Summary: Sam and Janet help Perdita to settle into her new routine.
It was a little strange for Perdita to be back at the SGC. When she had first come to the mountain, she had arrived directly from her home planet, and she felt frightened and alone, able only to trust Teal'c and Sam -- and she hadn't then even been sure that Sam would survive her injuries.
So coming back, with Sam and Janet, was weird. As they got out of the car in the SGC underground parking lot, a big, black truck drew up next to them. A familiar figure jumped down from the truck.
"Hey Carter, Doc!" O'Neill called breezily. "Good to see you without the... thing," he gestured in the general area of his arm.
"Hi Sir," Sam replied, "Janet says I don't have to wear the sling any more, which is great, I hate those things."
"Don't we all Carter," he replied with feeling, "don't we all!"
For the first time, he looked down and noticed Perdita who was trying her best to be inconspicuous, hiding slightly behind Sam's legs. He bent down to her level. "Well," he said, gently, "if it isn't my favorite girl in the whole world!" He grinned widely, and she gave him a small, shy smile in return.
"Don't let Cassie hear you say that!" Sam was laughing. "She takes great pride in her role as your original *favorite* girl."
"Oh Cassie knows I'm fickle," O'Neill grinned. "And she's still my favorite too. You both are!" and he gestured emphatically to make his point. "Anyway," his voice got softer again, as he looked Perdita straight in the eye, "you settling in okay, kiddo?"
Perdita nodded. "Yes," she replied in a small voice. "I like it here."
"That's good," he smiled, "you won't find many better places than with these two," he nodded at Sam and Janet. "And I reckon your big sister's pretty good too."
Perdita smiled. "Cassie's great," she said. "She's shown me lots of things, and says she'll show me a lot more."
"You ready for a day at the coal-face then?" O'Neill said.
Perdita looked confused.
"Don't worry, Dita," Sam said, with a laugh in her voice. "The colonel's just kidding. He's just wondering if you're all set for a day here. We're gonna have a great day, it's all planned. Dita will be with me for the first couple of hours, while I catch up on my emails and so forth. Then Teal'c is going to give her a guided tour of the base, so I can touch base with Dr Lee and the other... eggheads," she grinned at O'Neill, she knew he loved it when she used his terminology. "Then she's gonna join us for lunch, and after lunch she'll spend an hour with Daniel," she didn't specify that he would be helping her with her literacy. Perdita deserved some privacy, and there was no need for her reading problems to be broadcast round the base. O'Neill knew about it anyway, but Sam felt that it was better to keep all discussion of the subject to a minimum when out in public. "After that," she continued, "she's going with Janet to the Academy Hospital, where Janet'll show her round, and then set her up in a corner in her office. It's going to be a full day, isn't it Dita?"
Perdita smiled. She was still nervous as all get-out, but she was determined to do as Sam asked her, and if that meant following that itinerary, then that's what she would do. And when she thought about it, she realized that she'd be with someone she loved all day. After leaving her beloved Sam, Teal'c was going to show her around. And Teal'c was kind, and gentle, and she always felt safe with him. She liked Daniel too, who had come to the house on several occasions, and had also been at Catherine and Ernest's on one of her visits. She loved Janet, too, and had completely forgotten that she had once thought her a 'scary lady'. Janet was warm and loving, and kind, and funny. It would be a good day, she decided.
Once they got to Sam's lab, she soon settled down in a specially designated corner. Sam set her up with paper and crayons. Perdita loved drawing, so Sam thought this would be a nice easy start to the day for her. "You okay, Dita?" she asked her, once the girl had sat down. "Okay if I get on with my emails and stuff?"
"I'm good, Sam," Perdita answered. "I like it here."
"That's great, honey," Sam gave her daughter a warm hug. She turned to her computer. Sam had been strictly instructed by Janet that she was to stick to light duties only, so she was doing as she had been told. As part of her promise to make life easier for Janet, she was trying not to make a fuss when she was told to 'take it easy'. All her instincts made her want to get back to full strength as soon as possible, but she knew that Janet knew best. And she had made a promise, and was determined to keep it. So if that meant a couple more weeks on 'desk duty', then she would stick to that, and gladly.
At 1000hrs, Teal'c appeared at the door. "Good morning Major Carter," he intoned. "I am here to accompany Perdita on a tour of the base, should she wish to join me."
Perdita looked up and smiled. She loved Teal'c, she liked his old-fashioned gentlemanly way of speaking. She also felt safe with the gentle giant. "Hi Teal'c," she said. "I'd really like to come."
"Then we will depart," he nodded at Sam, "and we will meet you at the commissary for lunch at 1230hrs."
"Thanks, Teal'c," Sam flashed him a wide smile. "See you both later then. See you take care of my Dita. And Dita, see you take care of Teal'c!"
Both of them smiled at her, and Sam's heart filled with pleasure to see her daughter slip her hand into Teal'c's. Sam knew that he would be safe with her.
= = =
Sam used her time to catch up with Dr Lee, and to find out what had been happening in her absence.
Perdita was taken round the base by Teal'c, and introduced to everybody they came across. Without exception, everyone was charmed by this small girl who had showed such pluck and determination. It didn't hurt that Sam was probably the most popular person on base; she was an integral part of the Stargate team, and she was beautiful and brilliant, but she was also humble and had a reputation for treating all those she came across with kindness and respect. Some people in her position would have let their importance to the team go to their heads, but Sam had never done that. So any 'daughter' of hers, however she came about, already had an advantage.
Siler took time out of his day to explain much of the technical equipment to Perdita, and the girl was fascinated. In the few short weeks she had spent on Earth, she had already mastered basic computer usage, and now this clever man was explaining the use of a MALP's remote control system to her. Siler, for his part, was impressed with how this tiny girl seemed to grasp complicated concepts, and asked him all manner of intelligent questions.
The thing that really thrilled Perdita was her introduction to the control room. She had been through the 'gate just that one time, and had then been too traumatized, and scared, to really take it in. Now, however, that nice Sergeant Harriman was telling her all about it, showing her the palm device, and explaining how the iris worked. The greatest thrill for her, though, was when he told her they would shortly be dialing out to to Beta site, so that Major Carter could talk to the tech team on the planet. "We won't tell Major Carter," he said to her conspiratorially, "but you can do my bit when we start to dial. So when she comes down here, she'll see a new technician sitting at the desk!" Perdita giggled with glee.
And that was exactly what happened. Twenty minutes later, after Walter had gone through all the procedure with a fine toothcomb, Perdita was ready to assume her role. So when Sam came down the stairs to the control room just as the 'gate was dialing, she was astounded to hear a very familiar voice saying, "chevron six engaged, chevron seven LOCKED!" Perdita looked up, still wearing her headphones, and grinned hugely at Sam.
"Dita!" Sam swept her up in her arms. "You'll be taking over my job before I know it!" Perdita giggled again; Sam thought she could never get enough of that sweet sound.
= = =
After lunch, Perdita spent an hour with Daniel, who she was starting to love more and more. He was kind and gentle, and could be funny too. Half-way through their 'lesson', the colonel came to see how they were doing, and she laughed inwardly when Daniel sent him packing, telling him they had more important things to do. She could see the glint of humor in Daniel's eye when he spoke, though, and 'Uncle Jack's' reaction made it obvious that he was used it.
After her lesson, Janet came to collect her to take her to the Academy Hospital. She was a bit scared by the size of the place, but Janet held her hand and reassured her that everything was okay. She then took her to her office, and Perdita sat in the corner, while Janet caught up on some reports.
After a while, Janet set off to do her rounds, leaving Perdita happily drawing in 'her' corner of the office. Janet returned to the office just before 1700hrs, and was just about to set off home with Perdita when her pager beeped. "Shit!" she said, before covering her mouth with her hand in embarrassment at having cursed in front of the child. Perdita giggled. "Sorry, Deetie," she told her, "I shouldn't have said that. But I've just been called to an airman with a broken wrist. I'm afraid we're gonna be home late."
"That's okay," Perdita smiled. "I'm fine here."
Janet hugged her briefly. "I'll get Sharon to drop in on you," Janet spoke of her head nurse, who had already met Perdita, and with whom Perdita was quite comfortable. "And I'll be as quick as possible."
In the end, it was over 90 minutes later that Janet returned, and they were able to make their way home.
= = =
Drawing up to the house, Janet was amused to see Sam come to the door, arms crossed in a mock-scolding posture, looking for all the world like an angry housewife berating a drunken husband on his return from a bar. "And just what time do you call this?" Sam demanded, unable to hide her smile. "I expect my dinner on the table when I come home!"
Janet made her way over to her, and pulled her into a deep kiss. "Some things," she told her lover with a suggestive smile, "some things are worth waiting for!" Unseen by any onlookers, she ran her hand up Sam's front and cupped her breast, tweaking the nipple and causing Sam to squeak in a most undignified manner.
Sam laughed. "Hey sweetie," she said, "we missed you. But don't worry, I was only kidding, you don't have to make dinner. It's all organized."
"Samantha Carter!" Janet protested. "Don't tell me you've been cooking? I thought we had an agreement after what happened last time."
"Oh be fair, honey," Sam whined. "Anybody can make a mistake."
"Not when that mistake means replacing a whole worktop, AND a microwave they can't!" Janet's tone was scolding. "I hate to think what the damage is this time!"
Sam grinned. "Look behind you," she said, "dinner, all ready, all your favorites. And not even a dish dirtied!"
Janet looked and saw a van with 'Mr Chan â€" Delicious Doorstep Deliveries' on it draw up to the curb. "Oh thank God for that!" she breathed.
Perdita watched this exchange with amusement. She guessed she would have to get used to her parents' teasing. And if what Cassie told her was right, Sam really couldn't cook. She had regaled her younger sister with tales of burned, raw and downright inedible food that Sam had attempted to cook in the early days when she and Janet had not long got together, and Cassie had only just been rescued from the planet. After too many disasters, it was agreed that the kitchen was Janet's domain; Sam was to stick to DIY and auto repairs. It was an arrangement that worked well.
= = =
"It was kind of weird," Sam said to Janet later that night in bed. "Being home, and waiting on you." She leaned up on her elbow. "I didn't like it," she said, sounding almost shame-faced. "This house isn't right without you in it. It must be hard for you sometimes, huh, when you're waiting for me to get back?"
Janet looked her straight in the eye. "Yes, honey," she said, honestly, "sometimes it's real hard, especially when I know something's gone wrong. But you know what, baby?" Sam looked up. "It's worth the wait. Every time. Sam, listen to me," she could see the emotions in Sam's face. "I'm never gonna go off on you like before. I know you're making a real effort now, and that's all I can ask of you -- not to take unnecessary risks, not to put yourself on the line too much. And," she smiled, "you're even following doctor's orders, which is something of a miracle. So yes, it'll be hard next time you're late, or hurt, or missing," she wiped away the tear that had dropped unbidden from her eye. "But all you have to do to make it better is just to keep coming back to me. To us, to me, to Cass, to Deetie. We all love you so much, sweetie."
"You really are an extraordinary woman," Sam's voice shook. "Sometimes I forget how strong you are. I mean, I go off, visit other worlds, get into firefights, come back all knocked about. But you're the really brave one, Jan. I don't know how you can do it, but I'm so happy that you can. Because my life would be nothing without you and the girls. I love you Janet. I want to make you happy."
"You do Sam," Janet said simply, and she leant forward and kissed her, running her hand through Sam's golden locks. "You do."