Warning: Spoilers for "The Hive"

Note: Second part of my "The Dark of Days" cycle. "The Dark of Days" was the first story in this series.

Disclaimer: I don't own it, I make no money, yadda, yadda, yadda.

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Carson shot up in bed, duvet clenched tightly in front of him. Someone had – "Damn it, Rodney," he said as he realised who had burst into his room in the middle of the night.

Watching Rodney frenetically pacing the small space, Carson's brow wrinkled. He could just make out Rodney's face in the dim light, and he could tell that something seemed to be seriously wrong. "Are you quite well?" he finally asked.

"Yes. No. I don't know," Rodney replied, his hands moving frantically as he spoke. "I know I'm past the physical withdrawal. I know. But I…" He stopped in his tracks and turned to Carson. Dropping his voice to a near-whisper, he added, "So why do I want it so bad?" Not giving Carson a chance to answer, he started pacing again. "I swear, if it were here, if I could get it, I'd take it, damn the cost. I wouldn't care."

"It can take…" Carson tried to interrupt, but Rodney cut across him.

"And I heard what you said in the infirmary. I remembered. That you knew. That…" He stopped again and turned to face Carson, his gaze intense. "You said you knew."

After moment, Carson nodded. "Aye." Waving Rodney towards a chair, he leaned back against the wall behind his bed, pushing the blankets down around his waist.

"How old were you?" Rodney asked as he slumped into the chair.

"Sixteen," Carson replied, his voice flat and carefully controlled.

Rodney whistled. "Does anyone know?"

"Well, I've always been fairly open about it," Carson said with false joviality.

"But…"

"But no one ever asks," Carson finished with a false smile. "After all, why would they? I am the very model –

Rodney shifted, impatient. "Yeah, yeah. Of a modern major general. I get the reference," he said sharply, waving his hand. He leaned forward and said slowly and carefully, "So, how do you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Do IT. Deal. With the stress." Rodney's voice started to speed up again. "And all this," he added, waving around him, taking in all Atlantis with that one gesture. He leaned forward again, intense. "Sometimes, just sometimes, don't you –

The silence stretched between them as their eyes locked. Finally, Carson said, "Yeah. Sometimes. But I don't."

"Why not?"

Carson just stared at Rodney. He decided to be honest. "I'm not always sure."

"Right," Rodney said, nodding. He stood suddenly, his chair scraping harshly against the floor.

"Rodney," Carson said, just as Rodney moved towards the door.

"Yeah?" Rodney said, turning back to him.

"We each of us have to find our own reasons why not."

Rodney nodded, seeming to understand.

As Rodney left, Carson let his eyes rest on his top bureau drawer.

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