"Captain Carter, we'll be landing at Petersen in fifteen minutes."
"Thank you." Sam smiled at the young airman who informed her and turned her attention back to the report she'd been given less than twelve hours ago. She couldn't believe she was on her way to the SGC, on her way to actually see the Stargate--something she'd seen only in pictures in all the time she'd been working on the project, even though it had been her ultimate failure. She knew the story, knew Doctor Daniel Jackson had only taken two weeks to figure out the code. There was a part of her that still held a grudge at him for the injustice.
Samantha Carter wasn't used to failing at anything. And now it appeared that Daniel Jackson was alive and well on Abydos; that Colonel Jack O'Neill had omitted that fact from his report. She knew that first mission report by heart and, if she was totally honest, resented that she hadn't been along. She still wasn't sure why her name hadn't been brought up to go through the Stargate the first time. This was the biggest opportunity of her career. She knew that screwing up this mission was going to mean she'd spend the rest of her military career in some laboratory studying things that meant next to nothing.
She looked up from the report as the plane banked for its approach and felt her mouth go dry. The plane landed and as Sam walked down onto the tarmac she realized whatever she did in the next few hours would affect her whole future. As she was escorted to a car, she looked back only once, hoping she didn't have to go back to Washington, that she could start a new life where the mistakes of her past didn't haunt her. Sam'd heard some of the other staff speaking of her once, using the words arrogant and egotistical. They hadn't known she was there; she remembered her mom once telling her that those who listened to the conversations of others needed to be prepared to hear things about themselves they wouldn't like. She hadn't liked it one bit, not allowing herself friendships with anyone, relying on her work to see her through the days and nights. Just once she wanted to find a place where she fit in.
Sam's heart began beating faster as she followed her escort into the Mountain and they took the elevators down to the SGC. She tried to smooth her skirt as unobtrusively as possible, wishing she could throw off her jacket and kick off her heels. She could feel her palms sweating and there had been no trace of another female since getting off the elevator. Just great, she thought as she followed her escort down the hall. Another testosterone-filled boys club where she'd be proving herself and having to work twice as hard for half the recognition. And it wouldn't even matter one iota to General Jacob Carter-she'd still be the daughter he'd wished was a son. Still be the girl he hadn't known how to deal with. Still be endeavoring to make up to her father for Mark's supposed failings. And now General Hammond had requested her presence at the SGC. She wondered if it was due to her expertise or her being General Carter's daughter. Some days she wasn't sure anymore.
'Stop it, Samantha Jane,' she told herself. 'You are an Air Force officer. You were asked here because you are the person they need.'
Entering the room she recognized General Hammond.
"Where's he transferring from?" the colonel standing by the table asked.
"*She* is transferring from the Pentagon," Sam said, knowing she sounded defensive. Just her luck; no one had bothered to brief anyone and tell them she was a woman. Did General Hammond want to shock the others? She told herself it shouldn't matter. She should be used to it by now, but she could feel her hackles rising. Her mom had been the only person who called her Samantha on a regular basis. Using Sam held less pain associated with it. She stood by the table, saluting the man she had figured out was Colonel O'Neill and introducing herself. She couldn't read him. Was he trying to test her? Was this a test to see if she was good enough for the SGC?
A dark-haired Major made a comment about her using Sam as her name. Oh great, she thought, yet another officer who thinks I use it for the shock effect. What was it with them? Wasn't she allowed to have a nickname?
"Yes," Sam responded. "Dad always said Samantha was too long." She hoped she sounded suitably professional. She smiled at them, hoping it didn't look as fake as it felt. 'What's the matter, boys,' she thought, 'you think a Sam can't play with dolls?'
"Betcha you played with G.I. Joe," the one named Kawalsky said. A challenge, she was sure. Colonel O'Neill was looking at her and she wondered if he was assessing her fitness for the mission.
"Major Matt Mason," Sam answered, still smiling.
"Major Matt Mason, astronaut," the other major said. She could see his name read Ferretti. Sam couldn't help a little feeling of glee at Kawalsky's shock.
Ferretti smiled at her and said something about the backpack that came with the doll before General Hammond pulled her attention back to the task at hand. There was a mission to be accomplished. Sam was sure she'd be able to help somehow. She'd studied the technology for the Gate for two years, willing to dedicate her career to making it work and that dream had gone up in smoke the minute Daniel Jackson had come on the scene.
Sam sat and Colonel O'Neill began the briefing. She could feel her excitement growing as she realized that finally she was going to step through the Stargate. Colonel O'Neill began speaking about what to expect. She wanted to interrupt, to tell him she knew all this; she'd practically memorized the report from the first mission. But she knew that actually experiencing something was far different than just reading about it in a long report. Colonel O'Neill, Kawalsky, and Ferretti had actually gone through the Gate, had taken that wild ride. They had her utmost respect for that.
"...cold," she caught that word of Colonel O'Neill's speech.
"Very cold," Ferretti added. "Very, very, very, cold. So cold your bal...very cold."
The other officers were staring at her, waiting. Did they expect she was going to run screaming from the room because the trip through the Stargate was going to be cold? Besides she knew why it happened.
"That's because of the compression your molecules undergo for the millisecond before reconstitution." She sat back waiting for comments, but it wasn't quite what she expected.
"A scientist? General, please," the colonel said.
'Oh grow up, Colonel,' Sam thought. The man sounded like he was whining.
"Theoretical astrophysicist," Sam added.
"That's her job, Colonel," Hammond pointed out. "I'm sure you'll manage to get along just fine."
"But she's a..." Colonel O'Neill began.
Sam wanted to stand up and grab him by the throat. 'What? A woman? You think a woman can't make it in your boys' club? Can't play with the big guns? You think I'm weak or something?' She clenched her hand into a fist, hoping they thought she was just gripping the pen tighter. Her mouth had always gotten her into trouble--she thought of some of the arguments she'd had with her dad.
"She's a scientist," the colonel finished. "Daniel was bad enough--you mean I have to deal with another one?"
"I'm sure you'll be able to deal with it, Colonel O'Neill," General Hammond responded, and Sam was sure she saw a glint of amusement in his eyes.
The colonel nodded and began speaking again. Sam leaned forward, listening with interest and waiting to find out exactly where they were going and why. She could hardly wait. She was here, at the SGC, and in a few hours she was going to be stepping into a wormhole for the ride of her life. And she suddenly realized, she was no longer doing this to prove herself to her dad, or to anyone else. She was doing it because it was what she wanted to do.
At the sound of Daniel calling her name, she turned. Daniel ducked his head as she approached.
"Is there a problem?" Sam asked. She wished she knew the right words to say to him. Knowing his wife and his brother-in-law were out there somewhere possessed by Goa'uld must be plaguing his dreams. That combined with the death of Kawalsky had to be giving the younger man nightmares.
"Jack decided we need to introduce Teal'c to the pleasures of pizza," Daniel said. "I, uh, thought you'd like to be there." He pushed up his glasses.
Sam smiled at him. "I have a lot of work to do. We're trying to refine the cold dialing pro..."
"Okay. I understand," Daniel replied. "Um, see you later."
Sam stood in the hallway watching as he walked away. She looked in the direction of her lab and hesitated.
"Daniel," she called. "Wait." She hurried down the hall. The lab work wasn't going anywhere. She wanted this to be a fresh start and here Daniel was extending the hand of friendship to her through his own grief. "I think I will join you."
Daniel gave her a shy smile and nodded. "So how's the dialing program coming?"
"Slowly," Sam began, explaining some of the bugs the team was running into. She stopped when she realized they were nearly at Daniel's office. "You have no idea what I just said, do you?"
"Not really, no," Daniel admitted. "But it sounds like you're enjoying it."
Sam smiled at him as he held open the door.
"About time you got here, Daniel," Colonel O'Neill grumbled. Sam took a deep breath inhaling the aroma of fresh baked pizza. She noticed there were at least five boxes on the table. "Ah, I see you finally tracked Carter down. What were you trying to do? Hide from us?"
"No, sir. I was headed for my lab." Sam said.
"Uht," Colonel O'Neill tsked and held up an index finger. "You're part of SG-1, aren't you? One of the guys?"
"Yes, sir." Sam nodded agreement. She felt a warmth blossom inside that she hadn't sensed since she was a little girl and had been best friends with Rachel Lontrell when her dad was stationed in Japan. Something she hadn't realized was missing until it was offered to her again freely and with no conditions.
"And what do you see here, Carter?" The colonel pointed to the pizza-laden table. She opened her mouth to reply but he kept talking, something she was sure was a habit she'd get used to. "Five, count 'em, five, of Nicolli's best pies. You know how hard it is to get them to deliver here? And did you think Daniel, Teal'c and I could eat them all by ourselves? Nectar of the gods, I tell ya."
"Actually, Jack..." Daniel began but his response was steam-rollered over right along with anyone else's.
"Nectar, Daniel. Don't try to analyze. Just enjoy," Colonel O'Neill said, frowning at Daniel as if the archaeologist was trying to ruin the fun.
"Captain Carter, O'Neill assures me pizza is a great delicacy among your people," Teal'c said. She had to smile. Teal'c didn't sound too sure of trying the food while Daniel appeared to be practically salivating at the boxes.
"It's a popular food, Teal'c," Sam said, holding out a plate for Colonel O'Neill to fill. "Daniel can probably tell you all about its history."
"You're not on some kind of girly diet are you, Carter?" the colonel asked, holding up a slice of what looked like a pizza with everything but the kitchen sink loaded on top.
"No, sir," she said, pushing her plate closer. She thought about asking if they had diet soda, but somehow that might ruin the whole pizza feast idea. She'd have to work on converting them. She was pretty sure she'd found a fellow chocoholic in Daniel considering the way she'd seen him wolfing down a candy bar when she walked into his lab two nights ago.
" Yeah I can," Daniel said around a mouthful of pepperoni and sausage pizza.
"But he's not gonna. No history lessons," The colonel said. "No work now. Just team."
'Just team,' Sam thought as she held her plate. She looked at Colonel O'Neill, her CO and a man she was beginning to realize she could trust with her life, at Doctor Jackson, Daniel, she corrected, who wasn't anything like what she had expected. She hadn't expected to like him so much, to find a kindred spirit in him. And at Teal'c who had given up his whole life to follow the colonel.
Yeah, she was part of SG-1, one of the guys. And it felt terrific.
|Summary:||Everyone deserves a fresh start. This time it's Sam's turn.|