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Title: Tainted
Author: Purpleyin
Rating: T

Spoilers: Season 2 Critical Mass, with hints of later character direction too.
Summary: Post Critical Mass character pieces. Chapter 2: Rodney reflects on things, including his own and Elizabeth's actions.

A/N: Kindly betaread by ToasterOnFire.

First chapter here (Carson's POV) for anyone who hasn't read it.

Chapter 2

He bands himself against her mentally. Tries to think of reasons why they shouldn't be doing this. Even though he isn't doing this. But he is letting it happen, and isn't that as bad?

They're endorsing torture, for the sake of her people of course, yet there is a split second where a thought skitters across his mind – one he'd rather not think. Her face is full of determination, she's so sure Kavanagh has what they need – so sure they can 'extract' it. It reminds him of Kolya. Wasn't he just the same? Committed to getting what his people needed.

Kolya was right about him knowing more, but it didn't make it right what he did – didn't make their mission to take over Atlantis justified, even though it wasn't strictly theirs, either. Now more than ever Rodney can see that neither do they have justification, they can pretend that to do the same is different, but it's not.

He avoids looking at them as he plays along in something that seems far too like a game for his comfort – like the game Kolya played with him. He avoids any part in it, plunging himself into finding a solution, so maybe they won't need to do anything after all.

Somehow, he's pleased to hear Kavanagh fainted before they got anything, even though they are in need, because he isn't really sure about the plan. The man's a jerk, but a spy?! Really it was silly to think he's serve anyone else, he doesn't have the loyalty to take such risks – yet Elizabeth and co. believe he is. It's rare, but for once Rodney doesn't agree with her, but he doesn't disagree either, because he doesn't know anything else that will help right now. He simply works.

That it was Caldwell surprises him when he finds out, afterwards of course, because at the time he could barely take time to think about who the codes were from. All that mattered was they had them – the city would be saved - he didn't want to think about how they had them.

It was good to know that Caldwell wasn't himself, as it were - that they had been right to do what they did to him. Caldwell seems to understand perfectly what situation they were put in.

But Rodney still thinks back to the determination of Elizabeth and the others. They were so sure; they were also completely wrong. It was only circumstance that prevented them from doing harm to an innocent man, because they all knew Ronon could have done terrible things if he'd had the chance to – intimidation can go far but no ones a fool enough to think that's where it would have stopped had it come to it. The thought makes him shudder.

The idea that Ronon would do such things is acceptable, the man isn't ever going to be exactly civilized after seven years on the run, and moral standards here in Pegasus seem to be based on survival, and they had needed those codes to survive. He imagines the decision was fairly simple for the guy, doing what was necessary.

Sheppard he can forgive too, because he's always been willing to do what it takes, not to mention Caldwell was spurring him on – misleading them all.

What disturbs him most is how Elizabeth let over to everyone else, or maybe that's just what he wants to think, to picture her going along with John and Ronon and the obviously biased Caldwell. He can certainly see what influence John has on her decisions, the same kind of influence he had once before he broke both their trusts. Except Elizabeth isn't weak like that – it was her call and she endorsed it fully.

That's the most chilling part, to think she made that choice herself, like he really ought to accept she had. The only thing that stops him is his willingness to think better of her, like she had so often done for him. He doesn't like where this trail leads for her, he wants to believe she was coerced, that it was some odd mix of group pressure that pushed the idea forward as the only option.

But he knows as he sits here, opposite her at the table, that it wasn't. He looks up to meet her eyes and can't stand to see how dispassionate she seems about the discussion they're having – what should be done about Kavanagh, and the report to the SGC. It almost appears she doesn't care that they nearly cut him, hit him, whatever it was Ronon had planned. Did she even think of the effect it would have on him – the unfortunate mirroring of what the Genii did in the name of survival. Somehow he doesn't think so, and he glances back to his notes, leaving time for her attention to be drawn to someone else before he chances to look at her again. He studies her and worries about what this all means. Half formed, terrifying, concerns battle against his wish to just ignore the change he sees in his friend.

Maybe it's just a blip, an anomalous error in her judgment. Something he can let go, forget about. He'd say so, but she's forgetting about what she was willing to do too soon. She knew it was dubious but at the same time she's so quick to get over the mistake, to ignore the possibility of having gone through with it. He can't let that slide, he can't let her slip further, but at the same time what can he do?

Elizabeth is more than that; in his mind she's always been above them all in terms of ideals – he's a man of science but she's a woman of words, of diplomacy, understanding and tolerance where others lack those qualities. Her point of view was always balancing, even if she wasn't right in the face of his arguments. He can't lose her to this, she weighs him down, brings him back to earth when he's too far above to see what's at risk.

And now he wants to return the favor.

He stands by, for now, watching and waiting because there isn't anything else to do yet. Hoping that he won't have to protect her from herself one day, a day that doesn't feel that far away no matter how much he hopes it doesn't even exist at all. He wants to be proven wrong for once; as much as his pride would be hurt by that, he knows deep down it would wound him much more to see her become anything like the man he despises. Kolya may haunt him by night, but he won't let him haunt the halls of Atlantis too, especially not in Elizabeth's form. She was the imperviable one, incorruptible by this wretched galaxy. He can't bear to think of her turning to him and him seeing the same sharp, calculated and awfully smug look of justification in doing the wrong thing, despite the good intentions. He knows why she would do such things, but he won't let it be the norm. Elizabeth Weir should never be jaded, darkened to a shadow of herself like he fears, and for once he isn't going to back down and give up just because the prospect, her very presence, scares him and reminds him of what could be.

He hasn't ever really been one for friends, but it occurs to him he has to care to even be considering any of this. And for once it doesn't bother him to know that. He doesn't feel weak for it like he might have believed when he was younger, because he knows to have people who care makes you stronger and he's going to be there for her as much as she will let him. His only other fear is, if she won't let him...


Chapter 1 - Chapter 3


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
Oooh ow. Poor Rodney.

But proof that great minds think alike because I'm writing a CM tag in which McKay mentions the Kavanagh-Koyla thing.

Only it's during an alcohol-fuelled game of Truth or Dare with Cadman...
Jan. 15th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
LOL. I'll be interested in seeing that, a more inventive way of doing a tag. :)
Jan. 15th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
Oh wow! Brilliant!

I know it probably sounds dumb, but it didn't click with me when watching the ep - Rodney's discomfort with the torture idea and the fact that he himself has been tortured. And now I'm doing the facepalm thing and thinking "Of course!" Really neat the way you've tied it all together.

And the way you've got Rodney seeing all the morally grey areas that seem like necessities to their life in the Pegasus galaxy - and yet still wanting to save Elisabeth's soul as it were, that's just gorgeous!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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