Colonel O’Neill was in charge of the fire, Teal’c was setting up the bedrolls, and Daniel was making MREs. Sam was walking a wide perimeter around the camp, hands balanced on her gun, keeping an eye out for anything dangerous or hazardous. It was getting dark so she should head back soon. She could hear O’Neill swearing at the fire and Daniel yelling back at him because he was trying to make tea and the fire kept going out.
Sam took a breath. This was a beautiful planet. The air was clean and cool; the vegetation lush; the water plentiful; the Goa’ulds long gone. She circled around to the other side of camp, the side without the river, and walked just far enough away that she could barely hear her team. The wind lifted her hair and the leaves on the trees. The stars had come out and were almost impossibly numerous.
“Carter!” She heard distantly. “Soup’s on!” That was Jack. She highly doubted there was actual soup; it was just his way of telling her dinner was ready.
“Coming, sir,” she said into her walkie-talkie, not that he’d bothered to use his.
She wove her way back to camp and felt a deep pulse of well-being. Today was one of the good days.
The sound of gunfire rang out over their heads. Sam blocked it out and focussed on the alien device in front of her. She almost had it. It was so similar to the one she’d analyzed on P3X-288. She put down the pliers and used her fingers to gently ease a component into place. A spray of dirt flew up from the ground beside her as her cover was hit by a staff blast.
“Any time now, Carter!” O’Neill yelled.
“Yes, sir,” she said.
“Seriously, any time you wanna turn that thing on is fine. If you haven’t noticed, we’re having a bit of trouble here.” He fired into the group of Jaffa.
“Yes, sir,” she said again. She almost had it. If this connected to that, then that should...The light on the device went out. Wrong way.
She didn’t answer. Okay, so that meant this should connect to that instead. She made the adjustment and the machine came on, light arcing up and over, covering SG-1 in a twenty-foot bowl of impenetrable safety. The Jaffa ran up to the edge, still firing, to no effect.
“Yes!” O’Neill said. “Nice job, Carter. Hey, suckers!” He baited the Jaffa. “Come and get us! Oh right, you can’t.” He waved at them.
Sam sat back, her vision widening to include more than just the machine in front of her. She grinned. She loved this feeling. The pressure, the deadlines, using her brain to solve problems as she went into a super-focussed zone and all of the Colonel’s yelling and the danger went away and the solution to the problem rose to the surface of her mind. She did some of her most brilliant work in moments like this. Did things she didn’t know she was capable of. She could get drunk on the exhilaration.
Sam beamed up at her team.
“Nice job,” the Colonel said again, patting her on the shoulder as Daniel and Teal’c echoed their thanks.
Her pulse started to slow. “Thank you, sir,” she said. She wouldn’t have missed this for anything.
This time around, there was no Goa’uld posing as a god from whom to save the people, no enslavement, no experiments, no forced labour. It was just a group of humans who had been abandoned long ago; Daniel was working on the details. But they certainly needed help. Their crops were failing, the city was in disrepair, the medicine almost non-existent. They had infrastructure in place, but they’d been through some hard times and had lost a good portion of the adult population two generations ago, which meant they lacked the knowledge to support themselves. They wouldn’t have made it through more than a few more seasons.
As she shared what medical supplies they had on hand with the villagers and Daniel asked questions and Jack and Teal’c surveyed the roads and fields, Sam realized that they could help these people in a real way. It wouldn’t take much to get them back on their feet. They just needed some guidance.
Sam finished applying a field dressing to a young woman’s leg and saw anew the difference they were making. Despite all the beings in the universe doing bad things and all the danger in which SG-1 and Earth regularly found themselves, she still thought opening the Stargate was the best thing they’d ever done. The scientific discoveries alone could keep her busy for three lifetimes, but more than that, the people of Earth were making a difference. As the planet of origin for humankind, she felt a slightly ridiculous sense of responsibility towards all the humans scattered around the galaxy. Sam Carter had joined the Air Force because she wanted to be an astronaut and because she wanted to help people. The Stargate program was giving her both in spades.
She patted the young woman on the shoulder and sent her along. Sam would remember this.
Sam headed over to Daniel’s lab. He was working on the translation for some documents that came with a mystery device they’d discovered on the last planet. She had been making some headway with the artefact but needed Daniel’s help to continue.
“Hey Daniel,” she said, entering the lab. “Hey Teal’c,” she added, seeing him already there.
“How are you doing with the translation?” She asked.
“Not too badly,” Daniel said. “Teal’c’s been helping me and I think we’re making progress. Have a look at this diagram we deciphered.”
Sam studied the drawing. “This is great,” she said. “It’s going to be a big help. I was getting kind of stuck.”
She sat down to look at the rest of what they had, moving aside a big pile of possibly valuable scrolls to do so, and Jack O’Neill walked into the room.
“Hey campers,” he said. “What’s up?”
“We’re working on that thing we found on P4R-458,” Daniel said. “What are you doing?”
Jack paused. “Paperwork,” he said, though it was very obvious he was not doing paperwork and was in fact standing in Daniel’s lab.
“Sure,” Daniel said.
“Need any help?” Jack asked.
“Uh, sure,” Daniel said. “This part needs to be typed up. Do you want to do that?”
Jack eyed the proffered sheets of paper. “On second thought, I’m very hungry. Lunch anyone?”
“It’s 10:30am,” Sam said.
“So?” Jack said. “I happened to see you leaving the commissary at 6:30 this morning, which means breakfast was four hours ago. Ergo, lunch time!”
“I could use a break for coffee, actually,” Daniel said.
“And we all know Teal’c is always up for snacks,” Jack said.
Teal’c raised an eyebrow.
“Alright,” Sam said. “But I’m just getting coffee, sir. It’s really is too early for lunch.”
“We’ll see,” Jack said, shepherding them out the door. “I hear they’re making turkey pot pie.”
Sam ducked her head to hide her grin and followed her team into the hallway.
Sam Carter was no stranger to romantic relationships, as much as it might sometimes appear otherwise. She had never had much patience for dating, but she’d had a few long-term partners, starting in college and ending after Jonas Hansen, to whom she’d been engaged. Working for the Air Force wasn’t kind on relationships, but it had always worked out okay. Until she met Jack O’Neill that is, who changed everything.
In the beginning, he’d pissed her off, with his negativity and his comments about scientists and women. But even so, she had to admit he was a competent officer. Sam respected that. So it started with respect and soon became the bond that comes with being a team, and then after that it turned to friendship, and then something else.
Although she wasn’t sure, come to think of it, about the friendship stage. They had never been friends in the traditional sense, but what else did you call it? To Sam, it almost felt like the friendship came after she realized she was in love with him. And in love with him she most certainly was.
It had been a light switch kind of situation, when he was stuck on Edora. She was working herself into exhaustion to get him home and then one day, staring blankly at her equations, she suddenly realized why. His non-reaction to the rescue had hurt, but she thought she understood. If he’d engaged with the planet and the people any less, he wouldn’t have been the man she loved.
In the early stages, being in love with him had been delightful, in the way new feelings are. She felt guilty as hell, but that didn’t stop her body from buzzing or her face from smiling. But beyond that, she loved him for who he was. She loved him for who he had been and who he was trying to be. She also hated him sometimes, which was confusing. But Sam rarely did anything in a straightforward way.
Later, the new feelings settled into the warmth of deep affection and Sam came to rely on Jack O’Neill much more than she’d ever intended. He helped her, whether he knew it or not, through a lot of difficult times at the SGC. She knew he would always be there for her. It was a good feeling.