A/N: Written especially for the folks at S/J Ship Family Discussion Thread over at GW. Happy Valenship Day, guys!
He found her where he'd expected to find her - where she seemed to gravitate towards when he suspected she needed solitude and her quarters proved to confining. For a moment he stood silently behind her, not wanting to disturb her too quickly. The sun rising above the ocean lit the deck with an almost eerie glow, the tangy smell of the sea filled his nostrils. It could have been any sea on Earth - but it wasn't.
He cleared his throat, and as he'd hoped, she turned from the water to look at him. Only then did he notice that, oddly, she held a fishing rod in her hand. The idiosyncrasies of senior officers had long ago ceased to amaze, yet even he couldn't help but wonder at the slight redness about her eyes which seemed to indicate she might have been crying. Or maybe trying not to cry. Still, none of his business.
"Sorry to disturb you so early, Ma'am, but Captain McCullough sent me to get you. We've had an incoming wormhole from the SGC."
Colonel Carter looked startled and worried, as well she might. Communications with Earth were no longer uncommon, but they generally only happened during third watch in emergencies. "Don't worry, Ma'am," he quickly reassured her. "It's nothing urgent. But Captain McCullough knew you'd want to be there for it."
The Colonel looked relieved and, with a "Thank you, Corporal," headed back inside Atlantis.
One of the advantages to being in command, Sam mused as she looked out across the crowded mess hall, was being able to find a quiet table the corner to be alone in no matter how busy the place became. Her eyes settled on the nearby table where John Sheppard and several others sat eating and talking together. Of course, that was also one of the difficulties with being in command. As she ate, she couldn't help but overhear bits of the conversation taking place at the nearby table.
Teyla seemed to be trying to figure out exactly why the earlier delivery from Earth had been so important, and why it had included primarily gifts from spouses and various significant others. "But doesn't the fact that you're expected to give a gift detract from the romantic intent?" she was asking. Sam had had enough experience dealing with aliens trying to understand her culture that she could easily understand the other woman's confusion.
Sheppard was opening his mouth, probably getting read to defend the holiday, but Dr. Zelenka got in the first word. "It's not actually a holiday, you understand, in the true sense," he explained. "It was originally meant to celebrate a religious figure, St. Valentine, but it's present form owes more to US commercial interests than romantic or religious ones."
John was opening his mouth to speak again when Ronan mumbled something under his breath and rolled his eyes before shoveling a mouthful of food into his mouth. This time John managed an indignant, "Hey!", as he turned to look at his friend.
Dr. Jennifer Keller, who'd been spending more time around John and his team lately, took her turn trying to explain. "It's not about the cost of the gift or the fact that it's expected. As the old saying goes, 'It's the thought that counts.' Finding the perfect gift for someone - regardless of how much it costs - shows how well you know him or her and how much you care."
"Ah…." Teyla nodded towards the other woman. "Understanding the beloved's uniqueness. So that is why the shipment from Earth today contained so many red heart-shaped boxes of chocolate."
Keller nodded back. "Exactly." The two women managed to keep their faces straight for nearly a second before they both began to laugh.
Finished eating now, and smiling herself, Sam got up from the table and headed back to her quarters where she'd had an unread letter - and a case of blue jello cups - waiting for her all day.
Because thankfully Jack O'Neill knew how much his wife hated red heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.