A/N: As I was reading Admiral Lily's fic "Careful What You Wish For", it occurred to me to wonder how Carson felt about the whole Elizabeth/Simon dynamic. This fic is the result.

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Title: Qualifications

Author: Dr. Dredd

Spoilers: Intruder

Season: 2

Disclaimer: Stargate Atlantis, characters, concept, etc, aren't mine.

Summary: Elizabeth works through her anger and sadness about Simon.

Carson Beckett was not surprised to find Elizabeth Weir sitting on the balcony overlooking the ocean. Standing out of her line of sight, he watched as she stared into the distance, her chin resting on her knees. Shortly after their personnel selection meeting, her boyfriend Simon Wallace had withdrawn his application for a position on Atlantis's medical staff. Elizabeth had managed to avoid Carson during most of the trip back from Earth, but he knew she was still upset.

Truth be told, Carson wasn't sure if he would have accepted the man's application even if he had been willing to sign the one-year commitment. Dr. Wallace was competent enough, but didn't seem to possess the innate sense of adventure or love of inquiry that would be needed by a physician practicing in another galaxy. Carson felt a guilty sense of relief that he had not been forced to decide between friendship and loyalty to Elizabeth and his duty to select the best people to safeguard the lives of the expedition members.

Carson was about to turn around and leave when he heard a muffled sob. For a minute he was hesitant to intrude upon Elizabeth's privacy, but his desire to help a friend overcame his reluctance. Carefully, so as not to startle her, he walked over and sat down by her side. They just sat there for awhile, watching as the sun set and the first stars appeared. Carson was aware that she needed his silent support now, not conversation. She would talk to him when she was ready. Although the air grew chillier, neither of them made a move to get up or leave.

"I can't believe he didn't tell me right away," Elizabeth finally whispered. "He let me believe a lie for almost two weeks."

"For what it's worth, I don't think he meant to hurt you, lass. But his heart wasn't in it, and maybe he didn't want to diminish your dream."

"Could you tell that from his application?" Elizabeth asked.

Carson debated honesty, then answered, "Aye."

Elizabeth sighed. Although he couldn't see her face in the darkness, Carson could hear the tears in her voice. "He said he found someone else."

Carson supposed that explained a few things. It was understandable, given their long absence from Earth, but must have been devastating just the same. "I didn't know," he said simply.

"I told him not to put his life on hold for me, but it hurts that he listened!" She sniffled, "And I know that sounds selfish, but I don't care!"

Carson noticed that Elizabeth was shivering slightly in the cold air. Immediately he took off his uniform jacket and placed it on her shoulders. "Of course it hurts," he said compassionately. "You wouldn't be human if it didn't. But how would you feel if your positions were reversed? If he asked you to drop your entire career and follow him to a place he couldn't tell you very much about, would you have done it?"

"Probably not," Elizabeth said. "I probably would have resented him for even asking. And yet that's what I wanted him to do. I wonder if he thought I was pulling strings to get him the position." After a very long pause, she said in a low voice, "Maybe I was."

One of the planet's moons was beginning to rise, providing just enough light for Carson to see the lost expression on Elizabeth's face. He gently pulled her into a hug. "I'm so sorry, love."

Suddenly Elizabeth drew back and tried to stand. "I... I really should be getting back to work," she said, sounding somewhat embarrassed.

Carson's grip on her wrist was surprisingly strong. "No you shouldn't. It's okay for you not to be 'on' all the time. I'm your friend; you don't have to constantly wear the leader's mask around me."

She nodded and relaxed again. "Thank you, Carson. For all of this."

"Anytime. You know my door is always open."

Elizabeth smiled. "So, tell me what you think of your new medical staff. We've already established that you think they're highly qualified. Are they breaking in okay?"

He grinned back at her. "Interesting choice of words, there. My 2IC is probably torturing them as we speak. Tops in their fields, but green as interns in July when it comes to intergalactic medicine!"

They continued to banter for awhile. Elizabeth was grateful for the opportunity to put aside her burden temporarily. She was still sorry that Simon hadn't wanted to experience moments like these with her, but at least she was able to experience them with a group of people that had become like family to her.

FIN