The Scotch is lousy – some watered down, blended American crap a well-meaning but ignorant airman brought him after his last rotation home. Carson doesn't care. The bottle and glass sit on his desk, in the small patch he's managed to clear of papers and slides. The amber liquid beckons him, calls his name in smoky, seductive tones, and for a moment he closes his eyes, tilts his head and simply listens.
He tells himself he will just have one, a wee nip to settle him for the night. Just enough to block out the memory of Rodney's sweating, shaking agony, of the curses and rants and the accusation – "You have no idea what I'm going through!"
But he does. A wee inkling, and more.
Rodney is sleeping now, out of the woods, but the effects of addiction and withdrawal are long lasting. Months, years may go by, and then one day you're faced with that substance that both tempts and hurts you the most. Maybe you're feeling vulnerable and weak – maybe, for instance, you've just realized you're responsible for more deaths than Mengele. And a fresh-faced twenty year-old shows up in your office with his gratitude and his good intentions and a bottle of crappy blended whiskey, and you know it will silence the thousands of Hoffan voices that shriek and gibber in your head and give you blessed, dreamless sleep.
Maybe you don't give in right away, but you don't remove the temptation, either. You stash the bottle in a compartment in your office, one that only someone with the Ancient gene can open, and you pretend that you don't think about it. Every. Single. Day. It stays there, waiting patiently for something to trigger the need to the point where you can't fight it any longer.
Carson pours another three fingers of his 'wee inkling.' "Cheers," he whispers roughly, tilting the glass towards the infirmary where Rodney rests in blissful ignorance.
Six years of sobriety out the window, and it isn't even a single malt.