Apastron: The point of greatest separation between two stars which are in orbit around each other. Opposite of periastron.
Rodney shut and locked the door to his quarters with a relieved sigh. That had been awkward to say the least. Why, after the week of near silence and withdrawal had Sheppard suddenly decided to sit with him? Rodney had finally accepted that he would always be alone, and he could live with that, so why had the colonel gone and acted so like he had before their falling out - like he was Rodney’s friend? It was a conundrum and one that Rodney wasn’t sure he wanted to figure out.
As soon as had been polite Rodney had made his excuses and fled the mess hall and Sheppard, retreating once more to the safe haven that was his quarters. Maybe here, in the complete silence and isolation of the room, he could figure out what had just changed, where this latest curve ball that was his sad and sorry life had come from.
Except Rodney didn’t know where to start. For once his mind was blank, no brilliant flashes of insight; no leaps of intuition; no cold, clear, perfect science to guide his way. He was like a blind man trying to see the stars, knowing they were there but having no information from his other senses to prove it to him; forced to rely on the word of others. It terrified him, this lack of knowledge and understanding, for knowledge had always been the one thing that Rodney could rely on and the ability to truly understand had been his pride.
Unfortunately, Rodney had finally hit his wall. He was tired, terrified, exhausted both physically and mentally, and bordering on the verge of a hypoglycemic episode more often than not because his eating habits had become abysmal. Too many of his people had died, and he felt responsible for each one. Too many colleagues had been lost because of his hubris.
Finally, in the quiet of the room and the silence of his mind, Rodney allowed himself to feel the weight of their loss, the weight of his guilt. Sliding down a wall, he wrapped his hands around his knees, and for the first time since his long dead father had hatefully screamed at him that he should suck it up and ‘be a man’, Rodney cried himself to sleep.
His eyes were gritty; his mouth tasted like salt; and he was stiff, heart-sore and lying on the floor to his room with his bed in plain sight. Rodney felt worse than he did his freshman year at MIT when he and a bunch of his classmates went down to Mexico for spring break and had discovered the wonders of tequila and it’s magical worm.
Groaning, Rodney levered himself up to a sitting position and scrubbed his face. Right. First order of business was a shower, aspirin and then food. The last thing he needed was to have a hypoglycemic reaction and end up in the infirmary. It would be just another thing that would draw unwanted attention to him right now, and he really didn’t want to deal with pity as well as loathing.
Putting his hands down to push himself up off the floor, Rodney was taken aback when his left hand hit something that soft surrounded by a foil wrapper that crackled as he pressed down. Turning his head, he found a now squished Power Bar peeking out from underneath his palm.
"Okay, I know that wasn’t there last night. Where the hell did it come from?" Picking it up, Rodney’s face broke into a confused smile; it was raspberry and cream, his favorite. But he was positive they’d already run out of that particular flavor in the latest supply shipment from Earth, and he knew he’d already gone through his own private stash, so how?
Shaking his head in bemusement, Rodney carefully set the bar aside, got to his feet and made his way to the bathroom for his shower. Maybe someone or something was looking out for him after all. A fanciful notion to be sure but for the first time since he’d heard of Arcturus, Rodney felt the smallest bit of comfort that maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t quite as alone as he felt.
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