Mail Call by Denise
Summary: Sam, the new commander of the city, gets a package in the mail
Categories: Gen - Character Based Characters: None
Episode Related: None
Genres: Missing Scene/Epilogue
Holiday: None
Season: Future Season
Warnings: None
Crossovers: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 3416 Read: 1916 Published: 2007.08.21 Updated: 2007.08.21
Mail Call by Denise
Author's Notes:
When I was at AT2, my charm was a pair of ruby slippers (for Kansas) and Amanda teased me for reminding her that, in 200, she didn't get to be Dorothy. Well, as far as I'm concerned, Sam always has been and always will be Dorothy.
Mail Call
By
Denise





Sam signed her name to one more requisition and set it aside, pulling another one from the never diminishing stack. She scanned the paper, staring at it for several minutes before she realized that, whatever the words were on the paper, her brain simply wasn't taking it all in.

With a sigh, she set the paper down and pushed away from the desk. She needed a break. She stepped out of her office and paused on the balcony, looking down at the gateroom below. The Atlantis Gateroom was so different from the SGC.

Artistic versus Utilitarian.

Pretty versus Functional.

Colorful versus Grey.

"Away versus home," she muttered, giving into her melancholy.

It was a thrill to be here, and a real honor to be in command of this city. But it still wasn't home.

"Ma'am?" Sam turned, noticing Chuck standing beside her. The expression on his face suggested that he'd been there for at least a few minutes. "Is something wrong?"

"I'm sorry, I was a million miles away," she reassured him. "I'm going to take a little break. Will you let me know when the Daedalus arrives please?" The ship was due back from its regular supply run from Earth sometime in the next few hours.

"Not a problem, ma'am. I'll give you a call."

"Thank you."

Sam left the control room and slowly made her way towards Atlantis' cafeteria. It was mid morning and the room was less than half full. Small clutches of scientists and civilians sat at the tables, chatting over late breakfasts and early lunches.

In some ways it reminded her of the SGC, but in others it was very different. She'd never call the SGC cafeteria roomy and bright. In fact, it always seemed to be anything but since so much of the facility had been built back in the sixties

And she freely acknowledged that the only real color in the room beyond the dessert coolers was the blue tablecloths. But she'd taken comfort in the room and enjoyed its austerity. It didn't seem fussy or demand attention, it was just there. When she ate, it wasn't like she was soaking in the atmosphere but rather immersing herself in the presence of her companions.

The Atlantis cafeteria was anything but austere. In fact, it reminded Sam of a quaint little bistro in DC with its high ceilings and exotic decorations. She perused the offerings, catching sight of Colonel Sheppard's team seated at 'their table' in the far corner.

They were a nice bunch of people and a good team. Sheppard reminded her a lot of Cameron in a way. They were both good officers and they both had a streak of roguish recklessness that often had her shaking her head and wondering just when she'd started feeling so old.

Ronon and Teyla reminded her of Teal'c, but a Teal'c who had run afoul of the Enterprise's transporter and split in half. There was no doubt that they were both warriors, but Ronon had all the wild recklessness and Teyla had all the serenity. She also had a wicked sense of humor and a feel for negotiation that would make Daniel proud.

Sam saw McKay raise his head and she spun on her heel, grabbing the first sandwich that she could and a bottle of water before retreating from the cafeteria, pretending not to hear McKay's raised voice.

She knew from experience if she joined them their easy camaraderie would be shattered. It would be the same as if General Hammond had joined her team while they were eating. Comfortable familiarity would fade into tense propriety.

Ronon seemed to have no issue with her, neither did Teyla beyond the simple fact of Sam now holding Doctor Weir's position. Things were a little bit tenser with Sheppard, largely because the two of them had yet to work out their boundaries.

And then there was McKay.

Rodney McKay was still the arrogant, abrasive, annoying and anal soul he'd been at the SGC. He was also THE expert on Atlantis technology, something he liked to remind her of as often as he could.

Rationally, she knew that it was just a protective behavior, designed to divert her from his rampant insecurities about her replacing him. But that knowledge didn't make him any less annoying.

And annoying was something she just wasn't in the mood for right now.

She slowly made her way through the corridors, returning the greetings of those that gave them and not taking it personally when they didn't. She was still new here, still a fresh face, but a fresh face with a history.

Doctor Weir was gone and she was here in her place, a fact that did not sit well with some of the personnel here.

Oddly enough, it was the civilians who were the most bothersome. Beyond Sheppard's tenseness and a couple of minor run ins with Colonel Caldwell, the military personnel had accepted her assignment with a minimal amount of fuss.

The civilian scientists however, were taking her posting with a certain degree of animosity and resentment.

In a way, Sam couldn't blame them. It wasn't easy to handle a new boss. Then again, it wasn't the end of the world either and honestly if they just concentrated on doing their jobs and didn't worry about who ran the city, they wouldn't need to worry about who was running the city.

She made her way further from the 'civilized' parts of the city and found herself outside, walking down the huge pier that served as a landing pad for the Daedalus.

Aware that the ship could literally drop out of the sky at any moment, she didn't walk out to the end, but found a spot close to the city walls and sank down, sitting cross-legged on the concrete like material that served as Atlantis' foundation.

She opened her sandwich and slowly ate it, her body relaxing under the warmth of the alien sun. This definitely beat a sandwich at her desk. "I should do this more often," she muttered to herself. There was certainly no law requiring that she be in her office all the time. Given the headset radios that they all wore and the fact that they were on an island city in the middle of the ocean, it wasn't exactly like she could skip town and leave them in a lurch.

Sam just found it easier to eat alone, something that she suspected Doctor Weir hadn't done. But things were a bit different for her. Doctor Weir was a part of their expedition from the very beginning. She'd worked with these people, fought with these people, fought FOR these people. There was a kinship there that Sam would never recreate.

Doctor Weir was their friend, something that Sam knew that she'd never be. So she just found it easier to keep to herself a bit, usually eating her meals in her office or taking paperwork with her to the cafeteria to fill the table and forestall any attempts to join her.

Or course, McKay wasn't so easily dissuaded.

Ahead of her, the ocean spread out as far as she could see and she breathed deep, still not used to the salty smell of the ocean. The breeze ruffled her hair and forced her to tuck the other half of her sandwich into her lap to keep it from blowing away. It still amazed her that she was on an island. Atlantis was so massive that any wave movement was barely perceptible, which only reinforced the odd feeling she had when she looked out any window and saw nothing but water.

She missed trees.

The random thought blurted into her head as she chewed her sandwich. And not just the off world conifers that General O'Neill loved so dearly, but the simple trees in her own front yard. She missed her house, she missed her bed, she missed cable TV and being able to lose herself in some recreational internet surfing.

She missed her friends and pizza and the simple privacy of being able to pop in to the local drug store if she needed something rather than having to requisition and justify everything.

She missed going for a bike ride and killing time at the mall or ambling down the crooked streets of Manitou Springs, mixing in with the tourists and window-shopping.

She missed having privacy and the feel of dirt under her feet and waking up to bird song. She missed thunderstorms and snowstorms and-"Stop it," she chastised herself, taking a gulp of water to banish the lump in her throat. "It's not your first posting and it won't be your last."

A loud boom rippled across the water and Sam looked up, scanning the skies for the expected dark spot. "Colonel Carter," her radio crackled to life. "The Daedalus has entered the atmosphere and is on approach," Chuck reported.

"Thank you," Sam replied. She picked up her trash and scrambled to her feet just as she caught sight of the Daedalus. She moved closer to the base of the pier, despite the fact that there was more than enough room for the ship to land safely.

She watched as the ship swooped down, resembling a giant bird of prey and landed gracefully on the pier. Aware that they'd no doubt noticed her presence, Sam walked toward the ship. It wasn't exactly in her job description to greet ship captains, but it was polite.

She approached the ship slowly, keeping her distance until the engines were powered down. As she walked, her eyes slid over the graceful lines of the Daedalus. It wasn't often that she got to see the ship from the outside, or this close.

It really was a beautiful thing, sleek and graceful, nothing really like the clunky Prometheus. Sam mourned the loss of Prometheus, even though it had nearly claimed her life several times. It wasn't beautiful or graceful but it had been their first. And there had been a lot of 'her' in that ship.


Something flashed in the corner of her eye and Sam turned, catching sight of Colonel Caldwell and a portion of his crew beaming off the ship. "Colonel Carter," Caldwell called out. "To what do we own the pleasure?"

Sam shook her head slightly and held up her trash. "Just having a little picnic, Colonel," she replied as the man walked towards her, a large box in his hands. Sam knew that the off-loading of supplies would happen later and with the assistance of the transporters.

"You saved me tracking you down," he said.

"Colonel?"

"Just playing postman," he said, holding the box out to her.

Sam took it, frowning. "What is it?" she asked. It wasn't horribly heavy but it was bulky.

"Dunno. Didn't ask. But considering that it came from Colonel Mitchell and not General Landry, my bet is that it's personal." Sam didn't know if she was being paranoid or if she really did see a note of censure in his voice. "If I just smuggled something illegal into the Pegasus Galaxy, I don't want to know," he said, smiling a bit. "Now, with your permission, my crew and I are ready to off load and have a little R&R."

"Of course, Colonel. Permission granted," Sam said, knowing that the crews of the Daedalus and Atlantis were far better versed at coordinating supply transfers than she would be. It hadn't taken her long to figure out that the best way to 'lead' these people was to simply let them do their jobs.

Caldwell nodded and walked past her, his crew in his wake. She shifted the box in her arms, bringing one hand up to activate her radio. "Carter to control."

"Control here."

"The Daedalus has landed. Colonel Caldwell's on his way to you to coordinate the transfer of supplies."

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'll be in my quarters if you need me," Sam said, turning off her radio.

She slowly made her way to her quarters, doing what she could to examine the box as she walked. It wasn't too heavy - maybe twenty-five pounds or so. She gave the box a quick shake and frowned when nothing rattled.

There were no other markings on the box that she could see beyond her name written neatly in black marker. As she walked the last few feet, she tried to remember if she'd requisitioned anything special.

Space on the Daedalus was at a premium, so all of the Atlantis personnel had been requested to keep their requisitions only to items vital to the success of their mission. That was one rule Sam was wishing that she could change. Sure, it made tactical and practical sense, but she was sure that the person who had made the rules had never seen how demoralizing a lack of 'goodies' could be.

She finally arrived at her quarters and entered, setting the box on a table she used for her desk. The quarters on Atlantis certainly gave the ones at the SGC a run for their money.

At the SGC, she'd been one of only a few dozen that had private quarters - the privilege of being one of the few 'original' personnel left. But even her place in the pecking order gained her little more than a 10 x 10 room with a narrow bed, armoire, desk and chairs and a tiny private bathroom.

Her quarters here were at least twice as big with a high ceiling and balcony that looked out over the ocean. She had a queen sized bed and a closet that dwarfed her meager supply of uniforms and a few civilian clothes.

Sam reached into her pocket and pulled out a small penknife, using it to slice the tape. She opened the box and slowly pulled out a collection of items. She examined a half dozen DVD's, recognizing some recent titles, movies that had still been in the theater when she'd left Earth. Setting them down, she pulled out a plastic grocery sack. She dumped it onto the table, staring at a dozen giant sized chocolate bars in a variety of flavors. A handful of lemon shaped car air fresheners was sealed in a Ziploc bag. Next came a six pack of her favorite beer nestled in a plain paper sack and a home made DVD with 'Play Me' scrawled on it along with another box wrapped in colorful paper.

At the very bottom of the box was a Styrofoam container adorned with a sticker reading 'Danger: Dry Ice'.

Curious, Sam fired up her personal computer and slid the DVD in. After pressing a couple of controls, the media player popped into life and Cameron Mitchell's face appeared on the screen.

"Sam, hi," he smiled, waving with one hand. "How are things in the Pegasus Galaxy? Last we heard it was pretty quiet so I hope it stays that way." Sam heard a voice off camera, just loud enough to be heard but not understood. "Ok, yeah, I'm kinda pushing the clock so I'll keep this short. Do you have any idea how much we miss you on movie night? I swear you are the only one who can tell if Teal'c is bluffing or not when it comes to not 'getting' the jokes.

And without you around, Vala likes to 'girl talk'," He made little quotes with his fingers. "with Jackson and I think he's getting really traumatized. I think I heard him asking Doctor Lam for some valium and I'm not sure if it was for him or for Vala." He sighed.

"Anyway, um, since we couldn't have you at movie night, we thought we'd send it to you. Jackson and Teal'c picked out the movies, I, of course, got the beer and the air fresheners. Yeah, I know you don't have your car with you but I knew that real lemons wouldn't survive the trip. Maybe if you hang those around your desk you can keep a certain annoying man away

We thought about sticking some popcorn but Vala insisted on chocolate. She said it was a girl thing. You can thank Siler for the pizza. That's what's in the Styrofoam, a couple frozen pizzas. I'm kinda hoping that the dry ice survived or you may need a haz mat team to open that part.

Oh, and the last bit, that's kinda what started the whole thing. A certain general in DC sent that along, I think he called it an office warming. Landry was gonna send it with Caldwell, but then we got our idea and...the rest is history." Cam smiled. "So...enjoy your movie night and if you have any requests, just let us know. I'm sure we can come up with some 'vital mission supplies' to send." Cameron winked conspiratorially and the screen flashed dark.

Intrigued by the wrapped package, Sam picked it up and carefully slid her fingernail under the tape, doing her best to remove the paper in one piece. It fell away to reveal a plain white cardboard box and Sam opened that, pulling out a block of Styrofoam wrapped in a sheet of yellow legal paper. She set down the Styrofoam and unfolded the paper, smiling when she recognized the general's familiar scrawl.


Carter,

So how are things going in the Emerald City? Yeah, I know it's blue but indulge an old man.

I hope you haven't dropped McKay into the ocean. Trust me, he's not worth the paperwork. Anyway, don't sweat the small stuff. A depressing amount of what you do IS small stuff. And if we didn't think you could handle that city, you wouldn't be there.

Thus ends your minimum daily requirement of clichés.

The gift isn't much, just a little something that caught my eye the last time I flew civilian and had a couple of hours to kill in an airport.

Just don't forget, home is only as far away as you let it be. And getting back is never impossible. Something a stubborn as hell Major once taught me...twice.



The signature was barely legible and totally recognizable and Sam smiled, setting down the paper. She picked up the Styrofoam block and separated the two halves revealing a plastic wrapped figure. She started to laugh, recognizing the colorful figure even through the bag.

She unwrapped and set the small resin figure down, her eyes surveying the bounty spread out before her. For the first time since her arrival at Atlantis, the evening didn't stretch out boring and lonely.


/////


A flash of movement caught his eye and Chuck looked up, confirming that Colonel Carter was entering her office before he grabbed the overnight reports. He got up from his station and climbed the short flight of stairs. He rapped on the door frame, walking in just as Carter sat down. "Good morning," she said cheerfully.

"Morning, ma'am. The overnight reports, including the manifest of the Daedalus." He handed her the papers. "The ship is fully off-loaded and we just need to put the stuff away."

"Good, thank you." She took the papers from him and set them aside. A small splash of color caught Chuck's eye and he stared. "Dorothy," he blurted out, recognizing the figure.

Carter glanced up, frowning for a second before she smiled. "Yeah, that's Dorothy."

"I didn't know you were a fan."

"It's a fun movie," she said.

Chuck nodded and accepted the note of dismissal in her voice. One thing he'd learned about his new boss, her private life was her private life. "Your next appointment is at 1000," he reminded. "I'm about to go down and take a break, would you like me to bring you back some coffee?"

"That would be nice, thank you."


/////


Sam watched Chuck leave the room, glancing at the reports for a second before looking over at Dorothy, standing on the corner of her desk. She reached into her desk and broke a square off of one of Vala's chocolate bars, closing her eyes for a second as she savored the sweetness melting on her tongue.

She opened her eyes and traced the edge of Dorothy's pinafore with her finger tip. "I wonder what would happen if I got everyone to paint the city a nice shade of emerald green?" she mused, indulging herself in a bit of fantasy before she turned her attention back to the job at hand.

~Fin~
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