101 Ways to Keep Warm in Antarctica

~ Written for paisleyparadox

The underground base was small -- in personnel, if not in actual dimension. Carson was grateful more than once that he didn't suffer from claustrophobia. The rooms were large enough, and there were two or three that were quite literally caverns. But the knowledge of the earth and ice and snow above one's head could make for a serious case of the heebie jeebies, and more than one scientist had had to turn down the assignment on the first day of their arrival.

Carson hadn't had any trouble, and after four months he sometimes forgot exactly where he was even with the walls of rock and ice to remind him. The only two complaints he had about his work environment was one, that Rodney wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, and two, the number of personnel was so small that everyone knew everyone else's business.

For as much work as they had, it was surprising how much 'business' there was to know. Carson hadn't ever really been one to indulge in gossiping, but his office was housed in the same room as the nurses' break area. The temporary wall that cordoned off his office space didn't serve to block out the noise, and as such Carson knew everything that went on in the base, whether he wanted to or not.

Sometimes he found it rather useful, such as finding out who had put the 'Balrog' sign on Rodney's door. On the other hand, he hadn't needed to overhear their gossip in order to figure out certain facts
about last week's newest arrivals. His gaydar was in fine working order, even if he hadn't had access to everyone's full medical records.

For two weeks, however, Carson hadn't had a chance to do more than smile and say hello. There was always something needing his attention -- meetings and research and running away from 'just try it again, Carson! You're not concentrating!' But every time their paths *did* cross, Dr. Peter Grodin always smiled back.

Finally, one day, Carson had just grabbed his lunch tray and turned to find a seat, and saw Dr. Grodin at a table, alone. He made his way over and hadn't got much farther than, "Excuse me--" before Dr. Grodin was waving him at the chair.

Carson set his tray down and tried not to notice that the mashed potatoes had jiggled. He looked up to find that same, gorgeous smile waiting for him. Carson held out his hand, despite knowing they both knew who the other was. "Carson Beckett."

Dr. Grodin's hand was warm, which was a rarity in this underground base. "Peter Grodin. I'm glad to finally have a chance to be properly introduced."

"Aye, it's busy around here, that's for sure. Sometimes you'll think--"

"There you are! Carson, it's twelve thirty!"

Carson sighed, but grinned as Peter swallowed a laugh. They looked up as Rodney walked over. "I'm having lunch," Carson said, not thinking for a moment Rodney would be dissuaded. But perhaps he'd decide to grab a bite, himself, and... well, he'd join them which would make the chatting up a bit more difficult, but a far better option to listen to Rodney dominate the conversation than not have any conversation at all.

But Rodney just rolled his eyes and gestured towards the door. "So bring your sandwich with you. You said you'd help me after my meeting with Dr. Harlen; why I bother wasting my time with someone who clearly never learned basic arithmetic is beyond me. Well?" Rodney had already taken a step back towards the doorway giving Carson a look of expectation.

Carson sighed. "Sorry," he told Dr. Grodin. "Perhaps tomorrow we can get past saying hello."

"Not a problem." And he smiled again, and Carson thought that he was definitely going to look forward to lunch tomorrow.

As he walked after Rodney, Carson gave him a glare. "This couldn't wait fifteen minutes? Or, better yet, wait until bloody never?"

He could only hope they'd got out of earshot when Rodney replied, "Some of us have more important things to do than get our rocks off." In response to the murderous glare Carson gave him, he rolled his eyes. "Oh, please. There are only three scientists in the entire outpost who are openly gay so it isn't like you have any competition. He'll be waiting for you when I'm done. Of course, if you'd *turn the chair on* then I could let you and... and... Grover get on with... whatever." He waved a hand, dismissively.

"Rodney, remind me again why I consider you my friend?"

"That's easy. You don't." He clapped Carson on the shoulder and nodded encouragingly. "Now I think we have the power fluctuations fixed, so the chair shouldn't do what it did last time... and the
feedback loop is definitely gone... we hope...."

It was late when Carson headed back to his room. After fleeing Rodney's clutches in the late afternoon, Carson had gone back to his own lab with the intention of checking on just a few things before dinner. He'd got caught up in his research for several hours, until Dr. Chan had told him she was throwing him out if he didn't leave in the next ten minutes.

The fact she was only 4'10" only made her *more* frightening, so Carson had got out of the lab with four minutes to spare.

It was times like these he missed being somewhere... civilised. It was late, but he was too wound up to got right to bed. He wanted to go to a pub where he could sit and have a pint and let his mind wind down, before he could get any real rest.

When he turned the corner, he stopped.


"Hello, Peter. Oh, you haven't been waiting long, have you?"

"No, I only just walked up. You didn't answer when I knocked, so I thought you were... Look, I know we haven't had a chance to talk, but it's fairly obvious we're both interested so would you mind if for
right now we skip the pleasantries and... fancy a shag?" Peter grinned, and Carson had a thought that if he hadn't before, he most certainly would now.

"I suppose we can talk over breakfast," Carson said, grinning. They walked the few short feet to Carson's door, and Carson slipped the handle to slide the door open.

"I really did have a better line prepared," Peter said as they entered.

"Oh, you can be charming next time. It's all right," Carson assured him, then it really didn't matter because he *did* fancy a shag, and he fancied a snog, and it was really just as well because he was finally getting one, and it was really a rather fantastic one.

Peter was warm all over, and later, when they were lying on Carson's twin bunk wrapped tightly together, Peter explained that he had always been rather warm natured.

"I won't tell anyone," Carson promised.

Peter looked confused. "Why wouldn't you tell anyone?"

"There are one or two who might decide it's worth coming out of the closet for a chance to be warm." Carson winked.

They shifted a bit, trying to get comfortable as possible when they were both naked and sticky and had no room to maneouvre. Finally they settled on a half-on, half-off position, with the unspoken promise to trade sides if anything important lost circulation.

Then Carson closed his eyes, and drifted off to sleep, and told himself that when Rodney had said 'first thing tomorrow' he hadn't meant the very, very first thing.

The banging on his door that woke him at seven am told him otherwise.