Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: Elizabeth gave a rueful smile, swirling the amber liquid in the bottom of the glass. "Is this what you recommend to all your sleep-deprived patients?"
Beta: Thanks to Rinne
Reasons For Sleep
The night she came to his room, it was very late. As the door slid open, she could see a bleary-eyed Carson, propped up against the headboard of his bed, squinting at her as she stood in the doorway.
"Is sumthin' wrong? Is 'er a problem?" His words slurred together, as his sleepy brain attempted to reengage his body, surprised by the late night visit from the Atlantis team leader.
"Sorry, Carson. I hadn't realised quite how late it was. I shouldn't have woken you. My apologies." Dr Elizabeth Weir looked weary and drawn and she turned as if to flee. Her face, tired and open, appeared more like a frightened child than the strong leader he knew she was.
Even a sleep befuddled Carson couldn't miss the expression that had briefly flashed across her face: tired desperation, followed by embarrassment and worry at having unnecessarily woken up her Chief Medical Officer in the middle of the night.
"No, yer here and I'm almost awake now anyway. Come on in, Elizabeth. What is it that I can do for you?"
Carson sat up straighter in bed, as Elizabeth slipped gingerly into the room. She stood still for a moment, before obviously deciding that asking her question couldn't be any worse than waking Carson up at late-o-clock and not asking her question at all.
"It's just …the pills you gave me. It's…they aren't working anymore and…" Elizabeth ran a hand across her face and into her hair.
"They were pretty strong sedatives, love. Maybe you need to talk to Heightmeyer some more."
"I have, Carson. We talk and that's all well and good, but I need to sleep."
"Did you take any tonight?" The question caught Elizabeth off-guard, but she answered none-the-less. "No. They stopped being useful weeks ago, so I stopped taking them."
"Good. Take a seat." As Elizabeth slumped down in a nearby chair with a resigned sigh, Carson reached into the bottom drawer next to the bed and pulled out a bottle of single malt scotch and another glass. That was the first time Elizabeth noted the empty glass already present on the side table next to Carson's bed.
He handed her the drink. "Now drink up, love."
Elizabeth gave a rueful smile, swirling the amber liquid in the bottom of the glass. "Is this what you recommend to all your sleep-deprived patients?"
"Ach no. It's far too precious for that. Sedatives are replaced regularly by the medical supply shipments from Earth, but real Scotch whisky; that there is a lot harder to come across. I only share that with friends."
Carson gave a small grin, which widened slightly when Elizabeth raised her glass and saluted him with it. "To friends," she said, before taking a sip.
"Now tell me about something, anything."
Elizabeth looked at him quizzically. "Sheppard and his team aren't back yet, the Daedalus is a week late, so there's squabbles breaking out over the last of the coffee, Zelenka and McKay blew up lab seven this morning..."
"That's not what I meant, Elizabeth. That's the stuff keeping you awake, but what reason do you have to sleep?"
Elizabeth looked up from studying her drink and found herself staring straight into Carson's steady gaze. "Tell me about something happy, something safe, something I don't know about you."
If it was anyone else, she would have left right then and there, just walked out, because it was uncomfortable, but this was Carson Beckett, a trustworthy friend, and she had stormed his quarters in the wee hours of the morning. He deserved her respect and he had it.
So she told him about Sedge, the silly mutt of a puppy that had appeared in her yard one day, lost and alone. How she'd taken him in and trained him to catch a Frisbee in the park and stop at traffic lights, and of how his ears pricked up at the sound of her feet on the front steps and how he would be waiting there for her when she opened the front door.
She told him about the day she graduated from college and the proud faces of her parents and grandparents as they'd watched on in the crowd. How her grandmother had cried and hugged her fiercely. I knew you'd do it Lizzie. You were always so bright.
She told him of the small rusted out red car she'd proudly bought with the hard-earned cash from her very first job at age sixteen, flipping burgers in a road-side diner.
She told him about the day they'd discovered Atlantis, deep in the Pegasus galaxy, and the feeling of happiness when they'd received the go-ahead for the mission, the thrill of stepping through the Stargate, the peace she felt when standing on the balcony, looking out over the Ocean with the great city of Atlantis spread out all around her.
And when she finally looked up from her empty glass to find Carson sleeping soundly, she slept too, curled up in the chair, the gentle rhythm of Carson's breathing all the company she needed.
It was three days later that Sheppard and his team returned, bringing with them several families of refugees and more tales of horrifying Wraith attacks. They were in bad shape, barely having made it out themselves. Several of the refugees died, despite the medical teams' best efforts, and they had thought they might lose Colonel Sheppard for a time.
That night, he came to her room. It was late and he looked drawn and tired. She could smell the whisky already on him, mixed with the powerful smell of hospital disinfectant.
"Carson?" Elizabeth didn't ask whether everything was alright, she knew it wasn't. People had died tonight; people that he couldn't save and she knew he took every loss as a physical blow. She knew it, because she did too.
They stepped out onto the balcony, savouring the late-night air, cool against their faces. The lights of Atlantis were a gentle backdrop as they moved back inside and he produced the infamous bottle of single malt and proposed a simple toast.
"Tell me again?" he asked quietly. So she did. She told him everything she had told him before and more; all the happy moments and memories that had filled or did fill her life and when she started to grow too sleepy to talk anymore, Carson took over.
He talked about his Mam and Grandma, their insane love for cooking and the sweet smells that greeted him from the kitchen whenever he was home. How he adored the sweet scent of apple pies and potatoes and hearty vegetable soups.
He told her about his time at university and the crazy antics they used to get up to, when the Professor wasn't around to stop them. How he had discovered the sheer joy of science and how he had completed his PhD in record time simply because he loved doing what he did.
He told her of his country, his beautiful Scotland, and the hills around his home village and the dense fog that covered them in all seasons, making his Pappy curse and his small cousins squeal in delight.
He told her of the pride he felt to be chosen to represent his country in a new Galaxy and the joy of finding that he had gained a second family so far from his home.
He talked and talked, until he could barely keep his eyes open and as his eyes also drooped closed, they fell asleep, curled up against each other, gently guided into sleep by the sound of the waves lapping against the city's piers and the sweet sounds of Atlantis. Home.