied pensively, “I'd have to consider several things.”
“Well, what would you do there?”
“I don't know,” Beta replied. “The only thing I suppose I couldn't do there is be Aiden Ford.”
“That gives you a great deal of latitude, then.”
“I suppose it does,” Beta said, smiling slowly. “I hadn't thought about that.”
“I'm sure Teyla did.”
“I'm not cut out to be a farmer, Doc.”
“No, but you could teach the Athosians to read or do math. You could help train the villagers in a variety of skills. You could also take over management of some of our programs there. That'd save the science units a bunch of paperwork.”
“I'm not cut out for paperwork, either.”
“All right. I suppose that might work.”
“You'd make a great teacher,” Carson said with a smile. “I've seen your twin teach the kids on the mainland how to fly kites. He was a natural and I'm sure you'll do just as well. Oh, by the way, I've found something for you,” he said, turning in his seat to reach for a printout. “I've been researching names.”
“Yeah? What did you come up with?” Beta said eagerly.
“Well, last night after I left you I recalled that I had a file of Scottish names that someone had given me years ago. So I--.”
“Why did someone give you a file of Scottish names?” Beta asked curiously.
“Well, at the time I'd just adopted a wee dog,” Carson admitted sheepishly. “I was set to name him something simple, like 'Spot,' but my friends told me I was daft and that the cur needed a proper Scottish name.”
“Why?” Beta persisted. Carson shrugged.
“Anyway, one of my colleagues sent me a file of names and I spent a few evenings looking for the perfect one. By the time I was done, I'd developed an allergy to the mutt and had to give him up.”
“Couldn't you just cure yourself?”
“Do you want the list or not?” Carson asked with mock exasperation.
“Sure,” Beta replied as he took the paper from him.
“Of course, you're not confined to a Scottish name...”
“Well, he's got one,” Beta said reasonably. Carson noted, not for the first time, that Beta almost never referred to Aiden by name.
“'Aiden' is actually Gaelic,” Carson corrected gently. “It's rather common among the Irish.”
“Ah,” Beta said with a shrug. He began to read the list, but looked up a moment later. “What's with the ones you highlighted?”
“Oh,” Carson said diffidently. “Those are the ones I thought most appropriate for you.”
“Are any of them the name you gave that dog?”
“I agree with you, Teyla,” Elizabeth said earnestly. “I just don't know how to prevent another scene like the one that occurred last night.”
“Dr. Weir, on any day any two men could come to blows over something. It has happened on many occasions since I came to Atlantis.”
“Yes?” Elizabeth said, frowning in confusion.
“And on those occasions I have never known you to place the combatants under arrest. They are spoken to, sometimes punished, but then they are allowed to resume their duties,” Teyla continued.
“Yes, but this wasn't any ordinary fight.”
“That is exactly what it was,” Teyla insisted. “The only thing that makes it extraordinary is your insistence on treating it as such. You want Aiden Ford and his twin to settle into normal life in Atlantis but you have not given them the ability to do so. They have been sequestered for the better part of a week. Their problems are exacerbated by their confinement. Why do you not allow them to roam freely and interact with others? In time their animosity will diminish.”
“She's got a point,” John conceded.
“Well, I agree that the lieutenant should not be confined any longer,” Elizabeth agreed. “As for Beta--.”
“He is no different than his twin,” Teyla insisted. “They should both be freed to live their lives.”
“But we haven't yet found a role for Beta.”
“I thought we agreed that he should play a role in deciding his future,” John said.
“It is his future,” Teyla said passionately.
“I agree,” Carson said as he entered the office where the three of them were talking.
“Carson,” Elizabeth said, smiling. “How's the lieutenant this morning?”
“I understand he's resting comfortably,” Carson replied. “But I'm not here to talk about Aiden Ford. I want to talk about Tavis.”
“Come in, Doc,” Aiden said as he carefully sat up to greet his guest.
“How did you know it was me?” Rodney said as he set something down and turned to lock the door.
“Wild guess,” Aiden replied as the smell of coffee reached his nostrils. “If that coffee's for me I'll be your bestest best friend for life.”
“Really?” Rodney teased. “If I'd known that I would have brought a cup for you as well,” He sat on the edge of the bed and made a show of taking a slow sip from the mug in his hand. “Say what you will about Parrish, the man makes a damn fine cup of Joe.” Aiden glared at him until he cracked. “All right. I brought you some.” He produced a second cup and showed it to Aiden. “You can have it in about five minutes,” he said as he set the cup down and picked up a small canister.
“Why? *Awk!* What the hell did you just do?” Aiden cried as he wiped his mouth. Rodney quickly covered it when it appeared that he was going to spit. He waited for a second or two more and then removed his hand. Aiden glared at him.
“What did you do?” Aiden shouted.
“Inside voice, Aiden. This discussion is not for--.”
“What did you do to me,” Aiden repeated slowly and softly in a tone that made Rodney swallow hard.
“I sprayed a few hundred medical nanobots into your mouth,” he confessed. “Your black eye should be gone within the hour.”
“That's right; medical nanobots.”
“You sprayed a few hundred medical nanobots into my mouth,” Aiden repeated.
“No need to thank me,” Rodney replied smugly as he reached for his coffee. He took a sip and then sighed and set it down again. “You looked like hell last night. You were still in a lot of pain. I thought the nanobots could speed your recovery,” he said, gesturing with his hand for emphasis.
“Why didn't Dr. Johnson give them to me in the infirmary?” Aiden asked suspiciously. Rodney reached for his coffee again. “Rodney? Rodney--don't tell me that this is some sort of experiment...”
“How do you know they're harmless?” Aiden squeaked.
“Do you think I'd give them to you if they weren't? All right, I'm crushed. What kind of person do you take me for? Oh, for--! Look at my forehead,” Rodney said, leaning forward slightly. “Remember the cut I had the other day? One shot of these bots and the cut disappeared.”
“Without any side effects?”
“How does your head feel?” Rodney demanded.
“Better,” Aiden admitted begrudgingly.
“You still look like hell.”
“Thanks,” Aiden deadpanned. Rodney leaned in to give him a kiss but Aiden evaded him.
“Forget it, Doc,” he said as he reached for his coffee. Rodney grabbed it and put it out of his reach.
“Five minutes, Aiden,” he insisted. Aiden sighed, and Rodney took advantage of the opportunity to kiss him.
“Want to have that talk now?”
“Maybe we should wait and see whether or not this actually works.”
“It works, I promise. This is basic technology left behind by the Ancients,” Rodney insisted. “I'm sure they used it the way we use adhesive bandages.”
“Then why haven't you given it to the medical unit?”
“I wanted to run a few tests first.”
Rodney carefully removed the bandages from over Aiden's eye and examined his face.
“Don't you worry your increasingly pretty little head about it,” he said, smiling.