Spoilers: Season 2 Critical Mass, with hints of later character direction too.
Summary: Post Critical Mass character piece, Carson reflects on things, including his own and Elizabeth's actions. Leaning into angsty dark fic.
A/N: Kindly betaread by victoriaely
He really dislikes the colour red, he sees far to much of it in his profession. They call red the colour of love, of your heart and although that's true, it's red for blood and guts and suffering. Love is rarely happy in his opinion, and that rare happiness barely ever lasts for long.
He thought he maybe he could be happy here; find a nice girl and all, one his mum would be proud of, but nothing goes according to plan. Laura's a nice girl alright but somehow he feels it won't work, doesn't want it to really, because it's too easy to get hurt. His parents were happy together, but even they couldn't last, because people don't. That's yet another reason he wishes he could give up on it, even finding love and happiness gives you no guarantee you can hold on to it. Especially not in this galaxy.
He likes red on her though, the colour of command, of the civilians on the base, those he thinks of as truly innocent to the evils of the universe. They're not like the military, who've seen war before and they're not like the scientists who obviously knew the risks of coming here and chanced it anyway. It's the people in red who suffer most, because they are always optimistic, naïve to a point that causes just enough pain when the metaphorical slap comes to scold them for it, but leaves them conscious enough to realise their mistake and what it has cost them. They are never the same again.
She's different. She gets back up and believes it once more, because she's an idealist and perhaps it's all she has to herself, the only thing to hold onto. But she's getting more cynical, ready to drop the front when necessary – or maybe she still really believes and simply pushes her ideals to the background. Either way, she doesn't question why bad things happen anymore, she deals with it, the best she can. She's growing stronger, her colour darker too, like the seeping stain of blood upon her soul. She's responsible for so much and she can't let her people suffer, not even it seems for the sake of principles, it seems.
He's heard about her sanctioning of using whatever means necessary on Kavanagh, and he can't say he approves as a doctor or a man, but he understands her reasons, because he understands what's happening to her. Sometimes he feels the same, wants to end the suffering no matter the cost, and he knows, just as she does, the guilt of causing as much suffering in trying, and of being responsible for everyone – he's failed to protect his people, he's done more harm than good on several occasions. Once it cost him a good friend, perhaps more, and he's lucky it didn't with John, too. He's also been involved in things he doesn't care to think about often, what happened on Hoff more generally – the acceptance and joy by the Hoffan over something that caused equal amounts of death as it did liberation - and how his enthusiasm a second time inadvertantly lead to Ellia's death.
The cost for him now is different though, and sometimes means helping where no help is wanted. The only difference is he stepped to the side, let nature run its course, no matter that it lead to the loss of one of his friends last link to her family.
He knows nothing happened to Kavanagh, he looked him over himself to check; just to be sure, to know the truth. But he still knows Elizabeth ordered it, was willing to do it. She couldn't herself, she never would, but it's almost the same to get others to do it. It means you have to be sure, committed to do what you believe is necessary.
He's scared of what it means, that she could ask that of Ronon, or Sheppard. He knows he's not that far behind, he thinks the same way, he just hasn't acted on it – he was willing in mind, but not body. What's the difference between them apart from that? To want but deny burns a person up; he wants to do whatever necessary and he's not sure how long there will be that difference between them.
He already knows it's easy to slip into thinking something is the best on others behalf, and he's scared that, like Elizabeth, he'll slip across that line and do something more than is strictly acceptable. He doesn't know when, but he can feel it coming and he doesn't know how to control the urge to do something - he can't stop helping people even though one day he might be doing more than aiding people, might go further than anyone wants, with the best of intentions still in mind. It's frightening, because once you start, you can't withdraw, you can't take back what is wrong and you can't justify. You have to accept and get on with it, and deal with the fallout.
What he can't quite get around is the fact that Elizabeth isn't dealing with it, she doesn't have to. Kavanagh is shocked, refusing to talk about it to Heightmeyer. You'd think he'd be all over it, but it seems he's uncharacteristically tightlipped on the matter – fearful even.
Before it was simply Kavanagh who doubted her motivations, now many question how far she will go, the general conufsion fueled further by Kavanagh's silence on the issue. It's mostly just whispers around in the corridors, idle talk to lift the heavy blanket of awkward silence after the recent revelations. People trying to reassure themselves that this is right, that they are fighting the good fight and whatever is done will be in the name of freedom, and ultimately peace too – that everything will be okay. Even then they haven't tricked themselves enough to alleviate the slight kilt in their smiles that belays their discomfort. No one is happy, it doesn't sit right with them – they can't justify it away.
And really what concerns him is how he can almost sympathise with her stance; wants to have that courage and commitment to making everything better in any way possible, because it might be all they have left, the only way to fight against the improbable odds they face and gain victory over the Wraith.
He doesn't like red because it's symbolic for everything he finds unbearable. For everyone else it's all about love and joy, but for him it's all about pain and loss.
Yet he likes it on her, and he likes the idea of that darkness to it, the maroon of her jacket and the dark red shirts colours reflecting back on her face in the low light of the late night when she often visits him, making her face tinged red too – because on her it makes her seem alive rather than dying.
He doesn't know why he likes it really, why it's so specific to her, just the same as he shouldn't admire her actions, but he does. It's not right to, but a lot of things haven't been right for a fair amount of time. He doesn't think things will be for some time to come. It's just a feeling really, but he can't shrug off the sense something untoward approaching, of fate closing in on them and driving them both towards what might have been unimaginable once, but no longer is.