blue flamingos

Stepping Off

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Slash, PG

Year/Length: 2008/ ~2474 words

Pairing: Sam Carter/Laura Cadman

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

Summary: Being stuck on Atlantis while the teams went out was going to take some getting used to

Author's Notes: Written for round 8 (off-world adventures) of [info]sg_femslash, for [info]medie, who asked for Sam/Laura, domestic life, Pegasus style.

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


P9D 412:

"I know it's a lot to ask," Lieutenant Cadman was saying when Sam stepped onto the gate-room balcony, "But it's my first mission since I got back, our first mission with Colonel Carter in –"

Sam watched her tap her ear piece off for a moment. Whatever she muttered was too low for Sam to hear, even from on the balcony right above her, which probably wasn't a bad thing – from the impatient look on Cadman's face, it wasn't complimentary.

"Dr Metcalfe, for the sake of the tiny bit of my sanity that remains after six months of training baby off-world scientists... I promise, if the world ends because I didn't let you –" She took a deep breath. "Okay, fine. We'll do it my way." She tapped the ear piece off again. "Cooper – go down to Dr Metcalfe's office and tell her that if she isn't here in the next three minutes, not only will we go through the gate without her, but we won't even note any interesting anthropological data while we're off-world."

"Yes, ma'am." Cooper handed her P-90 to Li and jogged in the direction of Anthropology's space.

"Everything okay, Lieutenant?" Sam asked, leaning on the balcony railing.

Cadman looked up, grinning. "It's all good, ma'am. Traditional for this team to be held up by our scientist."

"I see," Sam said, fighting a grin of her own. Being stuck on Atlantis while the teams went out was going to take some getting used to, but this at least was familiar, even if it was mostly familiar to her from the other side.

"Messes with our luck for us to leave on time," Cadman added solemnly, the grin still chasing round her eyes and the edges of her lips.

"Wouldn't want that," Sam said, a little more seriously than she'd intended. She smiled, hoping that would cover her slip, but it just made Cadman look at her strangely.

Cadman walked up a couple of stairs, leaning in conspiratorially despite the distance between the two of them. "Major Lorne and I bet a month's inventory duty on this mission," she said. "And I hate counting things."

Down below, Cooper returned, escorting a complaining Dr Metcalfe who was still packing equipment into her rucksack. Sam had to look away, sharply reminded of Daniel in their first few months as a team, before he got his head around traveling light.

Cadman was still watching her, looking faintly worried. Sam smiled at her. "I trust you, Lieutenant," she said. It was true, but she wasn't sure she'd have said it, if not for Cadman's clear attempt to reassure her a moment ago.

Cadman seemed to get it, offering up a final grin. She turned back to her team, just slowly enough for Sam to watch the grin slide off in favor of a serious, controlled expression.

"Better late than never," she told Metcalfe, taking the bag from her hands and fastening it closed. "Ready?"

"Vest, weapon, data pad," Metcalfe said in a tone that implied this wasn't the first time they'd had the exchange. "Good to go."

"Great." Cadman patted her shoulder briefly, then looked up to Chuck on the balcony. "Dial it up, Sergeant."


P8G 138, two weeks later:

"I'm just saying, last time we went off-world with your team, three of us got kidnapped and you fell down a well," Cadman was saying to Major Lorne as Sam walked into the gate-room.

Lorne rolled his eyes, half-smiling. "I thought we agreed not to talk about that." He, like Cadman, was half-turned towards the gate, which was still dark, their two teams scattered amongst the fifteen assorted scientists they were going to be accompanying for three days. Sam was pretty sure no-one had noticed her come in.

"Did we?" Cadman asked innocently. "I must have forgotten, being under the influence of alien drugs at the time." She reached up to pull her hair loose then retied it, leaving one strand to fall across her left eye. She tucked it behind her ear twice, then finally blew it away in frustration, making Sam smile. She'd forgotten how annoying that was until she grew out her own hair.

"We did," Lorne assured her, mock-solemn, and caught the strand of hair, tucking it neatly into her bun. Sam looked away, appalled by the sudden urge to slap his hands away, even after a year of working at the SGC before the two of them left for Pegasus, watching their friendship.

"Get a grip," she told herself quietly.

"Excuse me, ma'am?" Sergeant Henderson asked, turning round.

On the edge of her vision, Sam saw Cadman look up, then step quickly away from Lorne's hand. He frowned, spotted Sam, and said something to Cadman, too quiet for Sam to hear.

"Talking to myself," Sam told Henderson, watching Cadman's face flush slightly. Interesting. "Everyone ready?"

"Yes, ma'am. We're just waiting for Dr McKay to let Dr Zelenka go."

"I'll see what I can do." Sam tapped her radio on. "McKay, this is Carter..."

It took her three minutes to wrangle McKay into submission – which, hey, was a big improvement on last time, when it had taken her nearly ten. Must be doing something right – and when she looked up, Cadman had stepped away from the rest of the group a little and was watching her, her face completely blank. Sam risked a tentative smile.

She regretted it a moment later, when Cadman grinned back and she felt her own face flush. Suddenly, all the rumors about what the Atlantis personnel got up to made a lot more sense – the rules and the risks felt incredibly far away, here, where they were so alone with only each other.

"Sorry, sorry," Zelenka said, brushing past her. "McKay is most jealous that I am – well, no matter."

"Doc," Lorne said dryly. "All set?"

Sam looked for Cadman again, spotting her moving through the scientists, checking vests and weapons one last time. After a moment, she looked up, like she'd felt Sam watching her.

"Gonna miss us?" she asked over the buzz of conversation.

"Just try not to fall down any wells this time," Sam said firmly, and retreated to the balcony to watch them leave.


P6T 195, a week and a half after that:

"The Yafreyti are perfectly nice people," Dr Metcalfe protested, watching Cadman and her two marines secure knives and weapons about their persons, plucking their own from the benches in the middle of the locker room.

"You can't possibly know that," Cadman pointed out. She straightened from where she'd been crouched to strap on an ankle holster, said, "Yours," and swapped it with Li. "We've never met them."

"No, but the Frigatti vouched for them," Metcalfe said.

Sam remembered reading that report. "Aren't they the same people who tried to sell your team to a fleet of pirates?" she asked, strapping on the thigh holster she'd borrowed from general stores and missing her own familiar kit. As civilian leader of the expedition, she wasn't supposed to be going off-world armed, but ten years with SG-1 had nixed that idea. She made a mental note to email Cam in the next data-burst and ask him to get her stuff shipped on the Daedalus.

"Yep," Cadman said brightly. "It looked like fun, actually."

"Being enslaved to a bunch of pirates looked like fun?" Sam asked, suspecting she was being set-up for a joke here.

"Not the enslavement so much," Cadman said. "But actually being a pirate – I've always wanted to swing from ship to ship on a rope."

Sam thought, 'Marines,' in amused despair, and absolutely did not picture Cadman doing exactly that, dressed in knee high boots and tight pants, a cutlass in her mouth, hair flying behind her. Cadman caught her eye and quirked an eyebrow, and Sam laughed, feeling her face flush.

"I'm just saying," Cadman said, turning back to Metcalfe. "If we're kidnapped, sold into slavery or forced into an arranged marriage on this team's first mission with Colonel Carter, I'm not going to be happy." When Metcalfe continued to look mildly defiant, she added, "And I'll send you to McKay to be told off."

Sam missed whatever Metcalfe said in response to that under the sound of Chuck's voice in their earpieces, announcing that they were ready to dial. "On our way," she said, then realized she should probably have let Cadman do that.

"If it bothers you that much," Metcalfe grumbled as they made their way to the gate-room, "We could go without Colonel Carter."

"No way," Cadman said firmly. "You spent three days explaining to me exactly why we had to take her with us as a mark of respect for the Yafreyti, and a sign of... something."

"Confidence in the good intentions of our new trading partners," Li supplied.

"And our own goodwill and disinclination to start any wars," Cooper added, sounding like she was quoting Metcalfe.

"Right," Cadman said. "Cooper, Li, you stick with Metcalfe – she doesn't go off alone, whatever the leadership say. Helena, is this sinking in? And I'll stick with Colonel Carter. Um, if that's okay with you, ma'am."

"That's fine," Carter assured her, following the two marines into the gate-room, where the wormhole was already glowing blue. "But if I get sold into piracy, I want to wear an eye patch."


P2N 017, three weeks later:

"Knock knock," a female voice said at the door to Sam's office, and she pulled her head out of the data for the latest failed ZPM making experiment to find Cadman leaning there, kitted up to go off-world, one hand on her P-90.

"You're early," Sam said, blinking as the world rushed back in around her.

"Not really," Cadman said, tilting her watch so Sam could see the face. "Something interesting?"

Sam nodded. "Maybe. I think we might have pinpointed where exactly we're going wrong, even if we don't know –. Sorry. You probably don't want to hear about this." One thing she'd gotten used to very quickly was just how boring most soldiers found the advanced science that she did.

"This is McKay's ZPM stuff right?" She waited for Sam to nod. "It's pretty cool, actually. I mean, when I was in his head, it seemed like..." She trailed off, glancing over her shoulder then back to Sam, her teeth scrapping over her bottom lip for a moment. "So, I really have to go, before Cooper starts giving me a hard time, but maybe when I get back we could – I mean, if you're not busy, I'd really like to hear more about what you're working on." She grinned, slightly self-deprecating. "I've still got some cake from Lorne's birthday last Friday, if you wanted to help me finish it."

"I –" Sam started, looking back down at the data. That didn't sound like a working dinner, or even really a friendly evening, not with the way Cadman was running her thumbnail nervously along the barrel of her weapon. "I'd like that," she said, before she could change her mind.

Cadman grinned, wide and happy. "Okay, great. I could come get you? About seven?"

"Seven sounds good. Assuming you're not kidnapped by pirates, eaten by monsters or trapped down a well."

"We'll be fine." Cadman's eyes went wide. "Great, now I've jinxed us. We won't be fine, it'll be a disaster. Have a rescue team standing by. Actually, best send a rescue team with us right now."

Sam laughed. "I'm sure you'll come home in the same number of pieces you left in," she said.

"We'll do our best," Cadman assured her, half-turning away. "Have fun with your data."

"Have fun with the rock people."


P2C 455, a week after that:

"Colonel," Laura said when she came into the gate-room on Monday morning, a few minutes before Sam would have expected her to show up for the mission.

"Lieutenant," she said in return, leaning against the stair rail and watching two of the marines on security detail study one of the pulse weapons that Sheppard's team had brought back the week before.

"Have a good weekend, ma'am?" Laura asked, looking up at her with an expression somewhere between amusement and... and something that Sam shouldn't be thinking about in the middle of the gate-room.

"Very good, thank you, Lieutenant." At least the parts that she hadn't spent working – Laura, it turned out, liked car chase movies, though not so much that she minded missing the endings. "And you?"

"Not bad, thanks, ma'am. Had a friend over for dinner and a movie."

Sam fought down her own smile. "That sounds a lot like a date, Lieutenant."

Laura tilted her head to one side, then the other, apparently considering. "You could call it that, ma'am."

"You're dating someone and you didn't tell us?" Li asked, striding into the gate-room with Cooper tagging behind her. "Morning, ma'am," she added in Sam's direction.

"Good morning, Sergeant."

"I don't have to tell you everything," Laura said.

"No, but you usually do," Cooper muttered.

"You wish," Laura said easily. "Go track Dr Metcalfe down, would you please?"

"We've got two minutes yet," Cooper said.

"I thought we'd try the radical new strategy of leaving for a mission on time, if that's all right with you, Corporal."

"First time for everything," Cooper muttered, and left.

"So is he hot?" Li asked. "Oh God, it's not Major Lorne is it?"

"Major –" Laura cut herself off, staring at Li in open-mouthed horror that Sam couldn't help sharing. "*No*, it's not Major Lorne, wash your mouth out!"

"I was just asking. I mean, you do spend a lot of time together..."

The two security marines had given up on the weapon in favor of the conversation and were laughing, subtly. Laura covered her face with her hands for a moment. "Please, just – go check the medical supplies we're taking with us, while I try to erase that image from my head." She watched Li walk across the gate-room, stopping to chat to the third security officer. "This is why missions on a Monday morning are a bad idea," she told Sam.

"Best to get it over and done with," Sam suggested.

"I just hope this isn't a sign," Laura said darkly. She gestured to Cooper and Metcalfe, walking in. "See, we're on time, Li's imagining me in bed with Lorne, we should just scrub this mission now."

Sam didn't point out that they were only on time because Laura had insisted on it – the smile dancing round Laura's face said she was well aware of this. "Try not to come back with any new bruises," she said.

"Look on the bright side," Laura said, leaning in a little closer and dropping her voice. "If I do, at least I've got someone to kiss them better."

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