The white, artificial light was tiring. Of course, after twenty hours of work, few things would be relaxing. Not even the big, comfortable bed in his quarters two levels down didn't seem as appealing as it normally would. Carson closed his eyes, rubbing them with his hands. There were so many things he needed to do.

A loud beep made him open his eyes and sigh. He mentally activated the comm., waiting for the person on the other side to say something. After a few moments of silence, he said, "Aye, what is it?"

"Were you sleeping?" A soft woman's voice asked, sounding mildly disapproving.

"No, what is it Rebecca?"

"I wanted to ask you if you wanted me to prepare the next meeting… sir," came the response.

"Aye, sure, but don't expect any help from me." Carson placed his hands on the cold surface of his desk and rested his head on them.

He really needed to sleep, but there were at least three chancellors that demanded audiences, three chiefs of projects that had announced unbelievable discoveries and a few other persons with dubious positions that had asked for 'five minutes, just five minutes'. He didn't even know what this next meeting was about.

A solid object impacted with his desk and his head shot up, trying to stop the buzzing. Rebecca was standing in front of his desk, amused smile on her lips, right hand resting near the mug of coffee that was now on his desk. "You're going to need this," she said and proceeded to the large conference table in the middle of Carson's spacious office.

Carson rose from his chair, taking the coffee. If he were on Atlantis, he'd go to one of the windows overlooking the ocean to clear his mind. But here, in his own building, on his own planet, he didn't have windows. The specialists had announced that the little rectangular holes in the walls, covered with the opaque dark ketronim were safer for the humans inside. There was no light from outside and as far as Carson was concerned, there was no outside. So Carson took his place at the table, skimming the reports placed in front of him by his young, dark-haired assistant.

"You miss them, don't you?" Rebecca asked from his right.

"Who?" Carson asked without looking at her.

"The windows."

Carson closed his eyes, smiling. "When we got to Atlantis, I thought there was nowhere else I could go, that I couldn't feel more homesick." He paused for a few moments, remembering. "Now I feel homesick for two homes, and I feel like… like I wasn't a kid. Like it's another life, something I've seen in some movie... a long time ago." Carson opened his eyes and saw Rebecca preparing drinks for his guests. Of course she didn't care and was just courteous.

"I thought we didn't have problems with childhood diseases," Carson said, returning his attention to the report in front of him.

"No, but the physiology of the newest members of the Empire is quite different. We need to make some adjustments to the drugs we have developed." She moved away from the table, checking if everything was in place.

Seeing her frown, Carson waved his right hand, "No need to worry, I'm sure everything's alright."

She kept studying the table until she realized what was missing, went outside and a few moments later returned with a small box. She placed it on the table in front of one of the little name cards and smiled contently. "It's doctor Ankeht's anniversary today, and you have bought him that."

"Of course I have." Carson closed his eyes. Sometimes he wondered why these people needed him. He could retire somewhere nice and… well, nice, and leave the ruling to Elizabeth, John and Rodney.

"You should request someone from Atlantis to come and activate some of the Ancestor's devices."

Ah, yes: the gene. That's why he wasn't retiring. As smart as these people were, living in the middle ages under the threat of the wraith for so many generations meant they'd need time to catch up. They weren't smart enough to have the ideas, just to carry someone else's. Carson had managed to give everyone in Atlantis the gene, but not the others. There were some minor DNA differences that required a new gene therapy, and considering the number or capable and willing Atlanteans, he hadn't developed it.

"I will," he said, nodding absently.

"I'll remind you later. Oh, doctor McKay requested an audience."

Carson raised an eyebrow. "Did he, now?"

"I presume that's not what he said, but his assistant told me that…" Rebecca trailed off, staring to her right. She probably didn't understand anything of their wacky interactions.

"There was a time when we met… everyday, talked face to face, not through our assistants," he explained, sadness washing over him.

"You'll get the chance to do it tomorrow; after you finish this meeting you go and sleep and then you meet doctor McKay."

Carson smiled, handing her his empty coffee mug. "Thank you, will you show the guests in when they arrive?"

"Of course, sir."