By Annie

EMAIL: Annie

Rodney’s sitting on the floor of his room when I let myself inside. He’s huddled forward, looking cold and abandoned, arms wrapped around his upraised knees, his head pillowed on them. It takes a moment before I realize he’s crying... softly, almost silently, his shoulders trembling as he fights to hold the emotion back.

I move forward, one slow step at a time, not sure for the first time in my life what to do. Would he want me here, now, seeing him at his most vulnerable, that mask of arrogance stripped away, leaving behind his humanity.

He doesn’t move though I’m sure he knows I’m there, just wipes at his eyes with the hem of his shirt then rest his face down on his arms again.

I sit down behind him and reach out, first just a tentative touch of my hand on his back then a small circle extending out to bigger ones, my hand stroking hypnotically.

He sighs after a minute or two and I can feel the tension in his muscles relaxing, small tight coils unwinding beneath his skin. A shuddering intake of breath then he turns and finally looks at me, his eyes red-rimmed, tears still trickling down his cheeks.

"He shouldn’t have died," he says quietly. "Why the hell didn’t he just wait for someone to come and take the bloody bomb away?" His voice is angry now, at the Ancients for creating the bomb or even at Carson perhaps. "He always had to be the hero. God!" He shakes his head and swipes at the tears on his face. "Do you know how I felt telling his mother that I couldn’t actually tell her how her son had died, just that he died a fucking hero?" He smiles thinly. "She said it was no more than she expected of him, that Carson had always been a hero in her eyes. I wanted to tell her that he had always been a hero to me too, that at the risk of losing even just one man, he sacrificed his own life." I can see his Adam’s apple move up and down jerkily as he swallows down bitterness and regret. "I miss him," he whispers.

"Me too," I say and then I pull him into my arms and hold him there, telling him over and over that we’ll get through this together, that I love him and I’ll be there for him.

His arms wrap tightly around my back as he whispers, "I know, John, I know."