SUMMARY: Their relationship was unique, to say the least.
One. Spoils Poisoning the Well and Hot Zone.
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.
He stared at the boxes, taped up and ready to go. Moving forward, with life, with relationships.
Their relationship was unique, to say the least.
It was far from conventional, despite the fact that it felt as natural as could be. However, it was anything but.
Because "natural" and "relationship" implied a wonderful, lasting connection between two people.
That's where he used the word unique.
Carson wasn't sure what he'd tell his mum. He pictured himself at her doorstep, suitcase in hand and her opening the door, still in her apron, gray hair piled on top of her head. He'd hug her, smile, then step aside to reveal John and Rodney behind him.
"I'm in love," he'd tell her.
He always imagined her falling after that, but frankly, he wasn't sure how she'd react. He preferred not to think about it and, instead, thought of how he got himself involved in this trio in the first place.
He and Rodney happened early on. Antarctica. They shared a room there and developed a friendship despite their differing personalities. Within four weeks it progressed to more, especially once they'd laid both their bi-sexual cards on the table. It was rocky at first and they had broken up a few times, some lasting as long as a couple of weeks. He'd meet Perna during one of their longer breaks, and fallen hard. After her death, he realized he'd been on the rebound. It wasn't that he hadn't been attracted to her and that she hadn't been a wonderful woman. She was.
He and Rodney made up shortly after that. They only had one falling out preceding Hoff, but the nano-virus that infected Atlantis reconciled them again and they'd yet to part. No matter what, he and Rodney seemed right. Comfortable and stable. A fight was only a bump in the road.
Therefore, Carson wasn't surprised to learn that Zelenka started referring to them as "the old married couple." The phrase got loose and all of Atlantis soon called them that. Elizabeth even rolled her eyes if he and Rodney argued. Rodney was petrified at first. Military meant people who might not be so understanding. It was why they were discreet in Antarctica.
But when Bates started "seeing" Ford, well, it appeared it wasn't going to be a problem.
Carson was happy with Rodney and he knew Rodney was happy with him, but he couldn't help gazing elsewhere every once in a while. To be specific gazing towards a certain brown-haired Air Force major's ass.
That's when it changed. He and Rodney were sitting in the comissionary, Rodney with a cup of coffee in his hand, he with a cup of tea. It was early morning, and not too many people were afoot.
Rodney buttered his bread. "So," he started. "I invited Major Sheppard to my place tonight. Figured we could..."
Carson almost spit his coffee across the table. "You what?" he managed, shocked.
"Invited Major Sheppard over for a play date. Weren't you listening?"
Carson continued to stare, flabbergasted. Rodney just smirked. "Oh, come on, Carson. I see you checking out his ass every time we go in for mission checks. And there's no way you need to stick us all in behind that many times with a needle. Now I know you're hot for my bod - I mean, I am quite the intellectual hottie - but Major Sheppard isn't without his own perks. He's a little too skinny, but he works out. The women seem to like him, so there has to be something behind all that fuss.
"Plus," Rodney paused to take a sip of his coffee, "he thinks you're cute, apparently. I can't fault him there."
Carson just stared.
"Close your mouth, Carson. Think of it as an early birthday gift."
"My birthday's not for six months," he stammered, still not believing that Rodney was willing, had suggested even, a threesome.
Rodney shrugged. "I did said early. Christmas, then. I think it's closer to December on Earth. I'd have to dig out the calendar."
"Rodney, do you know what you're doing?"
"Of course I do. It's called a threesome. I've never been part of one so I figured it would be an interesting experiment. But," he set his coffee cup down and met Carson's eyes. "Don't forget who you're with."
"Rodney, I love you. You know that. We don't have to do this. I don't need to be with anyone else."
"I know you don't. I don't want you to forget about me and move on. And besides, who said you're the only one that thinks Sheppard ass is worth exploring?" He smiled.
Thus it happened. Well, sort of.
That evening wasn't without some awkwardness. John sat on Rodney's couch and smiled tersely. No one was sure how to start, Carson included. Threesomes were not something he'd been prepared for and any book on the subject laid a galaxy away in some bookstore. Oh, yes, all three of them knew what sex was, how to do it, how wonderful it would be when they got that far, but getting there, well...
Carson never expected Rodney to force him to make the first move.
"Kiss him," Rodney said, tapping his foot impatiently.
Carson just stared again.
"Oh, for God's sake, Carson. We are all wearing too many clothes. I'm not a patient man and you should be well aware of that." Carson didn't move. Rodney sighed and looked at John. "Major?"
That's when John kissed him. Tentative at first, but slowly deepening. Carson found himself opening up to the kiss, and tongues met each other. John's hands were teasing his waistband, fingers looking for entry. When Carson finally opened his eyes again, John was smiling.
"That was..." John trailed off.
"Aye," Carson echoed.
"Good. The ice is broken. Now I didn't drag another mattress in here for nothing." Rodney was standing in the doorway to the bedroom.
John , obviously feeling bolder, inched closer to Carson again, his breath on Carson's neck. Carson watched Rodney swallow.
"Um. Bed. Naked. Now," Rodney stammered and he and John followed.
Carson would have never guessed that Rodney would get off on watching him and John. But he did. There was a tangle of sheets and Carson was sure the only true memory he'd have of the night was wow.
Of course, wow wasn't perfect. John's hands were a little cold and Rodney knocked over the bedroom lamp, sending glass shards into the bed. The mood was broken as they dumped glass out of the sheets and Carson had to bandage Rodney's back when it discovered a piece they missed, but no night is without flaws. Wow was still wow.
And wow only got better.
At first, it was sex. Wonderful, wonderful sex. But Carson knew that he wasn't one for just sex, no matter how good it was. It made him feel like he was using John. After all, Carson and Rodney had a relationship built on friendship. John was very attractive, but Carson knew almost nothing about him. He intended to change that. See if he and John had common ground.
"Major Sheppard," he started, finding the man sitting alone in the comissionary, staring at his plate.
"I think you can call me John," he said. "I mean, Major Sheppard's kinda formal."
"All right, John," Carson continued. "You can call me Carson, you know."
John smiled. "I know. I'm trying. It's..."
"Odd?" Carson finished. "It is, isn't it? And it shouldn't be considering that we..."
"Fuck each other's brains out?" John said, still smiling.
Carson blushed. "Well, I wasn't going to say it like that, but I suppose that is what's happening."
"You blush too easily," John teased, playing with his fork.
"Maybe," he agreed. They feel into silence and Carson searched for an ice-breaker that didn't involve kissing. He wanted them to bond on a non-physical level, wanted to tell himself they could. But he wasn't sure where to start, wasn't even sure if they had a spark like he and Rodney did.
It was John who spoke. "Carson," he started. "We don't know too much about each other, do we?"
"No. I don't even think we have much in common," he admitted. Maybe truth was the best way to handle this.
John shook his head. "Maybe we do. You have family?"
"Aye. My mum, back in Scotland."
Carson shook his head. "He died when I was six. Pancreatic cancer. There was naught to be done." He looked down at his plate. He didn't remember much about his father, but his death was still painful. Most of the memories he did have were of a very sick man, not able to go out or have fun.
John's mouth tightened. "Then we do have something in common after all."
"We do?" Carson repeated.
"My father died shortly after I was born. Auto accident. One that never should have happened. It was raining and he was going faster than he should have. My mom was in the hospital, giving birth to me and he was rushing, hoping to make it in time. Needless to say, he didn't. And my mom was never really happy after that."
"That's awful," Carson said softly, not sure how to respond. He'd heard and given plenty of bad news in his life, and comfort wasn't easy.
"Maybe," John continued. "My sister was twelve at the time and since my mother wasn't exactly up to par, she took it upon herself to take care of me. She's amazing. We may never have been so close if not for what happened. Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
Carson shook his head. "I asked for one for Christmas when I was four. My mum laughed and said, 'we'll see.' Three months later, she was pregnant, and two months later my da fell ill. She was very upset and miscarried. I was so disappointed. I wanted a little brother very badly." He sighed. "I don't think I've ever said that aloud," he admitted. "I never wanted my mum to feel bad."
"Didn't even tell Rodney?" John asked.
John placed a hand on his. "I hadn't told anyone about my father. At least not here. I'll on my record, but I don't...well, let's just say it's not really a typical topic of conversation. So we're even." He gave Carson a small smile. "This is gonna take some time."
"I'm not Rodney."
"You're not," Carson agreed. "But I don't want you to be."
It had taken time. And effort. But it became easier. He and John never had the natural relationship that he and Rodney had. But that was fine. He already had one of those. John was unique.
John and Rodney gelled well, too. Perhaps better than John and he did, despite their mutual initial physical attraction. John and Rodney spent hours in the field together.
Carson spent hours in the infirmary worrying about them both.
No, he and John had to work at the their friendship, their relationship, but it was worth it. They balanced each other out. Carson wore his heart on his sleeve, Rodney hid his too much, and John was somewhere in the middle of the equation. Three was usually a crowd he'd thought, but then Zelenka passed him a copy of The Three Musketeers.
"Perhaps new name for you," he told Carson. "Old married couple does not apply to you, Rodney, and Major Sheppard. You and Rodney, yes, but you are three now. Is different."
"Don't I know it," Carson agreed, fingering the cover of the book. "Where did you get this, anyway?"
"Ah, I do not reveal sources," Radek said, hushed. "Oh, and I can get you more lube, if needed. Strawberry, yes?"
Carson blushed. "How do you know that?"
"Isn't like why you came to see me? Rodney in here last week. Lost his and dumped out his entire desk on the lab floor. It was a mess. He gave me chocolate."
"Yes. Although, I suppose you must have large supply in the infirmary. But it is not strawberry."
Carson blinked. "What will it cost me?"
Zelenka thought a moment. "I heard you have stockpile of condoms. Infirmary."
"Yes," Carson said. "But you get your hands on everything. Is Atlantis out of condoms already? Or just you and Elizabeth?"
It was Zelenka's turn to blush a bit. "She is relentless woman, you know."
"I'm sure," Carson said. "Drop by my office later."
Zelenka smiled. "Sounds good."
He returned to his office and had tried to do work, but his eyes fell back to the book. He skimmed the pages. The Three Musketeers.
No, that didn't seem right.
Carson figured he could spend an eternity thinking about his and Rodney and John's relationship, but it only left his brain tired. Their relationship was working. That was what mattered.
His mind filtered back into the present and he stared again at the stack of boxes in his quarters. The desk had been cleaned out. The bed stripped. The photos taken down.
Nothing left. Time to move on.
Behind him, he felt a pair of hands grip his shoulder.
"Big step, isn't it?"
Carson smiled and reached back to touch John's hand. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't."
"Rodney seems to think it's not."
"Rodney thought the three of us sleeping together was no big deal. He considered it an experiment, like something he'd run through in his lab. Of course the three of living together wouldn't phase him.
"No," John agreed. "But you sure about this, Carson. You could always just live with Rodney. You guys hadn't even gotten that far. We're still..."
"No." Carson shook his head. "We're not." He turned, breaking from John's hold. "We're not an old married couple," he blurted out suddenly.
John looked confused a second, then smiled. "That is yours and Rodney's title. I don't like the word 'old' being inserted into a sentence with my name."
Carson grinned. "You're just sore about Rodney throwing you an 'over the hill' fortieth birthday party last night."
"Forty is not old. Don't mock me. You'll be there soon enough."
"In three years," Carson teased. "But forty isn't old. It's more mature." He paused a moment to stare back at the boxes. "I love you," he said quietly. "That's why I'm ready."
John smiled. "I know. I'm ready, too."
Carson shook his head slowly and smirked. "No 'I love you' back? I swear you and Rodney are both allergic to those words. I should see if I've got anything for that."
John laughed. "We're slow. We..."
Carson leaned and tilted his face up until his lips were inches from John's. "I know. Actions speak louder than words." Then he stepped back again. "Now where's Rodney? There's no way we're carrying all these boxes ourselves."
So their relationship wasn't conventional. It may not even have a name. But, in the end, it didn't matter.
And that's what he'd tell his mother.