Title: Five things Sam did while separated from her teammates in Continuum
Summary: title 'splains it all.
Author's Note: written for lj: sg1_five_things
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate, but I plan to ask for it for my birthday.
Sam stood in her customary place: by the coffee pot, near the staff room door, primed to make an easy getaway like she did every day. Her feet were itching to move, to take the bitter, barely drinkable coffee back to her office and hide away behind the pile of completely banal assignments she had yet to mark. Her head, on the other hand, screamed at her move forward, to sit down, to talk, to make an effort, to take the chance to be normal in this life thrust upon her.
It was a smile from the woman who taught across the hall – an astrophysics lecturer, ironically enough – that finally prompted her, the strange new mathematics professor, to cross the room and join their conversation. She had only the vaguest understanding of what they discussed – the names that flowed could have been students, other members of staff, or television characters for all she knew – but she listened anyway, and forced herself to join in.
It wasn't until she automatically held out her hand to receive a fresh mug, completely immersed in the idle gossip of the people around her that she realised what she was doing. She was actually talking to real people, people who had lives that didn't revolve around an ancient metal ring and whom didn't wake up in a cold sweat every single night. And it had been a long time she had done that, a very long time. She sipped her coffee; maybe it wasn't so bad after all.
The rebel in her – the adrenaline seeking, former alien-ass-kicking, mischievous streak that refused to lie completely dormant – took a swift look around before darting cleanly under the safety rail and sat herself down, her long legs hanging over the edge.
She had travelled all over the galaxy – not to mention her forays into other galaxies – but had seen little of her own world. This new life had not been wanted, but it had given her the opportunity to explore her own backyard a little. She had run through the fields in Kansas, eating corn fresh from the stalk and smothered in butter. She had gone to New York, visiting every museum she could find, taking the time to laugh over the things even she could identify as incorrect. She had holidayed in Minnesota, rugging up in scarfs and mittens to combat the cold, braving the weather to spend day after day at the lakeside.
Now she was travelling from landmark to landmark, seeing all the things she had never seen, all the places in the guidebooks Teal'c had shown her over the years. And as she sat, her legs dangling over the edge of the Grand Canyon she felt she could almost reach out to them all.
Her students filed out of the lecture hall in a pleasant buzz of noise. It was a noise she had come to enjoy, the sound of unconcerned youth, of people who had no need to worry about the fate of tomorrow. But today she was too nervous herself to appreciate it. As the noise faded away out the door, the very last student rose from his seat and bounced down the stairs to where she was standing (not hiding, she affirmed to herself) behind her lectern. He moved with such a lively energy, so young and carefree, a handsome crooked grin on a face holding the last vestiges of baby fat.
"You wanted to see me, Professor?"
Sam looked up from the briefcase she had been fiddling with and faced him with a nervousness he would never understand. "Yes," she shuffled through some papers until she found the one with his name across the top. "I, ah, I wanted to congratulate you on your paper."
She handed it to him, watching his grin broaden and straighten out when he saw the big 'A' she had placed neatly in the top corner. His blue eyes danced happily as they met hers. "Thank you, Professor."
"I've spoken to several of your other teachers; they all say you're doing extremely well… Your parents must be proud."
He rolled up the paper he had clearly worked so hard on and shoved it carelessly into his backpack, crushing it between books and other equally trampled notes – the familiar gesture caused a pang to her heart. He looked back up at her, still grinning. "Yeah, mum's pretty chuffed."
"And your father?" She resisted the urge to look away or bite her lip, as she knew she was wont to do, she was just the professor, she reminded herself.
He shrugged. "He always joked that I should have joined the family business, but I know he's actually pretty happy. Besides, he gets too much fun out of teasing me – he always had a bit of a problem with scientists."
He tossed the backpack over his shoulder and gave her one last look at his crooked grin – so familiar, yet oddly placed on this face she didn't know. "I better go, I've got my next class… Thanks for the 'A', Prof. Carter."
He nodded at her and she watched as he walked out. "You're welcome Charlie."
She lived off take-out the first month – and before long she knew every delivery guy by name, just as she had always done. When she first stepped into a grocery store, propelled by a desire for 'real food' she barely knew what to do with herself – after all, the first rule of life at the SGC (at least for the single ones like her) was to never, under any circumstances, buy perishables.
She bought cheese and milk – drinking her coffee white just because she could. She bought herself a head of lettuce and all the fixing for a salad and for the first time in longer than she could remember, she actually ate it before it turned into a swampy mess in her fridge. She enjoyed the taste of ice-cream that had yet to ice over. She bought and tasted every cereal, revelling in that last, still fresh bowl.
It was a luxury she was unprepared for.
It had been a blind date. She hadn't expected to like him, but he was handsome and held the door open for her. He paid the cheque and he listened to what she had to say, even though she was boring herself. One date turned into two, turned into three, and then a standing Friday night dinner. He kissed her, and she liked it. They slept together, and she let it happen.
He was a good man, but he was boring, and completely unremarkable. He was the kind who paid his bills on time, folded his socks away neatly and expressed gentle concern when she mentioned she was considering buying a motorcycle. He never spent the night because she was too worried about what she might say in her sleep, what she might do if he tried to wake her from a dream – whether that dream was good or bad.
She was using him, a rebound from an entire life, and it saddened her that under other circumstances – better circumstances, her guilty mind shot back at her – she never would have looked at him twice. And what's more, she knew that if the call came, if she was summoned back to the gate, she would leave him in a heartbeat, and would never even think to look back.