blue flamingos

Long Way Round

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Slash, PG-13

Year/Length: 2009/~2672 words

Pairing: Sam Carter/Teyla Emmagan

Spoilers: SGA 520 Enemy at the Gate

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Nothing's ever straightforward

Author's Notes: Written for femslash09, recipient tvaddictgurl

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.



Atlantis has been on Earth for a week when Sam finally fails to elude Cam in private places and winds up alone with him in, of all places, a storage closet.

"You're suddenly overcome with a need for window envelopes?" she asks when she turns round, new box of pens in hand, to find him leaning against a metal shelving unit.

"Nah, I was hoping you'd have the inside track on good pencils. Mine keep breaking."

"Could be a sign you should stop taking them on dangerous interplanetary missions," Sam suggests.

Cam nods like he's giving it serious thought and says, "So, what's the real reason you haven't been out to Atlantis yet?"

"What, you couldn't be more direct?" Sam asks, considering Cam usually has subtle and indirect down to an art form.

"Is it because you slept with McKay in a misguided one night stand and now you can't show your face because he's pining after you and writing love poetry in binary sonnets?"

Sam's not sure whether she wants to laugh or check no-one's listening. Maybe both. "No, but thanks for that mental image."

Cam shrugs, unrepentant. "You did ask. So, if you're not avoiding McKay, what is it?"

"Maybe I don't want to run into Woolsey after he snatched my command out from under my nose."

"Woolsey's here."

"Maybe I don't want to be reminded of what I used to be doing."

"Maybe I've known you since the academy and I'm not fooled," Cam says, softly. "Look, you don't have to tell me, but you can't just avoid it and hope it'll go away."

"Actually, avoiding it until it goes away is exactly what I was planning on doing."

"I noticed," Cam says dryly. "I'll come and hold your hand, if you want."

"Honestly?" Sam says. "I can't think of any way in which that wouldn't make everything much worse."



She'd thought, once Jack went off to Washington, that they'd have their chance, finally. No more inter-team issues, no more fraternization rules, no more CO and subordinate. No more wondering what people were saying behind her back about how she got where she was, or trying to keep it secret so they wouldn't.

None of which explained why she didn't tell anyone, the first time he invited her to visit him for the weekend. She could imagine all too well Cam's teasing, Daniel's vague surprise, Teal'c's firm, studied neutrality. She knew none of them would say anything, probably wouldn't even think it, but still. Sometimes, she really wanted to just blend in.



She liked Atlantis, more than she'd expected to. It was weird, after more than ten years, not being part of a small, tight team, but it didn't take her long to figure out that Atlantis was much tighter than the SGC. Sure, the teams had their own internal bonds, something she recognized, but even then, they weren't like SG1 was, locked in tight on themselves. She had breakfast with McKay and Zelenka a couple of times a week, cereal and Ancient engineering, and sometimes dinner with Sheppard and Lorne and Ronon, where they treated her just like one of them, someone who'd been on a gate team, a soldier.

And, sometimes, she had tea with Teyla in the mid-afternoon sun, out on the balcony with Teyla's soft voice spinning out stories of her world, before Atlantis, before the Wraith. Sam soaked them up like she never had before, and tried not to wonder if this was how Daniel had felt, why he'd chosen to stay behind on Abydos with Sha're.


The first time she met Teyla was when SG1 went out to Atlantis to work on the super-gate. Not that Sam really noticed Teyla much at first, beyond noticing that she was Teyla, the woman Sam had been reading about in Atlantis' mission reports for two years.

Then afterwards, when Daniel was holed up with Dr Weir and the Ancient database, and Cam was busy trying to stop Vala from borrowing anything really irreplaceable, when Sam hit the limits of her patience with McKay, she ended up in the mess with her laptop.

"May I join you?" Teyla asked, standing by Sam's table with a mug of something steaming gently.

"Sure," Sam said, nudging out an empty chair with her foot.

"How are you finding Atlantis?" Teyla asked, curling one hand round the mug.

"Honestly, I haven't had chance to see much of it," Sam said. When she sipped her coffee, it had gone cold.

Teyla smiled, bringing her mug to her lips and smiling at Sam over the rim. Sam smiled back, not sure why she was doing it. "Perhaps I can give you a guided tour," Teyla said.

"I'd like that," Sam said.

It didn't happen – the Daedalus got called back to Earth, taking SG1 with it – but Sam kept thinking about it.



Everything changed when the Athosians disappeared. No more afternoon tea in the sun. No more stories. No more feeling like Teyla might be becoming her friend, the first chance at a close female friend that she'd had since Janet died.

And Teyla like the walking wounded, with her team never far from her sight, like troubled, armed shadows. Sam tried to imagine how Teyla must be feeling, but it was too huge. Of all the losses Sam had experienced, at least there'd always been an explanation, a cause, and maybe it hadn't been a good one, but had been one.

She wanted to sit Teyla down in one of the comfortable chairs in her office, dim the lights and give her tea. Tell her it would all work out, even when she felt like she'd be lying. Not that she thought Teyla would have accepted it, but Sam would have done anything to make Teyla smile at her the way she had, offering Sam a tour over tea and cold coffee.



It took three weekend visits, awkward in restaurants they'd never have gone to as team-mates, making conversation where before it had been easy, and six stilted phone calls before Sam said hesitantly that maybe the long distance thing wasn't right for them. Maybe they'd be better as friends.

She'd have been insulted at the relief in Jack's voice as he agreed, if she hasn't felt it as well.



Cam took her out for a drink a month after she got back from Atlantis. She should have known better than to say yes, because they always ended up a little drunk, and neither of them were great at watching what they said when they were drunk. He was her friend though, and really trying, and so she said yes anyway.

It meant that, when Cam asked her about Atlantis, she didn't do what she usually did, deflect it off into how she was doing good work back on Earth.

"It's weird being back here," she said, looking down at her half-empty beer. "I keep wanting to give the orders."

Cam laughed a little. "I can imagine Landry's face if you tried."

Sam smiled. "And I miss the expedition."

"Yeah," Cam said quietly. Sam looked up, but he was looking down so she couldn't read his face.

"I miss Teyla," she said softly, feeling like she was confessing to something.

"Yeah?" Cam said, prompting.

Sam shook her head. Cam might be one of her closest friends, but there were some things she couldn't share, not with anyone, no matter how much she'd had to drink.



Teyla came by Sam's quarters the night Jennifer let her out of the infirmary. Sam had to use the little remote opening gadget that Kavanagh had rigged up in the first year to get the door – she could do it herself, but it was slow and painful.

"I thought perhaps you would like dinner," Teyla said, standing just inside the door with a tray bearing two plates.

"Thank you," Sam said, only wincing a little when shifting further upright jarred her broken leg. "Please come in. Will you join me?"

"I would not like to intrude," Teyla said, setting the tray down on Sam's desk.

"Please, intrude away. It's pretty quiet in here by myself."

Teyla pulled over a chair and handed Sam one of the plates. "Do you still miss your team?"

Sam shrugged. Right in that moment, she really missed them, because they'd have been hovering around her whether she wanted them to or not, armed with DVDs and macaroons and gossip. Atlantis was a different kind of tight to the SGC, but that didn't mean anyone would drop in on the city's injured leader in her own quarters. It didn't seem right to say this to Teyla, when they were still no closer to finding the missing Athosians.

"I was with them for a long time," she said instead, even though it wasn't exactly true any more. Even with Daniel and Teal'c still there, SG1 with Cam and Vala hadn't felt like SG1 with Jack. She hadn't ever managed to figure out whether that was a good or a bad thing – there was always too much else to worry about.

"I understand," Teyla said. "It was very strange for me when we were forced to leave Atlantis."

It didn't sound like very much, but Sam still felt like Teyla had given her more than she gave most people outside her team.



Sam didn't expect to hear that the entire population had come with the city to fight off the Wraith, any more than she expected to find that Dr Beckett had flown the city. She couldn't help thinking that it wouldn't have happened that way if she'd still been in charge. Twelve ATA-carrying trained pilots in the city, she'd never understand why Woolsey let Carson do it.

She'd never understand him sweeping Teyla away from Torren either. She couldn't figure out whether Woolsey hadn't thought, or whether Teyla had said she'd go.

She found it hard to imagine Teyla choosing to leave Torren behind for Earth.



Gathered in her office, Lorne looked like he wanted every word coming out of his mouth to be an apology, his team twitching behind him. Rodney chattered until Sam wanted to order him quiet, only stopped by the knowledge of how it felt to be in his position; Ronon kept fingering his weapon, and Sheppard looked bruised, under the blank expression he kept trying to wrestle onto his face.

Sam knew she was doing a better job of not showing anything than he was. She didn't have a choice, not when she was in charge, not when she wasn't team, wasn't exactly a friend, except for how she watched Teyla's pregnancy slide along and wanted to go to her, offer things she had no idea if Teyla would want. No right to be offering.

"Okay," she said, cutting Rodney off and making everyone look at her. "What's our first step to finding her again?"

"It must have been the same person who took the Athosians," Sheppard said, and they were off, plans and ideas and possible suspects. Listening to them, a stranger wouldn't have guessed how much Teyla mattered to them.

Sam knew that even these people, who knew her better than anyone else on Atlantis did, wouldn't see how much Teyla mattered to her, how desperate she was to have Teyla home again.



"Hey," Sam says, leaning in the door to Cam's office.

He looks up at her over his open laptop, smiling slightly. Not for the first time since Atlantis ended up on Earth, Sam thinks that he looks much more relaxed. It's nice to know one of them is. "What's up, Carter?"

She shoves her hands into the pockets of her BDUs, feeling oddly nervous. "You feel like making a trip over to Atlantis tomorrow?" she asks.

Cam's smile widens slowly, warming his whole face. "Absolutely."



Sam dropped by the infirmary when everyone was back in the city, tucked away where they should be and debriefed unless they were in the infirmary. When she got down there, Sheppard's bed had a curtain drawn round it, behind which Sam could hear his and Jennifer's voices, probably running through his injuries, since his surgery wasn't scheduled until late in the day.

Teyla was in the bed next to Sheppard's, the baby cuddled in her arms. She looked up at Sam and smiled, beautiful and relaxed, just the way she used to smile at Sam when they were having afternoon tea.

"Hello, Sam," she said quietly, and Sam wanted to duck her head at the way her name sounded in Teyla's mouth. "I am very glad to see you again."

"You too," Sam said sincerely. "And this little guy."

Teyla looked down at her son, her smile softening even further. "I must admit I was beginning to worry that this day would not arrive."

"He's beautiful," Sam said, moving closer to Teyla's bed. "Have you picked out a name yet?"

"Please, sit," Teyla said, smoothing the blanket. "I believe so, but there is one other I must speak with first."

"Kanaan?" Sam asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. Teyla must have taken a shower, because she smelled faintly of her usual shampoo. Sam stroked the baby's arm, watching his tiny fingers twitch.

A shadow flickered over Teyla's face, but all she said was, "no. John, in fact." She glanced over at the curtain then met Sam's eyes, her own filled with a secret.

"I'm sure he'll be honored," Sam said, guessing at what it probably was. She hesitated. "I've been called back to Earth to answer some questions about everything that's been happening lately, but when I come back... I mean, if you want someone to help you, with the baby..."

She looked up, met Teyla's eyes. Teyla looked back, steady and strong, and Sam saw the exact moment that she realized what Sam meant, how much more than just babysitting she was offering.

Teyla took a breath to speak, and Sheppard's curtain rattled back, Jennifer stepping out, still talking to him over her shoulder.

The moment snapped, Sam suddenly very aware of what she was saying in a public, military infirmary. She scrambled to her feet, trying not to look like that was what she was doing. "I've got to get going," she said, backing away.

"Sam –" Teyla said, but Sam kept backing away.

"I'll see you when I get back," she said, and fled.



Cam hovers when they get to Atlantis, until Sam persuades him to go check in with Sheppard and Lorne before she loses the last of her patience.

"You asked me to come with," Cam says, mock-hurt.

"And now I'm asking you to go somewhere else," Sam says sweetly. There's only so much moral support she can handle.

Cam wanders off, and Sam goes in search of the person she came to Atlantis to see.

She spots Teyla a few minutes later, coming out of the mess, and hesitates. She's not sure what she's going to say, but she does know that she isn't going to say it in front of all the people in the corridor.

It's worryingly easy to drift along behind Teyla – very few people seem to want to chat with Sam, though lots of them smile in welcome.

She turns a corner as they wander out of the busiest parts of the city, and finds herself in an open atrium, where Teyla's sitting on a couch by a potted plant, hands folded in her lap, smiling right at Sam.

"Welcome back to Atlantis," she says warmly, eyes full of the same knowledge they held the last time Sam saw her, when Sam didn't know she was saying goodbye for a year, and Sam, smiling back, thinks that she could have skipped the last two weeks of nervous twitching and worry.

Because Teyla's smile says that Sam's not the only one who's been waiting a year to find out what happens next.

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