Summary: Sheppard and Carter talk, colonel to colonel, about a certain scientist they have in common.
A/N: I apologize if Carter seems out of character, I'm not that familiar with the crew of SG-1, so my interpretation will be based on her appearances on SGA.
Inspired in part by a rumor I read about Samantha Carter joining Atlantis after SG-1 ends.
"They keep giving me funny looks."
John Sheppard looks up and sees Samantha Carter, lunch tray in hands, standing opposite him. She looks - for lack of a better term - nervous. Like a high school girl who desperately wants to be popular, but is consciously aware of the fingers pointing and the whispers behind her back. The idea of Colonel Carter in that scenario almost causes a spit take.
"Struck dumb by your beauty," Sheppard suggests, and Carter laughs, as he'd hoped. She takes a seat, but sets her lunch tray down with a clatter.
"Even McKay," she says and sighs. "He's acting weird - even for him."
"You're an outsider," Sheppard tells her, because he can tell she'd prefer brutal honesty to a sugary lie. "It'll just take some time. You're a leg up on most of them - scientists and military both - so right now they resent you for it. They'll respect you soon enough."
"No one behaved like this the last time I was here," she points out. "Is this what Rodney feels like all the time?"
Sheppard laughs. "Last time you were here you spent most of your time on the Daedelus, and it was understood you weren't sticking around. And you don't give McKay enough credit. He doesn't really care what other people think of him - well, I take that back, of course he does. He just doesn't let it stand in the way of his genius."
Carter looks at him, and Sheppard wonders if he has something in his teeth.
"You know, when I decided to come here, try this out, I asked about you. I respect that you're in charge of military ops around here, Colonel, but I had to know what kind of man I'd be taking orders from - or if I'd be taking orders at all. I have to say, none of the reports do you justice."
"Uh...thanks?" Sheppard certainly hopes that's a compliment. All of the sudden his stomach sours.
"So would you care to extend that impressive insight of yours into why McKay, who has never made a secret of wanting into my pants, suddenly avoids me at every turn and when he can't avoid me he's courteous and polite?"
Sheppard chokes. She looks at him quite innocently with those disarming blue eyes of hers - eyes that remind him uncomfortably of a certain other scientist - but he detects something hidden beneath the surface. He thinks she already knows the answer.
"He's probably just jealous," Sheppard says, chewing, hoping to mask his unexpected panic. "He's used to being the golden boy around here."
"Uh huh," says Carter, "except that you and I both know what McKay looks like when he's jealous. Courteous and polite, he's not."
Sheppard doesn't know what to say. "This is a bad thing?"
Carter sighs, and looks at him as if he's failing some test he didn't know he was taking. "I'm out of my depth a bit here, John. Wraith? I can handle Wraith. Replicators? Sure, bring them on, they're nothing. But I'm not going to survive here unless I can surround myself with people I trust. Now, I don't always like McKay, and I certainly don't always agree with him, but I know him. And I know I can trust him. But this? This I don't trust."
Sheppard feels guilty. They're colleagues, equals, he should be helping to smooth the transition, not hinder it. After all, she spent a decade with her team in the Milky Way, this can't be any easier for her than it is for them.
Trust is all very well and good, but how far does it extend?
"I don't want to intrude on anything," she continues, and Sheppard's aware of the color draining from his face. "I just need to know what I'm going to have to do to get on his good side."
So she doesn't know. Sheppard's appetite returns, and he gives her question some thought.
"Shoot him," Sheppard suggests finally.
"Come on, Sheppard, this is serious talk time."
"I am serious. Rodney and I had only known each other a couple weeks when he let me shoot him in the leg and push him off a balcony."
Carter looks at him as if he just revealed he's hosting a Goa'uld.
"As touching as that is," Carter says, "how does that help me?"
"Rodney already respects you," Sheppard says. "More than you know, even. He's scared of change. If you want on his good side, you just have to show him that you're not a threat to his natural order. I was. I had to throw him off a balcony before he accepted me. Well, that and sit in a chair."
"I think I got the moral out of that rambling speech," says Carter, standing to leave though her lunch tray is still untouched. "I am going to be a threat to his way of life, though."
Sheppard freezes again, calling upon all his military training not to flinch.
"Oh?" he says. "How so?"
"Well, I'm going to have to invade his lab. He's going to have to learn to share."
"So long as it's you, I don't think he'll really mind," Sheppard assures her. "He'll complain and bitch and whine to me, but he'll be secretly pleased."
"He was in love with me once," says Carter, watching his face for a reaction. Sheppard's face is carefully blank.
"I'm glad he's not anymore."
Sheppard meets her stare and favors her with a smile. He might not mind having Lieutenant Colonel Sam Carter around. She might just understand what it's like to be in love when you're not allowed to be, and if nothing else, she knows what it's like to lead a team into danger - and back out again.
She smiles and clears her tray. Once she's out of the mess, McKay, who was lurking by the door and mumbles a greeting, practically leaps to Sheppard's side.
"Well?" he mumbles, out of the corner of his mouth.
Sheppard offers that special smile just for him. "Go easy on her. I think we have a lot in common."
McKay exhales as if he's been holding his breath for days. Still, he can't help being McKay.
"Oh, really? You and Carter? Such as?"
"Well," Sheppard says, rising, gently guiding Rodney out of the mess, "we both know what it's like to be loved by you."
"If you break into song, Colonel, I will kill you."
"Love you, too, Rodney."