"The General says you're still undecided."
John looked up to see Sam Carter planting herself in a chair opposite him, putting her tray down, and smiling as if it were enough for him to forgive her for intruding on his personal space.
Of course it was, so John smiled back and continued picking at his sandwich.
"Did he tell you to talk me into it, Ma'am?"
"Something like that." She took a bite of her pasta, "but I don't see the point, either you wasn't to go or you don't, right? And you don't have to call me Ma'am"
"Right." He wasn't sure if this was reverse psychology or not.
"I'd love to go, the General isn't sure he can stop Daniel from going without locking him up and McKay is so happy he was actually nice to someone today," John laughed, "but we have reasons to want to go."
"I don't have a reason like that," stating the obvious, but he wanted to see where she was going with this.
"No," she paused for more pasta and he decided to give up on the sandwich, "but do you have a reason not to go?"
He'd been asking himself the same thing since he'd gotten the offer. It was pretty much equal on both sides, stay or go, enjoy the comforts of Earth and possibly be bored, or miss Earth and possibly have an adventure (and die). He'd been right about Carter though, she had done exactly what O'Neill had asked her to do, given him a pep talk, just in her own sneaky way.
"You always do what General O'Neill tells you to do?"
"Pretty much," she said, and he noted the frown fly across her face for a moment and he wondered what memory he'd brought to the forefront of her mind, "you've never been through the gate have you?"
"No, not yet." He was still hoping that, even if he didn't go to Atlantis, he'd still get to join the SGC.
"I'll talk to the General." She didn't elaborate on that and he didn't ask for more. Just continued to poke at his sandwich. If it was a choice been Atlantis food and the SGC food, he'd seriously have to consider looking into the ration supply going to the Pegasus Galaxy.
The next day he was standing on the ramp in BDU's, a vest and a hand gun, waiting for the gate to dial up. Sam was standing next to him, close to him, but looking back up at the Control room where General O'Neill was standing. John was more interested in the Gate though, watching each Chevron lock in place, and then, finally, the gate opening, the whoosh made him take a step back. Sam put a hand on his back and smiled.
"It's okay," She said.
"It's cool." He told her, smiling back. He didn't wait for anyone to tell him to go, he knew what was on the other side and knew both Carter and O'Neill were just dying for him to walk through the gate and fall in love with the rush, or the new experience, or something. He just had to walk up the ramp. So he did and didn't hesitate to keep walking straight through the ripples of blue.
He kinda hoped that the throwing up was due to the lasagne rather than the trip through the gate, but Sam was simply waiting for him to finish, standing to one side as the lasagne returned to haunt him. Worryingly it looked the same on the ground as it had before he'd eaten it, and the idea made him feel sicker, causing him to throw up again. This time, Sam's hand was on his back again, still waiting, but when he was done, she asked if he was okay.
"Fine, just, bad lunch," He smiled and she nodded.
"Lasagne." He didn't ask how she knew, and didn't want to throw up anymore, so when she started to walk through the long grass he followed.
"Where are we?"
"P3X-797." He caught up to her and she was grinning, knowing full well he would have no idea what the designations were, even if, unlike O'Neill, he could remember what planets had which designation.
"Also known as?"
"Land Of Light," she stopped so he could fall into step beside her, "it was one of the first places we came too, the first friends we made."
"Am I here to learn about making allies in the Pegasus galaxy?"
"No, we're going to make sure Tuplo and his people don't need anything, maybe have something to eat, if you're up to it by then," she grinned.
"They're nice people, over nice sometimes, wear a chiffon, or something similar."
"Sounds interesting." She rolled her eyes and soon he saw the town as they came over the hill from the gate, "Wow."
"It's Mesopotamian, lots of bulls and..."
"Chiffon," He smiled back and they started a quick trek down the hill towards the buildings. At the bottom they rounded a corner and immediately saw a grouping of people sitting in the courtyard. John stopped and looked around at the people; the women dressed in thin material, the men with strange tight outfits with the mid-sections missing.
"Major Carter," She and John turned around and saw Melosha coming towards them both, smiling brightly. "Welcome back to the Land Of Light."
"Thank you Melosha." She embraced the woman, then stepped back to introduce Sheppard. John noticed she didn't correct the woman on her rank. "This is a colleague of mine, Major Sheppard."
"John," He told her, smiling and taking her hand in his and holding it for a moment, rather than shaking it.
"Melosha," she replied, in a shy tone, a coy look on her face. Sam rolled her eyes again.
"How are things?" She asked the young woman. She turned her attention away from John.
"All is well here Major, the harvest is coming soon, most are happy."
"Most?" John asked
"There are always a few who are not happy with my father's leadership." She said, leading them through the courtyard. "But, if the majority continue to speak in his favour, then there are no worries," she smiled again, "he will be pleased to see you Major."
They were sat in Tuplo's main hall, and to Sam it looked exactly the same as it always had, but John kept looking around at the decoration, and the people, one eye flitting between the man's headgear and Sam who was sat next to him around the table.
"You okay?" She asked.
"Are we supposed to be eating Colonel?" He leant into her, close, to talk quietly in her ear. He had noted that, despite the table being covered in dishes full of food, no one was eating, and they were merely talking, several conversations happening all at once.
"A bit yeah, I lost my lunch."
"Don't remind me," She laughed and he reached forward to take a piece of fruit, looking to Sam for approval. She nodded and he took the piece, inspected it, and then started eating, quickly.
"Hungry?" She asked again, still laughing.
"That's cute Carter, funny."
"You can call me Sam," she told him, taking something green from a different bowl for herself, "I'd prefer it actually, and enough people call me Carter."
"People call me Shep sometimes, which, I gotta tell ya, pisses me off."
"They only call me it the once. They learn not to do it again." She laughed and he had to admit it was cute, the smile.
"Sounds like something you'd call a dog."
"That's not nice, I asked you to call me Sam after all." He was pretty sure she was flirting with him, but it was hard to tell when she was eating what looked like a lime, and smiling and, okay maybe it wasn't so hard to tell. He smiled back at her.
"What's so wrong with being called Carter?"
"Carter is the Lieutenant Colonel, she has no fun and always has to behave."
"Sam can do whatever the hell she likes."
"Does Sam own the motorbike?"
"You do know we're the same person right?" He laughed with her and then Tuplo called for the attention of the table. "He's going to make a speech." Sam warned, leaning in close and whispering in his ear, a breath washing over it.
"I'll put my interested face on."
She held onto a laugh and snorted, turning her head away from his ear and the table. He smiled, taking a deep breath through his nose so he could keep his own laughter in. He was pretty sure Carter was supposed to be convincing him to go to Atlantis not giving him reasons to stay.
Maybe she didn't always do what the General told her too.
Tuplo talked about friends, old and new, and relations with the Tau'ri and then he drifted off, stopped listening to the man in the funny hat and looked around the room, his eyes flicking from side to side while he kept his head facing Tuplo. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Sam watching him, and wondered if he was making a face or had food around his mouth. Subconsciously he wiped his lips and saw Sam stifle another laugh. This woman had a serious problem with giggles.
"Are you like this on all missions?" He asked her in a whisper.
"No, I'm the Colonel on missions, she doesn't laugh."
"I thought they were the same person? I think you have some serious personality problems..." he was cut short by his own laughter and the Tuplo's increasing volume and he started to wonder if there was something in the fruit he and Carter had eaten.
Once the food had been eaten, and Tuplo's hospitality had been stretched to the limit by Sheppard and Carter's childish behaviour during his speech (it was just like being at school again), they headed back to the gate.
"That was fun." He told her as they made the quick trek back up the hillside to the gate.
"Won't always be fun," She said, voice serious, face straight, the lines in her forehead marring her pretty face. "Actually, it'll rarely be fun."
"Going to Atlantis?"
"Staying at the SGC." She turned to look at him and he knew he was definitely talking to both the Colonel and Sam now. "You might have better luck in the Pegasus galaxy, away from the Goa'uld and the replicators and whatever else is out there to kill you."
John didn't know what to say, this he hadn't been expecting. The change in her demeanour, mood surprised him. He didn't know Sam all that well and didn't know she had this in her, this serious side. She didn't have personality problems, but she certainly needed something. Someone. He really wasn't into the broken wings thing, cute as she was.
"We'd better go, before they lock our code out of the system."
"Really?" She nodded and John started to worry, he hadn't expected any of this on a short trip to a friendly planet. Maybe she was right, maybe he would be better off on Atlantis.
Maybe she did always do what the General told her.