Carson was a naturally cautious person. He hated surprises almost pathologically - in his experience, a surprise was almost always unpleasant. Oh, Christmas and birthdays were usually exceptions to that rule, but on almost any other occasion his understanding dictated that surprise meant he was about to get hurt.
So when his feelings for Radek Zelenka snuck up on him one night and bit him on the arse, it was with a great deal of trepidation that he contemplated forming any kind of relationship with the Czech engineer beyond that of co-worker and friend. Radek was a pleasant, steady, good-humored man with more than a touch of genius, even if he wasn't nearly as noisy about it as Rodney McKay. He knew that his body responded to Radek - the Oreo cookie incident had proved that.
Carson thought Radek would probably respond favorably to his overtures, if he made them. His chief nurse reported out of the ladies weekly poker game (the expedition's clearinghouse for all manner of information) that Radek was charming, attentive, unfailingly polite, and totally unresponsive to the most determined advances seen since the Blitzkrieg.
But what on earth would they talk about? There would be little enough talking at the beginning, true - small murmurs of seduction, gasps of arousal, cries of delight, perhaps even screams of passion. When the noise was all over, when sweat was cooling on their bodies and semen drying on the sheets, would they talk at all?
What about the next morning, assuming Carson wasn't called out early for a medical emergency? Would they chat over breakfast about Engineering? Genetics? How close they were to dying at the hands of the Wraith? Carson shuddered. When it came right down to it, the only thing he and Radek had in common was the common adventure they lived, and the common enemy they faced.
Could they make a relationship out of that commonality? He didn't want a one-night stand, though his body ached for the touch of another hand besides his own. It wasn't like he could find someone in a pub and take them home for a night, then shove them out the next morning with a meaningless promise to call sometime. He hated being the guy shoved out in the morning, and didn't want to be the one doing the shoving now. In the closed community of Atlantis, he had to live and work with the results of any liaison he might initiate. As a member of the team, it was his responsibility not to let his personal life interfere with the job to be done.
Why try at all? Why start something that had the potential to be as explosive as C-4? He wouldn't die from sexual frustration, though he might feel like it sometimes. He was certainly not the first man in history to go without, and he certainly wouldn't be the last. He wasn't worried much about what people would say. Carson was finding out, as had almost every explorer in history, that "going where no one had gone before" changed the rules for the people involved. Well, maybe not so much changed as tossed them out the window…
Rules or no rules, something in Radek spoke to him. He couldn't define it - there was some sort of empathy between them that said, "Touch me - don't be afraid, I won't hurt you." Like a stray cat being coaxed by a child with a morsel of food, he was starving - but very much afraid that he was about to have his tail yanked by that enticing, angelic-seeming child.
What was the worst-case scenario? He would make a pass, and Radek would reject it. From all he knew about the man, it would change little about their relationship in the long run, though it might make things awkward for a bit. But as long as Carson let it go, Radek would, too. So really, he had nothing to lose, and something infinitely worthwhile to gain if it worked out as he hoped. But perhaps he would wait another day or two before doing anything. It never hurt to get a second opinion, even if it was your own.
Slowly, Carson stripped off his duty uniform and stuffed it in the laundry, then found a clean pair of pajama pants and slipped into them. Walking over to his balcony door, he cracked it just a wee bit so that he could have fresh air while he slept. Turning to his bed, he burrowed under the wool blankets. Something his medical training had taught him well was to sleep when he had the opportunity, since there might not be a chance later.
As he drifted off, he thought of what Radek might be doing now. Sleeping, he hoped - Rodney, Radek, Dumais, and most of the other engineers were doing a survey on the South Pier tomorrow to check out some recent storm damage. Radek needed his rest, too. They hadn't explored that part of the city yet, and everybody needed to be fully alert and aware.
Because when it came right down to it, Atlantis was full of surprises.