Building a Foundation

Author: a. loquita

Summary: Carter angst during a team moment as she struggles to fit in on Atlantis

Spoilers: Reunion

Rating: K

Mealtime was the worst, thought Samantha Carter as she entered the commissary and got in line to fill her tray. As the newly instated commander of Atlantis, she knew it was vitally important to begin to get to know everyone here. She was using this as a method to casually spend 30 minutes each meal with various members of the Atlantis expedition, learning about where they were from, the family they'd left behind, and what they liked best about being assigned here. Sam also knew that she had to sell herself. Show that she was personable, open to their ideas and suggestions, and try to win them over. It was all part of the job, but it was hard.

Sam longed to take her food back to her office with her. Eating alone wasn't fun, but it was easier. Easier because sitting and eating with strangers was the loudest reminder of what she'd left behind. There was no Teal'c, Jack O'Neill, Daniel, Mitchell, or even Vala here. Yes, she even desperately missed Vala, that's how far off things felt.

Eating together in the mess at the SGC was always a big "team thing." Something that began almost at the very beginning and even as SG-1 shifted and changed slightly over the years, team meals remained a constant.

She could deal with crisis and she'd shoulder the responsibility of Atlantis like a pro. But she was having less success handling the lack of her extended family, SG-1. They were now scattered across galaxies, doing their own things. She was proud of them but she missed them terribly.

From where Sheppard sat eating lunch with his team, he watched Carter work her way through the line and add salad, soup, a cup of coffee, and a bowl of blue Jell-O to her tray. She seemed to wear this mood around her that she tried hard to cover with smiles… sadness maybe? He wasn't sure.

Sheppard believed Carter had been doing a decent job especially considering the circumstances under which she had to assume command here. It wasn't easy on any of them. Besides respecting her, he kind of liked her too. Not in that way, but in a friendly sort of way. She was smart and interesting and he suspected she had a sense of humor hidden in there somewhere.

"I do not understand." Teyla's voice broke through Sheppard's thoughts. "Are they under attack by some sort of advanced culture, such as the wraith?"

"Nope," Sheppard answered, "it's just people living on an island." Before taking another bite of his sandwich.

Ronon and Teyla exchanged meaningful looks. Ronon asked, "Then why is it called 'Survivor?'"

Before Sheppard could answer, Rodney McKay jumped into the conversation. "You see, it's really more of a comment on the, uh, social implications of forced cohabitation away from the creature comforts that we all- well, some of us anyway-"

"Rodney," Sheppard broke in, since Teyla and Ronon's looks of confusion only got worse. "Perhaps the purpose of reality TV gets a little lost on our friends here."

Rodney countered sarcastically. "Oh, so there is an actual purpose then?"

Sheppard caught sight of Colonel Carter walking through the mess, about to pass by their table. He asked, "Colonel? Would you like to join us?"

She seemed to falter for a split second, and then she smiled. "That would be nice. Thank you." Sam set her tray down and acknowledged the rest of them, "Teyla, Ronon, McKay, how are you?" Before sitting down.

Teyla said, "Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay here have been attempting to describe the merits of watching television. I'm afraid it's a conversation we've had many times in the past, without much success."

Amused, Sam turned her head to Sheppard. "Anything in particular that you wish you could watch here on Atlantis?"

"Football." Then Sheppard turned the tables, "What about you, Colonel? Is there a particular show that you miss watching?"

"Simpsons," She answered without even giving it a thought.

"Really?" Sheppard asked, surprised but pleased. See, he just knew she had a sense of humor behind that veneer of command. "I wouldn't have guessed that."

Sam asked, "And what about you, McKay?"

Sheppard was happy to supply, "McKay here is a big fan of some geeky scifi show. He made me watch it with him once. It has a blue lady on it that has an extra third breast."

Sam's eyebrow rose at McKay.

"That's not why." Rodney said to Sheppard in a huff. "And I never said it was my favorite show."

Sheppard reminded. "Yet you brought the entire DVD collection with you to Atlantis."

"Yes, well…" Rodney was saved from having to defend his tastes.

"Tell me Teyla," Sam inquired, "what kinds of games and entertainment do your people have?"

As Teyla told stories, and Ronon added in a comment here and there, and of course Sheppard and McKay kept taking shots at each other, Sam leaned back for a moment to take it all in. She smiled at the team laughing and teasing each other. For the first time since she arrived, Sam thought that maybe meals wouldn't be quite so lonely here after all. Maybe everything was going to be OK.