SUMMARY: No matter what age, it still hurts. Carson/Rodney friendship fic with angst and back story. Answer to the SGAHC 5 minute challenge: Sorrow.
SEASON/SPOILERS: Set season one, prior to Brotherhood, but doesn't really spoil anything.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: More Rodney angst (with a touch of Carson angst as well), but this time he has a friend. Could be considered a prequel/companion to my other story "Stopover."
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.


"The last time I saw Mother alive..."

"Geez, Carson, you talk as if she's dead. She's only on Earth."

Carson shot Rodney a look. "Only on Earth? At the rate we're going, she could very well be dead by the time we get back to Earth. And that's only if the Wraith don't get here first."

"You're the optimistic one today. Don't you have any faith in my abilities?"

Carson blinked. "Do I need to answer that?"

Rodney tossed his hands up into the air. "Fine! My PhD means nothing then."

"You say the same thing about my medical degree all the time."

"That's different," Rodney said. "And I don't mean..."

"I know what you mean," Carson replied. "Obviously you trust me or you wouldn't keep coming back to the infirmary for my help whenever you've managed to hurt yourself."

"You make it sound like I'm a kutz! I believe that title belongs to you, Dr-can't-walk-in-straight-line-in-the-cafeteria-without-spilling-his-entire-tray-all-over-himself."

"Once, Rodney. And it was your fault."

Rodney waved a hand nonchalantly. "Whatever. It's still voodoo and I'm sure your mother is alive and well doing what ever things ones does in Scotland."

"She's in the garden, now most likely. It's the right season for her rose bushes and I think it's mid morning in Glasgow right now."

Rodney eyed his watch. "Probably."

"I just wish I could send her a letter. Let her know I'm all right and settled. She worries."

"Not as much as you worry about her, I'm sure."

"She's delicate!"

Rodney snorted. "Delicate? Are we taking about the same woman I met during that one leave from Antarctica? Because she's anything but."

Carson sighed. "She has arthritis."

"Which, you as a physician, know isn't life-threatening. Frankly, Carson, I think you may need to let go."

"She's all the family I have. Since my da died..." Carson trailed off, a sad expression on his face.

"Oh, no, not the sad eyes. People die, you see it every day, especially in your chosen profession. Besides, didn't he die when you were six?"

"Aye. Still doesn't mean it doesn't hurt every once in a while. Doesn't your mother's death evoke a wee bit of sadness from time to time?"

"I was four when she died. I hardly knew her."

"Hardly knew her? Rodney, you had a picture of her by your bed in Antarctica and though I haven't seen it here, I have no doubt you brought it. You obviously remember her."

"She's gone. Dead. End of story. Dwelling on it helps nothing and I have much better things to do with my time. Ancient technology to explore, for one."

"That technology's been sitting for ages, it can wait a few more minutes. You never did tell me how she died, Rodney. And you never went back to Canada during our time in Antarctica. In fact, we had two leaves and you jumped at the chance to come to Scotland when I offered."

"So?" Carson stared at him and Rodney sighed. "She died of cancer. Ovarian, I think. It was a long time ago. The details are fuzzy."

"Not fuzzy enough, I would gather," Carson commented. "My da died from pancreatic cancer and it was not a pretty sight. Hospitals are scary places for a six-year-old, especially when he's been told he's not old enough to see his dying father and his mum has to sneak him in just so he can say good-bye." Carson's tone was even, but there was sadness in his eyes.

Rodney met his gaze for a split second, before swallowing and turning away. "Yeah, horrible. Good thing I can't remember, right?"

"Rodney..." Carson started. "I'm your friend, you know. At least I try my best to be."

"Then you should know I'm not very good at this whole sharing thing. I don't wear my emotions on my sleeve."

"You saying I do? If I really did that all the time, I'd never have survived medical school. Besides, sometimes a little emotion is not a bad thing."

"That's were you're wrong. Emotion is almost always a bad thing."

"You can't mean that, Rodney."

Rodney just looked up at him. "Why not?"

Carson sighed. "Your mother. I don't believe you can't remember."

"You can believe what you want to believe, Carson. Doesn't mean it's the truth."

Carson sighed. "Lies are often based on truth. You can't help but pick up a thing or two while taking medical histories. Patients may lie, but their illness doesn't. Eventually it all comes out. Supposed impersonal details that often tells a physician more than the patient will ever admit."

"You think my medical file will tell you whether or not I can remember my mother's death?"

"No. But that statement did."

Rodney shot him a look. "I think you're putting entirely too much faith in that psychiatric rotation. Last time I checked, you worked with genes, not the human psyche."

Carson shrugged. "You could say they're connected."

"Medical science says a lot of things."

"Aye, that it does."

The two lapsed into a moment of comfortable silence, and Carson appeared to drop the subject. But Rodney found he couldn't.

Damn you, Carson.

"She died at home," he finally spat out, the words barely above a whisper. "She was so weak...and there was some blood. I found her in the bathroom." He swallowed, his throat thick. "I was too short. I couldn't reach the phone."

"Oh, Rodney," Carson muttered. "Even if you could...there was most likely nothing to be done."

"She said my name." He paused. "And she was gone. Jeanie came home from a friend's house shortly after."

"I'm sorry." Carson's voice was low, and sincere.

"I know," Rodney said. "She was an amazing person. My father...let's just say he didn't like me. She..." His voice faded for a moment.

"Whenever we get back to Earth, hug your mother for me."

Carson smiled. "You could hug her yourself. She'd welcome it. She liked you."

"Really?" Rodney's eyes sparkled a moment.

Carson shrugged. "I guess mothers can always see the goodness in people. Part of their nature."

"I guess so," Rodney agreed. His mother certainly had.