SUMMARY: Antarctica sure is cold. Written for the Beckett ficathon.
for Rising I, but is set pre-series.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for mice1900 for the Beckett Ficathon.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.
Welcome to Antarctica.
Antarctica was cold. Really cold. And it had large expanses of white that stretched forever. You could fall into a snowbank and no one would notice. It figured, he supposed. First Russia, now Antarctica. Yep, Rodney McKay had certainly pissed off some high being. And since he was an atheist, he figured that higher being must be the U.S. government.
He hoped the food would be an improvement at least. The living situation certainly wasn't. Military quarters never afforded much room he had quickly learned, although his brief glance at a VIP suite in the SGC did show him that if you were important the military could roll out the red carpet. And while he certainly considered himself important, the military considered him another civilian scientist that they'd only truly appreciate when it came time to building another nuclear bomb, or other tool for massive destruction. Go figure.
He placed his duffle bag on top of the lumpy mattress. Truth be told, he'd sleep on the floor in this place for a chance to leave Russia. He may have been the smartest man there, but challenges were few and he was bored. When he'd gotten his first glance at the Ancient outpost his mind starting truly thinking again and the sense of adventure he'd long forgotten could exist re-ignited.
Another bed sat across from his and Rodney noticed another non-descript bag resting on top of it. He frowned. Sharing was not his strong suit. Oh well, he planned on spending all of his time in the lab, so he could probably avoid his roommate for quite some time, possibly never meeting him.
With that thought, he left his bag, turned on his heel to search out coffee and the expedition's head, Elizabeth Weir.
He'd heard rumors about the SGC gaining temporary command under a civilian. He was surprised to discover Weir had been that civilian. She was a no nonsense woman and his brashness didn't even seem to faze her, nor the fact that his past SGC experiences, including his attitude, had apparently followed him to McMurdo. Immediately he knew he could deal with this, and if he was being truly honest, perhaps even like it. Elizabeth was a scientist type herself, although of the soft sciences, which he considered not really sciences at all. He had a hard time thinking of Daniel Jackson as a scientist as well, and was surprised to see the man at General O'Neill's side when the General made his initial check-in.
Things had certainly changed since the last time he graced the halls of the SGC. Jackson's resurrection for one. Then he discovered Samantha Carter was regretfully not present and he didn't pretend to hide his disappointment.
Oh well, he had a barrage of ancient toys to play with and rushed off to do so. He had been appointed his own team, a group of people he was introduced to, then conveniently forgot every single one of their names. There was the short Asian women who seemed in awe of him (and why shouldn't she be), the very annoying pony-tailed man would resented Rodney's authority and some Czech guy whose name started with a Z.
The Czech was friendly enough, he supposed, and seemed the most competent, though Rodney wasn't expecting any great leaps of faith from anyone. They weren't Sam Carter, after all, and neither was he, as many tended to point out.
It didn't matter. It was Ancient technology, something so important that the U.S. was currently in negotiations with the entire world to divide evenly, unlike the current Stargate Command.
A possible link to Atlantis.
You didn't need Daniel Jackson to know this was big.
When he arrived back at his room, he was surprised to see a light on.
Roommate. He'd almost forgotten. Great, now he had to pull small talk out of his ass.
Small talk. Rodney was not good at such a thing, as it required tact, which was something that he, for the most part, didn't bother with.
But the man beat him to it. As soon as Rodney entered, he'd turned. He'd extended his hand. "Carson Beckett." He had an accent, but Rodney couldn't place it. He'd met so many people that it all tended to run together. He was sitting, but Rodney gauged his height to be near his own, thankfully not any taller. He had brown hair, slight stubble, and crystal clear blue eyes.
Rodney frowned. Where did those adjectives come from?
He took the man's hand. "Rodney McKay. Doctor," he added, happy to throw his title around. He had earned it after all.
"Really?" Carson's eyes brightened and he launched into a one-sided discussion, throwing out medical terms left and right.
An MD. That's what this Carson Beckett must be and he'd wrongly assumed that Rodney was one as well. He corrected Beckett, and the man smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry. I forget there's people from every realm of the science community here."
Rodney sat down on his bed. "I don't know if I'd classify medicine with science."
Beckett looked slightly taken back, but recovered. "Why not? What exactly do you do then?"
"Physics. Wormhole physics mainly, at least for the last few years."
"For the Stargate."
He knew about the Stargate? "Yes. You know about ..."
"I got security clearance when Dr. Weir invited me here. I must say though, it all reads like some science fiction novel. I couldn't believe it until I saw it, and even then, I still have a hard time processing it. Sending pieces of matter millions of light years through a wormhole. It's bloody insanity if you ask me."
This man could certainly talk, that was for sure. Well aware of his own rambling tendencies, Rodney bit his lip to smother his comment. Of course, his ramblings were scientific genius and pure gold.
"I think it's fascinating, actually. I've never been more excited to work on a project in my life."
Carson smiled. "Of course you'd think that. You're a physicist." He paused for a moment. "Wait...Rodney McKay. You're the head of the science team." He thought for a moment. "Why you're not nearly as bad as I was told."
"Why? What were you told?" Rodney was immediately defensive.
"It doesn't matter. It's nice to meet you, Dr. McKay."
Good, the conversation seemed to be winding down. Bed could soon follow then. He yawned. "Likewise, Dr. Beckett."
"Please call me Carson."
McKay wasn't sure why, but something clicked. "Rodney, then."
Oddly enough, after that initial meeting, he and Carson bonded. They'd shared a few personal tidbits, and managed conversations that found themselves growing in length. Rodney was aware of his arrogance and knew it drove many a person away, but Carson just shoved it aside. Both of them were devoted to their work, so much so, that outside socializing was not a priority or a luxury they tended to indulge in. Carson was certainly well-liked, and didn't hesitate to offer a kind shoulder or a friendly smile, but Rodney noticed while he did tend to wear most of his emotions on his sleeve, there were some that remained hidden, like a precious secret of some sort. And Rodney had no idea how to deal with that.
Or how to deal with a secret of his own he found himself facing.
Part of him always knew he was bi. Hell, if he was honest with himself he didn't get attention from either sex to be picky. Intelligence was a huge factor in attraction, at least to him -- as long as he remained the smarter one. He didn't know how to deal with it otherwise, which was probably part of the reason he'd been such an ass to Sam Carter.
Carson Beckett was a very smart man.
And very attractive as well.
He was in trouble.
He managed to make one friend on this planet and now he had to go ahead and have deeper ... feelings.
It certainly made things awkward, that was for sure. Dinner that first night after he made this discovery was a bit tense.
Carson would reach for the salt and Rodney would bite his lip, trying to rid his thoughts of the dirty things his mind had him wanting to do to the physician.
"Rodney, are you all right?" Carson had looked straight at him, his expression oozing concern.
"I'm fine," he lied and asked Carson about his research. Immediately the physician launched excitedly into the new topic and Rodney found himself listening to Carson's voice and thinking about how sexy his accent was.
He was in hand basket, heading to hell.
So he'd hide his feelings. He really had no choice. He'd long learned how do such a thing, thanks to a more than lacking childhood, so it should be easy. There was so much to explore here, and burying himself in work was simple, even completely in character.
He had many secrets; one more wasn't going to matter.
It did matter. Sharing a room with a man he found himself more and more attracted to was placing a strain on his life, his work, his sanity.
The worst part was that he had no idea whether Carson even swung that way. It wasn't exactly something you brought up in every day conversation.
He could just see it.
"Hi, Carson. How are you? Oh, and by the way, I'm just wondering if you happen to be gay?"
He'd tried dropping hints. Asked Carson once about any previous relationships, even offering a tale of his first high school girlfriend and the disaster that followed. But Carson had changed the subject.
To chicken to come out and ask, Rodney resigned himself to fact that Carson was off-limits and he would have to be happy with his friendship. After all, his right hand was still working. Still, even for that release was hard to accomplish in the tight quarters they shared.
Fuck it. In every sense of the word. He hadn't gotten any in so long he'd almost forgotten how anything but his hand felt. And he'd survived.
Once he'd convinced himself of this, he and Carson settled back into their routine, and he tried to move on. It was back to research, dinner, meetings, listening to Jackson's ramblings about Atlantis' existence. Big wigs came, looked around at the progress and left.
Life was as routine as it could get in the middle of a frozen wasteland.
From Carson's point of view, life was just as simple. He missed Scotland and his mum desperately, but reveled in his research. If he didn't, he'd have bailed out long before. The people were nice, and oddly enough he found himself a best friend in a person that in any other circumstance, he never may have even liked. His mum told him to make the best of any and every situation, a statement that haunted them both when his da died, and followed him through every other bump in the road that followed.
He turned the bend into the space Rodney had taken over and nearly knocked straight into the physicist himself.
"Here hold this."
Rodney thrust a small circular object into Carson's hands. It was nearly dinnertime and the two men had settled into a routine of finding each other so not only could they have company while they ate, but it ensured they did eat. While McKay was often the guilty party there, Carson had been known to skip a few meals himself. However, today it was the former.
"What is it?" Carson asked, turning the object over. It was as smooth as a stone and a dark blue and while pretty to look at, seemed completely useless.
"Not sure. We found a bunch of them near the control chair."
Carson stared down at the object again, pondering. Suddenly, as if he'd hit a switch, it glowed a bright blue.
Startled, Carson dropped it faster then a hot iron. The glow disappeared as it hit the floor.
"Holy crap," he muttered.
"What the hell did you do?"
Wide-eyed, Carson shook his head. "Nothing."
McKay scooped up the circle, quickly examined it, and thrust in back into Carson's hands. "Well, do it again."
"Do what again?"
"I don't know what 'it' is."
"Okay, just hold it and concentrate."
"Concentrate on what?"
"Rodney, I'm not a bloody-"
Carson stared at the object and shut his eyes. Nothing happened.
"See, nothing. You don't even know what it is. How am I supposed to make something work when we don't even know how it's supposed to work in the first place?"
But Rodney wasn't listening. "Why did it turn on?" He was shuffling papers, his hands moving, and pacing all at once. It was almost too much activity for Carson to watch.
But he wondered himself.
Why was the scientist's eternal question, followed closely by how. For a physician why was an even more poignant word, and sometimes went unanswered in the quest for a solution.
Which, of course, made every quest just as frustrating.
Carson sighed. He'd escaped Rodney's clutches, the physicist muttering and thrusting the unknown circular object in anyone and everyone's hands. It had yet to have the same effect for anyone.
He had a feeling he may have just landed himself a lifetime of being Rodney's guinea pig. At least his friend was acting somewhat normal again. For a few days, Rodney had been acting peculiar and Carson had not an inkling why.
He rubbed his eyes. A glance at the clock revealed it was nearly three in the morning but he sensed he was close to a break through. His experience with Ancient technology stayed with him and he was truly petrified of it. He needed to find someone else to be Rodney's guinea pig or find a way to get McKay to be his own guinea pig.
DNA. He had feeling it lay there. He'd read the SGC medical files; O'Neill's in particular was most interesting. After all, he was the person who had operated the chair in the first place. Granted he had the knowledge of the Ancient downloaded in his brain at the time, but Carson had a feeling it was more than that.
O'Neill had a marker placed by a race called the Asguard, but Carson dismissed that. It was when he came across the DNA test run on O'Neill's clone that he saw it.
It was something.
"You found it? This is incredible!"
Rodney was practically beaming. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, hands moving. He'd been unsuccessfully trying for the past three weeks to interface Ancient technology with Earth technology.
"Not it, exactly. Just the strand. It still needs to be isolated-"
But McKay wasn't listening. "You'll be able to test people for this gene, then?"
"Eventually. But, Rodney, you're not listening-"
Rodney waved him off. He was just picturing the possibilities once they managed to get the chair active.
"...not sure if having this gene means anything. For all we know, it could mean nothing."
"But you made that device turn on. This is something, all right. Did you tell Elizabeth?"
"Aye, but Rodney -"
"How long does it take the run these tests?"
"It could take a week before I can -"
"Great!" Rodney plopped himself down in a chair and rolled up his sleeve. "I'll be first."
After a week's worth of testing, Carson met with Elizabeth to discuss the results. She was ecstatic at the discovery. He was surprised. Eight people out of the hundred and sixty-eight people currently stationed in Antarctica and working on this project had the Ancient gene.
Rodney McKay, much to his distain, was not one of them.
Oh, and it bothered him. To no end. He'd asked Carson to rerun the test, which he did and it yielded the same results. He and Elizabeth shared a secret smirk at Rodney's dismay, one which was heightened by Rodney's discovery that Carson had this supposed gene.
He figured the man would be upset. In the short time he'd known Rodney, he'd seen that he needed to be top notch in whatever he did. Not having the gene was a definite blow to his ego, he was sure. And the fact that Dr. Weir referred to those having it as "genetically superior" made Rodney squirm even more.
"Not genetically superior. Just different," Rodney defended as the three sat around what had become a makeshift briefing table in the current chaos. In the corner, Daniel Jackson was leafing through textbooks and scribbling symbols across a whiteboard. He seemed unaffected by their conversation.
A ghost of a smile appeared across Weir's lips before he continued. "And you ran the second round?"
"Even triple checked a few, in fact." Rodney made a low sound that may have been a snort at that comment, but Carson chose to ignore it and pushed forward. "Still eight. But, frankly, I'm surprised the number is that high."
"Because this gene is that rare?"
"Aye. There's about a one in 500,000 chance that we'd encounter someone with a genetic similarity. Granted the strength of gene and whether or not it is recessive will vary, but the fact that I found eight people with at least a comparable similarity is nothing short of remarkable."
"So, statistically, you have a better chance of finding a needle in a haystack than finding a person with this gene. We have eight. We get it. Can we just move forward?" Rodney had begun drumming his finger across the tabletop.
"Right," Carson continued, wondering why his friend was taking this so personally. "That being said, I don't know what the link is between this gene and Ancient technology. Those with the more recessive form of the gene may have a difficult time getting the technology to function, if they could even get it to function at all. Especially seeing as we're unsure of what most of it does, it would be hard to turn something on if you don't know 'what' exactly needed to be turned on in the first place."
Weir nodded. "I understand. Still we have to try. I want every one of those eight people to sit in that chair." She turned to Rodney, whose drumming had finally ceased. "Think you could handle that Rodney?"
Rodney looked indignant. "Of course I can handle it, Elizabeth. I jump at the chance. Are we done?"
Carson watched Elizabeth's brow furrow. "Yes," she said hesitantly and Rodney jumped up at the answer and darted out.
Something was wrong, all right. Rodney was testier than usual, and Carson wasn't exactly sure why, but he sensed something deeper than not having the gene was troubling him. Even Jackson had looked up from his scribblings at the end of their exchange.
Carson and Weir finished their conversation and Carson left, determined to find an answer to yet another why, followed closely by a what.
Two hours later, he found Rodney nursing a cup of coffee in the comissionary, hand-drawn schematics strewn across the tiny tabletop. He sat down in the chair across from the man before Rodney had a chance to look up and dismiss him.
"Carson," he acknowledged. "It's too early for dinner." His tone was completely neutral and for a moment, Carson was thrown for a loop.
"If you have a problem with my findings you could simply tell me, you know."
Rodney shifted. "I don't have any trouble with your findings. They are accurate as they could get using medical methods." The word medical dripped with just a ting of sarcasm.
Carson sighed. "It really bothers you, doesn't it?"
Rodney took a sip of his coffee. "I have no clue what you are taking about."
"You don't do stupid, Rodney, as you've pointed out to me and everyone else in the facility several times. I'm quite surprised you would even try."
"It doesn't bother me."
"Right, and I'm the Queen Mother."
Rodney sighed. "What do you want me to say, Carson? It's the one damn thing that would make me life and my own research a hell of a lot easier and I don't have it. If we even ever find this lost city of Atlantis, these Gatebuilders, I will most likely have a million more Ancient devices at my fingertips that I will someone else to turn on. I'm been working on Stargate technology, by myself, I might add, for years. Now I'm going to have to call you when I need to test one simple circle."
Carson was taken aback a moment. "I am not the only person who has the gene, Rodney. Dr. Kusinagi, who is under your supervision on your team, is one of those eight. She'll be more then happy to comply and you have her at your fingertips." He paused for moment, knowing it wasn't only this simple frustration that was bothering his friend. "It's not a measure of intelligence, Rodney."
"Of course it isn't," Rodney agreed.
Silence settled between the two. Even though the conversation seemed over, Carson still felt tension in the air, but wasn't sure how to approach it.
Rodney shifted his head back down to his semantics. "If you're done analyzing me here, I'm have work to do."
"I'm not analyzing you."
"Could have fooled me. Reaching back for that psych rotation?"
"I'm your friend, Rodney. This may be a new concept for you, but friends try and help each out when something is bothering one of them."
"Well, you found it. It's out. We can move on now." Rodney waved his hand as he spoke and Carson got the feeling he was being pushed away.
"If it makes things better, I wish didn't have the bloody gene. I'm scared of that chair."
He figured he may get some kind of remark at his admittance, but Rodney continued to wave him away.
"Uh huh. Working here. We can discuss this 'chair phobia' when I have to shove you into it tomorrow."
Though his tone was light and sounded normal, the tension in the air still existed.
"Rodney what has gotten into you?"
"Nothing. How many times do I need to say it? Now you came here, pestered the hell out of me. I think we're done now."
"Aye, I agree. I think we're done." Frustrated, he purposely let his tone sound icy.
He left with the why he came with unanswered.
Rodney watched Carson's form retreat out the door. What was wrong with him? Not having the so-called Ancient gene did bother him, but he knew his frustration ran deeper than that. And now he knew Carson knew it did as well. Sexual frustration tended to leave one on edge, he supposed. Plus Carson was damn sexy when he was angry.
Again he was fucked. And not in the way he so desperately needed.
"You could just try asking him to dinner."
He turned and found Daniel Jackson sitting at a table in corner, a cup of coffee in one hand and a pad in the other. He was writing and didn't even look up. Rodney jumped; he'd thought himself alone.
"I said you could-"
"I heard what you said, Dr. Jackson. I was wondering why you feel the need to but in."
Jackson looked up and shrugged. "Jeez, and Jack thought I was clueless."
"What exactly is that supposed to mean?"
Jackson shook his head. "Nothing. I'm sorry."
Rodney approached the table. "It's too late, you already butted in."
Jackson sighed. "You want him." He pointed to the door which Carson had just exited.
Resisting the urge to say "no I don't" like a twelve year denying his schoolboy crush, he bit his cheek and said, "What makes you say that?' Rodney's interpretation of Daniel Jackson was limited. He spent all his time with Samantha during his one stint at the SGC when Jackson was alive, so to speak. He had been told Jackson could be perceptive.
"At the briefing the other day. You bit his head off. One moment you're fine, the next you're ready to end an obvious friendship with your snippy comments."
His patience was wearing thin. "And?"
"And that's exactly what Jack did when he-" Daniel stopped short, biting his lip. Rodney could see he'd obviously revealed more than he intended. Rodney blinked. He wasn't expecting that. He'd thought maybe Sam and General O'Neill had something, since she obviously wasn't interested in his advances.
"You and ..." he let in trail in the air.
"I didn't say that."
Rodney nodded. "Of course." He knew that the information could get the General in a lot of trouble. And while he could be a little petty, he wasn't one to run and tattle. Besides, he was well aware of how his own sexual preferences may be seen around both civilian and military personal.
Daniel took a sip from his coffee before getting up. "He could feel the same way. You could be surprised." Daniel raised an eyebrow and took his pad and coffee and headed out.
Rodney just gaped. Did he know something...No, he couldn't. He shook his head. Carson would never...or would he? Confusion crept in. Carson never mentioned any relationships, female or otherwise. Always changed the subject. And military lurked around every corner.
Damn it, now he was confused, frustrated, and horny.
He slammed his hand down on the table and cringed when he discovered had scraped his palm straight across the top of the butter knife left lying on the table.
Great, just great, he thought, holding slight pressure across the wound. He'd have to go see Carson ...
And he'd have to go see Carson.
For a singular second, Rodney felt a single shred of bravery sneak up. He almost didn't recognize it.
He'd better run before it disappeared.
"Ow! That's hurts!"
"I haven't even touched it yet, Rodney."
"Oh." Rodney looked up to see that Carson had yet to touch the hydrogen-peroxide soaked gauze to the cut on his palm. Carson sighed and finally laid a hand on the wound. Rodney yelped.
"Okay, now that really hurt!"
"Quit your whining, it's not that bad." He lifted the gauze. "Doesn't even need any stitches. How did you do this anyway?"
"Um, lab experiment." Rodney said nothing else on the matter, which was unusual for him.
"I'll bet." He bandaged Rodney's hand in silence. "All done." He moved away, expecting Rodney to be up and running off to his lab, but instead he sat perched on the gurney, his uninjured hand fidgeting, like he had something to say. Considering the last conversation he had with man, maybe he'd actually apologize.
"Okay, Rodney, out with it."
"Out with what?"
"I don't really have all day here. I've got my own tests to run."
"Ancient gene things, I suppose."
"This can't be about the ancient gene, again, can it? Rodney, I told you, I'd be happier without the bloody thing and no I cannot stand in your lab and made things all glowy for your amusement. Besides you don't want the help, remember?"
"Forget the gene."
Carson blinked. Something was up. Out of place. If he didn't know better, Rodney looked timid. Though he may have not known McKay for very long, timid was not the word he'd use to describe the man he was coming to know as his best friend.
"So ... I'm not really a people person."
"Really? Never would have guessed." Sarcasm oozed out of Carson's voice.
"Well, considering I'm about to pour my heart out here, I'm going to ignore that tone of sarcasm."
He paused. Carson started; Pour his heart out?
"I'm not very good at these things, you know."
"What things? Rodney, we've only known each other four weeks. And while that may seem like a lifetime to you and your lack of people skills, it's certainly not long enough for me to begin reading your mind."
Another pause and he watched Rodney let out a breath and mumble something.
Rodney sighed and repeated his statement, louder this time. "Have dinner with me."
"That's it? We always have dinner together. I was expecting a big revelation and -"
He stopped when he met Rodney's eyes. "Oh." He would only have needed to know the physicist for a minute to be able to read the open invitation.
"Okay," he said.
"It's okay if you don't - wait, did you just say yes?"
"Aye, I think I did."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
"You do understand what I'm asking, right? I mean I can't get anymore clear I think and I--"
"Rodney?" He put his hand up to physicist's mouth. Rodney nodded. "Don't take this the wrong way, but be quiet." Rodney nodded again and Carson released his hand. The second he did, Rodney leaned forward and the doctor soon found himself on the receiving end of a very eager tongue. They broke apart quickly, the kiss certainly somewhat passionate and perhaps even a tad desperate, but brief.
As far as kisses go, it wasn't extremely spectacular. But it was special, and was probably the most memorable kiss he'd had, expect for perhaps his very first.
All this time, he'd been hiding his own secret from Rodney, when in fact he was probably the very person he could indulge.
"You're a hard man to send signals to you know."
Carson smiled. "Me? I think you need to revamp your flirting skills."
"I have perfectly fine flirting skills. You're just oblivious."
"Maybe," he admitted, seeing as he did have absolutely no clue. "Of course you could have just told me."
"I told you I tried. I asked about your first relationship."
"You went on and on about how you kissed Pamela Keating. When you asked me, what was I supposed to say? That I kissed a girl when I was twelve, wasn't turned on, then pounced the first male I came across?"
"Well, if you did, it would have made things much easier."
Carson laughed. "Actually, my first kiss was with a petite little lass named Karin. And I was twelve. I didn't start with the lads till puberty was over."
"Damn, you just ruined my whole fantasy."
"Me being the first, the only, the one to get you to jump the fence ..."
"Of course," Carson smirked. "We could always pretend." A beep chimed and he glanced at his watch. He smiled and lifted his wrist for Rodney to see. "What do you know, it's time for dinner."
Rodney simply grinned back.
An hour later, in the darkness of their shared room, Rodney smiled.
Antarctica wasn't cold anymore.