Warnings: Some swearing. Spoilers for "The Hive".

Note: Written as part of the Atlantis Basics ficathon.

Beta: None. I'm pinch - hitting this story, and only had one day to write it. So thus, no beta.

Requests: Nau requested the following: 1) Rodney and Carson during the Hive. I'd like to see what happened when he woke up, before he went to See Elizabeth. Can be Slash or not 2) Grace under pressure tag. Carson and Rodney, can be slash or not 3) Carson whump. I more or less did the first request.

x-x

What Rodney had said to Carson in the infirmary, in the heat of withdrawal from the enzyme:

"You have no idea of the kind of hell I'm going through!"

That had shaken him, and he'd been unable to cover, or to bite back his reply,

"Oh, I think I have an inkling."

x-x

Carson's gaze rested on the screen of his laptop, although his eyes remained unfocused. His mind was on the man on the infirmary bed behind him, who was finally sleeping, "Thank God," he muttered to himself. It had been a hell of a couple of days, and Rodney was finally resting. In fact, they both deserved a bit of rest.

He felt a hand brush his shoulder and he looked up into the concerned smile of one of the nurses, Arthea. "You off, then?" he asked. He closed the laptop and pushed his chair back from the desk, taking the opportunity to stretch away the stiffness of hours.

"I am," she replied. She gave him a pointed look. "You should be, too. It's late."

Carson nodded and glanced at Rodney before replying. "Soon enough. Doctor Stevens is here, I take it?"

"Has been for over an hour," she replied. She looked to Rodney and her smile softened. "He should be fine now. Go on to bed."

Carson returned her smile. "I will. Thank you."

As Arthea nodded and left the room, Carson dragged his chair to Rodney's bedside and began one final check of his patient's vitals. Arthea was right - the room was fast growing dark around him, and his shift had been over hours ago. There were few patients in the infirmary and plenty of staff, so why was he still there?

He yawned and rubbed a hand across his tired eyes, then stood and began straightening Rodney's IV lines - lines that were already perfectly straight. He was just...it was like he didn't want to leave.

Carson's hands stilled, and he looked down at Rodney's sleeping form. If he was honest with himself, he knew why he was still there; seeing his friend in the throws of withdrawal had shaken him more than he'd let on. "You could well have died, Rodney," Carson said, his voice one of the few sounds in the otherwise quiet room.

He thought back to what he'd said earlier:

"Oh, I think I have an inkling."

And he slumped into the chair. "I'm afraid I've had a wee bit too much experience with what you're going through." He sat up straight, then leaned forward towards Rodney, keeping his voice low. "In fact, that was one of the things that first brought me to the study of genetics. I'd wanted to see if there was a genetic component to addictions. I -"

His eye caught the last of the sunlight as it filtered through the colored Atlantis glass, casting the room in a deep blue glow. "Of course, life has a way of taking one in unexpected directions."

Carson heard movement behind him, and he turned to see another nurse, Matthew, approach Rodney's bedside and begin his work.

As the man worked, he threw back over his shoulder, "Shouldn't you be elsewhere, doctor?"

Carson smiled. "Are you lot conspiring against me?"

Matthew paused and turned to Carson. "Absolutely. Yes, we are. Arthea made me promise to get you out of here." His stern face softened into a smile. "And I'm used to the peace and quiet of my kingdom at night. I don't need you here mucking up the place."

Carson couldn't help but laugh, and Matthew continued. "I'll give you ten more minutes."

"And then?"

"And then I'll pick you up and toss you out myself," Matthew replied as he left the room.

Carson turned back to Rodney. His friend looked exhausted, the trials of past days clearly visible on his face even in sleep. "You're past the worst of it now," Carson said. "Physically, at least." Although, as he remembered, the rest of it could be equally as hard.

Even now, he wasn't sure how it had all started, or even why. He'd been young - there certainly was that - but just as certainly that wasn't the reason. He'd escaped from Glasgow to university, leaving his family and friends behind, sending him off with so much hope.

He'd brought their hope with him to uni, but he'd brought his own doubt as well. Even at eighteen, he'd already seen friends becoming trapped by their choices, or lack thereof. And sure, he'd escaped after a fashion, but he'd felt so damned isolated there at uni. He had friends, but they were all so different from him. He'd been the only one there who'd come from such poverty, and he'd kept a part of himself - perhaps his real self - hidden. He felt like a fraud, a pretender, but at the same time, he'd made a conscious decision to change, to cover, to make himself appear to fit in, right down to his accent.

"It was stupid, really," he said aloud, nervously drumming his fingers along the edge of Rodney's bed. "I had friends at home falling to drugs, and there I was at uni, supposedly beyond all that, and...It was at a university party, of all things. And I should have known better, but I..." He let his voice drift away. It wasn't even that his friends were pressuring him to try. It was actually like he'd made a choice, seeing it there. A choice.

He shook his head. "Why I first tried it, I cannot tell you. Even now, years later, I cannot tell you." But why he did it again that second time, and the third, and the times after that? That much he did know. "I found it took the pain away," he said, his voice soft. He stared at the night-darkened windows. "Pain I wasn't even aware I was in, until it had gone." And later on, once he'd realised what was happening, and that the drug had him, it was too late.

"Damn, I could use a drink," Carson said, chuckling softly. He patted Rodney's arm. "Trade one addiction for another, eh?" He stood and looked down at his friend. "Anyway, I felt you deserved a bit of an explanation. Sleep well, Rodney." Then he grabbed his laptop and was gone.

Rodney opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, thoughtful.

x-x

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