SUMMARY: It's at night when the weariness hits. A Carson piece.
SEASON/SPOILERS: Season One. Slight mention of Poisoning the Well.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Been sidetracked by a SG-1 series I'm working on, but this little thing come to me while thinking about the fact that we need more Carson fic. So randomness and angst ahead.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.

He was tired.

Physically and emotionally and from the tips of his fingers to last centimeter of his toes. It never seemed to abate, and sleep was constantly interrupted. He was the doctor after all. The one that was supposed to look after everyone, make sure every injury was attended to, every illness treated. The trouble was, in the end, he wasn't sure who would look after him.

Carson Beckett sighed. It had been a long day and would be an even longer night. SGA-2 came back with multiple injuries after a hostile mission. He and his staff had barely settled when he'd gotten a call from Peter Grodin, informing him that he feared Elizabeth Weir was ill. This necessitated a trip to Elizabeth's office with a stash of medical supplies, since he knew the woman would never return to the infirmary without a fight. Some slight bickering and a quick exam later, he tentatively diagnosed her with strep throat, ordered her to her quarters and taken the swab back to the lab. It *was* strep and before he knew it, all of Atlantis seemed to parade in, inflicted with the ailment.

He briefly pondered *how* Elizabeth was sharing her germs, but figured if he valued his life, so he'd be better off not knowing. Still, half of Atlantis, including the majority of his own staff now had strep throat. And despite his constant insistence, Rodney McKay was thankfully - or unthankfully depending on how he chose to look at it - was not one of them.

He was tired. The antibiotic supply couldn't take much of these epidemics. Which, of course, was why, he was sitting on floor in the mist of Atlantis medical supplies with a pad and pencil, calculating some simple math.

His hastily formulated conclusions made him even wearier. He did not look forward to delivering his finding at the next briefing after Elizabeth was back on her feet any more than the impending coming of the Wraith.

Oh well, his mum told him he would have days like this. He just didn't expect them all to be so close together that there wasn't a breath in between.

So he rubbed his weary eyes, got up, and poured himself a cup of what Teyla told him was the Althosian equivalent of Earth's tea but to him tasted all wrong. It kept him up and going though, something he was grateful for.

It was the night when he did most of his paperwork and allowed himself to indulge in deep thoughts and what ifs. He was far from a brave man, he knew, though had yet to test his theory in the true face of danger and wasn't sure how he'd react really. He was petrified and in the mist of the night, those feelings sat in the pit of his stomach churning alongside the not-quite-right tea. It was hard to sleep in Atlantis. Even when he was off-duty, which he never really was, it was difficult.

He busied himself setting up the duty rooster around the recent strep throat invasion and sighed as he noticed he was the only doctor currently not inflicted. Tomorrow's day just got longer and it had yet to even begin.

His was a job that needed to be done but was often lost in shuffle. Elizabeth led them all, Major Sheppard led the soldiers; Rodney made scientific leaps that helped run Atlantis. He, well, he supposed he patched up the fallout.

That wasn't really true, he told himself. He did lots of research and was part of this expedition because of it. He'd managed to make a few breakthroughs on Wraith physiology. Of course, there was Hoff and...well, he couldn't forget Hoff.

He was tired, all right.

The main infirmary room was quiet, lights dimmed, SGA-2 sleeping. The night nurse, a pleasant Midwest American named Laurie greeted him with a smile, handing over the most recent set of vitals, along with the tally she'd taken on those down with strep. Laurie, bless her, was a Godsend, who anticipated his orders before he'd even given them. However, tonight her usual smile lacked a bit of its usual luster and he frowned. Fifteen minutes later, he sent the lass, complete with antibiotics, back to her quarters.

He adjusted the supply list, checked on his patients, and settled himself at Laurie's post. He'd glanced at the cot he'd dragged in a few weeks ago for all-nighters such as this one and sighed.

He guessed this was how most of Atlantis felt, especially in wake of the Wraith. That your work was never done and your mind filled with so many things that can't filter one thing out, never mind try to ignore them all and sleep. Elizabeth constantly felt the burden of leadership, he knew, and Major Sheppard walked around with tired eyes. Rodney certainly didn't seem to ever shut off his brain and he wondered if his friend was awake at this very moment in his own lab, feeling wearier than he could ever imagine.

He sighed again, listening to the soft beeps of medical equipment and watching the tiny lights blinking in the shadows. He took a sip of his now cold and imperfect tea and closed his eyes, picturing his mother's kitchen and her old black tea kettle that was loud enough to let the neighbors know it was teatime. He could still taste the brew on his tongue and wondered if he tried hard enough the not-tea could transform itself.

Instead he found himself grimacing at the liquid as it left a trail of fire down his throat. But it wasn't the tea's fault really. His tiredness crept into his bones and down his throat. He swallowed again and realized it wasn't just tiredness.

Great, he thought, as he laid his head down on the desk's surface. He probably had the beginnings of strep throat. He could tick more antibiotics off the supply list. He managed to swab his own throat without too much gagging, then hastily retrieved the pills, forced a couple down his throat with the last bit of his cold 'tea' and wanted nothing but to curl up in a blanket.

But there was work to be done and people to care for and the world didn't stop no matter how much you wished it would.

So it all came back to his first thought. If he was supposed to put everyone back together, who, in the end, would be left to help him?