blue flamingos



Category/Rated: Gen, PG

Year/Length: 2007/ ~2598 words

Pairing: None

Spoilers: post-ep to Letters From Pegasus

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: The end of the world is coming and Aiden's feeling something less than fine

Author's Notes: For [info]kyuuketsukirui's prompt of "Ford/Sheppard, missing scene, 'a subtle kiss that no-one sees', sex OK, not PWP".

Beta: Beta'd by [info]enviropony

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.


"I understand that, Doctor," Aiden said into his headset, stepping back against the wall in case someone came round the corner. "But I've got a hundred and fifty people on this tape and Dr Weir's ready to send the data burst, so if you want to send a message home, we're doing it this evening."

"Can you not just add mine in later?" Dr Kodak asked, completely missing Aiden's point. "I'll keep it short."

Aiden took a deep breath. "How about if I find you in an hour?" he offered. "Give you time to finish up what you're doing."

"Two hours?" Kodak asked, her voice going low. "Please?"

"One," Aiden said firmly, trying not to feel like he was channeling the Major. Especially when it worked.

"Fine. I'll blame you if this translation doesn't get finished and it turns out to be the key to our salvation."

"You do that," Aiden said, and tapped his comm off, turning to go back the way he'd come and find Major Sheppard.

Who was leaning against the wall, hands in his pockets, one eyebrow quirked in that way that charmed everyone. Not that Aiden knew from first-hand experience or anything.

"You talk her into submitting?" Sheppard asks, and oh, Aiden did not need to be thinking about *that* right now.

"Yes, sir," he said smartly. "I was coming to look for you, actually. You're the only one left on my list." He was pretty sure the Major didn't have any family on Earth, or at least none he'd want to send a message to, not if the way he changed the subject when it came up meant anything. Dr Weir had insisted though, when Aiden had mentioned it, and Aiden had learned, over the past year, not to argue with her.

Something that might have been discomfort flickered across Sheppard's face, but he nodded. "You mind if I take the camera?"

"Sure, sir." Most people hadn't minded Aiden being there while they recorded the messages, and it was kind of cool, when he didn't think about why they were doing it, to see that side of the people he worked with. It figured, though, that the Major would want his privacy. "Can you radio me when you're done? I've still got to catch Dr Kodak."

He held the camera out for Sheppard to take, but Sheppard shook his head. "Walk me to my quarters."

"Okay." Aiden fell into step next to Sheppard and it felt weird, like he was missing Teyla's quiet presence behind them and McKay grumbling about the weather or the mosquitoes. He wondered if they'd already done that for the last time, then made himself stop. This was what he'd trained for. He just hadn't expected it to involve life sucking space vampires, or armed civilians on his side.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Sheppard offered, watching him from the corner of his eye when Aiden looked over. "Or, whatever the Atlantis equivalent is."

"Chocolate?" Aiden suggested, since Sheppard seemed genuinely thoughtful about it. Plus, it distracted him from noticing – well, Shepard, basically, and imminent, almost-certain death was no excuse for lusting after his CO, particularly considering he'd been doing it since they met at the SGC.

"Nah. Not unless you're having thoughts about how to defeat the Wraith. Not that I'd be able to pay you in chocolate if you were."

"I'd tell you for free if I was, sir," Aiden said, following Sheppard into a transporter and out of it in the residential quarters.

"That's good to know," Sheppard said with a small smile. "Let me know if you do."

"Yes, sir," Aiden said. He couldn't quite tell how seriously Sheppard was taking the exchange, but he looked worn out, the way Aiden felt. The buzz of having a task to do was fading, replaced by the same dull dread he'd been feeling for days. "Maybe they're allergic to citrus, like Dr McKay. We could chew on lemons."

"I don't think McKay needs any more reasons to hate the Wraith," Sheppard muttered. He looked round his room, then turned his desk chair and set it in front of the window to provide a neutral background and watched Aiden set up the camera and tripod.

"All done, sir. I'll start it recording, just press that one to stop when you're done." Aiden hesitated. "If you're sure you don't want me to do it."

"I'm good," Sheppard said with a sigh. "I'll let you know when I'm done. Thanks, Ford."

"No problem." Aiden set the camera to record. "Whenever you're ready, sir," he said, and dismissed himself, since Sheppard wasn't looking like he was going to bother; he heard Sheppard start speaking as the door slid closed behind him.

Atlantis didn't feel like a city full of sleeping people, when he wandered down towards the mess; everyone talked about Major Sheppard's connection to Atlantis, but Aiden had learned to read their city, too - he knew when Atlantis slept, and he could tell that tonight, she wasn't. He figured the scientists were still in their labs, trying to find a last-minute solution, or trying to do every last bit of research, as though it would matter if they all ended up dead. Earth would be more worried about the possibility of a Wraith attack than Pegasus strains of roses, even if they might have fantastic medicinal properties.

"Stop it," he told himself firmly, since there was no-one in that bit of the hall to hear him talking to himself, the security patrol not due by for another twenty minutes. "It's not like we haven't had a last-minute save before." It was practically all they'd had since they'd stepped through the gate from Earth, and Aiden wasn't sure if it was the universe building them up to have faith in it happening again, or if someone had decided they were too cocky and was giving them a reality check.

The first one sounded much more appealing, but Aiden figured he was too much of a pragmatist these days not to think the second one sounded more likely.

The mess was mostly empty: three female chemists were drinking tea in one corner, not even making eye contact with each other, and a couple of other tables were occupied with marines, who nodded to him then looked away, not inviting company.

Aiden picked out one of the last bowls of red fruit from the mainland, even though he didn't really like the bitter aftertaste they left. He and Sheppard had tried to persuade Dr Weir to let the marines on kitchen duty use up the last of the 'luxury' items from Earth, but she'd refused, saying it was too much like admitting defeat.

"Cos half a pound of chocolate powder is sure to keep us safe from the Wraith," Sheppard had muttered darkly as they'd filed out, then shrugged it off and said something stupid about throwing a party when they survived instead. A couple of the gateroom techs had laughed, but Aiden had wanted to look away, afraid his face reflected Major Sheppard's tone of voice. It wasn't a nice sensation, realizing your CO thought you were doomed, even if he had felt a sick moment of warmth that Sheppard trusted him with that.

He shook himself out of the moment and spotted Teyla, half-hidden at the table behind Sergeant Morrison, who was certainly big enough to hide Teyla, and probably the rest of the team as well.

"Lieutenant Ford," she said with a nod when he moved over to her table, and gestured for him to sit. "Should you not be resting?"

"You should be too," Aiden said. He poked at the berries, then put a spoonful in his mouth, chewing hard on the sticky texture. Teyla held her cup of Athosian tea in both hands, watching him over the rim. "Major Sheppard's recording his message, then I've got to drag Dr Kodak out of her lab."

"Ah." Teyla looked as worn as Major Sheppard, and Aiden wondered what had happened while they'd been spying on the Wraith. He'd heard the announcement that they were back, and a buzz of discussion about a group of people they'd brought with them in the jumper, but he didn't get the feeling Teyla was keen to talk about it, looking at the dark circles under her eyes.

"We should send something from you as well," he said as it occurred to him. "You could tell the SGC what you know about Pegasus."

Teyla smiled solemnly and shook her head. "I do not think they would be interested in the people of Pegasus."

"I dunno." Aiden thought about Dr Jackson asking General O'Neill every day to be allowed to join the expedition. He'd probably be fascinated to hear what Teyla had to say.

Assuming Earth was still there, that they hadn't been invaded by their own set of evil aliens while Aiden was in Pegasus, and he's never really thought about that before, not seriously, because there'd been no point when it seemed like they'd never get back, but he suddenly couldn't shake the thought that they'd send the messages through the gate with no-one to receive them.

"Aiden?" Teyla laid her hand lightly on his arm and he shoved another spoonful of berries into his mouth. "We may yet find a solution. Dr McKay is a gifted man."

"Sure," Aiden agreed, but he knew they were both thinking about the last staff meeting, and McKay's admission that they'd got nothing.

Teyla drank her tea and Aiden forced down a few more spoonfuls of berries. They'd be better with ice cream, or made into pie, but they hadn't had either in months. Way too long to still miss them, when he'd stopped missing people ages ago.

It was a relief when Major Sheppard's voice came over his radio, summoning him to pick up the camera. Teyla said goodbye warmly, but Aiden thought she was just as relieved to be left alone.

The city felt a little more sleepy as he retraced his steps back to Sheppard's quarters, the security patrol nodding in greeting as he passed them. "Anything happening?"

"No, sir. Most people are still in the labs."

They shared a wry smile at the expense of the scientists and Aiden waited for them to round the corner before activating Sheppard's door chime crystal.

Sheppard had removed his jacket and the 9mm he always wore in the city, even though Aiden figured he wouldn't be going to sleep any time soon. He tilted his head fractionally, stepping back to let Aiden in and the door close behind him.

"All done, sir?" Aiden checked the camera was off and started packing it up again, ready to hunt down Dr Kodak, whether she wanted to be or not.

"All done," Sheppard agreed. He sat on the edge of his bed, then stood up again a moment later and walked across the room, watching as Aiden put the camera on the desk and collapsed the tripod, keeping his eyes firmly on what he was doing and not on Major Sheppard, his can't-possibly-be-regulation hair and his hands opening and closing at his sides. "Almost done?" Sheppard asked abruptly.

"One more, sir," Aiden said, not about to point out that they'd already had this conversation. "McKay's going to tag you and Dr Kodak on the end, but he doesn't think they'll get cut off."

"Good." Sheppard nodded, on the corner of Aiden's vision, and paced over to the door and back again.

"Um. Is everything okay, sir?"

"Yeah." Sheppard ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, everything's –" He broke off with a sigh, and took a step closer, right on the edge of Aiden's personal space, looking down at the floor.

It wasn't, Aiden told himself firmly, what it seemed like, but he put the tripod down, keeping his hands free, and Sheppard put a hand on his shoulder, looked up and they were suddenly much closer, Sheppard's hand tight on the sleeve of Aiden's jacket, drawing him in. Aiden's head tilted automatically, and then his mouth was pressed against Sheppard's, hard enough to feel teeth for a moment, his hands on Sheppard's waist, holding him there.

It could've been one of his dreams, he thought, as Sheppard sucked at his lower lip, getting grabbed by Sheppard and kissed, and it didn't matter that he had no idea why Sheppard was doing this, except in his dreams, there wasn't the same edge of desperation, and the shaking hands touching his throat weren't shaking with exhaustion and too much stress.

Sheppard pulled away, his eyes blank, pupils blown wide; Aiden had no idea what his own face looked like. "What've you been eating?" Sheppard asked, his tongue skating over his lip. "Tastes like aniseed."

"The berries from the mainland –" Aiden just managed to cut himself off before he tacked on 'sir'. It didn't really seem appropriate.

"Tastes bitter," Sheppard commented, then laughed, humorlessly. "You believe in omens, Ford?"

"Yes, sir," Aiden said, before he could stop himself, but Sheppard didn't seem to notice.

"Me too. You think that's an omen for what we're doing?"

Aiden considered leaning in and kissing him again – Sheppard wasn't the best kisser he'd ever had, but he was far from the worst, and anyway, he was Sheppard, the guy Aiden had wanted to kiss since well before he offered Aiden a spot on his gate team. "I think, you know, Wraith are coming and we're sending messages to Earth." He didn't mention the fear that Earth was gone, or the stupid hope that they'd somehow be able to help; Sheppard was probably thinking it already.

"Yeah," Sheppard said, and closed the gap between them and kissed Aiden again, and Aiden went with it, because what the hell else were they going to do?

They were still kissing, just kissing, when Aiden's ear piece activated and Dr Kodak's voice came through, loud and angry at being kept waiting.

"Sorry, Doctor. I got held up with Major Sheppard. Be right there."

Sheppard grinned, loosened his grip on Aiden's shirt, and stepped back. "Go do your thing."

"Yes, sir." Aiden gathered up his equipment and kind of hovered. He wasn't much for one night stands, so his experience with awkward departures was limited. "I'll, er, see you later. Tomorrow."

"Sure," Sheppard said in the same casual tone he used off world, right before they had to run for their lives. "Or, you know, come back when you're done."

"Okay." Aiden grinned at him. "See you later."


Aiden won't go back – he'll hear Sheppard get called to deal with a problem in one of the labs while he's taping Dr Kodak, and the problem won't be solved by the time he's done and ready to crash.

Things will be normal in the morning, like it never happened, and Aiden will pretend he didn't listen to Sheppard's voice cracking as he said goodbye to Colonel Sumner's family. He'll pretend he didn't think, listening to Sheppard's message, that Sheppard had lost all hope.

They'll kiss again, a handful of times, and Sheppard will make offers of more, for Aiden to go back to his room, but the hive ships will still be coming, and it won't happen.

It'll be one more thing for him to regret, after, and think about changing, months later, when the team shows up at his outpost.

He'll take Sheppard's role then, make the offer and laugh it off when Sheppard turns him down, gentle and sad. He's never really needed Sheppard anyway.

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