Prompt: Sam's first Christmas on Atlantis. How SG-1 and/or SGA helps her deal with being away from them.
"The last item on the agenda is the Holiday Party," Sam Carter said with a sigh. "I would like volunteers to head the planning committee."
"Why do we have to have a committee?" Rodney McKay looked up from his computer. He was sitting next to a lounging John Shepard. "Just have the cooks make some fake ham and Christmas pudding. Zelenka can set up a bar."
"Thanks for volunteering Rodney," Sam Carter said, checking off the list.
"Wait a minute!" Rodney protested. "I didn't volunteer." John stifled a laugh.
"You should know better than saying anything when a commanding officer asks for volunteers," John said aside to Rodney.
"And I'll appoint John to be your military liaison," Sam added with a small smirk. "I'm sure he can provide help with putting decorations up."
"Hey!" John protested and then subsided with a stern glare from Sam.
"Thanks, Sam," Rodney said with a grin, before his face fell with the realization that he would have to plan a Christmas party. He hated Christmas parties. He only went when he had to and that was just for the free food.
"And gentlemen," Sam warned. "There are people here that are away from their families for the first time. Holidays are a hard time anyway. I'm depending on you to help cheer them up. Perhaps a Secret Santa exchange? Or some entertainment? I'll leave it up to you. You can ask for volunteers to help, but if I hear that you've bullied someone to help you…"
"But isn't that what you just did?" Rodney asked, confused.
"Yes," Sam said sweetly. "But I'm the boss. The meeting is adjourned."
* * *
"So who have you bullied…I mean asked to help with the party?" John asked Rodney as he joined SGA1 at their table in the mess.
"I didn't have to bully anyone." Rodney had a satisfied look on his face. "I just mentioned it to Miko and she ran with it. She is going to set up a Secret Santa program. She's sending emails out to everyone asking if they want to be in the exchange with a survey. You know, their interests, favorite candy, etc. When she gets the replies, she'll set up a computer program to match people and send out the assignments. It will be totally anonymous. Radek took a little more work, but he agreed to supply the bar."
"I think Cadman used to work as a bartender," John offered. "I could ask her to mix the drinks, if you want."
"An explosive expert and volatile liquids?" Rodney sputtered. "Are you out of your mind?"
"Rodney," Teyla admonished him. "She's really a nice person if you get to know her."
"I think I got to know her too much already," Rodney shuddered. "Thanks but Radek said he'd take care of it."
"So where are you having this thing?" Ronan asked.
"I have an idea," John said. "The guys found a room that the guys been using for basket ball. It's pretty big and should be easy to decorate."
"And smell like dirty socks and Ben Gay," Rodney said. "Let's not give everyone PTSD from proms where they spent the entire time standing against a wall in the gym. Why not just use the mess hall? It already has tables and would close to the kitchen for food."
"The party is supposed to be special to cheer people up," John said. "Having it where you go three times a day to eat isn't that special. Don't worry about moving tables and stuff. I have the Marines for that."
"Remember," Rodney held up a finger. "You're not supposed to bully anyone."
"I won't bully," John shrugged. "I'll just ask for volunteers. I'll give them the choice of helping or escorting scientists to fix the sewers."
"There's nothing wrong with the sewers," Rodney said.
"You know that and I know that, but they don't," John said with a devious look on his face.
"John," Teyla scolded. "I do not think you will have a problem getting volunteers. Most people like a party."
"You could give them a choice between helping you or training with me," Ronan offered.
"Thanks Buddy," John said. "I'll keep that in mind."
"I was wondering," Teyla said. "Do you think that Major Carter is lonely? It is her first year on Atlantis and I understand that her father died not long before she was assigned here. I understand that she has gone through the Stargate many times, but from what I understand, she always went home to Earth after her missions. Living on another world can be quite different. You all have become my family away from home, but there are times when I miss my family very much."
"I'm sure she felt the same way about SG1," John agreed. "Being in command can be lonely."
"She hardly has any time for scientific pursuits," Rodney said. "She's been used to being out on missions. Now, she's so busy taking care of the city, filling out reports and answering to the IOA. It's really a shame they've taken one of their best scientists and gave her a desk job."
"What can we do?" Ronan asked.
"We could invite her to join us for a team movie night," Teyla said.
"We could ask her to come on a mission," John said. "Maybe a first contact? Or maybe a possible ancient outpost?"
"I guess I could ask her for help on a project," Rodney said reluctantly. "Not that I need it," he added quickly, "but there is one experiment that Radek and I have been working on in our spare time that's not really going anywhere. Maybe a fresh perspective…"
"I'm sure Major Carter would be glad to assist you," Teyla said. "Now what kind of decorations are you planning?"
"We definitely need a tree," John said. "I noticed some nice looking Christmassy trees on our mission to PX6-104."
"The planet with the wart hog creatures with the huge tusks?" Rodney asked. "I think I'll leave the tree gathering to you."
"I can help with cutting the tree," Ronan offered, grinning, fingering his gun. "Maybe we could bring home some Christmas ham."
"I'm not sure what decorations are left from last year," Rodney said. "I haven't had a chance to check the storeroom yet."
"Perhaps, we could ask everyone to supply an ornament for the tree?" Teyla asked. "Something they made or something that is meaningful to them?"
"That's a great idea, Teyla," John said. "We could have a 'Pre-Christmas Party' party to decorate the tree."
"Great, now we're having two parties??" Rodney complained.
"Nothing big," John assured him. "Just a decorating party, just some music, maybe hot chocolate, cookies…unless you want to do it all by yourself?"
"No," Rodney quickly shook his head. "Two parties are fine. Knock yourself out."
"So all that is left is deciding on a place to hold the parties," John said. "Want to go exploring?"
"I am sorry, John," Teyla said. "I promised Ronan that I would train with him this afternoon. Perhaps later."
"That's okay," John said. "You two have fun."
"Yeah, have fun beating each other up," Rodney shuddered.
"I guess it's you and me, Rodney," John said, bussing his tray.
"But, I'm too busy in the lab," Rodney said, his hands flailing. "I have experiments going…"
"I'm sure Radek can handle it without you for a few hours," John said. "It shouldn't take long. I'll drop by the lab to pick you up in thirty. That should give you time to fill him in."
John left Rodney staring after him.
* * *
Thirty minutes later John showed up to literally pull Rodney away from his lab, despite all his protests to the contrary.
"It'll be all your fault if I have to stay up till three AM to re-enter all my data," Rodney griped. "And I know where you live."
"Come on, Rodney," John said. "The city won't sink if you take two hours out of the lab."
"You don't know that!" Rodney said, but followed John anyway.
* * *
"What about this one?" John asked as they walked into the large empty room, the door swishing closed behind them.
Rodney looked up from his data pad and sniffed.
"Musty. But at least it doesn't smell like a boy's locker room," Rodney said. He walked over to the full length doors against the walls and waved a hand over the sensors. The doors opened to a balcony running the length of the room. There was a breeze of fresh air.
"Impressive," John said, looking at the view. "Bet it would be more impressive at night time with the city lit up."
"It's not bad," Rodney said, turning back and looking at the large room. "The food table could be over there and we could scatter little tables around the room as well as some bigger ones. Radek could set his bar up on that side."
"We could put the tree over there in the corner," John added. "Plus we need an area cleared out for the dance floor."
"Do we actually have to dance?" Rodney whined.
"Speaking of dancing," John ignored Rodney's whining. "Who is in charge of music?"
"I hadn't thought of that," Rodney said.
"I'll do it," John offered.
"No, no!" Rodney protested. "If you have your way, it would be all Johnny Cash singing about spending Christmas in prison."
"Hey," John protested. "I'll have you know I have a wide taste in music. I just happen to think the Man in Black is the best."
"I'll get one of my minions to do it," Rodney said, waving his hand. "I'm sure there must be plenty of tinned Christmas music on the computer servers."
"Too bad we don't have a live band," John said.
"Well, I think there are a few ensembles. Strings, brass, that sort of thing," Rodney said. "I don't know if any of them do Christmas music."
"We could send out a memo to see if anyone would be interested in playing at the party," John suggested. "Not really a concert, just background music."
"I don't know," Rodney said, thinking. "They all have pretty big egos. I don't know if they would want to play while people were talking. They would expect to be the center of attention."
"They could take turns, that way no one person or group would be playing for the entire party," John persisted.
"I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask," Rodney admitted.
* * *
Sam and Rodney were discussing requisitioned supplies for the labs when the Stargate came to life.
"It's Colonel Sheppard and Ronan's IDC," Chuck said.
"Open the Iris."
The shield disappeared from the open wormhole and a few moments later, Sheppard and Lorne came through, carrying a large fir tree. Ronan and two of the Marines followed, carrying a huge hog with wicked looking tusks on a thick pole. It had been field dressed. It looked like something Sam had read about in Lord of the Flies when she was in high school. Fortunately, there weren't any flies in attendance. The thing must have weighed 500 pounds.
"HO, HO, HO," Sheppard said. "We come bearing the Christmas tree and dinner."
"All Hail the Warriors back from the hunt," Rodney said. "Did you know you're bleeding on the Gate Room floor?"
"Why don't you take the…uh… hog to the food prep room," Sam said, at a loss. I'll have one of the chefs meet you there."
Ronan nodded and the Marines headed for the transporter.
"Chuck, call for clean up in the Gate Room, transporter and the hallways between," Sam ordered.
"Yes, Ma'am," Chuck nodded.
"Meanwhile, Lorne and I will get the tree up in the party room," Sheppard said. "Rodney, want to come to make sure we get it in just the right place?"
"Sam and I were just discussing…"
"That's okay, Rodney," Sam said, grinning. "We were done anyway. Go ahead and help the Colonel. Christmas tree placement is important."
"You could come too," Rodney said.
"I'll be there to help decorate tonight," Sam said. "I have an appointment in a few minutes."
Rodney followed the tree to the party room and supervised the positioning of the tree. It took several times moving the tree before Rodney was satisfied with its placement. By that time, Lorne was more than ready to leave with a promise to return with tables and chairs.
* * *
"So Rodney, what did you bring to put on the tree?" Sam asked as she sipped a cup of Radek's 'punch'. Punch was the right word as the drink contained quite a punch. A small band composed of scientists and military alike was playing surprisingly good Christmas music. Sam was feeling pretty mellow.
The tree had been decorated with quite a few ornaments during the 'pre-party'. Some were quite unique. Teyla had hung her necklace that John had found the first day they met. Ronan had hung a small but sharp knife. Sam hadn't demurred, but just suggested he put it up high in case any of the Athosian children came to visit. John had made several paper airplanes and flew them to their new homes towards the top of the tree. Radek had wrapped some wire around the neck of several chess pieces and hung them around the tree. Sam had put a small model of a Stargate she had brought with her from the SGC.
"Oh, just a little something that I've been working on," Rodney said, rocking up and down on his heels.
"Come on Rodney," John said, coming up to the two of them. "You wouldn't tell us before. You said we had to wait until the real party. It's the real party so spill."
"Okay," Rodney agreed. He put down his plate and then pulling out a computer tablet, he pushed a few buttons. Suddenly, the room lights went out eliciting a few gasps and then Christmas tree lit up with dozens of miniature ZPMs scattered over the surface, giving off a warm yellow glow.
After a few "Ooohs" and "Ahhs", a round of applause started. Rodney turned the lights back on to partial strength, so that people could enjoy the tree, but not fall over each other.
"Very nice, McKay," Sam said, holding her cup up in a toast. "Quite festive and appropriate."
"Well, of course," Rodney said, blushing slightly at the praise. "I am a genius."
"And modest too," Sam laughed. The band started up a lively tune.
"Would you care to dance?" Rodney asked, looking around at the other dancing couples.
"You dance?" Sam asked in surprise.
"Yes, I dance," Rodney said indignantly and then admitted sheepishly, "My mother made me take lessons with Jeannie when she got on this ballroom dancing craze. Waste of an hour a day for 6 weeks, but I did learn the basics."
"Then, yes," Sam said, putting down her cup. "I would like to dance."
* * *
After one dance, Ronan cut in, followed by John and then a blushing Radek. Sam was breathing hard by the time Rodney rescued her and led her over to the bar for another cup of punch.
"So, are you having a good time?" Rodney asked, handing her a cup before getting himself some.
"Yes, I am," Sam said, looking over the room. "Everyone seemed to be happy with their Secret Santa gifts. Miko's program was a brilliant idea."
"Did you see what I got?" Rodney grinned. "The complete new series of Doctor Who DVDs. Of course, I already have the originals."
"And I got MacGyver DVDs," Sam grinned back. "I loved that show. What that man could do with duct tape and bubble gum." Sam licked her lips.
Rodney rolled his eyes and noticed that Sam was standing directly below a sprig of mistletoe. Before he lost the nerve, he moved forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. At her surprised expression, he pointed upwards.
"Mistletoe, you know tradition," Rodney said, hoping Sam wouldn't smack him.
"If you're going to do something, Rodney, do it right," She laughed, grabbing him and bringing him in for a longer deeper kiss. By the time she let him go, he was dazed. He was flashing back to the time he was trapped in the submerged jumper and a half naked Carter had distracted him with a similar kiss.
A couple wolf whistles and 'Way to go, McKay' brought him back to his senses and he closed his mouth and cleared his throat.
The Chef chose that moment to tell everyone the food was ready. As people made their way to the buffet table, Rodney turned to Sam.
"Would you do me the honor of being my escort to dinner?" Rodney asked, holding out his arm.
"I would be happy to," Sam said, taking hold of his arm and walked with him to the front of the line. "You did a good job with the party, Rodney."
"Well, it was a group effort," he said. "A lot of people actually wanted to help."
"But you organized it," Sam said. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Rodney said. "We wanted to make sure you had a merry Christmas since this is your first Christmas here."
"And I appreciate it," Sam said.
* * *
As Sam looked over the room and saw all the happy faces, she smiled. Sure, she still missed home, but Atlantis was like a large family, people watching out for each other, taking care of each other and she was a part of it. She was part of the family.