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[personal profile] bibliothekara
Rating: PG-13/FRC
Warnings: Implications of a US mass casualty event.
Genres: Gen, Friendship, Angst
Characters/Pairings: Rachel Maddow, Richard Hammond
Disclaimer: All copyrighted materials referred to in this work are the property of their respective owners. References to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.

Notes: a) Written originally as comment-fic for [personal profile] lilalanor , who wanted "Top Gear/Pundits. Hamster and Rachel being BFFs. " Because I can't refuse her anything.
b) Title from this poster.

Summary: Rachel, stuck in London during trouble back home, is consoled by a better-at-this-than-usual Richard.

*****
In the right light, Rachel Maddow kind of looked like a a statue of Artemis. (These were the kind of insights that years allegedly wasted in art school had bestowed upon him.)

Richard had finally found her again, a little past midnight. Staring at the pub tv that was tuned to BBC Worldwide. Alternately staring at the (very old, he was sure) Scotch in her glass. Which had been weeping its condensation on the hardtop.

He quietly edged onto the stool next to her. As much as James and Jeremy might mock him, his size had never really been an aid to subtlety. Mostly because he wasn't, overall, a very subtle man. But for a friend (for an unexpectedly good friend), he would try.

They sat for a while; she still said nothing. So he decided that, ah, subtlety wasn't needed tonight. Hammond the Instigator was.

"They finally kicked you out of the London bureau?"

"Yeah. About an hour ago. Said they'd text me if anything new happened."

"And Susan?"

"Asleep in the hotel room."

The red flash of a breaking news chyron interrupted them. It just turned out to be a recap of the last hour or so of "no news."

Rachel smiled bitterly. "My first vacation, first one in... Y'know, Keith always used to joke about this."

Richard returned the smile. "From all your stories, the man has a very black sense of humour. I'd suggest we conspire to get him together on camera with Jeremy, but even I'm not that foolish."

That made her laugh, a little bit. "It was always tongue-in-cheek, a thing about his ego. That the Universe collectively would wait to have these big things happen while he was holed up in his apartment, or in Tampa watching spring training. Well, him and Jon Stewart too. That usually comforted him."

Rachel paused, looked away at the TV, and then looked back at the bar.

Richard put a hand on her shoulder. "Eh, don't go there all at once, all right? The phones, they're bonkers right now, no one can reach anybody. He's fine, Bill and your staff are fine, Ed and Lawrence and all your lovely people that you tell me stories about, they'll be fine."

Unexpectedly, this made her laugh, though he saw the tears glistening in her eyes. "That's what Richard was telling me for the last half-hour."

Very confused, the local Richard raised his eyebrows at her. "What, was my evil...I mean, evil-er, twin, here?"

"No, no, no, Engel, not Hammond."

"Ah, your bloke that goes running around the desert dodging bullets all day."

"Your good twin. Except with better hair. I finally got him on his sat-phone from Cairo. But he hasn't been able to get anything more than what we know. Which is not a heckuva-lot."

The mild expletive was strong enough (she was almost like James that way). It  belied the angry tint in her eyes. She gulped the last bit of whiskey from the glass, looking like she intended to slam the glass down. But had thought better of it at the last moment.

This needed to be headed off at the pass. "Rachel."

"What am I good for? As a journalist, or pundit, or human being, or whatever it is that makes me useful? What is all of it good for, when it ends up with me sitting in a bar at near 1 in the morning, knowing absolutely nothing?"

Now she really was crying, quietly. Richard let her finish, and then reached over to softly take her hand. She looked him steadily in the eyes. Half defiantly rhetorical, but half vulnerable. Almost child-like, asking him for some few words that would make it better.

"Well, y'know me, Rach, man-boy who cocks about driving flash cars for a living. I don't know if I've got anything useful I could even think to tell you. But..."

(He tightened his grip on her hand, just slightly.)

"...fortunately, I've managed to surround myself with more sensible people. "

Rachel smirked at this. "James and Jeremy really  don't count."

"Not quite. Not always, but let me finish."

He took a deep breath at this; it still hurt to tell this story.

"When I was in hospital...well, I've been told. The first few days, it was all wait and see. Mindy and the girls, and Jeremy and James just sitting in a little room, staring at the walls. And Mindy will swear, up and down, that Jeremy, pain in the arse Jeremy, was one of the things that got her through that. That he blathered about camera shots, and cars, and other challenges. He was so *gloriously* certain that there would be an after, be a Top Gear for me to come back to, that she started to believe it a little. And that...that helped her believe that I would get through it, that I would come back."

He paused. "I can't tell you how this 'after' is going to be, whether it will the same, or worse, or what. But you will get through it, and they'll need you. And that, that is what you're good for."

Rachel looked away, keeping her grip on his hand.

Then she smiled, still sadly, but less angry than she had been. "For an angry short man, you're pretty good at this friendship stuff sometimes."

"Shh, don't tell anyone. I've got a reputation to maintain."

"James and Jeremy would never let you live it down."

"I actually left them in the pub down the street. They'd love to see you, if you're up for it."

Rachel shot one last look at the television, and then edged off the stool.

"I think I am."

"There we are. I'll text Jeremy that he's to be on his best behavior."

"Oh, don't do that. I don't think I could take it. I kind of like being his "Wrong About Absolutely Everything In The World Except Alcohol" person."

"Fair enough."

The bell jingled, as the two of them exited the pub into the cool midnight air.

*fin*
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