"Jaaa-aack, you said you wanted an excuse to be unavailable for meetings," Daniel had said. "Sam will be in science meetings all afternoon, I'm busy working on this translation with Dr Fournier, and Mitchell has played about all the Go Fish he can stay awake for. Vala is bored out of her skull, and you've got the time to go with her."
Teal'c was offworld visiting his son, though he would hopefully gate back before dinner. Mitchell was still in the infirmary after abdominal surgery. And tomorrow morning the Atlantis contingent would return home.
"Escorting Vala. Right." he'd sighed. God only knew what the SGC's resident alien space pirate would want to do. But if he wanted Sam and Daniel to be free to go out for dinner tonight, he'd better leave them to their intergalactic catching up, and get Vala out of their hair too.
"Do it for Sam," Daniel had brought out the heavy guns. Jack and Sam might have officially put their weird almost-not-quite relationship to rest years ago, that didn't mean that if Sam asked for the moon, Jack still wouldn't have a good go at giving it to her. Fortunately she was too good of a person to make use of this fact. Unfortunately, Daniel didn't hesitate to invoke her name if it suited his purpose.
That was how General Jack O'Neill had ended up driving toward the Colorado Springs Target with Vala Mal Doran in the passenger seat.
She was quiet, which he had understood was unusual for her. He'd only met her once in a meeting, and he'd pegged her as far more brash than shy.
"So what are we shopping for?"
"Atlantis," she said, patting the cargo pocket of her trousers. "Sam gave me a list."
Ah, so they really were shopping for Sam. He mentally forgave Daniel. A little.
"Okay, let's hear it," he said easily, wondering if she was quiet because of him.
"It's mostly baby stuff, for Teyla."
She forced some cheer, but it couldn't quite hide the brittleness, and he suddenly remembered hearing about her pregnancy, alone and stranded in another galaxy - then seeing the baby taken away to be grown immediately into their mortal enemy.
"Right," he nodded. "And the rest?"
"Not much. Wii games for the rec room, three simple digital video cameras, nice shower gel, microwave popcorn."
"That's it? We can do better than that," Jack decided, turning into the parking lot. He parked up and cracked his knuckles.
Vala watched him with large eyes, and he remembered her idea of what a general was like was probably formed by Hank Landry. This could be fun.
"Let's get two carts," he directed, grinning. Yes, let's shop.
It was partly to give the city a boost - he knows very well what care packages could do for morale - and partly to see Sam grin, but not in the least to see this bright, bouncy woman restored to her usual whirlwind self.
She was running her hands along the toiletry shelves in an indecisive sort of way when he gently bumped her cart with his own to get her attention.
"They all smell nice," she shrugged, hand stilling at a lemon flavoured one.
"That one will make Sam grin," he nodded. Vala flashed him a grin of her own, apparently having heard about McKay and lemons. "How much did she say to get?"
"There's no amount on the list. I don't know if she meant just for herself..."
"There are almost fifty women in the city. Get a bottle of each," he recommended.
The look she gave him said that she'd certainly not expected to hear that from him.
"We can do that?" Apparently she heard 'no' a lot, he concluded. Daniel or Mitchell? Probably Daniel. He'd have to give her some ammunition. Plenty of stories.
"Sure. They can entertain themselves by swapping," he shrugged, and then they were both pulling bottles from the shelves.
He figured he didn't have to worry about load volume, so long as he kept it down to two, max 3 carts. It had been a last minute trip, and there was no pallet of boxes waiting to be taken back with them.
Sam, McKay and the French archaeologist Daniel was working with had come by jumper together with a marine who had been brought to Peterson for dental surgery, and Lt Cadman and a sergeant who helped her in the Atlantis 'Boom room'. The two of them had been Odyssey-beamed to MIT for an update talk about her PhD. He was glad she's brought somebody along who could rightly be called research assistant - it looked better than the marines they might have had to assign her otherwise. Just because the Trust had been quiet of late was no reason to lose caution.
He suspected this impromptu visit had been put together immediately after the weekly data burst. Which had contained news of Mitchell's mishap. It still felt strange sometimes that SG-1 v2.0 was that close, had bonded so heavily, and that he wasn't part of that anymore. He couldn't begrudge it though. Working with Mitchell had been good for Sam. He'd thought she should have been leading the team, but she seemed to have enjoyed it - and Mitchell had handled it well, the equal rank thing. No baggage, a healthy respect for her brilliance.
Point was, there would be space in the jumper for them to go a little crazy with the shopping.
"Come on, games," he navigated the isles, confident Vala would follow in his wake. She did, though it wasn't exactly a steady course - now and then she would get distracted by things on the shelves, and drop some things into her rapidly filling cart.
Jack found an employee and gave the affable smile that always seemed to worry people.
"Hi there. I am looking for some board games for a bunch of geek friends."
"Well sir, how complex are you thinking of? How long should a game take? Competitive or cooperative? I can recommend..."
He tried to follow the young man's explanation as several boxes were pulled out, when Vala showed up his peripheral vision, presenting with a flourish a box that said 'Escape from Atlantis'. He grinned, and she added it to her cart.
"Catan is popular, but if you say they're game geeks they may already have it. Agricola is quite complex and can easily fill an evening. Pandemic is fun and cooperative..."
About an hour later they had games, video cameras, bacon, vast loads of popcorn, a variety of spicy sauces to liven up commissary food, and he was still thinking about beer. He couldn't include much, so it had to be special. Maybe just a few bottles each for Sheppard and Lorne.
Then he remembered the baby supplies, and Vala's cheerful wandering progress slowed as they reached that section of the shop. She drifted through the isle of baby stuff, looking lost amidst heavily pregnant women and parents with small babies.
Unsure what to say or do to make her feel better, Jack began to fill up his cart with the sort of thing you gave to an expectant mother. A jar of nice smelling stuff to smear on her stomach. Some baby rompers in green and orange and purple. One of those cute blankets with a hood to wrap a baby in and make them look like a bear. Nothing too practical; the Athosians had to have their own way of seeing a baby taken care of, and he didn't want to impose Earth ways on her.
When he was finished he returned to where Vala was staring unseeingly at baby socks. She must have had hopes and wishes for her child, Jack figured. Must have longed to meet her baby in those last heavy months, like Sara had. To have it ripped from her arms...
He took the socks she'd been staring at, and added them to his cart. She shook herself from her musings, giving his cart a surprised look.
"I had a son," he brought out, feeling inexplicably compelled to share.
It felt strangely like relief to say it. Especially when she didn't ask the dreaded question. Just said:
"I'm sorry for you, too."
With that the topic was closed, and they walked out of the isle, only stopping for her to grab a dolphin toy that had a recordable module inside of it. She had a smile on her face again, a little brittle still but growing as they entered an isle full of plush toys. The sadness back into its box again. He vaguely admired that.
"What's this thing?" she bounced back over.
"It's a reminder that life is very, very strange," he said, admiring the stuffed Platypus. It was really quite lifelike. "You should get one.. in fact, get several. I'm sure Sheppard needs one of those things in his life. Lorne too."
Vala's eyes lit up.
"I don't know, how many Platypus...pusses.. platypii do you think they need?"
"Platypie?" she shook her ponytails back over her shoulders.
"Whale in the air!" she called out, in the exact same tone she normally used for 'fire in the hole', and released the catapult.
gelbes_gilatier, I hope you don't mind that I borrowed Sergeant Meyers!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Settle in people, this may take a few hours," Colonel Samantha Carter addressed the small group as the jumper settled down in the main bay at Midway Station. "McKay, you start with the Pegasus side diagnostics, I'll do the Milkyway side."
With two out of three gatebridge experts passing through the station, she had calculated in the time to do some maintenance and fine-tuning to the bridge settings. Bill Lee had come up with a few suggestions she was eager to try.
Dr Fournier slouched back in his jumper seat, dark circles below his eyes. He'd used the night at the SGC to work on his translation, to fully benefit from Dr Jackson's expertise - Dr Jackson had gone out for dinner and drinks with his former team, but had looked over Dr Fournier's progress in the morning.
Once the Colonel and McKay had passed by, Corporal Juanez let himself slip from the bench seat to the floor and stretched out his legs. If he turned just a little, he could let his sore jaw rest against the ice pack he'd propped against the edge of the bench seat. Dr Keller had not been eager to do a complicated double wisdom teeth removal if there were specialists available, and the opportunity to have it done at Peterson had been welcomed all around. Sadly, the really good painkillers were beginning to wear off, and if it was embarrassing to be around the Colonel while half out of his mind, it would be even more embarrassing to sit grimacing in pain over a simple toothache. She'd been sympathetic, but still. Marine honour.
That left Lieutenant Cadman and Sergeant Meyers at loose ends, a situation that senior command generally took pains to avoid, as it had been known to lead to unexpected and experimental explosions. But only just the one time, Cadman swore. And Colonel Caldwell had said that she should 'go do her research stuff' if she didn't have anything better to do. It was just possible he hadn't remembered exactly what her research entailed.
She'd spent the entire 22 hours notice before the trip reviewing her research data. Then a long day in talks at MIT, cramming in presenting, reconnecting and networking all in one day while trying to pretend she hadn't just dropped in from another galaxy. It was damn hard to concentrate in a university cafe where just anybody could come in. After nearly three years on Atlantis she was used to knowing every face.
Disoriented by the intergalactic time difference, she'd hardly noticed socialising deep into the night, catching up with peers in her field and the research they were up to now. Then they'd hit up a 24/7 supermarket for chocolate, followed by breakfast-for-dinner and lots of strong coffee in an all night cafe. The Odyssey had beamed them back to the SGC at the start of the morning shift.
They might just possibly be a little wired.
"Permission to look around the station, Colonel?" Cadman asked before the two scientists could climb up to the control room.
"Permission granted, Lieutenant."
"Don't push any buttons," McKay added. "Or flip any switches," he began to climb the stairs. "Or blow anything up!"
Cadman tried very hard not to roll her eyes in front of a field grade officer. Colonel Carter looked like she was trying to resist a smile, then turned away to jog up the stairs.
"Come on, McKay. The faster we're done, the less time they have to get into trouble."
There was definitely a smirk in her voice.
Cadman nodded at Sergeant Meyers that they had the okay, and they set off to explore the as-yet unmanned station.
This turned out to be a lot less interesting than she'd hoped.
"You'd think there would be entertainment on a base between galaxies," she muttered, opening more doors. There was no furniture, no equipment in the gym.
"Found a kitchen, ma'am," Meyers called from the next door. It looked functional, if a little strange because everything was attached: the coffeemaker bolted to the worktop.
"Guess the gravity drive doesn't always work," she said, poking around the cupboards. There were some MREs, little packets of sugar and creamer, and that was about it. "I have an idea."
"Ohhhhhh, coffee!" McKay sounded like somebody had brought him a box full of ZPMs.
"Are you having sensory hallucinations or - oh, hello Lieutenant, Sergeant," Colonel Carter's disembodied voice sounded from under a desk panel. Her legs were visible from the knee down. Apparently she could recognise them by their boots.
"Okay, try it now? McKay?"
"McKay, are you having a Moment?" she groused, nudging him with her boot. "Put the coffee down and run the macro again, so I can get out."
"Right. Okay. Yes, it works."
"Hallelujah." She put her heels a little further out and rolled herself out from under the dashboard, switching her headlight off as she got up. "Bill Lee has something to answer for, putting the master controls there. Anything that needs a backboard for access is in the wrong damn place."
"I thought you designed the controls?" McKay said helpfully.
"I left the placement details to Bill..." she said in a preoccupied voice, fingers flying over the control keyboard. "I was kind of busy at the time, what with the whole Ori-wanting-to-take-over-the-universe issue at the time."
The Colonel finally paused from roaming her hands over the controls, and Cadman managed to hand her the mug of coffee.
"Thank you." She took a sip and shrugged off the irritation. She wasn't even annoyed with Bill Lee. It was just hard to forget the sight of Cameron Mitchell back in an infirmary bed, monitors all around him just like they'd been the first time she met him. "Anything I can do for you?"
"Well ma'am, I was wondering if... um, permission to open the box marked for the rec room?" Cadman finally asked. There was really no way to make this sound less like 'I'm bored, please provide me with entertainment' and the Colonel might be friendly enough, but Marine training insisted it was never a good idea to declare yourself bored in front of a superior officer. They might find you something to do. Like clean the toilets with a toothbrush, or peel 30 kilo of potatoes on your own.
"Well, you are on the rec commission, Lieutenant," Colonel Carter replied. "Go for it. We'll be another hour or so."
"Thank you, ma'am."
The boxes had been closed with brightly coloured packing tape. There were flowers on it. In contrast, the names had been put on with a big black marker and a bold, spiky hand. Col. J. Sheppard, Maj. E. Lorne, Teyla, Dr M. R. McKay, and two for Colonel Carter. At the bottom of the stack, the largest one for the rec room, and a very heavy slightly smaller one marked for the kitchen.
They took those out of the jumper to let the other two sleep, or doze, as they wanted to. Cadman drew her combat knife and carefully sliced the tape on the first one.
She folded open the flaps and they both stared down at the contents.
"Lightsabres," Meyers said finally, voice full of reverence.
"Bacon soap??" Cadman said, picking up a small package from the box.
"Bacon soap?" echoed Corporal Juanez sleepily from his spot inside the jumper. Cadman looked up and tossed him the packet, and he held it to his nose. "Huh."
The Lieutenant began to unpack, handing items off for the Sergeant to spread out: twenty small bottles of bubble fluid, five hot water bottles in colourful fleece covers, a baking tray for castle shaped cakes, a Yoda golf club cover, about twenty mini stylophones that were immediately tested, habanero popcorn, a glow in the dark beer pong set, eight nerf guns, two giant catapults and two huge bags of water balloons, a small soundbox that gave Mr T quotes on button press, an inflatable killer whale, a karaoke set for the wii, a few other new Wii games including Lego Star Wars, two inflatable crocodiles, a 3D Tetris game, a jigsaw puzzle with 18 000 pieces, a game called Mad Scientist University, a board game called Agricola, and at the very bottom a board game called 'Escape from Atlantis'.
"The General seriously gave us beer pong?" Meyers couldn't quite believe it.
"Apparently he went shopping with Vala," Cadman said.
"To Random Shi-umm, Stuff 'R Us," Juanez caught himself. "Seriously, a Mr T soundbox?"
"And waterballoon catapults?"
"And an inflatable killer whale?"
Cadman and Meyers exchanged a look. This had potential.
Fifteen minutes later Colonel Carter looked out of the control room window to see an inflatable killer whale sailing through the air of the main bay.
"What?" McKay said without looking up.
"No, this... this you need to see," she chuckled.
"Oh, well..." he came over to the window. "General O'Neill is-" he cut himself off with a glance at the Colonel's face. It wasn't exactly a secret that she and Jack O' Neill were close, and he belatedly remembered that insulting the General probably wasn't a good idea. "-very.. strange..."
"Wow, that went waaay further than I thought it would!" Juanez laughed, holding one end of a rather large catapult.
"Try a higher trajectory next time, ma'am," Meyers grinned, holding the other end.
"All right, here goes the croc," Cadman announced, manhandling an inflatable crocodile almost twice as long as she herself was tall. "Let's see how he flies."
"Oh hell, Colonel's watching-" Meyers said in a low tone, nodding his head sideways to the Colonel, what was standing at the top of the control room stairs.
They tried to look like they had not just been about to catapult a large inflatable toy, and each grabbed some of the assorted items spread out on the ground.
"Not so fast, Lieutenant," Colonel Carter said, calmly descending the stairs.
Cadman snapped to attention, steeling herself for a reprimand. Not that she generally had trouble taking some flack from a superior officer, but Colonel Carter was one of the few people whose disappointment or anger would be hard to bear.
"You know I'm always delighted to see military members of the expedition take an interest into the scientific aspects of the Pegasus galaxy," she said. "I do hope you are properly documenting this research into the air speed velocity properties of the common inflatable killer whale."
Cadman did a double take.
"Um, yes ma'am. After this... preliminary testing session I intend to write up a full research proposal," she said finally. She'd been on a gate team at the SGC under General O'Neill - sometimes the best thing to do when superiors didn't make sense was just to commit to a course and go with it.
"Excellent. I suggest that Sergeant Meyers here," Colonel Carter looked to the sergeant, who was standing to a textbook attention and obviously wondering where the hell this was going, "takes co-authorship on this project instead of merely assisting you. I feel this will set him onto a track of valuable academic experience."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, wondering if she knew that he'd become more and more interested in the academic side of the work he'd been assisting in, and even vaguely considered looking into study options.
"Very well. And of course Corporal Juanez will contribute as research assistant to the formal report." She stressed those last two words enough that it was clear she really did expect one. "I look forward to the documentation. Now, prepare the jumper for departure... except for your research material."
The three Marines saluted sharply and immediately set to work. Cadman tried to avoid the sergeant's eyes, certain she would not be able to hold onto her composure if they looked at each other.
Colonel Carter turned on her heel and went back to the control room, pressing her lips together to contain her smile.
"Sam, did you just punish them, joke with them, or force them onto the path of academia?"
"Yes, Rodney," she answered blandly. "Let's finish this up and go home."
About ten minutes later they had closed up the panels and gathered tools. In the main bay, the jumper had been packed, boxes once again neat and stacked, except for the catapult and the killer whale, which were lying beside the ramp, looking bizarrely out of place.
The Colonel halted outside of the jumper and, after a quick, almost reflexive headcount, cleared her throat. The three Marines, taking the hint that formality was expected where it normally would not be, stood to attention in front of her.
"At ease. Research team, you left one vital factor out of your preliminary experiments, and as your supervisor it is my duty to see this remedied," she said seriously.
Cadman and Meyers gave her a look of polite inquiry.
"No research into the air speed velocity properties of the common inflatable killer whale could possibly be complete without including the influence of gate travel."
Cadman's eyes lit up with understanding.
"Permission to make a request, ma'am?" she said after a moment, stepping up to the bar the Colonel had just set.
"Go ahead, Lieutenant."
"Colonel, permission to fire that whale through the gate?" she managed to hit a tone of scientific curiosity tempered by the prospect of a dirty job ahead. Couldn't sound too eager now. She kept her eyes straight ahead in a proper form rarely observed, because she knew if she met the Colonel's expression, she would burst out into laughter. With an absolutely deadpan face as she added "For scientific advancement, ma'am?"
Colonel Samantha Carter stifled a cough.
"Permission granted. You have five minutes to measure and set out your parameters. Dismissed."
Cadman idly noted that it was a shame that the trappings of rank made it difficult for the Colonel to join the women's poker nights. She suspected the older woman might be able to give even Miko a run for her money.
A few minutes later Meyers had measured and marked exactly six metres from the event horizon of the Pegasus gate, and Cadman had helped Juanez calculate the optimal angle.
"We're good to go," Sam Carter strode into the jumper. "McKay, dial it up."
Dr Fournier woke up, and watched with the other two as the stargate engaged and the wormhole settled into a pool of shimmering silver. The three Marines got into position as the Colonel entered her IDC.
"What's going on?" Dr Fournier asked sleepily.
"The stimulation of scientific interest, apparently" Dr McKay answered.
"Catapulting an inflatable whale through a gate bridge," Colonel Carter said at the exact same moment.
"What she said."
"What he said."
Fournier muttered something in French that may or may not have been 'You're all insane'.
"You have a go, Lieutenant," the Colonel called out from the ramp after Atlantis confirmation had been received.
The two men held up their ends of the catapult, and Cadman hauled back the middle pocket, then positioned the whale as well as possible.
"Whale in the air!" she called out, in the exact same tone she normally used for 'fire in the hole', and released the catapult.
The killer whale sailed away with a whump! sound and disappeared through the top half of the wormhole, if slightly tilted.
"Excellent," Colonel Carter summarised. "Let's pack up and head home."
"A fine shot, ma'am," Meyers said to Cadman. "The gate room cameras should pick up its trajectory perfectly."
"I will ensure you have access to the footage for your research," Colonel Carter said gravely.
Yes indeed, nothing at all to do with the video reel that Cadman was assembling for the Christmas party. That she would absolutely have to send to Vala and Jack.
It was all about intellectual curiosity.
In the name of holy mood whiplash, batman, this actually took on a really serious turn in which Carter and Cadman talk about being female military scientists, and Rodney is schooled on a few things. But it didn't fit into the rest at all, so I took it out. Maybe I'll post it seperately at some point.
"The General is a sadist!" Rodney appeared briefly behind them. "This is like giving the children of somebody you don't like a drumset!"
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"Ma'am, may I ask you something?"
Lorne stood in the doorway of the small rec room that was generally considered to be reserved for senior command. It wasn't that they didn't want to hang out with the rest of the expedition members, but that their presence tended to stifle the atmosphere. Plus, once in a while it was nice to be able to speak freely among themselves, and it was more appropriate than personal quarters.
"Sure," she said easily, putting down her e-reader. She noted his jeans and t-shirt. He was carrying the box he'd received from the jumper. Probably not business then.
"You know the General better than I do, ma'am, and..."
"Sam," she corrected. "Call me Sam, please. Unless this is business."
She was curled up in comfortable soft trousers and her Firefly hoodie, warm and relaxed after a long shower with the most divine shower gel. She really hoped it wasn't business.
"Very well... Sam," he hesitated a moment. "I was just wondering about the items I received from General O'Neill. But I see that you.." he nodded at the plush Platypus perched on the coffee table.
"He got you one too, didn't he?"
Lorne tilted the box so she could see it.
"I was just wondering if there was some reference or message I was missing," he admitted.
Sam looked at him. He didn't look worried, but he did seem a little puzzled. If somebody who had worked at the SGC for years, including a year under Jack as general, could be puzzled by this, she was looking forward to seeing Sheppard's reaction.
"Would it help to know that Vala Mal Doran accompanied the General on his shopping trip?" she grinned. "Have you met Vala?"
"Only once, when yourself and SG1 were here on Atlantis. But.. yes, it does explain something."
"Did you get anything else?" the box looked too heavy for just the stuffed toy.
He showed her a selection of six Belgian beers.
"Ah. I think the intended message would be something like 'life is very strange. Have a drink', she smiled.
She was rewarded with one of his rare laughs.
"Well, he did used to tell me to lighten up and stop second-guessing everything," he explained finally.
She invited him to sit down with a gesture, and he did.
"Captain Avery is Duty Officer tonight," he said after a second. "So.."
He pulled out one of the beers and held it out to her.
"Thank you, but," she held up her glass of wine and his eyes went to the bottle of very nice vintage. Her favourite. Of course, after so long, Jack knew exactly what she bought when she wanted an indulgence.
"Ah. Do you mind if I-"
"Of course not, Evan," she said firmly.
He rummaged around in the kitchenette for one of the few proper beer glasses, rinsed it, and poured his beer.
"Were you there when McKay opened his box?" She asked as he settled down at an angle to her.
He shook his head.
"Giant microbe toy," she grinned. "And Canadian beer."
He flashed a grin, then tasted his beer and made a happy sort of hum.
"Teyla got a box full of baby stuff, I saw," he continued finally.
"Yeah, I asked them to look for that. It's going to be a challenge for everybody, I think – we're so used to protecting pregnant women. But I wanted to make sure she also knows it's a happy event for us."
He nodded, and they were both silent for a long moment. Letting a pregnant woman serve on a gate team was counterintuitive to all of them.
"So what is all this excitement about showers? It seemed like the entire female half of the city rushed off to have a shower about as soon as you arrived."
"Ah... I wasn't happy with the amounts of money that started going round on the ladies poker nights," she admitted. "So I asked for some luxurious shower gels, to serve as currency. Only I didn't specify an amount... so they basically got a bottle of everything. I handed some out."
"That explains the sudden pleasant scents in the big rec room," he nodded with a grin.
They lounged in comfortable silence for a moment. Sam tilted back her head and smiled. It had been a good trip, despite the depressing reason. Seeing Cameron like that in an infirmary bed, barely managing to keep his eyes open but still admonishing her for being worried... but he was going to be okay. Dr Lam was the sort of doctor who never made promises she wasn’t certain she could deliver, and she'd said he was going to be okay.
It was just that sometimes the distance killed her a little.
But then there had been the situation with Cadman and Meyer, which had done no end of good in lifting her mood, and the look on Sheppard's face when they'd come through the gate had been so good that she'd faked a coughing fit to hide her laughter. It was a good thing he hadn't met her in the jumper bay.
The quick update she'd given him and Lorne in the control room had really strained her composure.
Evan had had that glint in his eyes that said he knew very well that the whale incident wouldn't have happened without her approval – he'd been on enough shared missions with SG1 to know she was a lot less serious than she often showed.
Teal'c had always been her favourite prank partner. His 'I'm a hundred year old alien warrior, I don't know what you mean' combined with her 'I am far too serious and driven to concern myself with something so silly' had let them breeze through countless instances of mischief. She was glad she'd gotten to see Teal'c, even if only for the evening. She really missed having somebody to play off of.
Sheppard however didn't know her even half so well. He'd played the briefing perfectly straight, but she could almost hear his thoughts buzz. Should I ask her? But how, without implying she had something to do with it.. or that she didn't know what was going on.. and both of that might be seen as insulting...
"Cadman and Meyers have been awake for about three days straight," she said finally, remembering. "Nothing is scheduled for your team for the next 24 hours, but if something comes up.."
"I'll pick a replacement for Meyers," he nodded. Cadman wasn't on his team, but an auxiliary brought in to back up certain missions. "They had fun at MIT then, I take it?"
"Sounded like," she smiled at the ceiling. "Nothing like finding some others to geek your own subject with. "
He made an agreeing sort of sound. It wasn't a secret that Sam Carter had taken an interest in the young woman who was set upon a similar scientific/military career as herself. Different subjects, but the same challenges.
She looked up to see Sheppard in the doorway, taking in the sight of both his commanding officer and his 2IC lounging on the overstuffed couches. She deliberately looked down to her attire, her bare feet that she'd curled up under herself. Then she raised an eyebrow at him. Did she look on duty to him?
"Sam," he conceded to her wordless correction after a long moment.
"Could you please explain why I've just been asked to give my formal observations of the air velocity of an inflatable killer whale after it has been through a gate bridge? By Juanez, no less?"
Evan raised his glass to his mouth hide his smile.
"I'm testing a hypothesis, John," she said in a lazy, contemplative sort of tone, taking a sip of wine. "About how to rouse scientific curiosity in military personnel."
"Oh, please remind me to put my Monty Python box set in the rec room," she added brightly.
"Right." He had the glimmers of a grin on his face now, and she saw them echoed on Evan's face.
She wondered if she was finally inspiring the same feelings of amused exasperation in her officers that Jack O'Neill had always inspired in her. Perhaps it was revenge for having to stay on base while they went through the gate. Revenge for always having to wait.
She kind of wanted to send Jack an email now to tell him she finally understood it, but it wasn't really something that made sense out loud. Or that he'd ever admit to. And thinking of the content of the boxes he'd given them, he probably already knew.
"That man is diabolical!"
She and Lorne put their glasses down, both coming to semi-alertness at the strident tone of Rodney McKay's voice down the hall. Sheppard didn't move from his attempts to let the couch eat him.
Apparently this was not a concern-arousing tone of voice coming from McKay.
"Is anybody listening? That man is diabolical!" McKay appeared in the door opening, repeating his statement. He blinked a little at the way the three of them were lounging, briefly focusing on Sam's bare feet and the Platypus toys on the table.
"And I'm sure you're about to tell us who and why," Sheppard drawled.
"You've got to come see this. Big rec room," McKay just snapped, and walked off.
After a beat, they each got to their feet. This they had to see.
The big rec room was full to bursting. At the tables on one side people had set up the new games, some of them clearly complicated boardgames played by serious-faced scientists who were still discussing the rule book, and some more rowdy with a big crowd surrounding the players.
On one side Ronon was studying the fight scenes of The Phantom Menace on the laptop of the Swedish Kapten Lundgren. He was twirling the red double-ended lightsaber in an absentminded sort of way. The Kapten was clearing space at the side of the room together with Lieutenant Cadman.
None of that seemed particularly diabolical to Sam, so she focussed Radek Zelenka, who was showing something to an assembled crowd on the big projection screen. His hair was in disarray and he was in the grip of his own considerable enthusiasm - something she'd always found rather endearing.
Meanwhile Dr Simpson directed the crowd into several groups, encouraging them to separate their chairs.
It all made sense when Radek returned the projection to its starting point, nodded at the people assembled before him, and they began playing the Imperial March on mini stylophones.
"Perhaps it's a sanity evaluation?" Sheppard said finally, grinning.
"Like a stress test," Lorne nodded after a moment.
"The General is a sadist!" Rodney appeared briefly behind them. "This is like giving the children of somebody you don't like a drumset!" Then he disappeared down the hall, apparently unwilling to subject himself to more.
"We'll have to think about a return gift," Sam mused softly, flashing a grin as the men stared at her. What, they hadn't considered sending something back? "It's a shame we can't send him technology. I think he'd enjoy that recreational device you tested last week."
"The one that gave me synthaesia?" Lorne frowned. There was nothing quite like smelling a wormhole and hearing the Julda pie in the commissary.
"And then maybe give him a recording of this," Sam nodded at the stylophone players.
"You have a... very well hidden devious streak," Sheppard concluded. His face said that it was a happy discovery.
"I spent quite some time on the Daedalus," she said thoughtfully. "And I'm on good terms with Doctor Novak. I'm sure she would be willing to beam a surprise into the General's office next time they're in orbit. Like maybe.. an inflatable killer whale.."
Plus, she could ask Teal'c to change Vala's ringtone into a recording of the stylophone concert....
She flashed them an impish megawatt smile and then walked further into the room to grab a stylophone and join the concert.