Rodney poked his head into the medical labs. It was late at night, but there was still a light on in Carson's office. Rodney made his way through the lab and knocked on Carson's closed door. "Carson? Hey, you in here?" he called.
"Just go away, Rodney. Please," came the muffled response from the other side.
Rodney sighed. Carson had been avoiding everyone as much as possible since they got back from M1B-129. He'd been very quiet in their briefings, had reported for work as normal, but when he wasn't on duty, he just seemed to vanish. Rodney suspected he knew what was going on, and had had enough of it. "I'm not gonna go away. You've holed yourself up in your lab since we came back. Have you even eaten?"
"I'm not hungry."
"It's been over a day! Are you telling me you haven't eaten anything at all?" Rodney was tired of speaking through the door. It was the work of only a couple seconds to override the lock on the door controls, and he stepped inside before the door even finished opening. Carson was leaning on his hands against a lab table, his back to the door.
"Rodney!" Carson protested when he heard the door open, but he didn't turn around. Rodney saw his shoulders tighten.
"No!" Rodney thought the door closed behind him and took a few steps towards Carson. "Is this about Barroso? Carson, please tell me you aren't beating yourself up about that?"
"I let him die, Rodney. How am I not supposed to feel guilty about that?" Carson's voice was quiet now, hurting. Rodney came up behind him, hovering, not sure if Carson would let him touch.
"You were under the influence of the EM field that wraith generator was producing. It wasn't your fault!" Rodney insisted.
"I thought he went outside. I forgot all about him. How many times did he try to talk to me, I wonder? Did he call out? I thought he was going to be ok. I thought the bleeding had stopped. Maybe I hallucinated that too? I was right there, not six feet away, ignoring him while he bled to death."
Rodney grimaced. "Not your fault," he repeated, insistently.
"Tell that to Barroso's friends. To his family." Carson's voice was a mere desolate whisper now. Rodney thought, fuck it, and slid his arms around Carson's waist and pulled the doctor upright and back into him. It hurt Rodney to see Carson in such pain. He wished there was more he could do, but he always had been awful at the comfort thing. Carson needed him right now, and while Rodney knew he was terrible with words, this, this he could do.
He felt Carson tense in his arms and he wondered if he was going to pull away. Rodney tightened his grip a little and rested his chin on Carson's shoulder. "You did everything you could. I know that. Barroso's friends here know that." He didn't know what else to say. Humans weren't like machines, where he could just tweak a few wires and crystals and make everything better. He hated seeing Carson like this, hated how helpless he felt to fix the pain his lover was in.
It took a few moments, but Carson slowly relaxed. They stood in silence, both contemplating the recent events. Finally, Carson turned in Rodney's arms, wrapped his own arms around Rodney's waist, and leaned his forehead on Rodney's shoulder. Rodney's hands moved up and down Carson's back, just holding him, letting him take the time that he needed.
"You saved Kagan's life," Rodney quietly reminded him.
Carson sighed, "aye."
After a while longer, Carson broke away from him. His eyes were still tight, but his expression was much more normal. Rodney smiled at him, "you need to eat. Then, after that, you need to come home with me and get some rest."
"I've tried sleeping..." Carson trailed off, giving Rodney a helpless look.
Rodney knew what that meant. Nightmares. Not surprising, Rodney thought. He'd had a few himself the night before. "Hey, that was sleeping alone. You'll be with me tonight, Carson. I'll help you." Rodney watched him, waiting, hoping he'd agree. Please, he begged silently, let me hold you, let me do doing something to help because I feel so useless right now.
Carson finally smiled slightly at him. It wasn't anywhere near a big smile, but Rodney knew a win when he saw one. "You're right, love. Thank you."
Rodney leaned forward and kissed him, then turned for the door. "Let's go. The mess won't have much, but I have MREs stashed in my quarters."
Carson followed his lover out into the night-quiet hallways. "Of course you do."