Title: A Loving Deception

Author: Dr. Dredd

Spoilers: None

Season: 2

Genre: Angst, H/C

Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis, characters, concept, etc, aren't mine.

Written for the SGAHC "Sorrow" challenge. (Fiction must include the sentence, "The last time I saw Mother alive...")

"The last time I saw Mother alive, she looked fine! Not like she was slowly dying of cancer." Carson Beckett felt like the world had dropped out from under him, or like someone had slugged him in the gut. He was still feeling mostly disbelief, but the pain was beginning to make itself known. When the grief did hit full force, he didn't want to be around anyone else, but for now he needed the company of someone who would listen.

"Aye, lad, your mum was doing poorly for awhile," said Pete sadly. The pub owner was a longtime friend of the Beckett family, and had been the one to break the sad news to Carson on his second trip home from the Pegasus galaxy. "But you'd never know it to look at her. She was always dressed smartly, and had a smile on her face for everyone."

"How long?" Even getting those words out took an effort.

"About six months. She had just been diagnosed when you came home last time, but she didn't want to tell you. She didn't want to ruin the time she had with you, and she was adamant that ye not put your own life on hold."

Carson knew that his legs would not hold him anymore, so he quickly sat down at one of the wooden booths. He was an only child, and his father had died years earlier. His mother had been his last surviving family, and now she was gone, too.

"If it helps at all, lad, I don't think she suffered. Doc Galston looked after her -- he said you should call him any time, day or night, if ye had any questions or wanted to talk." Pete was close to tears himself. He could feel his friend's anguish like it was his own. It was both the blessing and the curse of being a barkeep.

To his surprise, Carson found himself growing angry. "Why did she do this? She didn't even say goodbye!"

"Didn't she?" Pete had had a long talk with Carson's mother before she died.

Carson thought back to the last time he had visited his mother. They'd spent several relaxing days in their home in Glasgow, catching up on each others' news (the unclassified version). On his final evening home, he and his mother had gone to a nearby park and watched the sun set over a small lake. It had been a vibrant display of color, and the two of them sat rapt long after the last bits were gone. "Remember this, son," his mother had said. "You'll not see its like again in this world or any other." It was obvious to Carson now that she had not just been talking about the sunset, and he bowed his head in grief.

Pete patted Carson's shoulder, then left him to mourn in private. But a familiar voice soon let the physician know that he wouldn't be left alone for long.

"Carson?" said Rodney softly. "Your friend Pete just told me about your mother." He paused, then said awkwardly, "Is there anything I can do to, you know, help?"

Bless Rodney's soul. The man could be irritating and completely lacking in tact, but he did the right thing when the chips were down. Carson was unable to find the words to answer, but Rodney appeared to understand anyway. "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere."

No, with friends like Rodney, Carson knew he definitely wouldn't be left alone for long.