Winter Landing

The trouble with theories was that they occasionally got disproven and sent you back to the beginning to start over from scratch. In genetics that was all right -- part of the fun was having nothing but a blank slate and the identifiable facts, and trying to discover what sort of picture to draw from them.

When it came to life, Carson preferred when theories remained unchanged. It wasn't even the process of reconstruction that bothered him -- it was the conclusion he couldn't help but find.

Back on Earth, in Antarctica, he'd become friends with Rodney McKay. A friendship sorely tested when Rodney discovered he didn't have the ATA gene and Carson did and spent solid three weeks whining about it. But they'd weathered that bit of nearly-killing-the-commander-of-the-entire-SGC-and-his-pilot and once they'd got to Atlantis everything had seemed perfectly fine. Friends still, and Carson's theory was unchallenged.

He hadn't even thought it a theory anymore. Just truth, and one he'd learned to live with. Tested originally with a stammered invitation, met with a brief confusion and a casual, unoffended 'no.' They'd remained friends, and Carson had realised that his friend simply wasn't interested in that sort of thing.

They'd not spoken of it since and Rodney had seemed to forget all about it. Carson had told himself to just deal with it -- Atlantis was huge, but the world they lived in was small by comparison. He saw Rodney nearly every day and it wouldn't have been possible to keep hoping for something that wasn't going to happen.

Then Rodney started sleeping with Major Sheppard and Carson had had to refigure his theory. He'd thought Rodney straight -- obviously not true, which left only one other answer and one he didn't want to think about.

He was still friends with Rodney of course, and as such Carson ended up spending a bit of time with Rodney and Major Sheppard. He had a chance to see them together, and when Major Sheppard wasn't around Carson heard about him even more. Rodney talked on fast forward about whatever was on his mind, usually astrophysics or music. But once he'd started -- Carson hated the word 'dating', it seemed like they were all teenagers again. But since then, he talked as much about Major Sheppard as anything else.

Carson wasn't stupid. He could see what the differences were. If that was the sort Rodney liked, there was no question why he'd turned Carson down. But that didn't make it any easier, and Carson found it even harder to deal with it all.

He'd tried seeking out new friends -- not lovers, because he wasn't interested in casual sex, especially not in a place where rumour would have his liaison pegged before he'd even got out of the shower. But someone other than Rodney to talk to, and sit with when Rodney and Major Sheppard were already sitting together and it was rude -- painful -- to interrupt.

There were plenty of people nice enough to make room for him. Dr. Karen Wheeler, on his own staff, seemed delighted to spend time talking about things other than the set up of the medical labs. Their conversations tended to end up on things medical anyhow, but Carson didn't really mind. But Karen had a circle of friends she already spent time with, and Carson wasn't really interested in moving completely on.

There were others in the RodneyJohn conglomeration. Teyla, of course, and Lieutenant Ford -- both of whom were nice, but the sort of people Carson just couldn't manage to exchange more than two sentences with. Ford treated him like he was about to knock over something expensive and irreplaceable. Teyla stared at him like she was seeing things behind his head -- through his head.

Dr. Weir, of course, was easy to talk to, but Carson couldn't help but feel like he was keeping her from something important. Dr. Zelenka was interesting when he could get going, but even more socially awkward than even Rodney had been at the beginning. Without the common ground of astrophysics and engineering to get them started, it was always a fair bet they'd end up sitting in silence, waiting for some reasonable excuse to leave.

Which pretty much left Carson with spending time with Rodney and Major Sheppard, or sitting alone in his office pretending he wasn't thoroughly depressed about it. He knew it was stupid and knew there were a dozen other things he ought to be spending his time on. Indulging in self-pity because the man he liked was seeing someone else -- well, it was human at least, and common enough they ought to have invented a vaccine for it by now.

But it was hard, and it hurt, and Carson couldn't force himself to give it up quite yet. Let go and move on, words he'd tell himself later when he was ready. When it no long bothered him to see Rodney laughing at something Major Sheppard had said, to see his face light up just because the man had walked into the room. Things he'd never seen for himself, and knew he wasn't going to -- not from Rodney.

And he knew he was building himself up into a fine bit of despair, and he'd feel silly about it the next day. But for now -- for tonight, locked away in his office with the lights dim and nobody coming to knock on the door -- Carson let himself grieve.

Tomorrow he'd try again, perhaps. Go talk to Peter Grodin, because he had noticed the way Peter spoke to him and if he hadn't been pining over Rodney Carson might have followed up on it.

But tonight he was thinking about all the things he wasn't. Handsome. Brave.

Rodney's.


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