It took a while but Nathan finally made it to the counter at Café Diem. The cafe was packed with people wanting to say good-bye to their tourists-turned-Carter's family-turned-military liaison. After spending several weeks with them, he wasn't all that surprised at the huge crowd that had turned up. Though he would never admit it out loud - apart from the weak moment in his car, of course - Sam and also Cassie were fun and smart women. And they fit right in with the people of Eureka.
He grabbed the beer that had appeared in front of him and continued to scan the people in the room, subconsciously aware of the seat next to him being taken.
"She's something else, isn't she?"
Nathan nodded. Henry had hit the nail right on the head.
"I'm still wondering sometimes if I shouldn't have taken the offer to work for her a few years ago."
Hearing the thoughtful tone of Henry's statement, Nathan glanced over in curiosity. "You are serious. I didn't think there'd be anything that could get you away from Eureka. You love it here, you love your relative freedom of choosing what to do."
Henry laughed and shook his head. "You're right. I've yet to find something to drag me out of here. But Sam's offer? That came pretty damn close to doing just that."
"And of course you're not going to tell me what it is exactly that she's doing."
"No." Henry took a sip of his own beer. "And you shouldn't even think about trying to find out."
Nathan smiled genuinely. "So I've been told in no uncertain terms. As has Zane, I believe."
Henry chuckled, he wasn't surprised that both men had tried – and been found out. "Yeah, I have no problems believing that."
They returned to silently watching the crowd in front of them.
Henry finally broke the silence. "She's doing good, really good. And getting even less recognition than we do."
Nathan nodded. He'd already figured as much. And it was one of the reasons why he wasn't too put out of never having gotten a job offer. Not that he'd admit to it. Before Henry could read his thoughts - that man knew him too well sometimes - Nathan grabbed his beer and went back into the crowd. "You coming?"
Sam was having fun. Even though every time she wanted to buy drinks or food Vincent looked at her as if she was about to kick a whole litter of puppies. She tried to reason, to plead, to threat, to bargain and even to flirt with him - nothing worked. Eventually she just gave up and enjoyed her last evening in Eureka. The next morning she and Cassie would get onto their motorcycles and head back to Colorado Springs. They had a couple of days - Jack, the General, had made sure of that - before she had to report back to work. Luckily, her injuries weren't going to be a problem during their trip home with the help of GD's devices, although it would still be a while before she was going to be cleared for off-world missions.
"Having fun?" Jack, the cousin, asked as he sat down next to her. He'd changed out of his uniform and was wearing jeans and a button down shirt now.
Sam bumped shoulders with him and rested her head on his shoulder. "Nope."
"Funny," he said, nudging her slightly. "You don't have to go, you know? We could always use someone that can show Stark how things are done properly?"
"I thought that was your job?" Sam asked, only half-joking. "You've saved the day at least as often as he did, right?"
Jack turned them so they'd face each other. "Whenever something goes awry I need someone to translate the scientific mumbo-jumbo to even get an idea about what's wrong!"
"So? Then you process it and come up with an answer. It's not your fault that they need to translate it back to scientific mumbo-jumbo in order to get what you're saying." Sam waited a second before she continued. "And if the stories are correct, then it's usually Allison or Henry that are doing the translating." She wriggled her eyebrows at him. "Don't know about you, but looks to me like Nathan wouldn't get your helpful ideas otherwise."
"Huh." Jack frowned and got a far-away look in his eyes. Then a smile spread over his face. "Ha! You're right!"
Sam leaned back, a smug smile firmly planted on her face. "Duh! Of course I'm right. I'm a Carter, remember?"
"Are you sure about that?" Nathan pulled over a chair and sat down next to Sam, ignoring Jack completely. "I just don't see it."
Sam grinned in amusement. "I loved Math because my teacher was hot?"
Nathan rolled his eyes. "You were just saying that to annoy me."
"Actually," Sam shrugged her shoulders and even blushed a little bit. "He was really, really hot. And I had to get his attention somehow, right?"
"I give up." Nathan held up his hands in defeat. "You're definitely related."
Sam and Jack bumped their knuckles. "We know."
"So, what were you talking about before?" Nathan asked casually.
They looked at each other and shrugged. "Nothing."
Nathan narrowed his eyes. "You were talking about me."
"Nathan, Nathan, Nathan," Sam said, patting his shoulder. "Not every conversation in Eureka is about you."
He eyed her suspiciously, but nodded. "Okay."
"Then again," Jack said, rubbing his hands together in glee, "Sam pointed out some really interesting things to me."
Nathan raised his eyebrows questioningly.
"Oh no," Jack shook his head. "I'm not telling you. If you're as smart as you think you are, you'll figure it out."
"Maybe," Sam added helpfully.
"What's up?" Zoe and Cassie asked in unison. "And can we join in?"
"Making fun of Stark and hell yeah," Jack said with unconcealed glee in his voice. "The more the merrier."
"We're in too," Jo said, pulling up even more chairs. "Just out of curiosity," Zane continued, "What are we doing exactly?"
"Helping Stark fit his ego into Café Diem," Cassie explained helpfully.
"Remember whom you're working for," Nathan said just as Zane opened his mouth to comment.
"Me?" Allison asked from behind Nathan while putting her hands on his shoulders.
"That's what I thought," Zane said, giving Nathan a smug grin.
"Children." Henry somehow found enough space to squeeze another chair in at the two tables they've pushed together. He'd been stopped a couple of times on the way over and therefore had missed some of the fun. "Behave."
"And where'd be the fun in that?" Zane asked.
"Not to mention that he probably doesn't even know how to behave properly anyway," Jo added.
Sam leaned back and just watched her new friends, part of them family now, banter and bicker good-naturedly. A look at Cassie told her that she looked just as relaxed as Sam felt. This road trip had been the best idea ever. Despite the little setback of her injury. Or, maybe, it hadn't been a setback after all. It had forced them to stay longer. Otherwise they'd have moved on eventually. And would have missed out on so much fun.
Particularly seeing one Dr Nathan Stark speechless.
Oh how she wished Rodney MacKay had been on Earth the last few weeks. She so would have liked to watch him trying not to freak out at the coolness that is Global Dynamics but also watch him verbally spar with Nathan Stark. Sure, they'd have had to babysit the two of them, just to make sure they weren't going to accidentally blow up GD while trying to show each other just how smart they were, but Sam was sure there'd have been more than enough volunteers to help her with that.
Well, maybe she could organize something. Even with all the medical technologies at hand in Atlantis Dr Jennifer Keller probably wouldn't mind having some of GD's developments at her disposal. And Ronan? He'd love all the weapons Jo was playing with, as would probably John Sheppard. They'd get along with Jack as well and happily ignore one Nathan Stark.
Yes. She had to make sure this was going to happen at some point. Just as she had to make sure she would be here as well. No point in organizing all the fun if you weren't there to enjoy it after all.
"Earth to Colonel Carter. Earth to Colonel Carter."
Sam blinked then rolled her eyes at Cassandra who was snipping her fingers in front of her. "I was just thinking."
Cassie snorted. "More like daydreaming."
Sam's eyebrows climbed up her forehead very quickly. " I do not daydream."
"Uh huh," Zoe answered, patting Sam's hand reassuringly.
"I don't!" Sam narrowed her eyes at both Cassie and Zoe, though they could see her fighting not to smile.
"Sure you do," Cassie said, nodding gravely.
"No, I don't."
"Yes you do."
Nathan whistled. Loudly. Having everyone's attention, he smirked at Sam and waved his hand between her and Jack. "I really don't know why I earlier thought that maybe, maybe you weren't related after all. It's so obvious now!"
Sam and Jack looked at each other, grinned, and then mock-bowed as much as their seating arrangements allowed them. "Thank you."
Nathan rolled his eyes at their antics. "That wasn't a compliment."
"Sure it was," Sam answered without batting an eyelash.
"No it wasn't."
"Yes it was."
"No it wasn't."
"Maybe he's another lost cousin?" Zoe stage-whispered to Cassie as they watched Sam and Nathan face off. Cassie's eyes opened comically wide and then she started laughing. And not just any laugh, but the kind of deep belly laugh that starts from deep within and takes a lot of effort to stop. And it didn't help that Nathan Stark was suddenly wearing a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.
Sam, however, wasn't having Nathan's troubles. Instead, she stroked her chin and looked upwards as if she was deep in thought. "Now that you've mentioned it... I have this uncle who now and again mentions a smart-ass cousin from up north. Uncle Sherman Stark. He's an alligator wrestler down in Florida, I believe." She turned to Nathan and smiled sweetly. "Sound familiar?"
By now Cassie had pushed her chair back from the table and was trying hard to get some air into her lungs between fresh bouts of laughter. And it wasn't just her. She'd basically infected everyone at their tables with laughter.
"Oh god," Cassie pressed out between gasps, "please tell me someone got that on camera. Nathan's face!"
Sure enough, Zane held up his PDA and grinned. "Already emailed it to you."
"Sweet!" Cassie took a couple of deep breaths, finally managing to calm down a bit. Seeing Nathan's glare, she gave him the sweetest smile she could muster and patted his forearm. "Don't worry. I already know what a sweetheart you are deep, deep down."
Once again the people around the table erupted in snickers and laughter.
Nathan rolled his eyes and sighed theatrically. Shaking his head at her he finally grinned as well. "You're alright."
Cassie smirked. "I know."
It was after midnight by the time they left. Their table had been to last to leave and once all the other customers had gone, Vincent had joined them for good. It had been a fun night for all of them with lots of good food, drink and the ever present teasing of each other. But even the best night had to end at some point and so they'd left, one after another, hugging Cassie and Sam goodbye on their way out. Even Nathan had hugged them both and wished them well.
"Tired?" Jack asked as Sam drove them home in his car. She'd only had one beer early on, seeing how she had a long drive ahead of her the next day.
She smiled and nodded towards the back of the car. Cassie and Zoe were out cold already. Then she sighed. "I'm going to miss you guys. I'm going to miss Eureka."
"You're even going to miss Stark, aren't you?"
Sam shrugged her shoulders and grinned. "He's pretty funny and so easy to tease once you know how. And he really knows what he's doing. He's doing some amazing research out here."
Jack sighed. "I know. He's just so-"
"- irritating?" Sam nodded knowingly. "Yet you like him. You've got a weird friendship going on, but a friendship it is."
"One we'll never admit to, though."
"Duh! That's why I called it weird."
Once they reached SARAH, they woke Cassie and Zoe who both insisted on not having been asleep, earning them a simultaneous eye-roll from Sam and Jack.
"Bed, you two," Jack said.
"Yeah," Cassie answered, quickly pulling Zoe out of Sam and Jack's reach. "Come on Zoe, the old ones need their sleep."
Sam shook her head and, taking Jack's offered arm, followed them inside.
Jack had taken the next morning off to give them a proper sent off. And he'd had a long, long conversation with Fargo about not pressing any buttons, no matter how enticing they were, until after lunch.
"Coffee? Tea? Orange juice?" SARAH asked for the umpteenth time this morning.
Sam shook her head. "No, but thank you. We really have to go if we want to get anywhere before dark."
"But I could fry some more bacon. And eggs. Or make more pancakes. You love my pancakes!"
"I do," Sam said with a smile. "But it's later than I would like already. And if I eat anything else, I won't be able to move."
"You can always stay another day!"
"SARAH," Jack interfered. "I don't want them to leave either, but they've promised to visit, remember?"
"Yeah." SARAH replied, sounding like a petulant child.
They collected their stuff and went to the door. A door that remained stubbornly closed.
"It's stuck?" the house offered feebly.
"I'll still call to discuss astrophysics with you," Sam offered.
"And I'm bound to have questions about genetics and stuff once I start my PhD," Cassie added. "I'm pretty sure I could use your help."
"You promise?" SARAH asked, sounding more hopeful than a house should. Then again, houses usually didn't talk at all.
There was a deep, mournful sigh then the door opened slowly. Very, very slowly.
Jack rolled his eyes, then shooed everyone out. It didn't take long to put the remaining bags on their motorcycles. All that was left to do was for Sam and Cassie to put on their helmets and drive off.
"You know, dad, we should accompany them to the town limit. It's Eureka we're talking about after all. A lot of things could happen between here and there."
Jack grinned and hugged Zoe to his side. "You know what? That sounds like a sensible plan." He pulled the car keys from his pocket and unlocked the door. "Ladies, how about an escort out of Eureka?"
Cassie squealed, causing Sam to shake her head at her antics. "I guess that's a yes, we'd love your company."
Once they reached the towns limits, even Zoe had run out of ideas to delay their goodbyes.
"I guess that's really it," she said mournfully. Hugging Cassie, she added, "You're the best adopted cousin I've ever had."
"Ditto." And Cassie meant it. Even though Zoe was a few years younger than her, they somehow had hit it off right from the start.
Sam and Jack watched the two younger women before embracing as well. "Take care," Jack said, his tone serious. "I don't want to hear about another injury any time soon, okay?"
"I'll try my best." Sam kissed his cheek before releasing him and hugging Zoe. "And you'll keep an eye on your dad."
"And help him to keep Stark in check."
Now Zoe laughed. "It will be my pleasure. I bet Zane and Jo would love to help with that too."
There were nods all around.
"We should…" Sam said.
"Yeah." Jack agreed.
Still, nobody moved.
Eventually, Cassie rolled her eyes. "Okay, that's getting ridiculous." She gently pushed Zoe and Jack towards their car. "We'll see you soon."
It still took a few minutes before their final goodbyes were said, but eventually Sam and Cassie were standing alone on the road.
A smirk firmly on her face, Cassie asked, "Best road trip ever?"
"Best road trip ever." Sam replied with conviction.
And then they got back onto their motorcycles and rode off into the sunset.
At least they would have if the sun had been setting already. As it was barely lunchtime, they just rode off, thinking about their return and the havoc they could cause already.
A/N: And that's a wrap… Thanks for reading and patiently waiting for updates and poking me now and again to actual do the updating! And a special thank you to every one who ever reviewed once or more than once (you get a more than one special thank you :))! Hope you liked reading it as much as I loved writing it!
As for a sequel? I better not promise anything (even though I'd love to see the Atlantis cast visiting Eureka), seeing how bad I am in actually writing promised sequels. We'll just have to wait and see what my muses want…