Sam stepped through the doorway into the infirmary. She paused for a brief moment before she found who she was looking for. Dr. Carson Beckett was seated in the back with several folders open in front of him.
“Hello, Doctor. What are you working on?” Sam asked.
A startled Carson looked up and informed her, “Actually, I’m on a break. Do you need something, Colonel? Are you feeling alright?”
Sam tilted her head as she was about to ask why he seemed to be working on his break, but she quickly realized she of all people probably doesn’t have a right to ask that question. “Oh, I’m fine. I actually just wanted to check on you. I know the transition has been difficult for the members of the Atlantis Expedition.”
“Well that’s sweet of you. I have been settling in fine. There’s a lot of fascinating research happening at the SGC.”
Now Sam had to know what was so fascinating that he was reading files during his break. “May I?” she asked.
“Of course.” Carson responded as he handed the top file to Sam.
It didn’t take long for Sam to figure out that what she was holding was Janet’s old research. Carson must have been able to see in Sam’s face that she knew it was hers. He looked at her with a sympathy and a deep sense of regret in his eyes as he said, “She was brilliant.”
Sam didn’t know what to say to this. A simple, “She was,” didn’t seem like enough. They hardly ever talked about Janet around the SGC anymore. There was just so much happening. It left them little time to properly mourn her. They were just fighting on too many fronts. They had barely defeated the Goa’uld and the Replicators before the Ori showed up. And now the Replicators were back. They may be in a different galaxy, but they might as well be on their doorstep with how small the universe was getting these days.
It was all so unfair. She lost her father because of the Replicators. She knew the Asurans weren’t technically the same Replicators, but that didn’t mean it made her any less angry to know they were out there, even if they were the Ancients’ problem now.
Sam turned her attention back to the file, but she was too distracted to make small talk with Carson about Janet’s research.
A nod was all she managed before Carson continued, “I don’t know how you guys did it, especially in those first few years. We know so much now, and I still struggle with how much there is to learn. I can’t imagine starting research on alien physiology from scratch the way Janet had to.”
Sam could see the wonder in Carson’s eyes when he talked about all they accomplished back then. She stopped to consider this. She hadn’t really thought about how the members of the Atlantis Expedition must see them. Of course, whenever you introduce someone new to the Stargate Program you expect them to be amazed. You expect them to be amazed by the gate, the ships and the planets. She hardly ever gave much thought to how people would look at them.
It was clear, though, the impact that Janet’s work has had on Carson. Most of the time it didn’t feel like the work they were doing was amazing. Most of the time it just felt like they were just barely holding on enough to survive. Their work hardly felt like enough back then. It still doesn’t most days.
However, there were moments when she could appreciate what they’ve accomplished. Like the moment Thor told her it was her “stupid idea” that saved the Asgard, or when Jack announced that she was being promoted to lieutenant colonel. But most of the time, it’s when she gets to spend time with Cassie, when she sees Teal’c with Rya’c, or when she sees how much having friends who care about her has made a difference in Vala’s life. Those were the moments when she knew that any differences they could make, no matter how small, were worth it.
“We do the best we can with the information we have. And if that’s not good enough, we fight like hell to learn more,” she told the doctor.
Carson smiled at that, but behind it, Sam could see pain in his expression. She knew he wasn’t military, but Sam knew better than anyone, when lives are on the line, science is a grueling battle too.
Then the alarm sounded, and she heard Walter’s voice delivering the all too familiar message, “Unscheduled off-world activation.”
She looked toward the door and told Carson, “I better go check that out.”
“Of course, go.” She smiled at him and gave a small wave before she started to head toward the door. “Thank you, Colonel.”
Sam took off running toward the control room. She wasn’t sure how much she was able to help the doctor today, but she wanted the former members of the Atlantis Expedition to know they were welcome at Stargate Command. She knows from experience how much their city meant to them, and how painful it must have been to lose it, even if it was to the Ancients.
She thought about all of the times she could have lost the Stargate Program. The time the stargate blew up, the time Cheyenne Mountain was taken over by the aliens with the mimetic imaging devices, the time she was stranded alone on The Prometheus, and of course, the time she stood on the opposite side of a forcefield from Jack begging him to save himself before the mothership exploded.
Each of those times SG-1 was able to fight for a solution and make their way back home, but Sam knew that for the former members of the Atlantis Expedition, there was no fight to be had this time. They simply weren’t welcome anymore in the place they had begun to know as home these last few years.
Sam had been watching from the control room when Colonel Sheppard, McKay, Dr. Beckett, and Elizabeth had stepped through the gate from Atlantis for the last time. It was that moment she knew she had to help them in any way she could, even if all she could do in this situation was be a welcoming presence at Stargate Command. She could see that they were all trying to hide the pain of losing what they had just been forced to walk away from. Sam knew all too well what it was like to hide your feelings for the good of the Stargate Program.