SUMMARY: She was a hypocrite. She hadn't been one hundred percent faithful. Sequel to Missed Chances.
SEASON/SPOILERS: Season 2. Intruder tag, with slight reference to the Gift.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this intending for it to be a one shot. And I suppose it still could be, but now I'm not so sure. I may have set it up to be continued, perhaps exploring a relationship throughout Season 2. Any feedback/thoughts welcomed. Not-betaed, just edited by myself, and I'm not too fond of the title (never was good at them), so it could change.
"There's something else. I met someone. You were gone for a long time, Elizabeth." –Simon Wallace, Intruder, S2
/"You were gone for a long time, Elizabeth."/
Those words echoed in Elizabeth Weir's mind as she gripped the balcony rail, staring down at the magnificent city of Atlantis below. She'd been gone a year, yes, on a mission she hadn't been sure she would ever return from.
She'd told him not to wait. She'd broken up with him essentially via video.
And yet the fact that he'd taken her advice hurt more than she'd ever imagined. She could still see the look on his face as he told her and left her alone, the dinner she'd spent hours making getting cold, the wine she had carefully selected sitting untouched, and the candles dripping wax before she finally decided to extinguish them.
She shouldn't have been surprised. She just figured if she could be faithful then he…
She stopped herself. She was a hypocrite.
She hadn't been one hundred percent faithful.
She turned at the voice, knowing immediately who it was. His accent would always give him away. She gave him a tight smile.
"Carson. What can I do for you?"
"Nothing, really," he said. "I, ah, figured you might…" He was wearing his lab coat and awkwardly shoved his hands in the pockets. "I'm sorry he didn't sign, Elizabeth."
She shook her head. "Don't apologize for something you had no control over."
"You had no control over it, either," he pointed out. "Though…"
"Though?" She raised an eyebrow, urging him to continue.
"I was tempted to…" His eyes shifted to his feet and he sighed. "He was certainly extremely qualified. More so than I was—"
"Don't go there again, Carson," she interrupted. "You're the best and you wouldn't be here if you weren't."
He smiled slightly, his feet shuffling. "You're too kind, but I'm not sure I deserve it. I…" He took a deep breath. "I didn't want to put him on the list even if he had signed the one-year commitment."
She blinked, the news surprising her. "Carson, I-"
He raised a hand and moved his head up, his eyes settling on hers. They were extremely blue and sincere. "It would have been unprofessional, but I couldn't forget-"
"What happened before?" she finished. That kiss, the night they'd stayed up researching Teyla's connection to the Wraith. It was a moment of pure passion before they'd launched into a full out war. The clean-up had been so time consuming, neither one of them had a moment to revisit it. They lost a few very good people, including Peter Grodin, and his death hit her hard. And then there was Earth, Simon…
Yes, it was still there, and if she closed her eyes she could revisit the moment and had done so more than she'd care to admit the last few days.
She turned back to grip the balcony rail tightly for moment before continuing. "I haven't forgotten either." There, she said it out loud. It felt nice to admit; she'd been so busy being Dr. Elizabeth Weir, expedition head since she got back that it felt almost foreign to discuss anything else. Carson looked at her, an almost expectant look in his eyes. She couldn't remember the last Simon had looked at her in such a way.
"Here I am so…" she searched a second for the right word, "disappointed that Simon couldn't wait, didn't wait, and I had a moment, however brief, of weakness that I can't…" She let out a long breath. "I loved Simon."
Carson's face fell a bit and she could see him quickly try and hide it. But the doctor wasn't very good at hiding his feelings. "Of course you did which is why I have no right-"
"*Loved*, Carson," she said, interrupting him once again. "That was the problem. I'd gotten used to life without him, you know. Then being able to go back, I was so excited, mostly because I thought I needed someone else to share all the incredible experiences with. Simon had security clearance. I didn't have to lie to him this time around. I told myself it would be the same. But I knew it couldn't be. You lie to yourself enough, you truly believe it."
"Elizabeth," Carson tried to say but she shook her head again, insistent.
"Let me finish this, Carson." Her lips tightened into a thin line for a moment before she continued. "I was a coward. Yes, I'd hoped he'd actually get security clearance when I'd left, but I could have at least told him I was going somewhere dangerous to his face instead of giving the factual details to a camera lens. What if he hadn't gotten security clearance? No, it was over before I'd even stepped through the Stargate to Atlantis. I've always put work first."
"Aye," Carson agreed softly. "I can understand that. I think secretly my mum wanted me to become a doctor because she thought it would help me find a good wife. She didn't expect I'd spend more time in the lab then on my social life and that I'd be the only one of my siblings not married."
She let out a soft chuckle. "Luckily, my mother learned to leave me alone. Though I had suspected she thought Simon was it and saw that glimpse in her eyes at the idea I might actually settle down. Still, she wasn't surprised when I arrived at her house alone."
"You didn't have to go alone, you know. You have plenty of friends that would have visited with you. Major, ah, I mean Colonel Sheppard, Rodney-"
"You?" She kept cutting him off, she knew, but she couldn't help it.
"Me," he confirmed.
"I would have like that. My mother would like you, I think."
Carson gave her a smile and she suddenly realized how wonderful his smile was. "I've been told I'm the sort of lad mothers tend to like. Unfortunately, that is often the last thing most women truly want."
"Their loss, then." He took a few steps closer to her, to the point where they were both standing at the balcony rail. She swallowed. Close proximity was what had gotten them in trouble last time.
She hadn't been completely loyal to Simon. And she wasn't sorry about it.
"Anyway," he said, "I heard you'd shut yourself in your office reading reports since we'd gotten back. I was a wee bit surprised to find you out here, to be honest."
He was so close to her now that she could almost feel his breath on her as he talked. This had to end.
"We can't continue to do this," she told him.
Carson immediately took a step back. "Do what?" he asked.
She shifted her body slightly, purposefully brushing her arm against his. "Did you really not want Simon to sign?"
He was silent a moment, as if he was carefully considering her question. "Aye," he finally answered, his voice soft. His hands remained tucked into his lab coat pockets.
She couldn't do this. She'd just had her heart broken. No, that wasn't right. Her heart had already mourned the end of her relationship with Simon over a year ago. Instead, she'd been forced to fear reality. She'd seen that Simon had already mourned her as well. And that was what hurt; that was what she wanted to fix.
However, this would not be a good way to fix it. Carson meant entirely too much to her to hurt him. He felt everything deeply and she knew anything they had would not be casual.
Yet, she wondered, did it need to be casual?
Her job put her in a difficult position. She was the leader of Atlantis and that made a lot of personal relationships somewhat awkward. She'd managed it the best she could, allowing herself some friendships that tended to remain mainly within her senior staff, but a majority of time, she felt lonely. When she ventured out to the cafeteria and joined someone for lunch, the conversation always seemed about work, even if she tried to steer it another way.
She and Carson rarely talked about work when they ate together.
They'd talk about simple things, sometimes listing what they missed about Earth. She talked about missing her dog, Sedge, and the wind rushing through her hair when she drove her convertible. He'd laughed at that, and told her about his six older sisters and how he missed getting crayon drawings to hang in his office from his nieces and nephews. She told him about her father's poker games and he'd joked that perhaps learning to bluff at an early age made her such a good diplomat.
Carson had always been easy to talk to. Even easier than John Sheppard, perhaps, who tended to go out of his way to make sure she got a break. A nice gesture, but Carson often did the same thing in a more subtle way and she'd spent more time with him as SGA-1 was often on missions. She would admit that there was a spark of physical chemistry with John, but it would never go anywhere. They'd burn out quickly.
Plus, she wasn't too sure that getting involved with someone that worked under her was a good idea. She considered that reasoning and knew it also included not getting involved with Carson. Yet, on the flip side, everyone worked under her, so she was destining herself to many lonely nights.
She blinked at the idea and finally saw that Carson was staring at her, a slight look of concern in his eyes. She realized that she'd been silent for at least a couple of minutes.
"Caught in a moment of thought," she admitted.
"About what?" he asked.
"Lots of things." She studied him a moment. He'd stepped a few more feet away, but he was still close. Close enough to…
She wasn't thinking. She couldn't have been thinking or she'd never have taken the plunge.
She kissed him.
Carson was as shocked as he was as he stumbled back a bit when their lips touched, his hands still tucked in his lab coat pockets giving him nothing to balance with. She broke off the kiss, laughing, to steady him.
He started laughing as well. Any tension in the air was lost. It felt good to laugh; she didn't do nearly enough lately.
"You ambushed me, love," he said to her, a smile spreading across his face.
"That was the idea," she countered.
"You sure about this?" he asked.
She shook her. "No. Not at all. I've always tried to avoid getting involved with anyone I work with. I'm been pretty successful thus far, but here, if I don't…"
"Ignore it you spend every night alone in your quarters staring at the ceiling thinking about it?" Carson finished.
"Yes, you do." He knew exactly what to say, and she knew she gotten her second chance. It could be disaster, but she doubted it would be. They were both professionals and she never they could remain that way.
"You could do a lot better than me, Elizabeth."
She shook her head. "No, I can't."
She wondered why she thought she needed someone on Earth to share in the wonders of Atlantis. She already had someone in Atlantis to share to with firsthand.
"This could be disaster," Carson continued.
"We'll keep it quiet," she said.
Carson smiled. "I'm not exactly sure how good I'd be at that." He slipped a hand around her waist and they turned back to the balcony rail.
"Oh, better than you think, I suspect," she teased. "But we could start with dinner."
"Dinner," Carson agreed. "That sounds lovely. But not the cafeteria. I'll cook."
"Cook?" she repeated. "You can cook?"
"We have fresh supplies from the Daedalus," he explained. "And you think that my mum and my six sisters would send me out into the world without some culinary skills?" He smiled at her, releasing his arm and sliding out of their embrace. "I don't do it often, as the Ancients' version of a kitchen in the living quarters took some getting used to. But I'm not on duty tomorrow night. Seven o'clock in my quarters?"
She briefly considered what someone might think if they saw her heading towards Carson's quarters. Then she dismissed it, as she found she didn't care what someone might think.
"Yes," she agreed. Carson gave her another smile, nodded, and left her standing on the balcony.
She suddenly couldn't wait until tomorrow night.