Warnings: BEWARE OF FLUFF! This thing is shamelessly fluffy. And contains vampire bunnies. And thickheaded doctors. Okay, one thickheaded doctor. But we love him anyway.
Disclaimer: The characters herein belong to Showtime, Sci Fi, MGM, Gekko, etc etc etc. I'm only borrowing them for some shenaningans.
Written for prime_not_prime's ficathon.
"See, Doc, I have this friend..."
Carson Beckett quirked a brow, but said nothing as he continued to give Major Sheppard his post-mission check-up. He was aware of the old 'it's not me, it's my friend' routine, particularly from embarrassed patients, so he let the major continue.
"And this friend really finds himself attracted to someone..."
"Does he, now?" Carson asked noncommittally. "Deep breath," he ordered, placing the stethoscope up to the Major's chest.
Sheppard complied, then answered the question. "Yes he does," he said with a nod. Carson could detect a hint of a smile in the major's lips, a sense of amusement in the otherwise nonchalant nod.
Carson gave Sheppard an expectant nod, eyebrows raised in question.
"Well, he's just not sure that he stands a chance with the object of his affection."
"All right, Major, looks like you'll live," Carson said, buying himself some time to think that over now that he'd finished the exam. Who could Sheppard have a crush on? And furthermore, why would he feel the need to tell Carson about it? Unless the crush was on one of medical staff--the female half, anyway--and he wanted Carson to give him some intelligence on the subject. That seemed like a rational explanation. "Is there anything else I can do for you?" Maybe by offering help, Carson could get Sheppard to get down to the point.
"As a matter of fact--" John began, but was interrupted when Rodney McKay burst into the infirmary. "Are you not done yet?" McKay asked. "Elizabeth's waiting for us."
Carson looked at Rodney, idly wondering what the rush was, then shrugged and looked at Sheppard. "Best not keep Dr. Weir waiting, then. Off with ye."
John nodded. "We'll continue this conversation later," he said, and winked. And Carson suddenly found himself unable to ascertain if the expression had been conspiratorial or something more. No, it couldn't be. Sheppard simply wanted inside information on one of the nurses. Maybe Michelle. She was a lovely lass, likely Sheppard's type. But Carson himself didn't really have the time for such things, and the inclination itself was hard to come by these days. Too many other things to worry about.
He knew it wasn't healthy, but it was hard to put his own advice into practice. Yet, maybe if he helped John, Carson would find some motivation in the process to help himself, though he knew he would have to settle for something other than his ideal.
Sheppard didn't talk to him again until the next week, when he unceremoniously settled himself across Carson's table at lunch one day. "Hey, Doc," he said, smiling.
"Hello, Major," Carson replied, confused by the intrusion for a second until he remembered their stunted conversation in the infirmary. Still, Sheppard didn't get right to the point, going through the customary pleasantries--how's your food? Good? I'm glad. Mine's okay, if a little bland--for a few minutes. Then, "You remember what we were talking about the other day?" He spoke quietly, leaning over his sandwich to close their distance.
Carson nodded. "Aye, though I must admit to being a little confused."
"Confused?" Sheppard asked, almost-but-not-quite frowning.
"You-- your friend, wants my help? Or are we just trading gossip?" He was still open to the possibility that John was being honest about having a 'friend', though he very much doubted it. If someone was really asking Sheppard's help with a romantic conquest, then Carson's aid would in all likelihood be unnecessary. "Because you know that as a doctor I cannot betray a confidence."
Sheppard put his sandwich down and waved a hand dismissively. "No, no, nothing like that. It's just that--" He paused, throwing a furtive glance around the mess hall then leaning in closer. "He's gay. My friend, that is."
Carson's eyebrows shot upward. "He is?"
Sheppard drew back, looking a tad miffed. "Just a little."
"A little gay?" Carson shut his eyes and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Not that there's anything wrong with that."
"I'm glad you think so." John was smiling. The expression was unnerving because now Carson was really confused, and Sheppard seemed for all the world to know something he wasn't telling.
"I do. Some of my best staff members are gay. It's not an issue," Carson found himself babbling. In all honesty, he did know one or two in his staff, others that he suspected but had the tact not to ask. He didn't think he should name names, however, unless it was in everyone's best interest. He hadn't gotten to that point yet.
"They are?" Sheppard's smile grew. "Which ones?"
"Och, now Major, you know it's not my place to say," Carson complained.
"I know. I'm sorry," John said, hazel eyes staring earnestly at Carson. "But for the record, it's not something you're against."
Carson shrugged. "Of course not, why would I be? Love can transcend gender, why not? It's a universal emotion."
There was that smile again, knowing, and pleased. "I'm glad you think so."
The conversation paused then, as Sheppard concentrated on eating his sandwich. For a moment, Carson watched the major uncertainly, then decided to follow suit and eat his meal. It was already cold, but he managed a few bites before giving up and looking pointedly at Sheppard. "Well?"
"Well what?" Sheppard asked, pausing mid-bite, looking confused.
"What is it you want me to do about your friend, if anything?" Carson asked.
"Oh, nothing... right now."
"Then what was tha' all about? It really is no business of mine who's gay or not!"
A pause, then, "You're absolutely right, Doc. But for the record, you don't think there's anything wrong with that..."
"I already said so!"
"All right, all right, I get the point." Sheppard seemed to smile to himself, then finished his sandwich in a couple more bites.
The third strange conversation with Major Sheppard took place in what had been designated as the tv room. Carson had learned that one of the anthropologists had brought along a copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and he'd asked to borrow it. He would've preferred watching it with company, but said anthropologist was otherwise occupied.
Halfway through the movie, Sheppard had unceremoniously settled himself down next to Carson on the couch. "So you like this movie?" he asked pointedly. Though Carson had no idea what the point could be.
"Aye, one of my favourites, even. Why? Have you seen it?"
"Actually yes. It happens to be one of my favourites as well." He'd been saying something else, but Carson shushed him.
"Hold on hold on, it's Tim the Sorcerer, I love this part."
Sheppard actually stayed to watch the rest of the movie, and marvellously, did so in silence, but for laughter at the appropriate parts. This in itself would not have made the conversation seem strange to Carson, and in fact, it didn't seem all that odd until a few days later, when he found something on his desk that hadn't been there before.
A small white plush rabbit, with big sharp pointy teeth and a tag with Carson's name on it. Suddenly, it all became clear. The strange questions, the imaginary 'friend'... and now this present, gotten from God only knew where and how. Unless this was some really elaborate April Fool's prank--something which Carson intellectually knew not to put past John Sheppard, even if it was nowhere near April--the major had a crush on him. Him! Carson! "No bloody way," he muttered to himself. Guys like Sheppard, when they were gay at all, which was supposed to be never, didn't go for guys like Carson. Soft 'round the middle and no good in a crisis outside the safety of his chosen profession. He'd always sort of figured like drew like, and gay officers managed to find each other in the black hole of 'don't ask, don't tell'.
He sighed, holding the rabbit up. It really was cute. Too bad he had to return it. He'd been honest when he'd told Sheppard that he wasn't against homosexuality. He really wasn't against it. He was all for it, in fact.
Just not with John Sheppard.
Rabbit held firmly in his right hand, he left the infirmary in search of one starcrossed major. As he hurried down the corridor, his mind was busy composing a speech to deliver once he found Sheppard. So busy in fact, that he almost didn't see Lt. Ford coming the other way and nearly ran right into him. "Oh, sorry, Aiden, I wasn't looking," he said to the startled young man. "Have you seen Major Sheppard, by the way?"
Aiden was silent for a moment, looking at Carson with an intensity he hadn't seen in the lieutenant before. At least not directed at him. Aiden looked down and saw the rabbit in Carson's hand. "Something wrong, Dr. Beckett?"
Carson froze. He couldn't just out Major Sheppard to his second in command like that. "Uh... nothing, really. I just need him to ah, help me find someone." A horrible lie, at that, but the only one he could come up with.
"Maybe I can help," Aiden offered with a shy little smile.
"No thank you, I can find 'im on my own." He continued to walk but Aiden was following him, and if this wasn't the very worst time for Carson to get the attention he'd idly hoped for a few times in the past, he couldn't imagine much worse.
"I'm sorry," Aiden said.
It froze Carson in his tracks. "It's all right. It's my fault really. I dunno where my head is right now. And then I find this bunny on my desk and--"
"You don't like it?"
Carson blinked and looked at the toy. "Well, it's downright adorable, but I'm afraid I can't accept it."
"Why not?" Aiden stood but a couple of feet from Carson, but suddenly seemed to take a step back, his expression somewhere between confusion and... something else Carson couldn't recognise.
"It's a token of affection that I can't reciprocate!" Carson replied before he could analyse the situation. "And I don't know where he got the idea that--"
"I'm sorry," Aiden said again, and turned to go, but not before Carson caught the look in the young man's eyes.
He gasped. "You're the friend!"
Aiden paused. "What?"
"I'm such an idiot!" Carson strode towards the marine and grasped his arm, turning him around. He held up the rabbit. "You gave me this? Didn't you?"
Aiden hesitated, but finally nodded, not meeting Carson's gaze. "But you already said you can't accept it, so I guess I'll take it back."
"That's when I thought it was from Major Sheppard, the sleekit wee basturt!"
"The what?" Aiden asked, eyebrows furrowed.
Carson smiled. "Don't mind tha'. It's my turn to apologise."
"You haven't done anything wrong, Doc." All this time Carson had assumed Aiden would never look at him that way, and it just hadn't occurred to him that the boy was just painfully shy. Too shy to even sign the card on the present, and too shy to admit to it right away.
"Lookit ye, you've a face like a well-skelped arse," Carson said, smiling. The cautious part of him wanted to convince him that this was part of the elaborate early April Fool's prank, and that he shouldn't let himself get excited about Aiden's apparent interest, but he told that part of him to get lost. "Call me Carson," he told Aiden. "And I accept your gift in the spirit in which it was given."
Aiden relaxed visibly, even cracked a grin. "You're welcome. But, you didn't just call me something rude, did you?"
Carson laughed. "No, luv. Nothing bad." He gently patted Aiden's arm. Ford was wearing one of those sleeveless t-shirts that made a good show of his biceps and drove Carson to distraction. "Just remind me to thank Major Sheppard, after I chew him a new one for being obtuse."
As it turned out, Lt. Ford hadn't seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a fault that Carson was now intent on correcting. He'd used guilt like a sharpened knife against Sheppard, and got him to give up his last bag of popcorn. And now he and Aiden sat side by side in front of the screen, snickering quietly at the antics of King Arthur and his knights, the rabbit plushie snuggled between them. He was surprised at how easily the two of them had slipped away from being Lt. Ford and Dr. Beckett and had become merely Aiden and Carson, two friends enjoying a movie together.
And hopefully more than just that. Despite having all the ingredients for it, Carson wanted to avoid all manner of high school clichés, but it was proving a difficult task. What didn't become a cliché when you had a first date consisting of popcorn and a movie?
Well, for one, Carson really did want Aiden to finish watching the movie, so he wasn't just going to pounce. And Aiden truly did seem to be enjoying himself. Then again, they could always rewind any parts they missed... "Aiden."
"Yeah?" Aiden said, turning away from the movie a beat later.
Carson wanted to say something meaningful, something brilliant, something that would sum up everything he was thinking in one well-crafted turn of phrase. He looked at Aiden, who watched him expectantly, but expecting what? The only thing that came out of his mouth finally was, "Ah, screw it," and he reached up to cup Aiden's jaw with one hand, bringing them together for a kiss. It turned out to be all the motivation Aiden needed. Before he knew it, Carson was on his back along the couch and the popcorn was strewn about the floor. The bunny ended up crushed between them, a fact that had Carson laughing as soon as he caught his breath. Aiden laughed too, and when Carson pulled the rabbit free, Aiden tossed it aside, shouting, "Run away! Run away!" like the knights in the infamous scene.
"All right," Carson said, grinning like a loon. "Where were we?"
Aiden smiled. "Right here," he said, returning his lips to Carson's.